My Happy List

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what makes me happy. Becoming a parent has been such an earth-shattering, perspective-changing experience for me (isn’t it for everyone?) and it has caused me to really take a step back and look at how I spend my time versus how I want to spend my time.

There’s nothing like a tiny little human in your house to make you wonder if you’re living your life to the fullest potential.

This was already on my mind, and then I saw this post on Dooce where she talks about making a list of things that keep her grounded and make her happy. Things she wants to do more. And that got me thinking…about those moments in life where I want to just stop time and bask in how happy I am forever. The times that make my heart happy when I think about them.

Those are the things I want to do more of. Those are the things I need to be focusing on, and trying to increase in my day-to-day life. So, I decided to write my list down…and I’m committing to doing more of these things. I’m going to make a conscious effort to do these on a regular basis…I may even print the list out and tape it on my mirror. Because it’s easy to forget the things that make you happy sometimes.

1. Listening to music and dancing in my kitchen
2. Going for long walks
3. Trying new things/places
4. Taking pleasure in the little things
5. Cuddles with Corey and Jackson
6. Spending time outside when the weather is perfect
7. Opening the windows and letting the breeze in
8. Turning off the television, putting away my phone/laptop, and truly being present
9. Playing games with friends
10. Spending time with my sister
11. Making our house beautiful
12. Working on projects, stretching my creativity
13. Singing at the top of my lungs in the car
14. Taking photos – not just of our house, but of our life
15. Watching Jackson do anything

What would be on your list?

On Returning to Work

Whew. This last week was tough.

I went back to work last Monday and I’m not exaggerating when I say it was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. It was the longest I had ever been away from Jackson and leaving him behind that first day absolutely broke my heart.

However, I feel like I should acknowledge that I am totally and completely spoiled by an amazing set-up. I’ve had several people ask what we are doing with Jack while we’re at work, so here it is: my school has a daycare. It’s just a couple hundred yards away from the school itself, in a little portable. It is run by people I have known for years and that I trust completely. I’m able to go up to daycare every single day during my conference period and spend about 30 minutes feeding and snuggling with my sweet boy.

I am very, very lucky.

But that doesn’t make it easy. Monday felt almost impossible, but I survived. Tuesday was a little easier, and by Friday I wasn’t tearing up when I dropped him off in the mornings. It would have been much harder for me if it weren’t for my daily visits, and I can’t imagine returning to work without them.

My ultimate dream is to be able to be a stay-at-home mom. It always has been, and I think it always will be. But I’m fortunate enough to love my job, so even if we aren’t in a situation where I can stay at home, at least I feel challenged and fulfilled every day at work.

There are 53 days left in the school year (not that I’m counting or anything…) and then I get to be home with my baby for two and a half months. There are no words for how much I’m looking forward to that.

But for now, we’re taking it one day at a time and trying to adjust to our new normal. It’s much harder to get things like housework and laundry done (much less work on my graduate school homework!) now, but I’m confident that as we get used to things it will keep getting easier. At least, I hope they will.

Has anyone else made this transition recently? Any tips for staying on top of everything?

Wish me Luck…

Today I go back to work.

I’m dreading it. I always have said I would love to be a stay-at-home mom but now that I have had a taste of it, there’s nothing I want more than to stay home with Jackson. These last seven weeks have been absolutely perfect and I absolutely hate the thought of leaving him with someone else today.

But, sadly, it’s not really an option for us. So off to work I go.

This week is probably going to be (very) rough on our whole family, so I won’t be back to post until next week. Until then, I could use your thoughts and prayers as I get settled back into work. Let’s hope Jackson and I both can make it through the day with minimal crying.

Anyone made the back to work transition recently? Tell me it’s not as awful as I am imagining it will be!

How We Use Our Home

I was having a conversation with some friends the other day about how everyone uses their home – for example, if you have a dining room and a breakfast nook, do you use them both? Just one? Neither?

I had never really put much thought into the topic before, but the conversation was fascinating and now I am constantly wondering how other people use spaces in their home. I always love a good glimpse into how other people spend their time, so I thought it might be fun to share how we use various spaces in our home.

Let’s start with our eating spaces…I hadn’t thought about it until the previously mentioned conversation, but we actually have quite a few different dining spaces in our home…


The breakfast nook is an area I honestly didn’t think we’d use when we first moved in. We were used to only having one tiny little dining area, so this felt so strange and luxurious to have. In reality, though? We use it on a very regular basis! Corey eats breakfast here pretty much every morning during the work week, and we frequently eat breakfast and/or lunch here together on the weekends. It’s a great spot to sit for a quick meal, and I love the view we have into the backyard.

