Cheers to another year & another chance to get it right…

N E W Y E A R ✨

These are the days when we can’t help but stare at our lives and ourselves straight in the face, when we are forced to judge what we see honestly in order to gauge where we are, where we’re heading, and if where we’re heading is where we really want to go. This forced self-reflection augmented either by a post-Christmas overextension of family time, alcohol, or both, can very easily lead to a magnification of what we’ve decided are our most glaring shortcomings and a masking of what we too easily forget are our greatest strengths. It can be a time that drives us to vices of self-doubt, avoidance, and regret. But I don’t believe it has to be.

I think this time of year and the angsty reflection that comes with it – it can also be a chance to give ourselves a much needed pep-talk. A chance to remind ourselves what we loved about our lives and ourselves in 2017, and to be comfortable with all the imperfections therein.

This has been one of the most wonderful and fulfilling years of my life. It has also had its fair share of struggles and challenges. I have witnessed my baby grow and change a little bit everyday, and I turned around and she’s looking more and more like a little girl with each passing day – something wonderful and rewarding to experience and witness, also a tad heart wrenching that I can’t freeze time and the realization that sometimes you can’t recognize the importance of a moment before it passes you by. It’s been nearly 19 months and I’ve kept wondering when the wonderment of being her mother would wear off. And after all of the diapers, white noise, endless Mickey Mouse marathons, babbles, snuggles and something new learned every day, I’ve come to the conclusion that it never will. I won’t lie – this year felt both long and short, hard and effortless, like entering a foreign land, but also landing right at home where I was always supposed to be.

So, as we close the book on 2017, I hope you can honor the past year by celebrating your joys, mourning your losses, and shaking your head at the wonder of it all. Perfect doesn’t exist, but we do. As we are right now. Just for a moment, maybe we should let the future be just that. And the past too. Maybe we should think of the passing of another year not as a reminder that life is passing us by, but as a reminder that it isn’t.

Happy New Year from my crazy tribe to yours and cheers to you, 2018!

… because sometimes, ya gotta look ‘mom guilt’ in the face and tell it to EFF off.

‘Ello there,

So I’ve been neglecting this blog lately not by my own choosing, but due to the fact I now have a full blown teething, growth spurting, pint sized little dictiator on my hands. *Props to you mamas who can keep a clean house, a cooked meal on the table AND manage to consistently tend to a blog post.* I idolize you and think you’re kind of an asshole at the same time. I, however, am not that mom. Far from it.

Just when you think you have a proper schedule down, a babe who sleeps through the night, and you feel that after 18 months maybe a morsel of your sanity is slowly returning to where it once belonged.

P S Y C H . Reality swoops in to slap you in your overly confident and naive face. Reality has a way of doing that…

Between the growth spurts, what seems like endless teething, and the overall ‘Screw you, hippie. I’m gonna do what I want’ attitude in true toddler fashion… I have started to come to terms with the fact that sometimes I am downright powerless. Despite what the “experts” who have devoted their livelihood to the science behind toddlerhood say or the pediatrician who spends 10 minutes with you before moving on to the next hostage situation, or the lengthy articles that come with every desperate google search… sometimes you have to silence all the outsiders and do what’s right for you. Lately, I’ve realized that sometimes it’s okay to put down the parenting manual. It’s okay to veer from ‘the plan’. And when I say ‘plan’, I mean that false sense of confidence that you were ever in charge to begin with.

Don’t get me wrong – from day 1, I have acknowledged the importance of keeping a schedule and that babies crave routine and consistency. I have been the mom who has drilled the grandparents about bedtime routine, snacks to give, do’s and don’ts (like they haven’t done it before – but look how I turned out.) Consistency is key. At least that’s what I kept telling myself. I still believe it’s important, of course.. and if you’re one of those moms who has managed to keep a strict schedule, never turn on the tv, feed your child all organic, all while teaching your toddler Japanese – then bravo to you! You suck and you can move along now…

