Why It’s Important to Keep a Stocked Diaper Bag (and What to Pack)

My mom loves to tell a story about taking me to the mall when I was 6 or 7 months old and how while we were there, I had a major blowout poop. Evidentially, there was poop everywhere. So much poop, that this has been a stand out memory for her for over 30 years. In fact, this is one of the only stories that I’ve ever heard about my infancy.

Well, guess what, guys!!!

MY LEGACY LIVES ON THROUGH MY SON.

While we were out shopping for matching pajamas for the kids to make our holiday cards, Mateo had a poop explosion that I will carry with me forever.

Our mall adventure started off really well! Mateo had fallen asleep in the car on our way there and we were able to successfully get him into his stroller and keep him asleep for a long time – long enough for Nori to go potty, ride the train and for us to find the pajamas that we came for and pay for them.

I couldn’t help but feel deep satisfaction about how successful our trip had been. The mall during holiday season is not for amateurs. I was expecting our outing to be a shit show and it wasn’t! Little did I know that I was about to be confronted with a literal shit show.

As we were heading out of the store, Mateo woke up. He was so happy and smiley! He must have had a good nap. Nori poked her head into his stroller to say “Hi!” and she pulled her head back, revolted.

Mateo smells like poop, Mom!!

Ok. No problem, I thought. I pushed his stroller to the bathroom and Nori and Benny continued shopping around. When we got to the bathroom and I picked Mateo up, his clothing squished against his back. My hands were wet.

NOOOOOOOOOO!

His poop had squirted all the way up to the back of his head and all the way down the back of his legs.

I stripped him naked and threw his onesie in the trash – it was unsalvageable. Frantically, I wiped him down with baby wipes. People were walking past me in the woman’s room, covering their noses and looking at me with pity.

It was a nightmare.

I had been taking so long in the bathroom that Benny sent Nori to go check on me. As soon as I saw her I yelled, GET DAD!!

Benny joined me in the ladies room as we hurried to clean our baby up and get him dressed again and that’s when I realized that I didn’t pack him any extra clothing.

FUUUUUUCK!

Luckily, we had just bought those jammies, so we put him in those – but not before we completely wiped him down with hand sanitizer.

That’s right. I covered my baby with Purell. Judge me.

Mateo didn’t wait til XMAS for his pajamas.

Sometimes, you’ve just gotta do what you’ve gotta do and this brings me to my point:

ALWAYS KEEP A STOCKED DIAPER BAG!

ALWAYS.

I use a simple backpack as my diaper bag and it’s usually well stocked, but every now and then I slip up and forget something – usually when I really need the item that I forgot. So, here is a friendly reminder for myself and some tips for you on what to pack in your diaper bag so that you don’t end up in a shitty situation like me.

DIAPERS // Duh. If your kid wears diapers, bring them. Bring more than you think you’ll need. I usually pack 4-6 depending on how long we will be out.

WIPES // I bring a few different wipes in my bag because I’m a crazy person. I bring regular baby wipes for Mateo, toddler flushable wipes for Nori because the princess will only poop if she knows that she has a wet wipe for her bottom and hand and face wipes for messy faces and hands. Maybe it’s overkill, but I like to have options.

CHANGE OF CLOTHES // Always keep weather appropriate changes of clothes, socks and undies in your bag even if your kid hasn’t had a blow out in months or has been potty trained for years. Accidents happen. Once, when Nori was 2, maybe 2.5, I had to take Nori home from the park with no pants on after her first and only potty accident. She didn’t seem to mind, but I felt awful.  It’s not always the potty accidents that screw you, but spills, mud, etc. can all make a kiddo wet and uncomfortable and nobody wants that.

SNACKS // I don’t know about you, but I get hangry!! Everyone in my family does, so I always try to pack enough snacks for everyone. I usually pack a few apple sauce pouches, baby food pouches and snack bars. If we are having a park day or I know that we will be out for several hours, I’ll pack fresh fruit and veggies and often will make a couple of sandwiches too. Having enough snacks for everyone stops meltdowns before they happen and also help to save money and time because you won’t need to stop and get food while you’re out and about.

TOYS // When kids get bored, all hell breaks loose!! Having a few toys and activities on hand is essential. For the baby, I usually pack a blinky/noisy toy and a teether and for Nori, I bring crayons – I also will give her my phone sometimes to play games – not gonna lie. When I want to keep her off of a device, Water Wow’s are awesome! If you don’t know what they are, they’re coloring pages that come with a special pen that you fill up with water. Nori loves them and never seems to grow tired of coloring the same pictures over and over again.

HAND SANITIZER // Kids are gross. Germs are everywhere. NUFF SAID.

