Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The First 2 months with 3 Kids, Plus a $50 Huggies Gift Card Giveaway

Now that I’ve had 2 months of perspective with 3 kids, I’ve pulled together a few thoughts on the matter. I've had good days and I've had some bad days, and I've had some days where I literally feel like I'm floating in a sunny little love bubble on top of the world. I've had a lot of people ask me, 'How are you doing??' and, 'You seem to be doing really well.' with a curious look in their eyes. And the truth is, I am well. It has been well. It took time to learn how to make it well, but I'm so glad I got there. It wasn't an easy route -- and never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, will I say that these days in this season are easy. Please don't let anyone fool you -- it's totally insane. I especially love when people with no kids, or only one kid are here in the evenings and witness in particular the 5-8pm hours. They'll say, ‘I can't believe you do this every night!’ and I feel like I laugh maniacally and reply, ‘I know!! It's absolutely insane EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT!’ I've turned into that super 'Type-A Mom' with our schedules and our routines, but regardless -- cooking, feeding, cleaning, homework, bathing, changing, brushing teeth, reading to, talking to, teaching, and putting a toddler and kid to bed, while 'shh'ing' and rocking and nursing a baby is a big, lovely, arduous production. 
But I come bearing good news for you, folks. I realize NOW that no, it wasn’t too much to have another baby, that the transition from 2-3 was actually so much easier than it was going from 1-2, and that having 3 kids is really, truly amazing -- for them, as it is for us. They all really truly love each other, and when I witness those moments, my heart pauses and it brings me to tears.
Speaking of of the hardest moments I ever had as a mom was about 2 and a half years ago when we were living in our apartment as we were waiting to close on our house. Blair ran me ragged from the instant she was born up until she turned 16 months old. She was a particularly 'high-need' or 'high maintenance' baby, as she was toddler. She was also my first baby breastfeeding and she would wake to nurse every 2-4 hours, and constantly need me to nurse/pacify her throughout the days. I was constantly irritable, impatient, frustrated, sleep-deprived, and living under what I now often refer to as a heavy fog for almost a year and a half. So it was a long night after a particularly hard day and hard week with Blair, and having two of them in general. I was at my wit's end and was desperately trying to get her to night-wean and fall asleep alone in her crib, and I snapped at Chris. And I snapped at him hard. Right in front of Landon. After my 'moment' I glanced down at Landon. He was clutching his stuffed animal and had an unforgettable look of sadness mixed with terror on his face. And then he quietly confided to Chris, "Daddy....maybe we should get a new mommy."
It was an instant life shift. It felt like 847 tiny knives were quietly attacking my already extra vulnerable, open heart. I made a very quick/easy decision that second that I could not, would not be this person that I had become. It was my 'putting my stake in the ground' moment that things were going to change - that I was going to change.. It was by no means an easy transition, but I successfully night weaned Blair and got her sleeping in her own crib and independently of me and through the night at 16 months, we got on a breastfeeding schedule, and the fog I was living with finally lifted. I made concerted efforts to carve out quality one-on-one time with Landon, even if it was just having a thoughtful conversation with him after school, or building legos or train tracks together with him, or quietly snuggling with him before bed. And I’m happy to report that it absolutely paid off and I quickly moved back up ranks to being the number one woman in his heart and eyes. 

During the end of my pregnancy with Havana I started to really fear the thought of becoming 'that person' again with a newborn, and only with 2 other kids now instead of just one. But I knew in my heart of hearts and down to my bones that I did not want the way I felt for those 16 months or the way I felt that night to ever be relived. So since Havana's birth, I started making a list of things that make me feel GOOD and that are an active component of me having GOOD days -- mentally, physically, on point and happy and thriving forward, for myself and for my family. And it's really been working - for all of us. Havana is healthy and in the 90th percentile off of exclusively breastfeeding. Blair has been quoted as developmentally advanced in all areas by speech/behavioral/occupational therapists. Landon is happy and is at the top of his class in school and his teacher told me he's a "role model" to the rest of the class. Daddy is working hard to make that dollar and his businesses are busy and booming. And Mommy Dearest -- is really doing well. I've been much more level headed, slow (er/ish) to anger, and functioning at the highest capacity I ever have on as much sleep as I've ever lacked. Here's a couple of things I've learned that are keeping me sane:

