The Days Are Long, The Years Are Short

I think just about every parent has had someone tell them, “Enjoy this time, they grow up so fast.” While this is true, it doesn’t make your most challenging days with your little ones easier. It doesn’t make it any less frustrating when someone says this to you while you’re immensely sleep deprived or dealing with an independent toddler. Life with kids doesn’t get easier, it just becomes different and more complicated.

Right now I’m in the middle of juggling my four-month-old getting acclimated to all of her mental and physical leaps, while keeping my 2-year-old busy and happy. In another five years I’ll be dealing with my children coming home to do homework, or heaven forbid, being teased or bullied. See, it doesn’t get easier, it just evolves.

I’ve thought a lot about these types of things since my youngest, Viviana, has entered the world. Becoming a mom for the second time has made me even more patient and accepting. It has also taught me to slow down and put my phone down, despite how many photo opportunities my kids give me. Just when I think I’m at the end of my rope, one of my girls will do something to remind me how beautiful motherhood is.

Just the other day I was up for much of the night with Viv, replacing her pacifier every time she realized it had fallen out of her little mouth during the night. Although I had maybe gotten only two consecutive hours of sleep I was so happy. I was happy that she finally took the pacifier. I was so anti pacifier when Gia was her age, but Viv is a sucker and really needed one. It just took us forever to find one she liked and could learn how to use. For Viv, the paci means falling asleep with ease, and being much less needy through the night.

If I were in this situation as a first time mom, I’d be less inclined to find the positive in that situation. I’d be focused more on how tired I was, what I was seemingly doing wrong, and why my child wouldn’t do what others do. Sounds silly, I’m sure, but that’s kind of how I work.

Now I’m easily able to find the little joys in my challenging days home alone with my two babes. It used to be hard to not immediately think I wasn’t doing things well enough. (Sometimes I still think I’m not doing enough, but that’s a mom for you.) I’m so much more accepting and realistic about only being able to do so much. I truly know I’m always doing my best, so that is enough. Sometimes my best means giving in when Gia is asking for something I’d rather she not have, or maybe it means an extra episode of Paw Patrol. Other times I feel like superwoman – I’ve meal prepped for a few days, I’ve been able to wash my hair, give both girls equal amounts of attention, keep the house tidy and make sure most things run smoothly.

Now, four months into being a mommy to two girls, I finally feel like I’m getting my footing. I can go out alone with the two of them with confidence (and a lot of preparing ahead of time). I’m sure now that I’m more comfortable, things will change, because that’s just how it goes with kids. They are ever changing. Knowing that, I’m able to refer back to what I was saying earlier – it goes so fast.

They are only this little for such a short amount of time. Acknowledge your struggles and the tough days, but don’t let your frustrations and exhaustion rob you of your precious moments with your kids. Let the little things lift you up.

The other day I was feeling a little down and frustrated and then Gia randomly came up to me and said, “Mommy, you my best friend. I love you soooo much.” If that can’t give someone a boost of energy and a burst of happiness, I don’t know what can.

Xo

Achieving My Greatness

Okay, so I’m nine years removed from my days of sitting in a lecture hall full of twenty-something’s with aspirations of being the next CEO of some Fortune 500 company. I’m also two years removed from my “I’m going to be a mommy!” moment, and two babies into this gig.

I’ve always had dreams of greatness. Ever since I was young, my parents instilled the value of hard work. If I worked hard in school, sports and whatever activities I participated in, I would be great. “Always try your best, never give up, and you can do it,” were things I heard from my mom and dad on a daily basis.

After practicing what my parents preached, I was able to achieve things I’d always hoped to achieve. Those dreams of greatness as a child, and later as a college graduate shifted once I became a mom. Time has had this funny way of continuing to put numbers between myself and what my dreams once were. It’s nearly impossible now for me to even think of the dreams I once had. Why, you ask? Because there’s a two-year-old in front of me who is constantly asking questions. (For those of you wondering, Gia is in the “why” phase of toddlerhood.) There’s always a face to wipe, a diaper to change, discipline to enforce and a night of sleep interrupted.

The idea or thought of being something great comes to mind on a regular basis, asking me to believe that it’s true: I wanted to be something great and now I’m just a mom.

It’s not that I don’t love motherhood, because I truly love it, even the hard parts. Outside of a few hundred shared photos on Instagram, does anyone really see my motherhood?

I feel like my destiny of becoming something great is in this role as mom. But can I still be great if no one sees me?

The answer is yes, because it is how I define greatness. I don’t let someone else define it for me.

After spending countless hours in study hall during my college years, and stressing over papers, mid-terms and finals, I wish I could tell my college self a thing or two.

The work I did then was important and it helped me to learn and grow. The work I do now is invaluable because I am truly making a difference. I’m mostly treading water, but there are three other people in my life who I get a chance to serve everyday. And when I really start to think about it, my greatness doesn’t lie in what jobs I’ve held or what titles I have. My greatness lies solely in how much of myself I give away to others, to my family. I wanted to be something great, and my husband and daughters give me the chance to do that every single day that I have them.

Prepping For Baby #2: Three Things I Wish I Had The First Time Around

As much as I’d like to think this second pregnancy thing is a cake walk, it’s isn’t. The “been there, done that” mentality is there, but only to a certain degree. I hate to say it, but the fact is my pregnancy symptoms have been totally different than with Gia. As far as resting goes….well there is no rest when you have a toddler!

