Today, I am tired.

It’s 2:00 pm. We’ve made it to nap time! Owen is finally down for his nap, and I’m sitting in the living room feeding Wesley his afternoon bottle before his nap. It’s finally quiet in this house. This type of quiet is far and few between these days, and this type of quiet is dangerous for a stay at home mom like me. When both of the kids are down for a nap at the same time, I can totally disconnect for a little while and turn my brain off in the quiet; but today, I sit in the silence and remain present with the task at hand.

Being a mom has turned me into a robot. I go and go all day long, and when there is a moment of silence and rest, I automatically distract myself so that I don’t sit with my thoughts. You know why? Because my thoughts are screaming “THIS SUCKS” so loudly that I can hardly hear anything else. When I’m confined to a chair during a silent feed, I accidentally remember how tired I am, and today, I am so tired.

Before I became a mom, I dreamed about staying at home. I fantasized about doing crafts with my kids, taking them on adorable play dates, and teaching them how to be tiny responsible citizens who were kind to others and hopefully cared about the planet.
Turns out, while the highs are incredibly fulfilling and abundantly life giving, the lows are the deepest of deep and totally suck the soul right out of you. Every emotion is magnified by a million when you’re a parent, so on the days that I’m feeling stay at home mom burn out, I’m REALLY feeling stay at home mom burn out.

Have you ever burst into tears when you try to work out for the first time in 9 months, and the gym staff member taps you on the shoulder and tells you that your baby is crying and that you need to pick him up?… because that’s what I did at 10:30 today. Have you ever burst into tears while the staff member at Okie Playground helps you to your car (who am I kidding, I don’t drive a car anymore) minivan, because you’ve thrown your screaming/kicking/sobbing toddler over your shoulder and need help holding him down to get him strapped in?… because that’s what I did at 1:30 today. Have you ever burst into tears because while you were changing the youngest, the oldest emptied an entire container of cashews on the living room floor and spilled your old coffee on the bar stool?… because that’s what I did 20 minutes ago. Y’all. I. AM. SO. TIRED.

And when I say tired, I’m not talking about a teething, all-nighter kind of tired. I’m not even talking about a first day at a cross fit boot camp class that you joined by accidentally ‘liking’ a facebook post 6 weeks after giving birth (we’ll chat about that later). I’m talking about a three year long viewing of a new cross over between This Is Us/Grey’s Anatomy while reading The Notebook during commercial breaks, eating Taco Bell five layer burritos for every meal, and every stretch of sleep longer than 5 hours activating a recurring nightmare that you’re the leading lady in Liam Neeson’s French action thriller, “Taken.” That kind of fatigue. A special mix of emotional warfare and sloppy life choices because you’re trapped in a weird space of being both sedentary and physically active at the same time, all while doing nothing for yourself. This is the tired that I feel today. Today, the weight of the fatigue feels truly palpable.

I’ve heard people talk about these thoughts creeping in as if they’re Satan trying to rob you of the joys of motherhood. I’ve read posts comparing this type of fatigue to the ‘enemy’ planning his attack on your family. You’re supposed to resist these thoughts, and  make them background noise while pressing on with this kingdom work… but what if you just need to sit in it?

I need to know that today is okay. I need to know that it’s normal to feel burnt out and defeated, and that while I’m trying my hardest to follow the advice of my hobby lobby wall decor and “choose joy”,  I feel nothing. I need to know that Satan doesn’t present himself in spilled scrambled eggs on my kitchen floor and the sitting blowout in my laundry hamper. I need to know that my mind is not betraying me, and that my brain screams “this sucks” because THIS SUCKS.

The only thing that makes this motherhood gig harder than it already is, is pretending that it’s not as hard as it already is. So today, to the moms that are reading this that are feeling burnt out, let’s speak it into the universe together. Today, let’s not pretend that we aren’t all dog tired. Now goodnight.


Two Are Better than One

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Two are better than one.

Whether it be displayed through a partnership in marriage, a friendship, a second child, or most importantly, a glass of wine- the good Lord KNOWS what we need. In fact, I would argue that two is almost always better than one. Except when we’re talking about what we’d rather be scrubbing out of our tub on all fours post toddler bath… then it’s definitely not two. Two is never better than one in that scenario.

Since my last blog, (which by the way, I’m going to pick back up like a crazy ex and pretend like I haven’t totally ignored you guys for over a year), some pretty huge life changes have taken place. Over the past year I have journeyed through another pregnancy, I have come to healthier terms with my mom bod, and I have found security in my new identity as a stay at home mom. We moved houses and I impulsively gave away our family dog (a story for another time), Barry has turned in his manhood for a minivan, and most recently, I have given birth to the sweetest baby of all time. I am currently coming to you live from the trenches of newborn/toddler survival mode, which has been our dwelling place for the past three months. Some of you might be thinking, “Wow- she’s so incredible. How is she making time to please the masses and write this blog? She really is a super woman.” The answer to that question is… yeah. I am incredible. But also, I have a case of the coffee shakes. I OD’ed on coffee this morning while taking Owen to Mother’s Day Out. I’m literally shaking with energy, and I’d rather write while Wes is napping than do the laundry or dishes. So whatever.

Anyway- let’s get to it. Life with two… an Ode to my sweet, sweet Wesley boy.

Enough time has passed for me to look back at myself as a brand new mother and want a complete do-over. When I think of the crippling fear and anxiety, the stupid decisions, and the intense vulnerability that made me believe that I was doing every single thing wrong, I can’t decide if I want to hug myself or slap myself. I can’t decide if I needed a big dose of grace, or a big dose of Zoloft. I look back at how I not so quietly resented my hardworking husband for being able to go to work and have adult interaction; feeling so jealous that he could feel useful and not used- to have a purpose outside of feeding, burping, changing, repeating. I can remember how his words of affirmation seemed patronizing rather than complimentary because I was struggling so much with accepting my new body. I want to go back so badly and tell myself then, what I know to be true now- but I can’t, and that’s part of both the joy and the sorrow of this season of life. I can’t even warn expectant mothers; which I want to be able to do so badly, but they just have to trek through the mud themselves.

Because I had such a hard time mothering Owen for the first year or so of his life, you can imagine how afraid I was to have another. The second time is way different than the first, because now you know. You know how uncomfortable and sacrificial pregnancy is. You know how fabulous it feels to push a 9 pound baby out of your body, and you know how precious and adorable it is to uncontrollably pee when you sneeze. You know how your heart feels when your child is sick for the first time, and you know how isolating it is to be stuck at home with a new baby. You are way too familiar with the monster that is sleep deprivation, and how it takes a toll on your marriage. But the great news is that because you know- you are now much better equipped to handle it.
Two are better than one.

I’m not saying that Wesley is my “do-over” baby, but I will say that it is completely different, and so much better this time. He is a happier baby because I know now how to foster healthy sleep habits from the beginning. This time, I prioritize feeding my marriage over feeding my child organic, home made purees. I work on speaking life into my toddler rather than speaking down to myself. The second time, I care more about what Jesus thinks and less about what other mothers say, and that, my friends, is a complete game changer.

I can appreciate the baby when the toddler sucks, and the toddler when the baby sucks. On days when Owen is screaming “No like mommy!” over and over in Hobby Lobby and I’m crying to my mom on the phone, I want to love and squeeze and just breathe in sweet, innocent Wesley even more. When Wesley doesn’t do anything but lay and stare, I count down the moments until Owen wakes up so I get to talk to and play with my energetic toddler again. When the baby is crying non-stop for what seems like no reason at all, I thank God for a toddler who can communicate and tell me what’s wrong, and when the toddler is crying because his foot won’t also come off when he takes his shoes off, I thank God for a baby that will sit silently in my arms. They are both constantly reminding me that each phase is as precious as it is fleeting.

They both make me love the other so much that it hurts and drives me crazy at the same time. I am starting to see tiny glimpses of the fruits of my labor in the way that Owen shares with, loves on, and speaks to others. Although I know it’s probably just in his nature, I like to believe that my hard work has helped in making him tender, caring, and super hilarious, and that is what pushes me to give 100% of myself to Wesley as well.

Barry’s papa always told his parents, who told us, that “your first child takes 100% of your energy, and your second child takes 100% of your energy.” You give your children your all, no matter how many children you have. Having two doesn’t mean you are totally dead to yourself, it means what is stripped away is replaced with something much, much better. To love and take care of your children with everything that you have is life-giving, even in the moments that seem life-sucking.

So here’s to you, Wesley Wayne, for making me love my Savior, my husband, my first born, myself, my child-less target runs, and the “occasional” glass of wine more than I could have ever imagined.

Two are better than one.




My Favorite Student

Alas…. a blog post!!!! You guys, I have missed you.
Since my last post, a couple of exciting things have happened in my world:

1. I found my wedding ring!!!!!
Just kidding, but I DID find a really fab fakey for $7.99 on Amazon. (here is the link to buy your own) Just kidding again about the link, because nobody wants to buy this disgusting already yellowing costume ring. I bought several different styles because some days I feel like Kim K, and other days I’d rather channel a more modest Michelle Duggar, ya know? It mainly has to do with how recently I’ve washed my hair. Anyway, I’m only horribly depressed about my wedding ring when I think about it….so, on to number 2.

