April In {Not So Much} Travel

Good morning! It is the end of the month, which means that I will be wrapping up the travel that we did throughout the month. The only problem is that we didn’t do too much travel, which then led me to want to touch on something a little different (but still related) in this wrap up post. I’ll start with the travel/cultural events that we did experience and then touch on the rest.

Real quick, before we get into April- I wanted to touch on what we did the last weekend in March. I said in my previous Month in Travel that I would, so here we go. The last weekend in March we headed over the Walhalla (Valhalla) for the day. It was such a beautiful spot to spend the afternoon, and my only regret was that we didn’t have a little picnic while we were there. There is a little bit of park area where you can play, eat, and soak up sunshine. The temple itself is really beautiful with the interior containing busts of famous Germans and the exterior being very reminiscent of Roman temples.

We only traveled twice this month, the first being just me and the boys for a day and the second being a family weekend away.

With Easter being this month, the Germans have Easter Markets just about everywhere. I’ve been wanting to make sure that I attend/participate in as many cultural events as we can while we are here. I have always wanted to learn, understand, and absorb the culture of this area and others that we visit. The first experience we had was the Fasching Parade, and now we had the chance to attend an Easter Market. Markets are a very big thing here (from Farmers Markets all the way to large Christmas Markets, you can pretty much find one every week) and are an opportunity for small, home businesses to show off and sell their wares and for people like me to buy them (obviously…).

I also decided to go to the market during the week, hoping that it would be slightly less busy (I was right), which meant that it would be the first bigger, more crowded event,  that I would do with both boys by myself. I was a little apprehensive, but all went well and we had a blast! We attended the Easter Market in Nuremburg which was one of the bigger markets in our area. There was a wide variety of vendors, from mugs/plates/kitchen goods to clothing, to jewelry. There was also a variety of food carts and drink options.

4661331643373811845_IMG_2023.jpgThe second travel trip that we took was to The Netherlands for, basically, the Tulip Blooms. This was an absolutely incredible trip and one that I will remember for a long time yet.It was such a good little get away and was just what we needed to finish out the month. I’ve got a post coming up this week detailing our trip, so keep an eye out for that. A little spoiler/sneak peek was that we absolutely loved this trip (everyone did, including the husband), and it was so incredibly beautiful from the flowers, the location, and the weather. We couldn’t have asked for anything more.

 

What I wanted to touch on in this post is the reality of our month. While it was, on the whole, a good month, we did have a couple of rough spots. The beginning of the month was the first time that my husband was actually going through his first rotation of his new job and we didn’t know what that would truly entail until we went through it. We also are still in our hotel, which can be a trial sometimes and my patience, positive attitude, and just general mental health was tested a couple of times this month. While I’ve had a positive outlook from the get go, and have, for the most part maintained that positive outlook, that doesn’t mean it has always been sunshine and rainbows, or as exciting as trips every weekend.

I want you to know that while I post all of these exciting trips that we have taken and will take in the future doesn’t mean that we don’t also have down time. Not every month, or long weekend will be spent away. We will have just as many weekends at home, or staying local, and those are just as fun, just as important as all the trips that we will take.

I want you to know that we are not taking our time here for granted, and that while we intend on traveling as much and as far wide as we can, we are also going to be spending time at home (whenever we get a home). Not every month will be as exciting as these first few, but every month will have something.

So that was our April. Not so much travel, but still just as fun as previous months. We are still loving being here and are finding this new area to be incredible. That “honeymoon” phase of a new place has not worn off, but rather has grown in a way. All that is missing is a home, which will hopefully be rectified in the coming months!

Friday Morning Cups – A Two for One

IMG_9865.jpgI’ve been talking and listening to a lot of people lately (both in person and online) and I’ve been hearing two different things: 1) Complaints about location, living in a hotel, how small the area is, how spread apart everything is, etc. and 2) How positive I am about the whole situation, that they don’t see that a lot and how great that is. 