For me, there’s more to this than just getting my body ready to have our next baby. I’ll be adjusting my social life once again, my home and preparing a two-year-old for the arrival of our new family member.

You would think that after giving birth only two years ago that I’d be pretty well versed on doing the whole newborn thing again. Truth is, mom brain is real and I’ve forgotten a lot about those early days. I know most of it will come back to me, but new babies bring on different challenges.

One thing I do know about being a second-time mom is there are a few items that I’ll be needing that I didn’t have with Gia. Two of the three things I need for this go-round are solely for baby #2 and one thing is for both children.

So what are they you ask?

#1: Dockatot

Dockatot is a multifunctional sleep aid for your babe. It’s like it’s own little bed that can also serve as a place to sit, do tummy time, play and snuggle. It’s also great for safe co-sleeping and you can bring it anywhere. I don’t plan on using it for co-sleeping, as we did not co-sleep with Gia, but never say never.

I like the idea that it will give the new baby that cuddled feeling while sleeping. From what I’ve heard and read, it’s amazing and helps babies sleep for longer durations.

Gia was in a bassinet that has been in my family for years. While I love the idea of continuing that tradition, I also want to do what I think works best for us and baby. Thankfully Gia was a good sleeper, so I pray this baby will be the same!

#2: Rock ‘n’ Play

The great thing about having a sister-in-law who had her second baby before me is that I can ask her tons of questions. One thing that she got for her second boy was a Rock ‘n’ Play. She used it all the time for her baby. If it weren’t for her encouraging me to get one I’m not sure I would have thought of it myself.

What I think I’ll use it for most is to have a free hand to help Gia. Eventually when I’m home alone with two kids, I will quickly need to figure out how to balance their needs. I’m sure a lot of Gia’s needs will require me to set the baby down in a safe, portable environment. What’s great is that I’ll be able to bring it outside while Gia is playing.

There are quite a few versions of the Rock ‘n’ Play out there. I was able to purchase one on Amazon Prime Day for $30 off the original price. Who doesn’t love a deal?!

#3: Double Stroller

Stroller shopping can be overwhelming because there are so many options. With Gia we bought a Peg Perego stroller and car seats. Naturally, since I loved them so much I immediately gravitated towards the brand’s Duette Piroet stroller.

The hardest part about deciding on what kind of double stroller to get was the side-by-side set up versus the tandem set up. Ultimately, after seeing both options from Peg Perego in person, Craig and I agreed the tandem version is what we prefer. My gut says it will be easier to maneuver and it will just work well with our lifestyle.

Beyond these items, I’m pretty much good to go. I have plenty of beautiful clothes that I’m excited to see our new girl in. We have all the toys and play accessories a baby could need. The last few things I need to do are along the lines of rewashing baby clothes, packing a hospital bag and making sure I have what I need for my own recovery.

I’m sure if we were to have a third child, I’d have a brand new blog post listing what I’d need for baby #3 that I didn’t have the first two times. There’s always new and amazing products, as well as things we think we just need to have.

For now, we are very happy to become a family of four and we’re planning on keeping it at that. Four has always seemed like the right number for us.

Now I just need to stick out eight more weeks of being hot and uncomfortable. We can’t wait to meet our newest girl. Gia is especially excited….for now! ūüėČ

Xo

Foolproof Funfetti Birthday Cake

Soooo, we’ve got a two-year-old now!! ¬†How bizarre is that?! ¬†I can totally relate to the saying, “The days a long and the years are short,” because that’s how the last two years have felt. ¬†Parenthood brings you lows and the highest of highs. ¬†It’s truly amazing how full your heart feels from raising a little one, and celebrating Gia’s birthday definitely made me feel all of the things!

Surprisingly enough, I didn’t turn into an emotional mess over Gia turning two this weekend. ¬†The biggest thing I felt though was pride. ¬†Pride over the little person she’s becoming, pride in myself for being the best mom I can be, and pride in my husband for showing me time and again why marrying him was the best decision ever.

This year for Gia’s birthday I knew I didn’t want a huge bash like we had for her first birthday party. ¬†Number one, it’s just a lot of work to do. ¬†Number two, at eight months pregnant there isn’t as much energy left to be the hostess with the mostess. ¬†Therefore, Craig and I agreed that inviting our immediate family who lived in the area would be the best way to celebrate. ¬†We kept it easy and very summery by having a BBQ that included Craig’s tri-tip, grilled veggies, watermelon and my potato salad. ¬†(My potato salad is damn good and so simple, so I might have to share that with you too!) ¬†No birthday is complete without cake, and this year that meant a homemade funfetti Elmo cake.

About a month ago I decided to recipe test before making the cake for Gia’s special day, and I’m really glad I did! ¬†Initially I found a recipe from Food52 for funfetti that I tried out. ¬†To my surprise, it was an overly oily cake. ¬†I was really disappointed because I own two cookbooks by Food52 that are excellent, so I figured this recipe would work out fine. ¬†Wrong! ¬†I mentioned the cake mishap to my mom and she said she had a recipe from one of her cookbooks for a foolproof funfetti cake. ¬†Of course I made her send it to me and I tried it out right away. ¬†Let’s just say that my husband, friends and neighbors were please that I had decided to recipe test cakes. ¬†Thank goodness all this test cake off my hands, or else I might have eaten my weight in cake leading up to Gia’s birthday. ¬†Pregnant lady problems can be very stereotypical at times!

