Friday, May 11, 2012

The End of the Road

I've been really focused on finding balance lately. You may remember this quote I shared in a post a few weeks ago:

"To make real progress, you have to get rid of busy and replace it with focus."

I've been thinking a lot about that a lot, and have made the (difficult) decision to conclude my Baby Steps blog.

There have been a lot of changes happening around here as of late. I accepted an adjunct position at a local technical college and then an opportunity to run a local young professionals network pretty much fell in my lap. Both align with my long-term career goals (higher education career services and career skill development) and, perhaps more importantly, get me really fired up to go to work every day.

Because, let's be serious, if I'm going to be away from my darling baby boy 25-30 hours/week, it better be for something worthwhile.

I have long had trouble saying "no." To people, projects, opportunities, you name it. I attribute this to being type A and being a first born. We're natural people pleasers. But a friend recently shared her new mantra: 

"If it doesn't make you say 'hell yeah!' then it's not worth doing." 

In short, if you're luke warm about something, it probably doesn't have a place in your life. And unfortunately, I have become luke warm about this blog in recent months.

I started Baby Steps in 2009 when Ben and I were first trying to get pregnant. From there it morphed into a pregnancy journal to keep my mom updated on my baby bump. Then, inspired by other mom bloggers, it was a forum to record moments in Will's life. I shared a lot over the years, everything from my struggle with postpartum depression to cloth diapering to recipes to my monthly letters to Will. Not to mention hundreds of adorable pictures.

But in recent months my blogging activity has started to dwindle. As I seek to replace my busy with focus, I have started taking a hard look at the commitments in my life. I decided that I need to focus on those things that either a) allow me to spend more time with my child, or b) help me to advance my personal goals. And unfortunately this blog was neither.

Although I'm stepping down from this forum, I'm not leaving blogging all together. In an effort to replace my busy with focus, I'm redirecting my writing toward something that will help me in my 9-5 life. So if you'd like to continue seeing me online, please head over to my new career development blog for young professionals.

To every one of you that has ever read or commented over the years, thank you. You have been so incredible. I'm so appreciative that you took the time to read my thoughts and share in this journey. You are amazing.


Friday, April 20, 2012

I Love You So Much

Will says "I love you," but usually only after Ben or I have said it to him. He's never really said it on his own, unprompted.

But this afternoon, while I was kneeling on the floor playing, Will toddled up behind me, wrapped his arms around my waist, and said, "I love you so much." Melt.

I love you too, sweet boy. More than you'll ever know.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Guest Post: Rebuttal from the Destructive Dad

The man in question

Dear Sam,

While it may seem like a tornado passed through out living room, I'd like to point out a couple flaws in your "14 toddler " theory. I will admit that there is a fair amount of stuff on the floor, however, half of it is two feet or less from its home and the other half came from Will's music basket. As you know, the music basket is generally completely emptied unless the piano happens to be the only instrument removed from said basket. I did intend doing some clean up before lunch, but I got distracted by my iPad (surprise, surprise) and once I heard you reassembling the music basket, I figured you had the rest under control.

The real exception I have with your post is the use of the word destructive. Nothing in the photo was damaged in any way, shape or form. In fact, if you reference the word in a dictionary, I'm pretty sure you'll find a photo of our adopted child (i.e. our dog) whom I'm more than willing to get rid of but you will defend until the death. I'm just sayin'.

In conclusion, us dad's are not by nature, destructive. Lazy? Perhaps. Messy? More often than not. But destructive? Not so much.

Thank you for the opportunity to explain your well-spun photo.


Your Husband

On Dads and Destruction

Wow, three posts in three days! Welcome back to blogging, Sam. (What can I say... when it rains, it pours.)

I can be home with Will all day, and we play with lots of different toys, books, etc. But when Daddy is home with Will, he takes play time to an entirely different level.

Oh, did you have fourteen wild toddlers over?
Nope. Just a dad and his boy.

Watch out. Daddy + Will = Chaos. I'm sure the difference is that I actually pick up throughout the day, but this happened in just over an hour. Is this compulsion to pull out every toy you own a universal dad trait, or something that only happens at my house?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

29 Years Old

I actually wrote this right after my birthday last month, but never posted it. My friend Maggie did this for her 29th earlier this year. I am unabashedly stealing the idea. (Thanks, Maggie! xoxo)

I make a point to chronicle Will's growth and development (almost) every month, but what about my own? I turned 29 on Tuesday (March 20), and I took a moment to reflect on the year that was. Here are my thoughts, which I hope I will find endlessly entertaining 10 years from now.

What did you read?

Almost all of my reading was dedicated to graduate school. The stuff I enjoyed the most was on adult learning theory, technology trends, and student retention initiatives. I fully understand that your eyes just glazed over (Ben, I'm talking to you). But I love it, thus why I'm studying it.

I did find a little time for fun reading over interim breaks, which allowed me to read the Hunger Games trilogy (Suzanne Collins), Enrique's Journey (Sonia Nazario), Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me And Other Concerns (Mindy Kaling), Run (Ann Patchett), and The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern). Although I have traditionally preferred reading nonfiction or classics, I'm definitely in a contemporary fiction phase. I attribute this largely to the amount of scholarly reading I do on a monthly basis. Fiction provides an escape.

What did you watch?

TV shows I obsessed over this year include: Downton Abbey (PBS) and Sons of Anarchy (FX). We also watch a ton of old shows on Netflix. I'm still working through Brothers & Sisters, but I got through all the seasons of Gossip Girl and the one glorious season of My So Called Life early this year.

