A New "Recruit"

It's true, our family is growing! However, while my pregnancy with Jack seemed to last forever - my March 28th due date seems to be approaching at break-neck speed.

This space of mine has gone quiet, it's been easy to find other things to do. But I keep finding myself thinking that this time in our lives needs to be written down... documented.

This little plum-sized baby currently taking up residence in my body has been far from easy on me so far. I had to wave my white flag and call in for back-up (in the form of Zofran) at about 7 weeks, and still, the nausea creeps quietly in the waiting room- ready to strike if I stay up too late or don't eat every hour.

I feels surreal that in 6 months there will be a new child in our lives. A new baby to drink in - a new person to love overwhelmingly. I'm excited, I'm scared, and even a little anxious.

I suppose all there is to say is, bring it on!



Photo credit to my brother-in-law, Justin!

It's nap time around here and I just tried to settle a very excited little boy into his bed. He asked me to lay next to him ("Mommy! Bed! Pillow!") and I snuggled in close and put my face next to his. I told him the story of when he was born - how he was the most beautiful thing Daddy and I have ever seen (to which he responded, "yeah!"). I told him about his thick black hair and deep blue eyes. I explained to him that he wore a blue hat ("silly!") and he cried until I held him in my arms and rocked him to sleep ("Baby Jack! Sleep!").

While two year old Jack seemed far from sleep, I gently crept out of his room and closed the door behind me.  I felt compelled to watch the video I made for his birthday one year ago. The song in the background still resonates so true in my heart as a mother.

all for love
we become larger than lifesize, wondersome,
great in the eyes of someone.

Jack is so great, so wondersome, in my eyes and I see the same affections reflected back at me, and at John, each day. I feel great in the eyes of my son, and there is no better feeling!

Although this little space on the internet has gone silent for over two months, I couldn't let this day pass by without celebrating this precious soul that I have been blessed to nurture. The amount with which he has grown and changed in this past year leaves me full of awe. I know that this will be a reoccurring theme as each birthday passes by, but it's still such a miracle to me!

This little child that lights up my life each morning, each day, and each night - he never stops surprising me. The amount that I love him has yet to stop growing. John and I often lay in bed at night and whisper to each other about our overwhelming love for this little boy. It is truly a gift.

Happy second birthday my sweet John Henry. Every day with you is a day I treasure! 


Leland Food & Wine Festival 2013

If you combine my favorite place, my husband, wine, and good friends - you pretty much get an ideal summer weekend.

This past weekend John and I travelled 3.5 hours North to visit the Leland Food & Wine Festival with two other couples.

It was great to combine grad school friends, our husbands/future husbands, and some damn good booze.

My childhood summers always included a vacation to Leland and visiting Fishtown always brings back sweet feelings of nostalgia, incomplete without a North Shore sandwich from the cheese shoppe.

John and I firmly believe that taking time to be away, just the two of us, is key to keeping our relationship strong. This weekend was just what we needed!


Weight Loss: My Journey So Far

It all started with 2 pictures.

When these pictures from a baby shower posted on Facebook just before I started my second semester of school, I cried. My mom, John, EVERYONE claimed it was just a bad angle. But bad angle or good angle - I never knew I was capable of looking like THIS. 

I cried for hours - I cried all night. I just didn't understand how it had gotten this bad.

For over a year I had looked in the mirror and thought, I don't look that bad. When I wore a one-piece all summer long for the first time in my life, I blamed it on being a mom. When my clothes (a whole size bigger than normal) got snug, I told myself it was no big deal. Until it was. 

See, I gained about 15 pounds throughout college. Over the course of 4 years it didn't seem so bad. I had a lot of fun while I gained that weight! Then, in this past year, I gained 15 more. In ONE year I gained as much as I did in 4! So NOT okay. 

So I made a change. Baby-steps. I wanted this to be a real change, not a flash diet where I lost weight quick and gained it back even quicker. 

My short-term goal: be in a bikini by May for our family vacation to the Virgin Islands. My long-term goal: be my best weight ever before getting pregnant again.

First came the food. I changed what we were eating. No fast food, less eating out, sticking to meal plans, less snacking... In one month I lost 5 pounds. 

So I started working out. Tracy Anderson Metamorphosis Muscular Structure work 3-5 times a week &  a 5k training program 3 times a week. 

In two more months I had lost 5 more pounds, could run a 5k, and was feeling good. Even if running was still hard & most days I dreaded going, it made me feel great to be active!

