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.
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 had such good intentions for what I wanted to write this week, but it didn’t happen because I completely jinxed myself with last weeks post about sleep training. I should’ve known better than to brag about our accomplishments after a measly two weeks.
What was I thinking?!
Mateo has still been putting himself to sleep independently, but he has been waking up at 430/5am everyday.
ITS KILLING ME!
I’m so tired that my eyes burn.
It’s a vicious cycle of suck. He wakes up early, so his naps are early and then he is ready for bed by 5pm. I would reach out to our sleep consultant, but our two week session is over. It ended literally the day all of this BS started.
I’ve been reading up on all sorts of different solutions to the early waking but I just feel so discouraged that it’s hard for me to take action.
This morning when Mateo woke up at 430, I just brought him into my bed to nurse and he slept in until 7. I don’t want to start a bad habit, but honestly, if I don’t start sleeping again, I’m going to lose my mind.
So, that’s where I’m at. Hopefully things will get back on track soon, so I can focus on anything other than sleep schedules and feeling like garbage and share with you the posts I’ve been working on.
I’m open to hearing any tips or tricks you might have!
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.
I stopped checking on him and 15 minutes later, he fell asleep and he stayed asleep until the next morning.
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!
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:
Be all in. Don’t try to train one day and then chicken out the next. Consistency is key.
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!
Keep a sleep log so that you can see your baby’s sleep patterns and adjust your schedule accordingly.
Plan to stay home and revolve your life around sleep training for at least the first week.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Why were they so big?
How did she grow so much in the two days that we were at the hospital?
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.
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.
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!
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?
Ever since becoming a mother, I’ve heard the phrase, “you can’t pour from an empty cup” more than I ever have in my entire life – In fact, I don’t think I had ever heard it before having kids.
Is this a phrase that is reserved only for parents?
Mom life is exhausting.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I love being a mama and feel so lucky to be able to stay at home with my children, but damn, some days, it is so hard!
I cook, I clean, I play, I entertain, I problem solve, I taxi drive, I wipe tears, I wipe butts, I pay bills, I schedule appointments, I give baths, I do laundry, I grocery shop.
And that’s just what I can think of of the top of my head.
It never ends! Literally!
When Benny is home, its hard enough, but when he is away for weeks at a time?!
Just thinking about it makes me anxious.
When you’re a stay at home parent, you never leave work.
Feeling run down has become a way of life. Instead of planning to get more rest, I’ve invested in a better concealer.
I drink so much coffee that if the opportunity for a nap comes up, I’m too jacked up to lay down.
I haven’t pooped alone in years!
Sometimes, I just want space! I want a few moments to myself, to hear my own thoughts.
I envy my husband when he travels. I know that he misses us so much, but usually, he gets a hotel room where he gets to shower alone and lay down alone – he doesn’t have any one asking him questions. He gets to look at his phone without feeling guilty.
OH! The bliss.
I can only imagine.
I want to shower alone! I want to lay down and know that I won’t be interrupted for 8 hours! I want for one day, no one to ask me anything.
When he is home, I struggle to admit to him that I could use a hand – and this is the time where I should be taking all the help I can get! I should be milking it!!
Unfortunately, for me, asking for help is not something that I do well.
A few weeks back, we had several 100 degree days in a row. We have a great house, but no AC. Toward the end of this heatwave, our house was miserable! The house was barely cooling down to 80 at night.
One morning, after a rough, sweaty night with Mateo, I woke up, extra grumpy.
My daughter, like she always does, ran into my bedroom to rush me out of bed. She wanted to assign me a character for whatever make-believe she was already playing.
Pretend play? Already?! I’ll pass.
She wanted pancakes, she wanted another cup of milk, she wanted to go outside.
I made myself some coffee and set it on the counter.
I thought that getting dressed might help to pull me together, so I grabbed the baby to bring him along with me. I noticed he was wet, so I went to change him and once he was undressed, he peed ALL OVER ME.
Now I was grumpy, sweaty and covered in urine.
I rolled the sleeves of my robe up until the wet parts were hidden inside of the dry and cleaned Mateo up. I washed my hands and dabbed my belly dry with a cloth.
I felt so gross.
The icing on the cake? Now, my coffee was cold!
Huffing and puffing, I went to change in my bedroom and remembered that my husband was still asleep, as he worked late the night before.
I went to microwave my coffee and sat down to drink it, still in my pee clothes, so that I wouldn’t disturb sleeping beauty.
An hour or so later, when I heard him waking up, I became overcome with rage!
