ON GETTING AWAY

A few days ago I polled Instagram on what's the thing that's helped you the most in motherhood, and the responses were great. Not one single product was mentioned, but all the non-tangibles and little (big) things. Among them: grandparents, perspective, grace, coffee, alcohol, a good babysitter, friends, self-care, and time away. It took me a long time to realize that last one but after our trip last weekend I am a big believer.

Daniel planned this trip and it was his idea. Last year we attempted a 2 night getaway and Trey was too young, it was too soon, and I wasn't ready. I was kind of expecting the same thing on this trip, but agreed to go anyways. I know it's good for me to get away and I wanted to, it's just also really hard for me to leave Trey.

This trip was night and day from last time. The resort was incredible. A boutique, luxury resort in Scottsdale, Arizona and I think it might be my favorite place we've ever stayed. (Not sponsored at all, just sharing.) The design is mid-century modern and the concept is little bungalows all over a sunny, warm, resort nestled near Old Town Scottsdale with mountain views. We absolutely loved it.

DD9883FB-5054-482B-9188-09EFFCC55225.JPG

I think the biggest realization for me on the trip was: baby/toddler/kid life is demanding. These years take A LOT of resources - time, energy, money, etc. But they are not forever. In the midst of the day to day craziness that is raising small children you think they will, but this pace of life will someday feel slower. When we retire yes, but also when we're empty nesters, and even when we're at the elementary age, we won't be parenting as intensely as we are during this time of life. It's chaotic and messy and crazy most days, but now that I've taken a step back to notice this, I can more fully fill myself up first. I think I gained the perspective that self-care is a THING. A real thing and a needed thing, and exponentially more so during these all-hands-on-deck years.

It was shocking to me the amount of noise and speed that is raising kids. I don't think it was so much the place (even though it was amazing) but just the time away to chat. To go whatever we wanted, to really pause and relax, to have time. That is the biggest scarcity element I think of my days right now and the kicker for me was that I realized: someday I will have more time.

I am trying to parent out of this new long-term mindset. I am trying to find pockets of rest and relaxation during my days, and right now, I have to be strategic about it. I have to find it/make it/get creative with it/put boundaries around it. I typically run at about 110% percent, like most moms, since we have a lot of roles and responsibilities that we keep spinning each day. But I'm slowly learning to also put myself on that list of importance things. What would fill me up today, what would I like to do? It can be hard as moms because we take care of so many needs that what we'd like often gets pushed so far back that we don't even know what it is that we need or want. Also, I think our culture values productivity and busyness, and when that's ingrained in you it's hard to get off that train. But I'm doing it. I'm getting off the train of de-valuing self-care. I placing myself on my priority list.

I think sometimes as a mom I've thought about things in pretty black and white terms. Can I both (fill in the blank) and be a good mom? Can I take a parents-only trip and love my child? Can I work and still love my child? Can I enjoy time away for a pedicure and still love my child? I think subconsciously I've thought I had to be this mom martyr, dying to myself all the time in the name of loving my child well. And I know now that while I fiercely love my child, I'm actually a better mom when I'm filled up first. It's the oxygen mask strategy. Our needs matter. What we do for ourselves matters. Not just matters, but is vital.

Part of it for me is that I get so much joy out of being with Trey. This is a great thing. But it does make it hard for me to leave him, for trips or even just a night out. I know these years go fast and I don't want to miss it. But I think there is also something to be said for doing them well and being able to do both - I can love my child well, and enjoy time away. Filling me up fills my family up. We take care of so many needs as moms. Let's make sure to also take care of ours.

DIY LA CROIX

La Croix is having a moment. It is everywhere. People (including myself) cannot get enough. When I realized both how much I was spending at Costco regarding this habit and how much the cans were piling up in the recycling, I thought, this can't be the best thing for my wallet or the environment.

I did a little research into it, and I realized the amount of cans I thought I was being so good about by recycling weren't actually doing the earth any favors (greenhouse gases, energy in production, toxic emissions, and so forth). Of course, in the question of recycling vs. not recycling, recycling is always better, but not having to recycle at all is best.

That, plus the trace amount of BPA were enough to make me look into other options.

So, enter DIY La Croix. I researched sparkling water machines and went with this one by Soda Stream. There are so many models, but I liked that this one doesn't plug into the wall and the reviews were good. There are other models that are automated for light to strong bubbles, but I like being able to control that myself. You can see a comparison chart here. This one isn't either the most expensive or the least. You can enjoy it as is, or if you miss the extra taste boost you can add these flavors essences - which, similarly to La Croix, have no added real or artificial sugar, just a slight flavor.

