letters to noah man: happy FOURTH birthday!!!

Dear Noah,

How are we already here?!?

Four years. 

Just typing those two words made our eyes water up.

You came into this world four years ago with fight and strength.  Incredible strength might we add.  All four pounds and one ounce of you.  And, you have never stopped showing us the fight and strength you have within the very core of you.

Three was a hard year.  For you and for us.  Your world became instantly rocked shortly after turning three years old.  With a baby brother.  

Let us say this.  

You. are. amazing, Noah.

You struggled.  And, we knew it would be a challenge for you.  

Tears were had by both parties.  

Yet, you used your fight and strength to power through this past year with joy, with love, and with an indescribable amount of spirit.

And, those three things, those are the reasons why are are absolutely, insanely in love with you.

We have learned this past year…

You have passion.  Sweets, you received this quality from your mama.  And, nothing makes us more proud than seeing how much you believe in something and stand by it no matter what.

You have a temper.  And, it is quite possible the cutest yet most terrifying thing sometimes.  But, we like to believe it is tied to your passionate spirit. 

Your faith in God is something that is hard to put into words.  It is the most surreal experience watching you develop your relationship and trust in God.  And, the fact that you walk around the house singing church hymns makes us wonder how in the world we got so lucky to have a son like you.

You have made the biggest leaps and bounds in school.  Of all the things we changed in your life, school was one of your more difficult adjustments.  Yet, to see how far you have grown and flourished and the amazing friendships you have made with your “best buddies” is nothing short of wonderful.

You are incredibly cautious.  Our favorite is the time you “lectured” daddy for driving incorrectly.  To this day, it sends us in fits of laughter when daddy retells this story.  Little love, never, ever please change.

You have a smile that literally lights up the room.  It is our favorite part of you because your smile emulates kindness and love.  You have no idea how many people’s days you have made when you look their way and smile.  

Your imagination is magic.  We could watch and listen to you play for hours in amazement.

And, you are brilliant.  We are in awe of how quickly you catch on to a concept or a new idea.  

You have compassion.  Nothing makes our hearts melt more than when you know we are feeling ill and you do everything you can to make us feel better.  Including pretending to tuck us in and kiss us good night.

The most amazing of all has been watching you be an outstanding big brother to Nikhil.  Our hearts have exploded numerous times for the love and protection you have over your baby brother.  And, the sweetest part is listening to you tell us of all the adventures the two of you will have once Nik gets a bit older.  Noah man, you have blown us away.

Kid, you are going to move mountains one day.  In whatever you do and wherever you go.

Yet, today, we are going to bask in gratitude to God.  For giving us the best, most amazing surprise blessing we could have received four years ago.  

We cannot imagine life without you, love.

Happy Fourth, Birthday, sweetheart!

fourth birthday

We love you to the moon and back.

xoxo,

Daddy and Mama

  

before I was a mother…

Take a moment and time travel with me.

To a time that was simple and relaxed.

Before I had tiny feet pitter pattering on our wooden floors.

A time, before I was a mother where…

I slept eight to ten hours a night.  Uninterrupted sleep that is.

I played the “I never” game referring to our future children.  Especially the “my child will never act like this in public.”  (Insert gasp.)

I judged my mama friends for not being able to sneak out for a drink or talk on the phone.  On the same day I had asked.  (Insert a bigger, more shameful gasp.)

My home was always clean and the walls did not have an “accidental” mural of our two year old’s masterpiece done by the mysterious crayon he found from an even more mysterious spot.

I went on a date with my husband and enjoyed dinner in the evenings while talking about our dreams.  Dreams we hoped to achieve within a few short years.

I ate breakfast while reading a good book and getting ready for work at my own leisure.

I experienced the stunning sights the world had to offer with my better half without a care in the world and wondering if our toddler was behaving, sleeping, and missing the living daylights out of him.

And, there is that moment when I realize after I became a mother…

When nothing else, no accomplishments, no dreams, no amount of travel and no amount of peace and simplicity would ever compare to the challenges and absolute joy of raising our boys.

