Changes Are Good

This is one of those posts I’ve gone back and forth on mostly due to the fact that I really am a fairly modest person so putting a photo out there of myself isn’t in my wheelhouse. Having said that, this isn’t a ‘rah-rah look at me’ post but rather a reminder of how much life has changed; not just physically but there’s been an internal shift in how I see life as a Mom now.

You see today I left the house with no make-up on…and I mean NO make-up. My hair in it’s standard, fro-ed out, curly hair, slept-in mess of a bun. I needed a few essentials from the grocery store and with only a window of opportunity before the morning nap we had to go. It was when I got back into the car and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, that I realized I really have changed and said to myself, “I can’t believe you left the house looking like this Tara”.

My girls over at Jelly Bean Journals recently shared a post titled Dear 20 Something Self: A Letter to That Early 20’s Gal. It got me thinking what would I have said to the twenty-something Tara.

I would tell her to be patient, be kind to herself, and give herself some grace.

I would tell her to not worry so much about how she looks. Quit spending 2 hours in the morning getting ready because in 10 years you won’t have 15 minutes so figure out how to get in and get out.

I would tell her to not take life so seriously.

The person I was in my 20s is someone I don’t relate to now and I’m more than okay with that. Even if I told the twenty-something Tara the things above or what I know my life to be now, it wouldn’t have changed anything at that moment. Sometimes it takes life shattering moments for people to change and we hope become better versions of themselves. The twenty-something Tara wanted to be a mom so bad and as heartbreaking as it was at that point in my life, I am truly happy motherhood was not in the cards. The

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January 4th 2016 vs 2017

thirty-something Tara is able to embrace and see the beauty of this image. I accepted the changes ones body must go through during pregnancy and kept myself and baby healthy. The twenty-something Tara was not mentally or physically prepared for what pregnancy brings. The year between these two images brought so much change that I know the twenty-something Tara wouldn’t have been able to handle. The changes your body goes through, the changes in your schedule, your life, your emotions, your hormones, the order of what’s important yada yada yada. All of these changes happen and if you aren’t in a good place with yourself and your partner then life can be really hard.

So be kind to yourself because whatever you’re going through now, at whatever stage in life you’re in, sh*t happens, life changes and it’s okay. It’s how we deal with the change and learn from the change, that shapes us into a better-older version of ourselves. So now I’ll take 15 minutes to put my face on as they say and go on with our busy day, because in ten years I’ll look back on this stage in {L}’s life and miss these precious moments.

Cheers and Happy Friday

Tara

Lillian Letters – 1 Year

Dear Sweetness,

A year ago we were patiently awaiting your arrival, and since you were 4 days late, patient is probably an understatement! People would tell us to enjoy this time, because once she {you} arrived, our lives would be forever changed. We knew that, but when you arrived, what we thought we knew was nothing compared to our beautiful new reality.
I remember the day you were born so vividly. January 7, 2016 will forever be a magnificent day. On this day, you made Daddy a Dad and me a Mom. You opened our hearts to a whole new world; a whole new kind of love that we never knew existed. There are so many emotions I feel leading up to this first birthday; sadness over “losing” my baby-baby, but also excitement for the next chapter and your next set of milestones. Yes, img_1461you will always be my baby; however, over the past year I’ve seen you go from a tiny, fragile baby to a little human who walks and actively participates in conversations now!

I remember bringing you home from the hospital; we were all so exhausted from the events img_0029of the past day that we took a scrumptious 2-hour nap. It was from this point forward I realized it was just the three of us. Practically every night I would text my cousins or scour Pinterest or Google reading articles about how to properly get you on a schedule or how to maintain my milk supply or what causes a 6-week old to cry. One night (and honestly the only night this ever happened), I actually slept sitting up with you in the baby carrier because that is the only thing that made you peaceful. In the moment, these days seemed long and challenging at times, yet somehow, I miss them. I’m blessed to have had the ability to breastfeed you from the beginning, and while I’m extremely happy to have my personal space back, I’m going to miss the special moments we shared – just you and me. It’s milestones such as these that areimg_0024 difficult yet exciting for a parent. We see you gaining a sense of independence. For instance, currently in the morning, the minute you are done nursing, you get down and walk away to find Dada. But I remember the many months where you would nurse and then just lay there peacefully in my arms.