▫️

Here’s the deal. Life in general is what you make of it. Situations arise, things happen, life doesn’t go according to all of your dreams, there will always be something. It happens to all of us. The difference from one person to another is what you make of it. How you handle the highs and lows. What outlook you choose to adopt. 

▫️

Does living in a hotel apartment suck at times? Sure! Of course it does. Does it suck for my kids to be confined to one room at times? Yes. (We also have a pretty good set up, I’ve seen a couple of the other apartments in our building- doesn’t change the overall sentiment). 

▫️

I could name all the things, but honestly it doesn’t matter. What matters is how I CHOOSE to handle this new situation. I am CHOOSING to look at the bright side. I am CHOOSING to look at the wealth of options and good things that we do have. There is SO MUCH good right now, that while the bad can be bad at times it doesn’t affect our overall positive outlook. ▫️

I fully believe that THIS, this seemingly mundane thing, has made all the difference in our whole move and transition. 

▫️

What is your outlook? I challenge you to find the good. Focus on the good. Smile. 

We’ve all got one of those pictures. The one that just “didn’t work out”. The first picture is one of those pictures. I had Andrew who just wanted to be held, Colton who wanted to run wild and free, and me who just wanted one picture with both boys. The funny thing is I almost prefer this picture to our “perfect” picture (swipe to see the perfect one). This first picture shows the particular moment in time. The imperfections that makes our family perfect. Life is not perfect, our family is not perfect, but we are us and both of these pictures represent us. I look at this picture and I laugh. I see my children loved and happy just having a fun time. I laugh at my own “over it” look (and I do very much remember that feeling). Those memories are more important than having that perfect picture. Reality is always better than perfection. 

My #1 Piece of Advice

Whenever I have a conversation with someone who is just starting something, whether it be motherhood, a new job, marriage, whatever, inevitably the conversation goes somewhere towards advice. I get this a lot when I talk with other expectant moms or engaged couples. Big life changes can be daunting and sometimes it helps to talk to someone else who has been through it (and sometimes it doesn’t, I get it either way).

While I try not to offer unsolicited advice (I remember how much I hate that myself), if I get asked for any tips this is ALWAYS my go to answer:

“Be open to the idea that NOTHING is going to go the way you have it planned out”

Yep, Type A, planner/organized/list maker me just said that. This one piece of advice is the one piece that I feel like everyone tap dances around, but never just comes out and says it. It can be applied to any situation and is both blunt/honest and yet kind. It’s the best piece of advice I ever heard and it is the single most true thing anyone has ever said about life.

We can try and plan things out, set goals, and map out the direction our life will take. I would hazard a guess that our lives end up going that path 75% of the time. Life throws curveballs all the time: that dream promotion went to someone else, relationships come to an end, pregnancy is not the dream that we thought it would be, the list goes on and on.

When we get those curveballs, we fall into two categories:

Category 1: We freak out and try to resist wherever it is that we are being pulled in order to stay on track with our perfect life plan. We desperately cling to our plans/lists/goals and crumble at the curveball that has just been thrown. A good amount of us end up staying in this category, unsure of how to pull ourselves out and get back to where we want to be.

Category 2: We roll with the punches and try to adjust our plans and goals around whatever the curve ball may be. These are the people who are taking the advice given above and putting it into action. They are the ones who seem to always have their stuff together and always seem to getting places.

I’m not saying that we can’t dwell or process the curveball when it is thrown our way. Absolutely in some cases we will need to process and deal. The difference is that if we make our goals and plans knowing that they may shift and change as life moves forward, then we can continue on after we’ve processed the curveball. When we make our life plans, if they are made with this knowledge, then we can bounce around the curveballs (and maybe hit a few of our own) with ease. Knowing that we will get to where we are meant to be.

So, whether you are engaged, an expectant mother, a soon to be graduate, or looking at a major life change, just keep in mind that things may not go according to your plan. Welcome those curveballs and keep moving forward with your life.

