Rylanisms

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Thank goodness toddlers are cute. Between the pulling-out-my-hair moments and legit time-outs I have to give myself to avoid going off the rails, Rylan opens his mouth and precious Rylanisms come out to make us keel over in laughter.

Spend enough time with Rylan these days and you might just hear…

  • “I need a tow truck for my nose.”
  • “I have a booger.”
  • “I not know.”
  • “How many minutes? Two minutes. Five minutes. Ok one minute.”
  • “I’m amazing.”
  • “Havin’ beers?”
  • “Coffee is yucky.”
  • “I need a ladder.”
  • “I have french fries and ice ceeeeeeem?”
  • “Yummy in my tummy tummy yummy.”
  • “The sun is taking a nap.”
  • “I have a poop.”
  • “Go Ralphie CU Broncos.”
  • “Green light WOO HOO!”
  • “Is that from your butt?” (Gross, boy humor already starting)

In the last 24 hours alone there have also been some sweet moments. So very sweet. Last night he asked me to sing him the “sunshine song” before putting him in his crib. And this morning when I woke up feeling like hell from round I cold & flu season hit, he patted my leg and bed and said “I wanna cuddle you mommy.”

MELT.

Right when you aren’t sure you can make it through a toddler’s day, they flip it on you and you’re not sure how you’ll ever be able to be away from them.

Darn you crazy toddlers!

I’ll Never: Dinnertime Edition

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Before you actually become a parent, you’re the best version of a parent you’ll ever be. You live and talk in “I will” and “we will” and “they will” sentiments. You are confident, cocky even.

Then real life kicks in.

And you think back to all the fake smiles and gracious head nods parents gave you pre-children. How nice they were to wait until you walked away to laugh and say to themselves, “oh just wait.”

Real life as a parent is 100% opposite from the saccharine Pinterest boards you pinned for nine months of pregnancy. I break my own pre-Rylan parenting rules every single day. Numerous times each day at that. How you ask? Let’s explore all the lofty things I aspired to when Rylan was still the size of a blueberry in my belly:

  • I’ll never rely on microwaved chicken nuggets as a nightly dinner
  • I won’t raise a mac & cheese kid
  • My kid will not watch TV every day
  • I’ll buy all organic produce
  • No juice boxes
  • We’ll eat dinner as a family at night
  • We will all eat the same things. I am not a short order cook

A tremendous source of my day-to-day guilt is centered around how I envisioned shaping Rylan’s relationship with food.

I am a conscious eater in most regards. I gave up meat nearly five years ago and my daily gym-going nature shapes what I will and will not put in my body. Yet I haven’t been able to find the time to weave my individual approach to food and food prep through how I (barely) get food onto the table at 6:30 p.m. every night for Mike and Rylan.

Much to my horror, he asks for, and gets, chicken nuggets on his dinner plate more nights that I can bring myself to admit. I hate it. Yet it’s a cycle I can’t harness the energy to break on the regular. Meal-prep Sunday only takes me so far. By Wednesday and Thursday, I am so tired. So dang tired.

I get angry and throw up my hands when I bust my butt to try a new “toddler approved” recipe from scratch only to have it met by a toddler who refuses to try even a bite of the dish, proclaiming “I no like it,” before it hits his lips.

My Pinterest boards are full of meals I mean to make. And have every intention of making and sometimes even shop for. This week will be different I tell myself.

Convenience foods are winning. Toddler pickiness is wearing me down.

How do your family meals live up to your pre-kid expectations?

Realizations from the Big Apple

 

 

Tired mommy soaking up the little guy before leaving again in the morning.

Tired mommy soaking up the little guy before leaving again in the morning.

I just returned from five nights away from home, and am turning around in the morning for one more day and night away. While I’ve been away from Rylan for five nights once before, this is the first trip of this length where I have been, essentially, by myself. I tacked Saturday and Sunday onto a Monday – Wednesday work trip to New York City. It’s a city that has a piece of my heart even though I’ve never lived there. I spent two carefree weekend days wandering Manhattan with my cousin and it was blissful. Both moms, we reveled in not having any sort of a schedule. We shopped, ate and slept in for two uninterrupted mornings. Heaven. Then I checked into a hotel for two hectic but rewarding days for a client media event. I opted to skip the lure of the city both nights and trade busy bars for basic hotel cable and blackout shades.

Safe to say I didn’t realize just how exhausted and run down I was until this trip. Ironically, I slept more in New York City than anywhere else I’ve been in months, maybe years.