Looking back I smile thinking about the changes that have occurred and wonder what lies ahead. You’ve already been testing your boundaries. For instance, you laugh while walking to the (plugged in) phone charger and smile at me while you put it in your mouth, knowing the reaction will be “NO!”. I wonder if this naughty trait is just a phase or if this is something that is part of your DNA (probably from your Dad). Will you begin to look more like me or more like your Dad? In the early months, everyone said you looked just like him but now I can see a lot of me in you. While you’ve been hitting milestones, your Dad and I have had to learn a thing or two about each other and about ourselves. We’ve learned how to be patient with one another, how to give each other grace when times are challenging. We’ve learned to love each other unconditionally and most importantly we’ve learned and will always be learning how to communicate. Someday, if you choose to start a family of your own, I hope you have a partner as committed, as sensitive, as caring, and as forgiving as your Dad because as we’ve learned having a child can challenge every aspect of your relationship.

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We’ve had many conversations over the past year about what we think you’ll enjoy as you grow up. Right now you love cars and make car noises; you love your Lovey; and love to kiss your toys and animals. You love the song If You’re Happy and You Know it. You have the best giggle, especially when we play hide-n-seek as a family or Daddy plays with you on the bed. It’s these magical moments I want you to know about as you grow up. I hope you always maintain the contagious smile you have. You have the ability to light up a room and what’s even more special is that I can tell you’re smiling even when I’m not looking at you. Your eyes squint and your cheeks swell up and become even more round in a way that I can see it from behind. It’s something I’m certain as you grow up and lose the baby face, some of these features will change and evolve in to even more beautiful features of a young lady. However, as you do grow up, I hope you always maintain the ability to laugh at yourself and don’t take life so serious.

Over the past year we’ve experienced what seems like an entire lifetime! I guess that’s because I didn’t really understand what raw, unconditional love was until you. I know there will come a day, say 13 years from now, when we may not see eye to eye; but no matter what I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU. As this first year comes to a close, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for being so lovable. Thank you for letting me kiss you 40 times a day. Thank you for making me a Mom. You are a gift from God and we are extremely blessed to call you our daughter. Happy Birthday Peanut!

Mom

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Trial & Error

Isn’t that the story of parenthood – Trial & Error. We try different foods. We try different nap schedules. We try different bedtimes. And sometimes we try different songs. Like right now, Wheels on the Bus is the song of choice while being buckled into the car seat. That will likely change here soon.

Last night or actually this morning, {L} decided it was time to play at 2:30am and wasn’t interested in going back to sleep until 5:30am. When I say she was not interested I’m not talking about a crying baby who is upset because they’re hungry or have a wet diaper. I’m talking about that friend in junior high who can’t sleep during a sleep over so they sit up and talk all night. What was the culprit for the playful energy? Was it something I ate the night before (since I’m still breastfeeding)? Was it a dirty diaper? Hunger? Temperature in the room? Who knows but that’s all my mind could think about for those 3 hours. But as I sit here today sleepy, unmotivated, and slow, I’m reminded that no day is the same. My life pre-baby was pretty predictable and I was comfortable with that. I liked schedules and routine and my life ran pretty smooth. Now, each day could be drastically different from the last and it’s largely dependent on the sleep {L} gets and how naps go for that day. Currently we are in the awkward nap transition period where she’s going from 3 to 2 naps a day. So basically I am trying new schedules everyday and just going with the flow. I don’t know what I’m doing but I do know at the end of the day, all three of us are fat & happy so I must be doing something right.