2. I started a fun little side job/hobby. Let’s call it a jobby. My new jobby is making fun custom boards for crazy moms. I’m making birthday boards, shower and nursery decor, and monthly milestone boards for my fellow moms who want to document all of their babies’ new developments each month until their first birthday. I tried to do this with Owen, but I stopped at about 8 months because as much as I want to be on top of my game, I am just not. But that’s fine. Keep doin’ your thang Pinterest moms. Anyway, I’m currently calling my jobby Benny B Designs. (My 5th graders called me Mrs. Bennett, then Mrs. Benny, which eventually turned into Benny Ben, which then turned into Benny B… I don’t know… kids are weird.) I have an instagram account for it, and have looked into starting an Etsy store, but apparently Benny B Designs is taken by an old lady who knits weird blankets that has sold one product since she opened it in 2013. Part of me wants to cyber bully her into closing her store, but the other part of me is like “fiiiiiiiiiiiiiine WWJD.” So I say all that to say, I will be coming up with a new name for my jobby soon so be on the look out. Barry says ‘Boards 4 All my Betchez’ might target the wrong crowd, but whatever.

Okay, now that you have been briefed on the happenings of my life, I want to tell you about my all-time favorite student, who made a huge impact on my life.

Being a teacher is much like being a mom in the sense that you slowly become totally crazy. You go through a million emotions a day, switching back and forth from absolutely adoring your kids, to wanting them all to go on a super long Caribbean cruise at a moments notice. You are so emotionally vulnerable in the classroom, because whether you want to admit it or not, your students become a part of you. You spend more time with these kids than their parents do, so eventually, little pieces of your heart are walking around outside of your body, and you have to watch as they try and figure out how to become compassionate, independent, GOOD people. You have to walk with them through it all- some of the good, but mostly the bad. Because of this, by the end of the year, there are some students that you just never ever want to say goodbye to. I want to tell you about my boy. We will call him Evan.

To properly introduce you to Evan, I have to go back to the moment that we met:

It was Back to School Night, and I was SO nervous to meet my new kids. I don’t care how calm, cool, and collected you are in the classroom… if Back to School Night doesn’t give you nervous diarrhea than I don’t trust you, and also, you’re lying. So anyway, we had just moved back home from San Antonio (praises be!) and I basically had 2 weeks to get my classroom and my brain ready for the first day of school. I. WAS. A. MESS. It didn’t help that on the day of Back to School night, I received my roster and saw that I would be getting 3 classes of THIRTY-ONE STUDENTS. You read that right, y’all. I also learned that since I was teaching Social Studies and Science, and because they aren’t considered “core subjects” (stupid.) all of the fifth graders that were receiving special ed. services in math and reading, would not be pulled out for assistance during my class. Guys- I am a huge advocate of inclusive learning (I originally planned to be a Spec. Ed teacher), but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t scared out of my mind to teach 3 different classes with 5+ students with special needs in each. I started the year without a paraprofessional in my class, so I was VERY intimidated by the task of meeting all of the students’ needs and accommodating each of my lessons so that all 93 of them would succeed.

I learned that I would be getting 3 students with autism in my home room class, which is nerve wracking because you really have to figure out the ins and outs of these students’ routines and behaviors before you can form any kinds of successful teacher/student relationships with them, and let’s face it- the first week of school is typically not an easy time to foster this much needed one-on-one time. So anyway… let me describe my first impression of Evan, who I knew had autism, but hadn’t really learned anything else about him from his previous teachers. Let’s set the scene: Evan is Asian. There is a huge language barrier already between his family and myself.

“Hi! I am so happy to meet you. My name is Mrs. Bennett, and I will be your home room teacher this year!” -Me
“Evan tall with body odor.” -Evan
*long pause….*
“Okay….. um…… Yes! I’m sure you grew over the summer! You must be taller this year than you were in the fourth grade. Your fourth grade teachers told me you were very smart, so I am happy to have you in my class!” -Me
“No. He no smart. He special need.” -HIS MOM!!!!!!

UUUUUMMMMMMMMM okay. Off the bat I knew this was going to be an interesting dynamic.

Fast forward to the first day of school. Again, such a hard transition for students, especially students with special needs. For students with autism, the change in routine and the quick new transitions can be totally overwhelming. While the other students were working on a “getting to know you” ice breaker, I noticed Evan seemed to be in a lot of distress. He was crinkling up paper and ripping it with clinched fists. I asked him what was going on, and our broken communication frustrated him even further. I asked him to talk to to me in the hall and when he met me outside I figured out that he was upset because we put all of our supplies into big community storage bins for everybody to use.
“Those my markers. My mom bought them!!! I use them not you! ” -Evan
“Oh! You’re upset that somebody might be using your markers. Well look, Hannah is using markers that Allison’s mom bought, and Allison is probably using markers that Austin’s mom bought. We are all sharing.”
….. not the right answer. Looking back, I don’t know why I couldn’t just let him keep his own personal pack. Rookie mistake.
With fury in his eyes, trembling with anger, he softly poked the tip of my nose and said “YOU BASTARD.”

Oh lands. It was time to worry less about the whole, and learn more about each piece- and QUICK.

After understanding that I would need to be more intentional with him, it only took a couple of weeks to win him over. If something was too hard for him, he would immediately have an outburst of throwing books off of his desk, kicking somebody’s chair, or storming out of the room. He pretended like he was going to get physically aggressive- swinging at me, but then touching my arm softly. It was his way of communicating frustration without actual harm. When I was pregnant and he would do this, surrounding teachers that saw it happen would get really nervous and say things about it, but I knew he would never hurt me- He trusted me, and I trusted him.. and it felt good.

I owe our classroom community solely to Evan. As I learned to trust him and care for him, so did my other students. They knew exactly how he felt, what made him upset, and what made him happy. They took care of him. Every student in the classroom knew that he was different, that he was special, and mostly they knew that he was totally awesome. He served as the comedic relief in almost EVERY situation. Every single serious moment was ruined by sweet Evan, and I am so glad that it was. If I was having a ‘mean teacher moment’ and seriously getting on to my class for bad behavior, he would make everybody laugh by breaking the silence with “Mrs. Bennett why you so mad? You not cute when mad.”

During the dreaded ‘sex talk’ with all of the 5th grade boys (#scienceteacherprobs), I sat next to him and some other students with autism. The film that they make us show the kids has a naked cartoon man explaining all kinds of lovely, personal, uncomfortable things to them. The boys were so mortified that I was in there with them. Half of them were figuring out what I had to do to be pregnant, and were throwing daggers at me with their eyes, and the others were so embarrassed that they were staring at their hands the whole time. You could hear a pin drop.
“Look Mrs. Bennett!!! It’s George Washington!!!” -Evan
“No, Evan. This isn’t a social studies lesson today.” -Me
“Oh, Okay. But why that colonist naked?” -Evan
“No… that’s not a colonist. This is a video to teach us about our bodies. This isn’t social studies.” -Me
“I see King George the third penis.” -Evan

There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t get an “I love you Mrs. Bennett” quickly followed by a “You’re getting too fat Mrs. Bennett” from Evan.

I mean really. This kid. I love him. This boy is pure joy. Silly, emotional, sensitive, determined joy. On the days when I couldn’t find a kind word of encouragement for any of my students because of my frustration, exhaustion, and defeat, I KNEW that anything less than my everything was not an option for Evan. He made me live out the fruits of the spirit every single day, and he brought out goodness in even the toughest of students. He made my students gentle and kind. He taught them patience and self-control. The students that helped him with work took a new ownership of their education. He made them proud of him, and proud of themselves, and because of this, I will love him forever.

So to the teachers who have begun this school year with overcrowded, needy, exhausting students… look for Evan. Be intentional with one, and watch the piece change the whole. Find the good through the bad, and continue to seek the silver lining- because I promise you there is one.

For Better or For Worse

Hey people! It’s been a hot minute since my last blog post- and by minute I mean 21 days. In hind sight I probably should have spread my blogs out a week at a time because you guys are supes high maintenance and expecting me to blog every couple of days. Well guess what… I’VE BEEN TOO BUSY. You know what I’ve been too busy doing? Spending the evenings “deep cleaning” corners of my house in search of my most prized possession. You heard it here first, readers. I lost my wedding ring. When I say wedding ring I really mean engagement ring PLUS wedding band, because when we got married we both thought “hmm if we solder these rings together, it will decrease the chance of losing one of them.” COOL.

Let me first start out by explaining our marriage. Barry and I are both ADD. The kind of ADD where every teacher at every parent teacher conference would say things like “he’s very sweet, but I think he needs hearing aids.” or “she’s smart, but a little too ‘social’.” Being a teacher, I now realize that when you are being described as lively, energetic, or social it really means “I’m not legally allowed to diagnose you with ADD, but you have the attention span of a baby frog.” Are you understanding what I’m saying here? Barry and I have always been disorganized, scatter brained, and forgetful. The type of people that hear “oh, bless your heart!” much too often. Today I found a pickle jar in our closet. One time we found my glasses in the refrigerator. One time Barry threw our only set of car keys in the trash in San Antonio. One time I had to get a $200 tow when my keys went missing after five minutes at a friend’s house. Last week I opened one of Barry’s bathroom drawers and found a single flip flop. Just one.

