I’ve Moved!

My posts can now be found at thebookishmomma.com.

Thank you for reading. 💗

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Things to Remember When the “Mom Guilt” Sets In

Mom guilt. We’ve all been there, right? Here’s what happens: Maybe you yelled at your kids over something (seemingly) trivial. Or maybe you let them watch YouTube so you can just get a few things done. Maybe it’s because you made a frozen pizza because you were just too tired to cook a “real” meal. The list goes on. Then the guilt sets in. You wonder why you lost your cool and raised your voice, you kick yourself because you let them have too much screen time, or you feel awful that you fed them processed food instead of something a little healthier.

But. Remember this: It happens. To everyone. Seriously. As crazy as it sounds, mom guilt can seriously make you feel like you’re the worst mom in the world. It can feel isolating. And the anxiety is real, y’all. So, here are a few things to remember when that guilt sets in:

You’re not the worst mom in the world. It’s easy to raise your voice sometimes, ya know? I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t. I mean, you’ve had a long day. You’re exhausted. You’re probably frustrated and stretched thin. But listen: You do all that you can, day in and day out, and your kids see that, momma, even if they don’t (or can’t yet) say it. Be easy on yourself and remember that you’re truly doing the best you can. To your kids, you’re the best mom in the world. Actually. Let me rephrase that: You are their world. Try not to lose sight of that.

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Your child loves you. Whatever you’re feeling guilty about, your kids will get over it. They’ll remember that you’re a safe place for them and that they can always count on your arms to be there to wrap them up in those big hugs of yours. Sure, they may be angry at you right now, but they love you and always will — and that’s so very important to remember.

You’re not alone. We all feel the mom guilt at some point. It can feel isolating, though, I know. So, seriously, reach out to someone if you need support, whether it’s your mom, your friends, a co-worker, your doctor — anyone! It can feel heavy sometimes (trust me!), and you don’t need to be in it alone. You aren’t in it alone. That, to me, is such a beautiful thing to keep in mind. Parenthood is a different journey for all of us, but it’s the same in so many ways. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone for support.

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It’s OK to need time to yourself. I’m going to repeat this one. It’s OK to need time to yourself. If that’s what it takes for you to re-charge and be the best mom you can be, then by all  means, take a breather. Whether you take the kids to the grandparents for a couple hours, or it’s once they’re in bed for the night, take a timeout. Read that book you’ve been meaning to read. Paint your nails. Watch one of your shows (the ones with the cussing and the drama, not the ones with the talking, singing animals). Drink the wine. Scroll on Twitter. Whatever it takes! Take some deep breaths and head back into your parenting duties with a rejuvenated, calm(er) mind.

Tomorrow is a new day. It sounds super obvious, I know. But I’ve always stood by the sentiment that each day brings new chances. Take each new day as a chance to not be so hard on yourself. Breathe, and ask yourself these two questions: Am I doing the best that I can? Are my kids the most awesome kids on the planet? You know as well as I do that the answer to both is a resounding YES. So, let that guilt go, momma.

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Review of Sorts: Wreckage

One of my goals for 2019 is to read more books than I read in 2018. Since I’m a mom of a toddler, and I’ll be finishing up my master’s degree this semester, I don’t want to set a specific number of books (I don’t want to set myself up for failure). But I think writing about the books I read — and the challenges I face trying to find the time to read — will help to keep me on task.

I was an English major in undergrad, and I honestly miss writing about books. I graduated in 2013, so I’m a little rusty, but to kick off the new year, I want to share a little bit about the last book I read in 2018: Wreckage by Emily Bleeker.

wreckage

Wreckage centers around Lillian and Dave in the aftermath of a plane crash in the South Pacific. They survive on a deserted island for almost two years and become a media sensation once they’re rescued. In the book, the two are interviewed by a conniving television reporter, as they both try to maintain the lies they tell about their trip. The book goes back and forth between the interview/present day and their time on the island.

Bleeker’s novel was, honestly, hard to put down. In it, she contrasts the comfortable kind of love with the burning kind of love, the kind that constantly takes you by surprise and leaves you wanting more. They’re both beautiful in their own ways, and I enjoyed watching Bleeker’s characters navigate love and their own thoughts and feelings surrounding it.