I suddenly did not care that our dining table had dried up milk rings, our walls had scuffs from when our oldest little love thought it would be hilarious for the trains to collide, or that I cannot remember what my hair looked like from last night because it is three o’clock in the afternoon and I am pretty sure I am still rocking the bedhead look.  As in I showed up at pick-up at our son’s school with said bedhead hair.

And, I realized the hustling to make morning drop-off or pick-up at school on time, the never ending piles of laundry to fold, bathing our littlest babe, scrubbing milk stains out of the couch, and chasing our toddler on the playground to convince him naptime sounds more fun is all a part of this sweet season of life that is passing by all too quickly.

Those dreams I spoke of before motherhood, they may look different.  But, my reality.  Well, it is far better than what I had dreamt of years ago.

Before motherhood was pretty great.  But, time and time again, I will always choose life after motherhood.  Hands down. No questions asked.  I am crazy in love with our chaotic and adorable mess of little loves that have truly bestowed upon me this wildly wonderful thing called motherhood.

To all the amazing mothers around the world who are expecting, current, hopeful, and ones who have lost, especially to the two OUTSTANDING women better known as my mother-in-law and my own mum, THANK YOU.

Although it will never be enough, thank you for your kind (and very patient) hearts, for showing what unconditional love and a nurturing soul can do for a child, and for teaching our children to become humble individuals in this crazy world.

before I was a mother

Happy Mother’s Day!

  

the lowdown on cloth diapers

In honor of making our world a more beautiful place and the upcoming celebration of our planet, I thought I would write my thoughts on our experience with cloth diapers.

I should probably preface by saying using cloth diapers is not for everyone.  And, I will stand-by using cloth diapers and breastfeeding.  And, while our boys love their vegetables and fruits and eat a wholesome meal most days, there are times when they eat hot dogs for lunch and fish sticks for dinner. It seems as though it is hard to be a parent this day in age.  There is so much pressure about the way to feed your child, sleeping locations and methods, and how to discipline them.  It is a wonder why our mothers looked less stressed and more care-free without social media!  With that said, I adore all the different methods of parenting and truly believe no method is better than another method.

earth day 01

I get asked quite often what led us to use cloth diapers.  The decision was quite simple.  We wanted to save money on the cost of diapers and cause less waste to our environment.  We try to be as “green” as possible in our home, and we thought this was another way to continue protecting our world.  If using cloth diapers is not for you, like I said, no. big. deal!  There are other eco-friendly options for using diapers.

earth day 02

For newborn cloth diapers, we actually did a rental through a local favorite called Teeny Greeny.  We paid a $300 deposit.  The rental was for 24 cloth diaper covers, 24 liners, and a package of cloth diaper detergent.  It was $12 per week.  We only used the newborn cloth diapers for twelve weeks.  At the end of our rental period, we could choose between receiving store credit and the first six weeks of our rental free or we could receive the difference of deposit and our rental for the ten weeks in cash refund.  We chose the store credit since we wanted to get more cloth diapers!  It was a great option, and Heather at Teeny Greeny was amazing.  She made the entire process quick and easy.  And, the covers and liners were of excellent quality!

After the newborn period, we used BumGenius as our choice.  We had quite a few from when Noah was a baby, and we loved the brand.  We spent around $300 for the BumGenius diapers and liners.  However, Heather introduced us to a newer brand that we have fallen more in love with as it provides extra support for leakage.  We use Thirsties Duo Wrap.  And, they come in fun colors and prints for a VERY affordable price.  We use separate liners that we bought when we did cloth diapers with Noah.  We place the liners in the cover and snap it all together.  It really is not much work from placing a disposable diaper on a baby.

earth day 03

When washing the cloth diaper covers and liners, we place the load of diaper covers and liners in the washing machine on a cold water rinse cycle.  Then, we wash it once again with cloth diaper detergent on a hot water cycle with an extra rinse cycle.  To dry the covers, we hang dry them or we place them on an energy-efficient setting in the dryer; for the liners, we place them on medium to high heat in the dryer.

earth day 04

With Nikhil, we have to use disposable diapers at nap and night time (this kid has an overactive bladder!) to avoid leaks from happening which also was waking up our little love in the middle of the night.  And, I do remember using disposable diapers at night with Noah near the end of our cloth diaper use (around 2 years).

We used cloth diapers until Noah man was potty-trained, and we loved our experience!

