Big girl bedroom: A birthday gift

First off, our daughter co-slept with us until very recently. I’ve written about co-sleeping in another post but it worked out well for our family.

I thought we’d be ready to move her to her own room around 2 years old, so Mr.B, my mom and I put together her bedroom as her 2nd birthday gift.

I even let her choose the theme. BIG MISTAKE! She wanted Frozen as her theme and she choose two paint colors for her walls- pepto pink and a soft purple. I usually allow our kiddo lots of room to make her own choices. She can pick out her clothes, decide what class she wants to take (dance, gymnastics, theater), etc.

I’m usually fine with her making her choices. Well, that’s a lie. I sometimes get twitchy when she puts on a pink tutu with green pants and a black shirt…and blue ballet flats but I also want to cultivate her independence and sense of self.

Not when it comes to her bedroom I guess!

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So I decided to re-do it for her 4th birthday! I moved her bedroom to my old office and moved my office/den to where her bedroom used to be.

I thought long and hard about how I wanted her bedroom to feel- I’m super into feelings vs. “looks”.

I wanted her bedroom to feel peaceful, bright, happy, and soft and I wanted a nice mix of feminine and masculine energy. I searched for inspiration all over pinterest but couldn’t find what I was looking for.

Then one afternoon we were at the mall and little one was playing in the play area and I looked over into the windows of Carters. I saw this adorable little baby outfit that was hot pink and navy blue. Aw, I had a moment of sweet nostalgia because our girl looked so sweet in hot pink and navy blue and I typically dressed her in those colors with outfits from Carters. So I sought out Navy and Pink ideas on Pinterest and google and I found these-

It wasn’t long before Mr. B, my mom, and I were painting walls, spray painting furniture and hunting at Target.

I decided I wanted 3 white walls and one accent wall because white is crisp, clean and neutral. And if you know children, they bring tons of energy into a space- neutrals are good and calming! I wanted a nice accent wall because that’s easy to paint and change as she gets older and wants to express her taste in her bedroom decor. I like selecting cheap ways to change a design vs. having to buy all new furniture, new bedding, new decor, and new paint. An accent wall is easy to change.

I also went with plain white bedding because again, neutral and pillows and sheets are easy to change and accent the design. We got cute accent pillows at Target and the bedding was on sale in the summer for college bound kids.

We had an old Ikea bed that Mr. B and I had from when we moved in together. I decided to spray paint it hot pink. Little bean loves hot pink and I knew the bed would pop in the room. I spray painted it because it’s easier to get a clean finish and Ikea’s furniture is shiny and has a stick on finish- not good for sanding and painting. It worked great! Took a lot of spray paint though. Our garage floor will always have a hint of hot pink to it.

My mom had a cute, antique child’s dresser that she wasn’t using. It was white so we decided to spray paint that an antiqued gold. Turned out adorable and we used it as her night stand. She loves to collect nicknacks and stores them in her gold dresser.

My brother and I both used an old wood dresser that my mom had stained before I was born. It was pretty beat up but still in working order. I sanded it down and painted it with the same paint we used for the navy stripes on the wall. It looks amazing with the antiqued gold pulls.

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I got accessories at Target- like the star lamp, the flamingo head, the gold circle shelf, the pink diamond lamp, the pink and white shag rug, the black out pink tassel curtains, and the cloud book shelves.

The piece that put it over the top was the large 3D paper flowers in pinks and whites that I found on Etsy.

I also love the poster I made on Etsy with Little bean’s name on it. I love how it went with the theme. I found a cheap plastic gold poster frame on Amazon and it completed the look.

I had a few items I had collected over the years for my future child– like my Disney figurines (on the shelves).

Overall, I’m so happy with the way everything turned out. Little bean loves it too- and that matters the most!

California native raising babies (and myself) in the south….part 2

Let’s continue, shall we?

Where did I leave off? We had moved to TN. We had hit a relatively low bottom. We were utilizing the resources we had left to get help….and we found out we were pregnant.

Oh yeah, and there wasn’t any family around for hundreds and thousands of miles.

Cut to- little bean is born.

Everyone oooo and aaahhh!

Things started getting easier. Mostly from hard work in our programs, lots of soul searching and personal growth, and tons of desire to change.

