Bytes of Love

Working mommy. Startup daddy. Rascal toddlers.

5 Favorite Toddler Gifts to Make the World a Little Better

Confession: I have hardly done any holiday planning. We’ve got our Christmas cards and some festive indoor lights up, but that’s about it. I’m ok with that. The kids are healthy and well fed and they’re behaving (kind of, and as long as we’re not on an airplane or in the car for too long). Good enough for me. Maybe it’s second child syndrome, but after the first one, I’ve seemed to let go of many things that I thought were important and HAD to be done the first time around. It’s been refreshing and made life so much easier for my type A personality. The 4 loads of unfolded laundry, boxes of toys that need to be donated ,and birthday gifts that I’m late on? Not even worrying about it. We have clothes and toys and the means to buy gifts, and that alone should be plenty, right?

I digress. Back to the holidays. Still stuck in a rut and unsure what to get your little ones? I had not really given it much thought until this week either. With all the bad news around us these days, I was thinking how I’d really like to get our boys some gifts that make them want to help, be more kind, and learn to be better. I did some quick Googling and here’s what I came up with:

  1. Books about kindness. Here’s a useful list that I may use to get some book titles from. Read any of these to your kids yet? Looks promising.
  2. Eco-friendly toys. These are designed to satisfy my inner tree hugger. So really, they’re for mommy too :-). If you look around our toy room, you’ll notice that there’s just way too much plastic. I’m a big fan of Green Toys and cups, plates, and utensils from Replay Recycled. Great quality and they help the planet. We are Santa is planning on getting this pizza parlor set for Asher this year.
  3. STEM gifts. I’ve heard a lot about the Sphero (awesome, but pricey), but since Dilan’s a bit young for it, Santa may get him the Code-a-Pillar this year (thanks, Jenny, great suggestion!). Amazon has a nice list of STEM gifts here. We need more scientists to move the world forward – never a bad thing to try to cultivate one early on. The worst that could happen is a child who’s good at math.
  4. #Optoutside gifts. One of our favorite outdoor gifts for both genders is this water rocket. It’s not necessarily an active outdoor game and does use a bit of water, but it can entertain the kids for hours, with the supervision of an adult. Anil got this for Dilan earlier this year and it’s been pretty popular in our neighborhood. Any gift that get the kids outside (and maybe even teach them a bit of physics!) is a win in my book. Bonus: it’s about $15, not too shabby.
  5. Children’s household “toys”. We’re lucky that both our kids are foodies, with the exception of those typical toddler and preschool phases where they randomly refuse to eat a food they’ve always loved (I’m talking to you, broccoli). Even if your child is not into food, you can still try some household gifts to teach him how to do things around the house. I’ve seen some kid sized brooms and dust pans that may work. This year, Santa’s getting Dilan a knife, similar to this one, that he can use without hurting himself. My mission is to teach him how to cut his own pears. Boy LOVES his pears. Since we have boys, my hope is that they’ll learn to overcome the stereotype of dads doing less than moms in and around the house when they grow up. This is my first attempt at it. Fingers crossed that I don’t fail, future daughter-in-laws 😉

Second confession: my second biggest fear in life (the first one is people choking…long story) is that I’ll raise a bunch of jerks. Our boys are as sweet as they come right now, but the world is a harsh place. Hopefully Santa will give them gifts that can actually make a difference down the road. What other neat gifts did, I miss guys? Any favorites? Happy shopping!

chanel

Taking care of yourself with Nurturico

Guess what I recently got to try? A bunch of amazing goodies and healthy snacks from Nurturico. Kiran, who has a beautiful 3 year old (who I have yet to meet!) sent me these from the Bay area, where she lives with her family. Full disclaimer here: Kiran is distant family, on Anil’s maternal side. However, you guys know how much I love startups, and cool, innovative companies . So, I would have done product reviews of her fantastic snacks regardless, really :-)

