Selfish Sanity

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Parenting strips away overall selfishness. From the moment your tiny human joins the world it’s never “all about you” ever again. However, I am 19 months into this parenting gig and have realized that I still carve out ways to be selfish. Why? Because it is these me-centric choices that some people try to make you feel guilty about that keep me sane, balanced and happy.

I think every mom (stay-at-home, working outside the home or some combination of the two) needs to feverishly protect her selfish sanity time…whether it is a few hours each month or a couple weekends per year. For me, that means:

  • Daily (or as close to it as possible) workouts
  • Skiing on weekends (Mike goes in the morning and I take the afternoon). This, I know, isn’t a forever reality once Rylan has weekend commitments like sports and friends that keep us in Denver most weekends
  • Not talking on the phone after Rylan goes to bed in order to spend time with Mike, watch trashy TV, catch up on work or just zone out on Pinterest. I cannot handle phone conversations after 7:30 p.m.
  • Tacking on a pedicure or quick mall trip to family errands, especially if Rylan is napping. I have a lot of guilt about not being home anytime during the weekend when Rylan is awake. But if he is napping, all bets are off.
  • At least one girls trip per year – be it overnight and close to home or somewhere that requires plane travel

I love Rylan and Mike more than anything, but to be the best mom and wife I know how to be, I have to wave the white flag from time to time. I still have and want to be Alexis. I feel recharged and recommitted to my family and work every time to steal away for a few moments of me time.

And to be fair, I have to remember to let Mike do the same. He still plays in his band and practices weekly. He snowboards most Saturday and Sunday mornings. He is going on a guys trip the first weekend of April from a Thursday to a Sunday. He golfs in the summer. These things make him a better dad and husband too.

Call me selfish. I don’t really care. It’s how we do things right now.

Blogging Struggles

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I’ve been quiet here on Lex & Learn. Really quiet.

Sure, the holidays give all of us hobby bloggers (that is how I categorize myself) a bit of a reprieve because everyone is running around like chickens with no heads. However, even before that my cadence had dropped significantly. The first huge drop, of course, was when Rylan was born. Then it plummeted again when I went back to work after a 12-week maternity leave. Once Rylan turned one and our monthly pictures and milestone posts stopped I barely squeaked out a post per month.

There are a lot of reasons for this. I am busy from the moment my alarm goes off at 5:45 a.m. until Rylan is zipped into his sleep save at 7:30 p.m.. After that I am borderline brain dead once Rylan is down, dishes are done, nightly laundry is started and work emails are triaged one more time. All I want is to turn off my laptop, turn on Apple TV and veg.

Beyond those totally standard and mundane mommy woes, I blog when I am inspired. I haven’t kept this site up with the hopes of attracting advertisers or free samples. I have kept it up because I am a communicator by nature and I love to share what makes me tick. From recipes and fashion to everything Rylan, I have never lost that giddy, “I hope people like it” feeling before I hit publish on a post.

Yet lately nothing that I start to type has seemed overly interesting…

Rylan is thriving but at the same time we’re somewhat baffled by his new favorite word being “no” and the phase of hitting to get attention. I’ve ordered two books that come highly recommended but they are still sitting unopened. Freezer meals are saving our post-workday lives and you should absolutely make this Slow Cooker Red Lentil curry right now…but is writing a blog post about the curry worth delaying my 30 minutes of Apple TV with Mike before I inevitably fall asleep on the couch? I’m not sure.

All of this said, I do not want to turn off Lex & Learn. I want to keep sharing what is working for our family and also reach out for support when I’m hitting my head against a wall. I vow to keep my computer open for just a few minutes longer a couple nights a week to reconnect with why Lex & Learn has given me a sense of pride for so long. I want to hear from you about why you read my personal blog and what else, if anything, you like to come here to see. Please, your input means a lot!

Thanks for bearing with me as I figure out the next phase of my hobby blogging!

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.

