Are We There Yet? The Last Weeks of Pregnancy

Until approximately three weeks ago, I couldn’t even remember how far along I was with MJ. Now I’m probably scaring people away with the accuracy of my countdown. Like, whoa, what’s this chick’s deal? She really wants that baby out. Actually, it’s been a pretty easy road this time around [knocks on wood] so I’m thankful for that. And I really only have the typical complaints at this point. I can’t get my shoes on and I need at least two naps a day.
My motivation to get to the end is different this time. Last night I had to rock C to sleep. She’s five days into Binky withdrawal and it’s been a rough go for all of us. Each night is a little less crying, but we’re not all the way there yet. I was sitting in the dark, holding this 35 lb three-year-old and singing to her like I did when she was a colicky three-month-old. As tired as I was, I realized I missed that. Soon she’ll be over the pacifier and put herself to sleep again and she won’t need her mom to rock her.
Kids grow up. That’s inevitable. But I’m ready for MJ to make me that kind of mom again for a little while. The only time I want to go fast is the 5 weeks and 2 days until she (hopefully) gets here. Then I’ll keep those nighttime snuggles for as long as I can.

Moms Doing Awesome Things on The Internet

I saw this article in the Star Tribune the other day and I just thought, “Moms are awesome!” We do all these regular mom things every day PLUS we are killing it online. Check out these two examples that are guaranteed to make you say, “That is SO me.”

The Wild Morning 
This is a soon-to-be book and cool Instagram account that chronicles morning routines for moms in my neck of the woods. I mean these women are much more photogenic than I am, but basically we all tackle the same stuff while we’re trying to get caffeinated and make sure our humans are properly cleaned.

Cat & Nat: For Moms Like Us
The #momtruths on this YouTube channel will likely result in you peeing your pants (note: the chances are higher among moms of multiple children). Check out their website, I promise you’ll want to be friends with these two.

Child-Rearing by Sara Walters: Advice on Preschool from Your Weirdest, But Most Direct Friend

I am a weirdo, which results in me having a limited group of close friends. My humor is similar to that of a 14-year-old boy, so not a lot of grown women are into it. I’m also a little overly direct. No fluff happening here. And inappropriate. Definitely inappropriate. Also REALLY LOUD. But I do have some pretty awesome ladies in my squad that keep putting up with the strange shit my brain comes up with. Here’s a snippet of text messages to give you a little sample of what they endure.

Me at the hospital trying to get fluids while battling the stomach flu:
Sara: I told her I was I was “pro IV” and she just stared at me.
D: Well that probably was taken differently than you meant it…
Sara: Thought of that after. I’m now part of a narcotics investigation. I looked like shit, so I’m sure that helped convince them I was a dope fiend.

Upon learning that there is such thing as “porch pirates” who steal your delivered packages:
Sara: I just ordered one. Great. I’m getting delirious from staying up past 8pm.
K: Bahahaha. I love that.
Sara: Hopefully it doesn’t get stolen by an Iranian man in a pantsuit.  

And then most recently, me giving parenting advice in regards to the pros/cons of 3K:
Sara: Just read him some books and teach him to say please and thank you and you’re good. That’s my plan. 

Basically, if you can put up with the bizarre stuff from samples 1 and 2, you’ll get the valuable nugget in 3. The friend who I gave this advice to said I should blog about it because she is one of the rare ones who knows I’m not a total lunatic and maybe even occasionally benefits from being friends with me.

I’ve been investigating a 3K for Caroline in the last couple weeks. We found one we liked at our church and I’m sure she’d love it. But she’s got a great daycare and I’m not sure she’d learn much more than she’s getting now. So we’re not going to send her and I refuse to feel guilty about that. Andy and I are pretty hands-on parents. We read C books, talk about colors with her, count things together, show her how to do daily things like brush her teeth and put her dirty clothes in the hamper. When kids are 2 and 3, do they need more than that? I’m not sure they do. We make her say please before she gets a snack and she has to clean up her own toys when she creates a tornado. I know I’ve stressed out about learning and education and structure and all that stuff, but my new motto is if she’s happy (I mean in general, when you’re a good parent your kid is going to be pissed at you sometimes) then I’m happy. When she’s truly unhappy, we’ll figure it out. If you’re active in your kid’s life and make an effort to teach them to be kind, you can do whatever you want about school. Send them to 3K, that’s great. Don’t send them to 3K, that’s great too. No judgement here.

And make sure to get a friend like me who can blow up your phone with weird texts and the occasional reassuring tidbit. That also helps.

 

Books for Bad Ass Ladies: A Review

If you’re a mom, you probably only have time to read when you’re locked in the bathroom or in the middle of the night when all the other humans FINALLY leave you alone. And if you’re a working mom like me, you sometimes need a little extra reassurance that being a woman with a career is okay too. These two books helped push me through a tough stretch of work and helped me refocus on what I want out of a job. So if you’ve got a few minutes alone (I got the stomach flu, that helped), check these out.