Poor Owen doesn’t stand a chance. Oh, bless his heart.

I say all that to say, It is not unusual for either of us to “misplace” items. In fact, I have never had a single solitary day of my life where I had all my ducks in a row. But friends, in all of my losing, I have never ever EVER lost my wedding ring. This was way different. I don’t even take it off to shower, because baby frogs lose wedding rings with little effort.
So let’s begin the story of the missing wedding ring…

On this particular day I was probably doing something very important like catching up on all my trashy reality shows and drinking my fourth cup of tepid coffee. I had plans to go to a LuLa Roe party with April in the afternoon, so I knew I needed to spend Owen’s nap time wisely and finally wash my hair. I don’t know why, but I play with fire during EVERY one of Owen’s naps. Instead of immediately showering and getting ready for the day,  every single piece of my soul tells me to lay on my bed and scroll through my phone. Don’t unload the dishwasher, Afton. You need to emotionally invest in Chelsea Houska’s dream proposal on Teen Mom. You don’t REALLY need to brush your teeth until right before Barry gets home…because right now is the time to learn how to contour your face using masking tape and a spoon. I CAN’T MANAGE MY LIFE DURING NAP TIME. This happens literally every day of my life. Then when I’m finally ready to shower I hear him crying on the monitor as I’m undressing. Damn you, frog brain. You win again.

So anyway, that day was no different. As I was quietly sobbing over Teresa Guidice’s prison home coming, Owen started screaming on the monitor. NOOOOO! I had the equivalent of day 4 camp hair. I ran into the bathroom realizing how soon I needed to be ready and basically sprayed an entire bottle of dry shampoo in my hair. I quickly realized that I had accidentally sprayed an entire bottle of dry conditioner. Side note: who the HELL wants or needs dry conditioner? What is dry conditioner? And did I black out and forget how to read when I bought this FOUR days ago at Sephora? Whatever. Anyway my hair was even more greasy looking so I thought, “Okay think fast….. what was your go-to hair in junior high when you woke up late…. SCRUNCH IT!” So obviously it made the most sense to get my hair wet in the sink (Owen is still screaming) and glob on some of Barry’s crunchy hair gel. Cute. My hands got really sticky so this is the moment when I took off my ring. At this point Owen was screaming “MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!” “MA!” “MOM!” so I went ahead and got him out of his crib, rushed back into the bathroom, and finished my adorable hair styling. I went to grab a towel and pat dry my crunchy curls and I vividly remember hearing a clinking of something falling on the floor while Owen was at my feet playing with bandaids and tampons (parenting 101). “Hmm what was that?” I thought.


So we left and went to the party and came back and everything was fine and dandy until the next day when I realized I wasn’t wearing my ring. And so begins the frantic search. It started with a tearful deep clean of the bathroom and our bedroom. Nothing. I then looked in our closet and our laundry, thinking maybe it was in that towel that I used when it fell. Nothing. We then moved to each room in our house checking all the furniture crevices, under the furniture, in each cabinet… nothing. I checked Owen’s hidey spots and found a disturbing amount of spatulas, but no ring. I was devastated. While I was crying and apologizing to Barry, he said “Don’t worry. I’m not mad at you at all. I just think next time we won’t get you a real diamond.” …WAIT….WHAT?.. SOUNDS PRETTY MAD TO ME!

So after two days of searching the house, I decided to put on some gloves and go through the past 4 days of rotting garbage. Guys…. maggots. I can’t talk about it.

The next day I had the brilliant idea of just spending a while watching Owen- seeing how his brain worked… maybe he would lead me to the ring? In only two minutes I watched him climb up on our mud bench, open Barry’s workout bag, take out his wallet, dip it in Sadie’s water bowl, and bury it in the laundry basket. WHAT. THE. HELL???? Who is this person??? I also watched him sun his face for a while like it was no biggie.

So then Barry said, “Oh I’ve got it! We can give him MY ring and see what he does with it.” …..Desperate times, man. Owen took Barry’s ring, poked it in his palm for a second, then immediately put it in his mouth to swallow. Thankfully, Barry grabbed it in the back of his throat before he actually ate it. Crap. We were just certain that he had picked up my ring and swallowed it. This meant my ring could possibly be in one of his poopy diapers. THIS IS PARENTHOOD, GUYS. This is our reality right now.

I pitched it to Barry like this: Okay, what if somebody said, “Barry, I will give you $6,000 if you go through your son’s poopy diapers.” Would you do it then???
To which he said, “Um. Definitely not. Because that person would really have to say, “Barry, I just took $6,000 from you. If you go through 20 pounds of human feces with your hands, you MIGHT find it and then you can have the $6,000 I just took from you back.”
…..Oh. So with MUCH persuasion, Barry agreed to go through FIVE DAYS worth of poopy diapers with me on the back porch. We went in with our game faces on. We had a system where we held our breath, squished through the diapers, and threw the open, poopy diapers into a large cardboard box. After 20 minutes of this, no ring, and five diaper genie bags later, Barry quickly realized that we had made a grave mistake. This extra large cardboard box was in fact too big to fit into the garbage. So obviously the only thing that made sense was for me to hold a plastic garbage bag open, and for Barry to lift the cardboard box and dump all the diapers effortlessly into the open bag. Smart. So anyway, five of the 50 poopy diapers landed in the bag- the rest on my forearms, feet, and back porch.

Jesus, be near.

The next day we decided that the ring was most likely lodged inside our son’s intestines. Everything that I read said that it was no biggie when a child swallowed a ring, except for when the ring was a sharp diamond. This really freaked me out, so I called his pediatrician, and she suggested getting an X-ray. Uggggggh. It seemed a little extreme to be making an appointment to expose our baby to an X-ray if we weren’t even sure if he ate it in the first place. “I’ve got it!” Barry said, sounding very relieved and sure of himself. “I’m just going to Amazon Prime a $40.00 metal detector and we can just wave it over his torso.” ….. Soooo…… we got an X-ray. No ring, but it sure gave all of the staff a good chuckle. Especially since we all lost Owen TWICE during the appointment. “Bless your heart,” the doctor said sympathetically.

So here we are…. week 3 of no wedding ring. Maybe it’s God’s way of saying “since you’re so obsessed with teen mom, how about I make you feel like one every time you’re out running errands with Owen.”

I’m not as upset about it anymore, because as cheesy as it sounds, I am realizing that the promise is much more important than the diamond. So here’s to marriage, here’s to ‘for better or for worse’, and here’s to one day hopefully stumbling across my wedding ring (as well as countless other valuable items that my toddler has been hoarding).









Ode to the Mom Bod.

Congratulations. You went through nine (really it’s 10, so I’m not sure who keeps deciding it’s 9) terrible months of pregnancy. You went through an excruciatingly long and painful labor. You just delivered your sweet baby safely into this world, and you’re holding him in your arms. An overwhelming rush of hormones is circulating through your entire body, and you start to feel complete euphoria. You hold your baby on your chest in total awe and wonder of how perfect and precious and completely orchestrated by the angels this heavenly moment must be. You do skin to skin immediately, and you know for a fact that there has never been a more tranquil moment in your life thus far. You look down in complete gratitude with a smile of thanksgiving to your doctor, when you accidentally see her bloody gloves, scissors in hand, and string being pulled to and from places that should never ever EVER have to be stitched. And so this begins the unspoken, unacknowledged, suuuuuuuper underestimated trimester. The 4th trimester. It’s real nice to meet you, sloppy-broken-mom-bod.

Let me start by saying this: there will always be somebody who is better off than you, and somebody who is worse off than you. Let’s all stop for a second and acknowledge that although everybody has different body types, the feeling of being personally unsatisfied and self conscious about your body feels the same for everybody. It sucks. Being unhappy with your body feels as crappy for a size 4 woman, as it does for a size 14 woman, because feeling crappy… feels crappy. So if you’re reading this and thinking “Boo hoo, lady. I’ve never been a size 4 so how can you even complain?” do as I instructed all of my anti-induction friends in my previous post and poke yourself right in the eyeballs. (Side note: I haven’t been a size four since age four so I was obviously just using that size as an example).

The fourth trimester. It’s so overlooked that it doesn’t even have a real name. Obviously, a trimester insinuates one of three approximately equal time frames or terms. We assume that our body is done after the third and final trimester. We think that once the baby is born, the intense changes that our body underwent the past year will magically reverse. It’s over! Except of course, it’s not. It’s definitely not. I will spare everybody the disgusting details of what goes on downstairs in the weeks following child birth… but just know that it’s SUPER not awesome. Breastfeeding morphs your new momboobs back and forth from porn star to pork chops at an incredibly disturbing rate. The first week after you give birth, you’re basically carrying a deflated inner-tube around your waste, and your belly button is a sad melting marshmellow. WHY DIDN’T ANYBODY TELL ME ABOUT THIS? Why didn’t I know that for two months I would be living in skateboard sized diaper pads and disposable ice packs? Why didn’t I know that I would have to casually snack on Colace if I wanted to have a bowel movement that didn’t make me suicidal? Why didn’t I prepare myself for how disappointing it would be to not be able to fit back into my pre-pregnancy pants right away. Why didn’t I understand that the lifestyle changes that happen when you have an infant are not conducive for weight loss AT ALL? Oh, mom bod. You are the worst.