What did you do with your spare time?

Ha. Ha, ha. Oh, that's a serious question.

Well, if you define "spare" time as time not used working or being with my family, I guess most of my "spare" time goes to graduate school. I typically do most of my homework between the hours of 8:00 and 11:00 PM, so that leaves little time for a social life if I also want to see my husband, sleep and be up with my kid at 7:00 AM.

When I do manage to get out, it's usually for drinks, dinner or a run. All of which I enjoy. All of which help me chill out and reconnect with myself.

Where did you go?

We haven't taken a real vacation in years. Years. We did go to Door County last summer, but we had to cut our trip short to close on our new house. I visited my dear high school girlfriends in St. Paul for our annual sleepover. And made countless trips (at least once a month) back to my parents' house in Minnesota. We also spent some time in Madison for football games, and one particularly raucous hockey game.

What thrilled you?

Selling our house in just a month! We had a kick ass realtor, and I had that place staged damn cute. We worked our butts off for that offer, but we did it. And we love our new place.

What scared you?

My Mom and Dad were both in really serious car accidents. Mom vs. ditch in November and Dad vs. car going 55 MPG while on his motorcycle in March (just two days before my birthday, in fact).

What are you most proud of?

Juggling it all - mom, wife, student, professional, informed citizen. It's not always pretty, but most days I'm making it work.

What would you do over?

I need to figure out how to say yes to less. Just because an opportunity is exciting, doesn't mean I have to do it. I need to prioritize and find focus.

If I could go back, I would also obsess less over Will's helmet. Although it felt very major at the time, it really was such a relatively short period of time. I'm glad we did it and I'm glad it's over. But it wasn't worth all my worry and tears. We made it through, his head is beautiful, and everyone is fine.

How's married life?

I need to find more time for Ben. He often gets overlooked in the chaos. But I love him with all my heart. He's the one person who can always make me laugh, let me cry, etc. He just "gets" me. And at the end of the day, there's no one I'd rather snuggle up next to.

How's parenthood?

Will is, without a doubt, the greatest thing I will ever do with my life. The toddler stage can be trying at times, but more often than not, it's a blast. I love this age way more than having an infant. Watching him learn and interact with the world is so awesome.

How's work?

Work is crazy busy. In case you haven't been keeping track, I now have two part-time jobs and a full-time graduate student schedule. Insane! Every day is an exercise on finding balance. I'm still learning, and trying to figure out how to prioritize.

What's next?

The next year is poised to be a big one... I'm graduating in December, and Ben and I have started talking about having another baby. I really don't want to start trying until after I'm done with school, but hopefully I will have some fun baby news to share before my next birthday. Not to mention that birthday will be a big one... 30 (eek!).

Friday, April 13, 2012

Remember that blog I used that have?

Oh yeah, Me too.

I'm really ridiculously behind on my letters to Will. I sense a mea culpa and some combo months fast approaching here.

The long and short of it is: I'm busy. Damn busy. But doing some really fun and exciting things. I love being a pseudo stay-at-home mom to Will. Taking him to early childhood development classes, putting him down for naps, exploring on the trails by our house, reading books, playing cars. I love that. But I also love getting to go to work a few days a week. I love my new part-time job as a career services advisor at a local technical college. My students are awesome and my colleagues are great. I feel so fortunate to be working in a field I'm really, stupidly passionate about.

Even when I'm up to my ears in research papers and lit reviews, I love my graduate program. I love that I get to think critically, contribute to a community of learners, and read interesting perspectives from experts in adult education. I love my relationships with my professors and my fellow students. And I love that the end is in sight. (I graduate with my M.S. in Educational Leadership in December. Yay!)

I love my husband. I love that he's so supportive of my dreams. He holds me up and lends extra support (with minimal grumbling) whenever it's needed. He gets overlooked a lot in my crazy working/mom/student life, but he's really the most important piece to the whole puzzle. He literally holds everything together.

It's not all sunshine and rainbows though. Some days are really hard. Some days I get home from work and can't find the energy to read "Click Clack Moo" for the thousandth time. Some days (er, most days) I only get five or six hours of sleep. Some days I literally forget to eat. I got home from school on Thursday night and realized the only thing I had eaten all day was a granola bar. Some days I'm beat up and exhausted, left wondering "how the hell am I doing this?"

But I'm making it. With lots of support. One day at a time.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Finding Balance

This is going to be a short one, because, guess what? I've got way too damn much going on.

In fact, I feel like I'm doing everything in life half-assed lately. I'm pretty sure I know what needs to go, but I'm having trouble actually pulling the trigger. In pursuit of trying to do it all (mother, wife, employee, student, volunteer, friend, daughter, blogger, etc), I'm finding that I'm actually doing nothing well.  Like most mothers, I'm really struggling with how to find balance.

So I'll leave you with this thought from a career blogger that I follow: "To make real progress, you have to get rid of busy and replace it with focus."

I will be giving that some serious thought.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Big Boy Bed


About two weeks ago, Ben was home with Will for the afternoon while Mama was at work. Ben heard Will wake up. He was talking happily to himself and then all of a sudden... THUMP!

Yep, that's right. My 19 month old fell out of his crib.

Ben said it was the most awful sound he's ever heard, not to mention the crying that followed. Poor, Will! According to Ben, it looked like he had the wind knocked out of him. But it was nearly a four foot fall, so we shouldn't be surprised.

