Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The One With the Famous Women Dress Ups

 On Monday, the girls had "Dress Like a Famous Person Day" at their school. I would not be convinced that a Disney princess counted as a famous person. I'll give them that some of the princesses are based on real people who did do things for which they deserve fame. But Ellie wanted to be Aurora. And Aurora just took a one hundred year nap and then got kissed. Not very fame-worthy, in my book. 

So we came up with different famous women to emulate for this day. You know, so they can be all empowered to be strong women who know that they have value and are smart and talented and that their minds and hearts are more important than their looks. And all that good stuff. 

When I suggested to Ellie that she could be Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women, she actually got very excited. We are reading (and almost done with) Little Women right now. And Ellie keeps asking me to read the part where the dad comes home to everyone who comes over to our house. She thinks it's a lovely scene. 

She has a hard time pronouncing "Louisa" so she just said her name was Jo March, since Little Women is semi-autobiographical and Louisa was the real life Jo of her family of four sisters. 

I made Ellie's skirt using this tutorial and then we paired it with an Old Navy blouse and jacket. I was glad to put that fabric my grandmother gave me to good use. It's kind of perfect for this occasion. She was very proud of it and wrote in her notebook all day like a real author. 

Olivia got pretty excited about being Amelia Earhart and liked to tell everyone she flies planes over oceans. She borrowed her outfit from Henry, who is lucky and always gets cool pilot gear. Olivia was so excited to be Amelia that I even convinced her to wear pants for the first time in about two years. It's usually only leggings and dresses for that girl. Also, she is lucky because she is tiny enough to fit into a 2T pilot's jacket. She's just itty bitty. 

I'm glad that in the end they had fun dressing up as women of substance. Women who matter are just as fun to pretend to be as pretty girls with good singing voices. Maybe I should create a dress up line of costumes for historical super-heroines. Boys can have Batman, we'll have Florence Nightingale and Marie Curie. Yes. I think that would be fun. 

One last picture of Ellie showing all her beautiful baby teeth. One of those bottom ones is loose now and I'm panicking a little. I don't want her to start loosing teeth. And not only because teeth really gross me out. But also because then she will be a real Big Kid. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The One With Georgia's Winter Portraits

So the nice thing about having a gorgeous sister who is a senior in high school is that she offers lots of opportunities to practice senior portraits. When we visited at Christmas it snowed and I love pictures in the snow, so pictures seemed like a great idea. Plus, hanging out with Georgia is pretty much the best. 

Isn't she such a babe? And she's so kind and smart and strong to boot.  It's so good to see her grow into this confident, thoughtful woman. I hope she comes to live in Portland for college so that my daughters can have another wonderful role model. I would be proud for them to grow up to be like her. 

Love you, Georgia. Like, seriously, a lot.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The One With the Homemade Holiday Gifts

As much as possible, I really love to give handmade gifts. But I also really want to give practical gifts that people enjoy. People not liking the gifts I give them is one of my biggest fears in life. (So if I gave you something you hate, please just regift/donate/toss it without telling me. Or maybe tell me so I can do better next time? Idon'tknowanymore.)

Anyway, last Christmas Henry was the crankiest ever and so I just didn't have much time or ability to put into thoughtful gifts, and it wasn't very fun. I felt bad getting really creative, wonderful gifts and giving a gift card in return. Sad day. This year Henry was more cooperative and I finally felt that I had the time and creative energy to make a lot of the gifts we gave.

I discovered the wonder that is Creative Market, which enabled me to do most of these projects. I got all the elements from various artists there (see source list at bottom of post), and just got to design them in whatever way I wanted.  And it was really fun! I hope the recipients appreciated getting them at least half as much as I enjoyed making them!

Here's a sample of a few things I made this year:

^^ I made these family crests for three couples and paired two of them with one or the other
 of the feather wreathed quotes. I got to see  the first two hung up in Stephanie Stucke's 
adorable New Hampshire apartment and it totally made my day! 

 ^^ I made this initially for my friend Betsy's birthday. Then I made a copy for my mom. 
And one for me, because this is such a good reminder. 

 ^^ I made this for my sister-in-law Emily's birthday. This one is extra special because it 
has the names of each family member printed in the feathers of the arrows. 
I love it. Might need to print one of our family. 

^^ This quote (or possibly collection of quotes?) by Theodore Roosevelt is displayed in the 
foyer of the Museum of Natural History in New York City. I fell in love with it while we 
were there and was so happy to make this print for my son's room. It turned out so well that 
I thought I'd give it to a few other boys I know. 

