motherhood

When Motherhood Isn’t What You Expected 

Anytime you bring a new baby home, your life is going to change. Most of those changes are so, so good. And many are just as difficult. But babies grow and (eventually) sleep through the night, and what was hard yesterday isn’t so hard today.

So when we brought home baby boy five, I expected certain challenges. I knew there would be countless sleepless nights ahead of me. I knew there would be crying – from both baby and mama. I knew there could be some rocky days as his brothers transitioned to this new person in our home. I knew that I should expect the unexpected.

photo credit: Brooke Collier Photography

But this most recent season of motherhood has been more exhausting and more challenging than I was prepared for. In the nine plus years since I became a parent, I’ve been a proud breastfeeding mama. Not in an “I’m better than you if you don’t breastfeed” kind of way, but in an “I’m willing to work as hard as I can to make this work, because this is what I believe is best for my baby.” And it has been hard work.

So of course, I expected the same for our newest babe. After all, fifth babies come at least with the blessing of experience – every little thing isn’t new and confusing, as it was with my first.

photo credit: Brooke Collier Photography

In the beginning, it was easy. He nursed like a champ, and we had very few problems. We settled into a groove and everything was going well. Until it wasn’t.

At a well-check, we discovered he wasn’t gaining weight. Even though I thought he had been nursing so well, he wasn’t growing like he should have been.

This felt personal. I’m the one responsible for this little life. I’m his sole source of nourishment. I’m the reason he’s not growing.

It took awhile to find the cause of his lack of weight gain, and in the process, we began to supplement. I cried when my husband gave him his first bottle. Not because formula was going to ruin my baby, but because I felt like I had failed him. I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to do – what I was made to do.

Through my own persistence and refusing to simply believe that my milk wasn’t “enough” we discovered our little one had a significant lip and tongue tie that had been over looked for months. Once we began down the road of supplementing (which was necessary, even if it was heart wrenching), baby decided he didn’t want to nurse anymore. Who could blame him, really. He hadn’t been physically capable of getting all the milk he needed when nursing, so when we introduced a bottle, he didn’t have to work so hard to fill his little belly anymore.

So my life revolved around feedings – pumping, attempting to nurse only to be met with screams and tears – his and mine, and bottle feeding. I felt like all I did was feed and pump, feed and pump.

My free moments were few and far between. When the baby was sleeping, I was pumping and homeschooling and trying to keep up with the daily tasks of mothering a small army of children. I was spending every second of the day – and throughout the night – caring for a child. I put all other things on the back burner – sewing, exercising, self-care. It was a hard and difficult season.

But because this was my fifth baby and not my first, I knew that it was just that – a season. Sometimes I would pump in my sewing room and look at my stacks of fabric, and my mind would fill with ideas for what to sew next. I would spot the half finished projects sitting on my sewing table, and wonder how long it would be before I could get to them. And then I would remind myself that it wasn’t always like this – and one day, it would get better. I would dust off my sewing machine and we’d pick back up like the old friends we are. This season was hard, but it wasn’t going to last forever.

About a month ago, I chose to stop pumping. Instead of feeling guilty for not nursing a full year or more like I had with my other kiddos, I knew that it was the right choice for me. I needed to step out of that hard season and create a little more margin in my days. My milk supply had been dwindling, and I knew that my body and my soul needed some restoration.

I’ve since returned to my trusty sewing machine and finished projects that I had begun months ago. My brain made space to create something new. I still have days or weeks where my sewing machine sits untouched. The dishes pile up and must be washed. The baby learns to crawl, gets into everything he shouldn’t, and suddenly I’m trading sleepy snuggles for chasing him around the house. Summer comes and we spend hours at the park.

Motherhood always brings the unexpected: joys, tears, adventures, and challenges. But I always come back to sewing, even if it comes in 15 minute increments, because this is my self-care. When life throws something at you that you weren’t expecting, the small moments of taking care of yourself become even more important. I know that if I don’t take care of myself, there’s no way I can take care of these littles of mine. When the season changes, I’ll have a renewed appreciation for an uninterrupted hour spent with my sewing machine. Here in this season of sleepless nights and countless bottle feedings, though, I’m okay with slow sewing with a side of baby snuggles.