I was really happy with how my cake turned out and was even happier with the cute cake topper I ordered from Etsy.  For those who asked if I would share the recipe for the cake, here it is:

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Like I mentioned before, this is not my own recipe and I believe it came from “Great American Cakes.” ¬†To make the cake my own, I dyed the frosting a dusty pink and used rainbow sprinkles to cover the sides of the cake from top to bottom. ¬†The three layers made it feel decadent and special, while still remaining light and delicious. ¬†It was a hit with the birthday girl and my entire family. ¬†Craig’s dad and mine even went back for a second helping! ¬†That’s always a compliment in my book.

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Overall, Gia’s second birthday party was perfect (although it wasn’t without a good two-year-old tantrum). ¬†Like most toddlers, she’s spoiled beyond belief and loved to no end. ¬†I’m pretty sure she felt like the rockstar that we all think she is. ¬†As much as I don’t want the years to fly by, I can’t wait to do it again for her next year. ¬†Making my daughter’s birthday cake is a privilege and something that I will continue to do over the years, just like my mom did for me.

I hope you all enjoy the recipe as much as we did!

xo

9 Things I Learned From Having My First Baby That I Hope To Remember With Baby #2

Two short years ago I was very pregnant with my first little girl, Gialina. ¬†I had no idea that she’d choose to over stay her welcome by one full week, then decide to come into the world with the ferocity¬†of a thrashing great white shark, all while weighing an ounce shy of 9 lbs.

Today I’m 30 weeks pregnant with Gia’s little sister and I can’t help but feel a little bit more anxious about her arrival. ¬†A lot of it has to do with the fact that I know what to expect when it comes to an unmedicated labor and delivery, but a bigger part has to do with how we will adjust to adding a new member to the family.

Don’t get me wrong, being a new mom isn’t easy – no matter how many times you do it. ¬†It’s always a challenge adjusting to no sleep, postpartum pain and numerous other things that come with the territory.

With my second baby arriving around October 4th, I know some aspects of this new mom thing will be easier. ¬†It’s not because I’m suddenly an expert after having one child. ¬†I’m still unorganized at times, drowning in laundry and tired. ¬†I’ve just got more tricks up my sleeve this time around. ¬†Most of my tricks are really just common sense that I didn’t have the first time around with Gia.

So expectant mamas and new mamas alike – don’t wait for your second or third baby to read this. ¬†If I could send a letter back in time here are a few things I would tell myself before having kids:

You will never be fully prepared for what it’s like to be a parent. ¬†It doesn’t matter how many books you’ve read, how many friends/family you have with children, how much you’ve nested, or how long you’ve actually waited to become a parent. ¬†No amount of preparation will truly prepare you for children. ¬†You will learn so much about yourself and your spouse the moment that little life comes into this world. ¬†You will have a lot that you will continue to learn, so consider this the most educational experience of your life.

Appreciate your pre-baby body for all that it has done for you. ¬†You will never realize how amazing and beautiful your body is until you’ve given birth. ¬†Before having a child I spent too many days worrying about that one dessert, worrying about how my jeans looked and all of the workouts that I just¬†had¬†to complete. ¬†As hard as it will be to see your body change through pregnancy, it is equally as amazing. ¬†Once Gia arrived I realized there was so much more to life than a bikini body. ¬†I can still want to look and feel good, but in a healthier way. ¬†I would never want my daughters to be so critical and self-depricating, the way I once was about myself.

It’s okay to ask for help. ¬†You think you know how to do it all, but you don’t. ¬†Take a few deep breaths and tell yourself, “this too shall pass.” ¬†You’re going to make mistakes, but how you come back from them is what matters most. ¬†You don’t need to be superhuman.

Tell everyone around you how much you love and appreciate them. ¬†They’ll never tire of hearing it, so tell them every chance you get. ¬†After giving birth you will appreciate your mother in a way that you never could before becoming a mother yourself. ¬†Tell your spouse how much you love them, because they will be your rock while you recover from labor and delivery.

Just when you think you’re starting to figure things out the routine changes. ¬†I felt like this was most relevant for me during the newborn phase. ¬†Just when I thought we were doing X amount of naps per day, it changed to Y amount. ¬†Babies and toddlers change and grow so quickly that you can’t expect these phases to last long. ¬†So be prepared, once you fee like you’ve mastered something it’s about to change in a hurry!