The formal dining room gets a lot of use as well. We eat almost all of our dinners here (or at least we did before Jackson…things have fallen apart a bit with our new routine, but we’ll get back to it!) and we have guests over pretty often and always eat here when we do. We love our giant table and it’s probably one of our favorite purchases to date.

I also use this table pretty frequently for grad school homework and blogging – it’s a nice, quiet place where I can sit and work, and I  tend to get a lot more done when I’m sitting here. This table is a frequently-used area when either of us have something we need to really focus on.

And finally, we have the kitchen island. We don’t really use this as an eating area very often, but these stools get used on a regular basis! They’re the perfect place for one of us to hang out while the other is cooking, or for guests to sit when they come over and we are finishing up in the kitchen.

It feels a little like overkill to have three separate “dining” areas in our home, but they all get used – just in different ways!

Next, let’s chat about the living areas – we have two: the living room and the garage.

The way we use these two spaces seems to shift pretty frequently. Some weeks we spend all of our television-watching time in the living room, and sometimes we spend a lot more time in the garage. It depends on our mood, the weather (when it’s cold I like to have a fire in the living room!), and what we’re watching (we always watch movies in the garage, but tend to watch more shows in the living room). Corey also plays all of his video games in the garage, and while he’s doing that I’m usually in the living room watching television.

I can easily say that both of these spaces get used on a very regular basis, though, which is awesome because I was worried we would spend a ton of money on the garage and never actually use it. That’s definitely not a concern!

We had a lot of people tell us not to spend a lot of time or effort in finishing the nursery, because we wouldn’t use it.

Um yeah, that has definitely not been the case! We don’t spend a ton of time here during the day (yet – I imagine we will once Jackson is a little older and wants to play in here) but every evening we spend a good chunk of time in here. It’s the perfect place for the whole family to hang out while we’re getting Jack ready for bed, and we’re all in here (dogs included!) for at least an hour or so every evening before bed. Corey will hang out on the rug or work on putting laundry away while I feed Jackson before bed, and those sweet quiet moments before he goes down for the night are some of my favorite of the entire day.

It’s been so interesting to see how our use of the various spaces in our home has evolved since Jackson was born, and I imagine it will only continue to change as he gets older.

How do you use the spaces in your home?

Day in the Life of a New Mom

I’m a sucker for a good “day in the life” post. I can’t be the only one, right? My days have looked so different from normal since we had Jackson and I am on maternity leave – I wanted to preserve one day in photos and descriptions, because these days are short and fleeting and it won’t be long before I am back at work and I never want to forget these precious early days with our son.

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5:50 – Corey gives me a kiss as he heads out the door for work. I’m still in bed and I cross my fingers that Jackson will let me sleep a while longer.

6:15 – Jack is up. I head into his room and settle in to feed him. Corey calls me when he gets to work and we chat for a few minutes.

6:40 – I’m done feeding and burping Jackson, and I’m wide awake. He only woke up one time last night, at 2:30, so I’m actually feeling pretty well rested. He seems to be asleep again, so I lay him back down and head back to bed to do some reading.

6:50 – He’s definitely not asleep. I go to get him and find a happy, smiley baby (smiles are still rare at this point, so it’s a treat!). I decide to take a shower and drag his Rock ‘n Play into the bathroom with me so I can keep an eye on him.

7:30 – Jackson was in a good mood so I was able to take a long shower and actually get ready for the day. I even trimmed my bangs! It’s time to get him dressed so we head to his room and I try to find something that fits. He is at a weird in-between phase where newborn clothes are almost too small but most 0-3 are still huge. I settle on a newborn outfit just as he runs out of patience and starts screaming.

I manage to calm him down by holding him close, dancing around the room like a fool, and singing loudly. He’s happy again and since it’s Friday, I decide to go ahead and take his weekly photo. I’m hoping for a smile in the photo this week, but he isn’t cooperating. I give up once he starts to get fussy and decide to try again later. We head downstairs.

(One of our outtakes)

7:45 – I want to eat breakfast, but Jack is feeling clingy. He cries in his bouncer while I throw together a bagel, then I grab him and head to the couch to eat. I get about half my breakfast down before he’s screaming again, and the only thing that makes him happy is if I bounce him with one arm and hold his pacifier with the other. No breakfast for me! I don’t mind too much, because I love cuddling with him on the couch – I turn on an episode of Breaking Bad that I didn’t finish yesterday and try to calm him down.

8:20 – My show is over and Jack is dozing so I decide to try to put him down for a nap. I take him upstairs and swaddle him, then I nurse him hoping he’ll fall asleep. I think he’s going through a growth spurt (or a Wonder Week) because our nursing sessions have gotten ridiculously long – I’m sitting with him for over 30 minutes before he decides he is full.