The final month, I just kicked it into high gear. I started using My Fitness Pal to track my calories. I started learning more about what was in the foods I was eating, portion control, and calorie intake vs. calories burned. 

I lost 5 more pounds. I felt great at my cousins wedding. And best of all? I wore a bikini on vacation. 

Goal = MET.

So here we are. Post vacation (3 weeks past vacation actually...) and I have met a firm plateau of 15 pounds and 14 inches lost. 

With summer here, weekends are spent at the lake, eating and drinking. Weeks are spent undoing what was done on the weekend. 

I'm ready to shed these last 15 pounds. I have started amping up my exercise and hope to be running a 10k by the end of the summer! We are diving head first into clean eating over here and I hope to find some self-control on the weekends! 

The biggest change for me in the past 5 months has been learning discipline, letting myself cheat, and making sure that this is a lifestyle change that will last. There have been bad days and bad weeks. There have been times when I have surrendered to crap food and not worked out for two weeks straight.

The most important thing to me, at this point, as that I keep coming back. Back to healthy eating, regular exercising, and good choices. I feel better than I have in years. I sleep better, have fewer headaches, and have more energy. 

I know this post was long, but I wanted to share my story in hopes of inspiring other people to make a change, motivate those who are in the process of changing, and mostly just because I am proud of myself and ready to take on the second half of my goals! 


Baby-Toddler Limbo

Jack is not quite two, looks two and a half, and loves to march himself over to the biggest kids he can find and try to hold his own. 

I like to think of this time as baby-toddler limbo. Jack is still a baby in a few ways. He still sleeps in a crib, potty-training is not even crossing our minds, and he cannot yet do so many of the "toddler activities" that you find on Pinterest boards and mommy blogs. However - he is a toddler. He walks, talks, helps when he can... 

Recently we (Jack and I) had a conversation that went like this:

Me: "Are you a baby?"
Jack: "No!"
Me: "Are you a little boy?" 
Jack: "NO!"
Me: "Are you a BIG boy?"
Jack: "YESTH!!"

Then, yesterday, while looking at pictures on my phone he pointed at every picture of himself (recent pictures) and said, "baby!". 

Even Jack is confused. 

This limbo time is hard for a few reasons. Mostly discipline and age-appropriate activities. It's hard to stay developmentally correct without challenging them or putting them into situations that are setting them up to fail. 

Jack is a short-tempered, strong-willed, sweet & snuggly, lover boy who gets M-A-D when he cannot figure something out yet bored in 2.3 seconds if something doesn't challenge him. 

My goal this summer has been to try out something at least 3 days a week. So far, so good- challenging activities are saved for the privacy of our own home, and easy/"safe" (As in, safe from tantrums) activities turn into outings. And, when all else fails, we just go to the park. There have been a few ups and downs, but mostly I am excited about all the learning and fun we have been having in the last month!

I've decided to start a series called, "What to Do With Your Baby-Toddler" where I document our activities. Most of them are obvious but I thought it might be a good resource for other moms with baby-toddlers of their own who are stumped over what to do with their afternoon. 

I get the tantrums, the hitting, and (GASP) Jack even bit me two weeks ago... but, as a good friend says to her toddler on the reg, "We are all learning". 

Posts to come:
Baking Cookies With Your Baby-Toddler
Planting a Vegetable Garden With Your Baby-Toddler
Going to the Museum With Your Baby-Toddler
Going to the Play Place With Your Baby-Toddler
Working Out With Your Baby-Toddler


Conversations With Jack - Vol. 1

Me: Jack, can you say "I"

Jack: I

Me: love

Jack: yuuuuuv

Me: you!

Jack: ME!

womp, womp....


The New Normal

That whole blogging every day bit went out the window I suppose. We have been home from our Virgin Island vacation for over a week now and we are still settling into our new normal. 

I have a few posts brewing in my head, including a vacation recap and a peak into Bubba and I's activity filled days. I must say, I am surprised at myself. I'm a different mom than I was a year ago, and I am have been having so much fun with Jack. 

Things may seem sparse around these parts but it only means that we are busy over here filling up our summer with memories! 

Until next time I will leave you with a few pictures my brother-in-law took on vacation. Trust me, there are plenty more to share! 



Day 9, Thursday: A moment in your day (this can be just a photo or both a photo and words)

Jack LOVES lovies. Each night he is tucked in with TWO blankies, his "woof woof" (stuffed dog), and his baby. Each morning he wakes up and has to take each one with him downstairs. 