It did take quite a bit of teamwork, but we can honestly say it was worth it to say that we are saving our planet, one cloth diaper at a time.

earth day 05

Happy (early) Earth day, friends!

  

good reads: love unending

It was our last mini date before we were about to walk hand-in-hand into the hospital and welcome our sweet, baby boy.  I looked at him with a number of different emotions and teary eyes.  Promise me, our marriage will not change.  He nodded his head, and then we pinky-promised the very core of us would not disappear.

Becoming parents changed us from the inside out.  We began to wear our hearts on our sleeves.  We had this fire inside of us to want to be our best in order to make the tiny human we welcomed into this crazy world to be full of milk and joy.  And, it felt at the time, we placed everything in our lives before our marriage.  Somewhere in the first six months, I realized my best friend and husband felt more like, dare I say, a roommate.

What I failed to see was our marriage was a different kind of wonderful in the midst of chaos.  It was the way we connected during those more challenging months.  The way we fell into each other’s arms with a glass of wine and a good conversation after a day of a teething babe.  The way we would all pile into the recliner and laugh over our sweet baby’s snores.  Or the way we worked as partners-in-crime to teach Noah a new skill and the gratitude we felt for the other.  There is something amazing to be said about watching your better half love on the little life you created together.

Our marriage after becoming parents has certainly not been perfect.  We work hard EVERY single day.  And, we have learned through the years, if our marriage is not thriving, our family is not as happy and strong.  I came across some of the best marriage advice I had read in awhile through Becky Thompson blog post that went viral in the fall.   Her father’s advice changed the way I approached my marriage with Bryan each day.  Every day I wake up, I tell myself that it’s the first day I am married to your mom.  A few months later, a sweet friend recommended a book by none other than Becky Thompson: Love Unending.  This book, oh my word, spoke to every inch of my mama-loving, wife-loving heart.

It speaks to every woman, not only mothers, who need the simple reminder of how to love and appreciate your husband.  Much of the dynamic of our relationship changes once we get too comfortable or have children enter in the picture.  Speaking for myself, there was a time I would greet Bryan with tears instead of a kiss and let’s just say my tone during the day would not be pretty.  Reading this eye-opening book inspired me to continue loving my husband the same way I did when we first started dating.  At the start of this year, we made it a priority to have date nights, enjoy dreaming about our future, and planning fun adventures for just the two of us again.  And, I love learning from Bryan how to love unconditionally.  I am in awe by the way he never looks at my flaws and forgives easily, characteristics I am embarrassed to admit I need to work on.  I can honestly say after implementing some of the advice she wrote about in her book, I feel our marriage has flourished in newfound ways.   We respect one another.  We laugh loudly and smile with our eyes.  And, we speak with kindness.

My hope is our marriage leaves a mark, a legacy on our boys’ hearts.  To want the kind of marriage where you never want to stop holding hands.  The kind of marriage where you always side with your better half, no matter if the person is right or wrong.  The kind of marriage where you listen intently to their stories.  And, the kind of marriage where you truly feel like you are the lucky one.

love unending

 

 

 

 

 

  

saying yes to my health!

Have you ever felt like you were standing in quick sand about to face plant?  That was me at the end of 2016.

I was failing in all aspects of my life.  And, there was a time where I felt as if the walls were closing in on me.  I was lost.

So, I prayed.  I prayed like crazy for a big change.  And, indeed, a big change happened.

With my new job came a promise I made to myself at the start of 2017.  To say yes to the mental, emotional, and physical pieces of my health that would allow me to feel whole again.  I can honestly say this is a working progress.  However, I know to be the best wife and mama to my boys, I need to carve out some time for mama bear.

(Insert the Shefy Shake for my new game plan in life!)