A few things to note about Nurturico: even though I’m not pregnant or nursing a whole lot, these are the categories that Nurturico’s snacks are designed for. Why? If you’ve ever had a child, you probably know how hectic that first year can be. You do the very best you can to take care of your new baby, but often forget to take care of yourself. You guys also know how much I hate that. Moms need to take better care of themselves. Period. They also have zero time to whip up something healthy in the kitchen. That’s where Nurturico comes in. Here’s what Kiran sent me:

Finger Millet Cookies – These are devoured in the first day. SO GOOD. I shared a few with the kids, but honestly mostly ate these myself. What I liked the most about these are that they aren’t overly sweet, nice and crunchy, and contain only 7 ingredients. Way more nourishing and healthier than any cookies you can pick up at the grocery store. Millet is also a great ingredient to use at it contains tons of vitamin B, calcium, iron, and much more great nutrients that are really helpful when pregnant or nursing.

Nut crumble – This was my second favorite snack. Made with ingredients such as ghee (clarified butter), pumpkin seeds, and organic raisins, these small balls pack a powerful and energetic punch. You could just snack on a few of these between meals and feel so much better than eating junk food. As a nursing mom, I would have loved to have this handy because like Kiran, I often struggled with trying to figure out what to eat right after giving birth.

Date muffins – These small goodies aren’t muffins in the traditional sense, but that’s actually a good thing. They’re not messy at all because they’re made out of mostly nuts and dates. After doing the Whole 30, you can imagine that I’ve been pretty weary of added sugar in all foods. The wonderful thing about these is that because of the dates, you really don’t miss the sweetness of sugar. Another great snack I would have loved while pregnant / nursing.

Peanut Butter Oats Banana Smoothie Mix – Are you kidding me?! A smoothie mix that tastes like chocolate – LOVE this! When I gave birth to Dilan, my mom was here for about a week to help me recuperate and take care of Dils. She would make me drink these nutrition drinks like Boost and one from Carnation, whose name escapes me now. They were wonderful after having gone through the exhaustion and exhilaration of child birth. This smoothie mix reminds me of that, except for that it’s completely natural and contains NO added sugar – hurray! A really great way to get some nutrients mixed in with your almond milk, coconut milk, or whatever type of milk you’re in to.

As I was saying before, one of my biggest pet peeves is being a mommy martyr. You shouldn’t have to suffer and give up your entire life just to raise children. I’m a firm believer in this. Taking care of yourself before and after you give birth is so, so important. And if that means taking lots of short cuts, then I say do that. Nurturico recognizes this and delivers on healthy snacks that make you feel human again. I’m so proud of Kiran for starting a company that delivers on this concept. Although Nurturico currently serves the Bay area, they will expand beyond that in the near future. I highly recommend giving them a try – you won’t be disappointed!

nurturico snacks

Whole30

Today is day 31 of the Whole30. You can read all about it here, but the gist of this program is that you eliminate any and all sugar, dairy, grain, legumes, and alcohol for 30 days to bring your body back into balance and figure out what effect these foods have on your body. I know, I know, fad diets don’t work, they’re so annoying because it’s all just marketing, eliminating anything from your diet will make you sick, you just need to eat healthy all the time, no matter how hard it is, you don’t need to lose weight, etc. etc. I’ve heard it all :-) and I’ll be honest, no one was more skeptical than me at the beginning of this program.

That’s exactly why it appealed to me more than any other fad diets out there, because 1) the goal of the program is not focused on weight loss in isolation, it’s much more than that and 2) it’s basically a giant experiment on your own body. Working for an analytics company, I HAD to try it because I love hypothesis testing :-). I started a day after our wedding anniversary and just finished the Whole30 yesterday. No cheats, no slips, no excuses. Here’s how it went:

What happened:

ENERGY – Probably the most significant and noticeable change for me were my energy levels, after about a week or two of strictly following the program rules. I would classify myself as a fairly energetic person, but not having any sugar or alcohol crashes in particular was amazing. I don’t eat much sugar to begin with, but I had a constant headache for the first two days of the program – that’s how much of an effect even a little sugar (or lack thereof, really) has on your body. I’ve loved the extra energy I have after work. I can play actively with the kids now without feeling completely defeated at the end of the day. Big win.