#GIRLBOSS
Sophia Amoruso


Before I read this book, I wasn’t familiar with the story of Nasty Gal and the amazing path of its CEO. A big takeaway for me from Sophia Amoruso is that sometimes unconventional education is the best education. I have the stereotypical B.A., liberal arts education that you’d expect from someone who has a blog for fun. She doesn’t and she’s killing it. When she didn’t have money and didn’t know how to do something, she just Googled it and watched free videos on YouTube. Don’t get me wrong, I am pro-school. I come from a family that deeply values education. But I do think there’s something to be said for teaching yourself something on your own. When I was like, “I think I should start a blog,” I had no idea how to do that. I bought a book, read some articles online and when things started to get technical, watched some YouTube videos. Figuring shit out by yourself is what you do if you’re a true #GIRLBOSS and I’m definitely on board with that.
I also dig Amoruso’s ideas on functioning in the workplace. In my current role, I’m often asked to do things that are not quite on par with what I believe my position entails. Amoruso describes scenarios where she’s out packing inventory, working in the warehouse. She’s the CEO. This was kind of a kick in the ass for me, reminding me that nobody likes the co-worker who won’t lend a hand. Last month, I was thoroughly disgusted when I was asked to warm up the tea of an upper level manager, thinking (not saying) something along the lines of, “I’m not a personal assistant.” But the reality of this is sometimes you’ve got to suck it up for your end goal of being a #GIRLBOSS and I need to do more of that.
I devoured this book in a week. Put it on your list, working mom. We need more #GIRLBOSSES.

Better Than New
Nicole Curtis


If we talk about these books in terms of their similarities, Better Than New and #GIRLBOSS are both about women paving their own way. But where #GIRLBOSS represents what I’m capable of achieving in the future, Better Than New is a glimpse back at what I’ve left behind and kind of want to forget. Curtis had a string of bad jobs, terrible boyfriends, cross-country moves and tough parenting decisions that hopefully do not represent where I’m headed. What Curtis does is definitely bad ass, and she looks like a babe doing it (Rehab Addict is the only Andy-approved HGTV show, wonder why…) but she still seems like she’s not super together. Maybe there’s something redeeming in that. Sometimes it’s good to know that celebrities are real people and we’re all kind of in the same boat when it comes to being a hot mess. I mean I can totally relate to the terrible jobs (minus the Hooters experience). And I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a single parent, let alone one who is on TV. From Better Than New though, the takeaway for me was that women can venture into uncharted territory, like rehabbing houses, and come out alive. It might not be pretty, but Curtis did it, and so can you, reader of the mommy blog.

 

Ready for MJ: Our Nursery Project From Start to Finish

We are no longer living in a construction zone! Remodeling our office to become MJ’s nursery took about a month, but based on how dirty it made my house, you’d have guessed it had been going on much longer. Luckily, I have a husband in the trades. It’s easier to keep the project on track when the labor lives with you (sometimes).

Since we’re trying to save for the unpaid portion of my maternity leave, we outlined a budget before we started. Without decor/furniture we estimated the project would cost us $850. The room we were tackling was a walk-through off the kitchen that we had never touched, not even painted. Our house is a 1970s ranch and this room was keeping The Brady Bunch relevant with its paneling.

Andy started the demo while I hunted for a small dresser to fix up. It’s a small, 126-square-foot room, so space is precious. I found one for $40 at the Habitat for Humanity Restore. Some sanding, a few coats of paint/primer and some cute new pulls and it was just what we needed for baby girl.

Andy ripped down all the paneling to reveal some extra space behind the stairs, which he decided would make the perfect place for a built-in. He framed it up, Sheetrocked new walls/ceiling, textured and painted. Here are photos taken while I observed the work (without actually doing any).

Caroline has a coral/grey themed room, which is pretty fitting for our spunky little girl. I wanted MJ to have something just as cool and similarly non-traditional. Andy calls the local Sherwin-Williams more than he calls me, so he gave his two cents and we decided (after returning one gallon) on the colors Naval, Lotus Flower and Marshmallow.

We were generously gifted new trim from Andy’s employer, the leftovers of a different job. We picked up the remaining we needed and added some chair rail. At this point Andy decided to hire out the labor. He knows his limits (I’m glad one of us does), and finish work isn’t his strength. It cost a little more, but we’re not remodeling this room ever again so we wanted to do it right.