When I am away from home people love to ask how I do it, or comment how it must be so hard. Many ask, “is this your first trip away?” I love the varying reactions when I say “nope, I’ve actually been away for nights here and there since he was 7 weeks old.”

But every trip is different, and this one (since it somewhat continues through Friday…I have a company retreat in Vail tomorrow through Friday morning) feels especially long. It has made me realize a few things I have been taking for granted.

  • My husband is the best. Seriously, the best. He never batted an eye or made me feel guilty for one minute about extending my time in NYC, or when our company offsite got scheduled for the day after I returned from NYC. He planned a super fun weekend for Rylan while I was playing in NYC that included a hike, seeing friends and going to the pumpkin patch. Every time I talked to Rylan on the phone he sounded extremely happy and content
  • I’m pushing myself really hard, mentally and physically. The pressure I put on myself to workout Monday – Friday, eat healthy and work full time is tremendous. I am not saying anything is going to change, but I need to be careful. I was in shock how much sleep I needed to catch up on this trip.
  • I want us to be better savers so we can do more traveling with Rylan. I was enthralled with viewing NYC through my new “mom lens” and want to bring him back to explore the parks, museums and other kid-friendly Big Apple attractions. I know he will LOVE the subway trains, buses and seeing the water.
  • It’s more than possible to live small with kids. Like, really small. I am in awe of how my cousin makes their 1,000 square foot apartment gorgeous and totally livable. I spent a lot of time thinking about how much I hope we can stay close to downtown Denver and make the most out of our urban-ish home, a mansion compared to how Manhattan families live. A BBQ is a luxury to most Manhattan dwellers and we have a ton more space to maximize if we simply learn to cut back where we can and make Ikea storage hacks a regular part of our vocabulary.
  • Mike is amazing. Yes, I had to reiterate this one more time. I am so damn grateful to have a true partner day after day.

NYC, I already miss you. But home sweet home (for 12 hours) feels quite incredible.

Healthy, Organic Sleep

Note: I was provided a sample of Naturepedic’s organic waterproof crib sheet for review as part of its #NPBigKid and #healthysleep campaign. All opinions expressed are 100 percent my own. 

I buy organic produce. Well, most of the time. Ok…sometimes I really try to buy organic, but I just can’t pay $4.99+ for blueberries when conventional are on sale for $2.

I am a “Dirty Dozen” gal in that I buy natural and organic where I believe it truly matters, and look to save money in other areas. Daycare bills are no joke you guys!

Organic clothing and housewares are an area I rarely splurge. Of course when Rylan was still “Sprout” in my belly I envisioned organic everything–sheets, clothes, lotions and soaps. And then real life happened.

So when the amazing Stroller Traffic Scouts team approached me to test an organic crib bedding product from Naturepedic I was hesitant but also intrigued. Rylan, a ridiculously amazing sleeper, spends a LOT of time in his crib. Could I make it cozier? Healthier?

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When I received the organic waterproof crib pad I was immediately intrigued with the accompanying booklet. Naturepedic’s mission is to source certified organic cotton and latex according to strict environmental and labor standards. This statement alone reminded me that choosing organic is not just about my body or Rylan’s body, but about the long term health of the planet I hope he thrives on for a very long time. A commitment that every single parent today needs to seriously think about, within reason, given chilling headlines like this.

The organic cotton flannel pad itself is soft with a natural beige hue – no bleach used here. And because Rylan has been known to wet through even the most “leak proof” 12 hour+ diapers, I appreciate that it can be machine washed. At $69 it is an investment, but Rylan has been in his crib for two years and isn’t getting moved anytime soon. It will surely get much more use than many of his adorable outfits.

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Rylan loves having a pillow so I do want to invest in the Naturepedic organic toddler pillow next. At $49 it is again an investment, but given his sweet head will sleep on it every night I love that it’s made from organic cotton and a washable plant-based PLA batting (made from non-GMO potatoes!!).

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Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll be continuing to help raise awareness for the Naturepedic brand by sharing our favorite “wow, he’s a big kid” moments on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #NPBigKid and #healthysleep. I hope you’ll spend some time learning about the brand and thinking about it for your family or for thoughtful, healthy gifts for little ones on the way!

Transition Timer

Transitions are hard. None of us like leaving something fun for something we believe to be not as fun. And when you’re a toddler, transitions pretty much mean the world is ending and your parents are evil doers.

Rylan is, in general, an easy going kid. Most of his “moments” are standard two-year-old outbursts. Share a Thomas the Train book, mom? You must be out of your damn mind. Stop making strawberry soup in my kitchen and take a bath? You’re totally nuts dad.