Thanks, Jodi, for inviting me to be a part of the Ease Into Motherhood series.

Something New is Coming….

Or rather, someone. ;)

Blog Baby Announcement

This October we will be welcoming baby number five into our home! We are so excited to bring this new little miracle into the world. We’ll be finding out the baby’s gender later this month, but I’ll refer you to this post if you’re wondering my thoughts on possibly having a fifth boy. ;)

So get ready for more teeny tiny baby sewing!

Finding the Lovely in the Chaos

Motherhood is a chaotic business. Each day is filled with noise, lots of messes, and countless challenges. The days can be monotonous and exhausting. When faced with all the chaos, sometimes it can feel anything but lovely.

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Some days it’s easier just to focus on the challenges. To simply clean up the messes, change the diapers, and do the same things over again the next day.

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But every day has something lovely. Every moment. Even in the midst of a tantrum-throwing toddler, there is something lovely. The tear-stained hug when the crying stops, the laughter during the tickling that diffused the moment, the triumphant moment of standing your ground and not giving in to the kicking and screaming.

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“There is a correlation, I’m finding, between beauty and perseverance. It feels like beauty might be knots in the rope you are climbing, gas stations along the cross-country journey, the water stations strategically set up on a racecourse. Beauty is what makes it possible to keep going. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it? It’s not just in the things everyone sees, but it is what YOU see, what sticks out to you, the unique moments God gives you to collect up and hold and draw strength from.”
-Annie F. Downs, Looking for Lovely
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Motherhood is a long-distance marathon. A test in endurance. An uphill climb. When you’re in the middle of the race, you feel tired. Your feet hurt. You can’t breathe. But as you keep going, you see the beauty in the persevering. You find your stride, you get your second wind, you drink some water and feel refreshed.

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Annie F. Downs recently released her latest book, Looking for Lovely. It is, in every sense of the word, lovely. I read it in two sittings, absolutely unable to put it down. This book reads a little like a memoir, as Annie shares her struggles and the loveliness she fought to find in the midst of them. Because sometimes you need to actively pursue the lovely. You have to ask the Father to show you all the good gifts He has put in your life, to open your eyes to what’s around you that you maybe haven’t noticed yet.DSC_6251-2 copy

That doesn’t mean that the chaos disappears or that suddenly life and motherhood become a walk in the park. Or that the messes are magically cleaned and the kids will never fight with each other. But looking for lovely can give you – give me – the change in perspective you need to embrace the chaos.

I don’t know about you, but I can always use more lovely in my life. Looking for Lovely is all about collecting the moments in your life that matter. In these days when I’m knee-deep in motherhood, I would much rather set my mind on what matters – the lovely, not the chaos. The snuggling on the couch, the basketball in the driveway, the “I love you” scrawled across the heart-shaped paper.

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Will you look for the lovely with me? Check out Annie F. Downs and her new book Looking for Lovely. I promise, you won’t regret it.

I received this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

A Portrait of my Everyday Hero {and win a trip for two to NYC!}

Everybody has someone in their life who has impacted them in an incredible way. That could be a teacher, a friend, an employer, or a parent. The amazing Annie Leibovitz is traveling the world, sharing her New Portraits of women, exploring the changes in the roles of women today while bringing to life one of the greatest art exhibitions of the 21st century. She and USB have asked bloggers to share their own portraits of the women in their lives who are their everyday heroes. And there’s no one else I could possibly choose as my hero but my mom.

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My mom is one of those people who will drop everything to help you. She lives over four hours away from me, but she has driven countless hours back and forth to help me with babies, unpacking, when my husband is out of town, and everything in between.

All moms are heroes, but my mom is simply amazing. She has raised six (super awesome ;) kids, spends countless hours caring for her grandchildren, co-runs a weekly meal for local homeless, is always putting her family first, and is easily one of my favorite people to spend time with. When someone will drop what they’re doing and drive to be present at the birth of your kids, then do all your dishes and watch all your other kids while you sleep, that’s a hero.