Needless to say, this freaked the hell out of Ben and I. He could have been seriously hurt! Not to mention, we weren't really expecting to have the "big boy bed" transition quite yet. I honestly thought we had until well after Will turned two.

No such luck. The same day as the great crib accident of 2012, Ben removed the side of Will's crib and installed the toddler bed converter (shown above). No real preparation for Mama, Daddy or Will. Just a decision to put safety first. Because, let's be honest. If he did it once, odds are he will do it again.

Thankfully, the transition has been smooth for the most part. Overnights were no problem from day one. Mostly because it's dark in his room at night, and I think he forgets he can get out. That and he's genuinely exhausted after being a busy toddler all day.

Naps have been a little more challenging, but he's getting it. The first day, it took 90 minutes to get him to fall asleep because he kept getting out and testing his new boundaries (and Mama's patience).

That day, we made the decision to remove all toys from his room, except books and stuffed animals. Ben and I both decided that we don't care if he plays quietly in his room before taking a nap, but we need him to understand that he sleeps in his bed (not on the floor). So we employ some version of Ferberizing, where we go in every 5-10 minutes, remind him that it's time to sleep and put him back in bed. We let him keep whatever he's playing with, but he needs to do it in bed.

Since that first day, naps have gotten much easier. There are definitely some days where I have to go in there three or more times to return him to his bed, but he generally doesn't complain about it. He even climbs in his bed and tells us when he's sleepy now (which is super cute, by the way).

So if you're nearing the point where you're going to convert your crib or get a toddler bed, here are our tips:

1) Remove most toys from the room. We elected to leave quiet toys in there, but his train table had to go. There was no way he was going to stay in bed with that kind of distraction.

2) Keep things as familiar as possible. We have a convertible crib, so despite taking off the crib wall, everything else stayed exactly the same. I think having his mattress, bedding and stuffed animals as they were before really helped with the transition.

3) Keep calm. That first nap was really, really trying. I had to do everything in my power to stay cool, even when he scampered out of bed immediately after I put him down. We didn't want him to see his bed as a punishment or something being forced on him, but we also wanted to establish clear boundaries and bedtime behavior. Patience and consistency was so important (but really, isn't it always in parenthood?).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

18 Months Old

Adorable even with the black eye
Dear Will,

This is again several weeks late (at this writing you are already 19 months old), but I wanted to be sure to record your milestones and achievements at 18 months. As always, we are so proud of you, and amazed and bewildered at the pace you continue to learn and growth. You are such a bright, silly, sweet and affectionate child. You love to give kisses and hugs, especially to your immediate family members. You light up whenever your aunts, uncles or grandparents come to visit. I love that you are already aware of all the people in your life that love and adore you.

We continue to stay busy with our weekly music class and library story time. You've been a bit clingy in group classes as of late, insisting that I hold you and hesitant to play with the other kids. But we have fun, you and I, snuggling, sharing kisses and singing together. Although you're hesitant to leave Mama's lap, I know you enjoy observing and taking it all in.

For as long as I can remember, we have been reading "Goodnight Moon" before bed. In the last month though, you've decided that you'd like to pick your own book before bedtime. So now it's baby's choice. Common requests this month include "House in the Night", "Click Clack Moo" and "Bear Wants More".

You received not one, but two black eyes this month. One from running into Nana's couch (as a result, she now completely changes the furniture arrangement whenever we visit). The other from Stella's tail. So you were looking pretty rough for a while there. Luckily, I think you gained some major street cred.

You continue to love bath time, especially the bubbles. You've even taken to eating bubbles as of late, mostly so that Daddy or I pull your hand away from your mouth and say "yucky!" You laugh and laugh! Then grab another handful of bubbles, shoot a sly eye up at us and do it all over again. This game would go on for hours if we let it! Luckily, you also like to play with your toy boat, dumping out the water and pushing it under water until all the air bubbles up out of it.

You have decided in the last month that you can't possibly be asked to wear a bib. The horror! You throw your head back and wail whenever you see Daddy or I approach your highchair with one. As a result, we've had quite a few messy shirts in the laundry this month.

You continue to talk up a storm (hard to believe you didn't really utter your first words until you were over a year old). New words this month include blackberries, please, thank you, get, stand up and okay. You're also putting a ton of words together now to make mini-sentences (Mama help, read book, Dada bye-bye, Stella bark, etc).

Honestly, I'm unable to track most of your new words because you pretty much say everything all the time. You literally mimic every word out of our mouths and pick up new stuff that I don't even remember saying. You're so perceptive and in-tune with the world around you. Half the time you see stuff I hadn't even noticed (school buses, birds, dogs, trucks, etc). It's so amazing to see the world through your eyes.

At a weekend getaway with friends this month, it occurred to Daddy and I that you don't really say "no". Whenever you don't want something or don't want to do something, you say "all done". This was particularly funny within the context of our Wisconsin Dells getaway, as you walked around the hotel suite saying "all done, all done, all done, all done" because you wanted to go home. You ended up having a good time playing with the other kids, but I think it was a touch overwhelming for you at first. Ten adults and five kids in one three bedroom suite is a lot for a little boy who spends most of his time one-on-one with mom or grandma.

We taught you how old you are this month, so when we ask "how old is Will?" you hold up your right pointer finger. Sometimes you get this shy, mischievous look on your face before you do it, like you're trying to pretend you don't remember how to. So cute!

Hard to believe, you are already a year and half. It honestly feels like we just brought you home from the hospital. I'm so thankful to have these letters to write all your milestones down. Because you know what? Everyone is right when they say this goes so darn fast. You continue to be my whole world, the light of my life, and the single greatest joy I have ever known. I love you, baby boy.



Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Puddles and Mud and Rocks, Oh My!

Getting messy in the great outdoors

Today, with the beautiful spring weather, I got my first taste of what it will be like to parent a little boy. It's going to be SO FUN (and messy).

What you can see: my baby's muddy, puddle-soaked pants and boundless energy.

What you can't see: the pile of rocks and other outdoor treasures that created this muddy mess.

His curiosity and sense of adventure are just amazing. I love baby boys!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

We Crafty

And be "we" I mean Ben and my mother-in-law.

Check out the awesome growth chart they co-created for Will...

I got the idea from Pinterest, but left the execution to the experts. Ben sanded and stained the board, and my mother-in-law painted the numbers (each number equals one foot). It's hanging by our back door, just off the laundry room/mud room. I absolutely love it.

We marked Will's height from 12 months already, and will mark his present height after we visit the doctor on Friday. I can just imagine him in a few years, standing stick straight with his chin slightly elevated, hoping desperately that he's just a little bit taller than last time. I have very distinct memories of doing the exact same thing at my Grandma's house, where she measured my sister and I on the door trim in her kitchen.

So in sum: love. There's nothing more wonderful than to watch your child grow. Unless you're reminiscing about how cute and cuddly and tiny they used be.

Monday, March 5, 2012

The 15 Second Update

I have two jobs now. Because I'm crazy. More on that later.

My legal class is kicking my butt. Lawyer friends, I salute you.

My kid is so great. He's so funny and full of energy. And he's talking up a storm. Yesterday he announced to Ben at the grocery store "we need applesauce." It's so wild to hear him converse in context.

Four of my friends had babies in February. Kind of makes me want another baby. But I really, REALLY need to finish my master's degree first.

I am obsessed with Starbuck's new blonde roast. Delicious.

That's all for now...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fluffy Bottom

Babies (er, toddlers) in cloth diapers are just so darn cute.

We would cloth diaper for the cuteness factor alone. The money savings, reduced chemical exposure, and absence of late-night diaper runs are just a bonus. I mean, look at that cute fluffy butt. He's just adorable. (But I'm biased.)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I'm A Believer

You may remember a few weeks ago when I posted about dealing with breakouts. I've been blessed with extraordinarily clear skin (even as a teenager), but things changed drastically for me post-partum. All of a sudden I found myself with numerous breakouts a month. It was as if my skin changed overnight and I simply didn't know how to care for it. So I sent out a virtual SOS, asking for suggestions on skin products. I tried a few different things, but one product line emerged as the clear winner...
Philosophy On A Clear Day Skin System

Seriously. This stuff is amazing. I saw noticeable improvement in my existing breakouts within one week. And by two weeks, my skin was all but clear again.

I started with the On A Clear Day Skin System, which includes a cleanser, all-over acne treatment, acne spot treatment, and retinol clarifying lotion. Per the recommendation of the woman at Sephora, I also picked up some Hope In A Jar Oil-Free Moisturizer. Twice a day, I wash my face with the cleanser and apply the all-over acne treatment (for large breakouts) or spot treatment (for more isolated breakouts) as needed. At night, I use the retinol lotion provided in the kit, which helps even skin tone and lighten scars from old breakouts. In the morning, I use the oil-free moisturizer before applying my foundation. Three steps, twice a day. It's as easy as that.

Shout out to my friend and fellow-writer Mandy for the recommendation. This stuff is pricy, but it works. I'm now a believer. A devoted follower of all things Philosophy.

P.S. I was in no way compensated by Philosophy for this review. Opinions are my own. And awesome, if I do say so myself.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Day In The Life

I haven't done one of these for awhile, so here's a look at Will's schedule at 18 months old. Although he's with Grandma two and a half days a week, this is what a typical Tuesday looks like when he's home with Mama.

Will - 18 Months Old

7:45 AM: Wake up, diaper change, and snuggles with Mama.

8:00 AM: Breakfast. Usually a flax toaster waffle, banana, some other kind of fruit, and milk.

8:30 AM: Play time! Will's favorite toy is his train table, so we typically start there. He also enjoys his blocks, puzzles, fridge farm and trucks.

9:30 AM: Get dressed for the day, pack up the diaper bag, and head out the door.

10:00 AM: Story time at the library. We read books, sing songs, and play with friends.

10:45 AM: Snack. He usually has a fruit and vegetable pouch (Ella's Organic) on our way home from the library.

11:00 AM: Quiet time with Mama. We read books and sing quiet songs before he lays down.

11:30 AM: Nap time. Length varies, but is typically 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

1:30 PM: Lunch. Will usually asks for peanut butter, so he has a peanut butter sandwich, fresh fruit, cheese, and milk. We offer veggies, but he just feeds them to the dog.

2:00 PM: Play time! We typically return to the train table, but I try and do a fine motor activity too (like an art project, object sorting/exploration, etc).

3:30 PM: Snack. He usually asks for another pouch, but we try and limit those to one a day. Instead we offer him raisins, cheese and crackers.

4:00 PM: More play time! Will is very active in the afternoon, so we typically end up chasing each other and Stella through the house. I can't wait for the weather to get nicer so we can head out to the park.

5:00 PM: Daddy gets home! Will loves to greet Daddy at the door ("Dada, ho-ma!"). Daddy and Will typically play trains while Mama starts dinner. Will really likes to "help" cook though, so sometimes he insists on staying in the kitchen.

