Off to School

This week, Ariana starts Pre-K and embarks on her school journey. And I am... not okay.
Although you know since the day they're born that they'll be off to school one day, it still hits hard when that "one day" arrives. I know that time will only seem to pass so much more quickly now, and that before I know it, she'll be heading off to college.
The start of school has been in the background of just about everything we've done this summer. This was the last summer with our "little" girl. We didn't go on a vacation (which, deep down, I feel like I'll regret in the future), but we did try to make fun family memories each afternoon and on the weekends. We've had fun park days, fun pool days and fun visits to family and friends' houses. 
She switched from in-home care to a daycare last fall and has truly thrived with her teacher and her little group of friends. 
Earlier this year, I struggled very hard with wondering if we were doing her a disservice by enrolling her in Pre-K when she'll be one of the youngest in the class. I struggled with major guilt and second-guessing if we should've waited another year to start her. However, we had the chance to pursue a great opportunity for her, and I didn't want us to lose that opportunity.
I remember having a session with my therapist to work through that struggle, and I left feeling more confident that she would do just fine even if she is one of the youngest in her class. And the very next day, the school shooting in Uvalde happened. It shook me to my core, and way too often since then, I have felt apprehensive thinking about school. The thought of dropping her off each morning and then worrying every day about her safety is not one of the thoughts I want to have for the next 14 years.

So, I go into this week with a lot of trepidation, but am giving myself grace to feel everything, good and bad. It's been a tough emotional struggle, but I know that for me, the hardest part is worrying about what's to come. Once it's here, at least I'm able to handle it day by day.

All of that aside, I do know I'm extremely proud of my daughter for all that she's accomplished so far. She's been so adventurous and brave, and I enjoy watching her learn and conquer new skills. I know that she will enjoy 'big girl school'.

The other day, I told her I was excited for her to start Pre-K but that I was also sad she won't be so little anymore, and she said, "It's just going to be okay, Mama!" That's my sweet girl.

Back to Myself

My journey back toward a regular exercise routine postpartum has had its share of bumps along the way. The struggle is real as a new first-time mom (working or not) to prioritize exercising and fitness. I remember back in 2019, after I was back at work, I couldn't bear to tear myself away in the evening to go to the gym. With my daughter going to a sitter, I wanted to soak up the evening hours as much as possible, and morning exercise just isn't my speed.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, that further threw off any sort of gym plans...and then I got pregnant again. 
With two little ones and a full-time job, it's been hard to find a balance and a routine. In the summer of 2021, I attempted to follow an at-home postpartum exercise program. My first attempt only lasted about 5 weeks before I gave up. I attempted it a second time, and I laugh that a 12 week program took me probably 25 weeks to finish. And even so, I cheated on the program just enough to almost not even consider it completed.
This past May, when I did consider the program complete, I finally felt ready to get back to the gym. I finally felt ready to commit - whether it be a yoga class or my own cardio/weight evenings.
I remember feeling like a switch had flipped in me. My younger daughter was about 15 months, and both girls were on a good schedule with daycare and dinnertime. But something in me didn't feel as guilty leaving them for an hour in the evening, and that is SO freeing. There's no reason to feel guilty in the first place. 
Beyond feeling ready, I've actually made the move and started going back to my favorite Power Yoga class at my gym. Every hour in that room and on my mat feels like I'm a little closer to my old self. My strength has a looong journey before it's back to my pre-baby level, but I'm proud of myself for putting in the work on that journey.

(Side note, what I find funny is that I think I look like an elf in that photo, but during class when we were doing this pose, I felt so strong...and I've felt the burn for two days after!)
It's partly about looking like my pre-baby self, but it's more about feeling stronger and more in shape, and taking care of myself. Exercising really does make me feel better physically and mentally, and I was definitely feeling the effects of not exercising.
So here's to taking the time for myself and my fitness. It's good to be back.


