Friday Favorites: Work, Play, Blog Love

Related to Work

Working from home: There’s nothing quite like rolling out of bed and logging into your work computer while sipping coffee in your PJ’s.  (I get to do it every Friday!)  No rush hour traffic, no scramble to get yourself, a baby, and 3 dogs ready for the day, and when I’m done for the day, I’m already home!

Standing desk: I don’t know about any other mamas out there, but I definitely jacked something in my tailbone up when I was giving birth.  Since then, sitting for extended periods of time has really bothered my hips and tailbone.  In December, it reached a point that was pretty excruciating, to the point that I couldn’t handle sitting for a full day.  When I heard we had some sit/stand workstation setups floating around the office, I jumped at the chance to get one. I now stand for a couple of hours every day, and being able to switch it up has made all the difference.

 

Related to Play

Having a 16 month old:  She’s pretty awesome. She is curious, bright, social, fun, and loving.  She’ll sit at the table and color, dance to music, and mimic almost anything we do.  She is past the helpless baby stage but pre cranky toddler stage. Yeah, Mom Life is pretty good right now.

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Summer: Even as a working adult who doesn’t get summers off, there’s still something special about it.  Summer seems to bring more time with friends, sunshine, laughter, sand and water, tasty drinks, and so much joy.

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JD on light duty: We leave at the same time every morning.  We arrive home at the same time every night.  He has every weekend off.  There is something almost uncomfortable about the normalcy of it all, but it’s been such a blessing in disguise.  It gives us time to enjoy all those wonderful summer things I just mentioned, as a family, 100% of the time.

 

Favorite Bloggers and Blog Posts

I love, love reading blogs, and I’m always looking for new ones.  For any of you looking for new blogs to follow, here are my favorites.

One thing I will mention is that I follow several police wife blogs, but none of the ones I follow have posted recently.  Maybe someday I can do a post completely dedicated to police wife blogs.  In the meantime, suggestions welcome!  Post your favorite blogs in the comments 🙂

 

Ain’t No Mom Jeans– She is my blog crush. (Is that a thing?  If not, I’m making it a thing.  In a non-creepy way, of course.)  I love her blog so much because she takes such an honest look at motherhood, and a practical approach to being a fashionable mom, whether pregnant, postpartum, nursing, or just chasing young kiddos around. (Also, she recently battled breast cancer and still manages to look fabulous all the time.)

She recently posted about a trip to a conference without her kids, and the comments she made about returning home really resonated with me. I could have written it myself, really.

“Mamas home, where she belongs. And I do belong here, right here, with them. But part of me wants the expansive me, the one with vision, and personal goals that are very different from the goals of a mother. I guess that’s the trick, right? This balance of what you can give vs what you need; I want it all.”

 

Working Mom Magic– I feel like most mom blogs out there are by stay-at-home moms.  I’m not trying to demean what they do in any way, but it is very different than being a working mom.  It’s nice to read a blog from another mama who’s out there, like me, doing the work thing.

I really, really enjoyed this post where she talks about the dangers of the “everybody wins” attitude.

I also really enjoyed her post about following your mom instincts, which sometimes means ignoring what the books and “experts” tell you.  So.  True.

 

Airing My Dirty Laundry– Her husband is in the Air Force, and while I feel a sense of camaraderie towards her for being a military spouse, it also reminds me to be thankful that JD is ONLY a LEO and not a LEO in the military.  Her husband deploys.  A lot.  And she has 2 kids.  Yuck.

She posted recently about people who tell her that the military lifestyle is “easy.”  A big WTF to that.

 

Hands Free Mama– In today’s world, it’s so easy to get caught up in the constant hustle and bustle of work, school, activities, and the distractions of cell phones, iPads, and TVs.  She is an absolutely beautiful writer who reminds us to focus on the things that really matter in life, like our kiddos.

 

A Game of Diapers– Two full-time working parents and 3 kiddos, 2 of which are twins?!  Oh my, I have no idea how she does it, folks.

