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!

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.

 

The Missing Toys that Torture Me

How do Moms find anything? 

We search the places that someone has promised us they’ve checked.

To the missing ‘W,’

Your run is finally over.

The madness you managed to create in our house was monumental.  For months my daughter’s alphabet toy had been incomplete.  How was she supposed to finish learning her ABC’s when the W was missing?

 

No wagon, no walrus, no watermelon.

Whelp!

I searched for you, lost sleep over you, and considered offering a reward to anyone that could find you.  Many times I silently resolved to give up on you.  But then I always caved, because a good Mom doesn’t give up.

I admit, I got way too excited each time I thought of somewhere new to look.  Surely today would be the day I found you!

But it never was.  You are indeed talented at the game of hide and seek.

This morning I thought I caught a glimpse of you under the toy chest.  I moved it, already planning a victory dance in my head.  Instead, it was the wooden bunny from a puzzle.  I hadn’t even noticed that she was missing yet, since I was still fixated on the W.

So I thought about it for way too long.  At that point I was obsessed with finding you.  I pictured you in hiding with the lost red crayon and plastic egg that also keep me up at night.

I thought.  And I thought…clearly wasting too much time on the matter.

But then the clouds parted as the the following thought came to mind…

How do Moms find anything?

JK Coy Books
Check Out these Children’s Books by Author J.K. Coy Here

We search the places that someone has promised us they’ve checked.

No socks in the drawer, just check the drawer.

No toilet paper left in the cupboard, just check the cupboard.

No milk left in the fridge, just check the fridge.

It’s a fantastic starting place for every Mom detective.

So I held my breath, and I lowered my stomach to the floor, flash light in hand.  Low and behold, there you were, waiting quietly in the darkness beneath the couch.  The same couch I was guarenteed had been checked.

Well played W, well played.

Once I find the red crayon and plastic egg, you’re all in timeout.

Lady Logic: Wasted Money or Amazing Deal?

So there I was, saving money for my family, and then the Lady Logic creeps in.

You know the rationale you use to validate your crazy?

Well, that’s your Lady Logic.

Let me use myself as an example.

Today I left the house to run errands.

I had showered, and left the house by noon with a newborn.  Just for that,  I was pretty proud of myself.

Gold star!

Eventually I stopped by Old Navy to make returns. We had some extra outfits that we didn’t end up using for family photos this past weekend.  So there I was getting $29.00 in returns done, saving money for my family.

Gold star!

And then the Lady Logic creeps in.

On the way home I stop by a children’s resale boutique, just for a peek.

The kids don’t really need anything…but then again, maybe they do?

And apparently they did.

Browse all the cute kids Toms Here.  One of each please!

There were the mint condition kids Toms,  because I’ll regret passing up a deal like that…

A long sleeve baby sleeper, because it’s been colder than normal here in SoCal…

The black and white Nicole Miller outfit, because everything looks cute on a toddler…

And the toddler Roxy lounge wear, because…

Just because.

My Mom is the Worst Book Cover
My Mom is the Worst available on Amazon Here

The final damage came to $32.00.  And you know what? I left feeling pretty happy.  I made those $29.00 in returns earlier, so it’s like I only spent $3.00 and got all these adorable “essentials.”

Gold star!

And that my friend, is Lady Logic.

***

Wasted money, or an awesome deal?  You decide.

 

An Envy Worthy Freezer Stash, No Pumping Required

Two simple tips that have helped me store over eighty ounces in the first two weeks.

I had a pregnant friend that bought an extra freezer just for breast milk.

It turned out to be a bit presumptuous. She got no where near needing that freezer, with either baby.  But in her defense, that’s what she figured was “normal” being that the breastfeeding mama she nannied for had an extra freezer full of liquid gold.

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Onesie available from Fayfaire HERE

In my own experience, I could barely even breast feed my first daughter for the first three months of her life.

Her latch was bad.  I was in pain every time I fed her.  My supply could barely keep up.