Year One Realities: 20 Personal Learnings

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We have less than a week to go until Rylan’s first birthday. I find myself almost daily looking back on our first photos as a family. The speed at which babies change in year one is nothing short of remarkable. His budding personality and infectious smile, especially his little smirk and what I call “mom eyes,” are what motivate me even on the toughest days.

Year one is messy. Messy in the literal sense (So. Many. Diapers.) and messy emotionally. You go from only taking care of yourself to giving 150 percent of yourself to this little being, wanting to give even more if that is humanly possible. Exhaustion is real. As is questioning–everything. My return to working full time out of the home was tougher than I prepared for mentally. I still struggle, especially on Mondays after a fun weekend, with leaving him five days a week.

Year one is also truly rewarding. Who knew the pride that comes with watching your baby find its hands? Rolling over? Forget about it. My iPhone is full of videos from that day. Below are some more of my personal year one realities. I’d love to hear about yours as well.

  1. Worrying. About everything. All the time.
  2. Cringe-worthy Google searches.
  3. Humorous and tear-stained text message sessions with other moms. At 2 a.m.
  4. Sleep. There is never enough.
  5. Friendships changed in wonderful and difficult ways.
  6. Complete reliance on your partner, falling in love over and over again.
  7. More disagreements with your partner than ever before. See #4 lack of sleep observation.
  8. So much judgement, from yourself and others (other moms being the harshest sometimes).
  9. An Amazon Prime addiction.
  10. A dresser drawer of t-shirts and sweats where dry clean only tops used to live.
  11. A hot shower behind a locked bathroom door = divine escape.
  12. Quiet nights and weekends at home as a family are deeply fulfilling…realizing it is ok to miss out on things.
  13. Cutting a little too loose when you do stay out past 8 p.m. I’m in dry clean only clothes people!
  14. Feeling overwhelmed with pride for the littlest achievements. My baby clapped today!
  15. Running out of space for all of the pictures and videos on your phone.
  16. Wondering what the heck you did with all your free time before baby.
  17. Gaining an entirely new perspective on life’s blessings…and regaining it over and over again when you see a single mom, or a sick child or a family desperately wanting a child.
  18. Patience.
  19. Humility.
  20. Love. Gut wrenching, tear evoking, soul changing love.

Rylan, we’re in utter awe of how fast this year has gone. I want you to reach for every star in the sky and promise to help you in every way we can. But my heart also drops a little that our first year with you is nearly complete. You were and still are the most incredible baby. We love you tremendously and can’t wait to embrace the next year with you.

We Are Enough

The “we” in the title of this post is for my fellow working moms — whether you have been at this for years or are new to the game like me.

Credit: The Unconventional Doctor's Wife

Credit: The Unconventional Doctor’s Wife

Last night I found myself solo with Rylan as Mike is traveling for work. Before Ry I used to look forward to my alone nights because they meant I could get to the gym, have cereal for dinner and watch any trashy reality show my heart desired.

Now I get a little nervous about those nights. I grab Rylan from daycare and arrive home anywhere between 5:30pm and 6pm depending on traffic. I race to do his first of two nighttime cluster feeds on our new schedule (which is working fabulously for him but a little more stressful for me as I continue to breastfeed as much as possible). Then we sit down for some solids, which last night ended up more on the wall, floor and me than in his belly. And then normally we enjoy some snuggle and play time, followed by a bath if needed, then one more nursing session and bed. It is quick but sweet. The best part of my day.

But last night I could not turn off from work and my Type-A self was screaming. There were dishes to be put away, laundry to do and some emails and tasks that didn’t get done before my last meeting that were gnawing at me. So I put Rylan in his swing during those precious few minutes we have together during the week and I worked, picked up the kitchen and conquered the laundry.

But in the end, I felt awful. By the time I put Ry down for the night I wanted those 30 minutes back. The emails could have waited and the dishes weren’t hurting anyone. I missed it.