As a stay at home mother, I was so fulfilled in so many ways. I had always wanted to be a mother and it was more amazing than I had imagined. It was hard as hell…but also amazing. This is the start of what I will call “The World of Mom’s Mixed Emotions”.

Here’s the deal- Being a stay at home parents is becoming less and less of an option for people and I get it. We live in a world of dual incomes and the cost of living is climbing steadily. I think all my friends in California work while raising children. Most can’t afford not to. I know it’s a huge amazing gift to stay home…but there’s sacrifice too. We don’t live in California any longer, nor did we move back because I did not want to give up being home with my daughter.

Living in TN has been a huge lesson for me. More like a continual stream of lessons…

It was harder to find a like-minded group of friends in TN. I found that most natives kept their friend groups from before children and although TN has some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met, they weren’t always inclusive of newbies. There are tons of transplants…and when I say tons I mean thousands. Every day more transplants move here. Which is wonderful. Adds to the diversity and opportunity to meet and make friends. But many of us still feel isolated. I think this is partly the culture shock of moving to somewhere so different but I also think it’s motherhood.

Motherhood (parenthood) can feel isolating. It can feel like a series of naps, meals, household chores, and errands. And when your baby is still taking 3 naps a day….how the heck are you supposed to leave the house?? You get out for 45 min. increments of time….just kidding…you don’t.

Finally when your baby switched to 2 naps a day or even 1, you can go out for baby and me classes or the park. But here’s the deal with that…when you finally leave your house and get out in the real world with other living, breathing adults…you are hella awkward. And desperate AF.

You stare, longingly, at other mothers pushing their babies in swings and you try to think of how to invite yourself to their play date next week. Or you overhear a mother giving her phone number to someone else and you wonder if it would be weird if you just texted her….

Ok, I’m kinda kidding…but not really. Which is the sad, hard, lonely truth. It’s hard to make new friends. Especially when you’re an adult and you’ve kind of outgrown that preschool phase of running up to someone, waving awkwardly, and asking them to play on the slide and be your best friend. Man, I miss those days. Things were easier then.

So you join some meet up group or Facebook group and the first 5 groups you go to are just not quite right. You’re too soggy for the crunchy hippy group and you’re too crunchy for the mainstream groups. You’re way too out of shape for the jogging group and you’re too straight and white for the lesbian black mom group. WHY???!!! *Arms stretched out to the sky in dramatic frustration*

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So you just baby wear your tiny at home and clean your house…again. And wait.

Now…I’m not saying I never had any friends during this time. I did. Some really good ones, actually. I met one mom at our birth class group that became a great friend and we hung out a couple times a month. The two of us met a mom at a La Leche League meeting and she joined us a few times a month. I had a few very dear friends at my 12 step meetings that I would go out with several times a month. I just don’t consider that the village that I so desperately needed, especially in those early days of being a mama.

We eventually stopped renting and wanted to buy a house. This was a big turning point. Buying a house makes a difference when it comes to making friends. It’s also super hard to buy a house when you feel like you live somewhere that stretches you and your views and values on a regular basis. But it was time. B wanted land and space and I needed roots to get over the hump of putting myself out there. It’s really easy to commit 40% to making quality friendships when you’re renting and it just doesn’t feel permanent. It’s a lot harder when you’ve committed to living somewhere 100%.

So we moved. Bought a house in the suburbs of Middle TN. Even more conservative, religious views than Nashville…but again, you sacrifice for what you desire and value more. If we wanted a house we could afford, on land, in a mature neighborhood…on one income…we had to move further out from the city. We found a house we loved. So we bought it.

I joined a new meet up group right away. I was going to commit 110% to making friends and getting out of my isolation. I finall

y found my tribe. A meet up group in my new city with tons of transplants from Chicago, Miami, New York, Colorado, Japan, Canada, San Diego, etc.

 

SPECIAL NOTE TO NEW MOMS LOOKING FOR FRIENDS (ESPECIALLY IN A NEW PLACE)-

Give yourself time. This is a phase. It will pass. Trust me. It’s lonely for everyone. You’re not alone. Even when you reach out to new groups to make friends it’s always awkward. The first several meetings will be awkward. Give it time. You will meet people if you keep putting yourself out there and getting over the hump of being new. It takes patience and commitment. Don’t give up. I’ve been there! You will get through.

to be cont….