I’m also a sucker for nonlinear storylines. The novel jumps back and forth, each chapter, from the interview to the characters’ time on the island. Each chapter leaves so many questions. I thought the interview to be an effective place to center the plot and to juxtapose the truth with the lies. Each “trip” to the island shows us the why.

Sometimes, though, it could be a bit predictable. What I’m assuming was supposed to be a relatively large plot twist (no spoilers from me!), I figured out several chapters prior. Maybe Bleeker intended for readers to figure it out, and maybe I was just behind, but for this, I gave the novel three stars on Goodreads.

If you’re interested in a quick read, that features both love and suspense, I most definitely recommend Wreckage.

I’m currently reading two fantasy novels, as I’m trying to expand my reading tastes. One is Fire and Blood: 300 Years Before a Game of Thrones (a Targaryen History) by George R. R. Martin. I’m a Game of Thrones junkie, so I was so excited to see this massive book on sale at Barnes & Nobel. It’s been a slow read so far, but that’s only because I’m trying to soak up all the details. I’m also reading The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler, the first book in The Kingfountain series, and I’m really enjoying it so far. I’ll post more once I’ve finished reading.

What are your reading goals for 2019? Let me know in the comments!

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8 Fun Books to Read to Toddlers

Reading has always been such an integral part of my life. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t obsessed with the written word in all its forms. So, of course, I want to instill those values in my Little One. It’s hard sometimes, though, to get a toddler to sit still for an entire book. For one, he has to want to sit still, so I have to catch him at the perfect moment. And secondly, the book has to have certain characteristics. It needs to be colorful, educational, and exciting. I’ve compiled a list of my eight favorite books to read to my son. He actually sits still and loves to interact with these; it’s almost like reading a different book each time!

So, I’ll just dive right in:

1. The Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle

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I had tried to read so many different books to my son. At first, none seemed to really interest him. The Little Blue Truck was the first one he seemed to really love. It’s about a friendly truck who, along with his animal companions, helps to teach a mean dump truck the value of kindness and cooperation. It’s precious! We also love Little Blue Truck Leads the Way, and Little Blue Truck’s Halloween was our go-to this past October.

2. Everything Is Mama by Jimmy Fallon

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This is such a cute little book! It’s simple, but so sweet. The title is pretty self-explanatory. Various baby animals are calling various objects “mama!” It might be too simple to read on a regular basis to older babies/toddlers, but the colors are vibrant, the illustrations are precious, and the message is lovely. (Also, Jimmy Fallon is awesome, so…)

3. Where Is Bear? by Leslea Newman

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Animals play hide-and-seek, and then no one can find Bear! The book follows the animals as they search the forest for their missing friend. The ending cracks me up. (No spoilers from me, even if it is just a kid’s book!) This adorable book teaches friendship, cooperation, and even courage. It also aids in teaching kids about different animals — my son loves to point to each of the animals during their dialogue. I definitely recommend this one!

4. Noisy Farm

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Yes, another animal book! While there’s no plot in this one, it’s fun to interact with. It shows various farm animals, gives a bit of information about them, and even has buttons that play each animal’s distinct sound. My son loves animals, so this is one of our favorites. I love seeing the excitement on his face when he gets to hear the cow’s moo or the horse’s neigh!

5. Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin, Jr. / Eric Carle

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A classic! Another simple little book. My son hasn’t gotten tired of it yet, though, so we still read it several times a week. I have it memorized at this point, and I love that it teaches animals and colors in such a simple, yet unique, way. Plus, I’ve always thought that the illustrations are beautiful. It’s a classic for a reason!

6. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

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Another classic. This one was a Christmas gift from my mom this year, so it’s fairly new to our collection. But it’s already become a part of our normal rotation. My child absolutely loves trains, so it’s got that going for it. The book also teaches kindness and, of course, the importance of believing in yourself. It’s a fun and timeless story that can be referenced and applied at any stage of your life. What’s not to love!

7. I Love You to the Moon and Back 

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I’ve been reading this one to my son since he was around four months old. It’s just such a sweet little book with a beautiful message. The illustrations are lovely and calming, making it the perfect book to read at bedtime.

