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A Happy Halloween in the Making

I love Halloween like a seven year old loves Halloween, but I do not have the mental bandwidth to stress about my daughters costumes this year.

I love Halloween like a seven year old loves Halloween, but I do not have the mental bandwidth to stress about my daughters costumes this year.

Here’s how this year’s costumes came together:

I had a lady bug costume shoved in the back of the closet that I bought at a garage sale for $2 long before it would fit my oldest daughter, in anticipation of her trick or treating days.

Then a couple weeks ago I saw an infant size lady bug costume hanging at a kids resale store for $2.

Perfection.

My two little love bugs would be lady bugs! Done. Settled. One decision out of my jam-packed brain.

Sometimes as parents we resist doing things the simple way because we don’t want our children to think we don’t care about them.

But simplicity is not the same as indifference.

As a young child you can probably think of instances of both. Sometimes simple things actually made you feel incredibly happy (making a homemade dice costume from a box), while indifference, or lack of planning, made you feel unimportant or forgotten (stopping at the grocery store on Halloween and picking from the leftover plastic masks).

Doing things more simple this year doesn’t mean that I don’t care, and it is important to me that my girls know that. Simple means that I am deciding how much of my precious time and attention can be put in to certain things, so that I have time and energy to actually invest in being present with them.

Simple doesn’t mean you don’t care, or didn’t plan. It can actually be a sign that you planned well.

Remember that as you enter the crazy holiday season ahead.

And…

Happy Halloween (month)!

From,

The Oldest Trick or Treater on the Block

PS My oldest is two and a half and already pretty obsessed with Halloween. My job is done here:)

How Hard is it to Make Your Own Baby Food? Spoiler, it’s Not!

Do you have fifteen minutes one time a week? I understand that as a busy parent you probably paused to honestly consider your answer.

But seriously, it takes me fifteen minutes to make a week’s worth of baby food.

Let me share some recipe ideas and tips to get you started on the right foot – all have been tested by a busy family of four, in a household with two under two.

Baby Liv is eight months now, but her adventures in food started at about four and a half months. I know at some point in her life she will eat whip cream on pop-tarts (a high school favorite of mine) or chocolate frosted donuts, but right now it is up to me to make sure she gets some good stuff to help her body and brain grow and thrive.

Your baby’s primary calorie and nutritional needs should still be met by breast milk or formula, so think of baby food as a supplemental learning experience for your little one.

I enjoy making baby food so I can control what is in it. Plus, we decided to skip the baby cereal and puffs since they don’t provide much nutritional value. Thankfully it seriously takes less than fifteen minutes to make a week’s worth of food – don’t get too hung up on the ingredient quantities, just scoop it in extra containers for the freezer!

*FYI the first two months we tested foods one by one for a few days to check for allergies, but since around six months we have been having fun with some yummy combinations*

Below are six quick ideas for a more interesting meal.

Make a batch and store a few days worth in the fridge, and any extra can go in the freezer in 1-2oz. containers.

– deli rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken breast, chicken or veggie stock, steamed sweet potato or squash, and unsweetened apple sauce – mix in blender

– unsweetened apple sauce, chia seeds, almond milk, and cinnamon – stir to combine

– cooked ground turkey, fresh pitted cherries, splash of breast milk or almond milk – mix in blender

– rinse a sweet potato, wrap it in a paper towel and steam it in the microwave on the potato setting. Then scoop out the insides and add a little cinnamon. Add breast milk or coconut milk to thin if needed.

– cooked black beans, peeled and pitted peach, vitamin D drops, mix in blender

– cooked garbanzo beans, blueberries, spinach, full fat Greek yogurt – mix in blender

Tips that have helped me make baby food prep easier:

– make baby food in bulk and store in 1-2oz. Containers. I use the XO ones!