^^ This one went to a friend who loves feathers and brings people a lot of hope. Love you, Jo!

^^Each print was framed up in various ways. I tried to frame them to match any existing decor 
of the person/family to receive them. 

Yay or nay these prints? I'm really loving all this natural/woodsy theme that seems to be popular right now.

If you're interested in a personalized copy of any of these for yourself, contact me! I love to make these things!

Creative Market Design Sources:
Say Less Font // Just Be Cool Font // Watercolor Texture Pack // Watercolor Flower DIY Pack Vol. 2 // Watercolor Wedding Collection One and Two

Friday, January 2, 2015

Hello, 2015

Everyone does these "looking back on the previous year" posts, and so I'm going to do one, too.

2014 was a great year. A hard year and a wonderful year and a year of adventure and simplicity and enough. Really learning that I have enough. That I am enough.  I think that over this past year I've gained a better perspective on myself, all my faults and talents, of my job as a mother and a wife, learning to accept that there are bad days, that I have a bad temper, and then praying for peace as I approach each situation.

Each New Year's Eve we spend a little time as a family reflecting on the past year, and telling each other things we have loved most about each one throughout this past year. Usually the kids don't pay much attention, but this time, whenever it was someone's turn to say what they love about Ellie, she turned so intently to them, soaking up every word of love and encouragement they had for her. She was so eager to know what her family loved about her. It melted me a little bit. To see her growing into this person, a person who is so kind, compassionate and also passionate, who is knowledgeable and lovable and loving.

My kids, in general, have been especially grand this year. Henry turned from a very cranky 9-month-old, to a more well-adjust 1-year-old. I feel like we understand each other a lot better now. And now he's the perfect "littlest" for our family. He's learned to talk so much since the Christmas season! I guess Christmas is a great time to encourage talking because then he can ask things like, "I want candy cane." and "Please help stuck." about his new toys. He's super snuggly and goes around hugging everyone all the time. It's the best. My favorite thing he does is when he climbs up into my arms with a toy and then just hangs out there as long as he can, fully enveloped in my arms, fully content to be beside me.

Olivia is our little light. This past year has brought on a more uneven temper for her. But she is still our snuggle bug who just wants you to be with her. I always say to the kids, "I'm going to keep you forever." and she has started saying it back to me randomly, "Mama, I'm just going to keep you forever." She is so imaginative and bright. There is always a new story playing in her head. She loves to sing and draw and practice her letters. She is the perfect intermediate child, playing so well with the cars and trains and also the dress-ups and princesses. She and Ellie can certainly get on each other's nerves, but it is always clear that they love each other very deeply. They are always taking care of each other and reporting on the other's needs and talking for hours into every night. (Which always makes me curious as to what they have to talk about for so long? I need a Go Pro or something to figure that one out.)

And Ellie. Ellie is my star. When Henry was littler and more, ahem, difficult, she had to take on the role of caring and getting less care of her own. I feel terrible, being the older sister myself, and knowing that she was taking on too much responsibility because I needed her help. Her needs grow less and less tangible and immediate, and so the ones who are crying for food or sleep get taken care of first. But when she started school again this fall we began reading chapter books every day. I've read A Little Princess and Little House in the Big Woods and we are almost done with Little Women. (And perhaps we should break out of the "Little" titles - 101 Dalmatians, Charlotte's Web and her Kit books are next on the queue). How I have loved this time with her. Definitely there are afternoons where I'm just tired and don't want to read to her, but it's the one time of day that is just hers. She snuggles up to me and we read and talk about what we are reading and then you're bound to hear me reference the books we're reading a little too often. Mallory can attest to the number of times I've started a sentence with, "Well, in Little Women".... I have really seen her blossom during this time together. Ellie is becoming so thoughtful, changing more and more to have her own thoughts and ideas. She is creative and pays attention to the details of things. She loves and listens and laughs readily.  And she cares so deeply for her brother and sister. She never wants to grow up (which she reminds us of daily) and I never want her to.

I am learning more and more each day to be patient, to let the little things go, to realize that I don't have the perfect way to do things, to let them be kids because they don't get to be for very long. I have embraced imperfection a lot more this year, learned to not apologize if my house isn't always clean, because we're living and loving and being here, and it would be a shame to interfere with all that for cleaning. (Although we do clean sometimes. Usually before people come over, because my mother taught me that was the polite thing to do. And also, it's gotta be cleaned sometime I guess. But if you drop by unannounced, do not be surprised if there are toys and laundry everywhere.) My motto recently has been, "The secret to a fabulous life is to live imperfectly with great delight." So what if I just cannot be organized and creative at the same time? So what if I can't make up my mind? So what if I sometimes say the wrong thing? So what?

