Time Management For Over the Summer

Hope everyone is doing well! I’m a bit nervous because this Friday I’m running the Peachtree Roadrace in Atlanta. I need to knock out a 10K to be able to register a time for the Disney half marathon in February, and I figured this race was as good as any. I think it’ll be fun, even if there’s going to be a ZILLION people there.

This sort of leads me to the point of this post. Does anyone else feel like their schedules EXPLODE during the summer time? There’s almost always something going on, whether family is travelling to you or you’re going on summer vacation. Then there’s holidays and parties, trips to the pool, activities to keep your kid busy while you’re at work… *phew*. I’m sure it’ll be even more hectic once Baby R is actually in school, but this summer has been busy enough for us.

Here are some tips to keep you organized over the summer:

1. Plan ahead of time. At the beginning of every month, I double check my calendar to make sure I know what’s coming up. For instance, in July, I have to volunteer in the church nursery (an occasional requirement if your child is registered there on Sundays). Then it’s my Dad’s birthday, and I have a wedding shower to attend, plus a church conference that lasts a few days. Yikes!

If you have your upcoming plans first and foremost in your mind, it’s not quite as overwhelming.

2. Plan out your day the night before. This year, I’ve taken to laying out my clothes for both myself and Baby R the night before. I’m much better at picking out nice outfits when I’m not rushed the next morning. And since I’m working, it’s important to look well put-together.

3. Buy gifts in advance if you have birthday parties to attend. Looking at my calendar, I can tell I have a birthday and a gift for a wedding shower coming up, so I’m going to buy everything I need at the beginning of the month so I don’t have to worry about it later. (I hate it when I want to get someone something for a wedding or baby shower, and then someone else snatches it up before I get to it, haha.)

4. Break down larger tasks to smaller tasks. I realized that this roadrace next week is going to require a lot more than most of the races I register for, so this afternoon I’m going to sit down and type out what I need to do each day. There’s travel involved, limited hours for when I can pick up my race day packet, and lots of mayhem at the starting line. (It is one of the most popular road races in the country after all.) My husband and I are bringing the kid, so we need to be extra prepared, including making sure we can rent a crib at the hotel.

This is important to do before you leave for that family vacation, or if you’re planning a summer party.

5. Enjoy yourself. Summer should be about having fun, not about stressing yourself out. If you plan ahead of time instead of at the last minute, you should be able to sit back and enjoy with your friends and family. Of course things come up you have to deal with. (That drives me crazy. Like, last Friday, I was all set to leave for work and the baby pooped her diaper. Then on our way out to the car, she spit up on my shirt. I was already late, so you guess it. I went to work with dried spit up all over my shirt.) But making a plan helps you manage the crises easier, trust me.

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Things I’ve Learned 7 Months In

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At the end of next week, my baby girl will be eight months old. I can’t believe it, still. I remember this time last year being so excited for her arrival and wanting to get my pregnancy over with so I could hold her in my arms. (I was a very anxious pregnant woman.)

There are so many different things I’ve learned in the past several months.

1. Babies pick up things at their own pace. They don’t panic because they can’t sit up, and neither should you. It’ll happen when it happens. Mine JUST started sitting up on her own. Of course, if your doctor thinks there’s a real delay, it’s important to address the issue then.

I spent so much time worrying that she wasn’t sitting up on her own yet, and it happened, without any sort of intervention. She just did it at her own pace. I need to learn to trust her.

2. Babies don’t tell you when they’re tired. OK, there are the signs, like rubbing their eyes and fussing, and getting that glazed over look in their eyes. My kid expects you to put her down when she starts staring off into space. Um, that was a hard signal to pick up on. But now I know. And now I know that no matter how hard she fusses, she still needs to go take a nap.

3. You’ll find a groove. Your routine might be different now, and it might be harder than it was before. But you’ll find something that works for your new family. And lord help you when something causes your routine to get thrown off. Haha.

4. Make time for yourself. If you don’t, you’ll go crazy. Nap time for Baby R is me time for me. Whether that means blogging, or napping myself, or whatever. I do things that I enjoy during that time.

On that same token, have date nights with your husband. He needs some TLC, too.

Most importantly, try to relax and enjoy! Everyone tells you this when you’re pregnant, but the time really does fly. It doesn’t seem like it when your kid is keeping you up all night at the newborn stage, or when they’re in a really bad mood. But yeah. It’s hard to believe we’re eight months in already.