Happy Mother's Day and Maternal Mental Health Week from the wrong side of history!
Ever since the Supreme Court document leak, I have been so heart-racingly angry. All of this is a giant middle finger to women in this country, during a time when we're supposed to be honoring women who are mothers. Your true colors are clearly showing, and every single Mother's Day honor just feels so disingenuous.
In the wake of this abortion bill in Louisiana, created by a MAN, advancing, I am even more angry. The article mentions, "Some fear this could lead to charges against women for homicide or battery in cases of miscarriage or infertility treatments like in vitro fertilization." PLEASE tell me how miscarriage could be considered illegal. It's illegal that our bodies don't work as they should? Tell me how I should be arrested for having two failed pregnancies?
I am a survivor of two miscarriages. I'm lucky that those miscarriages didn't endanger my life. Because if one of my pregnancies would have threatened my life, I would have chosen to save my own life any day. 
I'll never forget my miscarriage experiences. When, during my first one, I was at the pharmacy filling a prescription in preparation for my D&C, and the male pharmacist came over the drive-thru intercom to gruffly ask, "Are you pregnant???" and I didn't even know what to say except for, "I'm about to not be?" When, during my second one, I passed out in the bathroom while my child slept in the room next door, and it took weeks for it to pass fully.
I'm lucky that after those miscarriages, I had two healthy girls, whom I love more than anything.
I ALSO know that I am 1,000% done with having children. I'm not getting any younger, life isn't getting any cheaper, my job is demanding, and my mental health could not handle any more on my plate. The thought of a surprise third child gives me so much anxiety.
I'm lucky that I have a great family, a stable home, a great job, insurance and a wonderful OBGYN. Not everyone has that support.
I'm thankful for birth control so I can actually live the life I want. Not everyone has the access or insurance coverage for that. 

To have any of those rights taken away is a complete slap in the face. 
If you're pro-life, are you only pro-fetus/pro-fertilized egg, or are you pro-women's-lives too?  

And in case it's not clear to you - taking away access to abortion, yet ALSO taking away access to birth control is completely ass backwards. You can't take away methods to prevent pregnancy but still force women to be pregnant and give birth. Don't also get me started on maternity leave in the United States.
What I can't fathom is telling another woman, "Sorry, I don't care about you or your situation, you can't protect yourself from getting pregnant, you have to keep this pregnancy and you can't do anything about it."
In case you didn't realize, life is expensive. In case you didn't realize, pregnancy is hard - physically, emotionally, mentally and financially. In case you didn't realize, the postpartum period is extremely difficult. In case you didn't realize, children are expensive. 
And you know what else? Birth control can still fail.
I would never force someone to go through one of the most difficult things in life if it's not something she can handle. Why do you feel the need to force that on a woman, who for MANY reasons, may not want to be pregnant or give birth?
If you haven't experienced it yourself, sit down and go ask someone who HAS been through it.
My last pregnancy was the hardest one on me physically and mentally. I'm grateful that everything turned out healthy, but you know what sucks? Having a chronic yeast infection for the majority of a pregnancy. I didn't know that was a thing, but oh, I learned it alright. 
Women terminating pregnancies come in all shapes, sizes, colors and backgrounds. Please get the singular stereotype out of your head and realize that there are so many more situations where a termination comes into play.
If you are a woman who disagrees with abortion at all costs, you are extremely lucky that you have never been in a situation where it could have been your best option. And I sincerely pray that you or your daughter or granddaughter is never in that situation.
There are many different scenarios where a pregnancy, like an ectopic one, can be life-threatening to a woman. It's mindblowing to me that women would have no options while faced with that scenario. 
 What's pro-life about telling a woman that she can't do anything about a condition that could kill her?
I'm a married woman, in my mid-30s, with two amazing children, a job that I love, and a salary that my family depends on. It should be my choice AND MY RIGHT whether or not I want to have a pregnancy.
Just like everyone screaming that mask mandates violated their rights - that was a piece of cloth on your face at the grocery store. If you couldn't stand the thought of being required to wear a mask for an hour, how can you stand the thought of forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy and give birth? It's a little more inconvenient and detrimental to your health than a mask.
And when it comes to my reproductive health, there are two people that get an input - my husband, and my gynecologist. Not the government.
If Roe v Wade is overturned, we do know that it won't be the only change. I am scared for what could fall next. 
I'm very scared for the future of my daughters, who may get zero control over their bodies and how they want to live their lives as they grow up.
"You can be anything you want to be" ... except in control of your own body.