I think we live in a world bent on perfection, or at least the facade of perfection, but really, it is the anomalies, the outliers that bring beauty. Someone photographed on Humans of New York Instagram said, in reference to her boyfriend, "I love everything about him. The good. The bad. Everything."  At first is struck me as odd, loving the bad about someone. But as I've thought about it, that's what love really is, isn't it? Accepting and opening up to someone completely, flaws and all. Loving them because of their flaws, instead of in spite of them.

One of my favorite speeches of all time is by the comedian Tim Minchin. He's got a lot of great advice in there, but one of the things I like most is when he talks about defining yourself by what you like instead of what you don't like. I think there can be a tendency to say, "I don't like this or that," and that can become what people know about you. But wouldn't it be better to be known by what you love? What you're passionate about? "Be pro-stuff, not just anti-stuff." And by stuff, he/I don't mean actual tangible things like clutter or whatever, but stuff like art or serving or teaching or loving. Let's be pro-living, pro-being, pro-people.

So this year, I have no resolutions like "exercise more" (because if I feel the need to do that I should start that day and not wait for a new year to come). Instead, this year, I want to just embrace. Embrace life in whatever way it comes to me. Embrace imperfections in myself and others. Embrace beauty and hope and pain. Embrace life in all it's bumpiness, all it's rough edges and quiet strength.

Around here, our little family can't get enough of life. We're always trying to squeeze in a little extra by talking late into the night or having a pizza movie night or singing Frozen karaoke until our ears bleed. We're going to keep doing that this year. Not waiting for special occasions to throw a party or show affection, because our whole life is a special occasion. Today is our someday.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The One With the Snow Pictures

So, it's pretty much been my dream to take those frosty, beautiful snow pictures of my kids for... well, ever. Now that there are three of them I have been dreaming and wishing for snow pictures for our Christmas card. Last year there was no good snow until after Christmas. And this year wasn't looking promising until we were in Idaho for Thanksgiving and on Saturday it miraculously and unexpectedly started dumping snow. Those big, white, fluffy flakes that make for beautiful icing and pretty lighting. It was perfect. I imagined beautiful woodsy photos with those big trees or even baby snowman pictures like these. So I rounded up the kids and put them in the clothes I had been saving for such an occasion. And when it was just the girls, everything was working out nicely.

Pretty, right?

And then we tried to add Henry.

Apparently, Henry hates the snow. Oh, he oohed and aahed over it from inside. He kept pointing outside excitedly and saying, "NO! NO!" (but meaning "snow".) (Even while I write this post he is looking at the pictures and happily chattering about the "no".) But we took him outside and he put one hand on that cold, beautiful, white stuff and freaked out. Screamed in terror and clung for dear life to dad. And when we set him down again he cried  and cried. We even tried to bribe him with a doughnut, but to no avail. Fun times, right?

So, my dreams of beautiful snow pictures are dashed. Maybe next year? How can I help my child love snow in the meantime? We don't get quite enough of it here in Portland to do any kind of gradual introduction therapy.
Slightly more happy if the snow is not touching him.
So, from my family to yours:

Merry Christmas to the Snow Haters Everywhere!

And also, if you love snow, we hope you have a Merry Christmas, too.

P.S. Enough people thought this was funny enough to be our actual Christmas card this year, and so I went with it. It's a good reminder that nothing about this life right now is perfect, it's messy and somewhat chaotic, but I wouldn't change it for the world. I'm grateful to be here, to have these three (crazy) kids and a family full of personality. It won't be like this for long, but I'm embracing every part of having little ones as fully as I can. And, they're pretty cute, which certainly helps.

Merry, merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The One With the Kids in the Kitchen

Something you might not know about me is that even though I like being in the kitchen and I like kids, putting the two together is hard for me. Does that make me a terrible mother? The kitchen is just kind of my zone... and having children underfoot or climbing up and trying to measure and stir things is just... not my favorite thing ever. But, I really want my kids to learn to cook and (hopefully) to love it, because it's a basic survival skill and all that. My mom taught me and I'm grateful that she did. And the least I can do is pass it on. Even though it's hard for me to get up the mental strength to do so.