Can time slow down?

What have you learned as a new parent?

How Is It June Already?

Well, it’s halfway through 2014, so I thought I’d update my post on the goals I made way back in this post.

It’s been rocky so far, but I have got a few things accomplished. Without further ado:

A bad habit to break: (being more on time) I’m getting better if it’s something that’s important that I get there on time. Lately, I’ve been getting to work early. That gives me time to catch up on my email and get to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee if I didn’t have time to make it that morning. However, I’d like to also be on time for church Sunday school a bit more often.

A new skill: (learn sashiko) OK, I haven’t started this yet. I’m bad enough as is at cross-stitch. And the books are really, really complicated. I need to just bite the bullet and work on it.

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A person to be more like: (be more classically elegant) I’m a lot pickier about the clothes I buy, and I think Stitch Fix has helped my style a lot. I’m still not there, though. By Friday, we’re lucky if I can get to work with clean clothes on. (OK, so that’s an exaggeration, but for awhile there, Baby R spit up a lot. So, yeah. A day where I didn’t have to change clothes a couple of times was a GOOD DAY.)

A good deed: (missions work at my church) I signed up to do VBS in a couple of weeks, so yay for that! I’d like to challenge myself to actually do a work day in the community or something as well. Although, from past experience, VBS is definitely an adventure in itself! ;)

A place to visit: (Myrtle Beach) A few months after I wrote this, my husband’s brother got moved to Hilton Head, so we’re going there instead. It’s OK, I’ve never been there either. We have this on the calendar to visit them in August.

A book to read: (The Happiness Project.) DONE! And it was a good book, too.

New food to try: (Something authentically Mexican or Thai) No. *slinks off.*

A letter to write: (To my daughter.) Not yet. Perhaps when she turns one in October?

Do better at: (Prayers and Devotionals) Yes. Much better. As sad as it sounds, I downloaded a prayer app that reminds me to pray, and what to pray for. Also, the Motivated Moms app I downloaded last week assigns a Bible reading each day, which helps me stay on top of that, too.

Ugh. Already six months in and I feel like I’ve gotten nothing accomplished. How are you doing on your goals, six months into 2014?

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Happy Monday!

Tomorrow I start a brand new job (same company, different position), so I’m a bit nervous and excited. It was a move I wanted to make for awhile, so I can’t wait.

But that’s not what I came here to talk about. I want to talk about HOUSEKEEPING. Since Baby R was born, the house has kind of been in shambles. I just always feel like I can’t keep up. I know there’s only three of us in the house, and those of you with more kids are probably laughing right now, but I felt like if I missed a day of laundry, it became so overwhelming I thought I’d never catch up. I used to do laundry once a week for just my husband and me, but once the baby came, I quickly realized that wouldn’t cut it (unless I wanted to deal with a huge heap of dirty clothes every Saturday, which I HATE.)

I quickly found that I needed to do a little bit of laundry every day. Yes, every day. It wasn’t so bad. I just got in the habit of throwing a load in the washer whenever I got home from work and then folding it by the time I went to bed. We always had clothes available and I was never like, “WHERE IS THAT CUTE DRESS BABY R HAS? I WANT HER TO WEAR IT BUT I CAN’T FIND IT ANYWHERE!”

However, I’d get home from work so zonked I didn’t have much energy to do anything else. That meant stuff fell by the wayside. Clutter piled up everywhere and I just hated it. I went to lunch with my mom earlier this week and mentioned, “I’m so exhausted I keep half-thinking about hiring a maid service to help every once in awhile. But then thinking about all the clutter I’d have to pick up first just wears me out.”

Not a good situation to be in.

But, later that day I happened to be surfing the net — not sure what started it? Maybe ‘I have too much housework to do, please HALP.’– and I found the most awesome app. It’s called Motivated Moms, which I immediately downloaded, although I haven’t quite paid for the full version yet.

It assigns you chores to do each day, based on things you should do daily, monthly, weekly, and every so often. It splits up the tasks so you’re never too overwhelmed. That’s something I hate, is telling myself I have to get an entire room clean and then stress myself out about it.

I’d used this app two days before we started to see a difference.

The first day? The sinks and things were cleaner than normal. The second day? My husband came home from work and commented on how great the house looked. That was after TWO DAYS of using that app. And every day is easier to get the daily tasks done, because my house is generally cleaner.