CLEAR NOSE – Another huge benefit for me is that my nose has been much clearer. I’ve suffered from seasonal allergies and a stuffy nose in general all my life. I don’t like taking medicine for this because, well, Claritin makes me feel like there’s a squirrel running though my head. Having a clear nose and not needing to reach for tissues all the time is huge. I love it.

CLEAR SKIN – I’ve fought minor acne all my life, and although I wasn’t completely in the clear this month, my skin did start glowing, blemishes disappeared, and the only few that are left are around my nose area, which is my main trouble spot. It was nice to know that something internally was causing things to clear up, since I didn’t switch out my skin products.

WEIGHT LOSS – I weighed myself this morning and only lost 4 pounds. I say “only” because I’ve seen much higher numbers from other people who have done the Whole30. You know what, though? Weight loss was never my goal. There’s so much more to being healthy than that number on the scale, which is why the Whole30 crew encourages you not to weigh yourself during the program and focus on the other health benefits instead. Great idea. My clothes fit better than they used to and I feel great, which means much more than a silly 4 pounds to me.

REDUCED CRAVINGS – Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate and will always love chocolate. It’s quite possibly my first love when it comes to food. However, I do think I’ve successfully eliminated most of my sugar cravings. I no longer hanker for something sweet in the afternoons. I had been drinking my coffee without sugar for weeks before the program started, so that wasn’t a big change for me. But knowing that I can enjoy a piece of cake or a cupcake without feeling guilty or without wanting to “binge” is quite nice.

What didn’t happen:

ABS – Not that I was expecting this, but the Whole30 doesn’t magically give you abs or fix the extra “mom skin” around your belly. You still need to work out and tone up if you want some muscle…this is err, work in progress for me :-)

SICKNESS – I didn’t get sick because I eliminated some major food groups. This program is only 30 days people, chill :-). It was really helpful to me to read both “It Starts with Food” and the “Whole30” books ahead of time. They explain the science of why exactly foods like sugar are bad for you, in a very easy to digest (no pun intended) way.

What I didn’t like:

MEAL PREP – I’m a fairly decent cook, but the one thing I don’t ever have enough of (like everyone else) is time. Work, convincing a 3 year old that not all tacos are spicy, trying to get a 1 year old to stop throwing food on the floor, and way too much ambition is what usually gets me. I love spending time in the kitchen, but haven’t really enjoyed it ever since the kids were born. I’d much rather spend time with them than prep some fancy meal. That’s exactly the hard part about Whole30. No matter how easy the recipe, it requires some serious kitchen and grocery shopping dedication. Luckily, I took lots of short cuts, prepped meals ahead of time, and relied on Amazon to ship me things like Nutpods and Primalfoods Paleo approved mayo, since I just didn’t have the time to whip that up myself. Look for them on Amazon.

FOOD BOREDOM – I like variety when it comes to foods. There were at least 15 recipes in the Whole30 book that I could’ve made, but again, time wasn’t on my side. I got pretty bored with eggs. Eggs are everything on Whole30. Same with the meats. I’m not much of a meat eater, so that made the Whole30 a bit more tricky for me. All first world problems, of course.

So what’s next?

I’m not going to be that person who’s going to judge you for eating a slice of pizza, don’t worry :-). I will probably eat one myself pretty soon. I have learned a lot about what makes me feel crappy and am still trying to figure that out. I had some wine and chocolate today and both tasted extremely sweet to me. It was weird. I also now know how to (hopefully) get back on track, in case I fall off the wagon. And that, is a huge win for a girl who could previously down a large bag of potato chips without ever knowing how to stop.