What if nothing is wrong?

So I heard this phrase, or question rather, a few months ago and it’s one of those moments when your brain gets a little scrambled…in a good way!!

So here it is….what is nothing is wrong? What comes to mind when that question is asked?

For me?

  • A shit ton of peace and relief
  • A moment of doubt…let me think about that because I’m pretty sure there’s something that’s wrong
  • Some room to breath
  • Brain scramble
  • Real awareness that in this moment…nothing is actually wrong.
  • Gratitude for what I have when I’m not running around like a chicken with my head cut off…

B wants you to know it’s all ok!!

So I know what some of you might be thinking…or maybe it’s just me…

What if in the moment something is actually wrong?

Sometimes shit happens, I’ve talked about this here before. It’s ok when things happen that are outside of our control but ya know what?? Even if someone gets hurt, or dies, or you get sick, or lose a job, etc….it isn’t happening over and over again every moment. It happened in one moment or you’re sick for a temporary amount of time or the person dies and the moment passes. It isn’t that we don’t have residual feelings or aftershocks, so to speak, but most of my suffering has come from reliving moments over and over again. Other ways I make myself suffer…I continually analyze ways I can avoid said experiences again in the future.

So let’s look at the concept of avoidance behavior, especially when it comes to avoiding pain or perceived negative experiences…

This is where the question, what if nothing is wrong, comes in heavy and real….

When I’m so busy trying to avoid future experiences that I don’t have control over my brain and body don’t realize that what I’m visualizing and anxious about isn’t actually happening in the moment. This practice actually creates real stress hormones, physical responses in my brain and body and puts my immune system and body in a compromised state.

But is anything in the moment really wrong? Nope.

What happens when you stay in that state for weeks? Months? Years? You don’t feel so great.

Answer?

Read. Talk. Therapy. EMDR. Medication. Energy work. Tapping (EFT). Psychiatry. More reading. Awareness. More talking. More therapy. Friends. Fun. Sleep. Always sleep. Rest. Exercise. Good food. More awareness. Time.

And…slowly…these patterns start changing. It’s like a bad habit. It’s hard to break but it’s worth it.

It’s a journey. It’s a process. It’s life.

The older I get the less I know…

I was talking my mom’s ear off yesterday night, nursing a stomach ache and just chatting about anything and everything.

“Hi mom!” *waving like a 3 year old at a recital*

We started talking about being young and how I felt like I knew so much about so much. I had such strong convictions and beliefs about so many things that I had never even experienced. And I was telling to my mom about how, after a trauma that happened in college, I wanted so desperately to get back to that place that felt sure, certain and confident in my decisions and who I was. I wanted to get back to that place of knowing my mind.

Growing up is complicated though. The more I have experienced the more my eyes have been opened to life and it’s ups and downs. It’s easy to say what one would do in certain situations when one hasn’t really been in that situation because it’s all hypothetical. In those circumstances, nothing is really on the line so what do you have to lose? But when I’ve really been faced with life changing choices, or life altering circumstances, there’s more at risk.

When I was a teenager I felt very strongly that every person should report sexual assault. I used to say that if that ever happened to me I would most definitely report the person responsible because I would never want another woman to be hurt by that person again. And I believed that, then.

Here’s the deal…I was sexually assaulted. I was 18 years old and I was a baby. I had just moved out of my parents’ home for the first time and I trusted everyone and everything. I had lived a happy, sheltered life for the most part and I didn’t realize how frequently sexual assault occurred, especially on college campuses. I guess I never thought that would happen to me. And when it did…my previous beliefs and convictions fell away. My foundation of knowing fell away. There’s a groundlessness.

I did not report. Why? For a lot of really complicated reasons. And guess what? If you haven’t experienced a violent assault, you may not really be able to understand it anyway. My point is this…

I thought I knew what I would do in that exact situation and I had no idea what I was talking about.

Here’s the other thing, not all similar situations are the same. Maybe you have experienced sexual violence and you did report it. No two situations are ever the same.

Yes, sometimes my life now seems more complicated, less carefree and trusting, less decisive and sure, and less naive but I am sure about one thing-

No one has ever lived anyone else’s life but their own. And the older I get, the more life I’ve lived, the less I know!

And I guess I’m ok with that.

