Featured on Breadwinning Mama Series

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You guys. Have you ever formed a new blogger crush, only to have that person reach out and offer to feature YOU as part of your favorite series on their blog? Me either…until today!

Kerry at Breadwinning Mama writes a fantastic ‘Her Juggle’ series in which she profiles other working moms in a Q&A format. She reached out to me via Twitter to ask if I’d be interested in sharing my perspective and I jumped at the chance. A few nights later I stayed up way past my self-imposed bedtime to answer the questions. The process felt therapeutic and uplifting.

I hope you’ll take a moment and head over to Breadwinning Mama today to read my ‘Her Juggle’ Q&A. And while you’re there, sign up to receive her latest posts by email. I know I’m way too busy these days for the nightly blogroll reading I used to do, so waking up to her fresh perspective, advice and journey is refreshing and motivating.

Thank you, Kerry, for this honor!

Our Days at 14.5 Months

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Recently I’ve become slightly obsessed with finding and following other working mom bloggers and social media influencers. Two that I am especially loving right now are Breadwinning Mama and What Would Gwyeneth Do. Breadwinning Mama has a “Her Juggle” series spotlighting working mamas and how they juggle, struggle and thrive. Reading the Q&A’s has felt like a big hug lately. I love seeing when other moms wake up, how they handle household chores and where they too feel like work or family is getting all their attention–never quite equaling out. When Mike is not traveling and my morning meeting schedule allows for a workout, a “favorite” day tends to look a little something like this.

  • 5:30 a.m. – One or both of our alarms go off. We hit snooze in denial
  • 5:50 a.m. – Mike hits the shower
  • 6 a.m. – I get up, make the bed and throw on workout clothes
  • Pre-6:50 a.m. – I try to fit in a variety of tasks, such as packing my lunch, starting a load of laundry, sorting mail, starting the dishwasher, meal prep for dinner, and preparing Rylan’s breakfast
  • 6:50 a.m. – I head to the gym and Mike takes over where I left off on breakfast for Rylan
  • 7 a.m. – Some sort of spin/barre/yoga class clears my head for the day and then I shower and get ready at work
  • 7:30 a.m. (ish) – Mike gets Rylan dressed and takes him to daycare across town (We love our daycare but did not count on the traffic when we thought it was only slightly out of they way. It can be a nightmare)
  • 8:30 a.m. – 5:15 p.m. (ish) – Calls, meetings, emails, more meetings, media pitching, writing, planning…in PR no two days are ever the same but it’s fast-paced and the days fly by
  • 5:15 p.m. – I bolt out and fight traffic to get Rylan, then fight it home and hope to be in the door by 6 p.m. or a bit after
  • 6:15 p.m. (ish) – Rush to get something resembling nourishment on Rylan’s plate before he totally loses it. We’ve now started giving him a small snack so that I can try and cook more rather than dump random things on his dish
  • 6: 45 p.m. – Bath
  • 7:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m. – Play in Ry’s room or at least attempt to play depending on how well he napped at daycare
  • 7:15 p.m. – 7:25 p.m. – Accept Rylan’s eye rubbing, give him a bottle (you got me…haven’t cut that last one out yet) and put him down for the night
  • 7:30 p.m. – bed – My bedtime is all over the place. Some nights I barely make it to 8:30 p.m. while others I stay up past 10 p.m. to work or watch TV with Mike. I always regret staying up past about 9 p.m. though. And during this time I finish my morning to-do’s…laundry, meal prep (tonight I roasted butternut squash for tomorrow), email triage, blogging, organizing, cleaning. Basically, I can’t sit still. No time for that

Woo hoo (sarcastically typed). When I decide to have a “take care of me morning” at the gym (once or twice a week) I get very little time with Rylan overall. Not much changes if I flip this and workout at night either. So I am down to about two – three workouts a week, sometimes four depending on our weekend, and try to make the most out of them by taking as hard of classes as I can. When Mike travels there is typically no working out with drop off and pickup duty. I shower by 5:45 a.m. at the very latest when he is out of town and tend to fall into bed around 8:30 p.m.

Balance, my friends, is a misleading word. For years I chased balance, even before having Rylan, and failed to achieve it. So instead I am in a reset mode. At work I am 100% in and know it’s okay that I don’t always have time to stop and think about Rylan during the hectic days. At home I am increasingly strict with myself and Mike about putting down the damn phones unless something is urgent with a client or media. 

It feels good to give you a glimpse into our days right now. For me, reading about how other moms juggle is inspiring so I hope my approach to the chaos us helpful to you as well.

Travel Guilt – How Do You Deal?