Two more things: a HUGE thank you to my family, especially Anil, for supporting me all month long. He even made me this star chart and gave me one star for every successful Whole30 meal or snack. How sweet is that? When I visited Florida a few weeks ago, my mom and dad also went out of their way to make sure I had enough quality Whole30 food to eat. It was amazing.

Starchart

Lastly, I want to leave you with this quote:

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn

 

Sleeping Like a Baby

If you’re a parent, you know that “sleeping like a baby” is, well, false. Eventually the little ones sleep, but it usually requires quite a bit of effort or time (or both). Unless, you’re just plain lucky, in which case I give you some serious side eye :-).

Though 18 month Asher wasn’t a great sleeper in the beginning, we’ve gotten him into a good routine with sleep since the beginning of the year. So many things to think about when it comes to sleep, so we didn’t want Asher’s crib sheets to be one of them. Enter Calla Creative. They were super nice enough of to send us a fitted organic crib sheet to test out.

The first thing I loved about the sheet is that it came in a recyclable paper bag. Way to satisfy my inner tree hugger. We washed it and put it on Asher’s mattress. Great fit, quality, and no weird chemical smells. Loved it. It was also super soft and cool and comfy at the same time. How did Asher sleep? Well, I’d say he slept like a baby that first night, but since we all know babies don’t sleep, I’ll just say he slept like a king :-)

If you’re concerned about pesticides and putting those IN your body, you may also want to think about what you’re putting ON your body, since your skin is your largest organ. Not going into lecture mode here, but organic crib sheets are definitely a worthy investment IMHO. Give Calla Creative a try – even before they sent me the crib sheet we tried, I had already purchased their toddler pillow. Also a highly recommended purchase. And with that, I’m calling it a night. Time to sleep like a…toddler 😉

Chilled Strawberry Soup

We’re nearing the end of strawberry season, but that’s not going to stop me from whipping up some chilled strawberry soup (post sleep regression, that is). Like many of my recipes, this one doesn’t have super clear measurements since I arrive at these concoctions through pure trial and error. Of course, with two beautiful rascals and less than 15 minutes to come up with a meal everyday, trial and error is no longer an option, so we’ll see how this year’s version of the soup comes out :-). If you do feel adventurous enough in the kitchen, here’s what you can do:

  1. Grab two pints of strawberries, remove the hull (the green, leafy parts), wash, and toss in the blender.
  2. Add about 1/4 cup of confectioner’s (powdered) sugar. Here’s where the experimental part comes in. You may need some more or less of this, depending on how sweet you want the soup to be.
  3. Blend until smooth, adding a very small amount of water if you want the consistency of the puree to be thinner.
  4. Add a splash of your favorite dry white wine (leave this out if you’re serving it to kids), a dollop of whipped cream, some basil leaves, and cut strawberries as garnish.

Tadaa. That’s really all there is to it. Easy, refreshing, and elegant looking. How elegant? As kitchen art, I framed black and white photos of some of my favorite recipes / creations a few years ago. They are now hanging in our kitchen (I know, Pinterest would be so proud, right?). The left one is what the chilled strawberry soup looks like. Quaint, right? Enjoy!

kitchenart

15 Months & Things We Love

A quick 15 month update! We just had Asher’s 15 month check-up and here’s how he’s doing:

Weight: 25 lbs, 10 oz – 85th percentile
Height: 32.125 inches – 78th percentile
Head size: 47 cm – 53rd percentile

We’ve come a loooong way from the 4 lbs, 6 oz and 19 inches you were born at, buddy. Needless to say, we’re all super proud of you for eating and growing so well. The tantrums have been plentiful lately, but so have the smiles, so we really can’t complain about anything. Here’s some more about you:

