Mama’s Circle

So I’ve mentioned before how amazing The Crybaby Club is. How affirming it is to belong to a wonderful group of human beings who get what it’s like to be tough and tender. A safe place to be vulnerable and make real connections. As wonderful as they all are, most are physically far away, around the country, around the world. Super cool and real, but there’s also a need to have people to meet up with in the real world and do life with.

I recently experienced one of those magical moments when the stars align and the universe brings you exactly where you need to be. I reached out to a friend from high school, (I used to drive her to school in my ’66 Mustang – how I miss that car), and got real about how lonely I had been, especially since becoming a mother. She mentioned a friend of hers she thought I’d get on well with, so she connected us and I invited her and her son over for a play date. We connected on many levels and before she left she mentioned the mom’s group she’s part of and their upcoming park day, inviting me to come meet them.

I felt an instant connection with these lovely mama’s. They were authentic and awesome and they welcomed me with open arms. Cue happy dance!

Suddenly I have friends again! Places to be! Things to do! People to see! Mama’s Circle has park days once a week, moms’ night out about once a month, play dates, and friend time scheduled on our own. We stay connected via our group’s Facebook page, but the focus is on getting together in real life and it’s glorious.

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Dear lonely mama’s out there, I highly recommend finding your local mom’s group or making your own! Your fellow mama’s will be so very glad you did, I promise you.

I hadn’t realized just how lonely and isolated I had become, until it reached critical levels. Now I’m learning to balance my introverted nature with my social needs. Not burrowing for too long, remembering to also bloom. Taking time to recharge alone, but not staying alone too long. Not letting it get to such critical levels again before reaching out.

We’re not meant to do this alone. We need people to listen who understand because they’ve been there too. Friends we can talk to and be our vulnerable authentic selves with. The validation is invaluable.

I’d begun to doubt it was possible to find my people. I thought maybe those times were behind me or yet to come again – in about 18 years. This season of life can be so hard and isolating, but it’s easier when we come together. The burden gets lighter and the joys brighter.

It’s also a surprisingly wonderful way to collaborate and share our talents with our small businesses. You may think you’ve thought of everything, but simply getting together with a friend can reveal all sorts of “why didn’t I think of that” ideas and connections. Just talking about my shop with someone else keeps things fresh and growing. The honest feedback and “you can do this” support makes it easier to stay motivated and inspired. I’ve also traded doll slings for photographs with my friend and fellow mama, Lee Anne of Petal & Vine Photography. (Her birth photography and family portraits are particularly amazing).

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When I was little my mom was in a similar mom’s group and that allowed me to grow up with lots of friends and adults I could trust outside my own family. I’m so glad I’ve found these lovely ladies. I needed them and my little guy needed friends around his age. Now we both have a community where we belong. It feels so right to be back in my hometown doing life with this wonderful community of brave mama’s of all kinds. I am so grateful for these wonderful mama’s and their sweet little ones.

Are you part of your local mom’s group? What do you guys like to do? How do you stay connected? Has it changed your life the way mine has changed mine? I’d love to hear your stories! 

 

 

 

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No Place Like Home

It’s so good to be home!

I could almost swear I’ve been living in a time warp for at least the last 5 years. Feeling a bit like Dorothy, learning through leaving that there really is no place like home. It’s as if I just came back from a trip in outerspace, finally back on terra ferma.

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I missed painting-like skies and sounds of rain and thunder more than I realized. They comfort my soul.

Seeing the way my parents’ faces light up when Fox says something clever or when he laughs is priceless.

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I’ve seen my family more in the month we’ve been home than in the last 5 years, when we were living in Indiana. Reconnecting and catching up with old friends is the best. And I’m getting back in touch with myself as well, the person I’ve always been.

I sort of lost myself in motherhood, 1000 miles from family and old friends. Sometimes I have some difficulty remembering who I once was. Hard to determine who I am now. It’s as if there was a break in my timeline. It was hard to make new friends when I wasn’t really sure who I was introducing them to.