A Raw Moment In Motherhood

This isn’t “fed is best” or “breast is better”. This isn’t a Postpartum Depression post. I touch on both of those in this post, and they may be something I touch on in the future, but for now I just want to be open about what I experienced as a new mom in the hopes that sharing my story will help others who have been through this and also help me feel a bit of closure about it.

When we got pregnant with our first, I wanted to breast feed. There wasn’t even a thought or discussion of doing anything else. It was just a decision. Breastfeeding and then pumping a bit her and there for my husband to do a bottle or if I needed a break.

I was so sure about breastfeeding the thought that I would not physically be able to had never even crossed my mind. Our bodies are truly something incredible with the abilities that are built in when it comes to our children.  I had grown this little child from a small seed to a full baby (all 41 one weeks of my pregnancy) and I felt so strong in my own body and it’s capabilities.

We first started to see problems when he was about 2 weeks old. Our sweet easy going newborn became different. He just didn’t seem to “fill up” with a full belly. I would nurse him for what seemed like a long time, both sides, just for him to be hungry an hour or so later. It just seemed like we were struggling. I knew that part of this was part of a growth spurt (after hours of online searching) and tried to go with it for about a week.

At the tale end of 3 weeks old (on the cusp of 4 weeks), I decided offhand to go ahead and just try and pump and give him a bottle of pumped breastmilk. I was exhausted and somewhere deep down just knew that something wasn’t right. The moment I started pumping, I knew. It became even clearer after the first 2 or 3 pumping sessions. I should have been producing more. I knew that pumping wasn’t ideal for getting milk out (thank you google), but after going back and forth with breast and pumping, I also knew that there was no way he was getting much more the natural way either.

***Now, let me clarify something before everyone jumps in with comments. I tried EVERYTHING. I took every supplement, herb, tea, diet plan, anything that I read could even have a smidge of helping us out. I researched the hell out of breast feeding, pumping, power pumping, increasing supply, etc. You name it, I tried it. I’ll get into that in a minute, but we will just say I pushed beyond what I should have pushed to make this work. Again, this post is NOT ABOUT THAT.***

I cannot even begin to put into words the feeling that comes with the knowledge that your body is failing you at something. Something that you should be able to do, that is built into our bodies and you cannot do it. Very rarely am I at this loss for words and on this, this I have no words.

This alone feeling was different from the times I felt it before (with my abuse and trauma). There wasn’t anyone that I felt like I could talk to about it, that would really actually understand how I FELT rather than just say why don’t you do this, or this will help (which honestly doesn’t help when you have a woman on the verge of tears at every second), or the worst, this is obviously not working for you. I felt so so alone, like I was fighting a very solo battle.

***I did have a very strong support group in my husband and our family, but nothing can replace the feeling of having just ONE person say, “hey I’ve been there. I know how you feel”. ***

It was a never ending, physically and mentally painful experience. It is something no one prepares you for. Something no one even thinks to talk about. Something those going through it don’t know who they can talk to about it.

I pushed my body past its breaking point, in both a physical and mental state. I was doing everything I could to pump any bit that I could do, while simultaneously trying to balance my infant, work, home and myself. I beat myself up over and over wondering why. Why was my body letting me down. Why was this the one thing I could not do. I had seen all those posts of those moms who had breastfed so easily, you see them more than anything else, why was I struggling?

I finally switched over to formula for him at 3 months. I was broken. I felt like I was constantly fighting. Fighting my own body, fighting my own mind (hello Postpartum Depression), and I was tired. I felt like I had failed my child, failed my family, failed myself. It took me a full year to feel better. To know that even though I couldn’t do this one thing didn’t mean that I failed. It didn’t mean anything less for my children. Didn’t lessen me as a person or a mother.

And it doesn’t lessen you either. Motherhood is a beautiful time of trials (physically and mentally), of taking care of yourself and your new child, of blessings, of new adventures. No matter how we are doing this, what our bodies can do is incredible. What we can do is incredible. Don’t be afraid to let go of what you thought motherhood was going to be and embrace what it is. I wish I had done that earlier on in our first year of parenting.