When I think of all the many hours my mom has spent caring for me, my kids, and the rest of our family, I get overwhelmed. She has spent her whole life giving. Loving. Sharing of her time and talents. I’m so blessed to know that she is always there for me when I need help at home or a shoulder to cry on. She taught me how to sew and gave me a love for creative life. She values family and taught all of us that family is important and comes first. I will never take for granted all that she has done for me and how she has shaped me into the woman I am today.

Who is your hero?

Submit your own story by posting a picture of your hero on Instagram with the hashtag #ShareYourHero. By sharing your hero, you are entering yourself to win a trip for two to New York City to the opening of the Annie Leibovitz WOMEN: New Portraits exhibition in November.

Find details about how to enter to win here.

Wet Bag with Pocket Tutorial and tips for potty training

We’re about to enter a stage of life that I have to admit, is not my favorite. The potty training stage. Potty training seems to go one of two ways in my house: complete and total disaster or epic triumph. I have yet to have an in between experience. Having been through this three times already, I have a few tips, as well a tutorial for my number one must-have for potty training: a wet bag! With this in hand, I have all that I need to survive with hopefully as few disasters as possible.Wet Bag with Pocket Tutorial

Tips for Potty Training

  1. Follow your child’s leading. If he or she is not ready, you can’t force them to potty train. If they are showing signs that they are interested or ready (telling you when they go in their diaper, asking to use the potty, etc.) give it a try!
  2. Relax. Seriously, don’t freak out. Barring a medical issue, your child will not go to high school in diapers. You will get through this.
  3. Set a timer. Put your child on the potty every thirty minutes during the first few days of potty training. Even if they have accidents, you’ll probably get lucky and some of those times he or she will have to go, and they’ll start to get the hang of it.
  4. Be consistent. Come up with a mantra, potty routine, reward, a song you sing, whatever works for your family. Say it often and be consistent about it. Kids love routine!
  5. Remember that accidents happen. Your child could be one of those kiddos that gets it from the first try, but more than likely, accidents will happen. Keep calm and positive, and remind your child what to do next time.
  6. Use Pull-Ups when you’re out-and-about and for naptime. Since they pull up and down, they give your kiddo the independence of underwear, but they’ll help prevent a major disaster in aisle five. (see below for a coupon!)
  7. Carry a Wet Bag. Once you’ve started potty training, and for awhile after you think your little one has it down, you’ll want to carry a wet bag. This will give you a waterproof bag to carry soiled clothing, so that your diaper bag or purse stay dry. Much nicer than carrying plastic grocery bags everywhere. Wet bags have saved the day on numerous occasions!

Wet Bag with Pocket Tutorial

Supplies:

  • 4 pieces of your chosen non-stretchy fabric 10×13 inches (for the outside of the bag)
  • 2 pieces of PUL 10×13
  • Ribbon or twill tape (optional)
  • 7in. zipper for pocket (or longer – you will shorten it)
  • 9in. zipper for top (or longer – you will shorten it)

1. Take two of the main fabric pieces and put them right side together. Draw a narrow rectangle approximately 6 3/4in. long by 3/8in. high on the wrong side of one piece. I did this about 4.5 inches down from the top.

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2. Stitch around the rectangle (through both pieces of fabric). Then cut down the center of the rectangle, making two small cuts toward the corners on both ends, as you can see in the photo. Make sure you don’t cut your stitches.
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3. Flip the top piece to the other side and press. You will now have an opening for your zipper pocket.

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4. Pin the zipper behind the opening and sew it to the fabric. Stitch close to the ends of the fabric.

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5. Now place another fabric piece down right side up. Place the zippered piece on top (zipper pull on top). Then stay stitch these two pieces together all around. (In my photo, I accidentally put my bottom piece wrong side up. If you do this, you will see the wrong side of your fabric when you open the zipper.)

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6. Sandwich your zipper in between your PUL and your outside fabric. The right sides of the fabric should be facing each other, and the outer fabric should be against the zipper pull. The right side of the PUL is the waterproof side – it’s shinier. Sew along this side, next to the zipper.