I have never been somebody that has struggled with weight, so that confused me into thinking I was never somebody that struggled with body image issues. I have never had to work through any of these emotions before, and I assumed that since it wasn’t hard for me to stay “skinny” with minimal exercise, it wouldn’t be hard at all to go back to my previous size after having Owen. I was so wrong. I sometimes think breastfeeding was the darkest and loneliest time of being a brand new mom… until I realize how hard struggling to love and accept my new postpartum body was and still is.

I’ve read a lot of sweet articles that say things like “your stretch marks are battle scars!” and “wear your saggy stomach like a badge of honor!” I realize that my body did an incredible thing by growing, birthing, and feeding a tiny human, but I also realize that after the newness of having your baby wears off, being stuck with a dimply squishy body just totally sucks. And also when your peers still have their crop top wearing college bods with none of these “battle scars” or “badges of honor” you’re left feeling like a washed up version of your old self- a washed up version that now pees a little at random times in the day without warning.

I remember feeling SO FAB when I introduced Owen to people when he was only a week or two old. It felt so good to hear people say things like “Wow! You don’t look like you just had a baby at all!” But as the weeks started dragging on, suddenly introducing my 3 month old baby was not getting the same reaction. It’s a vicious cycle that we’re in as women and mothers. There is so much pressure to return to your pre-baby body, that other women also understand how important it is for you to hear those words. Because we obsess over this ourselves, we accidentally word vomit it to other women as a way to reassure them that they are still beautiful. Instead of feeling good, however, I think it slowly reinforces the idea that returning to your pre-baby body is extremely important and obviously very noticeable.

The first couple weeks after having Owen I dropped about 35 pounds, almost instantly, with no effort at all. I gained 55 pounds during my pregnancy, so I just assumed the last 20 would continue to fall right off. -WRONG.

**Let me just interrupt this blog post to share with you the time I got mean girled.**
While I was breastfeeding every 2-3 hours, I was basically totally starving at all times. Turns out, when you’re always awake, you’re also always hungry. Having a new born baby is all consuming; all consuming in the way that you literally never have a moment to yourself outside of showering, which is a freaking luxury. After having Owen, a tepid bath without soap (because your new momvag, obviously.) turned into a Four Seasons Spa package.
Anyway… I say all that to say, you don’t have the time (and if you have the time you certainly don’t have the energy) to prepare healthy, filling, and accessible snack options for when you’re ready to eat a whole city while nursing your baby. I had the brilliant idea to go to Target, skim through their healthy snack aisle, and pick out some “snack bars” for me to eat whenever I had a craving for something sweet or was hungry between meals. “Skim through” as in sprint through the aisle because my newborn was screaming bloody murder and my boobs were leaking. Guys…in my new-mom-zombie-sleep-deprived haze, I picked up several packages of CLIF BARS. You know, the ones with the stick man scaling a mountainside? “Oh, he looks healthy,” I thought.

So let’s fast forward to three weeks later. I had been eating Clif bars like it was my after school car duty y’all. I ate AT LEAST two a day, in between my other meals. I was noticing that I was putting on weight, and fast! I was crying to Barry one day about the new 10 pounds that I had gained.
“I just don’t understand why!!!!!” I said as I cried.
I watched as he nervously glanced at my snack bowl of clif bars on the kitchen table.
“Why do you keep looking at my clif bars!!!??” -Me
“Well…. ummmm…. well…….” -Barry
“WHAT IS IT?!” -Me
“Well… umm….. how many of those are you eating a day?” -Barry
“I DON’T KNOW BARRY! MAYBE 2 OR 3???” -Me (getting more emotional and defensive)
“But have you read the label on the back? Each one has like 50 grams of carbs.” -Barry
“No it’s a MEAL for healthy people. Healthy people like.. marathon runner healthy people. Like, spend the entire day climbing a mountain and eating one of those for dinner type of healthy people.” -Barry



“Afton. Are you serious? I would never mention something like that to you. I didn’t want to hurt your feelings. You’re so sensitive about your body. I didn’t want you to think that I didn’t think you were beautiful.”

Guys…. how sad is this scenario?
1.) Because I’m an idiot and basically accidentally ate 2 whole loaves of bread a day for almost a month.
2.) Because I was so obsessed and sensitive about my postpartum body that my husband was too afraid to confront me.

What a wake up call for me.

The next few months I made a lifestyle change. I mean, obviously I stopped binge eating meal replacement bars, but instead of making a “goal weight” or a “goal size” I made a lifestyle goal. I tried my hardest to eat healthy foods because they gave me more energy to sit and engage with Owen during the day. I tried going out on walks with him in the morning, and walks as a family when Barry got home from work- this killed time, got Owen outside in his stroller, and just made me feel a whole lot better. I sleep trained Owen (that’s a whole other blog post for another day) which meant I was slowly defeating the sleep deprivation beast. Owen started becoming mobile, so instead of sitting on the couch or floor with him literally all day long, it finally made sense for me to be active and to start moving. And lastly, I gave myself some time and grace. Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean hitting the gym super hard while you have a newborn baby at home. Be patient with yourself and give yourself time.

If you are reading this and you are a mother who is struggling with loving, accepting, and appreciating your postpartum body, please know that you are not alone. So many women are experiencing this with you, but also remember that while you are obsessing over getting your body back right away, you are also missing out on some of the sweetest, most worth-while memories. Although they feel like they drag on, the newborn days and the infantile moments go by so, so fast. Already, my 1 year old son is showing signs of independence that make me proud but break my heart all at the same time. Looking back, although I hated my squishy postpartum body at the time, I love what it represents. 4th trimester me symbolizes a new mom who knew absolutely NOTHING about raising a baby. 20 pounds heavier reminds me of the sleepless nights, the crazy schedule, the permanent spot on the couch, the struggles with breastfeeding, and the only time in Owen’s life when he needed 100% of me 100% of the time.

So be easier on yourself, postpartum mama!

(And besides, even if you DO get your pre-baby body back you can’t reverse the pants peeing, so really nobody is winning here.) just kidding… sort of.







Top 10 Must-Have Baby Toys of 2016

Toys will do much more than just entertain your sweet baby. A baby’s brain develops rapidly, and the right toys can stimulate that brain growth in positive ways. Younger babies need toys that assist in developing color and shape recognition, hand-eye coordination and an understanding of cause and effect relationships; while babies that are a few months older need toys that can teach them balance and mobility, manipulative skills, and imagination development. World renowned Dr. Sears says, “When choosing toys for a child, think carefully about the toy and the child. Choose toys that are developmentally appropriate, that build on skills the child already has, and provide a few challenges.”

Are you an expectant mother feeling super overwhelmed by creating a baby registry? Are you a mother who just saw a super mom post a picture of her 3 week old baby with intentionally placed educational toys in the background and stacks of site word flash cards all over the living room? Do you feel like you are a bad mother because your baby doesn’t have enough sensory stimulating and developmentally appropriate expensive toys to play with? Well, chances are you ARE a bad mother. I have done a lot of research on age appropriate, chemical/BPA free, energy efficient, stimulating toys made from recycled milk jugs… and from that research I have compiled a list of the safest, most beneficial toys that your baby is sure to love. Below, is a list of my top 15 must-have baby toys of 2016.

1.) Books
Expensive, hardback, paper books (much easier for baby to tear) that are on your baby’s Accelerated Reading level. It is so important to stimulate them within their ZPD (zone of proximal development) and to scaffold accordingly. It is imperative for your baby to follow the 5 finger rule: open the book with your baby, and have your 6 month old put a finger up for each word he/she doesn’t know. If your infant is holding up all five fingers, have them choose a different chapter book. After each book, it is always a good practice to review the 5 comprehensive stem questions of who, what, where, when, and why. When planning your nursery, make sure you don’t waste any extra space that you might have on anything useful like a dresser for extra diaper storage. Instead, buy a super expensive industrial-modern book shelf from Restoration Hardware, and fill it with 150 books that your baby will be sure to take extra gentle care of. *Note: bookshelf also works as a sharp cornered bumper while baby is learning to pull up and stand on his own. image3

2.) Plastic Treat Bags and/or Glue Sticks
When your baby is unable to walk on their own, and they are using a walker of some sort, it is always a good idea to leave fun and exciting items for them to explore at eye level. You can do this by measuring cabinets/benches/tables in your home, and figuring out which areas are the most accessible for baby. Next, take anything that you are spending time working on, for example, party favor bags and craft supplies for their upcoming birthday party, and place these in said area. Watch as your baby discovers exciting new textures and materials like plastic bags and hot glue gun glue sticks. Make sure that the plastic bags are not big enough for them to put over their head, but just small enough to stick completely in their mouths. Also, remember that it is character building for your baby when he/she cheats death by chewing on toxic glue sticks and surviving.