Well the solution to this problem came to me a few months ago when Ellie got a wonderful birthday present from my sister-in-law, Emily. Ellie has the American Girl doll Kit and she loves to read her stories and dress her up. Emily gave her Kit's Cooking Studio and Ellie was so excited to try it out. Right away she picked out the recipes that she wanted to make. Ellie has gotten to be kind of a picky eater lately, so I thought the best way to get her to eat was probably to let her make the meal. She decided she wanted to make Cincinnati Chili with Sour Cream Biscuits. And she did a great job.

It turns out that if I am prepared ahead of time to help her make dinner, instead of her help me, everything goes much better. She and Olivia pulled up some chairs from their bedroom and did a great job stirring and mixing and cutting out the biscuits. And now that Ellie is so excited about cooking and feels more in control, she does a much better job stirring things slowly so they don't spill, mixing thoroughly so everything is the same color, etc. We make this meal every other week or so and she knows she gets to make it. (We've also made a lot of other recipes from that cookbook and they were all great. Except for some kind of fried banana donut things that tasted disgusting. Because they were made with bananas. Should've known.)

We made Apple Kuchen when it was still more fall than winter and all the apples were fresh. It was a lovely little apple coffee cake thing. It was fun to see how excited she was about it. Anyone who came through our door those days was immediately offered a piece of her Apple Kuchen. All of this was kind of a breakthrough for us and now working together in the kitchen is much more enjoyable. So I thought I'd pass along this Sour Cream Biscuits recipe because it is a great place to start together. And it's really delicious and I could eat all these biscuits by myself. But I won't.

Sour Cream Biscuits 
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter, cold
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese (optional)
  • Extra flour for coating cutting board and rolling pin

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remind kids to wash hands very thoroughly.

In a medium bowl, use a fork to stir together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Cut the cold butter into small, pea-size cubes and mix into the flour, using a fork to coat the pieces of butter with flour every time you add a few chunks. Use a pastry cutter to blend together the butter and flour mixture until the mixture forms a crumbly dough.

Use a wooden spoon to mix in the sour cream and shredded cheese. Stir thoroughly until all liquid is incorporated.

Put a little flour on your hands and on a cutting board. Turn the dough over onto the floured surface and knead it slightly to make sure everything is thoroughly mixed. Do not over knead. Use a flour-covered rolling pin  to roll the dough until it is even and about a centimeter thick. Use cookie or biscuit cutters to cut shapes from the dough and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake the biscuits for 6-8 minutes if you use a small cookie cutter (more fun for kids!) or 12-14 minutes if you use a regular size biscuit cutter.

Line a pretty basket with a cloth napkin or a clean tea towel and place the warm biscuits inside, covering them up with one side of the towel to keep them warm. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Kit's Cooking Studio. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

On What I Wish I'd Known (As A First-Time Mother)

With Ellie turning five this past week, I've been reflecting a lot on what it was like to be her mother in the very beginning. Sometimes I feel so badly for her, being the guinea pig kid. I had have no idea what I'm doing. Becoming a mother is a very wonderful and complex thing. There are so many moments of happiness mixed with frustration and bliss and insecurity and excitement and an absolutely inexplicable love and devotion. There's absolutely nothing anyone could ever say that could really prepare you for being a parent. But, from my experiences and talking to other mamas, I think there may be a few things every mom should hear that can make hard days easier and good days even better.
Me and Ellie back in the day. 
These are some of the things I've learned (and am still learning) along the way. Some of these things get easier with more kids. But as they grow and change, I have to learn them all over again.

1. Friends are better than the Internet. Even five years ago when I was pregnant with Ellie, the Internet was full of confusing and contradicting information. (There's some helpful stuff out there, like a quick Google search for "normal colors of baby poop" so you don't have to rush to the doctor because something weird is in your baby's diaper.) But now, even more than then, there is so much information that it is just overwhelming. There is a lot of fear-mongering regarding everything from what to feed your child, how to get them to sleep through the night, whether or not to vaccinate, etc. etc. etc ad infinitum.  I've always found it much more helpful to consult friends with older children, or even those who are right in the thick of things with you. Choose a pediatrician you feel comfortable with and they can also offer you a lot of advice. Read books and articles as much as you want, talk to your own mom and other seasoned moms you trust and admire. And trust your own instincts. But don't let some blogger who doesn't know you or your baby make you feel guilty. Don't even let the critiques of some Facebook acquaintance make you feel like you're failing. You're not. You're doing just fine.