– add vitamin D drops to your baby food containers so you don’t have to remember to get it out daily

– the baby food lasts in the fridge for at least three days, or if you make bulk you can freeze it and take one out to thaw in the fridge overnight. When ready to use, heat in microwave for 18 seconds

– no prep foods if you need something on the go: mashed banana, unsweetened apple sauce, mashed avocado

– serve purées right out of the fridge (cold) if your little one is teething

– steam fresh veggies make baby food prep so easy. Steam the veggie in the microwave then purée it in the blender. You can always throw in some spices or other foods on the back end for variety

– if you need more recipe ideas the book Sage Spoonfuls has been a great guide for feeding both my girls so that I know what is appropriate at each stage

– they sell reusable pouches if you want something less messy for mealtime. Just put your purées inside (in all fairness, I love this idea, but haven’t used mine yet)

As they get older, you can purée the food less to provide some food interest with texture.

Now that Liv is eight months and has two teeth, I try to give her at least one thing on her tray that she can feed herself (like steamed veggies, cheese, apples or bananas – in tiny pieces). Half usually ends up on her or the floor, but it keeps her and our dog VERY happy!

Can’t wait to hear your creative baby food ideas and tips!

*Always reach out to a Doctor with questions or concerns

A Toddler Mom’s Staycation

Happiness hides in everyday moments.  Go looking for it.

Sometimes ten free minutes can feel like gold to a busy parent.  

Take a minute to join me on a mental Staycation…

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***

I dance outside to seize a very rare moment in a young mother’s day where both her daughters are off in the loving care of a grandma-like figure, leaving me a few glorious minutes sneaked in between tasks on my monotonous to-do list.

The sun is so bright that I have to squint as I release my thoughts on the pages of a composition notebook in a quick, messy scribble that no one else will be able to read. I feel the instinct to capture them on paper before they float away like bubbles. Sunglasses would be ideal, except all four pairs are sitting on a wooden shelf just inside the sliding door, snickering at me for forgetting to grab one, yet again. But I am on a mental vacation, and I am unwilling to get up until I begin to sweat through my clothes.

My annoyance slips away, as the sound of our bulky air conditioner soothes me like shushing to a baby, as it sprints to run down the heat of the afternoon canyon sun. A welcomed breeze whispers through and helps my body pause momentarily from melting like a creamsicle.

I find myself enjoying the smell of bonfires tickling my nostrils as it brings back vivid childhood memories of Michigan summers; until I remember it is actually the heartbreaking scent of thousands of acres of trees blazing in the Holy Canyon fire.

Laying on a beige, outdoor L-shaped sectional, I get distracted when I look up and suddenly notice how confined I am by neighboring fences, squeezing me from all sides. Yet, I am oddly comforted knowing this little slice of the world is my families, and I get to watch my young daughters laugh and learn through play in this outdoor classroom made of skinned knees and chalk masterpieces.

The heat starts to get to me. I swallow and notice the dry flavor of black coffee lingering in my mouth. Licking the fuzz off my teeth, I imagine hydrating myself with an overpriced flute of anything sparkling. Like one of Pavlov’s dogs hearing a bell, I begin to salivate. Tonight is Mom’s Night Out with some old friends; our gathering is only six months overdue.

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Before I can feel good about heading out and leaving my family to fen for themselves, I feel an internal tug to finish my to-do list. I pick myself up off the warm couch, feeling completely restored from just a few minutes of silence and sunshine. I have renewed energy to tackle the pile of laundry that is staring me down. I will win. This Mom is putting on studded black heels tonight because I am tired of seeing them slowly wither in the back corner of my closet.

***

My staycation write-up was actually part of a writing exercise I took part in last week.  The assignment was to use all five sense to describe a vacation spot you traveled to this summer.  Because I have been busy starting a new job, getting my six month old in daycare, and juggling book releases, mental staycations are where it is at these days!

Coincidentally, this week my husband and I finally scheduled our ten year wedding anniversary trip to Palm Springs in October.  I am giddy.  I can hardly believe that an Adults-Only vacation is happening!

But if an adults only resort getaway isn’t realistic for you right now, take a minute to really explore the environment you are in – drink in the sights, smells, tastes, feelings, and sounds around you. It might just take something that normally blends in to a weekday afternoon, and reframe it.  For me it was ten minutes outside in my own backyard.