I stormed over to him and blerted out, “IM GOING TO TAKE A SHOWER, NOW! TAKE THE BABY!!”
He looked at me like, “Okay?”
He didn’t know about the pee, or how little I had slept or about my cold coffee on the counter. He didn’t know that I still needed to change. He didn’t know how much I was struggling that morning.
How could he have?
I handed him Mateo, and went to take a shower. Not some BS, rushed shower like I’d become accustomed to taking, but a nice, long shower.
I let the water pour over me. I lathered, I rinsed. I fucking repeated! I stood there and enjoyed the quiet. When I got out, I put in my contacts, put on some makeup and got fully dressed.
Usually, after a shower, I’d put my robe back on and rush out of there with my hair still in a towel.
When I walked out fully dressed, everything was fine. The kids were happy. My husband was happy – he greeted me warmly, with a kiss.
There was absolutely no reason for me not to be meeting my own needs. The household survived while I bathed. I don’t know why I thought that they wouldn’t.
Those 20 minutes alone were fantastic. I should have been doing this all of the time – at least three times a week.
Why wasn’t I just asking for help when I needed it?
It occurred to me that I was the only person in my family who was keeping track of the last time I showered, or how many times I had woken up the night before or microwaved my coffee that morning.
It’s easy to forget about taking care of yourself when everyone else forgets that you need to take care of yourself.
Maybe, it’s not that they were forgetting, but that I’m such a boss ass mama that my family didn’t realize that I was running on empty.
This wasn’t a them issue, it was a me issue.
I needed to pencil in time for myself just like I did for my husband and children. I needed to let go of the assumption that because being a mom was “my job” that I wasn’t allowed to or deserve to take breaks.
Self care, y’all!
Self care doesn’t need to be a spa day. It doesn’t need to be luxurious. Self care is whatever you need to do to care your yourself – even if it’s just advocating for your needs!
No one should ever breakdown crying over a shower.
I’ve put more focus onto my own well being and have become a better mother, a better wife and a happier me. I’ve done this by:
1. Speaking up. Instead of feeling resentment toward my family for things that I feel overwhelmed by, I began to tell my husband and daughter what I needed from them and I found that both of them were more than happy to go along with my requests. If I feel backed up on housework, I’ve learned that I can just tell my husband and more often than not, he will fold our laundry or pick up around the house. If I feel overwhelmed by my daughter wanting to play the moment we wake up, I just tell her that I’m not quite ready to make believe yet and she will give me space until I have woken up more. No one is a mind reader – more often than not, my family didn’t know that I was feeling overwhelmed.
2. Making time for friends. It isn’t always possible for me to get a sitter and hang out with my friends without Nori and Mateo. Luckily for me, a lot of my friends have children or don’t mind when I have mine with me. I try to see my friends at least 2 times a week and call and text my friends regularly. Feeling connected to other adults helps motherhood and family life feel less isolating. I am so grateful for the solid group of friends in my life!
3.Doing something extra. One thing that I always do for myself that makes me happy is have manicured nails. I go every three weeks to have my shellac changed and it is an act of self love that I refuse to sacrifice. Whenever I look at my hands and their pretty polish, I feel happy! Sometimes the kids stay with my husband, sometimes with my mom and sometimes with a sitter – no matter what I need to do to make it happen, I do it. Lately I have been bringing Nori along with me and I love that something that I do for me has become a bonding experience for us. Nourishing my relationship with her by including her in an activity that I love brings me happiness!
4. Indulging. When I am feeling down or worn out, taking myself out for a treat always helps. Okay, so, maybe I am a comfort eater, but whatever! We all have our vices. It could be worse!! My favorite treats are donuts and fro yo. This act of self care is a double whammy, because I can use getting treats as a bargaining chip for good behavior from Nori. Win/win, amirite?!
5. Taking breaks from social media. Nothing like a perfect instagram family to make you feel like shit on a rough day. Sometimes, disconnecting and taking time to be fully present in your own life is all you need to snap out of a funk. The world won’t end if you don’t share every activity you do to your story – I promise!
6. Buying something new. Something as simple as buying yourself a new teeshirt can make a huge difference. I try to make a point to only get myself something when I do this – all too often I’ll buy myself something on clearance and get the kids a whole new wardrobe – that doesn’t feel as good as shopping just for you.
I know it’s easier said than done, but as a stay home mom, you’re the families glue! You’re the most important! You need to take care of yourself just as well as you do your family.
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.
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 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.