I can’t tell you how many times I was asked in Rylan’s first year, “have you guys been able to get a night off?” In fact, I used to be the asker of this same question before becoming a mom myself. Pre-Rylan, I never realized how loaded of a question it could feel like for parents on the other side.

Rylan will be 14 months this week. Many moms and dads at this point simply have not had the opportunity to get away. Perhaps the little one has been sick or not sleeping through the night well making it tough for outside caregivers. Or maybe there is no family nearby and the cost of a sitter, especially overnight, is prohibitive. Other times, mom and dad have gotten away but never together. One might travel for work and another sneaks in a boys or girls trip while the other stays home.

Mike and I are very much the opposite. In 14 months we have had the chance to have several nights off, the first one being at about seven weeks when Mike’s sister gave us a night of sleep. But beyond just a night, together we have had a couple of weekend and extended weekends away as well. Chicago, Lake Tahoe, Aspen, Sonoma and upcoming, San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. Seriously, it is a bit over-the-top.

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All of our weekends away start the same way for me. I have some guilt before we leave but it is bearable. I get excited about our couples-only adventure and know Rylan is in incredible hands with Mike’s family or my parents. Then when we are away, I miss him throughout the day but soak up sleeping in, having a glass of wine with lunch and not being beholden to a nap and bedtime schedule. Yet all of this contentment starts to wane the morning of our last day on the trip.

I wake up with a knot in my stomach about wanting to get home to Rylan. I ask myself, “why did we stay the extra night” and consider earlier flights or drives (and yes, I have changed flights). When we finally get home to Rylan I am twisted in knots again because nine times out of ten, we have work the next day and he’s back off to daycare.

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There are no “make up” days as a parent, especially when you work full time outside of the home. When you miss a weekend, it’s gone. Monday comes faster than you can imagine and it is back to squeezing in a few hours a day before and after 8+ hours at the office.

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I am not complaining. It isn’t lost on me for a second that we are incredibly fortunate to have grandparents, aunts and uncles who welcome Rylan into their homes with open arms. I also know, and am told by many, that our marriage and individual sanity will remain stronger thanks to our adults-only excursions this year.

But the guilt. Oh the guilt…

Please tell me it gets easier? Or if it doesn’t, can you please tell me how you make the guilt eat you up just a bit less?

This Happened: Sweet Potato Noodle Shrimp Puttanesca

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In about 20 – 25 minutes total, I turned this heap of spiralized sweet potato into a one-pot Sweet Potato Noodle Shrimp Puttanesca. And about five minutes after that, our bowls were empty. Recipe, of course, a la Inspiralized. 

Sunday got away from me so I used a few spare minutes before dashing to work Monday morning for prep. I took out frozen shrimp and placed it in a glass bowl to defrost in the fridge all day. Whenever I do that I cover the shrimp tightly with plastic wrap and have never had an issue with smell. I also peeled and spiralized my two large sweet potatoes and stored the “noodles” in the fridge in tupperware.

After Rylan went down (he was in no shape to wait for this dinner tonight after barely napping at daycare…but that’s another story) Mike peeled the shrimp and I completed the rest in minutes. We did skip the red pepper flakes so Rylan can hopefully try it tomorrow and I did not get anchovies because, well, I don’t like them. I also opted to use dried parsley instead of fresh because we have a busy week and I knew it would go bad.

BEHOLD!

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Apologies for the poorly-lit iPhone food shot. It’s simply all I have time for these days, and I have no aspirations of achieving professional food blogger celebrity status. I cook, we eat and then I share recipe links when I can. Let me know what you’ve spiralized lately!

San Diego Family Vacation

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Fall is knocking on Colorado’s door, so what better time to revisit our “California Dreamin’” mindset and finally download pictures from our incredible San Diego August 2014 vacation. Mike, Rylan and I flew to San Diego to spend a week with my parents, brother, sister-in-law and their kiddos, Jackson and Olivia. It took a few trips to the beach for Rylan to understand the sand but he loved the water right away. He squealed and screamed when the waves washed up on his legs and was very brave with the cold water temps. I see a surfer boy in the making!

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IMG_9215The first Anderson-Anzalone vacation was a huge success. Our house was steps from the beach and the grandparents took tons of kid shifts so we could go do things like paddle board yoga, surfing, regular yoga and of course, cocktailing. Mike and I lived in San Diego for five/six years respectively and it still has a huge place in my heart. We created countless memories there and met some of our most treasured friends. It was neat to play tourist and introduce Rylan to his first of many vacations in Southern California.

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My heart was truly heavy when it was time to say goodbye. It was such a special vacation for us all. Rylan adored looking up to Jackson and Livy. It’s clear Jackson is a very good big brother and cousin. He was patient with Rylan, shared his toys and didn’t even mind when Rylan gave him a good head bonk while trying to play. Even though we live in different states I look forward to Jackson, Livy and Rylan being close as they grow up.