 

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Since reasoning with Rylan when he is mid-tantrum isn’t an option (it’s like gasoline on a bonfire), I’ve started trying to exert some semblance of sanity around the transitions I can, sometimes, control.

Dinner → play → bath → book → bed is the main transition of angst on hectic week nights. So, at the suggestion of an understanding daycare teacher, we have started using a timer for the most difficult part, ending play time. Once dinner ends and Ry picks his pre-bath activity we make a very clear display of setting a timer on our phone based on how long he has before clean up needs to begin. We tell him the timer is being set, show him if he wants to look at the screen, and then ask him to repeat back what happens when the timer goes off. Rylan responds really well to very clear instructions when we engage him in repeating them.

The system isn’t perfect. The timer going off usually results in some fake crying and pouting. But, let me tell you. Nine of 10 times he begins to clean up and make his way to the bath. I am a firm believer in structure (oh wow, shocker I know) and more and more, I recognize that he’s my son in that same way.

The timer gives toddler’s a way to grasp time and the beginning/ending of a set period of time. Type-A, controlling toddlers. Sorry, Mike. At least he looks like you!

Do you set timers for transitions or other sensitive times around your house? What works?! Please share.

Rylan’s Reading List: Age Two

Where the Wild Things Arel

Rylan loves books. LO.V.E.S. them. I feel really lucky that “read a book mama” is a natural part of our day. The back of our cars are filled with daily picks for the drive to daycare and books make getting dressed in the morning or ready for bed at night much more manageable.

So, what are we obsessed with these days? Well, no matter how much I beg or try to bargain, Ry picks from the same rotation of books over and over again. I assume this is normal? As of now, we can pretty much recite the following with our eyes closed…in our sleep.

  • Where The Wild Things Are – a classic. We love to dance to the “rumpus” with Max and the
    wild things
  • Flashlight – a beautifully and uniquely illustrated book with no words, which allows us to use our imaginations and re-explore the story over and over
  • Builder Bugs – a really neat pop up book from our friends whose little guys love it too
  • Goodnight Moon – a staple in Ry’s crib for his own reading time
  • Yummy, Yucky – this taught him that mommy’s coffee is “yucky”
  • It’s Hard to Hurry When You’re a Snail – a cute story about a little snail that also happens to be religious at the very end and tie into Noah’s Ark
  • Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb – a short Dr. Seuss classic that makes the bedtime routine go super fast. On the contrary, there is always a bit of a sigh from mom and dad when he requests the full length Oh The Places You’ll Go before bed
  • Corduroy – another super sweet classic. I love when he chooses this one

Books are one of my favorite gifts to give and receive. What are favorites in your family library?

Kicking It Up With Orange Theory

Fitness has been a cornerstone of my weekly routine for quite awhile now. Even pregnant, I did yoga sculpt, barre and spin for 38 of 39 weeks. Sometimes I think back to my 20’s when I couldn’t be bothered with so much as a yoga class and I am disappointed I squandered all the free time I had not being more active! Such a shame.

For the past few years all of my working out has been done at QiFlow in downtown Denver. QiFlow is a community I have grown to love and I consider myself friends with several of my all-time-favorite instructors. When it comes to breaking a sweat, I am really only motivated by fitness classes. When I can’t get to a class I may go for a run or attempt a DVD in the basement, but the chances are quite slim.

A few months ago, however, I felt myself starting to get a little bored with my same classes and also realized I was hitting some plateaus. Simultaneously, I realized that 5am classes, albeit painful, are doable. I looked around for one more gym to enhance all the great progress I’ve made in spin, barre and yoga and turned to Orange Theory Fitness.

Hot damn.

Orange Theory is no joke. Sure, you can absolutely tailor it to your ability and trade running for walking and pick up the lightest set of weights. But one look around the room during class and every competitive fiber in your body will likely, as it does for me, fire up and push you to run harder, row faster and go big in the weight room. And just when you think you’re at  your max, a glance up to the screen displaying your heart rate monitor stats proves that you’ve got a little more to give. Classes vary each day between endurance, strength and power. Depending on the day the treadmill brings long pushes, hills or sprints, which is replicated on the rower as well. In the weight room you use everything from TRX suspension to free weights and Bosu balls. The 60 minutes ends with a summary of your heart rate monitor emailed to you. Triumph!

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Once again, hot damn.