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7. Flip those fabrics back and top-stitch them onto the zipper. (The picture below isn’t the best and it shows both sides sewn on, but it shows you the final product after top-stitching)

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8. Now repeat with the second piece of PUL and the last piece of outer fabric. Again you will sandwich the zipper between your outer fabric and PUL with the right sides against the zipper (and the outer fabric against the zipper pull). The fabrics you just sewed will also be in between.

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9. Now repeat the top-stitching on the zipper as you did in step 7. Now it really will look like this picture.

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10. If you would like a handle, choose a ribbon or a piece of twill tape and fold in half. Place it in between the two zippers, with the raw (not folded) edge toward the outside. Pin the ribbon in place.

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11. Open the zipper 3/4 of the way. Now lay the fabrics flat, right sides together. You will have your PUL on one side and the outer fabrics on the other. Pin/clip the sides together.

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11. Sew around all four edges, leaving an opening to turn the bag right side out. Clip the corners and extra seam allowance.

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Then turn it right side out, hand stitch the PUL lining closed, and you’re officially prepared for potty training accidents on-the-go! Or anything else you might need a wet bag for: swimming, road trips, canoe rides, etc.DSC_0788

Pull-Ups and Family Dollar have teamed up to ease the pain of potty training a little bit by giving you a deal on Pull-Ups. I do love a good deal. ;)

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This being the fourth time we’ve potty trained, this really is a product we use at our house. And diapers are expensive, so I take a good deal whenever I can find one!

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The wet bag is nice and roomy, and you can easily alter the dimensions to make a larger wet bag for traveling or even at-home use, especially if you’re a full-time or part-time cloth diapering family.

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You can use the inside PUL-lined pocket for wet items, and then use the outer pocket for extra diapers, wipes, underwear, etc.

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And you can carry this bag around without everyone knowing you’re hauling diapers and wet undies around with you. And then when your kids are out of diapers, use the bag to carry your phone and keys to the pool!
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You can click here to locate a Family Dollar store near you.DSC_0810

Happy sewing, friends!

Why I Let My Kids Help (even when I don’t want to)

“Can I help, Mama?”

I know these words are coming as soon as I start to open the box. Sigh. The truth is, I really don’t want any help. I know that I can do this much faster on my own, without little hands and fifty bazillion questions and patience… so much patience.

But I look into those blue eyes, and I say yes anyway. Even though I would rather say no.
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It turns out, he’s really good with an allen wrench. He follows my directions, looks for the right pieces, and keeps track of the screws better than I thought he would. And he works hard. Harder than I knew his little three-year-old hands could work.

“I can do it!” he tells me, when I try to step in and speed things up a little bit. You’re right, baby. You can do it. And he does.

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It’s hard for me, letting go of the little bit of control I think I have. So often I just want to get it done, and please, can you just go play, so Mommy can finish this? But most of the time, the world won’t come to a crashing halt if dinner is ten minutes later or if the laundry is folded tomorrow instead of today. One day all too soon, they will walk out of my house, taking with them whatever they have gained from their few years in our home. I want them to remember how I let them help. How I didn’t care if they always got it right. How I handed over the tools or the dishrag or the broom and said “Thank you so much, I would love your help.”

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And while I hope I’m teaching them something, I think I’m probably the one who learns more. About letting go and not being in control. About putting aside my to-do list. About how much they really can do when I let them. Because that table, it doesn’t wobble. Not even one bit.

“Do you remember when I builded that table, Mama?”

I sure do, baby. I hope I always remember.

No, I’m not “trying for a girl” (thoughts on being a boy mama)

I have four boys. When most people hear this or see me with my four handsome little men in tow, they say something to the effect of “So, are you going to try for a girl?!”

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Now, I’m sure everyone means well when they say this. Most of them say this because they have a daughter or have dreamed of having one. They can’t imagine how “crazy” or “loud” my house is. They think I’m missing out, because their picture of family includes girls.