 

Healthy Slice of Life– A good blog, especially if you like cooking and focusing on feeding your family with nutritious, healthy foods.  I hate cooking, but for some reason still really enjoy this blog.  That must mean something 🙂

 

 

 

Upheaval

There is one word that comes to mind when I think of the past week. Upheaval.

The weekend started out fantastically. It was JD’s weekend off and his first weekend back on a day schedule for the month. We grilled out with our neighbors Friday and kicked off the weekend with drinks and plenty of laughs. Saturday morning L slept in till 9- 9!!!– and we went out for breakfast as a family. We had the whole weekend ahead of us- sunny skies, warm weather, and no plans. I was giddy with possibilities.

But it was all downhill from there.

JD went to the opening of a new skatepark in the area. BMX is one of his many hobbies, although he hasn’t done it in quite some time, so he was really excited for a local park to open up and get some riding in.

A couple of hours later, I got The Call.

“Don’t be mad,” he said as soon as I answered.

I immediately knew. I’ve been married to JD for 5 years. I’m quite familiar with The Call.

“You hurt yourself.”  (It was a statement, not a question.)

“I dislocated my shoulder,” he specified.

Saturday afternoon was spent at the ER, then JD followed up with an orthopedist on Monday. I had held out hope that surgery wouldn’t be necessary, but talking with the orthopedist made it clear that was the way to go. He’d torn ligaments and JD’s job depends on him being physically active and strong; we couldn’t risk him not healing correctly or fully, so we went ahead and scheduled surgery for Wednesday.

I was already feeling tired and vulnerable when I picked L up after work Monday. Unfortunately, the babysitter had another bomb for me.

“So, I have some bad news,” she began.

I immediately knew. What other news it could it be? What other news could she possibly share with me that would be considered bad? I could already feel the tears welling up.

She confirmed my fears when she said, “We’re moving.”

The tears came. She jumped up and hugged me. I assured her I was happy for her (her hubby got a job with the Sherriff’s department on the coast- how could I not be happy for a fellow LEOW?) but those tears had been building up for days, and I had just reached my breaking point.

When I drop L off in the mornings, I’m entrusting a piece of my heart to someone else. K has watched L for just over a year, and to lose her, the trust we’ve developed and, most importantly, the relationship L has with her, is almost unbearable.

As much as I like to pretend otherwise, I’m not Superwoman. These few days were overwhelming for me, but the good cry I had Monday night helped me take a deep breath and just move forward.

I started researching daycare centers in the area. As much as we’ve loved having L in an in-home daycare, she is transitioning to toddler, walking all over, exploring her world, talking more and more, and ready for more social interaction. I found a local daycare center I’m actually really excited about, and plan to visit in the next few days.

JD’s surgery this morning went well and he’s now on the road to recovery. It will be a long, tough journey.  Once he’s back at work, he’ll be off patrol and assigned to light duty somewhere (his worst nightmare). He can’t lift or hold L for at least 6 weeks, and he’s under strict instructions to avoid combat sports for 6 months (his other worst nightmare).  He does what little he can at home, but without use of his right arm, that’s not much. Poor little L doesn’t understand what’s up or why daddy can’t pick her up, which is hard on everyone.

The silver lining to these situations always seems to be the friends and family that step in and offer to help.  Many have offered to watch L, and David’s grandma stepped in last minute to pick her up at the ER Saturday afternoon then took her overnight last night since JD’s surgery was so early in the morning. We had a friend who let us borrow a recliner so JD could sleep comfortably (sleeping in bed is out of the question) and another friend who picked up the recliner and delivered it in his truck. Where we would be without these people, I’m not sure, but I can tell you we’re forever grateful for caring people who go out of their way to help out.

For me, I guess my new motto is, “Just keep swimming.”

 

Thursday Tip- Creating a Joint Family Gmail Calendar

Adding a Joint Calendar

It’s hard to have a daily routine when your schedule is constantly changing. It’s also hard to plan ahead or make plans with people.  Night shift, day shift, work from home, travel, in service training, off duty work, babysitter vs. JD’s grandma vs. family friend for child care… it’s a LOT to keep track of. And L is only 1- she doesn’t have her own schedule of activities and get togethers yet. It’s going to get worse, people.