1. Saying no. Trying to balance your own life amongst 3 young children is an absolute fools errand. I think it might feel equal to having whirling, messy, destructive, loud tornados all around you, every second of the day. Someone needs your help with something, the other is running around with scissors, the baby is crying, and the minute you do cease the winds around you, about 30 seconds later you realize you have to clean something up, there's a new fight to break up, you need to change shirts, someone needs a snack, and we all need to get out the door to make karate. All this could lead one to feel completely stressed out at any given moment. One of the smartest things I did was have the foresight to recognize this as a problem I was going to face and I started saying 'no' to certain activities and to people, at least in this season we're in right now. And it's been wonderful. I learned how to say "I'm sorry, I wish I could help" and "I can't fit that into my life right now" to anything that doesn't benefit me and my family. When I interact with people, instead of closing the conversation with, "We should totally get together with the kids sometime! Let's schedule a play date!" I just say things like, "It was so good to see you," and "I'm so glad we ran into each other." 
2. Letting go. I learned it's important to just let go of some thought patterns and practices that I don't have the extra time or space for in my life for anymore. And I always hear the Frozen song playing in my head when I do so, which now you will too, you're welcome. I've let a lot of things go, from nixing our cloth diapers and using disposables (we're wearing Huggies diapers these days), to using disposable plates and utensils when people come over, to letting go of the idea that I need to 'entertain' people when they come over and instead, just 'be'. I've let go of the thought that I need to get a workout in every day. I let my failures from the day go, I learn from them, and give myself grace and make tomorrow better.
3. 'Eating Clean' & taking Probiotics. I am by NO means in the health and fitness industry, nor do I have any desire to be, but I do know for certain that eating clean (cutting out preservatives and added sugars and eating foods in their purest form) has made a huge difference in how I'm feeling, my energy levels and give me a noticeably clearer mind. I added taking probiotics to this category because they've been a HUGE player in this. They help a TON in cutting out cravings for sweets, keeping our digestive systems regular, and have given a noticeable boost in our immune systems and overall health. I am not getting paid by any of these companies, but Chris and I take these and the kids take these.
What has also helped immensely in this category is food prep and making and freezing meals in advance. This was never something I did before but when my mom came to visit after Havana was born we got to cooking & freezing and with 3 young kids it is smart business and a total life changer. I would tell any mom, regardless the age of your kids, regardless the number of kids, and regardless if you work or stay at home, freezer meals are absolutely 120 thousand percent worth it and can make your evenings go about a gazillion times smoother.
4. Making lists upon lists upon lists. Hence this blog post. The only thing that combats my forgetfulness is having it written down somewhere. I have multiple lists around my kitchen, one for the grocery store, one for errands, and one for things I just need to remember to do (i.e. Call health insurance, make dentist appointments, etc. etc.), things I WANT to do (vacuum car, deep clean couch cushions, etc) & it feels GOOD crossing these things off.
5. Self Care. I used to think this was a stupid, fluffy expression and not a real thing. And then I thought it was a selfish thing, but now I realize how soooo important it is and that it is something you need to pencil into your calendar and day as you do appointments and date night. I started Blair in preschools on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and one of those mornings I make sure I do something just for myself. Whether it's painting my nails, doing yoga, buying something for myself, or just sitting and relaxing outside on my deck, I make sure once a week I do something for just my own self, because I know if I don't give myself that weekly morning to do something for my own heart and body, that the rest of the family suffers. And while we're on the subject, putting your preschooler into preschool a couple days a week - IS EVERYTHING.
6. My oils! Of course my oils. The ones I've been loving lately and notice the most difference in my days with are Valor, Peace & Calming, & Patchouli (usually mixed with Stress Away or Citrus Fresh). These keep me grounded and centered, give me positive energy and keep anxiety and negative thoughts at bay. (Read more about them here).
7. Staying in close communion with God every moment of every day. Every morning I sit in my fire room with Havana and drink my morning coffee and read my daily devotional. And then I sit there in quiet, praying to God, thanking Him, asking Him to give me what I need to get through the day before me.

So those are some things I've added to my life, that I make sure I do every day that keep me from going batshit crazy and losing my mind. I hope that if you feel like you're in one of those strained, fogged seasons of life yourself, that you still know you are a good, good mama, and I sincerely hope that maybe a thing or two I've typed out on here helps you get through the days a little better.