In a perfect world, our diaper bags would always be stocked up and ready for anything, but let’s be real, some days we’re sure to fuck up – enter, the stocked car. I try to always have 2-3 diapers in my glove box and a pack of baby wipes in the trunk. In my center console, I like to keep one or two apple sauces and on good days, I’ll have packed cereal bars too. That is also where I keep an extra hand sanitizer. I keep a few toys in the car all the time, too, because carrying them to and from the house is too much work and in this instance, being lazy is helpful.

Even with knowing what to pack, you’ll probably still forget things sometimes, but, knowing is half the battle! So, stock up that bag! Stock up that car! And let the world know that you’re a bad ass parent who (usually) has their shit together.

EASIEST RECIPE OF ALL TIME

I used to be a snob about home cooking . I felt that for a meal to be “homemade” every aspect needed to be made from scratch – let’s just say, you would never catch me using pancake mix or jarred marinara. I loved trying new recipes, making all of my own sauces and dressings and exercising my creative muscle in the kitchen – it was kind of my thing. Of course, I still enjoy all of those things, but let’s be real, as a mom of two young kids, I don’t always have the time or energy for all that.

Sometimes, I wish that dinner would magically appear on our table.

I’ve come to accept that it won’t, and with that, I’ve discovered the next best thing.

This dinner requires ZERO prep work!!

So, maybe this isn’t exactly a recipe, buuuuuut it’s my go to meal for when I want to put as little effort as possible into cooking and not be stuck with a big mess to clean up.

SUPER EASY SALSA CHICKEN

You need:

Chicken breasts.

Salsa

Crockpot

Place your chicken in the crockpot.

Cover each breast completely with salsa.

Set crockpot to cook on low for 5-6 hours.

Feel accomplished and get on with your life!

When the timer goes off, shred your chicken.

YUM! That chicken looks good!!

Eat your chicken how ever you want! My go to is a soft taco with avocado!

Can you even believe how easy that is?!

If you’re not into Mexican inspired dishes, you can also use this formula with whatever kind of sauce you like. I’ve tried several and they’re all just as awesome.

BBQ Sauce / I usually will shred the chicken and serve it on a bun with lettuce.

Teriyaki / I like to break the chicken into bigger pieces and serve over rice with a side of steamed veggies.

Curry / I serve this the same way that I serve the teriyaki. It would be great with naan, too!

This meal has been a weekly staple in our house because I know that when l make this chicken, in all of its variations, my family is happy and that makes me happy, because it’s essentially effortless!

YOU’RE WELCOME!

School Lunches for Picky Eating Preschoolers

I used to love when my father packed my school lunch. He took lunch making seriously. My meal would be balanced and filling, it had options – it was always better than the lunches packed around me and that made me feel proud. Every lunch included a small note or picture. I loved getting them so much! Packing my school lunches was one way that my dad let me know he loved me.

As a parent, now I do the same. I love packing Nori’s lunch. I love to know that during her day at school, she still gets to feel connected to me at home.

The guidelines for lunches at Noris school are that they must not include nuts or treats. We are also dairy free, so I can’t pack yogurts or cheeses, sadly, no bunny crackers either! That being said, I don’t pack too much variety, but honestly, what 4 year old loves variety? These little people watch the same movie thousands of times in a row! I pack what I know she will eat and won’t toss in the compost. School lunch is not a time to debut new foods or try and pack something your kid usually won’t eat. Since nori is super picky, I stick to some basic options:

Deli meat – Nori likes salami, ham and turkey

Spreads – jelly or sunbutter (her school is nut free). when making these sandwiches, i sprinkle hemp seed and chia in the middle of the sandwich to add some nutrients. nori doesn’t even notice.

Fruits – apples, pears, berries, peaches, to name a few – fruit is always a hit

Veggies – our top two are cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, but sugar snap peas, corn, carrot/celery sticks have also made appearances

Grain – crackers, Made Good granola balls, Kind Kids bars

Leftovers – her school will reheat one dish a week if you ask. also, some leftovers are good cold!

To drink, we keep rice milk at school and pack a cup for her to be served. Some days, she just drinks water!

We were using a cute purple Bentigo bento box, but Noris teacher said the way that the lid opened was too big for their table, so I searched Amazon and found these awesome containers called Easy Lunch Boxes and they are exactly that! I love them. Not too many compartments to fill, but enough to guide you through portioning out a lunch. They have several colored lids and I like that it’s a set of 5 so that I don’t have to wash tupperware every school night anymore. I have one for every day!!

Heres how I packed them this week.

MONDAY

Cucumbers, apples and grapes, turkey roll ups and a Kind Kids bar

TUESDAY

Tomatoes and cucumbers, strawberries and pears, salami roll ups and Made Good balls

WEDNESDAY

Simple day. Salami and mayo on wheat bread, apples and snap peas.