3.) Whisk w/ Ice Cube
This one is a total hit with babies of any age. If your baby is being whiny while you are spending several hours making pureed homemade baby food for them, all you have to do is throw various utensils down at them and let them play with the left over ice
that fell from the dispenser while you were making your mid-morning Moscow Mule (jk….mostly). Watch as your baby learns face-whisk coordination and develops spacial awareness by continuously trapping his tongue and fingers between the tiny metal whisk crevices. Your baby can also work on his pincer grasp by struggling to pick up slippery ice cubes for twenty whole minutes. *Make sure your dog is not in the area as your baby will most likely slap him right in the face with the whisk- as well as you, your husband, himself, and anything else that is in his line of vision.
[Similar items include spatulas, spoons, plastic tongs, etc…]

4.) Baby Wipes and/or Kitchen Spices
You might be asking yourself, “When will my baby ever find the time to play with both of these toys?” Friends, the answer to that is, your baby will stuff his mouth with baby wipes AND open a (taped shut) spice container full of cinnamon/shake it all over the kitchen and his pajamas in literally 3 minutes time.  These toys are SO accessible and so very quiet, you won’t even realize it’s happening right at your feet while you’re cooking your baby’s scrambled eggs. It’s probably a good idea to keep the cumin, cayenne pepper, and chili powder EXTRA taped because your baby will have so much fun, he will surely come back for more at a later time (when you’re answering the door, loading the laundry, going to the bathroom, etc.)

5.) Sack of Limes
Despite the plethora of expensive, highly engineered, brand name toys scattered about the room, 9 times out of 10 your baby will discover their true nirvana in this sack of limes. You might try to take this toy away from your baby, well.. because it’s a sack of limes, but do NOT do that. This sack of limes has done what Fisher Price, Hasbro, Mattel, AND Lego could only dream of. Sometimes your baby will love this sack of limes so much that after dragging it through each room in the house for 45 minutes straight, he will actually scream bloody murder and cry inconsolably if you try and give him another toy to play with. Plus, this toy is versatile because there is always an organic option available.

6.) Important Documents and Bills
If you are a parent that keeps their important, confidential, financial documents and unpaid bills in a high enough area where your children can’t get to them and trail them through the house, then you really need to reevaluate your parenting approach. It’s important to introduce finances and responsibility to your children as early as possible, so consider letting them chew on your personal mail for a while. Besides, finding an unpaid bill three months past the due date underneath your couch with the corner chewed off is actually a good thing, because it explains why your water was shut off unexpectedly. (Just kidding that “never happened”)

7.) Toilet Paper
Toilet Paper is always a good option for many reasons. First, it is so easy to unravel and takes very minimal effort to drag several feet of it through the house. Second, it is easily digestible for when your child decides to eat 5 or 6 squares. Third, toilet paper play makes your baby more comfortable with bathroom essentials, which is beneficial for early potty training. Lastly, it also makes your baby more comfortable with TPing other houses and various forms of vandalism to public or personal property in general.

8.) Wax Paper
Like toilet paper, this is another toy that can be totally unraveled in a matter of minutes. In fact, an entire roll of wax paper can be completely unraveled in the time it takes for the baby’s mother to go to the bathroom to pee. This toy is a little bit more developmentally advanced, because the baby must learn how to keep his/her balance while manuevering through the kitchen on the wax paper. If your baby is a ninja, this toy can even be accessible from a cabinet in the kitchen WITH a safety lock on it.


9.) Shampoo/Soap/Lotion Cabinet
You might think your baby is missing, but have no fear- he/she is simply enjoying the number 9 most valuable toy on our list: the hygiene product cabinet.  You might call for your baby, frantically searching in closets and behind doors- you might even check under the bed. The great thing about this toy is that there is no assembly required. Your baby can experience hands on learning and a quick lesson in the 5 senses if he or she is smart enough to figure out how to open your lice repellent shampoo/conditioner and rub it into the inside of the cabinet. It’s also nice to have a Jergen’s self tanning lotion in the cabinet for your baby to open in case you get a real pasty one. IMG_2928

10.) Doggy Door
Some people buy baby toys that require putting plastic blocks through corresponding holes. This is much like that, except better, because the block is your human child. Speaking of frantically searching for your baby, if you are wanting to totally lose your child for several minutes, our number 10 must-have toy should be your next purchase. The doggy door is revolutionary in many ways. It allows your baby to slip away and spend several minutes on the back porch all alone- teaching them many different lessons in survival, independence, and just loneliness in general. The doggy door is extra useful when your baby wants to sneak outside and play with the dog poop that has accumulated on the porch after the most recent thunderstorm (but only if you’re lucky enough to have a dog that won’t step foot in wet grass.) The doggy door teaches the baby the basic laws of physics, while also giving the mother a small heart attack. IMG_2933

Voted safest and most sanitary for your baby to enjoy!

 *Used toothbrush*IMG_2931
*Barnes and Noble Clearance Item Storage Bins*

*Tylenol Syringe*IMG_2934

*J Crew Decorative Grass Display*



The Labor of Love

Well… turns out, when you blog every day for a week during nap time, you finally close your laptop and look around the house and realize you have 7 loads of laundry, (how is that possible with just 3 people???) a full sink of dishes, sketchy old bottles laying around, and the diaper pail situation takes you back to the porta potty strip at SAE’s Jungle date party. So hi, Xanga. It’s been a long week and I have missed you, but I needed to wash my house and my hair. A man’s capacity to live in filth amazes me. Barry doesn’t even notice when our house is horrendous, which is good and bad. I love that he doesn’t notice the mess, but I hate that I can spend four hours rearranging the cabinets and cleaning out the closet and he doesn’t notice AT ALL. For my sanity and for my own validation, we’ve worked out a weird routine where I walk him through the house and physically point out what I’ve done and he practices his surprise face *gasp* “Oh my gosh that’s SO incredible!!!” bit. Totally awkward and insincere, but I need it so he does it. What a gem.

Okay so today’s blog post is going to be more for ME. I say that because there’s no lesson, no real encouragement or words of wisdom for my readers- just plain old story telling that I want to have in the universe to be able to look back on and read later. So here it is, the graphic post that I knoooow you’ve all been waiting for: Owen’s birth story!

Let’s rewind to the week prior to Owen’s birth. I was SO desperate y’all. I tried EVERYTHING to go into labor on my own. And when I say everything I mean I even sat on a bowl of boiling water and coffee grounds because I read ONE, single, solitary, non-research based suggestion from a total stranger on my baby app chat forum that vaginal coffee steams SOMETIMES maaaaaybe induced labor. So that was smart. I basically put myself on bed rest the weeks leading to Owen’s birth because I’ve been watching Grey’s anatomy since tenth grade so I know how to make important medical decisions concerning the well being of myself and an unborn baby.

Barry would come home from work and find me breathing heavy in weird positions all over the house wearing what we refer to as my “pregnancy uniform” (underwear and a bandeau) more often than I should be comfortable admitting. We had a nightly routine of me getting on all fours on the bed and Barry rubbing a tennis ball on my tailbone, because Owen was fully engaged in my pelvis (aka at a fetal station 1) at only 36-37 weeks. The pressure on my tailbone was sooooo very awful- I almost burst into happy tears when my OBGYN told me that she would induce me if he hadn’t come by 39 weeks gestation.

Side note: if you’re reading this and you are thinking “Ew she is so dramatic and selfish for wanting to be induced early. The baby is not ready. Her body knows what to do. Her baby should be able to pick his own birthday.” Blah blah blee blee SHUT UP. Stop right here and poke yourself in the eyeballs.

Owen was medically considered full term. He was measuring a week ahead based on size, and he was healthy. He was okay. You know what’s NOT okay? A psychotic, aggressively pregnant woman who was getting acupuncture, going to sketchy hole-in-the-wall chinese foot massage parlors (spending $100 a day), and turning her vagina into a starbucks for the sake of “spontaneous labor.” So you get it now.

Let’s fast forward to the night before my induction. My sweet sister wanted to celebrate the night before Owen’s birth and also father’s day by hosting a family dinner at her house. Everybody was so excited! So much chatter about what tomorrow will bring. SO happy and excited to meet Owen. Everybody was SO giddy… except for me. I basically ate in silence and was sick to my stomach all evening. I was SO AFRAID. I had no clue what the hell I was doing, and the reality of “nah let’s not take any birthing classes” began to slowly sink in. We took celebratory family pictures in April’s backyard, and everybody kept referring to the evening as “the feeling you get on Christmas Eve!” Yeah, yeah. But what if Santa was coming down your birth canal and not your chimney? Pretty sure I don’t cry tears of fear and panic on Christmas Eve, and there’s definitely not as much nervous diarrhea.

