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?

My Mom is Crazy (About Me)

I hope no one confuses my moments of frustration with my true feelings about my children and motherhood

My baby will be twelve weeks old tomorrow.

Some days are better than others.  Realistically some minutes are better than others.

Parenthood is a roller coaster ride.  I found that out the hard way when my first little love was born.

One minute I find myself ogling at every little thing my baby does, talking baby talk with the best of them, and the next minute I am incredibly frustrated because my kids are screaming while I brush my teeth for the first time that day (at 2pm – hello coffee breath).  I swear, I often feel like I am the emotional little monster in the house.

But I hope no one confuses my moments of frustration with my true feelings about my children and motherhood, and the joy I get from those precious moments of total sweetness in between the chaos.  My babies absolutely know I’m crazy;  they also know I am absolutely crazy about them.

Have you been on that roller coaster today?

If so, below is one recent example you’ll relate to, compliments of social media.

Don’t forget to follow both so you don’t miss the fun: Facebook (@StoriesbyJKCoy) and Instagram (@FinishtheBook):

Part 1part 2part 3

“Then all of a sudden you stop.  You look in my eyes and grin from ear to ear.

And it’s my turn to tear up.

I freakn’ love you to pieces, Beautiful Monster.”  – Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster

I know as a parent you get it.

Get Your Own Copy Here
Get Your Own Copy Here

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.

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.  

The Difference a Year Makes in Your Postpartum Journey

I probably should have listened to my heart and bought a cupcake and a candle, and sang her Happy Birthday at home.  Not like she would have been scarred.  She was ONE.

I bought these decorations for my daughter’s first birthday.  A party I really didn’t want to throw.

Working on Party Set-up.  Making tassels, blowing up balloons, trying to stay cool.

I probably should have listened to my heart and just bought a cupcake and a candle, and sang her Happy Birthday at home.  Not like she would have been scarred.  She was ONE.

But I guess I got sucked in to the mom life.  I was a year in to motherhood, and while many things had improved since the newborn days, I was still working a full-time corporate job, marketing my children’s book:  Love You to Pieces Beautiful Monster,

Love You to Pieces Beautiful Monster, Amazon #1 Spot

pumping and breast feeding, figuring out my new role as a mom while trying to stay true to myself, and struggling to release anxiety and get back to my generally chill demeanor.

The party ended up being kind of a bummer.  It was at a park on an unreasonably hot day, I was stressing about the party set-up and decorations, the fact that there was an event going on at the park thus there was ZERO parking, and the fact that the cute donuts I ordered tasted like bland rocks.  That was March.


Fast forward to this weekend.  My great aunt helped me throw an intimate get together to celebrate Baby Two.  We did a girls night in spa party with a Let’s Pamper Before the Pampers theme.

Unfortunately I failed and totally forgot to snap some pictures of everything set-up, but I took a few the following day before cleaning up.

It was such a fun and relaxing night.  We all wore our pj’s, laughed at our ridiculous face masks, enjoyed exfoliating hand scrub, binged on a dessert bar, and got to enjoy some kid-free hours chatting together.

Spa party, baby shower, DIY decor

Most of the decorations were reused from that first birthday party back in March.  I was so excited to use them for a second time around.  It made me notice how far I’ve come since then.  I felt happy, relaxed, light-hearted, and chill at this party:)

I knew back then that I wasn’t my old self yet, but I didn’t know how long it would take.  See, I actually love throwing parties.  I just couldn’t handle it then.  That’s how I knew things weren’t right.

She was by far the best thing about her first birthday party!

I had no hindsight at that point.  I was just going through the motions, hoping that at some point things would shift.  And they did.  I just needed to give myself grace during the season I was in.

Want to throw your own relaxing DIY Spa Party?  Here’s how!

Spa party, baby shower, DIY

Set the Mood (Atmosphere):  reused tassels and signs decorations I already had, cut roses from my front yard and placed them in white dollar store vases, lite a Eucalyptus Mint Candle from World Market, turned on a relaxing playlist on Spotify, and used a difuser with Eucalyptus essential oil.

Spa party, baby shower, DIY decor 2

Set the Table (Menu): vanilla ice cream with a candy toppings bar, birthday party popcorn, fruit and donut kebabs, infused lemon and grapefruit spa water, pink fizzy champagne punch

banana bread party favors and spa masks

Now Relax (Spa and Party Details):  Store bought face masks, DIY Sugar Scrub, Warm Eucalyptus towels in the crockpot (tip: I used 15 towels, 4 cups water, 20 drops essential oils on warm setting), adult henna coloring pages, mini banana bread loaves for a party favor (tip:  one big loaf equated to four mini loaves – mini loaves cooked 40 min at 350 degrees), and A Freezer Meal Pool where guests could sponsor one of the twenty-two freezer meals we prepped last week – more details here.

For $10 guests could pick a meal and leave an encouraging card for us to read on the day we eat “their” freezer meal.  Easy for guests to play, and it really helped reduce the extra $230 we spent on groceries this month to stock the freezer.

Freezer Meal Calendar for Baby Shower




Parents Find Freedom, Then Screw It All Up

Oddly enough, we are all pregnant again, and will soon be losing this freedom we worked so hard to reach.

My little human turned 22 months yesterday.  I’m kind of in love with this stage.

Happy Baby

I don’t even recall when it happened.  But I can now leave the room and not have anxiety about what she is doing, and how many seconds I have before she notices I am gone and starts crying.

She self entertains while I make dinner.  Not every night, but it still feels magical when it works.

She can watch Elmo on the iPad for fifteen minutes at a time, without even noticing me.

When we have dinner with friends and their kids, there is an actual kid table.  This one blows my mind.  But it has happened twice now, so I think it’s an actual thing.  On NYE three toddlers sat at our mini princess table, while the adults sat in big chairs around a grown-up table and conversed about things other than kids, mostly.  Oddly enough, we are all pregnant again, and will soon be losing this freedom we worked so hard to reach.

Best friends, 22 months

This is the first time I have actually sat down to write while my daughter is awake, EVER.  Mind you, I’ve had to stop three times now to read her a book, wipe her snotty nose, and stop her from shoving a half eaten Lara bar in to my notebook.  But, it is happening.

Coincidently, this also happened yesterday.

Halo bassient for newborn

We set up the bassinet in our bedroom because this month is the birth month of baby number two.  It’s almost funny that the same month we enter a land of freedom with our first child, it’s also the birth month of our second child.  What were we thinking?

I’m about to enter the newborn stage again any day now, and I’m forced to remember how poorly I dealt with that stage the first time.

I hate not being able to be productive, make decisions for myself, and not have someone hanging on me 24/7.

The silver lining of round two is that I know it is a finite moment in time.  I’m ready to try to enjoy it better the second time around.  Not perfectly,  I’m sure, but better.