THURSDAY

Leftover salmon cake, peaches and blackberries, tomatoes and cucumbers.

FRIDAY

Banana, turkey roll ups, cucumber and tomatoes and Made Good balls.

I don’t know about you, but I love looking at these cute little lunches!! I know they’re nothing crazy, but they’re filled with the things that my daughter loves and it makes me happy that I’m able to do this for her. I look forward to when she learns to read, so that I can pack her sweet little notes along too!

I used to judge parents before I became one myself.

I was scrolling through my instagram feed the other day, when I came across this quote, “Parenting is the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion about, but the hardest thing in the world to do.”

It really resonated with me – not only because I agree that parenting is hard, but also because before I had children of my own, I thought that I knew it all and had all sorts of ideas about what made a good or bad parent. I thought it was easy.

I was so unjustifiably judgmental, its embarrassing. Who did I think I was?

Sure, I worked as a nanny for many years, but that in no way compares to the endless work that is parenting. I was able to go home at the end of the day, to reset, catch up on me time. I rarely took the children along for errands. I never had my own things to take care of while I was watching the kids. Being a nanny is a job. Being a parent is your life. 

Once I became a parent myself, it turns out that a lot of the things that I said that I would never do or was better than, are things that I sort of do all of the time and you know what, I have no shame about it at all!

Here are my top 5 parenting judgements that I made before I had *any* idea what it was like to have children of my own.

Giving children devices at restaurants.

When I would be out at a restaurant, nothing made me roll my eyes more than seeing a family at a table allowing their kids to play on their phones or tablets. I’d think to myself,  “Aren’t meals a time to bond with your family? Why didn’t they just stay home if they were just going to ignore their kids like that? Don’t these parents know the dangers of screen time?”

HA! Little did I know that kids can totally be little shits when you’re out to dinner! They pour salt on the table or put bread in everyone’s water. They want to get up and wander around the restaurant. They complain about being bored – about the food not being out fast enough. They interrupt, they’re too loud!

Believe it or not, the adults at the table want to enjoy themselves too.

Sometimes, when I’m really on that mom A game, I’ll pack some crayons and coloring books for the table, but lets be real, I’m not always that put together!  Its extremely unlikely that I’ll forget my phone at home, so after several unsuccessful restaurant trips, I downloaded several kids apps and now allow Nori to play on it from time to time when we are out. Some of the games are even educational! I don’t see the harm in it and honestly, don’t understand why I had an issue with it before – I mean, adults sit at the table on their devices all the time too. I’m not saying that anytime I want some peace and quiet I just stick Nori in front of a device, but in certain circumstances, it’s totally cool!

Letting kids tantrum in public.

We have all seen it before – a kid having a major tantrum out in public. Some parents just stand there and wait while their kid screams and cries on the floor. Other times, parents swoop up their screaming child, throw them over their shoulder and run them out of where ever they are as quickly as possible. Some even start to tantrum themselves and begin to yell at their child. Whatever the method these parents use to deal with the situation, I’d always thought that I would handle it differently – better.

“Couldn’t these parents control their children?” Haven’t they taught them anything? My kids would never act so bratty!”

Ha! I thought these parents were letting their kids freak out, as if they had total control over their child’s body and emotions. I may not have been aware of it at the time, but now I realize that I didn’t believe that kids should have a right to their own feelings. They were to be obedient and contained and if they weren’t, that reflected poorly on the parents.

Now, as a mom, I have compassion for these parent’s with the kid melting down at the store. It’s not their fault at all! Kids have big feelings – feelings that they don’t exactly know how to deal with properly. Their brains aren’t fully developed, so they don’t understand reason or how to navigate through the new feelings they’re experiencing.

As parents, it is our job to teach our children that it is okay to have feelings and to let them out. Sure, the store isn’t the ideal place to work these things out, but it happens. Kids want things, they don’t understand the value of money and most of all, they don’t like to hear the word, “no!” – I mean, who does? We were all kids once, and I’m sure that most of us have had fits in public. No matter how a parent chooses to deal with their kid’s public meltdown, it’s safe to assume that they are doing their best!

A child’s behavior is not a direct reflection of how they are parented – tantrums just come with the territory!

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Nori, melting down in a car at the Subway museum in Brooklyn, NY. I got a ton of slack from people for this photo. It isn’t a real subway. Relax.

Going out to party as parents.

This one is pretty embarrassing. When I used to work in bars and I would see people who I knew were parents out and about, partying, I would judge them so hard. I couldn’t believe that they were leaving their kids with a babysitter to go to a club all night. UHHHH. Hello!! I worked as a babysitter growing up – what did I think the parents were doing!?

