I was browsing Facebook today, when I came across a video that resonated with me:
I love photo books but have absolutely no time to make them. I still haven’t finished GB’s baby book on Shutterfly and he’ll be three in March. So I decided to give Chatbooks a try.
Chatbooks links with your Instagram, Facebook or iPhone favorites to automatically populate a photo book. When you get to 60 photos, your book is made.
You can go in and exclude any photos you don’t want to have printed. I post a lot of food photos, apparently, and obviously don’t need a printed book of all the food I’ve eaten, thank you.
You can also edit your cover photos, choose not to include your Instagram captions, etc.
And then… you order your book! The standard book comes with a soft cover and costs $8. You can upgrade to a hard cover for $5.
Chatbooks works on a subscription system as you fill your books: you can indicate if you want books immediately sent out once filled, 1 a month, 5 a month or 10 a month.
I spent about an hour this morning setting up my account and excluding all of my Instagram photos from the past 5 and a half years (that’s a lot of food photos). Because I had about 15 books’ worth of photos, I signed up for the “5 a month” subscription to get myself caught up. If’/when you want to change your subscription level, you can do that at any time.
You can also order individual prints and seasonal books!
We all know we post our “best” photos on social media, so looking back, these seemed to be a pretty fair representation of our life for the past five years.
Every night, I sit down to write a blog post and every night something comes up, be it a teething 18-month-old, a three-year-old with disciplinary issues, a house full of laundry, a dog that has peed on the floor or, frankly, just a new episode of Playing House that I’d rather watch. Anyway, long story short, life gets in the way. So here’s what we’ve missed.
We got a new pet.
Meet Rupert, our new turtle.
Truth be told, Holden kept calling him, “Poo Poo,” so I figured “Rupert” was an acceptable alternative.
We had an adventurous summer and learned about Holden’s natural affinity for climbing.
I’m seriously considering finding some Parkour courses for this future American Ninja Warrior.
GB is teething and has some crazy big molars coming in.
Poor little guy has had some fevers and lots of snot and saliva… but that hasn’t kept him from getting into any and everything in the house.
I had to work a lot.
The beginning of September was really busy for me at work, so that of course came with a side of some working mom guilt. But my job is important to me and I feel like the work I do is important so I power through. And I try to include the kids when I can.
Holden started at a new preschool.
We’re all very excited that Holden has started a new five-day-a-week program. My fingers are crossed that the structure and curriculum will do big things for her because honestly, her sass and behavior issues have increased over the summer as well.
One thing is for certain, her art skills are blossoming. That kid comes home with like 18 pieces of art every day after school now.
Oh and obviously her amazing fashion sense continues to be on fleek.
So, all in all, an eventful and fun few months. We’re all doing pretty great.
A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on
I count myself as very lucky to have a job that essentially blends seamlessly with my personal life. As Marketing Director for Downtown Inc in downtown York, it’s pretty much my job to tell everyone about all the fantastic things going on in our town. A lot of time that requires me attending those fantastic things. Other times, it requires me planning them. So that means, basically, that I work a lot. But I love it. As my boss says, “it’s not a job; it’s a lifestyle.” And I really believe that to be true.
That does mean, however, that finding a work-life balance has some additional challenges for me. Whenever possible (and appropriate), I love to include my kids in my work. In truth, I’m doing all of this for them: working to build them a town that they can be proud of and will hopefully want to come home to. Holden loves coming to the pretzel shop:
A photo posted by ohbotherblog (@nomiddlenamemeg) on
But most of the time, I’m relying on the kindness of my parents (without whom I could not survive) or family friends to watch the kids while I “work.” I just recently (hallelujah!) found a non-family/friend babysitter who has a license and is reliable, which I’m sure will be a game-changer.
I am acutely aware of the judgment I receive sometimes. This week in particular, I could tell my dad was annoyed by the schedule changes and juggling. It’s even gotten back to me that some feel my parents are “raising my children for me,” which is beyond hurtful to hear.
Which brings me to the guilt and the struggle. The guilty mom struggle is real. I know that I need to start saying “no” to some extracurricular things that take me out of the house, particularly during the week. I say “no” to Holden all the time; why is it so hard for me to do it elsewhere? A lot of what I am doing outside of the house is for the kids–a new board appointment for example; though I can’t use that excuse for everything. But then again… do I need an excuse?
I’ve read some articles recently about a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family in April 2015 that concluded the amount of time mothers spend with their children, ages 3 to 11, has little relationship to how successful those kids become in life. Success is far more dependent on the mother’s education level and family income, the report says.
That’s not to say that parent time isn’t important, of course. But it seems to show that quality over quantity is the key. Though if we’re being honest, I’m sure I lack in the quality department sometimes as well.
Some other pieces from the study that felt somewhat validating:
The study also found that mothers today are actually spending more engaged time with their children than they did in the 1970’s, and that’s even with more of them in the workforce.
The report also debunked another common myth: That time spent specifically with mom is better than time spent with anyone else.
Suck on that, haters.
When it comes down to it, there is always going to be judgment. And there’s always going to be guilt… no matter whether you’re working or staying home; whether they’re in daycare or family members are watching them; whether you send them to public school or you home school. You’ve got to get to the point where you feel confident and validated in how you are raising YOUR family.
So… now I’ve just got to work on that. And on saying “no” a bit more.
Here’s more info on that study, if you’re interested:
Someone on my Facebook timeline recently shared a post with a Tina Fey quote and it got me thinking about a question I’ve been getting a lot lately.
