Motherhood

The Women's March | January 21, 2017

The Women's March | RISING*SHINING

On Saturday morning I bundled up (which counts as a few layers plus a fleece here in Arizona), kissed Chris and my boys goodbye, and headed downtown for the Phoenix Women's March. On the way I stopped to have a poster made of the awesome graphic shared by Joanna, which I also had printed in a smaller size to frame. 

I hadn't been sure what to expect but when I got downtown the parking lots were full and people were streaming towards the capitol. Young people, old people, families, people of all colors and abilities. I nearly started crying! At the capitol I met up with friends, took in the scene and marched through downtown. It was my first political protest and it was such a positive and invigorating experience. Throughout the day I saw pictures from friends or on social media of marches around the country - and the world! My own aunt and uncle marched in Paris. It was inspiring and powerful.

Here is what I wrote in my own social media posts about why I marched:

"Marching for equality, kindness and love. And because while our country is divided on some issues I reject the notion that we are "carnage." If we were we would not have had a peaceful transfer of power between two vastly different ideologies or peaceful protests across the country showing resilience. I am proud of our country and committed to being engaged to make it better."

Posting about something political on my blog makes me feel a little anxious. Not because I'm afraid to talk about politics or that I don't have strong opinions. But because I'd prefer to talk to you about politics and these very important issues over coffee and when I can listen to what you have to say, too. Social media is such a one way conversation and that's not the kind of conversation I want to have, or that we need to have.

But.

I decided I did want to share this experience because I feel that it is so important, and because this space is where I chronicle my life and thoughts. Participating in the Women's March is something that is going to stay with me. So is choosing action and I want to share how I'm going forward.

To choose action I am committing to:

+ Saving the phone numbers of my U.S. and state elected officials to my phone. I've saved the U.S. senators and representative numbers already and have made use of them. This week I'll save those for my state representatives. 

+ Calling my U.S. and state elected officials each twice per month. I'm thinking I'll alternate Fridays: one Friday I'll call my U.S. officials, the next I'll call my state officials. 

+ Subscribing to email list serves for organizations I want to support. I've already signed up for several including the Arizona Democrats, Arizona Planned Parenthood and the NAACP. I also the a weekly email from Wall of Us

+ Making donations throughout the year. Chris and I budgeted $600 for donations this year. (We chatted about our entire 2017 budget in a recent Matrimoney episode.)

+ Staying informed. The abundance of fake and skewed news (from both sides) is alarming and infuriating. Although I've mostly disconnected from the news I do want to find ways to stay aware. I get theSkimm daily and subscribe to Slate Political Gabfest (admittedly has a liberal bias, probably why I like it), Pantsuit Politics (many of you recommended this to me, thank you, LOVE it! Highly recommend, includes views from the left and right) and NPR Politics. I haven't been listening much since the election but maybe I'll tune back in. I also have an online subscription to the New York Times. 

+ Share what I'm doing and stay accountable. I have a circle of friends who I've been texting what I plan to do. We've agreed to keep checking in with each other to be sure we're following through on what we committed to. Sharing my commitments here also makes me feel accountable.

Do you have any other ideas for me or tips on what makes the biggest impact? 

If you feel energized and moved to take action I encourage you to make concrete plans for what you want to do. Then tell a friend and hold yourselves accountable. Sharing an article, picture or video on social media feels good but if that's where the action stops it doesn't achieve much. We can't confuse sharing an article that supports our views with taking action. Change comes from conversations, phone calls, donations, showing up, volunteering and voting.


Conversations with Dashiell & Cedric

D_c_driving

Cedric is officially joining these posts! Mostly everything he says is cute right now but he's had a couple zingers that I've been able to write down and remember. He seems to have good comedic timing already and loves doing little "bits" once he sees that he's making us laugh. Right now there's a lot of poo humor. :)

We haven't quite hit the stage where the boys are having long conversations together although I think it's super close. Ah, can't wait to hear what they'll have to say to each other.

Here's what Dashiell and Cedric have been saying lately...

A few Dash-isms that we love so much
This day = today 
Last day = yesterday, or last week
Next day = tomorrow

How Dashiell spelled his name out loud for a long time
D-A-S-H-I-E-L-L-L

Me: Good night.
Dash: Be careful in your bed...