Figuring out who I am now is easier in the context of my old friends and family. So nice to be around people who truly know me and where I’m coming from. Not only by seeing my reflection in the eyes of people who’ve known me for years, decades, or my entire life, but also my life in the context of theirs. Friends who once discussed rehersals, and critiques are now speaking of their kids, husbands, jobs, and other adulting things. Look at us now!

So many times over the last 5 years I’ve wished to be able to go out to lunch with my mom like we used to. Just geting to run to the chiropractor and shops with her is a dream come true and I am truly grateful. This past week we actually got to go to the movies, just her and I. (I hadn’t been to the movies since we saw the first Hobbit installment, while I was super pregnant).

Our new house is so perfect for us too. More space than we’ve ever had, large studio, fenced in backyard, all new appliances, laundry room, and so. much. storage! Even our cat, who doesn’t like to go outside, enjoys exploring the screened-in porch. Fox keeps saying he likes it here and “let’s stick around.”

(Pictures of our new place to come in a future post!)

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Of course there are also all the fun Florida things to do! We already got year passes to The Florida Aquarium and are looking forward to going to places like MOSI, theme parks, and Fox’ first trip to the beach! (Excited to go back to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with Russ too!)

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Burrow & Bloom will be continuing through this blog, my Etsy shop, and I’ll be setting up as a vendor locally around Lakeland and other central Florida locations before long! Custom handmade doll slings and teether necklaces are still available. And as always, if you’re interested in colaboration or consignment just send me a message here, through my shop, or email at burrowandbloom@gmail.com! Stay up to speed by following along on the ‘gram @burrow.n.bloom, Facebook, Twitter, and by following here on the blog!

 

 

 

Lucky List of Lullabies

So many lullabies have been sung over the course of my kiddo’s 2 1/2 years earth-side that a running repertoire has naturally come together. A coalescence of songs that have struck a chord, stood the test of time, or simply struck our fancy. Songs to choose from in lullaby land. I change up the order, but bedtime always includes a few songs from this list.

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Some are songs my mom used to soothe me back to sleep after a bad dream in the middle of the night or wee hours of the morning. Others come from movies, musicals, or songs I liked as a kid. (I remember jumping on my bed to Yellow Submarine). And there are a few from the Elizabeth Mitchell Pandora station, (recommended to me by some wonderful ladies from my local mom’s Facebook group).

Do you have certain go-to lullabies? Are any of these on your list too?

  1. Hush Little Baby – Lullaby my mom used to sing to me
  2. Froggy Went a Courtin’ – Elizabeth Mitchell
  3. Little Bird – Elizabeth Mitchell
  4. My Neighbor Totoro – opening and closing songs
  5. Kiki’s Delivery Service – opening and closing songs
  6. Yellow Submarine – The Beatles
  7. Hey Jude – The Beatles
  8. Just a Spoonful of Sugar – Mary Poppins
  9. Chim Chim Cher-ee – Mary Poppins
  10. Everybody Wants To Be a Cat – The Aristocats
  11. Robbin Hood and Little John – Disney’s Robbin Hood
  12. The Bare Necessities – The Jungle Book
  13. I’m Just a Little Black Raincloud – Winnie The Pooh

Ch ch ch changes!

Big changes have been happening around here, including where “here” is!

At the beginning of the month we finally moved from our apartment to a charming 1920’s bungalow! My little guy wakes up in the mornings and exclaims, “the sun’s back up! We can go outside now!”

IMG_1048We love playing on our front porch and in our fenced-in back yard! It’s so amazing what difference having an outdoor space makes. On move-in day we had a little picnic lunch in our backyard and marveled how it really is a little slice of heaven.

Fox in the GardenWe even have four raised garden beds! Our new neighbor’s mom stopped by and taught me all about the herbs growing there and how to harvest and dry them; lavender, sage, thyme, mint, and oregano! There are also a couple tomato plants and a little strawberry bush! In the spring we plan to grow lots more veggies as well.