Also, haters are gonna hate, so just ignore those who aren't supportive of the way you have chosen to raise your baby.

2. All parents are insecure. There are so many possible ways to do things. And so many people who have opinions about how one way is better than the other way or if you put your child down for one minute so you can go to the bathroom they'll be scarred for life or if they suck their thumb they'll have teeth problems or whatever. Total strangers are going to come up and tell you how to be a better parent or how you're doing X, Y, or Z wrong. They're only doing that because they feel insecure about parenting. Because it's hard. It's a lot of decisions and a lot of possible outcomes and, if you love your child like any parent I've ever met does, you worry about those things. And so sometimes you take it out on other people by telling them how you figured out this magical way to do things that is THE WAY to do things. Cut them some slack. Nod and go about your day. You may agree with them, you may not. And that's fine. You don't have to do what they say. You're not a bad parent. They're not a bad person for telling you what they think. Everything is going to be okay.

3. This too shall pass. I remember feeling so impatient for Ellie to be born. It was all I could think about for long before she arrived. I wish I would have savored the last few months of being child-less. Of course, babies are amazing and wonderful and they change everything forever, but they change everything forever. It won't be so easy anymore to see a movie at midnight  or try out a new restaurant. (Not that those things are impossible, they just take more planning, coordination and money with a baby involved.) It seemed like every day I waited for her was the longest day ever, and I wish I'd enjoyed that leisure a little more. (Also, having been through three births I can tell you that electively induced labors are horrible compared to natural ones.You know, just in case you were wondering.)

Maybe it's just me, but after three kids I've learned that the clouds part and the sun shines a little brighter as soon as your baby turns one. I don't know if it's because you and your baby both have a year of experience under your belt or because they're finally getting past all the trials of being new in the world, but it really makes a huge difference. Everyone's mood picks up and 1-2 years is probably my favorite baby age. It is so fun to see them learn and grow and walk and talk, and you have the added benefit of having made it through some of the real trials like night sleeping, teething, learning how to eat, etc. But even after a year old there are plenty of challenging stages. And when your child is throwing a tantrum or can't be taken outside without running directly into the street, take a deep breath and remind yourself that it won't always be this hard.

And with that remember to seize the really good moments. Your baby's feet won't always be so tiny and kissable. She won't always cuddle up with a book and lay her curly head on your chest. He won't always fit just the right way on your hip. His laugh is going to change into a kid's laugh someday, and that baby belly giggle will fade away. So many times when I've been upset to be up in the middle of the night rocking a baby who just won't sleep I remind myself that in a blink they'll be too big to sleep on me and I'll miss it. Hold those moments close. Commit them to memory and take pictures of them and remember them during the times you wish would pass more quickly. (And if you're yet to become a parent, I can tell you that the moments you want to hold onto forever will far outweigh the ones you would be quick to kiss goodbye.)

4. When you know, you know. There are a lot of things that bring up a lot of questions. Are these contractions real labor yet? Is my baby sick or just fussy? And the answer is, when you know, you know. There will be no mistaking real labor. Don't worry. You will definitely know when it has come. And if your baby is doing something that is slightly abnormal, at least according to the information available on babycenter.com, just remember, if your baby is really sick or something is really wrong, you will definitely know. As Steve once wisely told me when I was afraid I had accidentally sprayed stain remover in Ellie's eyes because the cap malfunctioned (p.s. keep that stuff away from babies as a good precaution), "I don't think she's going to just be laying there calmly while being blinded by poisonous liquids." So yeah, if something is wrong you'll definitely know. And until then, see item number 1.

5. Sometimes babies just cry.  Just because your baby is crying, that doesn't make you a bad parent. They can't talk yet, so crying is kind of all they have to communicate a myriad of emotions. Ellie had colic and just cried and cried and cried for hours even though she was fed and warm and held and all that. If you need a break from the crying, it's okay to leave your baby in a safe place and take five minutes to collect your thoughts (and your courage to face everything again). Be willing to ask for help from your partner, friends, and family when you need it. It's okay. Even when your child is older and they're screaming in the grocery store and you feel like everyone is silently judging you, you are not a bad parent. Sometimes people just have bad days. I bet you'd throw a fit in the grocery store every once in a while, too, if you didn't have any self control (especially when considering the prices in there!).