One day recently my toddler with her new sense of independence and defiance, said ‘screw you and your schedule. you’re in my world now, old lady.’ It’s been a rough few weeks for this mama. (can you tell?) Milana has seem to go from a helpless baby to an independent toddler overnight and we’re all having to adjust accordingly. There have been many napless days, fitful nights, and mid target run tantrums (it’s target for god sake… what are you whining about, kid!?) Turns out growing teeth is a real bitch. I’ve had my moments of frustration… moments of questioning if I’m doing the “right thing” as a parent. Throw it in the towel and give her a bottle to soothe her to sleep? Accept the fact that a nap is not likely today and save myself the stress of trying and load her up to take her to the swings? Rock her a little extra longer before bedtime instead of sticking to the strict routine that every book, expert, and doctor has drilled into every parent’s head? I have come to the conclusion that yes… yes, it’s okay to not always go by the book and stick to ‘the plan’.

These ‘experts’ I’ve been referring to will tell you to not give in. Don’t throw it in the towel. Don’t give up and bring the babe to your bed. Well, after all.. they are the experts and I’m just a clueless first time mom who’s just wingin’ it, BUT I have started to give myself some slack and put the guilt to bed. They say don’t interact with your toddler at nighttime when they won’t go the eff to sleep. Reinforce your dominance, mama!

Well, last night I gave in. Sue me. I would usually be kicking myself with mom guilt for doing what’s “easiest”, but not last night. Last night, I brought her to bed with us. We cuddled, we babbled, we laughed hysterically (probably due to the fact that all three of us are deliriously tired!). She wasn’t distracted by a toy or a book (or the occasional electric outlet). We had her all to ourselves. Just the three of us. Our own little world where I can’t help but venture to that dreadful place in my mind that tells me ‘this isn’t going to last forever – hold on as tight as you can.’

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about those “last times”. The last time I was able to swaddle her up like a little mummy, the last time I gave her puréed sweet potatoes or the last time I watched her nap in her baby swing (what a blessed affair that was 🙌🏼). I don’t want those moments and ‘last times’ to pass me by because I’m so busy trying to do everything right. Whatever the hell the “right” thing is.

Now, before I get crucified by the crunchy moms out there, I’m not saying to throw your schedule out the door, let your tot take charge and hold on for dear life. I’m saying it’s okay to improvise and not always go by the book and to not beat yourself with mom guilt because of it. It’s okay to do your best, give it your all, and when that fails – to give yourself a pass, to leave room for those unexpected sweet moments in bed at midnight, even when it goes against all of your parental instincts. Leave room for those rare, bittersweet moments when you look at a loved one and are struck with the realization that your time together is finite and therefore precious beyond measure.

I cannot get this day back. She won’t always cry when I leave the room, she won’t always wake at night for extra mama or daddy cuddles, I won’t always have to carry you in asleep from the car. I want to hold on this wonderfully exhausting stage and take it all in before it passes me by… and not feel guilty about it.

So until then, eff off mom guilt. The dishes can sit in the sink a little longer, the laundry can pile up, the cleaning and scrubbing can wait. So quiet down cobwebs – dust, go to sleep…

I’m rocking my baby, because babies don’t keep.

Domestication 101 or something like that…

I guess I should start by saying…

My husband didn’t marry me for my cooking skills. Or my ability to do laundry. Or my promising future as a domesticated suburbs housewife. I think most likely it was my sarcasm, manipulative charm, or maybe I just have a damn good personality. Either way – he did. And thank God. Otherwise, I’d probably still be on the phone for Chinese takeout while I clean up the remnants of the grilled cheese I had lit on fire prior. That actually happened. I still have PTSD every time I get too close to a stove or accidentally turn on the FoodNetwork. Luckily, I married a man who’s a god in the kitchen and has no prior history of kitchen fires.

Though I never thought I’d be the one to ‘share a recipe on my blog’, mainly because of how 1950’s/suburb/housewifey/stepfordish it sounds and, oh yeah… The fact that I don’t cook – BUT it was THAT delicious and THAT easy enough that I wanted to share it with all you other kitchen virgins out there.

Last night we attempted Stuffed Shells Florentine. I say ‘we’ as in he did most of the cooking and I drank wine, chimed in with the occasional sarcastic comment, offered my unbeatable wifely moral support and charisma, and basically just got in the way. (Whatever – I cook really ridiculously cute babies and I’m going to stick to that for now).