If nursing hurts and doesn’t get better after the initial latch, unlatch and try again. ¬†I did not consider myself successful at breast-feeding. ¬†In fact, I felt so shamed by the lactation consultants when I sought help. ¬†I remember after my first night in the hospital with Gia that I felt so lucky that she latched well. ¬†The problem was that she looked like she had a perfect latch (according to the nurses), but I still had issues. ¬†I gave breast-feeding my best shot for about a month or so. ¬†It was one of the most stressful things I’ve been through in adjusting to life as a new mother. ¬†I don’t say these things to scare new moms, but I say it in hopes of people taking initiative to educate themselves. ¬†Go take a breast-feeding class offered by your hospital. ¬†I did this and found it very helpful and I’m even signed up for the same class before baby #2 arrives. ¬†I developed a very, very severe case of mastitis while breast-feeding with Gia. ¬†It was so shocking to me that the signs and symptoms of mastitis were never mentioned to me during my first breast-feeding class. ¬†If your breast feels hot to the touch, has red splotches, or you have a high fever, it’s likely you are suffering from mastitis. ¬†This was what took me out of the breast-feeding game. ¬†TMI but, I had nipples that were cracked like the Grand Canyon, blood blisters, the whole nine yards. ¬†I mention all of this because there is nothing wrong with making the decision to stop nursing. ¬†At the end of the day fed is best and when our kids hit kindergarten no one will know who had formula and who had breast milk. ¬†You need to be the best mom you can be and sometimes that means knowing when to stop something.

Make sure the ruffles on the diaper aren’t tucked in. ¬†This might seem really stupid and basic, but it’s very helpful if your child is having diapers that explode often. ¬†Another good thing to try if you feel like you’re changing diapers and outfits on the regular is go up a diaper size. ¬†I didn’t really have to worry about this too much, but did have to remind relatives that ruffles go out!

Swaddle, sway, swing, shush! ¬†If you’re baby is having a hard time sleeping (day or night) you need to swaddle your baby. ¬†It makes them feel safe and secure, just like when they were in your tummy. ¬†Swaying and swinging motions help many babies fall asleep once they’re swaddled because that motion feels the same as the motion they felt while growing inside of you. ¬†Think about it – you didn’t sit your entire pregnancy. ¬†When you moved, your baby moved. ¬†It’s comforting! ¬†The shush noise was also something they heard in the womb. ¬†You have blood flowing and tons of other bodily fluids that are moving throughout your entire body that create a shush sound that makes baby feel at home because it’s all they hear all the time. ¬†(I just mention these tips because I remember they worked for me. ¬†All babies are different and just because I say it worked for me doesn’t mean it has to work for you and your baby.) ¬†I read a book called “The Happiest Baby On The Block,” prior to Gia’s arrival that really dives into these tips.

Just say NO! ¬†Now that I’m a mom of an almost two-year old I’m used to saying that little two-letter word. ¬†People are going to want to come visit you and the baby right after birth. ¬†People are going to tell you that you need to be feeding them solids by a certain age and that they should have rice cereal in their bottle. ¬†People are going to tell you that you don’t need to be so routine oriented about their sleep schedule. ¬†You know what you say to all those people? ¬†NO. ¬†Just because certain things worked for them doesn’t mean you should do it too. ¬†Anything being said to you that’s annoying, opinionated and unsolicited – just go ahead and say no. ¬†It’s your baby, not theirs.

The bottom line here is listen to your gut. ¬†Becoming a new mom for the first, second or third time is a lot. ¬†Like I’ve said many times before, we’re all just winging it and doing what works best for us. ¬†I’m glad I’ve put this all on my blog because it serves as something I can come back to so I can remind myself of these things. ¬†Lord knows that two months from now I’m gonna forget all about everything I learned the first time around with Gia. ¬†Here’s to hoping I re-read this post during all of the middle of the night feeding sessions that I’ll soon be experiencing. ¬†Don’t be hard on yourself, trust the process and¬†trust yourself! ¬†You’ve got this!

xo

Two Books To Help Me With My Independent (almost) Two-Year Old

Scores and scores of moms, and parents in general, are overcome with stress. ¬†Although at times we can see humor in stressful times, insight and occasionally find a practical solution to our stress, there’s still that serene lifestyle that is out of reach. ¬†Yes, when you have adult responsibilities such as a career, children, running a household, ¬†and financial commitments, stress is just part of the everyday norm.

If I’m being 100% honest with myself and totally transparent, my source of stress right now is my almost two-year old and the worries that most other parents face. ¬†Most days, Gia is my little shadow – she’s eager to please me, mimics everything I do and is an overall very happy and well-mannered child. ¬†Like any toddler, she has her moments and now those moments come around a little bit more often as she is tasting what it’s like to be an independent big girl.

The last week or two has brought about new behaviors that are usually directed towards me, mommy. ¬†After all, I am with her everyday, all day, so it’s only natural that she would show defiance and resistance to me more than daddy or grandparents. ¬†We all want to raise respectful, well-behaved kids who make good choices, but it’s not so easy at this age.

About two weeks ago when I took Gia to use the potty she was adamant about not going (because she was very busy playing) but it had been far too long without her taking a potty break. ¬†Most of the time if she says “no” to going potty, I honor her request but keep a very close eye on her because she usually refuses to go only to exert her power. ¬†This particular time I wasn’t going to bend because we were out in public and business needed to be handled before getting in the car. ¬†The short of it is that she smacked me right on the head because she didn’t want to go. ¬†This was a brand new behavior that was kind of shocking to me. ¬†I’m sure she’s seen other kids do this at our gym daycare, but I was still emotionally hurt by it.

This week, after an activity packed visit to San Diego to see her cousins, Gia has had more frequent outbursts that are quite obviously the “terrible twos.” ¬†I’ve always kind of hated that term, but it’s now truly starting to rear it’s ugly head just a couple weeks before her second birthday.