Orange Theory (OTF to its fans) has pushed me to a new level in my fitness. I am faster and stronger and can finally see a noticeable difference in my muscle mass/tone on my arms and legs. In fact, my muscle tone has changed so much that I have had some days where I’ve worried about jeans fitting tighter in the thighs or thinking my arms look a bit bulky–but once I get a grip I see strength, power and feel endurance I’ve never had before.

I aim to take at least two OTF classes per week in addition to my spin, yoga, bootcamp and barre classes at Qi. It’s one of the most productive and impactful 60 minutes of my day. The addition of OTF class packs to my monthly Qi membership hasn’t been cheap, but I’ll gladly cut back in other areas to invest in my health and wellness. I primarily look to OTF for my 5am classes. Even though I can drag a bit at first, I do much better with the OTF intensity early in the day rather than after a long day in the office. OTF sets a “kick ass, take names” sort of tone for my day.

OTF can be for everyone, but I believe the monetary investment in the classes is only worth it if you really want to move the needle and push yourself each class. I am inspired by all of the different men and women who hop onto the treadmills and strap into the rowers–the mix of ages and abilities is truly amazing.

If you live or work near downtown Denver I can’t say enough about the new-ish Union Station location. The equipment is fantastic and the instructors won’t let you quit on yourself.

Try and OTF class and get ‘er done!

Note: I was not compensated by OTF in any way for this blog post. I am simply motivated by my experiences there and hope others will give it a try! 

 

It Doesn’t Always Get Easier

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“It gets easier.” How many times do we hear that in a lifetime? From parents, teachers, coworkers, friends…everyone says “it will get easier” in just about every tough situation.

But what about when it doesn’t?

In this case I am not talking about parenting itself, because I know every year will actually be harder in new ways. Terrible two’s, terrorist three’s, 5th grade homework that’s over my head, getting cut from a high school team…

No, I am talking about the balance of working outside the home and being the mom I want to be. I remember, vividly, a moment during the early days of maternity leave when all I wanted was a shower, coffee that stayed hot and to be at work among adults who weren’t on a three hour feeding schedule. The pit in my stomach during the early days of leaving Rylan as a tiny baby in the hands of daycare teachers now, sometimes, pales in comparison to the pit I have on the drive to daycare after a weekend of playing, discovering and conversing with our VERY talkative two year old.

It doesn’t always get easier.

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Before I was leaving a baby who needed a lot of sleep, bottles, some stimulation and cuddles. Now I’m dropping off a little boy who asks for mommy to be “with me” when he is checking out something new, requesting his favorite books by name and demanding “sit down mama” when it’s time to eat as a family. Yes, his outbursts and tantrums are infuriating, but his warm heart and kooky moods make me complete.

It doesn’t always get easier.

More than ever I am leaning on my tribe of moms who get it, and can remind me of how lucky I am to truly have a career I am extremely proud of without sacrificing mornings, nights or weekends with my family. The moms who don’t blink an eye when my voice cracks a bit or eyes start to water when I talk about how fun the weekend was with Mike and Ry. The moms who I know will pick me up on the days I crumble and wonder, will it get easier?

It doesn’t always get easier, but Rylan is learning so much based on the way our unit functions day in and day out. He loves his daycare, teachers and friends. He is 100% flexible on who watches him and how any one day unfolds. His smile gets huge on weekends when he realizes it is “mommy and daddy day.” That’s the very best smile he has. And in those moments, it gets easier.

Birthday Week Emotions

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Two years ago tonight I was just a few days away from the most incredible day of my life. The day we met Rylan. This week is full of emotions.

For all the things that signal the era of parenting we’re about to begin, the terrible two’s, I do already have a favorite. Conversing.

When Mike and I went to Mexico for five nights in June we left a little boy with a growing vocabulary. When we returned we were greeted by a little boy stringing together two, three and four word phrases, working so hard to tell us what he is seeing in the world around him and how he wants to be a part of it. My favorites…

  • Oh, hi mama!
  • Ry see it
  • Ry push it
  • I try it
  • I do it
  • Woah. Muscles
  • More milk please
  • Tona (i.e., Kona) outside
  • No Tona (again, how he says Kona’s name right now)
  • Tona barking
  • Tona no barking
  • No raining. Sunny out
  • Ry needs (insert a myriad of requests)
  • Oopsie
  • Daddy plays the drums
  • Mike guitar
  • Daddy/mommy made it
  • I see outside

There are so many more new phrases and every day he surprises us with a new word that I can’t even imagine how he learned it. Tonight it was frisbee and porcupine when we were reading one of his favorite Words picture book.