We rounded out the project with new carpet from The Home Depot and a new cordless window shade for the paranoid mom. This is how the expenses broke down:

$168 paint/primer – Sherwin-Williams (Andy always recommends the Cashmere line, which we used. It looks great and cleans well.)
$40 dresser – Habitat for Humanity Restore
$455 carpet – The Home Depot (plus we received a $150 gift card for our late install, score!)
$90 window shade – The Home Depot
$100 trim/chair rail/shelving – Menards
$250 trim labor – local carpenter
$120 drywall – Bond Drywall
$40 vents/switch covers – Menards
$74 decor – Hobby Lobby, Target

$1,337.00 Total

We obviously missed the mark on the $850 budget, but we’re happy with the outcome. Here are some shots of the finished product:

Puke Buckets and Sleeping Bags: The Stomach Bug Strikes

Caroline came home with a stomach bug yesterday. She was a little extra snuggly and never asked for a snack. She was vomiting within the hour. When little kids get sick, it’s so hard. She doesn’t really know what’s up and she just wants mom. Meanwhile, mom is trying to simultaneously comfort and clean (try this Clorox Urine Remover next time you have a barfy kid, I know it says urine, but it seriously works). Andy is a great helper and both of us handled it like champs–much unlike we did on his 26th birthday. Let’s just say our neighbors were probably wondering why we were washing our car in the middle of the night.

C’s fine today after a night spent camped out in sleeping bags on the living room floor, bucket in hand. But the whole experience of dealing with the stomach flu had me feeling a little reflective, hence the “Evolution of Puking” timeline above (not intended for the queasy).

Let it Go: The Authorized True Story of How One Toddler Became a Disney Princess/Pop Star

Kids are like little mirrors. Parents can look at them and see exactly how they’ve acted, good or bad. This is super alarming and has made me spend a significant amount of time questioning my dance moves.

My mom’s family has the musical gene and only a small portion came my way. I was in band in high school and can play the piano, but that’s about the extent of it. I’m not totally tone-deaf, but I’m not about to karaoke anytime soon.

Like many little girls her age, Caroline is OBSESSED with Frozen and the hit song, Let it Go. I dig it too, so I get it. But this weekend a trip to Grandma’s meant listening to the song on repeat. Luckily for us, it also meant that we got to witness this performance multiple times:

If we’re looking at my mirror theory here, I have to assume that at some point my child saw me sing with my eyes closed with my fist in the air (has she seen the photos from our wedding reception?) I couldn’t really put this together because mostly we just sing I’m a Little Teapot in the bathtub. No dramatic ballads to report.

But then today I turned on my 90’s Pop Pandora station and jumped in the shower. The Pandora Gods were looking down on me and gave me two excellent shower jams in a row, brought to you by the likes of Mariah Carey and Celine Dion. It was halfway through Because You Loved Me that I had my light bulb moment. This is where she gets it. And then…OH GOOD LORD, THIS IS WHERE SHE GETS IT!

We’re either going to have some very interesting Christmas programs in our future or we’ll be trying out for America’s Got Talent. Only time will tell.

Caroline’s Custom Kitchen

I don’t mean to brag, but I’m a good shopper. Andy would probably correct that sentence to say “good spender.” This last Christmas we were discussing what to get for Caroline. We just wanted to do one big gift (less toys to clean up, always an ulterior motive) and we had decided on a play kitchen. I, of course, thought I would just Craigslist one (it’s kind of my thing). But Andy had a better idea…DON’T TELL HIM I SAID THAT. He immediately pulled up some images online and showed me how he could build a kitchen for Caroline instead. I can’t be trusted with a pizza cutter (more on this), let alone a power tool, but he’s good at this kind of thing, so my skillful shopping would have to go on the back burner. Sorry for the bad kitchen joke, I couldn’t resist.

I relinquished control to Andy and put him wholly in charge of this project. He didn’t disappoint. Here’s a breakdown on what he did to pull this off, as told by a person who did 0% of the work and has absolutely no technical knowledge.

  • We scrounged up an old cabinet that served as the basic structure for the kitchen. One cabinet functions as a cupboard, where we store play food, and the other as an oven. Andy rotated the hinges to the bottom on the oven side. He installed chains on the inside so that the door wouldn’t fall to the ground and smash little toes.
  • Burners for the stove were created out of cork board, black spray paint and adhesive spray. Oven knobs are real replacement knobs, attached with screws so that they can still spin. 
  • The sink is a stainless steel bowl, dropped into a cutout that matches its diameter (it hangs down into the cupboard side, but takes up little space). Andy added a faucet with twistable knobs to help it feel more real for Caroline.
  • The oven rack is fashioned out of a cooling rack. Andy also added a battery-operated motion sensor light to the top of the oven so that when you reach inside, the light turns on. Caroline loves this part.
  • All surfaces were sanded and repainted and we purchased new hardware. Total, the project ran us about $60-$70. It was worth every penny.

