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Category: life

When You’re Done

I’m 36 weeks pregnant and I’m just done. Done with it all, and yet there’s not much I can take off my plate. We still have to eat three times a day at least, laundry needs to be washed and folded, Rory needs a responsible adult to watch him and engage with him for 12+ hours a day, etc.

But still, there are some things I’ve figured out to help me cope with being over it that are worth a post. I think this advice is applicable to anyone who is in a really challenging season of life, not just their third trimester of pregnancy.

Lower your expectations and ask others to lower their expectations of you

There’s no sense in pretending you’ve got boundless energy when you don’t, so get everyone on the same page as you. Give yourself grace, and be honest with what you’re capable of doing, even if it’s half as much as usual. I didn’t do this when I was pregnant with Rory, and it’s a huge regret. I tried to power through every ache and pain, and I took on way more than I should have professionally and personally.

Currently, one of my biggest hurdles is keeping up with planning and cooking meals. I’ve relied on my partner to take on even more of the cooking duties, and when I’m the one in the kitchen I’ve had to majorly scale back what I cook. Sometimes our meals aren’t all that balanced, other times they don’t really hit the spot, but at the end of the day we got food on the plates and tummies fed. That has to be enough for now.

If you need to scale back in any area of your life, it’s okay. When your situation changes and you have more energy, you’ll be ready to go back to your usual routine or have the energy to create a new one.

Ask for help and make it easy for others to offer you help

The hardest part of this might just be identifying specific areas where you need help, or if you’re generally the person everyone counts on it might be asking for help at all. Get really clear with yourself about why you need help and try to let go of any guilt or judgement. Don’t compare yourself to others who appear to have it all together; appearances are deceiving. If something is tough for you, you deserve to ask for and receive support.

Have a list going on your phone or in a notebook of things that need to get done but that can be outsourced. For me, this has meant asking my mom to pick up a pair of maternity leggings when she told me she was out shopping already, or asking my friend to pick up eggs at Costco when she was already making a run. It may seem small, but both examples were a huge help and solved an immediate problem for me. Not having to run out to the store meant I had energy to do things like take my son to his swimming lessons.

When you’re in a really hard season of life, you have to find ways to work smarter, not harder. You’d be surprised how people respond to pleas for help–I’ve found that most people want to help if the requests are reasonable.

Set aside time for fun

Having fun is often the first sacrifice we make in a difficult time, but I think it’s worth preserving. Fun is a natural release valve for tension. If you never make time for fun, you’re always going to feel stressed. I can’t escape being physically uncomfortable and the worry that comes along with being this pregnant, but I can give myself a break to enjoy myself and forget about my cares for a couple of hours at a time.

During the last month I’ve gone to get a pedicure, had two massages, went to dinner with a friend, and had a fancy afternoon tea with another friend. If I hadn’t made the effort to set up these activities, I would have stayed at home feeling sorry for myself and mindlessly scrolling on the internet. It may take a mindset shift to prioritize your own fun and sense of enjoyment, but it’s worth it. It might sound like a lot of time to take off from my regular responsibilities, but all of these activities were one to two hours max once a week.

You have time for fun, I promise. If you have time to worry, switch things up a bit. Spend one hour you’d normally spend down a rabbit hole on the internet and call a friend for a chat while you make yourself a delicious chai latte or paint your nails.

Give yourself all the rewards

I started putting stickers in my calendar for doing mundane things like the dishes and laundry. I have a whole system of stickers, in fact, to denote how good of a job I’m doing on a day to day basis. I buy myself junk food when I’m grocery shopping. I hit the drive through after playdates. I bought a new red lipstick a few weeks ago after running a million annoying errands to get ready for Rory’s birthday party.

My normal self would have felt a lot of guilt and shame for so many indulgences, but I’m literally a different person right now. If you’re not sleeping normally, overworked, pregnant, undergoing treatment, grieving, or transitioning through a really tough phase you need to be extra gentle and kind to yourself. Now is not the time to be regimented, stingy, harsh, or judgmental. Go ahead, eat the cookie.

Of course, be responsible. Don’t plan a Vegas bender just for getting through a work week, but give yourself a reasonable reward for getting up when you just really want to lie down.

Release whatever or whoever weighs you down

If there is something or someone holding you back or weighing you down, let go. Wish them the best (internally/figuratively), and move on with your life. Unfollow, hide their status, and ignore cards, texts, or emails. Maneuver around whatever guilt trip is set up for you. You are wise and know what’s best for you, so trust your gut.

We all have relationships or habits that no longer serve us, and often we keep them around longer than we should. The definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again with the expectation of a different outcome. During a chaotic season is the perfect time to make a change, to release, and let go. I swear it’s going to be okay.

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What I’m Loving Lately

It’s the spring 2018 edition! But first, just a quick recap of what I’ve been up to during my absence from the blog. From my lack of posting, you may think I haven’t been up to much writing, but I have been slogging through posts (about our house, toddler life, and motivational tips) in stolen minutes here and there. Mostly, I have just been enjoying the spring without the same sense of franticness I had in the winter. It¬†does mean that I haven’t been that motivated to get anything finished and posted. I’m going to work on that. ūüėČ

The following include Amazon affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I’ll receive a very small percentage of that sale at no cost to you. All thoughts and opinions are my own. For a full disclosure statement see my About page.