Enough about my sleepless night, lately I’ve been doing some trial & error around the house. I’m trying different recipes and also trying to repurpose things around the house by doing Pinterest projects (so I’m sure you can guess how these are turning out). Let’s talk about the trial & error in the kitchen. Nick enjoys a certain granola bar and the price per bar is just ridiculous so I’ve been trying to remake the bar, which has turned into quite the adventure for both the maker and the tester. The first bar was thick and delicious and ended up tasting more like a chocolate no bake cookie. After putting everything into MyFitnessPal, the nutrition breakdown was more like a dessert than a healthy snack. The second bar was pretty tasty and the nutrition was comparable to that of a store-bought bar. It had nutmeg so the flavor was a little festive and Nick had to leave them out to thaw in order for them to soften. After doing some more Pinterest research, I came across a bar that claimed to be “a copy cat version” of Quaker bars. The most recent bar seemed like it was going to be a winner. However after the bars set-up they were far too crisp and also tasted more like a rice crispy. So I’m still on the hunt for a homemade, chewy, gluten-free bar. If you have any recommendations please pass them along. I’ve also tried a few different recipes for “energy balls”. I’ll report back on these as I get a few more under my belt, but I can tell you with all certainty I did not get a rush of energy after consuming these so called energy balls.

Right now, I’m working on a wall art piece which I’ll post final pictures of here soon. Here’s a sneak peek though. In the meantime I’ll nap when {L} naps…haha…who am I kidding. That doesn’t really happen. I’ll get stuff done when she naps and let’s just hope it’s a nap longer than 30 minutes! Happy Monday Friends!

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Strength

It’s been way too long since I’ve sat down to write something. I’ve had a lot of ideas floating around and started a few posts but just as soon as I get the chance to sit down – BAM – nap time is over and we are off to the races.

When I titled this post Strength there are two things that I’ve recently observed; physical strength and how we view it, and internal strength.

 

imagesThe first came up recently when I was chatting with two friends after one of our CrossFit classes. I know what you’re thinking, here she goes talking about CrossFit and how much they lift and the weight they throw around – CrossFit this, CrossFit that; but that’s not where I’m going. We were discussing what CrossFit has done to our perception of strength when it comes to us as women and as mothers; and how this “sport” has changed our perception on how we view each other and how we want to raise our children. While we rowed, we talked (multitasking at its finest) about our youth and our involvement in sports. One of the ladies mentioned a sign that hung in her daughters gym that read “Strong is Beautiful”. This got us started on the conversation about beauty and the perception of what is regarded as beautiful. One of the ladies is a former Gymnast – like collegiate level gymnast so she’s legit and knows what it takes to push yourself and to be pushed. She made a comment that if this sign were hung while she practiced as a youth it would have helped with her perception of herself as a young adult. The other woman told a story of how shopping for clothing for her daughter was made difficult due to the labels placed on clothing items. Since when does everything have to have a label? Why do jeans or clothes in general, that simply fit the human body have a label such as “curvy”? These said curvy jeans fit quads that are muscular and provide strength and speed for basketball and softball and running and squatting and simply walking. What came out of this conversation was the understanding that we as women, as mothers, are setting an example for the generation of girls beneath us and if we can believe that strong is beautiful and a label is nothing more than a waste of space and an annoying tag, then we can help these young girls know how strong they are and how beautiful they are because of their abilities not because of the way they look. I want {L} to grow up knowing that she is capable to do whatever she puts her mind to. She is capable of climbing a rope and doing pull-ups and push-ups. She is capable of doing all these things because she has a strong shell.

The other type of strength that has been heavy on my mind is internal. The kind of strength that you can’t necessarily get by pumping iron in the gym 4 days a week. This strength is something that is often unseen until something happens to us that turns our world upside down and inside out. Lately I’ve noticed and heard about several heartbreaking tragedies involving little kiddos, babies specifically, and I’m not talking about the alligator tragedy. I don’t know if my senses are heightened since we have a baby or it just so happens that several heartbreaking incidents have happened but whatever the case may be my heart hurts for these families. One story specifically involves a woman who has an incredible shining spirit. When you see her, her smile is contagious and she just beams happiness, not to mention she has beautiful lips! Now I don’t know the entire story so I won’t speak to any details, but when I read that her and her husband lost their baby at 37 weeks and she had to give birth to a still-born, my heart broke for her and for them as a family. The grief that one must go through following this kind of event is unthinkable. Without having been in that exact situation, there are no words that can be said because no one understands that kind of pain except this woman. Not only did she go through the birthing process but she must also deal with what a woman’s body goes through after birth. The internal strength this woman has is admirable. She could easily have a pass that reads “You are allowed to sit and wallow on the couch for months”; however she didn’t do that and because of that I see a true fighter in her and a STRONG a$$ woman.