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The Anderson-Anzalone vacation tradition will continue in 2016. Next year Mike, Rylan and I will travel to Florida with his family. I wish we had enough vacation days and money to travel with both of our families every year! We’re so lucky to be very close with both of our parents and siblings. Family is everything.

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I think all of us will struggle in 2016 of whether to pick a new destination (Hawaii anyone??!!) or go back to the exact same location. There is something to be said for picking a special location to make years, even decades, of memories as the kids grow up. San Diego, you are amazing.

Recipe Survival Guide: Spiralizer Edition

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Credit: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-and-spiralize/

Time. There is simply never enough.

Choosing sleep means less blogging or gasp, reading of real books that aren’t about nap scheduling and behavior milestones. Choosing the gym means deli meat (organic of course, we really do try), string cheese and frozen veggies for Rylan’s dinner more nights than I’d like to publicly admit and fewer home cooked meals than I daydreamed about when Rylan was still on only breast milk and I glorified family dinners at the table together.

Still, I do my best to keep a few meals in rotation these days so that Rylan’s tastes expand and I don’t fall back to cereal every night for dinner. I never thought Cheerios and cold milk for dinner could get old but it has become pretty bland and boring.

My #1 tip to busy households with or without kids? Treat yourself to a spiralizer. Now. Like, stop reading my blog, go order it on Amazon, and then come back here to keep reading.

Okay. Did you order it? Good.

Being able to turn one raw zucchini, some shrimp, capers and the squeeze of a lemon into a healthy one-dish dinner in a few minutes is insane. On spiralizer nights we’re eating healthier than ever and I crave the leftovers for lunch at work the next day. Better yet, one incredibly smart blogger has dedicated herself to spiralizer recipes AND launched an iPhone app. An app for spiralizing! Healthy dinners are saved (one – two days per week, in the spirit of full honesty).

Recent spiralizer sanity savers:

Can’t wait to hear if you are obsessed with terms like “zoodles” as much as I am. Please share your favorite spiralizer recipes in the comments!

Project Sippy

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Our doctor, like most, encouraged us to have Rylan off a bottle sometime around his first birthday, with an emphasis on “by 15 months.” I thought to myself, duh! That won’t be a problem and I will not miss washing all the stupid Dr. Browns parts.

Fast forward to 13 months and some change. We, with the help of his amazing daycare teachers, weaned him off bottles during the day by mid-August. He’s happy to drink two – three ounces of cow’s milk from a sippy with morning snack, lunch and afternoon snack. Since seven months Rylan has had success with Zoli cups for water. We worry about getting the straw clean though, so we’ve opted to teach him to tip his head back and use a Playtex for milk.

Yet his morning and night bottles haven’t budged. Why you ask? I am to blame.

I’ll take full responsibility for clinging onto those bottles because I miss nursing and love cuddling him while he contently wakes up in the morning or slowly winds down at night. For the morning we’ve weaned him down to just three ounces in the bottle then offer a full sippy when he sits down to breakfast. I know that after a day or two of tears, he’d probably accept a sippy upon waking. But I simply can’t bring myself to rip the bandaid.

So “Project Sippy” isn’t failing because of Rylan. Morning and night bottles feel like my last connection to Rylan as a true baby. I cherish it.

So there you have it. My admission. Check in with us at 15 months to see if I make the doctor’s cut off!

Transition to Toddlerhood

We’re transitioning to toddlerhood. It is just that simple. And I can’t believe it.

So what better time to finally share Rylan’s professional birthday photos from July as I shake my mom head in disbelief and bring you up to speed on 13 months…

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You already know that Rylan is walking. Despite predictions he is not yet running, thank god, but he moves fast. He is not a fan of our main baby gate in the kitchen that keeps him from tumbling the back stairs that lead to more, steeper basement stairs. When I close it there are usually tears.

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There are also what I refer to as “fake tears” and back arches when we:

  • Close the fridge
  • Close the freezer
  • Get near the changing table
  • Change most diapers
  • Let Kona eat from the floor around him while he is still eating
  • Get near his car seat, especially in the morning
  • End bath time
  • Pass the back door without going in the backyard

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I’m assured by late-night blog reading and the Highlands Mommies email threads that this is all incredibly normal. And, quite frankly, I already knew that based on having nieces and nephews.

Luckily, his episodes are rarely more than a minute or two and because we’re on to the next thing and try very hard not to give in, he’s quick to move on as well. Sometimes I feel like a hard ass but I know what’s fake and what’s real.