6:00 PM: Dinner time. We offer Will whatever we're having, but he's typically not interested. Instead, he usually eats pasta in tomato sauce, another peanut butter sandwich, fresh fruit, yogurt, and milk. He's more prone to try his veggies at dinner time, but again, they typically go right to the dog.

6:30 PM: Quiet(er) play. This isn't really quiet play, but it's a little more mello. We usually play with blocks or trucks in the living room, read books, and look through his animal flashcards.

7:00 PM: Bath time. We now start bath time by asking Will if he wants to sit on his potty seat (this isn't to get him to "go" per se, but just to get him more comfortable with the potty in general). Will likes to pick out his wash cloth and put his toys in the tub. When the bath is over, he likes to watch the water go down the drain. Then Daddy helps Will brush his teeth and put on his jammies.

7:30 PM: Bed time. After Will gets his jammies on, he gets a pacifier out of his crib (they are only allowed at bed time and nap time) and picks out a book. Mama and Will read the book he picked and sing two songs ("Beautiful Boy" and "Hush Little Baby"). We snuggle a bit in the rocking chair, and then I lay him down in his crib. I cover him up with his quilt while he snuggles up with his blanket. He's typically asleep within 5-10 minutes.

Overnight: Will still wakes up once a night on average. Sometimes he's able to put himself back to sleep. Sometimes he needs to rock in the chair with Mama for a bit. Some nights he's up for 10 minutes, some nights he's up for over an hour. It really just depends. But we're all looking forward to the days when sleeping through the night happens a bit more on the regular.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Because People That Have Known You Since You Were 13 Are The Very Best People

Ten adults, five children, one hell of a weekend

Every winter, my high school girlfriends and I get our families together for a weekend getaway. We've been doing girls-only sleepovers for the past 10 years, but we decided a few years ago that we wanted to get our husbands and kiddos in on the fun. So we all converge on a condo-style suite in the Wisconsin Dells for food, fun, swimming, and (once the kids are in their pajamas asleep) drinking.

The craziness quotient has increased exponentially since we started adding kids to the mix, but it's an absolute blast. The kids play. We lounge, laugh and cook for one another. We splash in the water park and play the Newlywed Game. We remind ourselves of why old friends (and their families) are some of the very best people in the world.

Cheers to a great weekend, guys! I can't wait for next year.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


A couple of weeks ago I made a casual call to a local preschool asking if kids had to be potty trained prior to enrolling (they don't, but they want you to be working on it). I chatted a bit with the school director, who then asked, "would you like to be placed on the waiting list for Spring 2013?"

Excuse me, what?

I've heard the stories about crazy preschool waiting lists in larger cities. But this is northeast Wisconsin. I honestly thought I was being the crazy mom by calling so early. And I wasn't even calling to register. I was simply calling about an enrollment/readiness question.

So Ben and I whipped it into high gear and set up a few appointments to tour preschools in our community. All were lovely. The teachers seemed great, and the facilities were nice. But there was one preschool that seemed like a really great fit. 

It's a small community preschool run by a very experienced early childhood educator. They run a Monetessori-esque curriculum, but integrate a different math and science program to more closely mirror what is taught in our local school district. The children range in age from 2 1/2 to 5 years old, so the curriculum builds to meet various educational and developmental needs. They focus a lot on the primary Montessori principles of self-direction, experiential learning, and helping one another.

The space is very home-like, with a kitchen and snack area, couches and chairs, various desks and learning stations, and plenty of soft, natural light. They really work to facilitate a community at the school, getting parents involved as much as possible.

We happened to be there during snack time, which really knocked our socks off. Two of the children were assigned to help with snack that day, so they set the tables with cups, plates and napkins, while the other children passed around platters of Kashi cereal and blueberries. Each child served themselves, but waited to eat until every child had filled their plate. For real. Most of these kids were 3 and 4 years old. It was the greatest exhibition of self-control and manners I had ever seen. 

Will (who at 17 months doesn't have the self-control or understanding to wait), started with his blueberries right away. The little boy next to us said (quite sweetly), "Wait! Not everybody has their food yet! It'll just be another second. We have to be patient!" Die.

So needless to say, we're thrilled. And while I don't want Will to grow up a second faster than necessary, I can't wait for next spring. Preschool is going to be great for him.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Looking for an ass hat? Well, welcome.

In a totally excellent turn of events, one of the top Google searches that now drives traffic to my blog is "ass hat".

Nothing like a little search engine optimization to turn your day around. I feel like Google just gave me a big virtual high five.

If you haven't seen The Ass Hat post yet, read on.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Ass Hat

Will and I are both sick today... coughing, runny nose, the works. It's hard enough to take care of a baby when you don't feel well, but when you both don't feel well, it's awful.

We've had lots of books, naps and snuggle time today, but we had to venture out of the house to run one errand: I had to cancel my gym membership.

I hate the gym. I'm just not a gym person, so while the gym should be a great motivator to get in shape, it's just something I resent. I decided about three weeks into our new membership that I'd much rather walk the dog, or take a yoga class, or go for a run. The gym just had to go. I was done with it.

But today is the last day of January, and if I didn't cancel today, I'd have the stupid gym membership for another whole month. So off we we went... me with my glasses and hacking cough, and Will with his snot faucet of a nose. We were quite a pair.

When I reached the customer service desk and told them I wanted to quit, the overly perky gym guy says, "Oh no! Why?"

To which I replied, "It's just not a good fit for me."