Favorite person: Easy – Dilan, with daddy coming in as a close second :-)
Favorite foods: Pretty much anything, but you’re definitely more of a meat and potatoes kind of guy. Anything savory is preferred over anything sweet, except blueberries and apples. You also like roasted broccoli, rice and curry, and quiche a lot.
Favorite things to do: Screaming for fun, speed crawling, banging pots, lids, and utensils together, and cuddling people. Your mama is in love with that last one. We still nurse once a day and it’s usually the most relaxation I get in a day, so I will continue doing this as long as you’re up for it.
Addicted to: Lotion and shampoo tubes and bottles, and daddy (sometimes mommy, it switches back and forth quite rapidly).
Pet peeves: Anything that doesn’t go your way, not being picked up when you want to be held, diaper changes, clothing changes, and sitting still.
At 15 months, Asher isn’t walking by himself yet. I’m saving everything we’ve learned about developmental delays and issues over the last 3.5 years for another post, because there’s a lot to say about these and I’m hoping our experiences will help others. In the meantime, here’s what mommy, daddy, and Dilan are consuming and doing to get through 15 month sleep regression. Yep, we’ve got our first major regression. I’m really hoping this is just the 18 month sleep regression that showed up early. It’s tough right now, with separation anxiety, moving to a new class, and vacations all mixed in (real first world problems right there…).  It’s a rough patch, but I’m sure we’ll get through the sleep issues soon. That is some desperation talking right there. I’m horrible with inadequate sleep. If Anil and I ever get into an argument, it’s because of lack of sleep as the root cause. So, on that beautiful and positive note, here’s what we’re into right now:

  1. Trader Joe’s Cold Brew coffee – Neither Anil nor I were (EVER!) big coffee people…until we met this wonderful little concentrate. Less acid than regular coffee, the same punch, and it tastes like bitter chocolate. We now drink it with almond milk and without any sweeteners. Anil prefers the regular kind and I like the organic one. Just one cup a day for me. Coffee is kind of like the Nose Frida to me. You’re like “hell no, I’m not using that”, until snot hits the fan and then you’re hooked. Cold brew has been fantastic for the less than 7 hours of sleep we get every day (I know, I know, Arianna would so not be proud!). Sorry, sister, workin’ on it.
  2. Grocery delivery – I think that for now we’ll be sticking with Harris Teeter Express Lane store pickup, but I have used Instacart to get some groceries delivered from Costco. I have to say it was wonderful to not have to spend the time or gas to pick up groceries during a really exhausting / difficult work week. Instacart will deliver groceries from Whole Foods, Food Lion, BJs, Petco, and Costco in the Raleigh-Durham area for a small fee + tip. Check them out here: http://bit.ly/instacartRDU.
  3. Summer fun – I love this list: http://www.efficientmomma.com/2015/06/03/summer-bucket-list-for-toddlers/. Some of these activities really apply more to pre-schoolers than younger toddlers, but they’re all such simple, mostly inexpensive activities that I miss from my own childhood. Dilan’s well on his way to checking off most activities. Of course, they’re not nearly as beautiful and straightforward as they look on this list. They’re messy, sometimes tantrummy, sometimes just plain don’t work. But, I like them because they don’t require a ton of grown-up planning and involvement. That’s just the way to go…minimal planning and letting the kids get bored from time to time. If all else fails, there are always Legos. Love me some Legos.

That’s it! Stay tuned for a chilled strawberry soup recipe and our experiences with developmental delays coming to the blog soon!