For my mental health, I have been determined to get five to six hours of sleep.  (We are beyond blessed to have two AWESOME babes who sleep through the night and even sleep in on the weekends.  However, I am hoping to have Nik on breast milk until he turns one.  Which means getting up in the middle of the night to pump.  Crazy, perhaps, but it is a decision I have made and it 100% worth it to me.)  Bryan and I are convinced we can conquer the world (or at least have more patience with one another and the boys if we are better rested.  Much easier said than done when you have jobs, chores around the house, and two very active boys and a pup to chase around each night.  Yet, I do notice a difference on the days I get less than five hours of sleep.  Let’s just say, nobody should invade this mama’s bubble on those days.  I have, also, decided to make time once or twice a month to meet a girlfriend for a drink or dinner.  Leaving my babies and losing extra time with my hubby is difficult to me; I just love being around them.  However, a good conversation with a friend is sometimes what I need to lift up my spirits and feel recharged.  Along with time out with girlfriends, Bryan and I hired a babysitter we found through our church.  Can I just say she is AMAZING?!?  We made a pack for us to not get warped into only being daddy and mama around the home.  Sometimes, we need to sneak out to have fun just the two of us.  Although, it can be pricey, it has been a game changer for our marriage.

With my emotional health, I decided to invest time in a few hobbies I miss dearly.  Reading has always been the best way for me to unwind from a crazy day.  I love reading autobiographies and uplifting books as well as almost all fiction novels (except the thrillers…this mama does not do thrillers!).  It is crazy to think I have read more books this year already than last year combined.  Another hobby I got back into was writing on this space.  It has been neglected for quite some time.  But, I find it very relaxing to share my thoughts, bring a smile to someone’s face, and encourage others to know they are not alone in this crazy, beautiful world.  To go along with my writing, I decided to start documenting our daily lives and adventures with this camera.  I wanted a camera that would be light and easy to carry during our outings and travels.  It has truly been the best gift.  I have come to realize the boys are growing up way too fast, and I want those memories frozen on photographs to always remember what our lives looked like-the imperfect, messy kind of living I adore.

The physical part of my health has been the most challenging.  Finding time to work out with two little ones is difficult.  However, I am slowly finding ways to give myself time to exercise for twenty to twenty-five minutes.  Somedays, it may involve the boys playing in their playroom while I exercise in the eyesight of them.  And, other days, it may involve powering through hearing one crying and the other one upset about his baby brother touching his leg or his car (insert eye roll).  I believe alternating between a few great workout videos I can do at home and running on the weekends has given me the balance I need to feel energized throughout the day.

As for the eating piece, I am working on it.  I went from eating EVERYTHING in sight while I was pregnant to being careful how I consume food.  Not because of a weight issue but more from a nutritious stand point.  I am still pumping, which means everything I eat also goes to Nik.  Call me crazy, but I do not want my sweet baby boy having artificial sugars and ingredients in his diet.  During the week, I make healthy choices by eliminating processed sugars (except for the piece of dark chocolate I eat after dinner each night) and most processed foods.  Being gluten-free, this is much easier because most of what we eat at home is cooked from scratch and packed with vegetables and protein.  And, we love teaching Noah man by example to make healthy choices when it comes to food.  He may not like everything we put in front of him, but kid can eat some brussels sprouts and salad like a CHAMP.  Saturday is our “indulge” day.  We either have a date night out or in with take-out from some of our favorite restaurants around town.  Speaking of favorite restaurants…my new favorite bakery is Nothing Bundt Cakes.  I recently discovered Kansas City has gluten-free bundlets, and it has been so. very. good dangerous.  As I am slowly approaching my mid-thirties (deep breaths, Shef), I am learning how important it is to make healthy choices for my body to make it to one hundred years old.  (Bryan and I intend to do everything in our power to make sure we do not leave the world before then!)

I have hit my breaking point one too many times.  One of which led Celiac disease.  I know how short life is from being a therapist for the geriatric population.  The best advice I receive countless times from this population is to Take care of yourself.  When I was twenty-five years old, I was told for the second time I might have cancer.  I remember immediately asking for a second chance from God.  I promised I would make better life decisions.  I would not let my life get out of control and to a point where my organs would begin failing on me (which is what was happening).  You would think I would have learned my lesson at that time.  Since then, God has given me many chances.  I was in the same predicament four months ago.  And, it finally occurred to me.  It is this chance that I need to make myself a priority and essentially treat myself.  Otherwise, I will not be able to enjoy this beautiful life I was given with the people who are my everything and my world.  They are who I live for, and without them, I literally cannot breathe.

Here is to choosing a vibrant life full of happiness and good health!

health

Because as the saying goes, If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.