They made me feed her on each side with a shield (since I was cracked and bleeding), then pump to get the rest out and give it to her via bottle , then supplement with formula for any missing ounces.  I’m exhausted just remembering that time period:  Feed/Cry –  Clean Pump Parts/Cry – Repeat.

I was miserable. I wanted to quit. I cried a lot. I yelled a lot. It was an ugly time. I didn’t like me, my husband probably didn’t like me…

For most new mamas, breast feeding is a tough go.  If you’re lucky, the pain only lasts days.  But for others it can be weeks or months.

For perspective’s sake:  think of something that hurts to the point your whole body recoils.  You want to cry, yell, and throw things at the same time.  Now repeat that every two to three hours for weeks, with little sleep, while a little baby screams at you.  That is the early days of breastfeeding.

Because of our latch issue, that was my life for almost three months.

***Yes, I did consider tongue tie surgery, hired a breast feeding coach, went to breast feeding support groups, etc. – eventually baby and I just grew out of our challenges.***

But of course, I was envious of any women with an early freezer stash.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I gave birth to Baby Two.  This baby knew how to latch from day one. She’s a damn baby genius, if you ask me.

I still had to overcome that painful stage of early breast feeding (I liken it to a baby alligator aggressively chomping at my nips every three hours), but within two weeks, we were over the worst of it.

The funny thing about breast feeding is that there is nothing “natural” about it, until there is.  If you’ve done it – you probably get it.    It can be miserable until that magical day when you notice you’ve made it over the hump.   It becomes almost easy (dare I say, natural) as your body and baby get on the same page.

I still wanted that early freezer stash (and peace of mind) that I never got with my first baby, so I decided to try something new this time around.  I didn’t want to jump straight to the pump.  I still really hate that thing after pumping for over a year while working full-time with my first.

And the new plan has worked!  Just two weeks post partum and I’m on my way to having my own envy worthy freezer stash – WITHOUT pumping.

freezer stash milk haaka
*I’ve Since Moved the Milk to a Freezer Drawer to Prevent Thawing*

Obviously the fact that my baby knows how to latch has helped my supply.  But there are two other things that have worked amazingly.  Here is how I was able to store over eighty ounces in the first two weeks.

freezer stash of milk tips

    1.  A medical grade water bottle with a straw.  Normally, I am the worst about consuming liquids. But the more I drink, the better supply I notice.  I’ve started using a huge mug with a straw.  It allows me to drink a lot, quickly, and it works even when I am laying down in bed, feeding.
    2. A milk collector for let down.  Last time around I let all that extra milk go to waste, collecting in the pads in my shirt.  This time around I invested in a cheap and easy solution, similar to the Haakaa.  It suctions on to the side that baby isn’t latched to and collects the let down.  I like to feed the baby on both sides, so I switch it half way through.  Easy to use, easy to clean, and it builds my freezer stash with no annoying pumping.  I use it during about three feedings a day and I collect about 2-3 oz. each time.  I had no idea I was letting that much milk go to waste last time!

Hopefully these simple tips will help another mama reach “envy worthy” freezer stash status.

Please share with other breastfeeding mamas in your life.  

Did You Ask Your Toddler if They Wanted a Sibling?

Of course no parent actually calls it a demotion.  We tell them how lucky they are to be the older siblings, the big brother or sister, our big helper.  But I’m sure in their little hearts it has got to sting a little.

I was the baby in the family.  I never had my parents full attention.

I was born in to the notion of sharing it whether I liked it or not.  And even though it was all I knew, it was still hard for me as a child.  My parents said I always wanted their attention.  Apparently I did this thing where I grabbed my mother’s face and made her look me in the eye when I wanted to talk to her.

I’d say, “Listen to me Mama.”

I felt like she was distracted by everything.  And she probably was.  She was caring for the two other tiny humans, the two brothers that came before me.  I can only imagine it must have been a bit traumatic for each of my brothers when a new sibling entered their world and they received a bit of a demotion.

Of course no parent actually calls it a demotion.  We tell them how lucky they are to be the older siblings, the big brother or sister, our big helper.  But I’m sure in their little hearts it has got to sting a little.