So anyway, that night I stared at my ceiling for 8 hours. Just kidding, if I laid on my back I would surely suffocate myself and die, so I stared at my night stand until my alarm went off at 5:30 am. Barry and I did what any couple would do on the morning of their first child’s birth- we packed the car and got some Sonic grilled cheeses. I had already planned to have my placenta encapsulated (by now you understand that I am a hormonal fire monster) because I wanted to be as proactive as I possibly could be about avoiding any chance of postpartum depression. As we were packing the car with our hospital bag, car seat, etc… Barry was frantically searching through the garage as I was waiting impatiently in the front seat. I heard him say, “YES! I FOUND IT!” and I watched him open the trunk and throw in the crustiest, muddiest, sketchiest yeti cooler that he hauled to and from well sites when he was an oilfield engineer in south Texas. I said “What the hell is that for?” Barry said “It’s for your placenta, obviously!” …… Lord help us.

We got to the hospital and everything in the beginning is such a blur. Both of our families were there, and April was our birthday photographer. (To any expectant mothers- you will NEVER regret having somebody with a camera there to snap pictures throughout the day. They are literally my most prized posessions.) They began induction at about 8:00 am. We had the most incredible and attentive nursing staff at Lakeside. They were so thorough, careful, thoughtful, gentle, and kind to me. (I love you Amanda and Amber) Right after my OBGYN broke my water, and my pitocin drip was starting, my sweet nurse started filling out my file in the computer. She was asking me all kinds of important questions about myself, my pregnancy, and my fetal care. She asked me if I had used any drugs or consumed any alcohol during my pregnancy, to which I said “Absolutely not! I would never.” Literally MOMENTS after answering this question, Barry came into the room to deliver a bouquet of flowers sent to the hospital by Jackie and Neelie, my best friends of 20+ years.
“Oh my gosh that’s soooo sweet!” I said. “Who is it from? Read the card!”
“Congratulations on being sober for 9 whole months.”
AWESOME. I looked back up at my nurse, totally mortified. Luckily she seemed to understand that my best friends are hilarious idiots. Jackie had been pulling this crap throughout my whole pregnancy. A few weeks earlier I got a delivery of cupcakes and the delivery girl refused to give me the card that went with it. She was SO awkward when she was giving them to me. Turns out the card said “Eat up, you fat ass.”

So moving on… I lasted 4 hours of pitocin contractions before I got my epidural. (Shamelessly tooting my own horn.) The epidural was heaven sent. It completely took my pain away for a couple of hours, but my contractions were so low that we couldn’t seem to figure out how to completely numb them. April sat with me and talked through my contractions for a good hour. She was the only one I wanted to talk to. She’s so calming, and she made me feel so much better- she’s a saint. After an hour or so of still feeling my contractions I told my nurse that I felt like the epidural wasn’t working. I told her how low my contractions were, and how painful they were, so they propped me up into a different position to “move the epidural down lower.” I had some relief, so I took this time to eat an entire route 44 of crushed ice, two popsicles, and another 2 cups of ice from the hospital in about 20 minutes. April came back in and we were chatting it up when I started feeling the contractions again. She said “maybe we should move you to your side?” She started to pull up the sheet that was covering me to untangle it and she scream/gasp/laughed. She was absolutely cracking up. My epidural had moved straight to my feet and my ankles were literally 5 times their normal size, which is extra shocking to see since I came out of the womb with beefy cankles to begin with. From my knees down I was totally numb, but I still had feeling from the knees up. COOOOOOOOOOOOOOL. This went on for the remainder of the day- phasing in and out of feeling contractions.

At about 6 pm I started getting really nauseous. (Also, I just tried to spell nauseous five different times and couldn’t figure it out. Also, I just did it again while typing that sentence.) I threw up a couple of times, and didn’t think anything of it. Barry came in the room and I told him I had been throwing up.
He said, “so… what did you throw up?”
I said, “Nothing really.. just my Popsicles.”
“So no grilled cheese?” -Barry
“Uh.. no?” -Me
“You know what that means……it’s not in your stomach anymore.” -Barry
“What?” -Me
You guys…. this was honestly my biggest fear going into child birth. I know that sounds so stupid, but I truly was SO freaked out about pooping in front of my husband. We are a couple that doesn’t do ANYTHING like that around each other- So obviously Barry thought it was SO hilarious.

Speaking of pooping, let’s move on. I was at a 10 and ready to push at about 9:00. I was in so much pain, and so overcome with fear when they checked me and told me it was time. My OBGYN, (whom I love with all of my heart), was doing an emergency C-section, so when it was time for me to start pushing, they told me to wait for a few minutes. I totally understood. To you, this day is the most important day of your life- it’s ALL about YOU. But there was another woman who felt the exact same way, that was having a much worse day than I was, and was probably a million times more afraid. I fully understood that, and I was okay with waiting. I will say; however, that 10 or 15 minutes of waiting felt like a zillion years. I turned into a full blown, raging psycho in that 10-15 minutes. I literally SCREAMED at Barry to go get me gum. “BUT MAKE SURE IT’S THE GUM THAT YOUR MOM HAS!!!!!!! ROOOOAAARRRR!!!!!” ??? I don’t know- it was VERY necessary. It took him probably 2 minutes to go to the waiting room and get the gourmet gum for me, but I promise you that in the 2 minutes that he was gone, I had mentally divorced him, and was planning his funeral. “WHERE IS BARRY!!!????! DOES HE EVEN CARE ABOUT ME?????” My sister and my mom were just staring at me…very confused. Also in these 10-15 minutes I demanded my hairbrush from my packed bag ASAP. For some reason I felt like I couldn’t push out a baby without a braid. In my head, my hair might get in the way and everything would go wrong and surely we would both die.

Here I am brushing my hair/sobbing??????

My tailbone hurt SO bad during that 10-15 minutes before pushing, so I desperately begged Barry to massage my tailbone with the tennis ball. (Obviously we packed the tennis balls because that’s normal?!) He was rubbing it on my lower back and my tailbone and I kept yelling “LOWER, BARRY! IT HURTS!!!!” He said, “I can’t really go any lower…” to which I cried, “Looooowweeerrrrrrrr!” He looked at my mom in a panic and said something like “I think she’s telling me to put this tennis ball in her butt.” Thank the Lord above, right then the nurse and my OBGYN came in to prep me for pushing.

I was on my side facing the wall as the nurse was prepping behind me. She started to open her gloves, and the wrapper crinkled. For some reason, I was convinced that Barry was casually opening a bag of doritos to snack on during the MOST IMPORTANT MOMENT of our lives! I don’t know, y’all. I don’t know. I screamed “BARRY ARE YOU SERIOUSLY EATING SNACKS BACK THERE RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!?? WE ARE ABOUT TO HAVE A BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” April and my mom didn’t know if they were allowed to laugh at me, but I know they were dying inside.

Anyway I pushed for 45 minutes, pooped literally the entire time… so that was awesome. In fact, so much that when I asked my nurse she said “let’s just say you cleaned house…”. I’m not sure what that means, but I know it’s probably gross. We Thought the intense pain standing and walking right after having him was probably normal, but we later found out that I had broken my tailbone while delivering him. Also awesome. But you know what? I weirdly loved everything about this day. I would happily relive this day every single day for the rest of my life. Motherhood is so whack- If I had to birth Owen every single morning just to spend the rest of the day with him, I would. (But also by 5 pm I would be begging Barry to come home from work to give me alone time). So Owen, if you are old enough to read this and you aren’t totally cringing at the thought of how you got here, I want you to know that delivering you was, and will be the most incredible moment of my entire life. You are worth every single second, Boogy.












Expectation Vs. Reality

Hi guys! Let me start by saying THANK YOU! I have been so overwhelmed with all of the love and support for my adult xanga. The positive feedback has truly made us feel so much more comfortable with sharing the not so perfect pieces of our lives with you, so I want to thank everybody for the views, the shares, the comments, the messages, and the texts. I have been especially humbled and excited about all of the business inquiries, free vacations, club appearances, and modeling opportunities. I am now an official spokesperson for Flat Tummy Tea, Sugar Bear Hair Growth gummies, and Waist Trainers. (just kidding, but the emails and messages from you guys really are so sweet and I do appreciate your kindness and support so much!)

The website I use for this blog allows me to see the views/comments and gives me statistics for each post, which is kind of cool. It says that my most popular hour for views is 2:00 AM. 40% of my views happen at 2:00 AM, guys. Isn’t that so appropriate, seeing as how the majority of my followers are fellow moms? It’s so telling of one of the most continuous struggles of motherhood…
Do I go to sleep at a reasonable hour and get enough sleep to wake up when the baby wakes up bright and early, or do I take a brain vacation and stare at my phone for 4 hours until I end up watching Youtube videos of the world’s biggest pimple or how to contour my face to fake a nose job? It’s so real. And when you choose the latter, the moment you hear your baby on the monitor at 7 a.m. (4 hours after you finally put your phone down) you truly want to die. DIE. And maybe sometimes you go into the nursery, change your baby’s diaper in the dark, put your baby on the floor with some toys, face the wall, and “rest your eyes” on the Boppy for a minute or 45. I’ve never had any experience with this type of scenario personally… I’ve just heard about it from some friends or something. Probably bad mom friends.