PS – picture by Asher’s infant class teachers who we love and miss to pieces! It’s actually a pic of a pic that they took for father’s day. I just HAD to post it. I. can’t. even :-)

ashersday

 

Mommy’s Must-Haves #4

Alright. I’m back with some new parenting / toddler / just plain awesome products I love. You wouldn’t think of putting these on your baby registry, but trust me, they’re great. So great that we have multiple ones of two out of three of these:

  1. Himalayan Salt Lamp. I know this sounds hippie and it kind of is, but hear me out: I’ve done hours of reading about how night lights can have a bad effect on sleep cycles (ironically, most of the reading was done right before bed on my iPhone…). However, most new parents know that some toddlers just HAVE to have a night light, or they need one in their own room so they don’t step on Legos during nursing duty / diaper changes etc. Enter the Himalayan Salt Lamp. It creates a natural amber light, which, according to my research, is the only type of light that only minimally interferes with sleep cycles (pure darkness is best). As a bonus, it has a dimmer and also purifies the air by counteracting positive ions with negative ones. This cleans the air and can help with allergies / headaches etc. Although neither toddler is currently sleeping with these lamps, we have one in the hallway and one in our bedroom. Great gift for any new parent…or anyone really!
  2. Silicone travel mats. Though I can’t find the exact one that we bought 3 years ago for Dilan, there are many of these out there on Amazon. Some people prefer to spoon feed their kids, especially when out and about, but being the classic Montessori parents we are, we try to strike a good balance between spoon feeding for convenience and giving our kids independence when it comes to almost anything. When we’re eating out, I like to take the mat along so Asher can have it in front of him and eat whatever finger foods we cut up for him (bring food scissors with you as well!). The mat is great because we don’t have to worry about Todzilla Asher throwing dishes on the floor (one of his favorite pastimes). I bring our mat along in a plastic bag and carry it home in the same bag after it’s been covered in food. Works like a charm.
  3. Books by Mo Willems. There’s only so much “Goodnight Moon” you can read. I know this goes for any book, but lately, we’ve really been enjoying books by Mo Willems. They may seem long, but each page has just a few words – perfect for toddler attention span. They’re cute and funny and all have a great message. My favorite is “Waiting Is Not Easy!”….because it’s just not. Especially not to toddlers.

PS – This picture: Asher & I just waking up from a nap. Messy hair, crankiness, and lots of cuddles. That pretty much sums up parenthood. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. #keepinitreal

messy

14 Months In

It’s been 14 months since I started nursing Asher. We had a rough start. Asher was born preemie size and my milk had not come in yet, so he was supplemented with formula for the first few days. Then, he got into a great nursing rhythm. He nursed like a champ, gained weight, but was also up every two hours and cried his eyes out. He was very difficult to soothe. We didn’t think much of it at the time because our first born was colicky, so the constant crying was something we were used to. As many of you know, it turned out that Asher had soy and dairy allergies, which meant dropping every molecule of soy and dairy for me for the next six months. I didn’t think I could do it at first, but I did. Worth it?

Eight months later, Asher outgrew his allergies and he still nurses every morning and night. He barely gets any milk out anymore, but it’s really not about the milk anymore since he’s 14 months now. It’s about knowing that he’s our last child and I want to hold on to those nursing moments and snuggles for as long as I can. I’m not writing this post to make anyone feel bad about not breastfeeding, not breastfeeding very long, or breastfeeding way longer than is the norm over here. I am writing it to let you know that all that breastfeeding research you read online is dizzying and it’s OK to feel overwhelmed at first. I know I did. To me, breastfeeding comes down to a gut decision. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes for a little while, and sometimes for a really long time.

Who knows if it actually prevents that extra ear infection your baby otherwise would’ve had. I think there’s plenty of evidence that breast milk is what’s best for your baby’s health for those first few months, but whether or not that’s actually noticeable or make a measurable difference, totally depends on the baby.  What matters is that you give it your best shot, whatever it is you decide to do. Don’t let anyone hold you back or tell you it’s not worth it. I’m glad I didn’t listen to that advice. As busy as we are, those extra morning and evening snuggles make it all worth it for me.