Our second daughter is due any day now.  Our first daughter isn’t even 23 months yet, and it’s like she can sense that her world is about to change.  She has gotten more emotional, and has become a mama’s girl in the last few weeks.  And while I think our first born is going to make a fantastic big sister, I’m sure it’s going to be confusing that she has to share her mommy and daddy for the first time.

Just like she will be adjusting to life with a sibling, I’ll be adjusting to being a mother of two.  I am trying to soak up these last nights of rocking her to sleep as my only child, my first baby, the one that taught me everything about being a Mom.

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To My First Born

Life is about to change, and it’s like you can sense it.

We lovingly refer to you as THE BEST.

But in just days you’ll be our OTHER BEST.

It’s going to be hard.  It’s going to be different.

You were happy just as things were.

“Why would Mom and Dad try to replace me?”

Of course, we never were.

But some of the things we did for you last week, you’ll now be asked to do on your own.

And some of your hugs and kisses, will be reserved for a baby not yet grown.

So before life gets crazy, I’m soaking in these last nights rocking you to sleep as my only.

You’re the one who taught me everything about being a Mom.

And that will always be our special bond.

***Love you Baby Girl.  You’re THE BEST.

How to Love Your Maternity Pants, Then Return Them for A Smaller Size

So why am I raving about pants that aren’t even mine, that I plan to wear to the max, and that I’m going to return? 

I’m in love with my pants.  Hands down they are the most comfortable thing I’ve worn, pregnant or not.  The weird thing is, they aren’t mine.  Even weirder, I intend to return them.

I’ve worn them three days in a row now and I plan to wear them every day until Baby Two arrives, and probably for a week or two after that.  Then, back they go.  No point in keeping them since I’ll soon be out of maternity sizes.

Le Tote Maternity
My Current Obsession:  These Pants!

So why am I raving about pants that aren’t even mine, that I plan to wear to the max, and that I’m going to return?

It’s because over three years ago I joined a rent and return clothing exchange called Le Tote.  I initially joined long before I was pregnant, but now this service has carried me through two pregnancies, and all the time in between.  Weddings, interviews, casual days, parties, business meetings, trends I wasn’t sure I could pull off, trends I didn’t want to commit to, a growing belly, a shrinking belly – the service has been there with me through it all.

For the first two trimesters I can typically craft something together to wear – a rubber band to give me more room on your pants button, a flowy dress, or leggings and a long shirt – but by that third trimester it starts getting really iffy.   That’s when I switch from the regular Tote Box to the Maternity Box for a few months.

Pregnant or Not, Here’s How the Service Works:

  1.  Sign up for Le Tote here, and get your first BOX FREE!
  2. Fill out a style profile.
  3. Sign up for a monthly plan (cancel at any time).  When I’m not pregnant I do the five piece box (three clothing items/two accessories).  When I’m pregnant I do the Maternity Box with three pieces (two clothing items/one accessory).  They have plenty of name brands to pick from – Lucky, Kate Spade, Jessica Simpson, Vince Camuto, Calvin Klein, etc. and accessories include jewelry, scarfs, and handbags!Dec le totes
  4. Le Tote curates the shipment for you based on style preference, fit, time of year – and then you have 48 hrs. before they ship it to go in to your account and swap items if you want.  *I do this almost every time because I usually have an event coming up that I want specific items for.
  5. Your Tote clothing arrives in the mail with a preprinted mailer for your free return shipment.
  6. Wear the items as long as you want (you don’t even have to wash them before you return them), and drop them in the mail.  If it’s during the same month, you get to pick more clothes without paying anything else.  I typically get three boxes a month for one monthly fee.  Ladies, that’s like 15 items for about $60 a month!  Plus you can add insurance for five bucks a month in case anything happens to the clothes.  Mother’s of little ones, it’s worth the peace of mind.
  7. If you ever want to keep items – they offer awesome discounts off the retail price.  But don’t feel like you have to.  The premise is wear, return, repeat!

Hoping you find some clothes that make you as happy as my cozy pants make me.  Everyone deserves to love their pants and everything else in their closet!

Other Recent le Totes