Cheers to your health and the environment!

Shared in partnership with Soda Stream.

TODDLER BOOKS WE LOVE

FFB85E76-933D-46FF-A3D8-A65F4620FA16.JPG

A few weeks ago we were on a trip with three other couples and their kids, and we stumbled into the most adorable toy and book store for kids that I've ever seen. It had so many of the small shop products I recognized from Instagram, but in person. So often when shopping small we have to buy online without seeing it first, but it was so nice to get to feel and try out so many of these specialty toys and books in one place (It's Captain Little if you ever find yourself in small town Olympia, Washington.)

They had this incredible book display, and it introduced me to so many new books I wasn't familiar with. So fun to discover new ones and wanted to share some highlights here. (Organized by publisher.)

7DD02772-346F-4DFB-A4A3-328A3D6C60B5.JPG
D9FC4E50-7EEF-4FF0-B2AD-2D79CDF9C3E4.JPG
78ACABB4-01E0-43F8-A4AD-08F2CA7161C2.JPG
60331132-9BBD-4E49-8B56-167F6D3044BD.JPG

This is How We Do it, Marvelous Cornelius, Green is a Chili Pepper, Vehicles, ABC, and My Big Touch and Feel Word Book by Chronicle Books

These books are SO AWESOME.

This Is How We Do It highlights a day in the life of seven children from around the world, based on real families: the different things they eat, what school looks like, how they get there, what they wear, and so on. The book is illustrated but there are photos of the actual families in the back. The authors even note that while they did their best to find authentic representations of the cultures, that, still, "not everyone in Peru likes to play soccer, in the same way that you and your friends may have to do different chores and may wear different clothes. While none of these kids can be representative of their country, this genuine glimpse into their daily lives can reveal wonderful insights about lifestyles and traditions that may differ from our own." So well done.

Marvelous Cornelius is a folktale based on a true story of Cornelius Washington, who was a garbage man during Hurricane Katrina, and shows the power of people rallying together after destruction. The introduction has an inspiring quote from MLK: "Even if it's called your lot to be a street sweeper, go out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, "Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well." -Martin Luther King Jr.

Green Is A Chili Pepper highlights Hispanic culture, rhyming, colors, and a few words in Spanish. Colorful illustrations and a Spanish glossary in the back make this book both educational and fun.

The last three are from the "Touch Think Learn" series, and the illustrations have these raised indentations, it's kind of hard to describe, but you can kind of see from the front cover that each page kind of fits together like a puzzle. So artfully done and so appreciated for children of designers of all kinds. The last one also has interactive tactile sensations with varied textures on each page. This style of "word" book is excellent for language and early vocabulary development. These are the only book boards featured in this post and perhaps the most appropriate for the toddler age range. We really love these three.

My Dad Used to Be so Cool, Tough Guys Have Feelings Too, and The Little Gardener by Flying Eye Books

The first two are both by a local author out of Washington, Keith Negley. I liked them for Trey because it's hard to find books that address feelings (especially specifically for boys) and I thought the Dad one would be cute for Father's Day.

The Little Gardener is a cute story about a boy and his garden, and working hard and giving hope. Beautifully done and perfect as we approach spring.

EC620B0D-BCC5-4A79-A0E8-274992A452B4.JPG

Home, Maps, and Jabari Jumps by Candlewick Press

These are as beautiful on display as they are in little hands. Maps is like a coffee table book, big, and intricately illustrated with lots to look at on each page. I've seen a DIY project of cutting out the pages in that book to use as a wallpaper in a boys' room, and I love the idea.

Home is a beautiful rendition of all the different kinds of homes people live in. It highlights different people, cultures, and the places they live so nicely. "Clean homes, messy homes, tall homes, short homes." Plus the illustrations look straight out of Anthropolgie.

Jabari Jumps is a heart warming story featuring a little boy demonstrating a courageous act of jumping off the high dive thanks to the encouragement of his dad telling him it's ok to feel scared. The main character is a race other than white which is rare to see, and I love that.

Additionally, Candlewick Press has a #weneeddiversebooks campaign, highlighting people and stories that you don't see as often in children's literature, and many of those titles are listed here.

Happy reading!

Shared in partnership with all publishers.