He sort of looks me over, in my sweat pants and mussed up hair with a sick toddler on my hip, and says "Well maybe if you kept your membership you would start feeling better."

Seriously, buddy? Just cancel my damn membership and stop being such an ass hat.

So Will and I went home and took a nap. Way better than some stupid gym anyway.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Two Is Not Better Than One

Matching set

Yes, that's right. My child has not one, but two back eyes. The first: Will vs. couch. The second: Will vs. Stella.

Needless to say, he lost both battles. Good thing he's otherwise adorable (and seemingly unfazed by it).

Please don't call child services on us. We're good parents, I swear.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Interim Break: Let's just call it a "half success"

Proof that I did accomplish something over interim break

Gah. I can't believe interim break is over in just a few short days. I had such a lovely six week break from reading scholarly articles and writing research papers. Alas, I have already started receiving assignments from my professors for next week.

So although I technically have a few days remaining, I'm going to throw in the towel and report on my interim break goals...

  1. Read three "fun" books (i.e. books that aren't assigned for grad school) — SUCCESS! I read five books actually... The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins), Catching Fire (Suzanne Collins), Mockingjay (Suzanne Collins), The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern) and Enrique's Journey (Sonia Nazario). All were fabulous (and read on my new Kindle!). I read the Hunger Games trilogy in literally five days. What can I say? I love young adult fiction. The Night Circus was both spooky and whimsical. I found it similar to work by Audrey Niffengger, who I love. And Enrique's Journey was an incredibly powerful portrayal of Central American boy's quest to find his mother, who came to the United States to try and provide a better life for him. It's also the Go Big Read book selection for 2012.
  2. Organize the hall closet, coat closet and laundry room closet — Half success. The hall closet is done (see photo above). And the coat closet is better. But the laundry room closet is still a disaster.
  3. Organize the basement and garage — FAIL. Ben did clean up the garage somewhat, but we need some shelves to really organize things. And we didn't even touch the basement. Oh well. Perhaps we'll try again over spring break.
  4. Paint Will's bed side table and book shelves — FAIL. But this isn't entirely my fault. The shelves are still on back order at IKEA. And I don't see the point of painting the bedside table now if I just have to get out all the supplies to paint the book shelves later.
  5. Plan out Will's activity schedule for the winter/spring — SUCCESS! Will and I go to story time on Tuesdays and music class on Thursdays. For bonus points, I also called about some two year old preschool options for the fall.
  6. Finish Will's 7-12 month baby book — Half success. I think I literally worked on one page. Sigh. But this is one thing I really, really want to finish before Monday. So hopefully I'll have this checked off by the end of the weekend.
  7. Start Will's 12-18 month baby book — FAIL. Didn't even start a new project in Shutterfly.
  8. Blog at least 3 times a week — SUCCESS! I did pretty darn good over break, don't you think?
  9. Start working out at least 3 times a week — FAIL. We did join a gym, but I've only been there twice in the last month. I have been going to yoga and pilates occasionally, but not nearly enough to make my weekly goal.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

2011 In Review

I totally love blog memes. They are so damn fun (to read and to write). As a writer, they are particularly effective when you're trying to meet your thrice weekly blog posting goal.

So here's my 2011 in review, copied from Baby Mama Drama (who I don't know, but read all the time because we have a mutual friend). Is that creepy? Maybe. Anyway, enjoy!

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before? I saw a psychiatrist! That was pretty major. I started taking graduate classes full-time. And I went back to work part-time (which is new because I've never "worked" while being a mom). 

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I think I kept my 2011 resolutions for the most part. I definitely worry less, and I'm a multi-tasking rock star. And yes, I made some new ones for this year. I'm also really excited to try these style resolutions from one of my fav blogs.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Many dear friends had babies this year! Welcome to the world Caleb John, Collyns Maureen, Winnie Grace and Annika Piper!

4. Did anyone close to you die? My grandfather passed away in November, just days after my mom had a serious car accident. November pretty much sucked.

5. What countries did you visit? No international travel for us this year. I dreamed of Costa Rica and Spain though.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011? More hours in the day?

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Will's first birthday (8/8/11) certainly comes to mind. And although I probably won't remember the specific date (6/30/11), I will always remember 2011 as the year we bought our new house.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? My biggest achievement was juggling motherhood, work and school. It's not easy. I'm hyper-organized and over-tired, but I'm getting it all done. Multi-tasking at it's finest!

9. What was your biggest failure? I don't think I made enough time for the hubs this year. I'm going to work on that in 2012.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I finally sought treatment for my postpartum depression.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Our new house! It's just so nice and new and maintenance-free.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Ben's. He continues to be an enduring source of unconditional love and support. And he's a damn good dad.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? My own. The depths of my depression literally shocked me. Luckily it was an ill-timed outburst that finally motivated me to get the help I needed. But seeking help is also a source of celebration, so it has a happy ending.

14. Where did most of your money go? Our new house... although there's not much to fix up, we put a considerable chunk (20%) down.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Selling our old house was awesome. It happened so quickly (only a month on the market), we couldn't believe it! Buying our new house was pretty sweet too. We're so happy here.

16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2011? Ha, probably the CD by Will's music teacher, Miss Patricia. We listen to it all the time in the car. She's like the toddler-whisperer.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you... 

a) happier or sadder? Definitely happier, thanks in large part to my medication.

b) thinner or fatter? Definitely fatter, but I needed to put on some pounds after I lost a ton of weight during my depression. 

c) richer or poorer? Definitely richer. I'm back at work, and we don't have nearly the maintenance or upkeep costs that we had at our old house.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? I wish I would have taken more one-on-one time with Ben (see number 9 above).