8. I Love You Just Like This by Lillian Jaine

This book features the sweet and

Just a Reminder

Being a parent can be absolutely draining. Lack of sleep, constant touch, almost-nonexistent downtime, etc. When you’re so exhausted, both mentally and physically, it can be insanely easy to dwell on the negatives instead of focusing on all the beautiful things in your life. So. As my second (short) post of the new year, here are a few reminders to myself and to you, momma, to be positive and to love yourself and all that you’re capable of:

When you look in the mirror, and all you can see are the dark under-eye circles and the tiredness showing on your skin, be reminded of how many times a day your eyes light up at the sight of your child’s smile. Think of how, the vast majority of those times, you were the reason for that beautiful smile. Think of how, yes, you’re tired, and, yes, it may be showing — but you’ve never felt such happiness.

When you look at your arms or your legs and see all the places that you think need to be slimmer or more toned, be reminded of all the strength you possess. Both mental and physical. It takes strength to be you. You have a lot on your plate, and you. handle. it. You do it with grace and poise and with a child glued to your hip. And you do it day in and day out. So. You go, girl!

When you see that your fingernail polished is all chipped, and you’re much overdue for a manicure, be reminded of that feeling when your child randomly grabs your hand just to mindlessly hold it while watching TV or reading a book. You are where your little one feels the safest, the most at-home. You may not feel like your usual put-together self as often as you’d like, but you’re there for your child(ren) when they need you the most. They notice, and you’re doing great. Trust me.

When you notice the stretch marks, along with all the other wear and tear on your body, be reminded of your journey and how truly beautiful it is. Your body has done some amazing things, momma. You’re allowed to embrace it and love it. And celebrate it! You work hard, and you are appreciated! Be kind to yourself.

Lastly, when you’re feeling anxious and like you just can’t do it anymore, this is just a reminder that you can! I know it doesn’t feel like it sometimes. Sometimes, you just want to fill up your gas tank and drive as far as it’ll let you. I get it. Just remember that you are doing your absolute best. Some days will be hard, sure. You’ll make mistakes, and, yes, you’ll have days when you feel like giving up, but your baby needs you and loves you. You’re everything to your child. Take a break. Breathe. And y’all to someone if you need to. You got this, momma.

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Happy New Year!

If I’m perfectly honest, 2018 wasn’t my favorite year. It had its beautiful moments, like being able to watch my baby grow and learn new things every single day. He turned one in 2018, he learned to crawl and walk, he got to see the ocean for the first time, he got to see snow for the first time, and he discovered his love for pizza and hog dogs. All wonderful things!

But 2018 also made me realize that my anxiety is real — not just me feeling anxious every now and then — and that I can’t deal with it alone like I’ve been trying to for so long. 2018 made me realize that I’ve begun to lose sight of who I am. It helped me see that I’m not going after my goals like I used to, I’ve lost my ambition, and I’ve lost my excitement in little things like sunsets and that new book smell. I feel like I’m just here, just going through the motions. And that’s tough.

In truth, I’m nervous for 2019. I have a feeling that a lot is going to change — hopefully for the good — but I’m nervous nonetheless. Change is scary, ya know. But I’m writing this while my little boy peacefully snores on the bed beside me, and his sweet face is all the motivation I need. I want him to see his momma as someone who is strong, someone who goes after what she wants, and someone who enjoys the moment. He deserves a role model like that.

So, here’s what I’m going to do:

Write more! It’s something I love, something I feel that I’m fairly decent at, and something that’s always made me me. I don’t do it nearly enough, but I always feel refreshed after a good writing session. So, that’s what I’m going to do. And. I want to be more open in my writing, sharing more of what’s really going on in my head, instead of only the happy things.

Read more. Facebook less. Reading has always been my solace, my escape. Sometimes, I find myself scrolling mindlessly on Facebook when I have a precious free moment, instead of reading one of the 20 books I have waiting in queue on my Kindle app. Social media is the biggest distraction in my life, and it doesn’t leave me feeling any better than I did when I logged on. Reading, though, does leave me feeling happier and more mindful. I also plan to branch out in 2019, reading genres I don’t normally read. (Feel free to leave me some recommendations in the comments!)