Not only does this look better in our house than a plastic kitchen, it has been a major source of entertainment for Caroline this winter. I’m actually attending a picnic with food prepared in her kitchen as I write this. Gifting it to her was also one of the best Christmas memories I have to date. We honestly sat and watched her play with it for hours, just happy to see her so happy.

If you want actual details on how to build this, send me a message and I’ll let the expert respond. You know, the guy who can actually cut a pizza.

How to avoid Craigslist weirdos (and other helpful tips)

I am a skilled Craigslister. I’ve successfully talked my way into some incredible sales, but more importantly, I’ve avoided being murdered. I even have a friend who runs her Craigslist buys past me before purchasing (Craigslist Consultant, potential career?). Here are some tips for when you’re shopping. I’m sharing because I like you and would prefer you get a good deal and live to tell about it.

  1. Avoid the bad spellers. If I inquire about an item and I get an incomplete sentence, that one’s out. Wrong there/their/they’re? See ya. I prefer to buy from relatively educated people. If they take the time to spell check, they’ve usually taken the time to care for the item they’re selling. See what I did there? A+ for me. You can officially buy my stuff.
  2. Stay away from stock images. It’s 2017, if you don’t have a phone or camera to take a picture of what you’re selling, something is fishy. I know your house doesn’t look like the staging area for Target.com.
  3. Clean house = clean items. For real, you didn’t have time to pick up your laundry before you took that picture? Come on. Pass.
  4. Email always. I use a separate email account for Craigslist transactions and never give out my cell. Just a little extra precaution to safeguard against the tech-savvy Craigslist creeper.
  5. No price flexibility. Putting “price is firm” in your post immediately makes me think you’re an asshole. It’s one thing if you later deny my offer for a lower price, but advertising your rigidity up front rubs me the wrong way. Do you want to sell your stuff or not?

I’m not going to list the no-brainers (avoid the weird email addresses, don’t meet anyone without telling someone first, wear shoes you can run in if need-be). Craigslist gets a bad rap (thanks a lot, Lifetime) but as a mom on a budget, it’s saved me lots of cash over the years. Need proof? Here are a couple of my Craigslist successes:

  • I once bought a 1978 Honda Hobbit pedal-start moped for $200 on Craigslist (see photo above). It was awesome. I rode it around town for the two years right after college and then sold it again for $180, also on Craigslist. $20 invested? I’d call that a win.
  • I’ve purchased two BOB strollers, which if you’re a mom who runs, are the cream of the crop. I mean I think these things have better suspension than my SUV. They were both less than half of their retail price and have great resell value. This baby’s got a few miles on her, but still looks great.

944611_10100148411309742_1004927732_n

 

  • Another running score, I bought a barely-used Garmin watch for $50. It still works after about five years of use. And I’m really sweaty, so that’s saying something.
  • About 75% of Caroline and MJ’s baby gear was Craigslisted. A high chair, Bumbo, Diaper Genie, swing, walker, Kelty and car seats with multiple bases, to name a few. If a tiny human needs it, another tiny human’s caretaker is selling it. Plus used stuff requires less stress about spit up, destructive toddlers and the usual wear and tear.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to start buying my underwear on Craigslist. There’s definitely a time and place for using it. And generally I only buy things I can disinfect, because you know, eww.

In closing, use your spell check, stop watching Lifetime movies and call me if you have a pedal-start moped for sale. I think I could probably get a baby seat on the back…

Confessions of a White Girl: I Have a Beyoncé Problem

This is my coffee mug. I’m drinking out of it right now, posted up…flawless.

I’ve always loved the Queen Bey. I mean, Destiny’s Child? Pshhh. Best girl group ever. Totally hooked. Drunk in love, if you will.

Then came some bomb ass albums in the last 10 years. Artists don’t make albums anymore. Bey does. And she makes visual albums. I haven’t watched a music video since MTV Spring Break was a thing. But I watch these. If you haven’t, do it.

Do I have a girl crush? Definitely. Has it evolved into a bit of a problem? Meh. Decide for yourself.

beyonce

Two pieces of evidence to consider:

First, when Caroline was in utero, I called her “Baby Beyoncé.” She was a very active baby, so I told people she was dancing in there. In my defense, Beyoncé had just done the Superbowl halftime show, so she was still on the brain.

Second, last night I had a dream that I was at some kind of sip and paint, creative canvas, girls drinking wine and pretending to make art place. For whatever reason, we were all contributing to a group canvas and we were supposed to add things that were “inspirational to women.” When it was my turn, I just took my paintbrush and wrote:

#beckywiththegoodhair

Why in the world my subconscious thinks that Jay-Z’s side piece is inspirational to women is beyond me. Also, I’m hash-tagging in my dreams. I may need a break from my phone for a while.

Until someone tells me that my Beyoncé problem has negatively impacted their life in the following ways, I’m riding the wave. Keep the jams (and the dreams) coming. And Jay-Z, I’m watching you, bro.