Can we really fix people? Maybe we shouldn’t try…

Are you a control freak? I ask with the utmost compassion because I have…um…some issues with control… wanting it, coveting it, demanding it, and trying to manage it.

I tell myself my need for control comes from a good place. “I want to help people.” But does it really? Um…yes and mostly no!! So when does control come up the most in relationships and with our kiddos? When they are flippin the hell out and we’re trying to fix the problem. But should we?

What does fixing say to others?

  • Stop feeling/doing that
  • That’s not ok
  • You’re not ok
  • I don’t like that
  • I don’t accept you/this
  • You’re feelings/actions make me uncomfortable

Offering to fix other people’s feelings, issues, problems, life is also attempting to offer unsolicited advice…and what does that feel like?

  • You don’t know what’s best for you
  • I’m better at life than you
  • I know what’s best for you
  • You can’t be trusted to make decisions
  • You’ll fail or make mistakes
  • Failure and mistakes are a bad thing

Here’s the deal- we don’t know what’s best for someone else. And we never really have control over other people. Horrible, right?

Sometimes, yes! It can feel super horrible when we try to control others and it doesn’t go the way we want, which is most times for me!

I literally married a man who cannot be controlled. After my high school love I didn’t really believe in soul mates anymore because some fairytale romance of love at first sight seemed ridiculous when you consider how many people live in the world and pure odds of at least 20 or more people could be plenty compatible with me.

BUT- if your definition of soul mates or twin flames is about finding the person who pushed your soul to grow… than I have found my soul mate. We push each other, purely through our own junk, to grow and grow and grow. It’s not all bad. I can’t believe I still like him after 6 years of marriage and almost 9 years together but that helps too! But it’s not been easy and man do I try to control him.

Does it work? Never. Not ever. No.

Do I stop trying? Um…I’m still worked on it. But what does my trying to fix him or control him say to him?

I don’t ever want my husband to think that I don’t accept him for who he is. I don’t want him to think that what he feels or goes through isn’t ok or that he’s not ok. I want to love him through not make it all go away. It’s not easy, especially when another person’s stuff effects your stuff. Sometimes I want to put a piece of tape down in our home and say keep your stuff out of my stuff….but that doesn’t work in a marriage or in a family. Or in life.

Life is messy!

So I recognize when I’m feeling anxious and I want to start meddling in someone else’s life. Or when a dear friend comes to me to cry and vent and I jump into fixing their problems with unsolicited solutions, or when my child feels broken hearted about something I deem insignificant and I want to brush it aside….

Sometimes I recognize it before I respond (big pat on the back), sometimes it’s while I’m in the middle of it and I see myself spinning out, and sometimes it’s after I’ve already hurt someone with my controlling or minimizing actions.

I’m learning and I’m human. I’m also hopeful. The more pauses I can find before I react the less I stick my nose where it doesn’t belong.

So is it horrible? The lack of control thing?

Actually, it’s a huge relief!!

We are not in control. It’s not possible. And therefore I can concentrate on just hanging out and being available if someone needs me- gives me so much more time to focus on my own life.

*Deep sigh*

We won’t always be grateful, it’s ok!

Sometimes gratitude comes naturally, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s a practice that requires a bit of work and sometimes it won’t come even when you dig in deep and try your hardest to feel it.

Yesterday was such a day. I was feeling agitated and irritable. In true human fashion I tried to shake it. I dropped my daughter at school and I went to therapy and then I tried to talk it out. We tried to get to the bottom of it- really it seemed like I was just grasping at things to try and explain why I was feeling down and blah. It felt like there wasn’t a single thing- it felt like a moving target and then something new happened.

So lately I’ve been trying a few new things that have seemed helpful to me but in a whole new way. I’ve been trying to allow it all. The moments when I’m full of gratitude. The times when I’m agitated and irritable. Those days when I feel like a rock star and times when I fee full of doubt and fear. Notice anything else cool about all this? Feelings, moods, thoughts, ideas, funks….they come and go!

Sadly, this means I won’t always feel like a rock star, on top of my game, having a good hair day, feelin’ the love, diggin’ the groove, and being inspired. BUT- it also means I won’t always feel bitchy, down, blue, agitated, blah, lost, confused, doubtful, sick, tired, annoyed, and disconnected! This is good news, for me at least. Everything comes and goes. The good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly. It all is fleeting. Here’s the other thing I’ve been trying- I don’t have to try and enjoy it more, hold onto it, make it stay, chase it away, fight it off, etc.