 

surround-yourself-quotes-2I could go on and on telling story after story about women who embody both physical and internal strength. The cool part is that I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by these woman everyday. I don’t have to read about them in a magazine or on social media sites. I get to workout with strong women daily and have uplifting conversations. I get to enjoy conversations with friends, with my Mom, and my cousins who share stories and advice about how they raised their children. I’m truly thankful for the relationships I have and those I’m surrounded by because it takes a village. I hope you have women (a tribe) that you can say “Wow! She is strong and beautiful and I’m thankful she’s in my life”.

Welcome First Day of Summer! Enjoy the sunshine and some cold beverages!

~ Tara

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Friends who embody strength inside and out – and have an amazing friendship to boot!

She Has Arrived! {L}’s Birth Story

Since this blog is theoretically named after {L} & I, it’s fitting to start off the blog with the story of her arrival and even better to start the blog off on Mother’s Day. Get ready for a long first post. They won’t all be this long – I promise. Full disclosure…this blog is a place for me to jot down ideas, share stories, and simply work on becoming a better writer.

It’s been a year since I found out I was pregnant with {L} (aka Peanut). I took a test on Monday, April 27th 2015 before I left on a work trip. Let’s be honest, I knew I would be IMG_0046networking and socializing, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t have anything to worry about. Nick happened to be out-of-town and since we had been down this path before (unfortunately we experienced two miscarriages in the previous two years) I wanted to make sure I told him in person and somehow special. Long story short, I told him when I got home and I still remember the big smile he got on his face. However, It’s really unfair what miscarriage does to someone. Not only do you lose the baby but you also lose the ability to get excited about future pregnancies. Now that doesn’t mean we weren’t excited, we just knew we needed to stay positive and stay strong for one another.

Looking back over those nine months I’m amazed at how much we accomplished.  We IMG_3409planted the garden, we tore out and re-did the front berm, added central air to the house, celebrated my 32nd birthday, I continued traveling for work (which that’s a later blog post) visiting Denver, Minneapolis, Pittsburg, and a number of Wyoming cities, and we also went to Mexico for Allison’s wedding. We witnessed the changing of all four seasons throughout the pregnancy and we even witnessed dear friends tie the knot. In between all of this we maintained our CrossFit workouts. It was refreshing both physically and mentally to continue working out during my pregnancy. I managed to continue doing our CrossFit programming all the way up to the 38th week, of course with a lot of modifications! My goodness it’s no wonder {L} didn’t choose to come early with all this running around we did! Instead she held on for four extra days, that little stinker.

The last two weeks of my pregnancy I spent walking! I know it sounds cliché but walking felt good and I kept thinking just maybe it would get things going. But to no avail, the 38th week came and went, then the 39th week, and then her due date…came and went!

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Due Date Squat Sesh!

Wednesday, January 6th was going to be my last day at work since we were expected to go into the hospital Thursday night to start the induction process. All day Wednesday I had mild contractions but didn’t really know. Of course since this was my first full-term pregnancy, everything was new, how the heck was I to know what a contraction felt like, I had never felt one before. That evening Nick and I went to the gym to walk the track or at least try. By this time I had been told to start timing the contractions so I could get an idea as to how far apart they were. While we walked the track I would stop or slow down or have to pee for the 100th time so we only walked for 30 minutes. Since it was Wednesday night we headed home to make pizza (Wednesday nights had become pizza night in our house and contractions or not, we still were continuing with tradition). By the time we started to eat dinner the contractions were 10 – 12 minutes apart, so needless to say dinner wasn’t going down very well since I was a little preoccupied. I continued to track the contractions throughout the night trying not to disturb Nick. I wanted him to get as much sleep as he could knowing we were about to have a long night or day.

Around 1:30 am I needed to walk around. Laying in bed during the contractions was becoming too painful and I wanted to try some of the techniques the hospital had suggested in the labor class. By this time the contractions were about six minutes apart and from what I read the hospital would prefer people to wait until contractions are four to five minutes apart.  Since we were obviously getting closer to the point of leaving, I woke Nick to have him pack the car and help me with my breathing. Around 2:30 am the contractions were four minutes apart and I said screw it we’re going. By the time we got to the hospital I thought the contractions would be closer to 3 minutes apart which is where they wanted them to be.