Be a better budget-er. I’m terrible at saving money. I just really love fast food and sales at Old Navy… But this year, I’m going to ask myself, “Do you really need this?” much more often. If the answer is no, which it probably will be, I’ll be saving that money. I want to feel a sense of accomplishment in knowing that the money I earned isn’t being spent on things I don’t even need.

Enjoy the moment! Too often, I find myself thinking about the future or being nostalgic about the past. All that does is cause me to miss out on what I have right in front of me, which is all too precious to be missed. So, this year, I’m going to try to take each moment as it comes. I can plan and prepare for the future and fondly remember the past, but I can’t dwell there anymore. This isn’t going to be easy — it may take longer than a year — but I’ve got to start somewhere! Which leads me to my last goal for the new year…

Appreciate even the smallest of victories. As the cliche goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” I’ll have bad days, and I’ll have good days. I need to keep in mind that even the bad days are a lesson of sorts. And that’s a positive in and of itself. I need to be easier on myself and understand that I am trying. I’ll get there.

I hope everyone has a wonderful 2019! What are some of your goals? I’d love to hear from you!

🎉

Navigating Toddlerhood

I’ve been in denial about it ever since my sixteen-month-old turned one, but yep, I have a toddler. The daily meltdowns are making it harder and harder to deny. You know the ones… Meltdowns because I won’t let him put the cap to his applesauce pouch in his mouth. Meltdowns because he wants to wear two shoes, on one foot, at the same time. Meltdowns because I won’t let him run down the hallway with his toothbrush in his mouth. Well. You get the idea.

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Whenever these meltdowns happen, I try to stay calm and provide a distraction from whatever is causing it. Sometimes that works. Sometimes… well… it just doesn’t. I’ll admit that, every now and then, I get super frustrated. I mean, I’m brand new to the loveliness that is toddlerhood, and no one told me how easy it would be to get so frustrated. The challenges of toddlerhood, though, aren’t limited only to daily meltdowns. Here are four of my biggest challenges — and some things I do to work through them:

  1. My toddler doesn’t talk yet. He can’t tell me what’s truly wrong. He points a lot. Or, he just whines/cries until I figure it out. Sometimes, he just wants to cuddle on the couch (my favorite of all the solutions). Other times, he wants food. Usually a specific food, and it’s up to me to determine this. And other times, it’s something else entirely. I just have to breathe and remind myself that I will figure it out, and we will get through whatever it is that’s bothering him. It’s all about that trial and error, baby!
  2. My kid picks and chooses when he wants to listen. Sometimes, he listens and does exactly what I ask him to do. For instance, he loves putting his dirty bowls in the sink when I ask him to (sometimes, socks, toys, and other things end up in there too, but that’s a different story!), and he knows not to touch the Christmas tree ornaments when I tell him not to. Other times, though, he acts like he doesn’t even hear me at all. But I know he can, and I know he knows what I’m asking of him. The urge to raise my voice is real, y’all. But I try to slow down, breathe, and remember that he’s still so little. He’s still trying to figure things out on his own. He is still learning how to navigate his curiosity and his big emotions. So. I stop and ask myself: Is he going to get hurt? Could he hurt someone else? Is something going to get broken? If the answer is no to all of these, this is when I pick my battles. I think that sometimes, it’s perfectly OK to let him be and to allow him to learn on his own. And of course, he won’t ever be learning entirely on his own. You never know what could go awry when it comes to toddlers!
  3. He’s discovered the Go Limp technique. You know the one. I ask him to do something — or not to do something — and immediately, he goes completely limp. No picking him up. No calming him down. My favorite is when it’s time to put his jacket and shoes on so we can leave. Have you ever tried to put a jacket on an almost-30-pound toddler who has gone completely limp? Yep, it’s tons of fun. I honestly don’t know what the solution is here, and I don’t know if/when it’ll go away. I just try to ride it out, get him calmed down, and not cater to his delightful meltdown.
  4. He’s trying to process new emotions while also trying to learn about, well, everything. I think about how I felt when I started college or when I started a new job. It’s tough — even for adults — to navigate new situations. Now, imagine that everything is new. Every. Single. Thing. It’s got to be overwhelming, and it’s got to be tough to want to learn while someone is also constantly telling you not to. Like, “This looks really cool, and I want to see what it does and how it works, but my mommy’s telling me no, but I need to see this thing for myself.” This is when I step back and remind myself of just how proud I am to have such a smart, curious little boy. And oh, he’s just so sweet! He’s not purposely trying to be difficult; he’s just learning about literally everything, all at once. As his mother, I need to be his support, as well as his guidance.
Toddler looking out front door at snow-covered yard and car
It snowed this past weekend, and my little boy loved running to the door to check it out.