“How do you do it?”
It startles me every time. Not because I don’t think my life is a little ridiculous right now. Trust me, I’m fully aware that raising two kids under the age of three—one of whom is currently potty training—on my own, while working a more-than-full-time job, volunteering for various organizations, running multiple Facebook Pages, managing several events, starting a brand-new business, maintaining a blog (kind of), guest blogging for a magazine and running a house that is under renovation (with each appliance breaking one at a time) is a lot to take on. Fully aware. It’s a lot.
Fortunately, I have the help, love and support of my family and some close friends. My parents are beyond instrumental… to the point where it’s almost embarrassing to be a thirty-ahem-ahem-old woman who relies so heavily on her mom and dad. I know how lucky I am to have them nearby, and how lucky I am that my kids will have such a close relationship with their grandparents.
But to answer the question, I have absolutely no idea how I do it, other than one day at a time. Or, more realistically, one hour at a time. How does anyone do it? We’ve all got our ridiculousness, and we all deal with it in our own ways. I break down on the regular. Sometimes I hide from my own children in my closet just to cry for a minute. And then I stop, wipe my eyes and go back into the fray. Because I have to. Because there’s no other way to do it.
Basically, that Tina Fey quote says it all:
“You go through big chunks of time where you’re just thinking, ‘This is impossible — oh, this is impossible.’ And then you just keep going and keep going, and you sort of do the impossible.”
Hopefully someday soon I’ll come out on the other side and I’ll look back and say… “how in the hell did I do that?”
Look, I try to be a good mom, I really do. But momming is hard, especially when you’re doing it by yourself, so sometimes you gotta get creative. And find some good mom hacks.
It’s almost 10pm on a Take-Out-The-Trash Night and, rather than throw away the fresh produce that our family of three never eats in its entirety, I decided to have a puree party and make some baby food for GB. On the menu: peaches.
Now, I didn’t get this brilliant idea to blog about this until I was already in the process, so I don’t have a “before” photo to show you, but I’m pretty sure you know what a peach looks like so we’re cool, right?
The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Making Your Own Baby Food
Take that pretty ripe produce you’ve got in your fruit bowl or fridge. Throw it in a Crock-Pot and go do life stuff for a few hours. (I’ve got a mini Crock-Pot that I got at Target for like $15 that’s great for entertaining… and, it turns out, making baby food.)
Take the now-soft and cooked produce out of the Crock-Pot and remove any yuckies, like pits or skins.
Deposit the mush into a Mini Bullet (no, not Mommy’s special Mini Bullet) or blender.
Blend that stuff up.
Dump the puree into whatever baby food containers you’ve got.
Wait until it cools and throw it in the freezer with whatever random baby food you’ve previously made. Or in the fridge for tomorrow. Or serve it up immediately. Whatever floats your boat.
Throw the bullet and whatever utensils you used in the dishwasher.
Feel good knowing you made your kid some baby food.
Let’s be honest, though: I’ve got plenty of the ready-made stuff for back-up and nights where I don’t have time to mess around with making my own.
Welp, after 4 short months, this day has come: my freezer milk is finally gone.
I have never been a fan of pumping. I find it to be a necessary evil, but I’ve always really really hated assembling all of the parts and pieces, putting on that hands-free bra and hooking myself up like a cow. Since going back to work part-time, I’ve only ever been able to squeeze in one pumping session a day–with GB was drinking two bottles while I was gone–so I was always playing catch-up and not-so-slowly making my way through my freezer stores.
So now here we are. The freezer milk is gone and it’s time to begin supplementing with formula.
With Holden, I pumped twice a day at work until she was 7 months and then gave up and resorted to the freezer. The day I made the decision to stop pumping altogether was straight-up joyous. I think the freezer milk lasted us a few months and I began supplementing with formula around her 10-month mark. I breastfed when I was in her presence and formula-fed when I wasn’t until she was 13 months old and totally over my nips.
The plan with GB will be similar: Breast feed when I’m around. Pump at work (ugh). Mix breast milk and formula when I have milk; and just use formula when I don’t.
I certainly don’t judge anyone who formula feeds their kids but I do feel a little bummed that I’m tapped out so early. The plan is to keep up with the pumping until I just can’t stand it anymore, but good lord do I hate it. Glad to have some reliable back up in trusty ol’ Enfamil.
When I first learned I was pregnant with Gatsby, the thinking was that I would stay at my full-time job through the end of my pregnancy, stay home with the kids for at least three months—if not the whole summer—and then look for something to do part time, perhaps at a nonprofit organization in my town.
I wasn’t banking on my kids driving me so crazy that I’d be desperate to go back to work just six weeks after Gatsby was born. I also wasn’t banking on a great part-time opportunity coming along right at that same time.
So here I am, in the second week of my new part-time job. I’ve taken on a Marketing & Events Coordinator position at Downtown Inc, an organization that works to enhance and foster reinvestment and revitalization in the downtown of my hometown, York, PA. It gets me out of the house 10 hours a week, which is perfect for my sanity, and allows me to get paid for all the stuff I was really volunteering to do anyway (suckahs!).
My main focus to start is organizing a new series of events called Second Saturday on the Square, arts-based activities that will take over our city square once a month. So planning super-fun community events. And did I mention it gets me away from my kids?
So yeah, I’m pretty psyched. Part of me feels guilty… a teeny, teeny, tiny, super-small part. Most of me is relieved. And excited.
Seriously, all of my hats off to stay-at-home moms because I couldn’t hack it every day, all day.