Learning to discipline such young child who is obviously very bright can be confusing and frustrating, to say the least.  There are so many methods of discipline and ways to parent, and everyone who has their opinions about it.  Craig and I are approaching this new phase of toddlerhood with as much patience as possible and with open minds.

I think that the hardest part about all of this for me is that I expect so much of Gia. ¬†I don’t expect perfection by any means, because I expect that of no one. ¬†It’s just difficult to remind myself that she still is quite young. ¬†Just because she’s grasped so many things at such a young age makes me forget that she’s still not quite two years old. ¬†Her mind is still developing and the concept of discipline is hard at this age. ¬†I mean, really, what kid her age will sit in time-out, even if just for one minute?! ¬†(If your kid does this, my hat is off to you and you can message me immediately about how you make that happen!)

What I’m getting at is that these little humans are evolving every single day and sometimes that means the days feel a little bit longer. ¬†I like to share these normal hiccups and challenges because as parents we ALL go through it but don’t always share about it. ¬†Sometimes it’s just nice to commiserate, simply to know that you aren’t alone!

As a result of our opinionated and independent girl developing new habits, we are slowing down and taking the time to explain things at her level. ¬†She has such empathy for her age and knows when people are hurt or even if feelings are hurt. ¬†If she hears me say to another adult that I was upset she immediately tells me, “Mommy, don’t worry.” ¬†The fact that she tells me this means we’re doing something very right.

We are just continuing to plow through and prepare her for life the best way we know how. ¬†We’ll continue to make mistakes along the way, but we’re all just winging it anyway!

In case any of you are going through this phase of toddlerhood, I’d like to share two books that I just ordered through Amazon to help me out: ¬†“Hands Are Not For Hitting” and “Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.”

I know that people laugh about these kinds of books because they weren’t accessible to parents of earlier generations and their kids “turned out fine.” ¬†While that may be true, just because there’s new knowledge and support in the world doesn’t mean it’s bad or that we can’t be open to it.

Happy Friday my friends!

xo

Mother’s Day vs. Father’s Day: Both Are Important!

Regardless of your views and beliefs about religion, Christmas is easily one of the most recognized holidays across the globe. ¬†So why is it that Easter, another very important religious holiday, can’t compete with the month-long extravaganza that is Christmas? ¬†Easter is clearly the runner-up to Christmas, whether we want to admit it or not.

Likewise, retailers and bloggers have done their best to whip shoppers into a frenzied state prior to this Father’s Day weekend. ¬†Despite these efforts, Father’s Day seems to be treated with far less reverence than Mother’s Day. ¬†It’s no secret that Mother’s Day gets a lot of attention, but I’ll argue that Father’s Day doesn’t typically receive the same level of interest. ¬†Why is that???

When May rolls around each year, florists, chocolatiers and the trendiest brunch joints extol the importance of showing profound gratitude for all mothers. ¬†The way Father’s Day is marketed and treated with far less seriousness. ¬†Even though I shouldn’t be complaining, this kind bugs me.

Yes, Gia’s dad, Craig, is a lovable buffoon at times, but he is by no means a dimwitted figure who couldn’t possibly be expected to be bothered with feeding or bathing our daughter without first being issued step-by-step instructions. ¬†(I am guilty of leaving him detailed lists of what to do with Gia, as well as checking in on them when they’re alone, but part of that is me just being me.)

It’s 2018 people. ¬†Men are more involved than ever in the day-to-day caring of their kids. ¬†There are countless mornings when I’m on my way to the gym, with Gia in tow and I see the neighborhood elementary school yard filled with fathers. ¬†They’re making sure their kids don’t jump into the street, holding backpacks and giving hugs and kisses before seeing their little ones off to school. ¬†My local parks overflow with dads who seem especially doting.

Just yesterday as I walked into my gym, a member who I’m friendly with asked, “Where’s the baby?” ¬†I kindly said that she was with daddy having fun until I got home and it was his turn to head to the gym for his workout. ¬†What I wanted to say was, “She’s home alone watching TV and making sure the house doesn’t burn down.” ¬†Come on – where do you think she is?? ¬†Why are fathers seen as the “babysitters” and moms are seen as the “real” parent?

In my humble opinion, it’s insulting to all moms and dads. ¬†Yes, there may or may not be more pressure and unrealistic expectations placed on mothers, but this message we are sending is that fathers are less devoted. ¬†That’s simply not the case. ¬†Dad’s are not an afterthought and it’s time we start acting like Father’s Day is just as important as Mother’s Day – because it is!

I’m sure all of us want the father figures in our lives to feel special on Father’s Day each and every year. ¬†In my family, the fathers are probably okay without a purchased gift, but I enjoy shopping for the occasion anyway. ¬†For some, Father’s Day may be more challenging to shop for than Mother’s Day, but remember, it’s not about the gift. ¬†Just like mom, dad wants to feel appreciated and be told that he’s doing a good job.

I am not the sole nurturer of my child because my husband plays a huge role in that as well. ¬†Craig, if you’re reading this, you are a fantastic father. ¬†Expressing my thanks publicly like this for all of your unconditional love will never be enough. ¬†Your contributions to this family exceed all expectations. ¬†You are our provider, protector and a strong individual that we all should try to emulate. ¬†Thank you for never shying away from wiping a dirty baby bum, or putting our daughter to sleep. ¬†I appreciate the selfless care and protection you provide to us on a daily basis. ¬†We love you beyond measure.