I guess a big part of it all too is keeping perspective. This is all temporary. And as my third spin around in all this, I'm painfully realizing more than ever before just how fast it all goes. And how much faster it all goes with the addition of every child. So as life around me is moving at lightening speed, and on the days the little tornados around me never seem to cease, I remind myself that in a year (or two, or five) we’ll be in a different place. I may not look back at these seasons with a particular nostalgia, but getting through them all is a badge of honor that someday I’m going to wear proudly and I really am still for the most part really enjoying our days together (well, the moments in between Blair's freak outs).
Well, it’s late. I’m two apple cider beers in. I love all my babies, like all of you do, so much. I find myself unable to stop kissing Havana's soft little baby forehead and breathing in her sweet, sour milk scent every single second of every single day. I say ‘I love you’ to the big ones way too often. Landon will say something like, "so mumma.....what are we gonna do now?" and I'll say, "I don't know sweetie.....but you wanna know what? I love you so, SO SO SO SO much."
And the BEST? Is that after feeling like the level of my crazy love for them was unmatched for so long, I now get the COMPLETELY UNPROMPTED & UNSOLICITED, "Mumma ... I love you." with a sweet smile and earnest eyes looking right into mine. And it's all.the.feels. 
When we're all home together, Chris and I can't even manage to get in a full conversation to each other. And trying to spend quality time with him at home while everyone is under the same roof is an impossible venture. It's like they have a radar that goes off. A quiet romantic bath once the baby is finally content turns quickly into a big family hot tub bubble party in our bathing suits. But really.... it's the epitome of everything my heart has ever wanted in life, and its the fruition of the hope I saw in Chris' eyes when he asked me to marry him. And as challenging and sleep deprived as it all is, having a family really is everything and more that its cracked up to be.
And because I know how hard this mothering season can all be, today I'm giving away a $50 gift card to one of you beautiful, hard working, self care deserving mamas. 
All you need to do to enter: is leave a comment on this blog post letting me know one of your guilty pleasures. Yes, something that you do ONLY for your own self that makes your heart happy and restores your sanity.
That's it! And don't forget to leave your email address on your comment so I know how to contact you if you're the lucky winner.
Giveaway will run for one week from today and will officially end on Nov. 2, 2017.

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Kid's Bookshop - Giveaway!

Soo in love with this new online children's bookstore, The Kid's Bookshop. They have the best, beautiful hardcover books and an extremely wide range of different types of books for any age and interest. What's even better is that it is online for busy mamas like myself-- it is super easy to browse their selection of books and choose the perfect one for any child in your life.
The search criteria allows you to narrow your search results based on the child's gender, age, interests, loved character, book format, and your price range. So you could very easily find the perfect book for let's say your 3 year old nephew who loves trains, and without spending over $20. I also love that you can search book format too, allowing you to narrow your results based on a wide variety of mediums -- cloth books, books + toys, books + DVDs, board books, activity books, puppet books, or pop up books. Gorgeous gift wrapping is also available too, putting the final finishing touch on making this the perfect, thoughtful gift for birthdays and holidays for children in your life that live far away.
My kids are obsessed with their books from the Kid's Bookshop. And I really enjoy reading them too! They have gorgeous illustrations, unique storylines, and are a lot of fun to read and not to mention spend quality, educational time with your children with. Landon got this really cool mystery book called "The Eleventh Hour," Blair "Pandamonia," and Havana "My Dog Bigsy." All are awesome and I would totally recommend!
Today I'm so excited to be giving away one of their gorgeous hardcover books to one of you! 

All you need to do to enter:
Leave a comment on this blog post letting me know the age and gender of your child.
**Please include your email address on the post so I know how to contact you if you're the lucky winner!**

Giveaway will run for exactly one week from today and end on November 1, 2017. Good luck!

Didn't win? Don't fret, use promo code mumma10 for 10% off your online order! :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Bits of Life Lately

handmade by a beautiful friend, check out her etsy shop
All products made for my first craft fair. Local friends save the date for November 5 & 6th for the Showcase of Arts & Crafts in Barrington :)

Friday, October 14, 2016

Super Easy & Delicious Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup

Happy Fall y'all! Sharing a delicious crock pot tortellini tomato soup recipe with you today. This recipe is SO easy (trust me, you are going to thank me) and is the perfect fall soup to warm up your insides on the start of these chilly days. My kids gobbled this soup right up too, and it also freezes well! Since Havana's birth, I've been all about the freezer meals, they've been a total lifesaver & game changer in my life!