Wanting to Help

Ever since the news broke last week about Russia invading Ukraine, my mind has been on Ukrainian mothers and families. Going beyond the news stories, the attention-grabbing photos and countless social media posts, I keep trying to put myself in the shoes of a mother there. I think of expectant moms, worrying about their upcoming delivery. I think of new moms, either at home with infants or still in the hospital with newborns. 
I truly can't imagine what it must feel like to be living this firsthand, having to both experience it and still take care of and protect your children. The closest scenario I can think of to relate is when hurricanes are looming bring a threat of destruction. There are so many decisions to be made very quickly, including whether to stay or go, you're nervous for the unknown, and yet you still want to provide a sense of normalcy for your children. I know that personally, hurricanes bring a new level of anxiety now that we're the adults with the home and the children.

My heart goes out to all of the Ukrainian mothers who have spent these past few days trying to keep their families safe, making extremely difficult decisions and trying to keep it together. My heart is with those mothers who make the decision to leave with their children and leave their husbands behind as well.

USAID director Samantha Power reflected on what she saw at the border, mentioning how the group of people crossing the border are almost exclusively women and children.

"As somebody who has covered a lot of refugee crises over the years, really one of the most striking features of today's population coming over is that it's almost exclusively women and children and this speaks to the kind of society-wide mobilization that has occurred in Ukraine and that fighting-age men are staying behind to be part of these territorial defense units," Power said. 

When it comes to ways to help, my heart keeps saying to find a way that supports Ukrainian children. These are a few organizations I've found that are helping out in different ways. Of course, always read up on an organization before you choose to donate to see which best aligns with your stance.


The bittersweet days

Today, my baby Sophia turns 11 months old. In one short month, she'll be celebrating her first birthday and making the full transition to the toddler phase.



Over the past few weeks, I've been feeling the tug of bittersweet emotions from watching her grow, change and learn new skills. It's so much fun to see her discover new things and to watch her personality bloom. And yet, I miss how little she used to be. I miss that she'll never be this small or this snuggly again.


As I rock her in the evening, I enjoy the moments of peace and quiet and stillness. And I notice just how quickly she is growing. She fits in my arms just a little differently each night. I know that one day (sooner than I'll be ready for) I won't be rocking her to sleep anymore. 


With her being our last baby, it does make me a little more sad that these infant days are winding down. The days are long and the years are short, indeed. I know there are so many amazing milestones and so many chapters still to come in our lives, but there is a lot that I'll miss about Sophia's chapter as a newborn and an infant.



I kept my goals for 2021 simple. With a baby due in February, I knew it wasn't going to be a year of doing all the things. Honestly, my goal was to survive with two babies.
Now that 2022 is here, I can say...that goal was enough. While we did survive, I surely don't feel like I did much thriving.
The last couple months of 2021 were extremely challenging, and I wasn't feeling the most optimistic for this new year or feeling inspired to make new goals. So clearly, the photo above is not the best illustration of my new year mood, ha. 
I joke to myself that my goal for the year is to live one step above surviving. But now that we're a couple weeks into January, I feel like I'm starting to get out of the darkness a little, and I feel ready to take on a few things that have been calling me lately.
  • Prioritize my own hobbies. I'm on my second attempt at following a 12 week postpartum exercise plan, and I'm doing much better at sticking to it this time around. It's definitely helping to keep me moving and get a little of my strength back. I also really want to recommit to blogging and writing things that are not work press releases. It's what I've been missing most the past few years, and I feel so out of practice. 
  • Upgrade my style. Most of my clothes have been in my closet for many years now, and frankly, a lot of them don't fit right now. I've had to buy some new clothes in the past year, especially for work, and it's making me want to upgrade and lean into my new status as a mid-30s working mom. But dressed in secondhand chic, of course.
  • Related: Actually sell my growing pile of clothes on Poshmark. Here's the thing. I love making a sale on Poshmark. I love cleaning out my closet and finding clothes to sell on Poshmark. What I don't love? Taking the time to list my clothes on Poshmark. This year, I need to just commit and take the pictures and write the listings. I won't make any money if I don't list anything!
  • Donate items to resale or thrift shops or charities without driving around with them in my car for months. I mean, I know we all do it. But I really want to be more productive and less lazy about giving our old things a new life.
  • Be a good example and teach my girls how to care for the planet and our resources. They certainly learn by watching me. I always say my love for environmentalism started in grade school with the book 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth. I recently found a copy of that book on my office shelf, and it was like a gentle nudge to use it to start teaching Ariana. Plus, after a few years of being less involved in my community, I'd like to start getting back into the swing of things. 
Maybe it's a lofty list, but it's something to aspire to!

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