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But what they don’t realize is when they say this, they’re implying that by having only boys, my family is incomplete. That my four boys haven’t made my life richer than I could ever imagine. What we tell boy mamas when we ask if they’re “trying for a girl” or even when we get excited for the mom who “finally got her girl” is that boys are not enough. Your life can’t be complete without a daughter. And let me tell you, that just isn’t true. Are daughters a wonderful and amazing blessing to their families? Of course! But am I missing out on the goodness of motherhood because my family doesn’t have one? Well, I don’t believe that for a second.

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Being a boy mom is different than being a girl mom in many ways, I’m sure. But I’m a mom, no matter the gender of my littles. I’m not a lesser mom because I didn’t “succeed” in birthing a baby girl. I’ve spent countless sleepless nights rocking and singing to my babies. I have wiped tears and butts and noses. I have cried and laughed and loved more than I thought possible. A mama’s job is to love her kids, and I have so much love bursting out of me for these boys it hurts. Each time someone wonders aloud if we are going to “try for a girl” my heart aches for my sons, within earshot, that they might think they aren’t enough. That they were the consolation prize instead of my winning lottery tickets. Why do we squeal with excitement when we find out a mom of two boys is now pregnant with a daughter, but when a mom is pregnant with her third boy, we apologize to her or say “Aw, well, I guess you’ll have to try for another!” or  “Look on the bright side, at least you don’t have to buy any new clothes!”

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If the Lord had given us a daughter (or four), it would have been an enormous blessing. Perhaps some things about our day-to-day life would be different, but we would have loved her with as much affection as we have for our boys. I’m not going to pretend I have never thought about what it would be like to have a little girl, but truthfully, boys are all I know now. And I can’t imagine it any other way. I don’t sew tiny dresses everyday, but who says boy clothes aren’t fun?!

My house is usually loud and my couches are ripped from all the constant jumping and fort building, and on any given day there’s probably pee on my bathroom floor. We spend our days laughing and climbing and reading and playing in dirt. My heart is full from all the snuggles and kisses and I love yous. There’s nothing I would change about my life. Well, except for getting a maid… I’d like to do that.

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If someday the Lord gives us a daughter, we would welcome her with grateful hearts and joyful smiles. But I’m not and have never been “trying for a girl.” My heart and my arms are full, and I couldn’t be happier. I will relish in the excitement of every niece born into my family, every friend who has a beautiful daughter, and I will stockpile my pink fabrics to sew them dresses and jumpers. And someday, my boys will get married and have kids and there will be daughters-in-law and maybe granddaughters, and then, I will happily “get my girl.”

So when you meet a boy mama, please don’t apologize to her for the blessings God has given her. Don’t feel sorry for her lack of pink, tulle, and pigtails. Instead, share in her joy. Laugh at her stories, listen to her worries, and invite her to your daughter’s princess tea party when she needs a little girly in her life. And kindly overlook the torn couch cushions and muddy footprints through her kitchen.

All photos used with permission from Brooke Collier Photography

Why Creativity Matters to Motherhood

I come across a lot of people who are astonished that I sew. Sometimes they’re amazed because they think sewing is a hard skill to learn (it’s not!). Usually, though, they’re baffled that I can find the time. They see me with my four kids, homeschooling, and they say – “Wow, how do you do it all??”

But in reality, I don’t do it all. I do a lot of things – some of them better than others – but I’ve made it a point to prioritize the things that I love. And creativity is a priority in my life. In fact, I think it’s a crucial part of motherhood. Sometimes I have a sink full of dishes, three laundry baskets of clothes that need to be folded, and floors that need to be mopped, but still I sew. I believe that creativity matters to motherhood.

“You are never too busy to make time for what you love. It’s just a matter of prioritizing — evaluating how you spend your days and dedicating time for what you value. If something is really important to you, you will find a way to fit it into your life.”
-Jessica N. Turner, The Fringe Hours

Why Creativity Matters to Motherhood

This post contains affiliate links.

1. I believe that we are designed to be creative, because God is creative. The Father made us with His own hands, and I think that He meant us to be makers. That means something different for each person. I create with fabric, but for you it might be music or baking or photography or words. No matter which outlet you choose, there’s a part of your soul that is itching to be creative.