Parents need to let loose!

Parents are allowed to still be the people that they were before children, even if that means they’re out partying (responsibly) until 3am!

I don’t get a sitter all too often, but when I do, you better believe I’m out, trying to have a good time. I would go totally crazy if I never went out without the kiddos to have fun with my husband or friends. In fact, I think that it makes me a better parent when I make time to have fun.

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Whenever my husband and I make it out to shows, everyone always asks, “Where are your kids?” Obviously, we left them in the car…JK

Breastfeeding past infancy.

It’s not that I thought that breastfeeding was gross or inappropriate –  I respected women who breastfed. I mean, they were sacrificing their perfect, youthful breasts! That being said, once their babies stopped being little lumps and started to eat food and walk and talk – well, at that point, consider yourself judged if that baby isn’t using a cup.

Didn’t these mother’s want their bodies back?

Didn’t they know that people were judging them?

Fast forward to me becoming a nursing mother and surprise! I nursed Nori until she was 2.5.  I’ll admit that sometimes because of my pre-parenting judgements, I felt a little self conscious nursing her in public once she was around 18 months, but don’t get me wrong, I still did it. The relationship that Nori and I had around nursing was so positive for both she and I, that I felt no desire to stop breastfeeding her until she started to twist my other nipple while she would nurse and I absolutely hated it! That was it for me and we weaned. I think that as long as both mother and child are enjoying their nursing relationship, they should continue to nurse. I am nursing Mateo now and hope to continue for a while longer. Personally, I don’t want to nurse past 3 years old, but to the women who do, more power to you!

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Here is 2 year old Nori, nursing. She is sweaty and sick with a cold.

Letting kids dress inappropriately for the weather. 

On a cold or rainy day, if I’d see a child without a jacket, it would make me feel annoyed and concerned. Didn’t these parents care about their children’s comfort? Were they just too lazy to dress them? Did they forget?

Of course, my daughter turned out to be one of those kids who is always dressed inappropriately for the weather. She always wants to wear flip flops when it is cold outside and rain boots when it is hot and dry. She will refuse to wear a jacket, even if it is rainy. Its a constant struggle! But, some battles are better left alone. As long as Nori feels confident in the wardrobe choices she has made, I let her go with it even if I know she may be unhappy in the long run. The only exception is if I know that we will be outside for most of the day – I don’t want her to be miserable for too long because then she will be unhappy and she will complain and then I will be unhappy too.

Oy! So, there you have it. I used to be a judgmental bitch about things that I knew nothing about and I’ll bet you were too!

What are some things that you used to judge parents for before becoming a parent yourself?

Sleep Training Your Baby: It’s the best thing EVER!

Mateo is sleep trained!

It’s a fucking miracle.

After weeks and weeks of struggling with his 15 minute naps and constant night waking, I decided to get help from a sleep consultant and it was the best decision EVER.

Now, instead of spending up to 45 minutes rocking or bouncing Mateo to sleep, I am able to set him in his crib awake and he settles himself. He naps twice a day for at least an hour each time and he sleeps entirely through the night. When he wakes up, he is so bubbly and happy! He seems ready to take on the world – he seems more interested and engaged. No more constant eye rubbing and fussing.

It’s seriously so awesome!

Since I don’t have to put so much of my time and energy into figuring out Mateo’s sleep anymore, I have more of myself to give to Nori. I’m less impatient with her, I’m more available to play with her – we can read together or do crafts during his nap times. I don’t feel guilty anymore for having to push aside her needs in favor of her baby brother’s. She can count on having one on one time every day and I am able to be completely present.

The most awesome part of all?! I got some of my life back!!!

I have guaranteed time every night to do ME. I can watch a movie, I can take care of housework I’d put off in favor of playing with the kids, I can get intimate with my husband – all without the risk of being interrupted.

Why hadn’t I done this sooner?!

Well, because I was super against CIO sleep training methods. Letting my baby’s cries go unanswered for even 5 minutes felt wrong to me. I co slept with Nori until she was almost 2 and believed that I was going to do the same with Mateo. Thing is, our home life is way different than it used to be. Not only do I have another child to take care of but I rarely have help from Benny because he travels so often for work. What I felt comfortable and confidant doing just wasn’t working anymore.

I had to get over my own judgements about sleep training and take care of business!

The sleep trainer who I worked with is a Sleep Sense trained consultant. She got to know me and my situation and then formulated a plan and a schedule for Mateo. The whole thing was out of my comfort zone, but I was so desperate for things to be different that I dove into it head first.

We set a date to begin and she sent over a plan.