Ingredients:

2 cups of shredded or chopped grilled chicken breast

2 cups of chopped spinach

1 1/2 cups of minced garlic

1 1/2 cup of minced yellow or white onion

2 tbsp of oregano

1 tbsp of basil

1 tbsp of garlic pepper

1 tsp of garlic salt

1 large box of shells

1 large container of ricotta cheese

2 jars of Rao’s tomato sauce (YUM!)

2 packs of mozzarella cheese

1 packet of shredded Parmesan cheese

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 350 and cook pasta shells according to package


2. Combine spinach, basil, mozzarella, onion, garlic, salt, garlic pepper and oregano into a large bowl


3. After that’s well mixed, add the ricotta and mix thoroughly


4. Stuff shells with Ricotta mixture, using about 2 tablespoons for each shell. Arrange in lightly greased 13×9-inch baking dish.


5. Pour Rao’s pasta sauce over shells (or whichever you prefer – Rao’s is my new favorite).

 
6. Cover with a layer of Parmesan & mozzarella


7. Bake for 45 min at 350

8. Broil at 400 degrees for 3-5 minutes until cheese is bubbling and brown

Voilà! Bon Appétit! 

“You won’t know you’re okay until you get there..”

‘Ello lovelies!

I have collected a couple of my meandering thoughts and ramblings that I’ve been reflecting on the past couple weeks – kind of sappy, kind of informative (maybe I really should consider a career as a movie critic?) Don’t worry, I won’t. but here it goes..

Recently, the hubs and I got to sit down and watch a WHOLE movie. Straight through. (WHAT?! Biggggg YAY for tiny parent victories!) We watched ‘The Hollars’… A.) because a friend recommended it & B.) John Krasinkski. So naturally I was already a big fan. P.S. the folky soundtrack is the BEST. An independent dramedy that depicts the emotional crises of facing death, divorce, bankruptcy, marriage, and parenthood? Count me in. Sounds like a totally uplifting movie, right? It has all the cliche, bittersweet moments and laughs one would expect. It ended up making this mama cry big fat ugly tears. Seriously, not the tears that quickly subside after the credits roll, but an hour later…. there I was. Crying like a baby. I thought Nicholas Sparks was the only had this uncanny ability to turn me into a ball of mushiness (except for that time I was pregnant and would get hysterical over a home insurance commercial – don’t get me started on the puppy commercials… damn you, Sarah McLachlan), however this one caught me off guard. There were also lots of laughs in between the sobs – as was fore mentioned about that whole pregnancy ordeal.

I’m no professional movie critic, it may have even done really shitty – that didn’t stop me from watching it three times in one week. This post is not meant to be one big movie review from the eyes of an emotional first time mama… although it seems that’s what it’s turned into. Whoops… But, I couldn’t ignore the parallels I saw with my own life, my own comically dysfunctional family, my own fears of failure, not being good enough, preparing myself for parenthood, etc. (Side note – preparing yourself for parenthood is a big. fat. joke. The books, the classes… it’s all a scam to take your money and give you a false sense of security and feeling like you totally got this and you’re gonna rock it! Nope. Nada. What to Expect? Ha! Read it front to back. I STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL TO EXPECT and the kid is almost 15 months old – and don’t get me started on car seat instructional manuals.. just my two cents.) I don’t think either one of us will ever know what to expect, but I guess that’s what makes it a grand, exciting, scary, and wonderfully exhausting adventure.

“You won’t know until you get there that you’re okay.”

One line from the movie that hit home.. And damn you, John Krasinski for the perfect delivery and perfect face, smile, everything, etc. The story brings together end of life issues and the beginning of life issues and the fears that come with both. The fears we have for ourselves, the fear we have for others… something I think we all can relate to.

My dear father in law passed away roughly two weeks before Milana was born. Within two years, I witnessed my husband lose his mother on Christmas Day and then his father weeks before he became a father for the first time. Talk about two years of an emotional seesaw. Not to mention the fact I was 38 weeks pregnant and we closed on our house on a Tuesday, started moving Wednesday, and (SURPRISE!) I was checked into labor & delivery on Thursday! Holy stress, batman!