Being a parent at any stage comes with challenges. It also comes with some of the most beautiful moments you could ever imagine. Sure, it’s hard sometimes, to keep up with a curious, active, headstrong toddler. But then I remind myself that he’s, well, curious, active, and headstrong. All three of these are wonderful traits. It’s hard sometimes, but it’s so worth it to be able to see my child learn new things every single day.

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Why I Binge Watch the Same Shows Over and Over

If I had to choose one phrase to describe myself, it would be “creature of habit.” I love routines and organization. I love plans. I listen to the same music I’ve been listening to since high school. For the most part, I read the same types of books. And I binge watch the same shows (looking at you, The Office). I’m just not big on change, OK? I’m pretty good at adapting to it, but if I had it my way (which I typically don’t), I wouldn’t have to.

As I sit here (yes, with The Office playing in the background), I’m pondering my reasons for being such a creature of habit. I’ve been one for as long as I can remember, but I’ve never really thought about why. So, here are a few reasons:

It’s comforting. It’s nice to surround myself with the familiar, especially when nothing seems to be going my way. It’s something I can count on. Something I know is always there. For instance, the characters on That 70s Show or Game of Thrones are always there. My favorite pair socks or pajama pants are always there. If I’ve had a bad day, or just need a little extra comfort, I know I can turn to those things.

laptop on pillow with pajama pants and cozy socks
My coziest pajama pants and socks.

I can tune things out. If I’m watching a show I’ve never watched, I have to devote all my attention to it. If I look away for even a minute, I’ll have no clue what’s happening. (It’s a gift and a curse!) If I want to write, read a book, or clean, I don’t have to devote all my attention to the show on TV if I’ve seen it a gazillion times. I can focus on the task at hand and then jump right back in, since I know exactly what’s happening and when. This way, I can be productive, but still be entertained when I want to be.

I’m an introvert and need to recharge my proverbial batteries. This one kinda goes hand-in-hand with tuning things out. I sometimes get lost in my own thoughts. After a long day with no “me time,” it feels so good to just sit and listen to my own thoughts. I try to work that into my daily routine. Having familiar TV shows or albums to listen to when silence doesn’t cut it allows me tune in and out as I please.

Trying new things becomes an adventure. When the mood hits me, I love trying new things. New foods. New craft beers. New book genres. New bands. And yes, new TV shows. That’s how I became such a big Game of Thrones fan (House Stark, all day, baby). It’s why my favorite band (Real Friends — see favorite song below) is now my favorite band. I got a wild hair to try something new. I always remind myself of this when I get nervous about branching out from my norm, even if it’s something seemingly small or trivial — it could end up becoming something I love.

I like being able to quote things. Will Ferrell movies? Check. Episodes of Parks and Rec? Check. Harry Potter scenes? Check. A pop-punk song I loved as a sophomore in high school? Yep, got that too. It may sound silly, but I thoroughly enjoy being able to drop references to things I love into everyday conversations. More often than not, people have no clue what I’m talking about, but it still gives me great joy!

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All in all, I love being an adaptable creature of habit. I enjoy what I enjoy, but I also like trying new things when the mood hits. I’ve learned to embrace my love of routines and repetition. I’ve found that it helps me to be more organized and peaceful when my life seems to be the exact opposite.