2. I want my kids to know that art matters. Kids watch and learn. Even if you never tell them with your words (which, by the way, you should), they will see you doing that you’re passionate about and it will make an impression. They’ll watch you doing something creative, and it will help them believe that they can do it too. Kids are born to create – they need to feel things with their hands and make new worlds out of clay, paint, crayons, and paper. When they see their mama pouring her heart into something she loves, it affirms that natural creative desire they have inside themselves. If raising creative kids is a important to me, which it is, I need to model this to them and show them it’s a priority in my own life.

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3. Creativity is energizing. Every time I sit down at my sewing machine, something happens inside me. As I take the fabric and make it into a dress, a pair of pants, a bag, whatever – my heart skips a beat. I can ride the “sewing high” of a successful project for weeks. When I’ve had a hard day, maybe the kids are sick or someone has flushed a mitten down the toilet (true story) or we’ve all been hibernating from the -40F windchill, sewing can turn my day around. It can put me in a good mood again and remind me that oh yeah, it was just a bad day… we’ll start fresh tomorrow.

4. Learning new skills keeps my mind active. Motherhood is a lot of repetition and sometimes it can make you feel like all your brain cells are slowly dying away. Between wiping booties and boogers and spending your days speaking to someone who can’t make conversation back to you about anything other than Daniel Tiger, it’s important to find something that sparks your creative side.

5. Kids need to see their mama doing something other than taking care of them. I spend a lot of time taking care of my boys. From the time they wake to the time the go to bed (and sometimes even after that), I’m caring for their needs. I’m teaching and training and breaking up brotherly squabbles. I pick up toys and wash dishes and make meal after meal. It’s hard work, and I’m so blessed to be able to do it, but I want my boys to know that being Mama is not everything that I am. When my boys see me sewing, not only do they see me working with my hands, but they notice that I’m doing something that doesn’t involve them. It’s good for them to see that they aren’t always the center of my universe!

6. Making time for me makes me a better mom. In the book The Fringe Hours by Jessica N. Turner, she talks about how self-care is not a privilege, it’s a necessity. I agree wholeheartedly. Motherhood takes a lot of sacrifice, and it’s something I do willingly. But that doesn’t mean I should forget about who I am and the passions that drive me. Taking care of myself well means that I’m less cranky and more filled up inside, so I have more to give to my husband and my kids. I don’t need to feel guilty about the time I spend on myself. As Jessica says, “Choosing yourself is not wrong. The longer you go without taking time for yourself, the more resentment will fester, exhaustion will set in, and you will have nothing left to give — to anyone. Guilt has no place in the decision to take care of yourself.”

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The book The Fringe Hours releases today, and it hits the nail on the head. This book isn’t just for moms – it’s written for every woman who has a hard time believing that making time for herself is important. I found myself nodding along with Jessica’s words, agreeing with her that if I don’t prioritize myself and my creativity, it doesn’t make me a better mom or wife. In fact, it makes it harder on me.

Your creative potential will never be reached if you don’t make time for yourself. By spending your fringe hours – the time you have set aside just for you – doing something creative, something you’re passionate about, you’ll feed your soul and be a better mom, wife, sister, or friend. Creativity is a key part of who you are as a whole person – spiritually, mentally, emotionally. Your creative side matters because YOU matter.

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What are you going to do to make time for yourself? If you’re not sure where to begin, start by reading The Fringe Hours. Jessica gives you practical tips on how to prioritize yourself and take back your fringe hours. Motherhood is important work, but making time for yourself – for your passions and your creativity – is crucial. We need to model the behavior we want from our children. Show your kids that your fringe hours are a necessity. Your creativity matters, mama! Make the time. Do it for yourself and for your kids.

 

Disclosure: I was given a copy of The Fringe Hours in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are honest and my own.