He fell into fatherhood effortlessly – I knew he would. I swear, some days I think he adapted and took on the role much more gracefully than I did at times! His only wish is that his wonderful parents could have met his daughter and seen him in a light that they never had before – a caring, loving, HAPPY, and the most devoted father.

It made me reflect on the meaning of all that lies between those two bookends of life. You find yourself standing in both worlds – one that is full of possibility, excitement, and joy, and one that brings grief and sorrow. We mark our lives with such events, but life is really not about either as much as it is about all that fills in between. I saw my husband’s internal battle between being worried about his fathers declining health and also the worries about what it will mean to be a father, responsible for another human’s well being. Now we will be the parents, we will be the person that this little girl looks up to. Your whole life (in most cases, if you’re as fortunate as we have been), you look to your parents for answers, for guidance, reassurance, etc. I STILL call my mom with questions about, well, everything, most of which I’m embarrassed to admit and I can ONLY hope and pray I know the answers to those questions when it comes the time that Milana calls me up and asks about what’s okay and not okay to put in the microwave. Thank you, google. 🙌🏼

Back to hubs though, he transitioned so gracefully – far more than I can say for myself. The ending of one life and the beginning of another. Without skipping a beat, he took on the challenge and has loved every minute (even the ones at the ungodly hour of 3 a.m.) and doesn’t complain in the slightest. He has actually taught me more than I ever expected – of patience, balance, and keeping calm (even if you’re freaking the eff out on the inside).

What I took away from that line “you won’t know until you get there that you’re okay” is not to panic when life has it’s difficult patches. Once they arrive, you’ll realize you’re capable of coping with them and you won’t know until you’ve passed through them that you’ve survived unscathed. No matter what obstacles or crisis life throws our way, we got this and we’re going to be okay. You don’t realize what you are capable of until you get there. Mind you, she’s 15 months… so get back to me around year 5.

But for now, we’re here, we’re capable, and we’re okay. 💛

XO

Motherhood: a story about procrastination, reheating coffee, & witty banter with the Starbucks barista 

Well, well, well…

My dear, sweet, life of the party, pint sized dictator O N E year old is finally napping AND I am finally able to take a deep breath, enjoy a cup of coffee (which has now been reheated for the third time today), and write my very F I R S T blog post.

I guess I should preface this first post with the fact that I created this blog TWO YEARS AGO! I found out I was pregnant with baby numero uno and after the initial nausea, the constant ‘I don’t know why I’m crying’ spells, and the hours upon hours of sleep (what a sweet memory that has become), I did what most excited expecting mamas do – I started reading any and all mommy blogs I could find. The adorable babies, the joyful (and perfectly styled) mamas, the beauty of pregnancy… eeeeekkk! My love for fashion, photography, and babies inspired me to start a blog of my own.

… As you can see (two years later), it sounded a lot better in my head.

I hated pregnancy. I hated the nausea, heartburn, constant trips to the bathroom, the judgemental looks at my bump with no ring on my finger because HOLY SWELLING, batman. Judge away, mamas. I desperately wanted to be one of those women who loves pregnancy and don’t get me wrong – growing a human is beyond magical and beautiful. Women are BADASS magical unicorn superheroes. Throughout the whole process, I found myself calling my mom a couple times a day (sometimes crying, sometimes laughing) expressing how sorry I was that I put her through that hell and how thankful I was that she still even liked me. Okay – now I’m getting sidetracked…

Long story short, I got pregnant and decided I was too sleepy and too hangry to start a blog. Anyway, the kid is nearly 14 months old now, aaaand here I am! She is our world. My everything, my greatest accomplishment and worth every second of it. These are my absolute favorite days. But, mommin’ ain’t easy and not always pretty. Since my days are often filled with random thoughts, daydreams, and sarcastic banter with the cashier at Target or Starbucks (YAY for adult conversation!), I thought why not share it with you guys? So, w e l c o m e to our little world! Follow along if you like cute babies, fashion, sarcastic comments or if you’re just pregnant, sleepy, hangry and just want a little insight on life with baby without actually having to do a damn thing.

Enjoy! XO

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Email 💌: Jaclynmichelle11@gmail.com