Happiness hides in everyday moments.  Go looking for it.

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Next Book Release Coming Soon!

A Mother’s Happy Place

When my first daughter was born I noticed it.  And when my second daughter was born, it was confirmed.  I am kind of a sh*ty mom if I don’t get personal space and time to blow off steam. 

Even if you’ve been religiously following along here over the last eight months , it is very possible you have no clue I am a runner. I stopped running in the third trimester of pregnancy, and my baby beluga is already five months old.

It actually feels a bit silly to describe myself as a runner.  I feel like an imposter, like someone living in the past.

It reminds me of when my Dad tells me that he ran three miles in under twenty minutes; he has a big grin on his face and looks like he feels very proud of himself:)  Mind you, that run happened literally thirty five years ago.  I have never seen him run one mile.  But when he tells his story, it’s like it happened yesterday.

It feels more honest to say I was a runner.

I mean technically I do still run (about eight slow miles a week).  But these days, my “runs” have morphed into something I barely would have laced up my running shoes for less than three years ago.

I’ve run 5k’s to 50k’s and everything in between.  And I’m one of those weirdos that actually really enjoys it.

But running, like all things after children, changed.

Before children, I used to run to stay healthy, and push myself to improve by setting new speed or distance goals.  I would use my runs to blow off minor frustrations so I was a better human.  And I loved the way it made me feel like I was doing something good for myself.  I also loved how it took very little gear and prep, and didn’t require anyone else but myself.

Running was my athletic equivalent of a soulmate.  It was so reliable and so simple.  I was never remarkably fast, but it was my happy place.

And, every once in awhile I would find the perfect human to join me.  Which, by the way, is harder than some might imagine.  You need someone of similar speed, similar distance goals, not flaky, not turned off by a 6am start time, not afraid of using the bathroom outdoors, and loves embracing in a sweaty goodbye hug.  When you find that person, the natural conversation makes the miles just slip by.  It’s golden…but I digress.

There is very little that is simple about running five months postpartum.  My legs feel heavy because I don’t run as often as I used to, and I’m still carrying a few extra pounds.  I barely believe that the mile splits belong to me.  My trusty old running partners now have young kids with unreliable sleep schedules.  My husband and I have to draw straws to decide who gets to leave the house while the kids sleep.  And I have no choice but to pump or breastfeed before a morning jog, because there is no comfort in running with full boobs.  It would be so much easier to quit for awhile.  But I can’t.  I mean I could.  It would make things more simple.  But really I can’t.

When my first daughter was born I noticed it.  And when my second daughter was born, it was confirmed.  I am kind of a sh*ty mom if I don’t get personal space and time to blow off steam.  Running just happens to be my thing, but the therapy it brings could be found in many other endorphine building activities.

Running is my me time.  There are no kids crying and clinging to my legs.  It makes me feel like a person with an identity that extends beyond Mom.  There is so much clarity and free space to think, I feel like I could solve all the world’s biggest problems.

It is so much deeper than the limited thinking I do when toddlers and babies are around.

  • Pondering if I have enough time to head to the grocery store before, or after, naptime.
  • Contemplating if I really need to take my baby to the doctor for the cough that has lasted over a week.
  • Lost down a rabbit hole for the hundredth time trying to figure out how to block the mindless videos of Blippi and Ryan’s Toy Reviews that keep popping up on Youtube Kids when I told my daughter she could watch Sesame Street.

The mental free space running provides me allows for thinking that reminds me that I am a person outside my children.  Thinking about what I want to do with my future.  Thinking about how the final chapter in my next book should flow.  Thinking about my husband and family members individual needs.  Thinking about how I feel.  Thinking about how I can make the world a better place to be.

I care about my kids 100%, but I care about a lot of other things too.  I notice that I have lots of big plans for myself when I take the time to pause (or in my case run) and point myself in the right direction.