Oh, and the best part is how it adds things like, “Work on the scrapbook/baby book” (how neglected is the poor baby book?) and “Work on a hobby/craft” or “Pamper yourself.” (My favorite, haha.) The default setting has a daily Bible reading assignment, but you can take that off if you want.

Basically, I love that thing.

What system(s) do you use to keep your home clean?

Organized mail system

We have tried just about everything to organize our mail. For awhile, we were putting it on the oak chest by the front door for the other one to deal with, and so things got piled.

Then, I bought one of those hanging files from the Martha Stewart collection at Staples, and labeled each part. One was “Outgoing.” One was “Ingoing.” Basically, all we did was stuff mail in the folders and ignore it. More than one bill was forgotten about using that method. Whoops.

But I’m one of those people who need to see things if I’m going to remember to deal with it later. I don’t do well with filing things away.

We found these corkboards at Target. Originally, I had wanted to hang them up on the door next to our calendar, but these corkboards are set up to go on the fridge, so I had to (reluctantly) make do.

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We bought them in a set of four so we’d have plenty of space. Now, we try to deal with the mail as soon as possible after receiving it. If it something we can trash, we do so immediately. If it’s something that we need to deal with right away, we deal with it. And if it’s something that needs to be done or added to our to-do list, we hang it up on our corkboard.

This works really well with the way that my brain works, because seeing it helps remind me to add it to my to-do list, or to act on it by the due date. This actually works great with coupons that come in through the mail, because all we have to do is hang it up and it reminds us to actually, you know, use them.

Easy-peasy. If you struggle with remembering things once you’ve filed it away, you might want to try this method. Definitely worked for me.

How do you organize your mail?

Stitch Fix #3

OK, so this is the first time I’ve ever blogged about Stitch Fix, but this was my third box, so…

In case you haven’t heard about Stitch Fix, it’s this really great service where you can sign up, fill out a fashion profile, and schedule a date for them to send you five items you can try on in the privacy of your own home. You get your own personal sylist (fancy, huh?) and they send you stuff based on your style profile. Anything you don’t like, you can send back. For busy moms who can’t get to the store and actually try on items, this is a great service! Plus, I’m not very fashionable, so the extent of fashion for me is, “I’m a mess. Please HALP.”

I do the service monthly, but you can sign up for as many or as few times as you like.

Prior to this past week, I’d always sent back a couple of items, but this fix really did it for me. I kept all five pieces.050

The first item I found was this tank-top blouse thing. When I saw it, I loved it immediately. Then I put it on, and thought, “Eh.” Then I saw the picture my husband took of me wearing it, and I loved it! Definitely a keeper.

Then I found this blouse:

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It was kind of boxy looking, and honestly I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. The pattern was cute, but I don’t think it was all that flattering. But I pressed on.

The next thing was this dress:

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Yeah! Now we’re talking! This dress was gorgeous in the box and fit me perfectly. I actually wore this to work last week and felt great in it. Pretty much the perfect dress.

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The necklace I’m wearing came with it, too.
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The cargo pants was kind of cool. I actually got these in my last box, but they were a size too big. I originally put down a larger size since I hadn’t lost all my weight yet post-baby. But evidently lately I’ve lost pretty much all of it and had to update my file to the new size. Anyway, I requested these pants, but in a smaller size, and they totally obliged.

If you like the stuff in the box, it’s definitely worth trying it out for your own.

I was not reimbursed for this post, but if you join through a friend’s link, they get referral credit. If my post inspired you to check it out, it’d be nice if you could use this link. If not, no problem… I totally understand!

Anyway, I’ve had a blast with this service.

Any questions about Stitch Fix? Let me know below and I’ll try to answer the best I can!

My first race post baby!

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

I wasn’t going to do any races until my 10K on July 4th this year, but my sister-in-law is getting into the running thing and wanted to do a local color run, so we went for it! I’d never done one, so I really didn’t know what to expect. Somehow, I managed to get blue and red dye in my elbow creases so it looks like I tried to give blood and an amateur who didn’t know how to find a vein did all the work.

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That was pretty much the last moment before I got doused in paint.

The run itself was a lot of fun. It took place at a farm, and a lot of it was on a trail in the woods, so it was all very peaceful… until you ran past a color station! Haha. It was very flat for the most part (although there was a tiny hill at the end — why do races ALWAYS have a hill at the end?)