 

Friday Morning Cups

This picture may seem simple. May seem harmless. Just a book and a cup of tea. Nothing more to see, right? Wrong. Now I don’t expect you to infer what I am about to say, nobody could just from this picture. But that is why I’m saying it. That is why it’s just a simple picture, with a much more powerful caption. Often times this isn’t something that is spoken about beyond the “shtick” that many moms have started to claim. There is nothing wrong with that, but it can be a dangerous line between what is normal and a funny “just a mom thing” and what is needing a little more attention

☕️

Here sits my now cold cup of tea untouched along with my unopened book (that I started a night or two ago and haven’t touched since). If you know me, you know that either of these things being untouched is unheard of. Instead, I have been sitting here in my chair, staring out the window, utterly spent. Trying to recoup what little I have left.

☕️

Motherhood is the most incredible gift that I have ever experienced but it is also a uniquely exhausting and trying time. It is a constant, overwhelming, role and there comes a time (for all of us), when we are just spent. When we have nothing left. When the simplest of things (like drinking a cup of tea or reading) can just sit for hours without being touched. We are not good at asking for help, we are not good at saying that we are overwhelmed, we just keep trying to hold everything together, while seemingly pulling our own selves apart. There is a level of exhaustion that is normal and then there is a level where you may need to talk to someone or need to ask for help.

☕️

Don’t do what I did for a long time. Don’t try and hide how you’re feeling, or pretend like you’ve got it all together. Don’t always put yourself last. Every once in a while (preferably before you feel that last fraying string snap), tell someone. Reach out. Say I need a minute, 5 minutes, an hour (he’ll be ambitious and go for a couple hours if you can). You’ll be better for it. Your spouse will be better for it. Your children will be better for it.

A Mother’s Take on Toddlerhood (While In The Thick of It)

As of writing this post, our boys are aged 2 months shy of 3 years old and 16 months. So, right smack in the middle of what Toddlerhood is. While each age comes with unique challenges, I think toddlerhood can sometimes get an especially bad rep. When you hear from other parents talking about their experience, I’ve heard toddler and teenage years can be some of the hardest years. Personally, I think toddlerhood is just very mis understood. Not in a bad way, it can be so hard for us to understand as it has been years since we went through it and we don’t remember it. I think this may have been one of the most important shifts in thinking when it comes to parenting.

***I’ve touched slightly on an outline of what I will be saying, which can be viewed HERE***

As parents when our kids are acting out, misbehaving, throwing temper tantrum after temper tantrum, it is very easy to become flustered. Happens to the best of us, and it is completely normal to just want to throw your hands in the air and walk away. AND sometimes that is the best thing to do. Sometimes that can be the key to diffusing whatever the situation is.  It can be easy to lose our patience as we ask for the toys to be picked up for the fourteenth time, or to not play with the food, or to not touch something. It can be so draining to feel like you are just repeating yourself with no action or apparent listening. I think this is why people say toddler hood is tough.

And it is.I am not disputing the fact that parenting one toddler, let alone two, or three is tough. It is draining. (Make sure that you take care of yourself during this time, otherwise everything I say after this point will not work)

BUT(gotta love those buts right?!)…

If we think it is hard on us as parents, think about how hard it is on our children. They are being thrust into a whole new level of mental development, they are growing physically, they are trying to figure out how to navigate the world that just seems to be getting bigger and scarier. They are trying to figure out what are boundary lines, what they can and can’t do. How to articulate their feelings, hell what they are feeling. They are working on developing better communication skills and most of the time are bursting with things to say, things to do, places to see, parents/grandparents/relatives/friends to remember. ALL AT THE AGE OF 2.

Can you blame them for getting frustrated with not being able to say something, or talk about something that they really want to tell you, but they just don’t have all the words? Can you blame them when all they want to do is find the toy that they hid from themselves in a game? Or try to put the train tracks together a certain way and it’s just not working?