However, that’s the tightrope we walk every single day as working moms. Please know that I am NOT saying we work any harder than stay at home moms. I commend my friends who do that and I am in awe of all they juggle. We’re all equal, I am just writing about the tightrope I know and walk every day.

So when the alarm went off this morning and the guilt was still there I sat up and out loud told myself, “you are enough.” I am enough at work because I give it 150% every day. I am enough at home because my heart and soul is in everything I do for my boys. Yet, sometimes, “enough” is spread over a few days — or even weeks and months. Yesterday I was more “enough” for my job and a little less for Ry. Today I am going to strive to be all there for Ry when we get home and work will have to wait until he is down and I have found time to eat dinner sitting down in a chair.

We are enough. It may not be all the time to everyone, but we are enough.

2013 Reflections

It is hard to look back on 2013 and not focus 99% on our biggest life change to date – the birth of our son Rylan. I was lucky to enjoy a healthy and easy pregnancy and (feel free to roll your eyes) I loved almost every moment of the nine months. It was really neat to keep the sex a surprise and if/when we have Sprout #2 we plan to do the same. Staying active kept me sane and I feel very lucky that I was able to keep going strong until about 38 weeks. We took a short but incredible babymoon in Crested Butte and I surprised myself by patiently decorating a gender-neutral nursery that we absolutely love.

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Life changed for the better on July 24 at 12:40 p.m. Mike excitedly announced, “it’s a boy,” and just like that, we became parents. The actual birth is a bit of a blur and to be honest, for those first few hours in our hospital room when it was just the three of us, I stared at Rylan and worried that I wasn’t actually ready to be a mom. I stressed that I wouldn’t know what to do when we got home and that I would never learn his cries or love him the way all other new moms gush about loving their infant from the second they are born. But day by day we figured it out. I came to enjoy our quiet, though exhausting, middle of the night feeds because I realized how powerful our bond was becoming. I found confidence with every solo trip out of the house and successful nap battles won. I learned to accept help, stopped holding in tears on the tough days and found the couple of moms that I could be 100% real with, knowing they wouldn’t judge me for anything I shared or asked. I cherish these women!

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Unknown-2Rylan’s arrival changed a lot, but not everything. Mike and I took time for ourselves. He got back to band practice and played two shows. He traveled for work and I held down the fort alone. I got back to the gym, returned to work and found time to work on friendships – something I want to focus on more in 2014. We went on dates and found ways to divide and conquer the pressures of being a household of two, full-time working parents. Mike is the best father. The. Best.

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2013 rounded out with Thanksgiving celebrations with Mike’s family here in Colorado followed by Rylan’s first plane ride and trip to California to be with my family for Christmas (notice the unmistakable LA traffic pictured above, and thanks to grandparents who pushed us to escape for a date night and enjoy some cocktails throughout the week). We plan to spend a quiet New Year’s Eve together in the mountains, surely reflecting on how blessed we have been this year. Health. Family. Fun. Love. None of this is lost on me.

For 2014 I don’t want to make the typical resolutions. Yes of course I want to work out more, eat cleaner, put more money in savings – blah blah. I hope I’ll just do all of those things regardless because they are good for me and my family. If I had to set one personal goal for the year ahead it would be to work on my friendships. Through moves, weddings, babies, work, etc., I have missed out on nourishing certain friendships that mean a great deal to me. I’ve gotten lazy, relying on texts and Facebook to sustain friendships that are worthy of calls, trips, mailed cards for no reason…all the things we used to do before technology made it acceptable to wish a friend since high school a belated happy birthday on a Facebook wall. I’m not proud of what I have let slip, even though many would say I have an excuse with becoming a mom and working full-time. I am happier when my core group of girlfriends is strong and thriving, and in 2014 I want to work on that — along with deepening new, really amazing friendships I have formed through becoming a mom.

In closing, I want to sincerely thank you (my readers) for your support, advice and excitement this year. As I continue to evolve Lex & Learn I hope you’ll still come along for the journey and stories of our family adventures, struggles and celebrations. Please know that I am wishing you a very safe, healthy and blessed 2014.