Me: Do you know any facts about dinosaurs?
Dash: Dinosaurs have fossils in their belly!

Dash: I'm fast like emergency!

Dash: I'm not 3. I'm 61.

Dash: I want you to have another popsicle so your belly can get big like mine.

Chris has trained both boys to respond with "the bomb!" when he starts, "Daddy is the..." On a recent morning Chris made Dashiell hot chocolate at his request. But he made a pretty big mug, which Dash drank quickly and then complained of a stomach ache...
Dash: Daddy's not the bomb anymore...

Dash: We don't say poopy butt. (He's told me this several times. Ahem)

Me: How did you sleep?
Dash: Five.

Dash: There's a thousand dollars of sand in the bathtub!

Dash: After I turn 3 - you're not going to like this - I'm going to turn 4. And you're never going to see me because I'm going to be taller than you.

Me: Dash, what do you call your blanket?
Dash: Judy.
(have never heard him call it that before or since)

Dash: I'm sweaty. I need a snack. Sweaty means I'm hungry.

Dash: Don't put up your windows Daddy, or you can fall out of the car.

After bedtime one night Dash, looking very sad, walked into the front room where we were. He had one arm pulled into his shirt (a new trick)...
Dash: I'm sad because I don't have an arm.

Dash: I have chemicals in my office
(no idea on this one)

Me: What woke you up?
Dash: Well, my brain!

Dash: When I grow up, I'm going to be a T. Rex.

Dash: I have million. I'm giving away dollars.

We were playing hide and seek from Chris. I was hiding in a closet with the boys and we were pretending to be scared of Chris finding us.
As he pushes Cedric out of the closet...
Dash: Go Cedric, be brave. 

Me: Cedric, what do we have for Thanksgiving?
Cedric: Horses!

When we turned on the windshield wipers...
Dash: That's the car's tears!

Me: Dash, what's the biggest number you can think of?
Dash: ...38!

Dash: Where ever you are, you are with me.

Me: Dash, what's the most important thing.
Dash: To love your family.

Cedric: Toots, guys!

More conversations with Dashiell & Cedric


The Year of Kelsey in review

Year of Kelsey in review | RISING*SHINING

Every year is significant but this past year felt especially so for personal growth. Heading into 2016 I hoped that over the year I would begin to emerge from the intensely demanding period of having two boys under three, waking many times during the night and breastfeeding. I was looking forward to reclaiming my body and energy, and focusing some of that new-found energy on myself.

So I declared 2016 The Year of Kelsey. I made goals of building a capsule wardrobe, a capsule skin care and makeup routine, going on creative field trips and traveling by myself. I worked on these goals all year and as The Year of Kelsey wraps up I feel really good about the progress I made.  

+ Create a capsule wardrobe of timeless, quality pieces.

I started 2016 with a limited wardrobe. I had worked to get rid of clothing I didn't love to wear or that I was just never going to fit back into - despite losing just about all of my pregnancy weight there are just changes in my body that are here to stay!

I've been "figuring out" my style for a while and am finally starting to feel confidence in what kind of clothes I want to wear: classic, pulled-together, understated and with a hint of my modern aesthetic. I've also realized that I prefer simplicity and eliminating choice. I don't love shopping and while I do have a style preference I don't want to spend time and effort on my style. I want to buy clothes that fit well and look great and then wear those until they wear out.

Over the year I invested close to $1,000 to update my wardrobe. There are still items I would love to add to my capsule wardrobe, like tall boots, but I've eliminated stress about clothing from my life. I don't feel an urgency to purchase new clothes because I feel like "I don't have anything to wear." And the clothes that I do have feel like good expressions of the style I want to have. It feels really good.

Here are some of my favorite items of clothing purchased this year:

+ High-rise skinny ankle jeans. Were these jeans designed specifically for me? Unlikely. But they are my favorite jeans ever so I like to think that maybe they were. I only have two pairs of jeans - in dark denim wash and dark grey - and they are this cut. 

+ Black blazer. I've wanted to wear a blazer for years and I still get a tiny thrill every time I wear mine. Wearing a blazer makes me feel so pulled together. I wear it to work now that it's cooler or with jeans and a blouse for a date.