And I think I did ok on time, which makes me feel slightly better going into my 10K. As of two weeks ago I ran 3 miles in about 40 minutes, but today I ran my 5K in about 38. (I’m guessing. For some odd reason, my GPS has been going haywire lately and hasn’t been working quite right.) It said 40 minutes when I finished, but I had started it before I actually got to run. I had no idea how long it would take to actually get to start running, and then I forgot to stop my watch. I was actually at 2 minutes and 20 seconds when I got going. So, I’m guessing about 38 minutes, give or take. They didn’t time the race. It was all for fun.

My husband surprised my sister in law and me with a bouquet of flowers, so we got to finish in style!

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For some odd reason, my kid thought this day was all about her. ;) She had fun hanging out with her dad and cousins, cheering us on by the finish line.

Tips to Return To Exercise Post Baby

Note: I am not a nutritionist or exercise guru, or a doctor. These are simply tips that helped me. For advice on your unique situation, consult a professional.

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(OK, I’ll admit– this photo was taken pre pregnancy. I was fit then, and could actually hike up a small mountain without passing out.)

One thing I was surprised about was how hard it was to return to exercise after I had my baby. I was a runner back in the day. I’d done fairly decently in some local 5Ks, and regularly dashed up stairs, went on hikes, did yoga, etc.

All that changed when I became pregnant. Yes, I know– you can still run while pregnant, but I have a hard time gaining weight at the best of times, so my doctor advised I do an activity that didn’t require a whole lot of calorie loss. I walked. I walked a lot. There’s an indoor track at my work, and I still get people coming up to me and saying: (more politely than this, of course) “Hey, weren’t you the heavily pregnant lady who walked all the time?” Haha.

When I first got back to running, I felt like my whole body was about to fall apart. It turns out that your body undergoes a permanent change after you give birth. Your pelvis is bent slightly differently than it was before, and you must learn to adapt to those changes.

It’s been hard work. I still struggle with this. I’m sure eventually I’ll be back to normal, but honestly it hasn’t happened yet.

Here are some things I’ve tried to get back into shape:

1. Get back into it slowly. I startled with a slow half walk/half run around the local track. It was hard and I struggled through every moment, but I eventually got through it. During training cycles, I tend to run at least three times a week, if not more. But at this point, I ran when I felt like it, walked when I didn’t. The point is, listen to your body. If it’s an impossibly difficult work out, or if you’re really sore the next day, you need to take it easy. Go with the flow.

2. Set goals for yourself. I’m slowly adding races back into my calendar. This summer I have a 10K, which I’ve never done before. But it’s new and exciting, and it helps keep me motivated. Find what that goal is for yourself. Obviously, it should be something you like doing, as well as a challenge.

3. Celebrate your successes, even if they’re small. I ran on an indoor track a week ago, and a man who looked to be well in his 80′s passed me several times. I’m slow. I’m much slower than average, and I haven’t been able to get my speed up to where it was when I started running a few years ago. But you know what? A few days later I lost track of time and ended up running almost an hour without stopping. That’s pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

4. Reward yourself. Whatever motivates you works. I have a sweet tooth, so if I reach a goal I’m likely to treat myself to something sweet, like chocolate or even a pop. Buy yourself something you’ve been saving up for. Look at yourself in the mirror and celebrate how healthy you are. Whatever works for you.

5. Don’t beat yourself up. If you’re like me, that’s easier said than done. I hate that I’m even slower than before. I hate that my knees now hurt every time I work through my first mile. I hate that running is more work than it’s ever been. But none of that is my fault. I’ve just got to work with this new body that I have, you know? I’m hoping that once I add mileage to my week, speed will come. Basically, I need to make accommodations for my new body. And I’ve got to remember to love it, too.

What have you all done to exercise post pregnancy? And how long did it take you to return to normal?

Easter Project

Baby Dress

This is like, crazy late, but I managed to get some sewing done! I found this pattern, like, way before Baby R was born. I worked on this during various stages of being pregnant, so the fact I didn’t give up sewing in a fit is an accomplishment, right there.