Here’s to all of the fathers out there. ¬†May all your days with your family be filled with love, but especially so this Father’s Day.

xo

Why We Are Having Another Child

As parents, it seems like Craig and I have finally fully adjusted to life with a little one and now we are adding a little sister to the mix.  Yes, we know we will have to referee many backseat battles and likely have to buy two of everything when it comes to toys Рimitation is the sincerest form of flattery, of course!  But what we are most excited for is to witness Gialina and her little sister play with one another and embrace each other in warm hugs.

When Gia was born I realized I would do anything to protect her.  I hope and pray that Gia will experience a similar feeling growing up with a younger sibling.  When baby girl number two comes along and starts to become more independent, our children will learn how to split the last chocolate chip cookie that I made, and hopefully learn how to divide TV time when their favorite show is on.  Obviously these little lessons will take time and there will be bumps in the road, but they will come in handy when they are in school.

Craig and I both grew up with siblings and we couldn’t imagine not giving Gia that same gift. ¬†She might not see it that way in the beginning, but as already experienced by Craig and I, having a built in “playmate” and lifelong friend is wonderful. ¬†There won’t be an urgent need to schedule playdates when Gia’s best friend is in the next room. ¬†I know that some of this talk of being best friends can be wishful thinking on my part. ¬†I am fully aware that siblings fight and sometimes they fight a lot. ¬†I’m also keen to the idea that we are going to raise our children with a strong moral compass, so with that, we believe that our children will love and respect one another for a lifetime. ¬†It’s all about setting a good example and instilling proper values.

In Gia’s almost two years of life, we’ve witnessed such empathy, compassion, humor and intelligence on the daily. ¬†Whether it’s mastering a puzzle or learning to hit a plastic golf ball, we know that Gia will teach her younger sister so many things. ¬†In the same regard, as an older sibling she will learn a lot of patience from our new addition.

As I’ve gotten older, I share so many of my thoughts and problems with my younger brother, Zach. ¬†I hope that Gia and her sister will turn to each other for guidance, just as their funky Unkie and I do.


Pictured here is my brother Zach explaining the finer points of surfing to Gia. ¬†I can’t wait for her to know the bond siblings can share.

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As sister’s they will celebrate so much together – from birthdays to a walk down the aisle, I hope they stand by each other’s side through all of life’s monumental moments. ¬†With those good times also comes tough times – bruised knees, a less than perfect grade, a broken heart. ¬†No matter the problem, siblings should be there to dry each other’s tears and act as a shoulder to lean on.

(Thinking about this next part makes me emotional and teary eyed.) Above all else, we are making our family a family of four because we want Gia to have someone to grow old with. ¬†Friends come and go, but family is forever. ¬†Unfortunately our parents aren’t able to physically be around forever, so having another sibling ensures that Gia will have a blood connection long after Craig and I are gone.

I’m aware that not everyone wants another child, let alone one child. ¬†(I’ve addressed that in my blog before.) ¬†I try to be sensitive to the fact that everyone is free to live their life exactly how they wish, with child or without. ¬†I also know that those who want kids may have difficulty conceiving and may never experience what Craig and I have. ¬†I feel great pain for those who want kids but are unable, and I have great respect ¬†for those who choose to live their life without children, as these are very personal things. ¬†All I know for myself is that I would absolutely regret not having a second child. ¬†I feel like I would be robbing Gia of something that I know is so amazing. ¬†This is why we are adding another girl to our gang.


Soon Gia will be picking flowers with her built in bestie.

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Sidenote: ¬†I know my blog invites opinions of others, but I want to remind everyone to be kind. ¬†By no means do you need to agree with any of my opinions, let’s just be respectful of one another.

I’d love to hear from friends and strangers alike – Why have you decided to have a another child? ¬†Feel free to comment here and don’t forget to follow more of my adventures on my Instagram page, @mrsbennigson.

xo

Career & Family

I’ve had quite the wide variety of jobs throughout my short life, all of which have taught me a lot about who I am and who I want to become.

In college I studied broadcast journalism with a dream of becoming a news anchor or sports anchor. ¬†After graduating, I quickly realized just how important being close to my family was and put my dream of reporting the news on the back-burner. ¬†Many, many times, if you want to break into broadcasting you will have to move to the middle of nowhere to get your start with a small news station. ¬†Now, this isn’t always the case, after all, it’s all about who you know. ¬†I’ve always been willing to start at the bottom like everyone else, for the opportunity to climb the totem pole, but the thought of leaving my family behind for an indefinite amount of time killed me. ¬†Then there’s also the likelihood of still being far away once I potentially did settle into a larger news station in a bigger city. ¬†Yep, I made the right choice for myself, but I do have days where I wonder – “what could have been?”

My first job out of college was with a local police department, as a Community Services Officer.  Sounds official and I even looked pretty official, having to wear a civilianized police uniform to work everyday.  I really enjoyed that job, as I got to work with the people in the community almost everyday.  To sum it up, one of my main responsibilities was running the Neighborhood Watch for the entire city.  This meant holding educational meetings at homes of community members where the neighbors would come and ask questions about general crime prevention.  Surprisingly to some, it was a lot of fun!