To help maintain sanity, I created a Gmail calendar that JD and I can use jointly and syncs to our phones.  It’s been life changing, to say the least. If someone asks if we’re available, I can quickly check the calendar. If JD signs up for off duty, he can add it to the calendar in case he forgets to tell me (which happens quite often). I set alerts for things I’m afraid I’ll forget, add an address that I can easily GPS when it’s time to leave, and create popup reminders for things I need to bring to certain events.

For me, I have 3 calendars- personal, family, and Loralai’s daycare schedule; the family and daycare calendars are shared with JD.  Call it hyper-organized or OCD, but it’s saved us a lot of hassle and confusion.

I thought I’d share the basic instructions on how to do this. I’m assuming 2 things here- you and your significant other each have a Gmail account (or a joint Gmail account) and that you have smart phones.

First, you have to create the calendar.

Log in to your Gmail account, and in the top right corner of the page, you’ll see a grid with 9 boxes. Click on that grid to open menu options, then select Calendar.

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You will be taken to your default calendar. On the left side, there is a red button that will allow to create a new event, a month view below that, and below that a drop down called “My Calendars.” Select the arrow on the right “My Calendars,” and it will allow you to Create a New Calendar.

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On the next screen, you’ll need to name your calendar, select your time zone, and enter the email address(es) that you want to share with. Be sure to select the correct permissions for each person you share the calendar with. If you want them to be able to add and change events, you will need to select one of those options from the Permission Settings to the right of their email address.

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Now, click Create Calendar at the top of the screen!

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Anyone invited to the calendar will receive an email notifying them of the new calendar and the calendar will be automatically added to their Gmail account. Everyone invited to the calendar will be able to access it under My Calendars on the left side of the screen.

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To create an event, select the red “Create” button and fill out all of the information.image007

 

A few features to highlight…

**Be sure to select the right calendar from the Calendar dropdown to make sure the event populates to your joint calendar

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**Use the reminder settings to either send an email reminder and/or a pop-up that will appear on your phone, if you’d like (I am a reminder fiend). Note: Reminder settings will NOT populate to the other user(s) of your joint calendar. So if I set up a reminder, my husband will not get that same reminder. He could manually set his own, if he wanted (he doesn’t, but he could).

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Once you’re finished, be sure to hit the “Save” button!

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Once saved, the event will automatically populate on desktop and mobile devices (assuming the calendar is synced to the mobile device) for all calendar users.

And speaking of syncing…

The instructions are different for each type of mobile device.  I’m not going to detail out sync instructions for the different device types, but I’ve linked to some instructions below, for reference.

iPhone or iPad

Android

BlackBerry

 

Favorite Mommy/Daddy Parenting Moments

We have approximately 345,872 pictures of L.   From sleeping to eating to sitting in a Bumbo, everything your child does (especially your first child) is fascinating.  But when I look back through the pictures we have, some of my favorites are the ones that capture those mommy or daddy moments.  They are somewhat hard to come by, because half of the time we spend with L is not spent with each other, which probably makes them even more precious.

This is the first time I held her and the first time I really got to see her.  I couldn’t believe she had arrived, and I couldn’t believe she was ours.  She was beautiful and perfect and I could have sat right there holding her forever.

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The early days.  I loved when she would just lay and nap with me.

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Love this pic for a few reasons.  1. It captures a rare moment when she wasn’t in a good mood, which I find kind of amusing 2. Look at that costume- adorable  3. I think I managed to coordinate us quite nicely 🙂

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I got this one by accident, and it turned into one of my faves.  It was post-bath and we were making funny faces in the mirror.  I grabbed my phone to try to capture the moment, but right before I took the pic, she turned and nuzzled her face into mine. ❤

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She has always loved books, and I love snuggling and reading her a story.  My sister took this one as I’m reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which just so happened to be one of her favorite stories, making it extra special.

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L reached walking age right before the weather started to warm up, making it the perfect time to introduce her to playgrounds.  I love setting her down and giving her the freedom to explore her world.