6. Cut yourself some slack. Be reasonable with your expectations. That first year is hard. It takes all of your time to take care of that baby. It's okay if you don't get any books read or projects done or don't do much besides eating and cuddling with your baby. You may see other moms who seem like they can do it all and don't need to sleep or something. Maybe you read this blog and think that I do lots of things while also having kids. All that gets put on hold for a while when the babies are tiny. Do what you feel you're up to, and let go of expectations. Do as much as you can and want to, but don't waste this time measuring yourself against supposed "super moms." They're cutting corners somewhere.

7. When you are ready, being productive can make you feel like a human again. I remember meeting someone in the craft store or somewhere who said it's nice to have something you can accomplish every day when you're raising kids because the whole child-rearing thing is such a long-term game. I have found that it does feel really good when I get out into the real world or snag a few minutes during naptime to do something that I want to do. So when you're ready, it's okay to do something for yourself. Take your baby to visit your friends. Make something cool from Pinterest while the baby sleeps. Let daddy watch the baby so you can get a latte or go to girl's night or take a yoga class.

8. Reflect. At the end of the day, it's good to step away and reflect on how things are going. If you didn't handle a situation as well as you wish you had, make a plan for handling it better in the future. Go on vacation with your hubby, or at least out to dinner, and talk through issues and make a team decision on the best way to move forward.
And also reflect on your own life. My mentor, Tammy, once told me that you can do things differently than your parents did them, but it takes a conscious decision every day because you're going against your natural instincts, the ones that have been bred in you from watching them happen over and over again. You have to choose to do and be better. And I've found that to be very true. Things only change if I make a forthright effort to change them.

9. You are more than just a mother. You're a person in your own right. And being a mother, although completely and wonderfully life-changing, doesn't have to be your whole identity. You can have your own friends. You can talk about things besides your baby. You can go on dates with your hubby and pretend you don't have a baby at all. You can read books that have nothing to do with parenting. You're allowed to be a woman, a friend, a person and everything else you are besides mother. "Mother" might be the name you get called the most now-a-days, but it's not the only name you have. It's okay to want to wear clothes that don't have spit up on them. It's okay to want to go for a walk all by yourself. It's okay to want to go and be and do away from your children sometimes.

10. You don't have to be "the perfect mom." This is actually something I think I'm learning more now than ever. Because I don't always feel like, "I've got this!" it's easy to want to at least appear to have it all together. To have little girls who always have hair bows. And boys and floors that are never dirty. But then it occurred to me that I have never, ever disowned a friend because her floors weren't clean enough. I've never ever walked away from a playdate upset that there were toys on the floor before we arrived. In fact, when I do go to someone's house and they don't have it all together, I breathe a sigh of relief because, "I'm not the only one who can't keep up with the laundry!" (Besides, who could even determine what the "perfect mom" even looks like? Opinions are drastically varied.)

I was talking with my friend, Kirsten, the other day and she said, "Why can't I be the one who has toys everywhere and makes the other moms who come to visit feel better about themselves. Why would I want to be the one with everything so seemingly perfect that they leave feeling distressed and unhappy?" I am really working on taking that to heart. On the one hand, if I didn't clean my house for when guests come over it would never be clean. But on the other hand, who cares? Seriously. And I really don't want to be the one setting impossible standards that make other moms feel bad. That would just be sad. (If you only know me via this blog and not in person, please see more on this subject here.)

Basically, if you love your child and are conscientiously making decisions for your family, and if you have their best interest in mind, you are a great parent. Surround yourself with parents who are doing the same thing as you, get and give encouragement. Share the joys and the frustrations and you'll find that you are not alone. Being a parent is the most wondrous, fulfilling and difficult thing you will ever do. Relax, honey. You're doing just marvelously.

I'll leave you with the words of Jill Churchill:
Seriously. She is a very wise woman. We could all benefit from letting that sink in.

P.S. If you haven't seen this Coke commercial from Argentina, I think it is possibly the best 60-second description of parenthood I've ever seen. I love it so much.

P.P.S. If I could do it all over again, I wish someone would have told me not to buy baby stuff. Well, there are some things you need. Like a place for the baby to sleep and clothes and a carseat. But beyond that, there's so much that the Target baby registry wants to convince you you'll definitely need. And most of that stuff is taking up space in our basement. You use most baby things for such little time that it's a great idea to try borrowing from friends or family instead of investing your money in something that will be in use for a few short months. And wait to see what you actually do want. I can't tell you how many things we bought or were given that we didn't even use. I could have bought so many cute dresses for myself had I saved that money until I knew what I really needed for the babies.

P.P.P.S. Washi tape images in Jill Churchill quote from here.

P.P.P.P.S. This is getting ridiculous.
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