+ Flowly blouses. Pictured above, and similar to this and this.

+ 24/7 classic t-shirt bra. Favorite bra I've ever owned. I have two and plan to get another this year.

+ Pea coat. In my signature plum color. :) 

 + Create a capsule skin care and beauty routine.

Similar to my feelings about clothes, I don't want to spend a lot of time or mental energy on skin care and makeup. I want to take care of my skin and have a makeup routine that leaves me looking pulled together but natural (and diminished tired eyes, ahem). But I don't see myself ever being someone who has multiple mascaras or eye shadows. I want to find the one thing that works for me and then not think about it.

To figure out what to buy I read my favorite Beauty Uniform posts and talked to girl friends for makeup recommendations. (Last year, Erica and I chatted about beauty uniforms if you'd like to listen in.) And over the year built a skincare routine that I love and that leaves my skin feeling healthy and smooth. This includes wearing sunscreen daily which is a habit I set out to acquire in 2016. 

I also started consistently painting my nails this year! Thanks to tips and encouragement from my neighbor and nail guru Erica. I've mentioned that I have a bad habit of picking at my cuticles and painting my nails helps with this so much.

Here are my favorite finds:

+ Orly Bonder base coat, Seche Vite top coat and Essie nail colors. Using these I can paint my nails on the weekend and the color will last through the week with minimal chips. My favorite color right now is Carry On, and I love to do one nail with Penny Talk.

 + Paula's Choice toner and exfoliator. I also loved this article and this one explaining what these products do (granted, they are written by the company but I still found them helpful). I've noticed that my skin feels smoother and looks healthier when I use these consistently. Plus I love the simple twice-daily routine of wash-tone-exfoliate.

+ Paula's Choice Resist Youth Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF 50 - my daily sunscreen. Light, non-greasy and no lingering scent of sunscreen.

 + Go on at least three creative field trips.

I love the idea of creative field trips - any kind of outing with the simple goal of being creatively inspired. This year Chris and I attended a talk by Johnny Depp, I went to a lunch-time poetry lecture and recorded my birth stories as part of the Creative Push project.

Certainly I found inspiration at many other times this year but having a creative field trip goal did help me to glimpse all the creativity and art that surrounds me. I'd love to keep seeking it out and have plans to see Push Comes to Shove: Women in Power with this awesome lady in early January.

+ Take a solo trip.

This is one I didn't get to do. But I did have an awesome writers' retreat with Erica and Sarah and an amazing adventure to the Pacific Northwest with Chris. While a solo trip didn't happen this past year I'd love to make from time to time. Although I love to meet new people and be social I'm an introvert and relish quiet and time alone.

 

Becoming a mother a little over three and a half years ago was the most significant and best change of my life. It's a role and identity that is the most demanding and the most rewarding. As the boys get older I have more time and energy to invest in myself, and over the past year I felt that shift. My Year of Kelsey goals highlighted the importance of investing in myself even as I give so much to others.

This year I invested in a foundation for taking care of myself - a quality wardrobe and reflecting on my style, taking care of my skin and finding a simple makeup routine, nurturing my creativity, and traveling without my children. By establishing this foundation I don't have to spend as much energy on these things in the future (especially the wardrobe and skin care/makeup) which lets me extend myself to things that really matter, like my family and my creative pursuits. A perfect place to start a new year.

P.S. New Matrimoney episode today is us chatting about our 2016 finances - what we made and where ti all went.


What we learned from our sleep coach

What we learned from our sleep coach | RISING*SHINING

In June we hired a sleep coach to help us establish better sleep for Dashiell and Cedric. It made a big difference for us and I'd love to share a bit more about the experience. 

It feels like great sleep has never come easily for us with Dashiell, as I've alluded to many times here and on my podcasts. Early this summer we were in a very frustrating - and exhausting - pattern that involved drawn out bedtimes (our 7 pm bedtime was delayed until 8 pm), multiple night wakings and very early mornings (4 am hour). At the same time, Cedric wouldn't fall asleep unless we were in the room with him and was waking during the night. We were so tired, y'all!