It repeatedly gets good reviews, so I feel like I did something wrong, but I couldn’t make heads or tails out of the pattern. I had my mother help, and she couldn’t, either. Y’all, she is a veteran sewing master. She’s like the Yoda of sewing. She made my wedding dress. She made clothes for me and my sister and our American Girl dolls growing up. Now she makes her own dolls. She is no stranger to the sewing machine. (Oh, yeah, she completely goes through withdrawals, too. Hers is in the shop right now so she’s borrowing mine. Yep.) At any rate, despite both of our best efforts, the dress ended up with a giant gap in the skirt, directly below the button holes. Quoi?

I didn’t actually finish it until this past spring and Baby R was about five months old. I mean, stuff happened. Everyone I knew had a baby, so I worked on other projects. Heck, I had a baby, so I didn’t sew for awhile.

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It made a great Easter dress. Sorry, she rarely straightens her leg. At that point in her life, her foot was almost always in her mouth. (Literally. That’s apparently the best teething toy.)

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It was really cute, so I let her wear it as an Easter dress. Y’all, I was so sick. But I’m a good little Christian girl, and– by George– we were going to church on Easter Sunday. I’m not entirely sure what I was thinking. I couldn’t breathe, had a fever, and really can’t remember the message since I kept running out of the sanctuary to blow my nose.

And Baby R fell asleep on the way to church, never got out of her car seat since she didn’t wake up until I picked her up from the nursery, and no one saw her dress since she was covered up in a blanket.

The end.

Breastfeeding Struggles

This post is going to take a slightly more… depressing (?) tone than I usually take for my blog, I’ll be honest.

It’s kind of strange to be here and feel this way. When Baby R was born, I was kind of cool with the idea of breastfeeding. Didn’t really care when I stopped, and I figured I might have some trouble, considering the fact she lost 8 oz right off the bat at the hospital despite my repeated attempts to feed her. I think, like, the third meal of her life was supplemented. We faced the very real fact that breastfeeding might not be too long in my future.

I set myself a very vague goal, like: “At least through six months, and I’d like to go through a year if I can.” I was nervous on the inside, but kept saying things like, “If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out.” I mean, starving my baby is obviously not even an option, so however method I fed her didn’t matter.

Well, we got all the way through the five month mark. I went back to work when she was four months old, and I realized how hard it is to get through the day with pump breaks. Work was accommodating, but under law you get three 30 minute breaks. It sounds like a lot of time off, but if you consider the fact that you have to eat and go to the bathroom in this time, it can get pretty hectic. I really hate pumping anyway, so it was exhausting!

Then, Baby R got sick. Then I got sick. Then I had to take decongestants and antihistamines to even get through my day. Turns out, those medicines make your supply plummet. The solution I found? To stop taking them. Considering the fact I completely lost my voice and I work in customer service, this simply was not an option.

There were some other reasons, like Baby R seemed to just not be interested. I lost interest, and she lost interest, and she didn’t seem to care whether she was fed by breast or bottle. I witnessed her struggling to take 30 minutes at the breast and cry, then devour a bottle and go into those lovely full-belly comas small babies go into.

We did full days of formula, and she gained weight like crazy. She’d been diagnosed with failure to thrive twice, and we’d have to give her lots of extra time at the breast to make up for her weight loss.

She’s still small for her age, but she’s on the curve. I know weaning was probably the right decision for both of us. Looking back, I may have always had a supply issue, I’m not sure. She’s a happier baby and we can still feed part time. I breast feed her at night and in the mornings (and then offer a bottle, of course.)

I can’t help but grieve and feel guilty for losing this bond with my baby. I guess I really did want to try to go a year. Sometimes I think about it and cry.

Yes, I know there are resources I could have turned to and people who would have helped. But when I was faced with this decision, I really thought this was what I wanted to do, and now I regret it.

My body is now pretty much completely back to normal, as in pre-pregnancy normal. It became official this past Memorial Day, in fact. Although I still struggle with feelings of sadness as I watch my supply slowly dry up, I’ve chosen to take this new era as a hopeful one.

This return to normal is a good sign that my body is readying itself for an eventual second child (not quite on the horizon yet!) and when that time comes, I’ll know things I simply didn’t understand with Baby R. I’m still a fairly new mom, but I’m a much wiser (and, I’d like to think stronger) woman now than I was just seven months ago.

I’m not sure what the point of this post was, except to say if you’re going through something similar, you’re definitely not alone. I don’t know about you, but I’ll happily tell a woman who’s weaned early that she’s still an awesome mom and she’s still doing what’s right for her child.

I just have a hard time telling that to myself.