After working that job for about six months or so, I knew I wanted something more – more hours and more money. ¬†The job at the police department was only part time, so I took to the internet and started to see what else was out there, even though I didn’t really know what I was looking to do. ¬†(I’m one of those people who loves so many different things that I could see myself having many different jobs or career paths.)

I remember randomly applying for a brand new little airline named Virgin America. ¬†I truly did apply on a whim believing that I would never hear back from them. ¬†Not only that, but did I really want to fly all the time? ¬†Within a few days of applying as an “In-Flight Team Member,” a.k.a. flight attendant, I was starting the interview process and eventually went on to a stressful four week training before getting my wings. ¬†People have no idea what kind of training flight attendants go through, but I have to say after having been through it, it is tough and it is very serious. ¬†At the end of the day a flight attendant is there to keep passengers safe, not just to bring you a coke with no ice.

During the three years I worked for Virgin America I traveled, I met wonderful people and was part of something so unique that I don’t think it will ever be replicated. ¬†I know my former colleagues can certainly agree with that.

I stopped working for Virgin because I didn’t feel like I was growing anymore. ¬†I did what I could within the company to grow – became an In-Flight Team Leader, was part of the Promotions Team and worked at Virgin HQ in Burlingame, CA. ¬†Eventually the commute to HQ got to me enough and I decided it was time to close that chapter.

Enter police work once again. ¬†Even before my first police job, I had always been curious about police dispatchers. ¬†Many who know me know that I come from a law enforcement family, so as they say, “it runs in the blood.” ¬†I tested for police dispatcher positions and eventually was hired with a local police department. ¬†I’ve never been through such a mentally challenging experience with a job until this one. ¬†It’s hard to explain to people exactly what the job is like if they don’t know police work or have never sat alongside a police dispatcher for a partial shift. ¬†Just like with anything, I can’t expect the general public to know just how taxing a job like that can be. ¬†You talk to people who might be facing the absolute worst moment of their life, or you might be talking to someone wanting to end their life.

I stopped working as a dispatcher about 7 months after starting. ¬†I realized that I didn’t want to feel the way I felt going into work everyday – I felt so much stress and always wondered about the “what if.” ¬†Shortly after making the decision to part ways with dispatching was when Craig was trying to get into the police academy. ¬†I knew then that if we were going to have a life together that I didn’t want to be in the same field that he was, working the same long and hard shifts, and probably not seeing much of each other because of that.

After leaving my job as a dispatcher I felt desperate to find a new job. ¬†This was the first time in my life where I had quit a job without knowing where I would go next. ¬†I was of the mindset that I could just work some odd job and look for the “real” job during my time away from work. ¬†This was when I was hired by Tiffany & Co. ¬†I thought I would work there through the holiday season and move on, but that wasn’t the case. ¬†I quickly saw that there was opportunity for me to grow within the company. ¬†Over the course of working for this famed jewelry store, I fell in love with so many aspects of the job. ¬†There were also things I didn’t care for, but that’s the case with any job. ¬†I started studying more about gemstones and diamonds and discovered that there was a plethora of information for me to learn.

Since I so enjoyed selling engagement rings, I knew that my next move was to continue my education by studying with the Gemological Institute of America.  I took online classes learning more about metals, diamonds and colored stones.  Eventually these classes took me to the GIA campus in Carlsbad, CA for additional education and testing.  I wanted to ultimately become a Gemologist, which I still would love to do.

I’ve left behind so many different jobs and potential career paths that on some days I can’t help but feel like I’ve sacrificed a career to be a stay-at-home mom. ¬†I do not regret staying at home with Gialina one bit, but there are times where I see others and think, well they do it – “Why shouldn’t I? ¬†Why can’t I?” ¬†I think thoughts like these are totally normal. ¬†Working moms long for more time with their kids, stay-at-home moms long for something of their own and moms who do it all can still have these same feelings.

Ask people what they think about stay-at-home moms and you’ll get a variety of answers, this I’m sure of. ¬†“They sit around all day. ¬†They’re making the best decision ever. ¬†They don’t contribute to society. ¬†They’re making a great sacrifice to stay home and nurture their kids day in and day out.” ¬†There’s no shortage of opinions about women who stay home and raise their kids. ¬†Hell, there’s no shortage of opinions about anything anymore!

Personally, I felt it impossible for me to be a great parent and a great employee at the same time. ¬†I’m in awe of the women who do both because it’s hard! ¬†It’s all hard! ¬†Sometimes something has got to give.

For me, Ashley, being a great parent means nurturing my daughter as much as I can during these first years. ¬†I’ll have my chance again to have my career soon enough. ¬†Don’t get me wrong here, this is not a post about how to be a great parent, because unlike work, parenting is extremely subjective. ¬†There are no titles, no end of the year bonuses, only endless care that you must provide in hopes that your child learns new things and grows up to be a good person.

I don’t have much credibility with regards to teaching others how to be good parents, so I won’t try – I mean, hello, I’ve had less than two years of experience. ¬†All I know is that I am becoming a better parent everyday because of all the time I spend with my child. ¬†I am keen to her unique wants and needs. ¬†Obviously, you don’t have to stay at home like me to be a good parent or know everything about your child. ¬†I have single-parent friends that work multiple jobs just to make sure their kids have what they need. ¬†I have friends who work part-time and do one hell of a job making sure that they are a provider and a caregiver. ¬†I also have friends who bust their butts at work for 12 hours a day so they can keep their house running smoothly and their kids happy. ¬†The bottom line is, we all do what we need to do for our individual family needs and that’s perfect, but it’s still tough.