Rylan’s Baptism Celebration

We baptized Rylan on Sunday and celebrated the day with family and close friends. He looked dapper in a sweet red bow tie and was extremely mellow through the entire process. Not a single tear as water was dribbled onto his head or when the oil was put on his forehead. He was also a total sport as the pastor walked him around the congregation to “meet” everyone in the church. Adorable is an understatement. It was extra special to be joined by my brother, Rylan’s godfather, from California and Rylan’s great grandparents from Minnesota.

Getting to Rylan’s baptism day was an interesting journey, as both Mike and I were raised going to church but have not been personally active in many years. It was very important to me that we find a local congregation and baptize Rylan but Mike wasn’t on board right away. After a lot of discussion, driven by me, we found a Methodist church close to our house that embodies the values we plan to instill in Rylan. The church’s mission is to be respectful of all people no matter their color or lifestyle and give back to the community in every way possible, be it time or money. The programs by which the church gives back are fantastic. I am particularly excited to attend a PB&J ministry morning when they make sack lunches and pass them out to people in need at a park in downtown Denver. I hope Rylan will enjoy doing these sorts of things with us as he gets older. It builds character and in my opinion, will help him learn how lucky he is to have everything he needs.

I mean, just check out this Welcome Statement! Highlands United Methodist Church embraces Jesus’ message that God loves and accepts every person, and so our welcome knows no boundaries. In the name and spirit of Jesus, we welcome people of every age, race, ethnicity, culture, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, physical or mental ability, and economic condition into full participation in the life and leadership of our congregation.

I feel so blessed that Rylan enjoyed so much love and attention from his extended family all weekend long. It makes us even more excited for the holiday season ahead…he’ll meet more great grandparents, dozens of cousins, aunts, uncles and more! There is truly  nothing better in this world than family.

Happy Anniversary Hubby!

Credit: Zorn Photography

Happy 2+8 anniversary to my handsome and incredibly supportive husband Mike. The 2+8 reference is that we’ve been married for two years today, but together for 10 years total! Meeting, falling for and giving my heart to Mike has made the last 10 years unforgettable. He is my rock, my patience, my best friend, my biggest fan…and soon-to-be the most wonderful and supportive father.

Credit: Zorn Photography

Our wedding was a celebration for the record books and I know the years ahead, even with highs and lows, will continue to be filled with many more celebrations. How do I know that? Because we do not take anything for granted. We know that relationships, at all stages, take work. And we’re more committed to that work – the fun and the challenging – than ever before.

Credit: Zorn Photography

Mike, you know that I love you to the moon and back. And in case I don’t say it enough, I appreciate you every single day. Thank you for making me the luckiest wife around. Happy 2+8 to us.

Overwhelmed and Blessed

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I’m sitting at the airport in Burbank, Calif., on my way home to Denver after a weekend in LA for my baby shower that was way too short. Pictures to come but I had to write about how overwhelmed I feel with all the blessings and love we’ve been shown over the past few days in anticipation of little sprout.

On Thursday my office threw a three-way baby shower for myself and two other colleagues who are expecting in May and July respectively. I received so many thoughtful gifts and warm wishes. My heart was filled to the brim.

Then yesterday, Saturday, my mom threw me a gorgeous baby shower attended by family, family friends and my dearest girlfriends. I was astonished by all the generosity, appreciative of the advice and grateful for the chance to connect with the women who have helped shape the person I am today, and I mom I hope to be.

I am not ready to go home to Denver and I wish I could ditch my flight and stay just a few more days. The life change ahead is becoming more real each day and the next time I come back to LA I won’t just be me. I’ll be a mom with little sprout in tow, introducing him or her to the entire family. It seems impossible to fathom. But I am bursting from excitement and anticipation.

We are so ridiculously loved, lucky and blessed. Family and friends are truly what make life so sweet.

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