I was to pick a length of time that I felt comfortable letting Mateo cry for – I chose 10 minutes.

I was to pick a key phrase – I chose “it’s beddy-bye time”.

I was to choose a sleepy song – I chose “Twinkle Twinkle”

I was to be consistent.

The first night, I put Nori to bed first so that I could focus on Mateo afterward. At 7:15, I took him into his room and got him into his pajamas. I rolled some lavender on his feet. I turned on his noise machine and turned off the lights. I said my key phrase and sang him his sleepy song. I set him down in his crib and I left his room.

Immediately, he began sobbing.

I set my timer for 10 minutes and did my best to distract myself from his cries. It was super hard!

10 minutes passed and he was still upset, so I went into his room. I decided that picking him up to comfort him felt better to me than just standing near his crib, so I picked him up and held him close. Again, I said my key phrase and I sang him his sleepy song. He calmed down, so I set him back into his crib and left his room again.

I set my timer for 10 minutes.

This time, he screamed bloody murder! It was so intense. As the time counted down, I stared at the baby monitor. My stomach was in knots. My poor baby!! He wasn’t calming down!

The timer went off again and I returned to his room. This time, I only set my hand on his back while I sang his song and repeated his key phrase – I thought that maybe picking him up had been a bad idea. When he was calm, I left again and again, he seemed more upset than he had been before I entered the room.

I set another 10 minutes on the timer.

I decided to text my sleep consultant and see what she thought about his sadness escalating. She suggested that maybe I stop checking in on him. That felt really wrong to me, so I went in one last time and again, he became even more upset.

OK FINE!!

I stopped checking on him and 15 minutes later, he fell asleep and he stayed asleep until the next morning.

Mateo, asleep in his crib.

All in all, it was 45 minutes of tears.

The next day, we started naps. His first nap was to be at 10am. I did the same things – the key phrase, the song and left him sleepy but awake in his crib.

He cried – a lot. That first nap, I think he cried for 30 minutes. His second nap, he cried for 20. Bedtime, he cried for 20.

Honestly, for the first 3 days, he was probably crying for a total of an hour each day between his naps and bedtime. It was a lot. It didn’t feel good, but I knew that if I gave up, all of those tears would’ve been for nothing. I was so thankful that I had hired a consultant, because without her checking in on me, I may have given up.

She had me fill out a sleep log to keep track of his nap times and bed times and also how long he cried between our routine and falling asleep. By doing these, I learned when to put him down to minimize the tears.

No matter what time I set Mateo in his crib for his morning nap, he always fell asleep at about 10:20 and by 2:00 for his afternoon nap – bedtime he was asleep by 7:30. I started to set him down at those times, no matter what – even if I saw sleepy cues earlier – and he began to fall asleep with less tears. At most, I’d have 15 minutes of upset, but it stopped being real crying after those first few days and became more of a whiny moan. Even if Mateo woke up in the middle of night, he was able to soothe himself back to sleep within 10 minutes without needing to nurse or be rocked.

Everything had fallen into place!

YASSSSSS!

Now, it’s been 12 days and every day is easier than the last – in fact, now it isn’t a “thing” anymore – it’s just the way that we do sleep in our household.

I am so, so grateful for my sleep trainer! I couldn’t have done it without her!!

If you’re on the fence about sleep training and want some tips, here’s what I’ve got:

  1. Be all in. Don’t try to train one day and then chicken out the next. Consistency is key.
  2. Listen to your baby. Some cry’s are frantic and others seem calm – adjust your timer accordingly. Also, like in my case, if something you planned to do seems not to be working, like picking up your baby or doing constant checks, stop doing it!
  3. Keep a sleep log so that you can see your baby’s sleep patterns and adjust your schedule accordingly.
  4. Plan to stay home and revolve your life around sleep training for at least the first week.
  5. Make sure that you have support, wether from your partner, parents, friend or in my case, hired help. It really helps to have someone to hold you accountable and also to have someone to talk to during hard times.
  6. Don’t judge yourself or think that you’re a bad mom for allowing your child to cry. You’re teaching them a valuable life skill – how to sleep! Anyone would feel upset if suddenly their routine was totally changed. As long as you’re usually attentive to your baby, they know that you love them!
  7. Focus on the goal! A few days of tears are so worth it for hopefully years of easy sleep from your child.

If your child’s sleep patterns aren’t working for your family anymore, I totally recommend sleep training. It has totally changed our lives over here – my only regret is waiting so long to give it a try.

Loving With Intention: How to put love before your ego and create relationship magic

On August 24th, Benny and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary!

YAY FOR US!

To celebrate, he and I got a babysitter and went out for dinner at Toro Bravo. We had the tasting menu and it was delicious, but seriously, it was so much food. I didn’t even want dessert and if you know me, you’ll know that is extremely rare.