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She can’t get enough of the slide.  This is one of the times I actually don’t mind JD’s weird schedule.  We went to the park after he’d left for work.  Most people were home for dinner so it wasn’t overcrowded and we got some quality mommy-daughter time.

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This was the first time JD held her.  The fact that he is in uniform reminds me how he was on duty and had to race home to get me then race both of us to the hospital.  The look on his face reminds me how excited he was to finally meet her.

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Absolutely smitten.  Bonding time while listening to Jack Johnson.

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Love that smile- and it melts my heart to see how much they love each other.

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This captures how a big, tough guy’s guy is always a sucker for a sweet little girl.

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 Manly man pulling a little sweetie in a little red wagon.

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In this one, L is watching JD leave for work and yelling “Dada!” out the window.  He said he turned around and all he could see were her little pigtails over the windowsill and his heart broke a little.  He had a hard time leaving for work that night 🙂

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Rock Star Status – Working Moms Do It All

It’s no secret that life as a working mom can be frustrating (I’ve blogged about that a time or two), but there are also days that are completely gratifying.  Those are the days I feel like a superwoman, where I feel like I rocked my job, I rocked my home life, and I want to run to the top of a mountain, throw my hands up in the air and yell “I CAN do it all!”

Yes, this thought has actually crossed my mind.

There are a lot of times where the balance doesn’t feel quite right- I feel like I’m either slacking at work or slacking at home.  But sometimes… everything just falls into place and I feel like I’ve hit the perfect balance.

I’m having one of those days.  Actually, I’m having one of those weeks.

JD worked night shift all weekend?  No problem.  L and I rocked Home Depot and the grocery store Saturday morning.  When L started to get cranky part way through our grocery shopping, I reinvigorated her with a snack, and both of us made it through our morning of errands without a meltdown.

Swimsuit season coming up?  On it.  I somehow have the time and the energy for the gym and have gotten in some killer workouts.

Relying on my hubby to get yard work done?  Nope, independent woman right here, folks.  While JD’s grandma watched L on Sunday,  I did the planting, mulching, and weeding by myself.  (We’ll ignore the fact that I did need my trusty hubby to get the mower started- but I blame our mower, not my lack of womanly independence).

And I didn’t stop there.

This mama still knows how to kick butt at work.  Did I give a presentation to one of our Executive VP’s this week?  Yes, yes I did.  Did I nail it?  According to the director, I did.

And in the midst of all this, L is still there, smiling, laughing, finding the greatest joy in the simplest things, like a balloon or pretending to offer an orange slice to me before sticking it in her own mouth and laughing.  She is the one who reminds me to stop, take it all in, and cherish those quiet moments- those moments where the only thing I’m “getting done” is watching my little one grow.  Those moments where she asks me to read Goodnight Moon three times in a row and where I see her little mind churning as we work through her number puzzle.

I am many things- a wife, a career woman, a landscaper- I do it all, but my most important role will always be mom.

Anniversary of My Return to Work

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of my return to work.  Although JD stayed home with L for those first few weeks back, this anniversary does make me think about what it was like to leave L with the babysitter for the first time.  (Side note: I’m not sure what’s with all this nostalgia lately).  Here’s the post I wrote (on my old blog) detailing my first day back…

 

7:00am: While feeding the baby, I notice a small red mark on her neck. It’s probably irritation from dried milk, but I’m tempted to call it a “big rash” and stay home with her for the day… or forever.

7:30am: Arrive at the babysitter’s house with 2 big bags of stuff. Wonder whether I compulsively over-packed like I always do, or if I’m just an organized and prepared mom. The babysitter greets Loralai excitedly and Loralai smiles back. I’m reassured that we picked the right caregiver for our love.

7:35am: I tear myself away as K (the babysitter) promises to text me pics throughout the day. I get in the car and pull away, determined to be a strong mama and not cry, but my heart aches. It’s like leaving a piece of my heart with a stranger.

8:00am: Arrive at work and give myself a pat on the back for getting both of us ready and out the door on time on my first attempt. Am slightly surprised when my co-workers don’t throw confetti to celebrate my punctuality.