It’s been years since I gardened as a child with my parents and I’m thrilled to have the space to pick it back up again and share it with my son. He loves to play in the yard or water the flowers while I weed, prune, and harvest herbs. Quite therapeutic getting my hands dirty with earth.

We’ve sighted so many wonderful creatures and plants around our new space too. Hummingbirds, butterflies, chipmunks, squirrels, goldfinches, a hawk, and a big green mantis! There are several Rose of Sharon bushes around the house and a lovely vine of purple Morning Glory along the back fence.

It’s also wonderful to have storage space in our basement, along with a washer and dryer of our own. Toting our laundry up a floor to the shared coin laundry room in our apartment building was tiresome. Especially for an introverted perfectionist like me. Who wants to put on make-up just to do laundry?

When our little guy came into our lives, my painting studio/sewing room became his nursery. Now that our house has three bedrooms, I have my studio back! It’s in the back of the house with windows to the side the backyard. So very inspiring to have my own space to create in.

New StudioSince going all out for the Baby Fair in March, I’ve been scaling it back and focusing on my family. Rejuvenating. Now I feel a fresh surge of creative energy and the motivation to keep it going.

IMG_1166Last week it became clear that I had no choice but to leave my job. I was treated very poorly and undoubtedly undervalued, but it has set me free to do what I’ve yearned for for years. I’m now pouring myself into our home, family, and my Etsy business full time. It feels like coming back to life. There have been so many positive signs that this is right path for my life and my family. So much serendipity. I should have some exciting news to share in a few days actually. Can’t wait to share it all with you!

So as I’ve decided to throw perfectionism to the wind you’ll be hearing from me much more in the coming weeks and months. Lots of amazing things to come!

The Hummingbird symbolizes great courage, determination, flexibility and adaptability. This little beauty is only a few ounces in weight, yet has the courage of a lion. Indeed size is of no consequence…The Hummingbird symbolizes the respect of territories, protecting and enforcing your boundaries, the need to be feisty if needed to protect your boundaries and what is yours. [They] remind us that there are times when we have to make a difficult journey to get to the destination of our goal, there will be obstacles, symbolizing the need for endurance and perseverance. Hummingbird challenges you to say “yes I can”, and believe it will be done.

All in the Balance

Chugging along like the little engine that could, I’ve been slowly, but surely making progress. Getting more necklaces up in the shop. Sewing diaper bags. Drafting future blog posts. Brainstorming craft fair booth ideas and making lists.

I considered accepting an invitation to display my necklaces at RAW in Indianapolis, but decided against it. Although it sounded like a great opportunity at first, ultimately it didn’t seem like the right audience. Plus having to sell twenty $15 tickets or pay the difference seemed like it would take too much away from time spent creating. Got me thinking about future craft fair possibilities anyway.

 

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Fox and Russ have been super sweet, playing while I sew. I love listening to them. The other night Russ helped Fox draw in his little notebook, delighted by how he expertly held the pen in his tiny hand. Each time he finished a drawing, he’d walk over and hand me the most adorable sheet of scribble I’d ever seen in my life. Oh my heart!

While Russ was at work, Fox helped me sort some craft supplies and gather materials, finding spools of thread and odds-n-ends to play with along the way. We take breaks to play, read, snuggle, and walk Cora.

Balancing productivity with family time is super important to me. They’re a huge part of why I’m doing all this anyway. Russ and I have been trying to do something outside as a family each weekend. We took Fox to the park, where he got to swing and go down a slide for the first time. And we went to the county fair, where he got to see cows and pet an adorable little calf.

 

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Fox is growing so fast. I love simply watching him. Every day he’s more and more toddler/little boy, surprising me with new things he says and does. With the way he does them.

We don’t watch a lot of TV, but we enjoy some Miyazaki movies. The other morning I asked him if he wanted to watch Kiki, Totoro, or Castle and he nodded, “Toto”. Last night we played an adorably funny combination of hide-n-seek, tag, and peekaboo. When I’d say I was coming to get him he’d shake his head and matter-of-factually say ‘no’. So much fun!