PS – For those of you who decide to go down nursing lane, here are my favorite breastfeeding resources. Read them on your phone while you nurse and enjoy it…once they get a bit bigger, they’ll slap that phone right out of your hands :-)

http://kellymom.com/category/bf/
http://www.lalecheleague.org/nb.html
https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/breastfeeding/Pages/default.aspx

happy_asher

How Varsha’s Getting Her Groove Back

“What do you MEAN he might have pinkeye?!” I was admiring the gorgeous skyline of downtown Chicago while on the metro, with Anil on the phone. He had just gotten to work in Durham. Dilan was sick and had to be picked up from daycare. At like 9:15 am. Seriously, why do the kids ALWAYS get sick the second one of us gets on a plane? Poor thing. I’m not even there to comfort him. Doesn’t he NEED mommy?! Normally, this wouldn’t faze me much. When you’re breastfeeding and pumping  around the clock though, hormones aren’t on your side in stressful situations like that. I had gotten up around 3 am to catch my flight and had to present in 20 minutes or so. Slight panic.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned after having kids, it’s that they will constantly throw you curve balls. Nothing ever goes as planned, no matter how much you plan. I’m obviously a planner. I have to do-lists for our meals, clothes for the kids, weekend plans, travel, work obligations, birthdays, you name it. It’s helpful and helps things moving smoothly in our household, but for a good chunk of last year, I felt like it was never enough. Classic new parent burnout. I caught a good dose of it.

After a fairly smooth labor and delivery in March last year, I thought I was prepared for taking care of a baby again. I’ve done this before just 2.5 years ago, what could possibly be so hard about it? Well, everything. Everything that was easy with Dilan, was difficult with Asher. Food allergies, sleep issues, breastfeeding jaundice, recurring ear infections, developmental delays, you name it. I think both Anil and I did all we could to keep Asher comfy and keep Dilan as happy as he is. I can’t complain too much about his health issues because at the end of the day, they should all get resolved. They’re all first world problems. However, as trivial as taking care of healthy kids may seem, it can still take a toll on you. It’s ok to think things are hard. It’s ok to be sleep deprived. It’s all temporary, after all. BUT: if there’s one thing I absolutely hate, it’s becoming a mommy martyr. Not me. Definitely not me. I believe you can work hard and still be light on your feet. You can take care of the kids and still have a life of your own…really.

On most days, we wake up at 5:30 and don’t sit down until about 11 pm. Working full-time is actually very helpful for me because I get to eat lunch in peace on most days – HUGE working mom perk. However, there’s not a ton of “me time” at work either, no matter how well balanced I think my job is. Going non-stop still takes a toll on you. So the other day, I came up with some fun new habits for myself to get back into my groove. Everyone needs a groove, a rhythm to keep you going. Here’s what mine consists of:

  1. A little time to myself. For me, this translates into audio books and podcasts. (Or, just straight up brownies – pick one). I know this sounds really counter intuitive. You want to get back into your groove with more technology? How “un-zen-like” is that?! Well actually, it’s been amazing. I never get to read at home because our evenings are all about meal prep for the next day, cleaning the house, laundry / getting clothes ready, and some laptop work or HOUSE OF CARDS (can’t complain about that one). Having the ability to listen to books, sometimes even with the kids in the car has made a huge difference for me. I’ve learned so much while driving. It’s sneaky “me” time that makes me feel human and connected again (ironically). Stay tuned for my favorites coming soon.
  2. Device-less nights. As you may have guessed, Anil and I are constantly connected. It’s the only way to manage the household, work, and everything else. Like I said, we’re planners, and a lot of our planning and shopping gets done online and in apps. But sometimes it’s nice to just disconnect, have a glass of wine, sit, and re-set. It’s hard for two technologists to make this happen, but we’ve loved the few nights when we’ve done this. Tub time is the best. Steal your kids’ bubbles. Trust me. Also, you can make any dinner look fancy with candle light. Just wait until the kids go to sleep.
  3. Work-less weekends. Of course there are those weekends when you do what you have to do for work. But in general, we try to get out with the kids as much as we can. Museums, parks, even grocery shopping and outside chores can be fun with the kids. The main point is that staying home often forces you to clean, organize, cook, fix up stuff, etc. While that’s great, it’s not so fun for the kids, no matter how much you try to involve them. By getting out more, we’ve felt more balanced and the kids have much more fun. They learn a ton about the outside world too. It doesn’t always have to be expensive. You’re talking to a thrifty mom here. I hunt down those deals, girlfriend.
  4. Taking more risks. Last year was a great year for me at work, but I didn’t take as many risks as I’m planning to take this year. I didn’t drop the ball on anything, but when your mind is so consumed with a move, newborn, and potty training a preschooler, you’re just preparing for constant change at home and it’s just a lot to handle in addition to work. It chugged along, but this year, I’m planning to be much more innovative. Because…, why not? Innovation is refreshing and just as good for the soul as letting your mind rest, if you ask me.