We live one mile from the hospital but it seemed longer and I seem to remember it being a slow and quiet ride. We parked in the parking garage and decided to take everything in with the hope we would be staying. As we walked to the labor and delivery unit we stopped twice to breath through contractions. It was a good thing it was so early in the morning; I can’t imagine breathing through contractions bent over on the ground as people walk by during normal business hours. By the time the nurses got us checked in to a room it was around 3:30am (see how I keep using around…because I don’t remember exact timing) and come to find out I was dilated to a 3 – A 3 people! Do you know how disappointing that is when you’ve been laboring all night. They gave us the option to go home or stay and walk the halls or sit on the ball. We stayed! There was no way we were going home to figure this out on our own. By this time, my mom joined us at the hospital for support and my dad hit the road from Denver to be here as soon as he could. IMG_0063We started to walk the halls and during this time there was a woman who was in the middle of an exorcism. Not kidding. My word – the yelling that was coming out of this woman’s room! You would have thought her head was spinning and she was delivering the Devil right there on the maternity ward at Wyoming Medical Center. Anyhow, after several laps around the halls we decided to switch and try sitting on the ball. Since {L} was face up, I was experiencing major back labor which meant Nick really stepped up and put everything he had into massaging my back. He did such a great job, I was actually really sore the next day! I knew Dr. Sheridan would be coming in around 7:30 am so I think that was the saving grace for waiting on the epidural. The contractions were close, a minute to two minutes apart and my back was killing me. On top of that, both Nick and I were sleep deprived. My mom said in between contractions she could see how deeply tired I was because there was nothing behind my eyes. By the time Sheridan came in I made the call to have an epidural. Sheridan checked me and I was at a 6! That’s great – Now give me the drugs! They tell you in the classes that you must remain still while receiving the epidural but in actuality, that’s easier said than done. I experienced two contractions while getting a huge needle in my back – now you try to tell a pregnant woman who is experiencing pain to sit still. I’m incredibly lucky to have Nick by my side. He was such a great support throughout the entire evening/morning. After I received the epidural things were magical – and they broke my water! I couldn’t feel the contractions, however that also meant I couldn’t feel my legs either. My body (everything above my waist that is) was shaking uncontrollably; I was experiencing what they call transition. Now that was awful. Mostly because I definitely couldn’t rest due to the shaking and my jaw started to hurt from the tension. The nurses put me on oxygen and kept flipping me from one side to the other trying to make sure {L}’s heartbeat remained stable. I was told Dr. Sheridan was going to come over around 12 to check on me so we waited. My Dad had arrived by this time as did James, Laura, and Robyn. It was a regular old party on the L&D! Around 12:15pm Dr. Sheridan checked me and I was at a 10! YAHOO!!! Let’s meet this little girl!

While all the parents (and Stacy) waited in the hall, Nick and I, and a few nurses anxiously awaited {L}. Nick was given instruction to grab IMG_0004hold of a leg (which meant he was closer to the show than he had expected). With three big pushes and a little drama in between, {L} made her debut at 12:26pm. They immediately took her to make sure she didn’t swallow any meconium while she was in utero. I remember telling Nick to go to her and I still remember looking over watching him watch her. Once they got her lungs cleared out, they started to weigh and measure our little bundle. Even though I wanted immediate skin-to-skin, I knew her safety was first and foremost.

IMG_4057It seemed longer than it probably was, but after a minute, they brought this beautiful little girl to me. I remember looking at her with tear-filled eyes and thinking, WOW, she’s here. She’s ours. There really isn’t an appropriate description for how much love one feels at that moment. I hope I don’t ever forget, but I remember looking at Nick and looking at her and crying – happy tears. This moment was something I had been waiting for for a long time. I watched family and friends experience birth and I’ve seen their kids grow up. I’ve heard the below quote and never knew what it meant or felt like until now. We love our peanut more than there are stars in the sky.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this special day – Mother’s Day. For me, there was a time when I didn’t think I would ever be able to have children and having experienced miscarriages I am even more thankful to be able to celebrate this day with many of you. Happy Mother’s Day.

xoxo ~ Tara

“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” ― Elizabeth Stone.

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