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? I wish I would have watched less TV. We're really good at keeping the TV off while Will's awake, but there's no reason to be up until 11:00 PM watching stuff on Netflix.

20. How did you spend Christmas? We spent our first Christmas in our new house! We made pancakes and hot chocolate on Christmas morning, and opened presents with Will. It was the perfect Christmas morning.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011? I swear, I fall more and more in love with Will every day. He's so amazing.

22. What was your favorite TV program? Sons of Anarchy. Hands down.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? Hate is a waste of time. Plenty of people and things irritate me though.

24. What was the best book you read? I didn't have much time for "fun" reading outside of grad school, but I was able to read The Hunger Games trilogy over Christmas break. So. Good.

25. What did you want and get? My new job!

26. What did you want and not get? An iPhone. Ben says hell no.

27. What was your favorite film of this year? I saw exactly one movie this year: The Help. So I guess I'll go with that. It was good, but I liked the book better.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 28 in 2011. I can't for the life of me remember what we did. Probably went out to dinner somewhere. That's the standard Zinth family birthday celebration.

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? More coffee. I can never get enough coffee.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011? Sadly, I don't think I had one (see resolutions for 2012). If anything, it was probably "mom chic" (lots of cotton tops, skinny jeans and slip-on shoes).

31. What kept you sane? My Zoloft! Sad, but true.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I have a serious obsession with Ed Westwick (Chuck on Gossip Girl) and Charlie Hunnam (Jax on Sons of Anarchy).

33. What political issue stirred you the most? The whole Scott Walker collective bargaining debacle. You probably need to be from Wisconsin to know what I'm talking about, but he sucks. Luckily we're on our way to a recall!

34. Who did you miss? I found myself missing all my stay-at-home mom friends when I returned to work in September. They're such an awesome group of women, and I adore their kiddos.

35. Who was the best new person you met? So many great new colleagues and classmates.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011. Be flexible. Life with a child makes you loosen up and let go of your expectations.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. 

'Cause baby you're a firework,
Come on, show 'em what you're worth,
Make 'em go, ah ah ah,
As you shoot across the sky, sky, sky.

Baby, you're a firework,
Come on, let your colors burst,
Make 'em go, ah ah ah,
You're gonna leave 'em falling down.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

17 Months Old

So busy!

Dear Will,

I swear, these letters sneak up on me every month. Your life is moving so fast, but that's all the more reason to try and write it all down!

As evidenced by the photo above, you run everywhere. You have one speed: fast. You are just so excited to see and experience everything, it's as if you can't possibly waste your time with walking. I love when you come to show me something. You run in the room calling my name with a big smile on your face, holding your prize in your hand above your head. You stop at my feet and present the object, throwing your hands out in front of you with your fingers spread and your palms up. It's as if you're saying, "Look, Mama!!! Can you believe it?!?"

This last month we celebrated your second Christmas. It was so amazing to wake up at home with you and open presents under our tree. We had pancakes for breakfast, which you loved. Unsurprisingly, all your grandmas, grandpas, aunts and uncles spoiled you rotten. You got lots of wonderful toys and clothes, including a train table, a play kitchen, a hand-held car, a bath-time boat, and a pull-behind wooden train. They have since become your favorite toys, logging lots of play time each and every day.

Your favorite books this month are Go Dog, Go! and Runaway Bunny. You insist on reading them over and over (and over) again. You know them by heart, and will even say certain words if we pause to let you: The green dog is... "up!" The yellow dog is... "da" (down). You also love to point out objects on each page, showing us the bunnies, moon, tree, letter Z, etc.

You have a really big vocabulary for your age. Aside from countless animal sounds, words you use on a regular basis include: Mama, Dada, Nana, Stella, dog, kitten, sheep, horse, pig, snake, zoo, milk, book, sock, shoe, bib, spoon, sun, moon, night, hi, bye, truck, train, bus, airplane, boat, ball, bird, apple, oatmeal, iPad, help, baby, up, down, in, out, under, please, and all done. You will also parrot back virtually any word we say to you, but you don't necessarily use them to communicate yet.

You continue to be a picky eater, but we're learning to accept it. You're growing strong, and I figure you'll learn to like vegetables some day. Until then, we just keep giving you a taste of whatever we're having (which you promptly spit out), and try to make what you will eat as healthy as possible. As it turns out, one can survive on just dairy, carbs and fruit. Who knew?!?

I hope you know that you are, and always will be, the single greatest thing that I have ever done with my life. I literally feel like my heart is going to explode when I see you every morning. And even though I'm tired (you are a toddler, after all), I miss you terribly after we put you to bed each night. Baby, you are the light of my life. My whole world. I love you so much.



Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Resolution: Style

From the fabulous ladies at Ain't No Mom Jeans, here are some real, honest-to-goodness style resolutions that I can actually make happen this year.

I'm already well on my way with my new Frye boots.


And wouldn't you know it, I just bought a darling white sweater dress that will look perfect with said boots and leggings for cold winter work days.

Not to mention my fav cropped pants from JCrew.

Perhaps I'm not a total lost cause after all. Now to get working on those remaining four resolutions... I'm feeling a new spring coat coming on!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Finally Fifteen

OK, internet peeps. I need some help here.

I was one of those blessed teenagers that never had breakouts. Like never. I think I had one pimple the entire time I was in high school.