8:05am: Wonder why K hasn’t already sent pictures. I mean, it’s been a half hour.

8:30am: Missing L like crazy. Realizing that this is even harder than when I first started work and left her at home with JD. Send my mom a sad text.

9:21am: Receive first pic from K. L is happily snuggled in the car seat taking a nap while K drives her daughter to school. Glad to see she’s not freaking out and that I’m not missing anything other than nap time at the moment.

12:10pm: Receive a video from K of L cooing. Miss her.

2:15pm: Pull up Google maps to determine fastest route to babysitter’s house. Determined to find a better way than this morning. I want to pick up my baby ASAP.

3:00pm: Receive another picture of L napping. Notice she’s wearing a different onesie than this morning. K informs me she had a diaper explosion. That makes me laugh. Our sweet L just had to break in the new babysitter right away!

4:00pm: Wonder if this day could get any longer.

4:29pm: Leave for the day. Am tempted to run down to my car but refrain myself. This is still a professional environment, after all.

4:45pm: Curse traffic. Also, stoplights. The afternoon commute seems infinitely longer than the morning commute.

5:00pm: L is still napping. K is talking quietly so she doesn’t wake her up. I don’t care, because I’m picking up my baby and giving her a huge kiss. L stretches but doesn’t fuss. I get a groggy half smile.

We head home, and suddenly nothing else matters.

Tears, Returning to Work, and Life as a Working Mom

Ever since having L, I associate different times of the year with my pregnancy or with the different stages of her first year.  This time of year marks my final days of maternity leave and my preparations to return to work.  It was, undoubtedly, one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life.  I still remember the dark cloud that hung over me in those final weeks of leave.  I looked at my tiny little peanut who was changing by the minute, and knew, with overwhelming sadness, that I would be missing so much by returning to work.

Whether watching her play happily on her playmat or quietly holding her, memorizing her face, there was always, always the backdrop of sadness.

With tears streaming down my face, I thought, 10 weeks is not enough. It’s not even close to being enough.

Fortunately, JD was able to stay home with her during the first 4 weeks I was back at work.  It made the transition infinitely easier, but when I think back on those 10 weeks I had at home with her, I feel almost like I’m grieving something that I can’t ever have back.

The first few months back at work were hard.  I wanted to walk out the door and quit nearly every day, not because of work itself, but because it seemed dumb to be spending so many hours away from L instead of cherishing every second of watching her grow.  I gazed out the window and saw women with jogging strollers enjoying the morning sun.  I envied them.  I hated them.  I browsed real estate sites for houses out in the country, scheming for ways we could live off one income.

But, in time, that morning daycare dropoff became routine and I found my stride at work again.  I’m thankful to have a good job, especially when so many others out there are struggling.  I’m glad to have something that stimulates me, and I know that the time outside of the house spending time with other caregivers and kiddos is actually really good for L.

I still get a pang of jealousy when I watch a mom leisurely strolling down the street, or when a friend posts pics from a museum or a playground on a weekday, but I know in my heart, that is not my path, even if I will forever have mixed feelings about it.

I’m a working mom.  I love it.  I hate it.  I do it because I truly believe it’s the best decision I could have made for my family.

Postpartum Body Image and “Bouncing Back”

You wanna know what REALLY makes me mad?

This.

 

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And it’s not just celebrity gossip magazines.  It’s everywhere.  All the time.  Losing all of the baby weight in 2 months is NOT NORMAL, and we’re sending an unhealthy message to new moms.

Minimum recovery time before you’re cleared by a doctor to go back to the gym is 6 weeks, and that timeline is longer if you had a C-section or complications.  I had a healthy pregnancy, worked out regularly until the 9 month mark, had a complication-free delivery, and I can tell you that at 6 weeks, things still hurt- a lot.  I eased myself back into the gym, but it wasn’t like I was going full intensity like I used to.  I did struggle with my body image for a while, which I wrote about here.

Instead of encouraging new moms to rest, recover, and enjoy their new babies, we’re pressuring them to prove how quickly they can “bounce back” by setting unrealistic postpartum expectations.