So today’s post is going to be all about unrealistic expectations. (For example, a young Barry Bennett fully expecting to grow up and become a dragon).
I know, the topic has nothing to do with the intro… I write like I talk, so who even knows? At this rate it might conclude with my theory about Forever21 being the clothing version of the Cheesecake Factory menu- but that’s neither here nor there.image1

Life is full of all sorts of different expectations. Expectations that are fully met, expectations that are close to being met, and expectations that are so comically far from your reality, that after all is said and done you don’t know whether to laugh or cry about the end result.

Most of the time we create our own expectations from hearing about other people’s experiences. With pregnancy and childbirth, I was going by what I had seen on Teen Mom *shoutout to Jenelle for making me still feel like the best mom on my worst days*, the horrific birthing stories that my stupid coworkers (I’m pointing at YOU Mandy & Beth) used to tell me in the teacher’s lounge to make me squirm, the experiences that the women in my family had gone through, and possibly the most influential- what I had gathered from social media about “momming.”

Because motherhood is something that I had obviously never experienced, when people would ask me “Is this easier or harder than you expected?” The obvious answer would be, “I didn’t really know what to expect, so I didn’t really have any expectations.” But that’s just not true. I think we subconsciously expect what we hope will happen. We want the best possible outcome SO badly, that we actually start to believe that even though it’s not realistic for us personally, we WILL meet said unrealistic expectation. The danger with this is that we, as mothers, are unfairly setting ourselves up for failure right off the bat. (I use the term “failure” lightly, because failing at these expectations is not actual failure… it’s simply experiencing a different outcome- a totally OKAY outcome.)

-Here are just a couple examples of some expectations that were not met for me-
Expectation 1: I will have a #fitpregnancy. I will look like a pregnant Kourtney Kardashian, because we have similar body types???
Reality: I have to put deodorant between my thighs to workout. I pee on the treadmill. I’m actually not a 5’1 Armenian woman.
Expectation 2: Childbirth will be okay. I’m pretty tough. I’m not a giant fatty, so surely my baby won’t be a super lardo that’s going to temporarily destroy my vagina and break my tailbone.
Reality: LOL

Expectations. Ugh. I didn’t realize that I even had any expectations until I was sad about my outcomes. And why was I even sad? (I mean, the wrecked vagina and broken tailbone is okay to be sad about.) I was sad because comparing myself to other people subconsciously brainwashed me into thinking that I was doing everything wrong.

Owen was born with torticollis, so my body must have carried him in my womb wrong.
I didn’t bond the first moment I saw him, so something must be wrong with me.
I wanted him to spend his first night in the nursery so I could take care of myself, I must be selfishly doing this wrong.
We brought him home and he still felt like a stranger to me, this feels so wrong.
I couldn’t breastfeed like other mother’s could, and feeding him formula was so wrong.

You guys… this has to all be so real for so many women. I know in my heart that I am not the only mom to feel like a complete failure when my expectations and reality are so different from the other. I can’t honestly say to expectant mothers and new moms, “Just don’t have any expectations so you won’t experience disappointment.” So I’m not going to. What I WILL say to them are these things that I wish I could go back in time and tell myself- things that I think will be helpful for me if we have another baby someday…
1. You are allowed to be hopeful. Hoping and expecting are two very different things.
2. Your reality differing from your expectations doesn’t make ANYTHING about your experience wrong. Everything about your pregnancy/birth/early motherhood is individually designed for YOU to rejoice in, to suffer through, and to overcome. God knew your short comings, your strengths, and your abilities when he created YOUR baby for YOU.
3. You are not wrong. You birthed your baby the right way even if it didn’t go as you expected, because you brought your baby into the world. You are bonding with your baby the right way, even if you are spending extra time perfecting how exactly to love and care for it. You’re taking time for yourself the right way, because you know that it’s necessary if you want to be the best that you can be for your baby. You are feeding your baby the right way, because your baby is being fed. You are making mistakes the right way, because you are using your mistakes to better understand yourself and to remember why you desperately need Jesus.

There’s a song that ALWAYS reminds me of the beginning phases of motherhood every time I hear it- every time my unmet expectations feel like failures.
“Lord I find You in the seeking
Lord I find You in the doubt
And to know You is to love You
And to know so little else
I need You, Oh how I need You”

BECAUSE AIN’T THAT THE TRUTH?! SO so little else. So let’s reprogram ourselves.
Let’s let this be our only expectation: To grow into better mothers every day, by being  realistic in our expectations and confident in our abilities.

B*tch better have my bagel

Afton has asked me to reflect on her pregnancy from my perspective.  Let me apologize in advance for the third blog entry not being as funny or well written.  I tried to tell her to move me further back but she insisted.  No pressure, Barry.

As Afton and I reflect on our lives together during her pregnancy, an event we have dubbed “the bagel incident” resonates with both of us as the tipping point in our relationship at that time.

On this particular morning, I made the grave mistake of eating the last bagel in our house.  I was unaware that this was one of the only foods she could keep down and she had indeed been surviving on nothing but bagels for the last few days.  When she opened the pantry and saw the travesty I had committed, she confronted me.  Not like an “Oh dang, I was going to have one of those,” type of confrontation.  I would liken it more to a “you’ve sold my sister into slavery, and now I’m going to kill you and your whole family” type of confrontation. The fury and despair in her tone was as confusing as it was hurtful.  I could feel my own anger spilling over.  I lashed back at her, something sarcastic and cutting.

“I’m going to walk Sadie,” I said as I angrily put on my shoes and grabbed her bedazzled collar and hot pink leash.  I had gotten into the habit of walking our toy poodle in this fashion – alone – every day for the last week or so.  Obviously my desire to maintain a masculine persona with the neighbors was greatly outweighed by an intense need to escape my terrifying pregnant wife. Today was different because it was my second walk.  I could feel myself getting hot with anger.
“You’re walking again?  You walked like an hour ago.”
“Yes, I’m going again.”
“Can I come with you?” Her tone softening suddenly.
“No, I think I would like to go by myself.”

…Wrong Answer.

A few minutes later as I rounded the first corner (three houses down) Afton pulled up next to me in our car.  With tears in her eyes she said, “Well at least go to Braums with me. I need a cheeseburger!”  (It was 10 a.m.)

After a painfully silent car ride and with cheeseburgers in hand we both broke down and talked about everything that was going on.  Up to this point the story must seem so silly, and it is, but at the time it seemed like such a big deal. Afton remembers truly feeling like her world was falling apart at the sight of not having any bagels that day.  I remember my own totally irrational thoughts- blistering, hateful thoughts and feelings that had been building up over the previous weeks and spilling over finally.  We had so completely de-railed.  Over, what?  A bagel???  These negative feelings and interactions were unfamiliar territory for our marriage. Watching Afton cry into her (breakfast) cheeseburger in the Braums parking lot for 30 minutes was a huge wake up call for me. It was in that moment that several important revelations dawned on me.

The first was that being married to my pregnant wife sometimes felt like being married to a drunk, bipolar cousin- wildly unpredictable mood swings and a complete lack of sexual contact.  And also vomiting. Lots of vomiting.  (Don’t worry the next two are serious.  And I don’t actually have a drunk bipolar cousin)

The second was the realization of all that Afton was going through.  It dawned on me that I had not shifted my own concept of our marriage to accommodate this new phase.  Why was it reasonable for me to expect her to fulfill the same roles and needs in our lives as she had before taking on this huge additional burden?  I had grown too comfortable with the dynamic of our previous existence and had subconsciously refused to adjust.

In my mind, I played the role of the All-American husband: always selflessly putting my wife first, being a good provider for our family, having an unshakable positive attitude and good mood; the very image of masculine strength, no vulnerabilities or weaknesses of my own.  No need to thank or repay me- all this is unconditional, free of charge.  But, of course, it wasn’t.  It has always come with a pricetag- a laundry list of my own needs that rest squarely on Afton’s shoulders.  I need intimacy, affection, constant reassurance that I’m handsome, funny, being a good husband etc.  I even have a need for her to be happy and content.  No joke- I get frustrated at her if she’s upset or unhappy for too long.  Talk about unnecessary pressure during a first trimester.  As Afton stopped meeting those needs in the way I had grown used to, I started to resent her.  I became bitter.  I withdrew.

The final revelation was a recognition of my own fragility. When your wife is pregnant the world reminds you nearly constantly that you matter the least. She’s the one doing all the work so suck it up, be a good husband, do everything she says, etc. And let me say I agree with all of the above.  But it’s impossible to just grit your teeth, smile, and turn off your humanity.  At least for me.  Eventually the changes, the unmet needs, the inevitable tension that results from her discomfort, wear you down.  I grew up listening to stories about my mom’s pregnancies- about dad spoon feeding my mom baked potatoes while she closed her eyes and nose because she was so nauseous, her physical and emotional symptoms, the classes they went to, the doctors visits.  I never once discussed with dad how he felt; if he had moments of despair or selfish resentment that his life was so different or what he did when he was upset or felt lonely.

I think more than anything what I lacked during that initial phase and what a lot of husbands probably lack is a strategy for dealing with their own psyche. For me, the thing that really helped improve our relationship during the rest of Afton’s pregnancy (aside from Sonic ice- I think Afton went through 30 bags and just as many tubs of Nutella) was our conversation in that Braum’s parking lot where I talked openly about how I was feeling and tried to work through why. We agreed on a strategy for me to intentionally spend a small amount of time to myself each day to decompress and channel my anxiety.  This was mostly in the form of working out and meditating. (I was a meditation skeptic too, but trust me on this one.)