Spring Obsessions

The Outdoors

Just the general concept of it… Ha! We try to go to the park or spend some time in nature a¬†couple times a week. I appreciate the green spaces around¬†Modesto so much now that I have a small child. We explored the biggest park in town a few weekends ago and Rory had so much fun running down all the little hills. I don’t remember loving hikes or nature walks when I was a kid, but I find myself loving them more now.

East La Loma Park after a spring rain storm

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Fall Check-In

We are half way through November!¬†I wanted to check in with how I’m doing on the fall I designed. Have you tried this out yet? I’ve written about it multiple times (here and here), but it’s a subject that I still really love. It’s a tip I learned from the Happier podcast with Gretchen Rubin. I get such satisfaction from making a plan and sticking to it.

1. Enjoy the season by going to an apple farm or pumpkin patch with my family.

We took Rory to a small apple farm in one of the next towns over. It was quiet and had a little playground, and was a quick and easy outing. We could have stopped there, but we upped our game and went to Apple Hill in Placerville, CA this weekend!

I picked up some frozen apple turnovers to enjoy later from Apple Pantry Farm and Rory had fun checking out this vintage car. 

It is something I grew up doing and I LOVE IT. It allows me to go wild and buy tons of apples and apple products.

Apple dumplings, apple fritters, and apple donuts from Boa Vista. We always stop here and load up on our trips to Apple Hill.

We had the best time, and the weather was perfect–it was sunny and crisp.

If you want to look at actually stunning Apple Hill photos (and not my quick, unskilled and unedited ones), check out this post about Apple Pantry Farm from Farm Tots and peruse the apple hill tag for other great posts.

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Let’s Nano

I’ve slowed down to almost a stop on blogging. Not because I had some plan to, but I suppose I’m just living the fall I designed. I’ve been busy with a toddler and a home that’s in a constant state of flux.

This is the extent of my decorating for fall. You don’t want to see the state of that whole room.

We traveled for Nick’s work last week, and that wore me out. When we got home from the trip Nick thought it would be a good time to drill holes in the wall to run the A/V cables properly. The house feels like a danger zone.

Imagine our shock when we discovered the wall was pink behind the mirror we took down and our TV doesn’t cover it up.

This week there’s Halloween, and I’m prepping to start National Novel Writing Month. Again.

I’m looking through my files and I realized I’ve participated since 2007 off and on. I think I missed 2014 and 2016. I was pregnant in 2014 and in 2016 we had our house on the market and were in the process of moving. I somehow managed to “win” during years I was buying my first house and moving, changing jobs, and facing health crises. I also participated¬†but didn’t “win” for many years.

There’s no real¬†trick to writing and completing a novel in thirty days. It’s simply a matter of math‚ÄĒknowing how much time you have to write and getting your words done‚ÄĒbut there is magic. I always feel a kind of electricity when I’m writing, the flow of words to screen or pen to paper. Now that my life is fuller than ever I have gotten better about channeling that energy and turning it off and on. I used to spend so much time during Nano just spinning my wheels, not knowing what I wanted to say, and typing words simply to get to 1,667 per day. Some years I just stopped because I couldn’t get the words to come out at all or I wasn’t willing or able to find the time.

I feel like this year will be different. I have better tools at my disposal‚ÄĒten years of¬†novel writing experience, knowing how to work in fits and starts, a voice that’s ready to be heard, and the confidence that I can follow through and finish a project. November 1st is when I’ll start this new story, but November 30th won’t be the last day I touch it, and that’s a commitment I¬†finally feel ready to make to myself.

Best wishes if you are participating! Come find me, I’m inventedcharm there too.

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Design Your Fall

I’m back with my fall bucket list! I really love this concept I heard on the Happier podcast (episode 67), and I had success with it this summer so I thought I’d do it again for fall.¬†Having been born and raised in California, I’m not sure I’ve experienced a true autumn, but I love the concept of warm drinks, crunching leaves, and cozy nights.

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Say Goodbye to Summer

I never thought it would be time to say goodbye. Summers here are often long and crop up in place of spring and extend well through fall. But this year we seem to be having defined seasons. I wrote about spring in my spring capsule wardrobe post‚ÄĒit was mild and rainy, sunny and never hot. And then a switch was flipped and we had so many days of 100+ degree weather in a row. When I look¬†at the forecast I don’t see anymore 90 degree days on the horizon.¬†I feel like I need to mourn the season a bit, because I finally got used to summer.

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When You Say Nothing At All

I’ve been at a loss about what to write lately. There’s a lot going on with me, with friends, with family. It’s hard to process everything, and maybe that’s the problem‚ÄĒI can only process it bit by bit.