On our way there, Benny took my hand and sweetly asked me, “What is your favorite thing about our relationship?”

I answered him without thinking too much about it – I don’t do well under pressure – I felt bashful! I said some sweet things, but I didn’t love my answer – I knew I had more to say, if I had more time to think about it.

So, I kept thinking about it.

I thought about it during our date, I thought about it when we got home. I’ve been thinking about it since then and I think that finally, I’ve found my answer.

What I love most about our relationship is the way that we love each other.

It’s that simple.

Right now, Benny and I can agree that we are the happiest we have ever been in our relationship – it’s not that we were unhappy before, but right now things feel so healthy – so easy.

Our love has grown into a new way of being. We have started to love each other with intention.

Every day, he and I make the decision to hold ourselves accountable for our relationship’s success – we don’t run on auto pilot anymore.

We strive for love in our every day and do what it takes to come from a place of understanding. Because of this, we have been growing together as individuals and within our marriage.

I feel supported to be me. I feel heard. I feel safe and understood.

Now, don’t get me wrong – we have our shit. Sometimes I want to strangle Benny. Sometimes, I am so annoyed with him that I vent to my friends about it, or huff and puff around the house. Sometimes I want space and sometimes he isn’t close enough. We struggle, like most couples do – the difference is, now we talk about it instead of arguing about it.

We put our love before our egos.

Moving toward loving intentionally instead of falling back on old habits comes down to just a few things:

Owning your shit. Instead of getting defensive when your partner tells you that something you have done has upset them, believe them! We all have our own emotional history and wounds – it’s important to look inward and see how you could avoid this trigger in the future instead of getting defensive and putting blame on something else. This helps not only to grow as a couple, but also to grow as an individual.

In the last two months, Mateo has become increasingly clingy and has been sleeping a lot less. By the end of the day, I feel touched out and tired. Even though I felt that I was doing a good job balancing my mom life with our romantic life, Benny didn’t entirely agree. His love languages are touch and words of affirmation and I realized, I had hardly been doing either of those things for him! Sure, I was telling him that I loved him every day and I was making time to be intimate, but for him, that wasn’t enough. He told me that he felt like I wasn’t interested in him anymore. He didn’t feel loved. I could have gotten defensive and in the past, that would’ve been my go to – “I’m tired! The baby is always on me! You never make ME feel loved! You’re always away, anyway!” but instead, my heart broke for him. I felt terrible! The last thing I ever want to do is to hurt my partner. I chose to love him! I looked inward. I set the intention to show him how much I love and desire him –  I give him longer, warmer hugs, I kiss him when we greet each other, I give him praise and make sex something that I make time for, not just something we can do if we have time. I’ve started to speak his language again and he noticed!

Picking your battles. You may not like everything that your partner does, but that doesn’t mean that they need to hear about it. When Benny gets home from work at 3am, he likes to take his pants off and get comfortable. I totally understand wanting to get comfortable, but when he does, he just leaves his pants on the floor, or draped over a chair. It drives me nuts!

NUTS!!!

There are pants left all over the house – upstairs, downstairs, by the door, in the kitchen. There was a time where I would get upset about this and often, it would turn into an actual fight!

What a waste of energy, fighting about pants.

Now, I just roll my eyes, pick them up and throw them in the hamper. In the grand scheme of things, will his pants on the floor outweigh all of the other wonderful parts of our marriage?

Doubt it.

Showing gratitude. Let your partner know how much you appreciate them! Do something kind without being asked or with the expectation of having the gesture reciprocated.

Say thank you for the things that you usually take for granted.

Every now and again, Benny will thank me for doing his laundry or for cooking dinner and it makes me so happy to know that he appreciates what I do for him in the day to day.

Even better is when he does my chores for me so I can relax. He knows that there is no easier way to get in my pants than to empty the dishwasher.

Supporting each other. Let your partner follow their heart and help to support their personal growth. Don’t let the fear that changes might ruin your relationship, ruin your relationship. Change is hard, but inevitable.

When Benny was offered a job working for a company that would require him to travel frequently, I encouraged him to take the job. I knew that this was something that he really wanted. I wanted him to follow his dreams, even though it meant that we wouldn’t be together as often and that I would be alone to care for both of our children for long periods at a time.

For me, this has been the most difficult change that I’ve had to accept, but I am really working on it. He and I strive not to let resentments build up, so, whenever I am feeling really sad and lonely, I talk to him about it. He also knows that sometimes, I just need to vent and he lets me, even when it may make him feel bad. I’m not looking for him to make a change, I am just looking for a shoulder.