9:00 – He’s finished eating and is officially passed out, so I carefully lay him down in the crib and hope he stays asleep. He’s been sleeping mostly in his Rock ‘n Play due to his reflux, but we’re working on getting him back into the crib as soon as possible since some people claim there’s a connection between the Rock ‘n Play and flat spots. Who knows if it’s true, but we’d rather be safe than sorry! Luckily, he’s asleep enough that he’s fine in the crib and I’m able to leave him there.

I head downstairs and fly into action. I usually have about two hours for this nap, sometimes two and a half if he’s tired (I don’t usually let him sleep longer than that, or else he doesn’t sleep well at night), so I decide to get some cleaning done. I throw some clothes in the laundry, clean the kitchen, vacuum, and just generally try to get the house back in order.

9:50 – I’m done cleaning and he’s still asleep. Score! I settle in at the dining room table to get some stuff done. I do a bit of blogging, then I work on prepping a meal plan for next week and a few other boring budget-y things. I quickly cross stuff off my list and keep an ear open for the monitor – Jackson is a super noisy sleeper, so he frequently grunts or cries out, only to fall right back asleep.

11:15 – My sister is coming over to hang out soon, and he’s been asleep for over two hours so I decide to go wake Jackson up. He’s adorable and cuddly, and I feed him in his room before my sister arrives.

11:45 – My sister gets here just as we are finishing up. We all head downstairs and she holds him while I make myself lunch (I get to eat! With two hands!) and then we hang out for a while. We watch Vampire Diaries and the Melissa McCarthy episode of SNL and chat while she snuggles and plays with Jack. By the end of her visit is it clear that he’s fighting sleep hardbut he seems to hate the second nap of the day for some reason.

2:00 – My sister has to go run errands before her kids get off school, so she heads out. Jackson and I go upstairs for a marathon nursing session (I think he was avoiding that nap…) before he finally falls asleep.

3:00 – We’re finally done, and I lay him in his crib. His eyes immediately pop open and he starts grunting at me. I can tell he’s on the verge of falling asleep, though, and he desperately needs this nap, so I head downstairs and keep my ears open for the monitor as he grunts away and continues to fight the nap.

3:15 – After puttering around downstairs a little bit, I run upstairs to put away some laundry and check on Jackson. He’s sound asleep, so I go back downstairs to relax a bit. I watch another episode of Breaking Bad, make a grocery list, and browse Pinterest for a while. I kind of miss him and want to go grab him to cuddle while I’m being lazy, but I resist since we’ve worked so hard to get him napping in the crib.

4:40 – Corey’s going to be home soon, so I set out some shrimp to thaw for dinner. I debate waking Jack up now but decide to let Corey get him when he gets home, since he never gets to.

5:15 – Corey is home! We spend a few minutes chatting on the couch before he goes upstairs to wake Jackson up.

5:30 – Corey feeds Jackson a bottle while I pump. We are trying to keep him comfortable with a bottle and build a freezer stash for daycare, so we try to do this at least once a day. Jack does well with the bottle, and Corey enjoys getting to feed him so it’s a good routine for everyone!

6:00 – Jackson finishes eating and we all go into the kitchen to get ready for dinner. Corey cooks tonight while I hold Jackson and he tells me about his day. We haven’t cooked much since Jackson came home, so it feels good to all be in the kitchen together!

6:30 – Our dinner is ready. We typically eat in the dining room, but we decide to eat on the couch tonight. Jack hangs out in his bouncer long enough for us to eat, and we start an episode of Friday Night Lights (we recently became hooked).

6:50 – We’re done eating and Jackson’s witching hour is in full swing. He is grumpy, so we keep watching television and do our best to keep him happy. We keep trying various combinations of things until I finally get him settled with a pacifier, snuggles, and patting his back. Soon, he soon begins to doze.

7:45 – We are done watching our show (we had a few interruptions), and it’s time for Jackson to go to bed. We head upstairs, and I nurse Jackson while Corey hangs out and chats with me. We go through our evening routine of nursing, diaper change and swaddle, and prayers before bed. We skip the book tonight because Jack is already asleep.

8:30 – We lay Jackson in his Rock ‘n Play and head to our room. We watch one more episode of Friday Night Lights in bed before passing out shortly after 9:00. On a Friday night. We are such party animals!

I love our quiet, snuggly days at home right now, and I’m dreading the day that I have to go back to work and give them up until summer. I’m also excited for the days when Jackson is awake a little more during the day and we can be a little more interactive! I only have one week left at home, so I’ll be soaking up every second before I (reluctantly) head back to work on Monday. I’m interested to see how much everything changes once I’m working again, and I’m hoping we’re able to find a new routine that works for us and that I don’t miss out on too much cuddle time with our sweet boy!

What does a day in your life look like right now?