A friend saw Chris post something about getting very little sleep on Facebook and recommended the sleep coach that she worked with and I knew it was something my family needed. We hired our wonderful sleep coach, Jennifer, and had an initial Skype call to give details about sleep overall including details about napping, bedtime, etc. On the call we talked through some strategies and decide what fit best for us. The same day Jennifer sent us a detailed written Sleep Plan. Because of all the sleep issues we've dealt with holding a tangible, written sleep PLAN felt like a gift and such a relief - finally someone would tell us what to do!

Here's how we approached new sleep habits with Dashiell:

+ We had a family meeting and announced that we would be a family of Super Sleepers (!) and talked out what Super Sleepers do - do bedtime routine, stay in bed all night unless going to the bathroom, stay in their bedroom until their clock turns green (we use this toddler alarm clock). We were surprised at how engaged Dash was in this conversation and how enthusiastic he was about being a Super Sleeper. We also drew out our sleep plan showing the steps of bedtime routine, staying in bed all night (unless going to the bathroom) and waiting for the clock to turn green.

+ After the bedtime routine, during the night and any time before the clock turned green we used the technique of silent returns to put Dash back to bed. A silent return is giving as little attention as possible, even avoiding eye contact and touch if possible, and returning a child to bed. This is done as many times as needed.

+ To push back the time that Dash was waking in the morning we slowly moved the wake up time of his alarm clock. Once we waited in his room until the clock turned green for at least two days we would push the clock back another five minutes. Dash is clearly wired to wake up early (like Chris and I are) and so he still is waking around 5 am everyday but we have his clock set for 5:30 am.

Establishing better sleep habits with Cedric was more straightforward. At nap time and bedtime we followed our routine, put him to bed and left the room. The first few nights were tough because he cried but the wonderful thing about having a sleep coach is being able to text them during the hardest parts and get reassurance. Cedric cried, at the most, for close to 30 minutes. It was not fun or easy but Jennifer reminded us of our motto: short term pain, long term gain. Bedtime and nap time with Cedric are nearly laughably easy. Cedric reaches for his crib and if I try to hold him a minute longer to snuggle he demands, "night night!" and sometimes nearly chuckles as I lay him down. As soon as I lay him down I can leave the room and he doesn't make a peep. 

Overall, our current sleep situation is much improved from June although we've realized sleep is going to be something we continue to work on, especially with Dash. A wake up time around 5:30 is about as good as it's going to get for now (maybe this will change when Dash drops his nap??). The difference now is that we have strategies to implement and we can respond consistently and that feels much better. 

A couple of big take-aways from working with our sleep coach are:

+ Look at the big sleep picture and look for signs of being over-tired. Night time sleep is affected by nap sleep and vice versa. The state of being over-tired is confounding because it can cause a child to stay up later and wake up earlier, compounding the issue! As a result the solutions can be counter-intuitive: it might seem logical to push back the bedtime of a super early riser but in fact they may need to go to bed even earlier. Nap times might need to be adjusted to ensure the child is appropriately tired by the desired bed time.

+ Establish boundaries, communicate them and then follow through and stay consistent. This was the biggest take-away for me from our sleep coach. Before working with her Chris and I did have some routines, like a bedtime routine and consistent bedtime, but we weren't dealing with night and early wakings consistently. Therefore we didn't have boundaries, although we desperately wanted them!

If you are experiencing a really hard time with sleep with your children I have so much empathy - hang in there! I would also HIGHLY recommend considering a sleep coach (ours is awesome), it created empowerment out of what felt like a powerless situation. Recently I was on the Coffee + Crumbs podcast and during the show chatted with the Lesley Miller and she also highly recommends her sleep coach

 


Chatting about being a working mom

Chatting about being a working mom | RISING*SHINING

Recently I've had the opportunity to guest on three different podcasts and have chatted about my experience as a working mom. I love sharing what's great, what's challenging and what I've learned during my three and a half years of being a mother and working full time. 

I'm a regular listener of each of the podcasts I was on and if you haven't listened to theses shows I would recommend them! They are all available on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts.

The Mom Hour // Inside the Lives of 3 Working Moms

Coffee + Crumbs // Episode 15 part 1 & Episode 16 part 2

The Postpartum Podcast // Episode 52 (Sarah is a guest on this episode, too!)