His personal growth is just as important our growth together (and vice versa)

Marriage can be hard sometimes, but it doesn’t have to be a battle! These are our partners, after all!

By choosing to love my partner over everything else, I’ve changed the way that I love and we have found a place of (mostly) harmony. It’s still a work in progress but by setting the intention, I’ve already done most of the work!

When 3 became 4: How adding a sibling changed everything

I am an only child.

Well, I had step siblings from my father’s second wife, but that isn’t the same thing. We didn’t have that intrinsic connection that I imagine siblings to have. Sure, I enjoyed growing up with them but I didn’t always feel welcomed or loved.

It was hard.

I wanted to feel more connected to them, for them to be like my real family, but no matter what, I always felt a bit on the outside.

When I was 21, my father died. It was a total surprise and left me and my step siblings shocked and upset. Even though we were all experiencing this loss together, I felt even further away from them then I ever had before. Here were these people who knew my pain – who were living it too, but we didn’t mourn together. They had each other to lean on, and I had myself.

I felt so alone.

Having someone to have gone through all of this with would have made a world of difference.

Im sure of it!

When Benny and I started thinking about wether or not we wanted to give Nori a sibling, I reflected on this time – how I felt, what I had wished for.

What if there was some sort of tragedy and Nori had no one to lean on?

She needed a teammate for life. A friend. Someone to talk shit about me and her dad to when she got in trouble. Some one to pick on and play with and really, do whatever it is that siblings do together – Im an only child, remember? I don’t know what I’m talking about.

I wanted her to have the forever friend that I didn’t have. I didn’t want her to ever feel alone.

Even though I had made up my mind about giving Nori a sibling, I had to work on Benny for close to a year before he was down for baby two!

I wasn’t worried though – I get what I want.

After three months of trying, I found out that I was pregnant. Nori was three years old.

We were THRILLED!

Soon enough, that happiness and excitement turned into anxiety and fear. Not fear of having the baby – we were already pros – but fear of what this new baby might do to our family dynamic. Fears about my special bond with Nori being broken.

I’d spend nights awake in bed, sobbing, worrying about losing Nori.

What the fuck?! We planned this!!

I thought about this for years. How did I suddenly realize that adding a sibling might be painful for her – for all of us?

I was mourning her – our love, our special bond – before anything had even happened.

Did we make a mistake?

I couldn’t get these thoughts out of my mind. Every moment that I spent with Nori, I treated like they were my last.

I gave her my full attention.

I held her close.

I breathed her in.

I kept telling her, “When your brother comes, things may be different, but just know that mommy and daddy love you so much! You’ll always be our special girl.”

Looking back, I don’t think that I should have said that so often. It probably hadn’t even occurred to her that things would be different.

I’m sure she smelled my fear.

Even though I was worried about her accepting the coming change, I also loved sharing my pregnancy with her. She loved my belly. She loved to kiss it and sing songs to it. She liked to feel the baby move. She would put her lips against my skin and talk to her brother.

She laughed when I used my belly as a table.

Nori’s sweet little hand on my baby bump.

When Mateo was born, she asked if we could put him back in there, because she loved my big belly so much.

He was better on the inside, in her eyes.

She didn’t come to visit us at the hospital. She didn’t want to facetime with us either. I tried to understand, while I laid in the hospital bed, nursing our son – her brother.

“It’s happening” I thought. “Everything I feared has come true.”

When we returned home with Mateo, Nori looked different to me. She looked humongous.

Her hands!!

Why were they so big?

How did she grow so much in the two days that we were at the hospital?

The fuck?

She hugged her brother. She hugged and kissed me and her father. She posed for photos. She was just being herself, but somehow, I felt like I didn’t know her anymore. I felt like she didn’t trust me – that I owed her something. I wanted to give her so much of me, to comfort her, to let her know that everything would be ok, but I couldn’t. I was exhausted, infatuated, distracted, hormonal. I expected her to be patient with me.

I expected my 4 year old to understand.

Nori and Mateo, when he was a few days old.

Benny took over most of my responsibilities that first month. He made Nori breakfast, he took her to school, he picked her up, he played with her, he made dinner, all while I laid in bed with Mateo, sleeping and nursing and sleeping and nursing.

Nori would come in to visit us. She never would come in the bed, but would stand at the edge and talk to me.

I wanted her closer. I wanted her snuggled there with me. I was missing her and I know she was missing me too.

After a few days, her sadness turned into anger and she started to be mean to me.

One morning, once Mateo was asleep, I went into her room to read with her and let her know that I’d do bath with her that night. I was focused on her. I needed to connect with her but she told me that she didn’t want to hear a story and that Benny should do her bath too. She asked me to leave her room.

Ouch.

I’d never felt rejection from her before and damn, did it hurt.