🧦

Just a Short Post About Thankfulness

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. It’s just a time to be with your family and, well, be thankful. Thanksgiving doesn’t carry the stress of finding the perfect presents or making sure your decorations are just right. Thanksgiving just asks that you be present and show your gratitude. So, with that said, here are some things I am thankful for, this year and always:

  1. My son. Duh! He’s absolutely at the top of my list. He’s only fifteen months old, and he’s already taught me so much about myself. He’s taught me not to be so selfish. He’s taught me patience. So. Much. Patience. He’s taught me that it’s OK to mess up sometimes; it’s all a learning process, and we’re in it together.
  2. My support system. Raising a child is hard work, and I’m so lucky to have people in my life that I know are always there, even if it’s just to listen to me vent about tired I am. I’m sure it sounds cliche, but it really does take a village — and I’m so very thankful for mine.
  3. Coffee. I don’t think this one needs any explaining. So. Moving on.
  4. Books. When the stresses of having a child and a job, while trying to finish my Master’s degree and keep the house clean, seem to be too much, it’s always nice to turn to a book. It helps me to charge my proverbial batteries and help me feel somewhat back to normal, even if it’s just a few minutes that I get to read. Books never let me down! (Well. Sometimes they do, but that’s for another day!)
  5. Slow cooker liners. For. Real. These are new to me, but they’re life changing. And if you think I’m being dramatic, imagine being able to fix a whole meal in your crockpot and then not have to spend 15-20 minutes scrubbing it afterwards. You can! And I’m so freakin’ thankful.

I’m trying to keep this post short and sweet, since it’s Thanksgiving week, so I’ll just list a few more things I’m thankful for (things that didn’t make into the top five but are still super important): Amazon Prime, the service at Chick-Fil-A, Mom Twitter, pop-punk, the entire Harry Potter franchise, Goldfish, rainy days, heated seats, and a good pen.

Happy Thanksgiving!

🦃

Being an Introvert AND a Toddler Mom

I must admit: I am the quintessential introvert. I need time alone daily to “recharge,” I appreciate quiet and calm, I don’t enjoy social interactions with people I don’t know very well, and I notice everything.

Did I mention that I’m also the mom of a fifteen-month-old boy?

There is no such thing as alone time — until he’s in bed for the night, really. He’s headstrong, curious, and full of energy, too, which are all wonderful qualities, but that doesn’t leave room for much quiet time during the day. Also, he’s super interested in people, which means I’m constantly interacting with strangers when we go in public. And, oh, the little messes all over the house!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m insanely proud of my son. He’s amazing. He’s sweet, funny, and oh so smart! It’s just that my introverted brain has had a bit of a struggle adjusting to life with a headstrong toddler.

What do I do?

  • Take advantage of naps! No, I don’t “sleep when the baby sleeps,” and I’ve never been able to. I take advantage of naps to snag some time alone to recharge my proverbial batteries. I usually read, get some cleaning done, or, as much as I hate to admit it, scroll mindlessly on social media. Once Little Man is awake, I feel more rested and much closer to his energy level.
  • Stay up a little bit later than I should. Once my son is in bed for the night, and all the dishes are washed and chores complete, I usually stay up for a little while longer. This is so I can, again, recharge. I may miss out on a little sleep, but it feels good to do things I enjoy and not lose sight of that side of myself.
  • Ignore. The. Messes. This one is hard. Clutter is everywhere, which as an introvert, can be draining. Books, toys, sippy cups, socks, etc. Sometimes, I can go behind my whirlwind of a child and straighten up, but I usually just leave it. I have him help me put a few things away before bedtime, and then I get the rest. Yes, it all goes back in the floor the following day, but that’s what’s supposed to happen. I’d be worried otherwise!
  • Be extra patient when we’re in public. What can I say? My kid is cute. People love to talk to him, and he loves it, too. The kicker: He’s only fifteen months old, so I have to do all the talking. While I don’t exactly enjoy that, I love seeing him interact with people and make them smile. I try to keep in mind that I don’t know what kind of day or week or month (or even year — see what I did there? 😉) they may be having. Talking with my smiley boy could be what changes their mood right around, so I try not to let my super introverted self show. It takes patience, but I’m adjusting!

Every day seems to bring something new, which means a chance for me to learn and to adjust. I’ll always be an introvert, and I’m proud of that. The key, for me, is to always take time to recharge and to be patient. Little Man is only this little once, and while parts of it may be challenging, it’s been the best time of my life.

🔋