 

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During nap times lately I’ve been reading books on my Kindle app. Enjoying a little escapism in my downtime. I like that I can hold it in one hand while Fox sleeps on me and that it has the option of white letters on a black page, so the brightness doesn’t wake him up.

I read the first book in the Dragonlance Chronicles. Leading to some fun conversations with Russ, who read them years ago but still has an uncanny memory of characters, locations, and plot. It also makes me wish I had time to run one of the d&d campaign modules.

I finally got around to reading Mindy Kaling’s book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without me (And Other Concerns) which has been on my ‘to read’ list since it was released three years ago. (Like I wasn’t busy adjusting to a new town, being pregnant and caring for a baby). Anyway, it’s tiding me over between seasons of The Mindy Project. I absolutely adore her wit! She’s flipping hilarious!

Have you read any good books lately?

My Breastfeeding Journey

 

While it hasn’t always been easy, it was important to me to get breastfeeding to work for us. We’ve had our share of bumps in the road, but I’m delighted to say we’ve made it to 16 months with no signs if stopping.

This is our story.

 

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The day my son was born a lactation consultant visited our hospital room and taught me how to hand express colostrum and feed it to him with a flexible little cup. Throughout our stay various lactation consultants helped us learn about proper latch and gave us bottle/nipple recommendations for a breastfed baby who was still getting the hang of it. They taught me how to use a breast pump and got me set up pumping for 15 minutes every 2 hours, around the clock.

I am exceedingly grateful for lactation consultants.

Since he was jaundiced we had to set alarms to wake him up for feedings. And we had to keep him awake long to get enough to eat. Tickling him or removing his swaddling blanket.

We had to use donor milk for a couple days, to help get his bilirubin levels down, while waiting for my milk to come in.

I’d wake up my husband and have him start warming a bottle while we’d try to nurse. He’d usually get too frustrated and need the bottle, but sometimes we’d get a good latch and he’d nurse for 15 minutes to an hour.

I continued pumping for about two weeks. I was so exhausted I remember closing my eyes, for just a moment, while pumping and instantly dreaming. I also recall feeling a bit like a cow, hooked up to that machine when I just wanted to hold my baby. (My hat’s off to exclusively pumping mamas).

12 days after his birth, he had a bottle in the morning then successfully nursed the rest of the day. And he hasn’t had a bottle since.

At first I could only nurse sitting up, with the football hold, but we gradually transitioned into the cradle hold and I was excited to learn about laid-back breastfeeding from The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. That was a game changer for us. Especially at night. Being able to nurse while lying down meant I could latch him on and go back to sleep, barely having to wake at all.

Once we got on a roll, our biggest hurdle was managing my over supply and overactive let down. My little guy would often arch his back and cry while nursing. It was awful not knowing what was wrong or what to do to make it better.

My husband and I tried to determine the issue and remedy online, but found contradictory advice.

In desperation I called the WIC breastfeeding line and left a voicemail for the WIC peer counselor. She returned my call shortly after, listened to my story and gave me some suggestions to try before our appointment.

I also made a lactation consultation appointment at BABS. It was there we discovered my little guy had a tongue and lip tie. Fortunately it was minor enough that he was still able to get a good latch and, since he was gaining well and nursing wasn’t hurting me, we decided not to have it lasered. It merely caused him to nurse more often, since he’d get tired with the extra effort of moving his tongue.

I learned that block feeding was the answer to our oversupply issue. (Keeping him on one side for a time, still nursing as often as he wanted, then switching to the other side for the same length of time). I had been trying that at 2 hour intervals already, but I had to gradually increase the time I kept him on one side until I was at 5 hours. I think it took about a month to get my supply under control after implementing my block feeding plan with my lactation consultants.

You might think that oversupply would be a good problem to have, (FEED ALL THE BABIES), but in addition to a fussy baby, it made for plugged ducts and mastitis. Luckily the remedy to those issues is more nursing, (and antibiotics for mastitis). What a beautiful design!