10 screen-free ways to keep kids entertained inside… without going crazy

The past week has been freeeeeezing here in Wisconsin. Below freezing, actually. When it gets so cold (or rainy, or hot, or whatever it is that keeps you stuck inside), it can be tricky to keep kids entertained – and keep mama from going pulling her hair out. So here are 10 screen-free ways to keep kids entertained inside (without going crazy in the process).

10 scree free ways to keep kids entertained inside without going crazy

1. Reading – okay, this one might be obvious, but it needs to be said. Find the books that your kids haven’t read in awhile. Stock up on new books at the library. Download audio books, lay blankets out on the floor, and let your kids listen to someone else read one of their favorites. A recent new family fave is God Made Light (affiliate link)

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2. Have a popcorn party – pop a giant bowl of popcorn (my personal favorite way is popped on the stove with a few tablespoons of coconut oil) and snuggle up together.

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3. Jump on the bed. Really! Do it! Stay in your jammies and robes, grab the pillows, and let them get out some of that pent up energy. But if you really can’t handle bed jumping, get these foam pogo jumpers (affiliate link). They are super compact and the kids can jump, jump, jump their jiggles out.

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4. Homemade play dough – let the kids help you mix the ingredients and then watch them wow you with their creativity.

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5. Cloud Dough – I posted this one on Instagram, and some other mamas thought I was a little bit crazy. So this one is maybe for those of you who a) don’t mind a little mess and b) don’t have wall-to-wall carpeting. Use about a cup of baby oil to eight cups of flour and mix together. Make your kiddos wear paint shirts or just their underwear if you want to avoid a lot of post-cloud dough laundry. Fill a shallow basin with spoons and cars that can be easily washed and let them go to town. This has kept my kids entertained for three days straight, so all the sweeping (and there has been a LOT of sweeping) is worth it.

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6. Indoor picnic – throw a blanket or table cloth on the floor and eat your lunch on the living room floor.

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7. Indoor ball pit – I made one for the baby last year, but you could also throw a bunch of balls into a pack n play or a kiddie pool for the same level of fun.

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8. Legos – again, probably a given, but really… how can I not mention the number one source of indoor entertainment at our house? Make these Lego lunch boxes to give your kids their own building station that they can carry from room to room (hopefully without trailing pieces behind them). Wooden blocks or Duplos are great for the younger crowd.

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9. Unstructured art time – when my kids have free reign over the art supplies, they are more creative and entertain themselves much longer than if we try to do a “craft” together. Cover the table with paper and pull out paint, glue, scissors, googly eyes, and pipe cleaners and watch the magic happen. Maybe leave the glitter in the cabinet if you’ve recently cleaned up all that cloud dough and are feeling a little mess-sensitive. ;)

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10. Hot chocolate – Cozy up on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa. Look at books or just snuggle up – bonus mom points if you do this under the glow of the Christmas tree. Add a few marshmallows or homemade whipped cream and you just might make them forget that you wouldn’t let them pull out the glitter.

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In our house, throwing in the occasional out-of-the-ordinary activity makes a long day inside a little more bearable.

What are your best ways to keep kids entertained during the long winter months?

 

What not sewing for KCW looks like…

I love Kids Clothes Week for a lot of reasons. Each time I’ve participated, I’ve had varying degrees of success. Sometimes I’ve cranked garments out and had awesome results. Other times I’ve gotten really cozy with my seam ripper.

This year I set my expectations pretty low, and while I sewed up the Study Hall Jacket [that truthfully was nearly completed before KCW began], my sewing machine sat mostly untouched.

The dropping temperatures brought colds to our house, and a baby who is itching to crawl has brought even more sleepless nights [and days]. But sewing will always be there… babies are only babies for so long.

45d776aa3ce611e392fc22000a1f9806_8 So while there hasn’t been sewing, there has been lots of coffee…7b2b64a83c1711e3aac622000ab5bc37_8Some game playing..16b5acf83b3c11e3b98522000a9e063b_8 A lot of babywearing…50f1a5283a6c11e3a62222000ab685c6_8More coffee…97687508381f11e3a93822000ae9025c_8

Baby snuggles…b20abb503d9211e39da122000a9e28e0_8And notes that make it all worth it.