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The other HUGE change is the move to one nap. This one was not initiated by Mike and me. Instead, the one nap phenomenon seems to be a universal daycare move around 12 to 13 months. I was shocked when it was mentioned and questioned everything we’ve come to love about daycare. Then, I calmed down and started talking to parents around me, with kids at all different sorts of daycares. One nap wasn’t a crime being committed against our sleep-loving family. Turns out, it is a common shift.

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It took several weeks to stretch his mornings and he has fallen asleep in his lunch. But we’re pretty much there and our weekend mornings have become so much more fun and flexible, having until about noon before we need to be home. But make no mistake. If we had a nanny I’d still be clinging on to two naps for as long as possible.

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Summer flew by with our first official family vacation to San Diego and trips sans-Rylan. Travels included Sonoma, Lake Tahoe, Breckenridge for me and Rylan, Crested Butte camping for Mike and friends…we’re incredibly fortunate.

However, I also feel like we missed out on some fundamental hometown experiences and vow to slow down and savor being in town more next year. We’ve yet to go to the zoo, did not try a single museum and only went swimming a handful of times. Our fall is shaping up to be just as hectic with weddings to attend in Aspen, Mexico and Southern California. Ski season is never tame but at least we’ll be in Colorado for a few months following Thanksgiving.

Thankfully Rylan is oblivious to my disappointments about over scheduling. He’s happiest in our backyard with bubbles or in the basement having a dance party. Life is unbelievably sweet right now. I am smitten with our budding toddler and am MY happiest when we’re having boring, quiet family weekends. Those weekends are what keep me centered and grounded.

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With every huge milestone and the challenges they bring, I can’t believe how much I love being his mama. I also owe a tremendous THANK YOU to Sarah Hill for another amazing round of family photos. We could not be more thrilled with your ability to capture Rylan’s personality. If you live in, or plan to visit Colorado, there is no one I recommend more for affordable and fun family sessions than Sarah.

Walking

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Quite fitting that in the month it has taken me to post a new blog, Rylan has finally connected weeks of true “baby steps” into full fledged walking.

Over the next few weeks I can’t wait to catch up on life and share pictures from our incredible San Diego vacation earlier this month, post our new favorite Spiralizer recipes and in general, take a deep breath as we wind down summer and prepare for fall.

Rylan is One

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Our sweet boy is one year old (as of July 24…it has been a busy week).

Much more a toddler than a baby, we simply cannot get enough of him. His smile is contagious and his belly laugh is unbeatable. He adores us but is rarely hesitant to go explore with other family and friends. I hope to always nurture his independence, yet I also embrace that he is thoughtful and cautious. Perhaps that will save us a few trips to the ER once he enters the wild boy stage.

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The first year with Rylan is hard to capture in words. I tried recently but the post only scratches the surface. I just can’t believe that we went from expecting to deer-in-headlight parents of a newborn to comfortable, pride-filled parents of a one year old boy. I am really proud of us as individuals and as a couple.

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In the past week I have spent a lot of time talking and texting with the moms who make up my tribe…tribe of moms near and far who are always there for the tough, real questions of motherhood. I’ve leaned on them through tears related to how fast year one went and my sadness of nursing him for the last time. After weeks of fighting for my supply, I decided the morning of Rylan’s first birthday party would be our last nursing session. I closed his bedroom door and soaked up every quiet and serene minute. My heart is so full knowing that we had this special year together. I am very proud of our accomplishment.

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Mom’s 12 Month Favorites:

  • Our connection–the kind only a mom and her son can experience
  • Watching him surprise himself by taking a few, unassisted steps toward me the morning after his birthday party. I am thrilled I was there for the moment
  • His predictable mealtime pickiness and obsession with blueberries
  • The way he acted extra silly and crazy on his actual birthday…like he knew it was his super special day
  • The total awe on his face watching Mike work on our backyard. He is ALL boy when it comes to staring and pointing at heavy equipment
  • His weird obsession with the vacuum. He cries when I turn it off, which allows me to get quite a bit of vacuuming done without feeling guilty that we’re not playing with his toys

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Dad’s 12 month favorites:

  • Watching Rylan discover new things and the inquisitive look on his face when he is introduced to new experiences
  • The joy he brings to our faces, and the excitement on his face when we see him after a long day of work
  • Watching him start to figure out how to walk, even though he can’t quite do it on his own yet, you can tell how much he’s trying to figure it out
  • His curious personality
  • Watching him interact with other kids, especially his cousins, and seeing him learn how to share and be social with other kids
  • His strong affinity for meat and blueberries, though we’d like him to expand his food preferences a bit more, at least we know there are a few fall back foods that he’s likely to eat when we need him to chow down
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