At 16 months, we’re still nursing on demand, often to and during sleep. Not only for nutrition, (along with solids), but also for comfort and bonding.

My soft goal is three years. That’s how long my mom nursed me. We’ll continue to nurse as long as he wants to.

My story is not meant as a substitute for professional advice. Everyone is different. If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulty breastfeeding I highly recommend making an appointment with a lactation consultant.

Flying with a Toddler | Story and Tips

I woke up before the alarm at 4:30am. Fox kept right on sleeping as I rolled him off me, onto his back and quietly slipped out of bed.

I swiftly changed into the clothes I’d laid out the day before, applied minimal make-up, popped some waffles in the toaster, and added a few last-minute things to my bag.

As I was thinking of what to do next, I heard Fox waking up and dashed back into the bedroom. I found him sleepily sitting up in bed rubbing his bleary eyes. We snuggled and nursed before getting ready the rest of the way.

I’d been concerned about how the early morning wake up would go for such a little guy, but it worked out even better than I’d hoped.

Most of the drive to the airport went happily, with just a touch of fuss as we were nearing our exit ramp.

He was intrigued by the sights and sounds of the airport.  Luckily, there wasn’t a line at the check in counter and we had no luggage to check. We breezed through security, picked up coffee and a cookie on our way to our gate, and had just enough time to visit the restroom before they started boarding.

 

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Fox nursed during take-off and after a little reading and singing he was asleep. Russ leaned his head on my shoulder and fell asleep as well.

There were a few tears upon descent when Fox didn’t want to nurse anymore, but some Cheerios got his ears popping again and all was well.

 

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Glad to get to skip baggage claim, we went straight for our rental car, giving Fox some time to dance to the car radio before putting him in his car seat and heading to my parents’ house.

My family came out to meet us as we pulled into the driveway.  It was the first time my brothers and sister got to meet Fox and I was super excited to see them all after being away for three years.  A very happy reunion for all!

 

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It was wonderful to visit with friends and family while showing Fox my hometown and my childhood home. My parents were charmed and impressed by Fox. So sweet to get to share him with them.

Such a big trip for my little guy. Lots of firsts. First time getting up and going so early. First bus, plane, escalator, moving walkway, and flight. First time out of Indiana. First time meeting uncles, aunt, and great grand mother. Truly special.

For our return trip I checked us in and printed our boarding passes from my parents’ house. That way we were able head straight to security.  But while focusing on getting us where we needed to go, I forgot to empty my water bottle beforehand.  My loving husband had to be escorted back to empty it and go through security all over again.

Fox explored the terminal by our gate, walking and crawling around and making friends with a 10 month old little girl.  I enjoyed chatting with her mom about traveling with a little one.

Below are some tips based on our flight experience.  Hope they help make flying easier and more fun for you and your little one as well!

 

Tips for Flying with a Toddler

1.  Snacks

Not only to keep them occupied and full, but to get them swallowing so their ears pop on the plane.

2.  Travel Light

Carry-on only if possible, even if it means doing some laundry at your destination.

3.  Books

To keep up as much of your nap and bedtime routines as possible as well as entertain.

4.  Toys

I found them most useful in the car.

5.  Diapers and Wipes

More than you think you’ll need, to be prepared for flight delays.

6.  Sleep

Try to swing it so that your little one is sleepy in the plane or car.  Depending on how long your flight is and how they do in the car.  (My little guy has a hard time falling asleep in the car, so I was aiming for him to sleep on the plane).

7.  Water Bottle

Remember to empty it before heading to security.  If not you’ll have to go back, empty it, and go through security again.

8.  Check in and Boarding Passes

You can usually check in online at the airline’s website and print your boarding passes.

9.  Babywearing

Having a sling or other type of baby carrier made it easy to move through the airport and helped our little one feel safe and comfortable in a new environment.

10.  Have Fun
Remember it’s an adventure.