To a degree, we all long for something we don’t have and when it comes to work-life balance and parenting. ¬†I’m not the only mom out there who feels like I don’t do enough at home – there’s always laundry, always dishes and always something! ¬†I beat myself up when I can’t do it all. ¬†“You’re just a stay-at home mom, why can’t you just get it all done like everyone else?!”

Enough negative self talk. ¬†Enough. ¬†If you work full-time, part-time, have a side hustle, stay at home with your kids, etc., you are amazing and doing your very best. ¬†There’s always time in this life for the it¬†career, the vacation, the¬†whatever. ¬†Remind yourself that what you’re doing is right for you at this moment in time.

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My daughter and her sister who is growing in my belly will only be little for so long. ¬†I will have my career in a few years. ¬†For now, it can wait because I’m doing what’s best for my family and so should you, even if it means that my life and yours look very different.

xo

Finding Balance While Maintaining A Sleep Schedule

To schedule or not to schedule?!  The idea of having some kind of routine for Gia crept into my mind during the first few weeks after taking her home from the hospital.  I read a couple of sleep solution books prior to Gia being born, in anticipation of being so sleep deprived myself that the last thing on my mind would be a book.

I’ve always been someone who likes a routine and babies and little ones like it too — or so I’ve read. ¬†ūüôā ¬†For the sake of making sure Gia was/is happy, thriving & rested, I adopted a schedule for her. ¬†I didn’t really know what I was doing, but what I figured was best was to follow Gia’s cues. ¬†And when I say schedule I’m primarily talking about a sleep schedule.

Over the last year and a half we’ve gotten a rhythm and have a pretty good system that works for us. ¬†Nowadays, Gia takes one nap around noon and will usually sleep until 2:30-3 pm. ¬†I prefer to be home for her naps so she can be better rested by sleeping in her crib, as opposed to sleeping on-the-go in the car or in her stroller. ¬†That’s not to say that we don’t do that occasionally, but it doesn’t work as well for us.


Over-tired and out to dinner:

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Here’s a little secret: ¬†I’ve always been in awe of the parents who are “no-schedule” kind of schedulers. ¬†I think it’s because I wish I could be a little bit more like that. ¬†You know what I mean….fly by the seat of your pants, take every minute as it comes kind of thing. ¬†That’s just not how I’m wired, but I’m working hard to bring more of that free spirited attitude into my life.

Again, I know there is no wrong way to do things when it comes to a schedule for your child, or lack there of one.  I just like learning from the ways that other parents do it, so I can see if it works for my family too.

The reason why a set nap time in her crib works best is because Gia does not transfer well from the car to her crib. ¬†I’ve successfully transferred her mayyyybe two times in her life. ¬†For me it’s just not worth having an over-tired, cranky toddler by the time 4 pm rolls around, especially since days as a stay-at-home parent can feel long when they don’t go smoothly. ¬†(Days are long for anyone – working parent, stay-at-home parent, etc.) ¬†I know for a fact that people think I’m strict about how our day goes with Gia, but I really don’t care anymore. ¬†What works for us may or may not work for others and there’s nothing wrong with that.


This is the “no nap” look:

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What I do know about making sure Gia gets adequate day time sleep is that she sleeps well at night because of it. ¬†She’s always been a good little sleeper, but if I make sure she’s happy and rested it makes life so much easier for me.

A typical day with no exciting plans usually looks like this:

  • 7 am Wake up
  • Breakfast time + play time
  • 9 am Gym (Gia plays in the daycare while we workout)
  • 11 am Lunch time for Gia
  • Play until nap time at noon-ish
  • 2:30-3 pm Wake up
  • Play + snack
  • Run necessary errands or go to the park
  • 5 pm dinner for Gia
  • Bath time
  • 7 pm Bed time

We went down from two naps to one nap per day for Gia pretty soon after her first birthday. ¬†She was fighting going down for her second nap of the day on a consistent basis, so I knew that was a sign to cut it down to one nap. ¬†That nap transition wasn’t the easiest because I felt limited in what we could get done in the morning. ¬†If we were in the car anywhere from 10 am on, that would result in falling asleep and hindering the sleep plan for the day. ¬†Not the end of the world, but still tough on mom, dad and toddler.

Now, we just make it work and I never feel deprived or as if I don’t get to go do anything with her because of our routine. ¬†I’m making a point to go out once a week where we just wing it through the day, as far as naps and a schedule goes. ¬†Many times this results in a challenging afternoon due to an over-tired 18 month old, but we are all learning how to deal with these curveballs. ¬†In a strange way, the days that naps go haywire are the days where my mental health is challenged and made stronger. ¬†See, I’m finding the positive in something that I would’ve considered negative.


On-the-go sleep:

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I’m curious, do any other parents out there have any tricks up their sleeve regarding schedules and napping? ¬†What do you guys do when your child has skipped their nap? ¬†How do you make it until bedtime with minimal meltdowns? ¬†What do you do if you want to enjoy a day out as a family?

I know sometimes these hiccups are just par for the course, but I’d love to hear what works for others so we can try things out to see if they work for us too. ¬†We’re in this together!

xo