Blessed, right? Well, wrong. Apparently you can't escape breakouts, only postpone them. Fast forward to present day, and holy crap, my face looks like I'm fifteen (or what it should have looked like at fifteen).

Pay back's a bitch.

I've tried everything... I stopped using makeup sponges, I got skin clearing foundation, I switched to powder, I got really legit concealer, I tried practically every face wash they carry at Target. And then Walgreen's. I even bought an acne treatment system from Clinique (face wash, toner, moisturizer), but NOTHING IS WORKING.

Gah. This is so lame.

I assume this is one of the lovely side affects to pregnancy and birth. Likely coupled by the fact that I am no longer on the pill (don't get excited here, I haven't been since Will was born and we're still using other methods of birth control). But I don't believe it's purely hormonal since I'm breaking out throughout the month. What gives?

So I'm looking for advice. Anything that worked for your breakouts as a teenager, or, if you're like me, as a postpartum, twenty-something woman. Products, tips, tricks, what have you. At this point I'll try anything.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Four Agreements

I recently got wind of some people saying catty things about me behind my back. Nothing major. They were basically just picking apart a decision I had made. But it was enough to make me think twice about who to trust, and who has my best interest at heart.

I was feeling kind of down about it, until I remembered to pick up one on of my favorite books: The Four Agreements.

My mom gave this book to me in high school. It presents four principles to help you live your best life:
  1. Be impeccable with your word
  2. Don't take anything personally
  3. Don't make assumptions
  4. Always do your best
Just some food for thought. It was #2 that helped me rise above the situation last week. When people are catty and judgmental, it's not about you, it's about them.

Along those same lines, I also want to pass on this post from one of my favorite bloggers. It chronicles her past-life as an internet mean girl, and issues an apology to the people she may have hurt.

I have been called "weird and judgy" myself a time or two (Grey's Anatomy? Anyone? Anyone?). But it's good to remember to try and speak kindly and offer friendship whenever you can.

Sunday, January 8, 2012


I'm never really big on New Year's resolutions. I love goal lists, like the one I set for interim break. But New Year's resolutions always seem so massive and unattainable to me. Like there's just too much time for you to veer off track.

However, in the spirit of starting fresh, I am going to set a few resolutions this year. Among them:

1) Get a real hair style. It needs to be low-maintenance (I mean, let's be realistic). But there has to be something more polished than what I have now. My hair has a slight wave to it, so I'm thinking something that embraces that.

2) Be more fashionable. I love clothes, but I really have no clue how to style myself. I need a couple of basic pieces and some fab accessories to start feeling a bit more hip. Pinterest has been helping with this, but I need to clean out my closet, take inventory of what I already have, and strategize some new purchases.

3) Unplug while Will's awake. I need to stop checking my email, Facebook, Pinterest, etc when I'm home with Will. Not that I'm neglecting him, but I certainly login more times than I need to while he's awake. Save online for nap time.

4) Find more time for Ben. It's not easy on the hubs having me in school. Virtually all of my free time goes to homework, leaving very little one-on-one time for us. We're making due and the end is in sight, but I need to do a better job of carving out time just for him.

5) Get our finances figured out. Now that I'm back to work, we actually have the capacity to save again. I need to update our budget and come up with a figure that we can reasonably set aside every month. I need to open a 529 college savings plan for Will (this in is long overdue). And we need to add Will as a beneficiary on our 401(k) plans.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hi Ho, Hi Ho

Back in September I returned to work 15 hours/week after being a stay-at-home mom for 13 months. In many ways I was ready (I missed the adult interaction, professional responsibilities, etc), but I mostly did it because we needed the money. We were making it month to month on one income, but we weren't saving enough to do the things we wanted to do for ourselves and Will. Vacations, a basement playroom and Montessori preschool cost money, people.

So back to work I went. And surprisingly, I loved it. Way more than I thought I would. I forgot how much I missed my professional self. And while I also missed Will, it was great to get a break.

Being a stay-at-home mom is hard work. Damn hard. So going to the office actually felt like a mini-vacation. Enough time to energize my brain and recharge my batteries. And while I found myself missing play dates and child development classes with all our friends, I also found that I was a much more present parent when I was with Will. It's as if being apart made me make the most of our time together, since it was no longer unlimited.

It seemed to be a nice balance, and I was a rock star at my job. So much so that they offered me a 30 hour/week contract position within the department. I wasn't sure that I wanted to work that much when Will is this young, but it's a great opportunity. It's a two-year project appointment, throughout which I will be planning a new master's degree program for the university. The best part is that they gave me a flexible schedule, which means I can work from home two afternoons a week. So I work three days a week on-campus, and two days a week at home during Will's naptime. Perfection.

However, on top of this new job and being a mom, I'm still trying to finish my master's degree. I have three semesters and 13 credits remaining before I graduate this December (woot!). Just 11 months to go... wish me luck!

Monday, January 2, 2012

My Little Picasso

Ben had the past 11 days off of work, which meant lots of fun outings with Will! Last Monday we took him to the local children's museum. Will had a blast playing with all the exhibits, and made this masterpiece in the art studio...

Picasso in the making

Although his artwork is already displayed in his bedroom, I'm going to try not to hang on to every last thing he ever makes. I am however, taking a picture of every last thing he ever makes and adding it to a Shutterfly scrapbook. So his artwork will be preserved for all time (in photos anyway).

I think it will be fun to look back and see how his creative talents evolve (or never develop, as was the case with me). But, as you can see, he's off to a strong start.