I love watching him cuddle his lovies - he has a such a sweet and nurturing soul, as a parent I hope to foster that and help it to grow with him. 



Day 7, Tuesday: The thing(s) you're most afraid of

I've written about this before, and I don't want to dwell because it's dark and dreary! (My past post about fear of loss can be found here.)

What scares me most is losing those I love. I have seen death in many ways. In young and old, tragic and anticipated. I feel blessed enough to have those closest to me still with me here in this world. I also have faith that those who have left are in a place of endless love and comfort. However, I still get scared. 

My anxiety is one that I try to calm through prayer.  I try to make each day count with my loved ones, I try to ensure that those close to me know and feel my love. I do not get to choose or say who gets to stay here with me, I just get to trust!


Mom Group Failure

Day 3, Friday: Things that make you uncomfortable

Yesterday I planned to block off our morning/early afternoon for a trip to the local playground, a "picnic" lunch, and some ice cream. I would love to say I thought up this special little adventure all on my own, but in reality it was a mom's group "meet up". 

I tried the whole mom group thing when we first moved here. But Jack was too little to participate in most of the activities so it was a bust. This summer I thought it would be a great way to get us out and doing stuff when I am stumped/bored/longing for adult conversation. 

So, yesterday... the "event" started at 10. I figured we could show up between 10:30 and 11, you know, fashionably late and all. But I dragged my feet. Excuse my language, but that shit is awkward. I really didn't want to go. I knew I should go, but, well, staying in my sweats sounded better. 

I finally forced myself to get ready, pack a lunch for Jack and load into the car at 10 to noon. You should all be shocked that by the time I got there the playground was swamped (hello 80 degree weather in May in MICHIGAN). I couldn't tell who was the mom's group and who was "normal". 

I followed Jack around the playground awkwardly toting my purse and his lunch bag. I would spot a potential "mom friend" and immediately become the most awkward human you have ever met. At one point I was standing next to another mom and Jack slammed his head into a metal pole and fell flat on his back. The mom next to me said "Oh!" all concerned like and I started laughing. Yup, I laughed. Then said, "Might as well laugh and see if he decides it's worth crying about." He didn't think it was worth it and moved on, and so did the other mom. Whomp, whomp. 

Making friends really makes me uncomfortable. I don't know why. I think I'm fine if I already know somebody, but on my own I just can't make it click. I will keep trying. Perhaps I will go on time to the next group meeting... but until then, I'll just be awkward mom in the corner- heyyyyyyyy

Lets hope Jack has better social skills than his mother. 

P.S. I decided to do this challenge, but I am leaving for a LONG vacation TODAY! We are headed to Indy for my cousin's wedding then will be CARIBBEAN BOUND! We are spending Monday-Monday in St. John in the USVI with my whole family :) I may not be blogging every day, but I am going to try and get a few scheduled posts for the prompts :) Wish us luck travelling with a very busy toddler!!!


I'm Good at Loving You

Blog Every Day in May: Day 2, Educate us on something you know alot about or are good at. 

Dear Jack, 

It's been a while since I've written just for you. I think there are a lot of things I do well, but the thing I do best? Love you. I may not be great at discipline or patience. I may not always be the best playmate or chef. Sometimes I fail you and I can only imagine that this will happen more and more as you get older, but just know that the best thing I do every day is love you. 

There really isn't much baby left on you. Other than that buddha belly you stick out with pride, any trace of baby fat has given way to little boy limbs and big boy attitude. Still, there has not been one day where you do not bring a smile to my face. 

There may be some days where I throw my hands up and say, "Today, I will not win." Days where tantrums and naughtiness fill up the hours and my frustration level exceeds my ability to see past the moment. But despite our bad days, little boy of mine, you never fail to make my heart grow with more love for you. 

This morning you climbed into my lap. You rested your head on my shoulder and tucked your legs into a tiny little pretzel shaped nugget of snuggles. We talked about our big trips coming up. You asked where Da-Da was. Then you pointed to me and said, "Mommy!" and pointed to yourself and said, "Jack!" I excitedly exclaimed "good job!" and "smart boy!"and you smiled and puffed out your chest a little in pride. I live for those moments. I hope to make you feel that way the rest of my days. 

I may not be the best at parenting - but I am the best at loving you. 