Nursing moms especially should not be stressing about weight loss, they should be concentrating on getting enough calories from nutrient-rich food to feed their babies.  There’s so much focus on how nursing will “help new moms lose the baby weight” but not enough focus on the fact that nursing moms actually need MORE calories (500 extra per day) than they did while pregnant (300 extra per day).

It can take up to a year to take off the baby weight, and a healthy goal is to lose 1-2 pounds per week.  Realistically, not all moms will return to that exact pre-baby weight.  Post-baby, your boobs may be bigger, your hips may be a little wider, and that’s okay. You created a life, your internal organs completely rearranged themselves, and your body’s purpose for nearly a year was to grow a person and prepare to bring that person into the world.

So please, let’s stop this obsession with bouncing back, and shift our focus to rest and recovery.  One look at a face like this, and the number on the scale shouldn’t matter.

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Mom Life: Saying Goodbye To My Carefree Self

When you make the choice to become a parent, you know that decision will completely change every aspect of your day to day life.  You know that just getting out the door in the mornings will suddenly be more complicated, that your schedule will suddenly be limited by nap and feeding schedules, and that for everything you want to do, there is always one, very important obstacle you have to take into consideration.

But knowing it and experiencing it are two different things.  After the zillionth time of running late to something, you’ll decide it’s time to accept you will probably be perpetually running late for the rest of your life.  When something is scheduled right in the middle of nap time, you realize you’ll have to face an afternoon of fussiness.  When social gatherings and all of the fun things that use to require no second thought arise, you realize that your priorities have changed, and you can’t always RSVP “yes” without a second thought.

When L was first born, she was easily transportable.  When cozily wrapped in her carrier, she could sleep just about anywhere, making it relatively easy for our social lives to continue somewhat normally.  As she started getting into a more active stage, the weather cooled and winter set in.  There was work travel, visits to family, and several rounds of nasty germs that made it easy to be content in hibernation mode when we were at home.  But now that spring is coming, I’m starting to get restless.  I feel the need to be out and about, enjoying life.  While taking L to the park and seeing the pure joy on her face as she gleefully rides down the slide is so much fun, I’m also craving some adult interaction.  I want tasty drinks on a sunny patio or lively conversation filled with laughter (I would also prefer that conversation to not revolve around teething, poop, or diaper rash).

It’s not that there haven’t been opportunities, it’s that I’ve been faced with those “Mom Life” type obstacles- either she was sick or I was sick or I couldn’t find a sitter.  Then, this past weekend, JD and I were invited to a game night with his friend and several of the new police recruits.  This was our chance.  We would have adult drinks and adult conversations and L would happily sleep upstairs in the pack n play.  We didn’t even bother to try to find a sitter because we didn’t think we needed one.

Wrong.

We forgot that L is no longer that easily transportable baby.  She doesn’t want to go to sleep in strange places, especially when she can hear people downstairs having fun.  When we tried to put her to sleep, she screamed until we brought her down with us.  To her credit, she was well-behaved when she was downstairs, but it made it hard to have adult conversations and adult drinks when I was still in mom mode.  To make matters worse, it felt really conspicuous to be in a room full of single, childless 20-somethings, when you feel like the 30-something mom trying to hang out with the cool kids.

I ended up taking L home around 11 because she was exhausted, but clearly wasn’t going to sleep with so many other things going on.  JD stayed for a while longer and got a ride home with someone else.

As I drove home, I reflected a lot on how much things have changed.  11pm used to mark the start of a fun evening and now it was a stretch for me to be out that late.  I thought about my favorite memories from when I first moved to NC- when we were ALL still those carefree 20-somethings having dance parties in the living room and New Year’s Eve pajama parties playing Wii and taking jello shots.  It’s not that I miss those days, because my life is so wonderful now.  I guess what I sometimes struggle with is finding that middle ground between being young, single and carefree and middle-aged, tied-down, and exhausted.

Maybe the middle ground comes later.  I guess I can’t expect to have it all when I also have a one year old at home.  She is my world, but she is not my everything.  This mama needs balance.