You'll notice the only ingredient you might not have offhand is the Tomato Red Bell Pepper Juice. We use R.W. Knudsen Family's Juice, which we love because they stand by wholesome ingredients without any artificial flavors or preservatives - they are made from organic single-fruits, with no added sweeteners and completely sweetened 100% by the juices straight from the vegetables. I would definitely recommend using this brand in this recipe, and would also recommend their other veggie juices for your other soup recipes this season too. You can now find R.W. Knudsen Juices stocked at your local grocery stores, Walmart, and Target.

- 8 Roma tomatoes, chopped (if don't have on hand or are in a time pinch, you can alternatively do 2 cans diced tomatoes)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 bag of fresh spinach
- 1 package of frozen tortellini
- 3 cups of chicken or vegetable broth/stock
- 1 cup R.W. Knudsen's Tomato Red Bell Pepper Juice
- 1 pack of cream cheese (I would recommend regular cream cheese, not the reduced fat. Would also stick to brand name here, don't go generic).
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup fresh basil
- about 2 tsp Herbs de Province

1. Combine all ingredients and cook in crockpot on low for 5-6 hours.
2. Can garnish with fresh basil &/or a dollop of sour cream

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Shop for a Purpose! Jacana Kids Clothing

SO in love with this new Australian children's clothing company, Jacana Kids. Not only do they offer super cute, top quality kid's clothes, but they contribute to early education services that help young children with developmental disabilities.
When Landon was a toddler he had a pretty bad speech delay and we received tremendous help through early intervention services for him from age 2-4. I've seen first hand what having extra support by trained professionals can do and we are so grateful to live in an area where this was given to us free of cost. Research shows that support during the early years of childhood dramatically improves outcomes for children with any sort of speech or behavioral disability or delay, and many families live in areas of the world where they have to pay privately to get this type of support for their child.
Every year Jacana Kids donates 50% of its profits to a chosen organization. This year they chose Yooralla, a company committed to supporting children with disabilities and helping them lead a life full of confidence and independence.
Their clothing not only supports a great cause, but it is really durable quality, which I really appreciate since my kids' clothes always get run through the mill. I especially love the thickness and soft feel of their hoodies, and have one for each of my kids in different prints for these chilly fall days. Each Jacana Kids garment is hand drawn by a young child and all their prints are so cute! You can even submit your child's own drawing here. I especially love how all their items are in neutral colors because they really go with everything and are so easy to mix & match with items you already have.
Landon is here wearing this Alphabetie Tee and Skateboard Star hoodie, drawn and named by Maddox, a 5 year old boy, and Blair Bears is rocking out their Winter Raindrops Tee, drawn and named by Nyah, age 13.
I'm also in love with their Halloween Collection right now, especially love this mummy shirt and this tribe of mummies shirt.
I'm so glad I got to share this company with you guys and hope you think of them when doing some fall & Christmas shopping of your own! And go ahead and type in promo code MUMMASCORNER for 10% off your order!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Blair's Big Girl Room!

I can't believe I'm finally posting this after hoarding having all this big girl furniture for her since she was a little baby. As you may know, Blair didn't once use or sleep in her nursery for a year and a half as we nursed and co-slept for forever. So I've been excited about her 'big girl' room because I knew that she would actually be in it and it would truly become hers, forever. Almost all of the furniture we received from some very generous friends of ours, whose daughter had outgrown. It is all solid wood and painted by hand and I absolutely adore the ethereal, unique, & natural feel to it. I scored the Jenny Lind bed on Craigslist for $200, in great condition and in the off-white color that had been discontinued(!) All sources for everything else are linked up at the bottom of the post.

Paint: Sherwin Williams 'Antique White'
Rug: RugsUSA
Bed: The Land of Nod
Basket: Tuesday Morning
Bed Sheets: Tuesday Morning
Quilt: Handed down 
Woven Wall Hanging: Fernwen Supply Co
Couch: Pottery Barn Kids
The Sweet Life wall hanging/hook: (no longer available) but Pottery Barn
Dream Catcher: Boho Nest
Happy Cloud Pillows: OhNoRachio
Elephant print: Oana Befort
Heart shelf: Handed down
Knit Mermaid: Bla Bla Kids
Curtains: Target
Curtain Rods: The Home Depot
Anything I didn't list you are interested in? Shoot me an email at :)

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