I was listening to the new Lana Del Rey album and working on a project when I suddenly realized the song I most wanted to hear was When You Say Nothing At All by Alison Krauss. The music couldn’t be more different, but it’s a good analogy to talk about knowing what you want and knowing how to get¬†it. For me it was as simple as acknowledging my feeling and switching a song on iTunes, but for everyone¬†it will likely be a different process.

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Losing My Cool Dot Cool

I developed this really awesome editorial calendar for myself and I managed to stick to it for two whole weeks. Then yesterday I had a post about DIY foaming hand soap almost ready to go and life just sort of got in the way, as it so often does with me. I forgave myself as my head hit the pillow at 11:24 PM and swore I’d get up in the morning and finish it up and hit publish.

But my mornings this week have been unusual, and I can only partially blame my toddler The¬†electrician, county inspector, and HVAC people have been so prompt (I’m talking 7:30 when they say 8), but it’s definitely made the mornings feel less than normal. We’re still pretty much in the thick of the moving in process. Stuff isn’t where it’s supposed to be.¬†It’s hard to develop routines or get back to business as usual¬†when nothing¬†my house doesn’t feel like my home yet.

via my Instagram @inventedcharm

The chocolate stash hasn’t made its way to the pantry, and that led Rory to discover a See’s Easter chocolate bunny and bring it to bed to share with us at 7 AM. Up until a few days ago I couldn’t find measuring cups or spoons, which is why I’ve avoided cooking and we’ve eaten mostly sandwiches and breakfast.¬†The curtains that did get hung up are two inches too long so I can’t run the Roomba without them getting chewed up, hence my very dusty floor.

Gone are the days where I could plop Rory in the pack n play for a bit with toys. He’s officially learned how to climb out of the damn thing. So I’ve been relying on Sesame Street and the iPad to entertain¬†him and keep him safely distracted. I always feel like I’m on a slippery slope with media though, because when he gets too much of it he’s crabby, distracted, and can’t seem to stay engaged with anything. And when Sesame Street is¬†on a loop I can’t help but hear the words¬†to all those catchy songs and internalize them. I find myself inwardly singing What Makes U Useful or¬†Are you cool dot cool? And that’s when I realize I AM LOSING MY COOL DOT COOL.

Stay at home parenting is a lonely pursuit. You don’t have coworkers you can bitch to about the (little) people you’re serving. The pay is shit. Literally. It’s not always easy to find or build community. Often, you don’t know if you’re talking to someone who can (or wants to) relate about being in the trenches until¬†you’ve already spilled your guts and they look at you like you’re ungrateful for the privilege of being a stay at home parent or they step up with support and match your war story with one of their own.

I don’t regret the choice I made to move 350 miles, or my choice to leave my job, or my choice to have a family in my thirties. But I do regret that I haven’t found my niche yet, my squad (ugh), my tribe (feels like appropriation, sorry), my friend circle that I can call or text whenever I need a moment to blow off steam.¬†Sometimes I just need to vent. ¬†The DIY soap piece can wait.

 

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Another Waiting Game

I don’t know how well I’ve done with my goal of being present in¬†the daily monotony of living. This week hasn’t been the sort of regular monotony I deal with, where the week stretches on and yet nothing seems to happen. Rather than being preoccupied with productivity and relaxation, I have been consumed with our house hunt. There’s nothing like a problem to distract you from monotony, eh?

It feels like a waiting game. Will today be the day we find our house? Will they accept our offer? Have I made a huge mistake? Will this really make me happy? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, I just have to wait and see. House hunting is yet another venture into the unknown and a constant reminder that I am not in control. I am intimately acquainted with both concepts, and yet I find myself stressed out and on the verge of tears.

I have checked my Apple watch every two seconds today. The phantom sensation of an alert is distressing, and yet I dare not let it go unchecked. What if there’s an update? What if there’s news? I’ll be happy or I’ll be sad, but either way, I’ll still have more waiting to do. Everything is a waiting game. Sign this, notarize that, fill this one out, check this box, initial here, make a copy of this, file it all away. And wait.

How do you find peace in a storm of anxiety? No, really, I’m asking. I’m all ears. I can tell you what I’m doing, but I can also tell you it’s not working. I wake up and I hug my little guy. We have breakfast. He plays and I read the news. Horrifying. We go for walks. I shower. He naps. We have lunch. He plays and I watch him and help him up when he takes a tumble. We go for another walk. He naps. I sit here and try to write or read or create. I fail. We have dinner. Dad gives Rory a bath and I do the dishes. Then it’s bedtime for the baby. Then we sit with two iPads and search for our home. “Is it this one?” No.¬†“What about this one?” Nope, that one’s already sold.¬†“How about this one?” Maybe. Could be. We make a call. We wait. We see houses. We wait.

In thirty minutes or less we’ll know if we found our house. Or we will have to just keep waiting.

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Lessons Learned from Packing and Moving

I’ve arrived! In Northern California, that is. My husband and I sold our condo and we are living temporarily with my parents. Escrow was very iffy for a while there, so ultimately it was a great decision that we didn’t sign a lease or try to put in an offer on a house. Packing and moving was an eye opening experience, so I thought I’d share what I learned before those lessons are too far in my rear view mirror.

ten tips for packing and moving

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