But there’s more…

Even when I do try to talk it out, analyze it to death, run from it, hide from it, therapize it, eat it, hold it, hoard it, clench it, squeeze it to death…it’s still ok. It’s all ok. It’s always been ok. I’m ok. You’re ok.

I’m a human. You’re a human. This is all what we do. We are a society of “get happy”. In an age of social media and tiny squares of life, we’re all trying to be our best selves all the time. It’s exhausting. Even my spiritual pursuits have been a journey of trying to outrun life and living a human existence. But you know what my human experience tells me? It’s not possible. I’ve never experienced one thing forever. So how do I think it’s possible to outrun what I perceive as negative feelings? How can I outgrow sadness? Or outheal agitation or loneliness? Would I still be human if I didn’t feel confused or ever face fear or doubt? And those moments don’t stick around forever. I actually think trying to outrun them and avoid them is what keeps me in a place of pain for much longer than the original feeling would have lasted. That’s what buddhists would call suffering.

I want to note something here though for those who may really be suffering in a dark place that has lasted longer than a few days- I feel that depression and anxiety can be really crippling at times and may need treatment. I myself take medication for both and that has helped me tremendously. But here’s the deal- I still have feelings come up that I don’t exactly like- sadness, loneliness, disconnection, confusion, doubt, fear, blah, agitation, etc. and that’s what I’m talking about here. The medication just helps me elevate the lows that keep me from living my life. The feelings and things I’m talking about here are more like everyday stuff that truly does come and go.

So in this moment, while I was flipping through all the beautiful photos of my family and friends in my phone- I felt a heart swell of gratitude. I saw how colorful, vivid and full of life my life really is and I felt it deep. Who knows what the next moment will hold. I’ll have to wait and see. But I give myself permission to feel it and let it come and go.

Parenting Hack: Restaurant Busy Bags

If you’re anything like me, you’re not so comfortable with how your 2 year old could probably design and develop her own app. My child is painfully professional when it comes to her technological skills because, let’s face it, she spends too much time on the iPad and playing on my iPhone with all the “educational apps” we’ve gotten her.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a huge hang up with technology and kids but I also see the other side of the street when parents discuss the fights over iPhone time, screaming over limits on screen time, and general sedentary couch time and lack of connection. We battle with these things and I sometimes worry that I might be impacting her imagination or creativity with built in plots and repetitive games.

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Image by umcportal.com


Either way- we all know it works!

Technology works like magic when you’re sitting in a restaurant and your child wants to climb under the table and over the booth behind you. It works when you just want to eat a hot meal and not “entertain” like a broadway rendition of Lion King in the middle of Red Robin. And can I just say, bless Red Robin and their table tablets with tons of apps for kids. I have had me a nice hot burger and fries without having to dance on stilts and I thank you for that!

Kid at restaurant

Image by Erik Przekop


But here’s the deal- I know better and with a little amount of time and effort I can throw together an awesome parenting hack that saves me from having to rely on my phone. AND I still get to enjoy a hot meal!

So what do you need?

  • Tote or hanging cosmetic bags work well
  • Crayons and markers with coloring pages or coloring book
  • Little toy cars, action figures, barbies, etc.
  • Quiet books (these are amazing and you don’t have to make them, you can buy them on Amazon!)
  • Wind up toys (best place to get novelty toys is Cost Plus World Market…go figure)
    Legos/Blocks (small)
  • Colored clothes pins and matching paint chip samples (pinterest)
  • Large magnets
  • Lacing Activities
  • Books, play dough, etc.
  • Plastic utensils, wipes, straws

You get the idea! The most important thing to remember- They only get to play with the restaurant busy bag when you go out, otherwise the items lose their novelty. You also have to switch out items every couple months or so to keep it fresh. I love the dollar bins at Target, Cost Plus World Market, Etsy, and Dollar General for cheap, new items to keep ’em occupied. These all work for air travel too!

I never fly without a backpack for Boba filled to the brim with novel toys, games, books, weird little crafts and snacks for days. Trust me, it works and I can relieve some of the mommy guilt with a little less screen time.