We also had a hilarious and all-boy conversation on Monday about who poops. He said “sorry mama” when I was rushing to re-change a fresh diaper before daycare drop off. I told him not to be sorry because everyone poops. He sat there for a minute, processing the information, and promptly asked, “Mickey Mouse poop?” We then had to go through every character of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse to talk about who poops. I am the mom of a boy, no doubt.

Ry will be two on Friday, and this birthday week is full of reflections for me. It feels like a really big birthday.

Last year I was an emotional wreck about stopping breastfeeding after 12 long but proud months. Ry’s walking was on the horizon but he was still taking his sweet time. Today he is running circles around us, daily, and tests our conviction as he learns how to press buttons and explore boundaries.

From birth to 12 months we made sure he survived. From 12 to 24 months the shift from survival parenting to ACTUAL parenting has been incredibly real…and fun, scary, exhausting, rewarding, confusing, and the list goes on. It’s hard not to obsess about every teachable moment and remember that he’s just two, and his “up please mama” requests are ever-fleeting. I am proud of Mike and I for stumbling through the transition and making the time to talk daily about what’s working, what’s not working and how to remain on the same page. Communication, listening and forgiveness is everything right now. Everything.

I’m going to be the mama of a two year old. It’s hard to comprehend. I am happy. I am tired. I worry to a fault. And, I am in love. I am head-over-heels in love with my family.

Ground Control to Tired Moms

Ground control. Come in ground control.

When I realized how long it has been since I blogged, and all that I’ve wanted to share, a play on these lyrics came to my mind immediately. I’ve lost radio contact with any sort of control.

Much of the aimless spinning is a result of summer fun. We’ve been camping, to a cabin in the Spanish Peaks, had playdates and taken Saturday morning swim lessons. I just completed round II of a twice-a-week 5 a.m. bootcamp that has me going to bed ridiculously early as I’m up to three, sometimes four, 5 a.m. or 5:30 a.m. gym classes/week. Mike and I escaped to Mexico for several nights, just us, at the end of June and through it all I’ve managed to stay ahead of the laundry piles and keep some fresh produce in the house–though there have been very few home cooked meals. We’re all eating a smorgasbord of items with bagged kale salads dominating my lunch and dinner routine. So much so that Rylan sees any sort of lettuce and says, “salad mama.” At least it’s not ice cream, right?

But I can’t shake the feeling, or an obsession really, with all I am not doing. The house is what I define as surface clean. Drawers, cabinets, closets and storage areas are a hot mess, causing me anxiety nearly every day when I try to balance and shove items into a fake sense of organization. We owe wedding gifts dating back to last year and I have a list of about a dozen thank you notes I can never seem to write. Kona is still rarely, if ever, walked and I can’t remember the last time I exposed Rylan to a new recipe. I’m dying to get my hair cut but cannot find the time based on the other priorities I won’t give up. I think my car is blue, but I cannot tell underneath the layers of mud and dust. My eyes ache by the end of each day because I desperately need to go to the eye doctor. But when?

I am SO tired of bagged salads with a protein dumped on top…what I am eating right now. Bagged salads have become a symbol of how certain “me” priorities, like working out, have a domino effect. Having it all as a working mom is not only impossible, it’s a brutal facade that we have to be more honest about.

Yes, I choose to work outside the home because I’ve worked hard to get to where I am professionally and it makes me happy. I don’t want to get off the train. But I also need to work and the daily push/pull of giving work and family my all is all-consuming. Yes, Mike and I work full-time but that doesn’t mean we can afford a nanny who shops, cooks and cleans. Nor can we afford a regular cleaning person if we want to hold gym memberships, travel a few times a year and eat high-quality food. We both work to provide Rylan a safe and stable upbringing. Simple as that.

It’s only going to get harder too. People don’t just tell me that, I see it every day among the incredible moms I call my colleagues and friends. Soccer practice, dance classes, summer camps, homework–Mike and I will blink and soon the “problems” of toddlerhood in a dual-career household will be laughable. I will literally laugh at myself for being stressed.

Perspective. That’s my perspective right now.

Perspective that the angst and tears and stomach eating stress comes from such a deep and powerful love for my family. My obsession is not really about messy drawers. It’s about wanting to do everything so perfectly for my family. I want Rylan to have everything I can give him that’s isn’t necessarily a possession. Love, health, adventure, structure, discipline…and I want to do it all everyday and do it perfectly.

I guess I still haven’t accepted that the Pinterest mom is not real. She’s not attainable.

Ground control. Come in ground control. Can I get a home cooked meal, closet organizer and a hair cut?

 

 

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