“Nori, I have this time to be with you, and you’re not being kind to me! I know that you miss me but I don’t think you understand that I miss you too.”

I started to cry. I couldn’t keep it together.

Nori looked at me in a way that I’d never seen her look at me before. I had never cried like that in front of my daughter, being her mom, I’d always held it together.

She jumped into my arms, crying and I held her.

She laughed, “Mama! We are both crying!” and then I laughed too.

Those early days were hard.

Mateo is almost 8 months old now and Nori is his favorite person in the whole house – well, except for me – but I think that’s just because I’ve got the boobs.

He laughs at everything she does. She will yell, “Banana bread!” and he cracks up and then we all crack up because it’s so random and funny!

Seeing their friendship blossom has been a treat. It fills my heart with so much love that I can feel it exploding!

The two of them being extra cute, playing on Mateo’s mat.

It’s crazy.

But, I’m not gonna lie, we still struggle.

Bedtime is a nightmare and sometimes, errands are too. Some days I feel so overwhelmed that when I am finally free to do whatever I need to do, I just go straight to bed. Some days Nori plays alone for hours while I struggle with a fussy baby, but we are getting there.

I’m trying my best.

Just the other night, Mateo was asleep in his room and I had my hands free to cuddle with Nori in her bed. I stroked her hair and sang her lullibies. Out of nowhere, she sat up and turned to me. She said, “Mama, I’m so sorry that I hated Mateo so much before, because now I love him!” and you know those heart explosions I mentioned before?

I had a thousand of them.

Hello!

I’ve been wanting to start a blog for a while. I think about it at night while I scroll through my phone. I come up with name ideas and post ideas, what my layout will look like, the whole nine. I fantasize about how awesome it’ll be and how maybe I’ll connect with people with whom I wouldn’t have connected with otherwise. Maybe my story and ideals can influence others or help them get through rough times. Maybe I can help someone feel less alone. What a great release it could be for me – to put myself into something that isn’t my children, something that brings me joy. It’s the perfect daydream. The thought of it gets me excited, it consumes me, but then, like clockwork, that excitement turns into anxiety. My brain tries to bring me down – it does bring me down and I think, “it’s just a fantasy. Everyone is doing it already. Why bother?”

GAH. Shut up brain!

I hear her again. “No one will want to read it and people who do might think you’re weird.”

Seriously, dude. Shut up.

And again! “You don’t even know how to do this. What would your first post even be? Do you even know? Would you just start writing? Would you introduce yourself? You’ll probably start out wrong. Just forget about it.”

My brain doesn’t shut up.

My anxiety swells.

I decide to not start a blog.

The end

Just kidding!

Who cares if everyone is doing it. Who cares if no one reads it. WHATEVER, DUDE!! If I don’t bite the bullet, it will eat away at me forever – those “what if’s” in life really have a way of doing that. So, here we are!

Let me introduce myself.

I’m Emma!

I am 31 years old, married and have two kids, Nori, 4 and Mateo, 7mo. My husband, Benny, is an audio engineer. He travels a lot for work. Sometimes he is gone for weeks on end, hustling hard at music festivals and concerts all over the country (and sometimes other countries too). It’s hard for me to be alone with two young children, but I am proud of him. Thanks to him, I get to stay at home with my kids and honestly, that is the only consistent thing I have wanted in my life.

I grew up in New Jersey and now I live in Portland, OR. It’s cool! I really like it here. I’ve been here for over 10 years now – I better like it. So much of my life has been made here – I met my husband here, I lost my father here. After I gave birth to my daughter, my mom moved out here. My closest friendships are here. Some of my lowest times were here but because of those rough spots, I’ve really grown out here. Sometimes I think about leaving, maybe to somewhere warmer – usually when it’s been raining for too long – but deep down, I know that I probably never will.

I think when I was first pregnant with Nori, that people judged me (re: low times). I’m sure a lot of people would share the news, laughing, thinking “oh my god. she is going to be a mom?”

By the time I got pregnant with Mateo, I’d already gone “full mom” as I like to call it. My husband has asked me, “What does that even mean?”

Honestly, I don’t know. But it feels like that’s what I did.

Motherhood is demanding, selfless, thankless. Your freedom is stripped, some friendships are lost, parts of yourself go missing, your relationship changes, you’re always tired and your boobs will never, ever be the same!!

Yikes. That sounds awful, huh?

It’s totally not though!! Motherhood is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

I hope to share my ups and downs, my ins and outs, my favorite things and my least favorite things, my ongoing struggle with excepting getting older, my ambivalence about my hair and my personal style, eh, the list goes on.

I hope you stay for a while and really get to know me. I’ve got so much to say.