I write all of this to say, if you are a husband reading this and your wife is pregnant…
1.) be prepared for changes in the dynamic of your relationship.  Things aren’t going to be the same.
2.) Come up with a strategy for working through your own emotional struggles.  Meditate, workout, take up a new hobby.
3.)  Vent to someone… but not your pregnant wife.  Someone else, like another husband whose gone through this.
4.) And for the love of God, DON’T eat the last bagel.

I suck at being pregnant.

After my first post last night I laid in bed for hours thinking of all kinds of ideas to write my next post about. There are so many things to write about and I have so much to say. I couldn’t turn my mind off. Actually, I thought about the blog for five minutes and spent the next two hours watching braid tutorials on instagram under the covers with my phone on silent while Barry slept. Y’all… Braiding videos are my kryptonite, which is so stupid because I don’t even understand how to french braid. But somehow EVERY night I convince myself that my brain can tell my fingers how to make the perfect messy 5 strand dutchwaterfallmilkmaidfishtail braid during Owen’s morning nap the next day.

WELL ANYWAY…. Here we are for my second post ever. This post is going to make my former coworkers SO happy, because we get to reminisce about my pregnancy. Before I begin, you should know that for 9 months I was the butt of every joke in the teacher’s lounge because my pregnancy was so hilariously obnoxious and I was such a pregnant moron. There were four of us that were pregnant at the same time and all of the other ladies handled their pregnancies with such grace. One coworker came to work and taught for a few days while dilated to at least a 3 and having steady contractions. Another coworker taught until the day her water broke during a morning staff meeting. All of them were super delightful during their pregnancies. Not me… I was eating at least 4 donuts a day, puking between each class period, casually peeing my pants during my lessons, sending mass emails talking about how suicidal my fifth graders’ recess B.O. was making me, trying to figure out a way to get legal maternity leave months before the baby was born, and taking off my clothes in the parking lot (we’ll get to that part later.) Side note: I really AM a good teacher and employee, okay?

So here’s the deal… everybody handles their pregnancies differently. Some women absolutely love being pregnant and they enjoy every single moment of it. Some women don’t have morning sickness, debilitating fatigue, steady nausea, round ligament pain, and restless leg syndrome. (lucky bitches) Some women DO experience terrible pregnancy symptoms, but continue to love and cherish every single ache and pain up until their sweet baby is in their arms. If you are this woman, stop right now and pat yourself on the back. Go tell your husband how lucky he is to be living with such a pregnant saint. Tell your friends and family members that they are so fortunate to not have to listen to your dramatic complaints about the newest disgusting pregnancy development happening to your body. If you aren’t starting to understand where I am going with this post, I will go ahead and come out and say it: I 100% LOATHED BEING PREGNANT. And you know what? That’s okay.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? Before we begin this trip you must know that Owen was unplanned. I was diagnosed with endometriosis in college, and had surgery to remove a uterine cyst a few years ago, so I assumed that getting pregnant would be extremely hard for me. Psyche. The day that I found out I was pregnant I immediately called my friend Taryn (as in… i was still on the toilet) and cried about how scared I was. I then called my sister and woke her up from a nap frantically telling her I was pregnant, and then I texted my coworker, Julie, because I had been sending her fake pictures of pregnancy tests all week (we had been joking about how my stupidity at work must be because I had “pregnancy brain” ….. lol… ) I was so freaked out about my positive test, that after telling 3 people in five minutes, I realized I hadn’t even THOUGHT about my sweet husband. Poor Barry… when he walked in from work I was nervous laugh-crying and I handed him the pregnancy test, which clearly said 1-2  PREGNANT. (meaning I am one or two weeks along) Barry looked at it, got VERY confused, and said “WHAT DOES THIS MEAN????” I said, “Barry…. it says I am pregnant.” He nervously said, “WHAT DOES ONE OR TWO PREGNANCIES MEAN??????” Sweet Barry. We hugged and cried with both joy and terror for like the next bazillion hours. We picked April up and met my parents for dinner to break the news. April still laughs when she thinks about that car ride. She said Barry was gripping the wheel so hard his knuckles were white. I’m sure his expression was a sweet smile mixed with an “I’m about to poop my pants” face. I love him.

FIRST TRIMESTER: Guys… if trimesters were people, I would run over the first trimester person with my car. The overwhelming fear of miscarriage, mixed with the SEVERE nausea. I’m telling you… I was a monster. Imagine having to go to work with the stomach flu every day for 2 months. And now imagine being a TEACHER with the stomach flu for 2 months- loving on your kids, engaging your learners, delivering knock out lessons. It was the most difficult time for me. I threw up getting ready, during my 40 minute morning commute, between each class period, and on the way home EVERY. FREAKING. DAY. I wanted nothing to do with my precious husband. I had a super heightened sense of smell during the first trimester, and I swear I could smell 5 different smells on Barry at one time. Not bad smells, just smells. Smelling smells when you’re 90% committed to throwing up 100% of the day is SO DIFFICULT. He would try to hug me and I could smell his clothes, his hair, his skin, his breath, his beard??? Needless to say, I was repulsed by any form of affection for almost 3 months. And you know what? Barry’s love language is physical touch (shocking) so he basically thought I completely hated him.

At 12 weeks we announced to the Facebook world that we were expecting. Have you ever seen a more awkward kiss? Do I look like I’ve been kidnapped and forced to kiss this redheaded stranger in my bed? When you look at this kiss do you think “Oh… she’s definitely into that.” or is it more like, “Oh she definitely just swallowed throw up back down on ‘…2’ right before her sister snapped the photo.”
*This was the first time I realized that lying about your true state through pictures on social media is exhausting and stupid.*10417618_10203705907995292_4843753127643251429_n

How is this post so far?….. Are you feeling uplifted and encouraged yet???

My nausea was more manageable in the second trimester. Thank God. Barry was starting to feel less like he was being punished by God for choosing me as a wife. This trimester was especially eventful because in the second trimester your body slowly begins to TOTALLY BETRAY YOU. The amount of pain involved in putting on mass amounts of weight solely in your core in a matter of 12 weeks is insane… especially when you’re standing and moving around all day. Another fun fact about pregnancy is that your body starts growing weird things. I discovered skin cancer growing on my forehead in the second trimester, and my dermatologist had to remove it right away because pregnancy also causes cancer cells to multiply rapidly. ARE YOU JOKING, PREGNANCY???? (Don’t worry April, I’m not going to embarrass myself and tell everybody about that other weird growth on my nipple). Also Owen was slowly growing into a beast and hung out right on my bladder at all times so this is when the casual pants peeing started.

Speaking of Owen slowly growing into a beast, in the third trimester he kicked three of my ribs out… So do what you want with that information. The third trimester was miserably uncomfortable, but so uncomfortable that it ended up just being hilarious. I could no longer bend over, I couldn’t sit still without readjusting, Owen thrashed around underneath my rib cage from 8 pm until midnight every night, and getting into our memory foam mattress bed every night was like a suicide back buster into a pit of quick sand. I. was. DONE. Despite exercising more than I ever have in my life, I got sooooo muuuccchhhh ceeeelllluuullllliiiiiite. It was as if somebody washed me, tossed me into a dryer on tumble dry low, and threw me onto the designated laundry chair where clothes sit in a wad for a week before they get put up. SO MANY WRINKLES. Here is hilarious evidence of my brand new cottage cheese thighs.
#yogimom #fitpregnancy

During the third trimester I developed extremely intense restless leg syndrome. My legs itched so badly that I had to wrap them in cold towels and put oven mitts on at night time. Giggles. The itching and creepy crawly feeling was so excruciating that I sometimes took off my pants in the parking lot before getting into my car for my commute home from work. This is real life. I could have been arrested and charged as a sex offender, people. That’s how many F’s I did not give. I even quit my job 9 days before the last day of school because I was getting maybe 3 hours of sleep a night, and was getting blood work done every week for three weeks to see if I was developing a serious liver condition called Cholestasis (but maybe because I was just sick of putting deodorant between my thighs and chasing around 96 eleven year olds every day…you decide.)

So here is MY truth: Pregnancy was awful for me, and THAT IS ALLOWED. I have friends who talk to me about “secretly” hating their lives while they are pregnant. Friends who feel completely alone, depressed, and already feel like unfit mothers because of how much they hate their pregnancies. How sad is it that we choose to emotionally isolate ourselves at a time when we need support the most, rather than be honest with other women about what we are going through?

Here is a UNIVERSAL truth: The way you feel about your pregnancy has NOTHING to do with the way you feel about your baby.

Hating pregnancy does not mean you will hate motherhood. Hating pregnancy does not mean that you are ungrateful for the gift of life. Hating pregnancy does not mean that you have forgotten or have stopped praying for all of the women who would give anything in the world to be in your position. And lastly, hating pregnancy doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t do it all over again in a heart beat.