The Story of My Life

This month I will be participating in the Blog Every Day in May challenge. I'm hoping it will help get me back in the groove. Wish me luck!

Day 1, Wednesday: The story of your life in 250 words or less (or one paragraph... no one will be counting your words... probably)

Most of my readers know my story – the one that started when I started this blog, but I suppose the first 22 years haven't been touched on much!

I was born in the morning on a day in mid May of 1989. I joined too older sisters, and my younger brother followed 19 months later. My parents were (and still are) crazy in love and showed me that marriage is beautiful yet hard, and so very worth it. We lived in a faux small town in West Michigan where I graduated with over 700 people. If you screwed up, the whole town knew about it within 2 days. Growing up, I was sassy and outspoken. I was once seen stomping around our backyard, alone, carrying a book and saying “this is MY book, this will never be your book, it will always be my book.” (remember the part of that story where I said I was alone?) I didn't really come into my own until college. Those first 18 years I managed. I attempted to be good at EVERY sport, but my lack of coordination and short attention span for being competitive made it a “just for fun” activity. I spent high school singing in the choir and following around my boyfriend. After “the worst break up ever” high school was over for me (too bad that was when I was 16). I just wanted a fresh start and longed to move away. College years were spent at the best place on Earth, MSU. I could fill up an infinite amount of pages with words about the friendships, bad decisions, and times to remember from college. It all went by so fast! The biggest lesson I learned in that time is that you don't always get to choose or plan. That lesson has more than led me to today. I couldn't be happier with this life of mine!

Okay, so I went over (because I know you all counted!) It's kind of strange to see your “story” summed up into one little paragraph... what's your story?  


Reprising My Role as SAHM

On Friday afternoon I turned in my keys and said goodbye to my role as "Adoption Worker". I ended my year peeking into the world of child welfare as intern extraordinaire and felt okay about closing that door.

My first year of grad school is over and it's more sweet than bitter. This wife/student/mama business is tough work, but I am grateful for the year of learning, friendship making, and relationship strengthening. Feeling this much closer to my personal career goals is pretty empowering.

But here we are. My first Monday as a stay-at-home-mama May to September. I've been in this role before, but it all feels a little different now. The 12-month-old baby I dreaded taking to day care is now a spirited almost 2-year-old with a lot of energy and even more mobility. 

I'm terrified! I legit feel like I do not know how to do this anymore. Our first day has us thrown back into a bit of a time warp, where we are still in our jammies and the house is a hot mess. I am determined to not let me summer fill up with days like today! 

We are hoping to start Jack in preschool this fall and that means structure in his life is going to take on a whole new meaning. So this SAHM life of mine will be dedicated to getting him ready, while having LOTS of fun along the way. 

Zoo trips, museums, playgrounds, oh-my! We are going to do it all! Maybe I'll even make a mom friend (or two!) along the way... I want to fill up these days and months with smiles, laughter, and a lot of memories. 

Keep an eye out for fun toddler activities that Jack and I will be trying out. Wish me luck as I brush off the cobwebs and embrace this full-time mama role once again! 
With a little boy as cute as this, it really can't be that hard... right?


Kayla, According to John

Okay, I saw Becky post about this and I knew I had to ask John to participate. Me from my husband's perspective? I couldn't resist the chance to see myself through his eyes - and I am not surprised that almost every fact he wrote had me laughing. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did :) 

Facts of Kayla according to John:

10 Facts about Kayla. A day.

1. The minute I wake up in the morning she takes over the entire bed, and not a single f**k will be given until Jack is up for the day.

2. She insists I give her a kiss and tell her I love her before I leave for work, no matter how asleep she is, and she is furious if I forget. (she also kisses me and tells me she loves me, every morning, no matter how asleep she is)

3. She never drinks her coffee hot, she waits at least 10-15 minutes before she will touch it... She likes her coffee lukewarm. Gross.

4. She claims to wear something Pink everyday... and technically this is true. But only because she has a pink tattoo!!

5. She has a 1 hour commute to school, which would absolutely kill me. She doesn't mind the drive though, apparently she had lots of road trips to her brother's hockey tournaments as a kid. She says I'm a wuss when I complain about my commute.

6. I have never seen Kayla in class - but I can almost guarantee she is the girl in class that all the professors love, and everyone sitting in the back (me, in undergrad) just absolutely cannot stand. You know the type.