Imagine feeling angry about something, not being able to understand first that you are feeling angry and then second how to tell someone what you are feeling angry about? That is frustrating. Then imagine, as you are getting frustrated and angry, you see your parent, loved one, person you look up to, start to get frustrated. It escalates quickly (and again, it happens to all of us from time to time, no doubt about it).

Our children get thrust into this world and it is our responsibility as parents to help them, to guide them, as they learn. We cannot do that if we don’t at least try to understand what they must be going through. What we see as well, he’s angry about x, y, or z, is not what they see. They just have all of these things building up inside with no way to let them out. We only know that because we’ve learned that as we’ve grown up.

So, before you talk about the terrible two’s or the threenagers, try and think about what your children are experiencing. Sure, parenting is hard work. It is tough and draining. BUT think about what it is like through your child’s eyes, without having all of the knowledge that we as parents (or adults) now have.

Time Management : My Daily Breakdown

I’ve been talking about Time Management for a couple of posts now and wanted to give an example of how I apply what I’ve been talking about to my own days/weeks/months. It may seem complicated, but it actually isn’t. I just treat most of my tasks as “jobs” that I have to complete everyday. I also do have a part time job that I work the same hours for everyday. I find that I need to have a bit of structure to my days as I work from home and so this is what I do.

To start with: I use a paper planner (insert gasp here). If you’ve been following along this past year, you will know that I am a pen and paper kinda girl and prefer to write things down. It’s a kink in my brain that I just remember and feel more organized when I can write something out. I personally use and love the Day Designer planner system. There is a spot for me to mark out my time during the day, along with a daily to do list, top three priority list, and a couple other little boxes. I’ve got the perfect amount of room. I’ve used the Flagship for 2018 and loved it, although I am thinking about getting a mini for 2019.

The first thing I do is write down my to do list. I color code everything based on what it is for. Each color represents something different, household chores, appts, blog, business, work, etc. I put EVERYTHING on my to do list. Not because I need reminded of it, not because I want to feel “busier” than I am, but simply for the satisfaction of having checked it off. I won’t forget to dust the Living room on Tuesday by any means, but I like to keep track of everything that I am doing. It’s also key when you are first trying to develop a habit, or get back into a habit. I will also mark down in the notes section when a package is supposed to be delivered as our post people don’t ring the doorbell when they deliver…we’ve had packages just sit in the rain all afternoon because of this.

The next thing I’ll do is block out my times every day. I may be a little crazy about my time, but my days are usually planned to a T. I work weekdays in the afternoon for my job, so my mornings are spent with my children, writing, doing household chores, at appointments, whatever else. I’ll notate if I have a blog post or video going up that day, what time it will be at, as well as any appointments. This gives me a pretty good sign of what my actual day is going to look like and helps me narrow down my top three.

The final step is determining what my “Top Three” are for the day. I don’t always do this, but if I’ve got a lot going on, and am not sure if I will realistically get to everything on my to do list, I”ll mark down what I think I need to prioritize. Some days my to-do list becomes a list of other things (such as future posts I want to do, different things to order), things that don’t need to necessarily need to be handled that day, but that I want to remember for a future day. So, having the Top 3 can focus my mind when I do get a chance to work on items.

Once those three steps are complete I’ll briefly look at my day again and mentally block times out to accomplish what I need to accomplish. For example, I typically write my blog posts mid morning (like 10ish), while drinking my second cup, so I’ll try and make sure any cleaning I need to do is done between breakfast and mid morning. Since I work all afternoon on weekdays, any top 3 items that are non work related have to be done before 1pm and I’ll take that into account (as I don’t necessarily write everyday).

Most days I am able to cross everything off my to do list by using this system and most days I feel really productive! Of course, there are days that it doesn’t happen. I am living life and some days we just chuck the to do list and play all morning instead or I’ll spend a morning reading. That is ok and because of my time management, I know that I can make up anything missed on another day.

How do you do your Time Management? Do you have any tips or tricks?