After thirty five years I know myself.  I’m not pretty when I don’t get that time.  I suffer, my husband suffers, my kids suffers.

Running very well may not be your thang.  I won’t hold it against you.  But every parent needs their personal space, a healthy habit, and some mental time for thinking about things other than their all consuming beautiful monsters.

No matter how much free thinking space we have at home, one of our sweet bebes manages to figuratively climb right up and snuggle in.  When we are near them they manage to fill every nook, in our minds, just like they manage to do with the tiniest spot next to us on the couch.  Sometimes you just need to temporarily run away.

While my run time  and distance goals are nothing to brag about these days, at least I’m not writing from a jail cell.  I feel like a new  pair of running shoes is a small price to pay for a mother’s sanity.

My time and distance goals are currently about climbing out of the fitness hole that swallows many of us up postpartum.  Today I’m pressing on through the hard and ugly runs (10:30 mile pace, four miles) knowing that soon enough I’ll work on getting back to setting some PR’s (8:10 mile pace, half marathon here I come).

In the meantime I’ll think of running as a free therapy session.

***

  • Runners, what are your personal qualifications for a solid running partner?
  • Those that hate running, what activity do you use as your own “therapy” to make you a happier, healthy person?

Pieces of Me Died When I had Kids, and I’m Glad They Did

Not everything you did before kids was that awesome.  You had freedom, but I’m sure it wasn’t always used wisely.

If we’re being honest, little pieces of you die when you start having kids.

Hold up.  This is not some marter-fest where we sit around and talk about how our best days are gone now that we had kids.  I’ve actually come to see this as a good thing. Stick with me.

Not everything you did before kids was that awesome.  You had freedom, but I’m sure it wasn’t always used wisely.  You could have traveled the world.  You could have spent time volunteering at a children’s hospital.  You could have read more books.  I actually really hope you did!

But you all also spent a decent amount of that time picking the right filter for your rose’ picture by the pool, binge watching shows on netflix, and spending long hours sitting in front of your computer at the office.

And there is nothing wrong with any of that.

Except that kids are vacuums.  They suck up most of the hours you once had.

Because of that, pieces of you will have to die.  The great part is, you are an adult with a tiny semblance of control.  You get to pick which pieces you keep and which to let go, but you will be forced to be selective.

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@mommyconvos

Read the book or watch the show?

Do your make-up or snuggle with the kids?

Take the pictures or live the moment?

Run the extra miles or write the next book chapter?

Take on the extra work project or make dinner from scratch?

This is not a test, there is no wrong answer.  But you still need to chose wisely.  Not because one is bad and the other is good.  Chose wisely because there is less time that you have to work with.  If you don’t intentionally chose, you will feel like there is never any time, and feel resentful that all the former pieces of you were forced to die.   Thanks kiddos.

Your goals will naturally need to be fewer in number, incredibly focused, and likely with a grace-filled (ie longer than you would like) timeline.  Coincidently, that is actually a great formula for successfully accomplishing your goals with or without kids.

Before kids, it’s just easier to assume you will act later because you own all the hours.  But when kids are present, you don’t know which hours will be yours.  You have to be intentional.  You need the day’s game plan in your head so that when the minutes and hours appear, you can seize them.

Do you see how kids can actually be a highly effective tool at helping you decide what the best pieces of you are?  Go tell that sweet baby thank you.  Unless they are sleeping.  In that case DO NOT WAKE THEM!

My current goal is getting my third book finished up.  I literally have one step for it, each day, that I plan to complete.  Beyond that I don’t even try because with young kids I wouldn’t be setting myself up for success or happiness.  After I finish that one goal, I let my kids guide most of the day.  My goals are few and focused, and accomplishing them takes much longer than I’d like.  But I get to enjoy my kids in between.   It makes me happy knowing that there is a small, but very important, piece of me still thriving amongst that chaos.

Amazon Rank, My Mom is the Worst #1 Motherhood
My Mom is the Worst Children’s Book, Available on Amazon Here

Which pieces of you have you intentionally chosen to focus on once having kids?