7. Kayla and I talk everyday on our lunch breaks.

8. A family member told us at a wedding last weekend that she had never seen two people who thought the other was so funny. Making Kayla laugh is one of my favorite things to do, and she makes me laugh everyday.

9. Kayla will watch Oregon Vs. Louisville in the Sweet 16 if I will watch Lindsey Vs. Catherine on the Bachelor.

10. We watch Family Feud with Steve Harvey almost every night... and we are not ashamed of this. One day we will win fast money.


The Kind of Parent I Want to Be

I'm in a human development class this semester. I've taken several of these types of classes before. As a psychology major in undergrad, learning the theories of Piaget and Erikson was interesting. Sometimes (often) I would apply these theories to my own life, but it all still felt so abstract.

Now, I am looking at it all through a parent lens. I question myself often. Question myself as a mother. Applying theories and techniques to the reality of my life as a parent sometimes has me leaving class with tight ball of anxiety at the pitt of my stomach. Am I doing the right things by my child? Am I nurturing him and disciplining him in a way that will help him to reach his full physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development potential?

So I thought it was time - time to sit down, think, and record the kind of parent I want to be. I feel like I often fail myself and fail Jack by not being the parent I want to be. I'm tired or busy... there are one million excuses to "let things slide", but does my child get to pay the consequences? I know I cannot be perfect, but I refuse to sop actively bettering myself for my family. 

The kind of parent I want to be is patient. I believe in structure. Bed times, bath times, nap times, etc. I believe that when Jack knows how his day is going to go, anxiety and room for uncertainty can be lessened. This is something that will always benefit him. No matter what happens in school or anywhere else, home is consistency and comfort. At the same time, I want to be fluid and patient among this structure. Things happen, frustration happens, tantrums happen - I want to be patient and allow my child to grow and learn. 

The kind of parent I want to be is understanding. I don't want to have unrealistic expectations of what Jack should be able to know or do. I don't want to set my child up to fail because I am not properly informed of what he can and cannot know, understand, or do. 

The kind of parent I want to be is present. This is hard. I have my own things going on and checking out is so easy - but my life and world outside of home is not Jack's (or John's) problem. My child deserves my presence. Getting frustrated or annoyed because there is not one second of quiet is unfair. I want babies, children, teens, etc. to know that their mom is there, present, listening, seeking to understand, and accepting them. 

The kind of parent I want to be is calm. Yelling - It's so easy. It's an instant release of frustration. But I am a model. I cannot get mad at Jack (at any point in his life) for behaving in ways that I, myself, do as well. When Jack yells "no" in my face I can't really get upset if I am guilty of doing the same to him. I have to teach him respect through my actions. Showing Jack, John, myself, and others respect is the only way my child will learn the true meaning of respect. 

Maybe this list is too short. Maybe striving to be a patient, understanding, present, and calm parent isn't enough. But if I can check those things off in every word, action, and gesture toward my son my hope is that he will know and feel my unwavering, constant, and unconditional love. 

Being a parent just keeps getting harder, yet more rewarding every day. 


Ch- Ch- Changes!

You may have noticed "Life After..." got a little makeover. I was in want of something simple and soft so I eliminated the busy menu bar and went with quiet peaceful colors. Here's hoping that this change helps this space to inspire me again! Happy Sunday friends :)


That One Time...

Remember that one time I took a one month blogging break on accident? 

I say accident because I didn't mean to take a break, it just happened. Things got busy with school and with Jack - I didn't feel like going down to the basement and writing. When Jack went to the bed playing Candy Crush or hanging out with my husband seemed more appealing. 

The truth? I have a list of posts that I want to write, a list of things on my mind that I'm ready to share. 

The problem? I need to redefine what this space means to me. It started as a way to feel connected to the world while I muddled through stay-at-home-motherhood with a new baby in a new town with no friends... Now, it's still a place I treasure, but not one that I have time for in the way I used to. 

The solution? A new look and a new philosophy. It's simple really - this place is about marriage, motherhood, and my perspective on it all. I hope you will continue to follow along. It may not be 5 days a week (or even 3) but it will be real and honest and me.

Keep an eye out for our new look... coming soon! 


Break It Down Bubba.

Sometimes Sundays call for dance parties in the basment. I don't know where this kid gets his moves, but if you make it to the end be prepared for some intense skill.

Only David Guetta would do and when the song ended he would eagerly sign "more" until I hit repeat.
John & I were crying laughing at this hilarious child we get to call ours. Where did this kid come from?!

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