onmyway

I’m typing this post while waiting for my flight back home from Dallas. Of course, one of the kids is sick again and Anil had to take time off work to take care of our poor sweetheart Asher. Thank goodness sis-in-law was around this time to lend a hand. Regardless, he’s done a fabulous job and that’s one of the biggest reasons why I married him. When you don’t have the grandparents or lots of family nearby, it can be hard to manage a startup, work, two kids, and all the glory that comes along with everyday life. I’m such a work in progress, but I’m no longer afraid of the chaos. I embrace it and make small tweaks to help me feel human again in all the blessed mess. I may not be where I want to be yet, but I’m on my way. On my way to getting my groove back…

Happy First Birthday, Asher!

Dear Asher,
I was about to start this post by saying that you’re the bomb diggity. I then refrained because by the time you’ll actually be old enough to fully comprehend this (sometime in middle school?), that would be really uncool ;-). In all seriousness, thanks for joining our family a year ago. I had a flawless pregnancy and yet you were born just a few grams shy of NICU time. I have never cried as many happy tears as when your brother came to give me the news (with daddy’s help, he was just 2 after all), that you were a perfectly healthy 4 lbs and 6 ounce baby boy.

Those first few months of your life, you grew huge! Some say that’s miracle, but it would only be one if there was something wrong to begin with. I say it was mostly mama’s milk. But I won’t go into too many nursing details because I know that’s the last thing you will want to read as a middle schooler as well ;-). Although you grew really well, we had our share of challenges: breastfeeding jaundice, ear infections, dairy and soy allergies. They were really rough for you at the time,  but I can’t help and think of how much we’ve all learned and how much stronger we are as a family because of all of these annoyances. Being a baby or being a parent is tough when things go smoothly. It’s even more challenging when they don’t. The biggest lesson you’ve taught me (in addition to patience) is that you are who you are.

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And I wouldn’t want it any other way. After all, what would we do without your curls (which I smell and run my fingers through at least 19 times a day), your giggle and smile, your lashes (!!!), and your beautiful eyes? You’re extremely strong-willed, just like your brother, impatient, just like everyone in our family, sweet, CUDDLY, fussy when things don’t go your way, talkative, and funny. You love to clap, roll around, shake things, bang objects together, bury your head when you cuddle, and do anything and everything wild with Dilan. You love to eat most foods, but lean meats and carbs seem to top your list. You like spices and love to drink from a cup. You LOVE Apple watches and remotes, too. I think your first words are “ball” and “mama” (not going to complain about the latter one ;-)). We still nurse twice a day and I never thought I’d say this, but I am cherishing every minute of it.

Happy Birthday, my dear. I am so sorry for traveling most of the day on your birthday, but I hope that one day, you’ll appreciate all the hard work that your dad and I have and will put into raising you. I also hope you don’t remember my dance moves. We’ll have a beer together when you’re old enough if you do. Here’s to another year of fun, being brave, and making a difference. Hope you enjoy these bytes of love.

Even though you’re one now, you’ll always be my baby boy. Love you,

– Mommy

PS – Stay tuned for all 12 of your monthly pictures!

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