Two Years Later; My Writing Anniversary

I can now say the last two years have been worth it all.  I get to share Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster with literally thousands of parents; Parents that just need a good laugh and a big hug after a long day.

For a parent whose memory has gone to mush, I really heart the Facebook Memories feature.  Most of the time I can’t believe things happened so long ago.

Seriously?! That concert was eight years ago!

It’s been that long since I’ve been to Europe?!

Wait.  What.  I used to go out on Thursday nights.

But then again, sometimes we are glad to no longer be in that season of life that we were reminded of.  The reality is that it may not have been our best season.

On particularly rough days when I’m sure I can’t possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% … and that’s pretty good. – unknown

Let that sink in.

***

Reflection can be difficult, but it can also be empowering.  Anniversaries are the perfect time to think about where you’ve been and where you’re going.

A few days ago this photo popped up on facebook and it reminded me it had been two years since I wrote Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster.

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Adorable right?!  But those days of adjusting to motherhood were tough.  Here is the post where I shared my own reflections from the last two years:

“This huge smile takes me back to a really tough time in my life. It was taken shortly after I wrote the first draft of what became the loving children’s book: Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster.

I can picture myself sitting in the car, two months postpartum, tears in my eyes. I was trying to figure out the new roller-coaster I had stepped on to. I constantly flowed back and forth between immense love (Did you see that smile?) and silly frustrations (feeling like I was failing at everything).

Reflecting on the last two years, I am so grateful that this Beautiful Monster broke me.

Our highs are insanely high.
We like to get it all out there by silly dancing in the kitchen to Eminem and the Beatles.

Our lows are embarrassingly low. I tell her to go watch Elmo so no one loses their shi….. , even though I hate when she sits there like a zombie.

All in all, we get to practice a lot of love and laughter in our house.

Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster”

I can now say the last two years have been worth it all.  I get to share Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster with literally thousands of parents; Parents that just need a good laugh and a big hug after a long day.

 

The book is a chance  to snuggle up to your Beautiful little Monster and relax knowing that you are doing this parenting thing just fine.  Your track record is 100%.

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Read it Here

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the Birth Book Update You’ve Been Waiting For

I now have over twenty birth stories contributed.  They may have all been natural births, but each story is very unique, as are the bad ass mamas featured. 

The Coys-59I’ve got a matter of minutes before my baby awakes from her magical slumber and turns in to a salivating little monster in search of THE MILK.

I wanted to give a quick update of where things are at with the most recent masterpiece in the making – a compilation of Natural Birth Stories, meant to inspire woman to take control of their birth care.

I now have over twenty birth stories contributed.  They may have all been natural births, but each story is very unique, as are the bad ass mamas featured.

  • A Woman that had two medicated births and wanted to finally have the birth experience she desired
  • A  woman that gave birth in one of the most progressive birth countries:  The Netherlands
  • A woman that delivered TWINS without pain meds
  • A woman that had her baby eight minutes after arriving at the hospital (my hand is up)
  • A woman whose labor lasted more than a day
  • A woman that had to fight the negativity she received from the hospital staff to persevere
  • A woman whose body was recovering from physical injury and just a year ago never would have thought her body was capable
  • A woman that had to face the feared “back labor”
  • A woman afraid of hospitals and pain.
  • A woman that has been ashamed to share her birth story because it’s not acceptable to share a positive birth story in light of all the negativity surrounding birth
  • A woman that had to cancel a work presentation to go deliver her baby

In short, a bad ass woman just like you.

So here is where I am at –

The stories are in, I have requested follow-up details from every contributor, I interviewed Staci (Doula and Owner of Labor of Love), I hired the editor this afternoon, and I am wrapping up the opening chapters this week.

The book is on track to come out this summer.  Subscribe to this blog via email to be the first to know when it launches, or follow us on Facebook @Storiesbyjkcoy.

I typically give out some free copies of my books during launch to readers on my email list.  So make sure you share this with friends that may be interested.

More news to come.