Nostalgia

Oh…hey. It has been a while, right?

The first post back after a blog hiatus is always the hardest, so here’s to leaping in with both feet.

As you’ve probably noticed (if you’re my dad because you set aside a day each month to catch up on my blog), I haven’t posted in a while. A minute, as the kids would say.

I could give a lot of reasons for it, valid and lazy, but the truth is that I just didn’t feel like it. The last few months have been so busy, and in a lot of ways tumultuous, and I didn’t feel like I could adequately get it all straight in my head, let alone in an online post for the world to see.

To be blunt: I sort of dreaded the idea of blogging. It felt either insincere (SOMETIMES THERE IS SO MUCH GOING ON I DON’T WANT TO SHARE) or just not good enough quality (which is saying something considering the random stuff I’ll post on here).

So…I just didn’t.

But then, lately, I started to get the itch again. I also don’t want to jinx myself, but I started to feel a little more settled. I don’t ever really feel like I’m in total control of my life, but I started to feel like I was in a groove again, probably for the first time since Vivi was born.

There were a lot of elements that played into that, and as a means of a brief catch-up, here are a few:

Vivi turned two.

And while this new stage is by far the most challenging I’ve encountered, I think it’s also (dare I say it) my favorite stage so far. Because, you guys? Vivi is a legitimate person now. She has always hinted at her budding personality, but the last few weeks have brought such a burst of new language and actual conversation, and her spunk frankly wows me every single day. She is so funny, both intentionally and unintentionally, and she just brings sunshine and charm wherever she goes. I officially feel like I’m spending my days with a sort-of friend and not just a mostly needy baby. That connection has caused a powerful shift in my own mood I didn’t expect.

Vivi was potty trained.

Um, hi, talk about a shift in my mood/relationship with my kid. I was honestly super nervous to potty train this time around after last time’s PTSD-inducing experience. But this time, things actually went pretty smoothly. (Weird how not being stressed to the point of tears can have that impact, huh?) Vivi picked up on the basics on the first day, and now, a couple of months out, I actually feel we can pretty solidly call ourselves potty-trained. (At least 99.9 percent!)

We’ve been in our new home for five months.

I’m not really good at giving myself time to adjust to anything. It’s the curse of the chronic planner—by the time I get to any moment I’ve been waiting for, I’ve already planned five years past that. So I rush myself. I don’t usually take the time to even realize that I’m overwhelmed until I have some kind of breakdown.

So, yeah, super healthy.

This move was actually fairly seamless for us (and so many things about my life got better and easier), but it’s only recently that I could honestly say I felt settled and in a comfortable routine. I’ve started exercising regularly again, which is such a key thing for my mental health, and I have a schedule I can count on. It will probably never be perfect, but it’s good to be here, folks.

I entered my second year of pioneering.

For those not in the know, I spend about 70+ hours a month in a volunteer ministry service doing a Bible education work. This was my first year dedicating myself to that hourly commitment (840 hours for the whole year), and, while I felt confident I would give it my all, I wasn’t really sure what to expect—or if I could even do it. Now that I’m in the second year, I feel like I can relax a bit. Which isn’t to say I’m easing off the time commitment (I’m trying to cram the beginning of my year with as many extra hours as possible with hopes of taking it easy in the summer), but I’ve lost all of the trepidation and feel like I can spend more time this go-around focusing on others and helping to encourage them. That’s a nice feeling.

I have a job I actually love in every way.

I’ve had lots of jobs that I loved…mostly. But with every role I’ve taken on, there were always things I didn’t like. Things I hated, even. Working at Motherly has been a total dream. I get to be creative and write, and I get to do it part-time so I can focus on being a mom and my volunteering. Plus, my coworkers are these amazing, brilliant unicorns who are incredible at their jobs and some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. That’s pretty special, and it fulfills the part of me I know I would miss if I ever quit working completely. So if you’re a mom not reading, you should be.

I turned 30.

I mean, finally, right? I’m one of those weirdos who actually looked forward to 30. I hear mostly good things. And while it has come with a few negatives (I’m officially one of those people who can “do something” to their neck that puts them out of commission for a few days), by and large, 30 came with a quiet confidence. I’m excited to see what this decade brings.

The funny thing for me is that I don’t know if I would truly say I know who I am—completely, 100 percent. But not in that lost, dramatic “I don’t know who I am!” kind of way. More in the sense that I’ve been surprised by myself a lot in the last couple of years. Things I never thought would happen have happened. Things I never thought I would do, I’ve done.

I feel confident and comfortable in myself, but I’m also open-minded to the idea of changing. That maybe who and what I am now isn’t who I’ll always be. And that’s okay—good even.

And while we’re only just entering November 2017, I’m already looking forward to next year. (Chronic planner, I told ya.) We’re hoping to have another baby. (NOT PREGNANT, JUST HOPING.) We might buy a house. We’re discovering new things and new friends in our new home.

Heck, I might even start blogging on the regular again.

Anyway, I wanted to check in. Partly because I do feel like you’re owed an explanation for where I’ve been all this time, but also because, well, I wanted to.

It’s good to be back.

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New York is the first boyfriend I never had.

That sounds weird to say because, obviously, I had a first boyfriend. But that boyfriend was Joey, and we always dated a little more seriously, with a little more direction. What I mean to say is, New York is the first boyfriend I would have had if I had been a high schooler in a movie in 1997.

We met through friends while I was in school, and my crush was immediate. After a couple years of long-distance flirting, we made things official. The drama was almost immediate (“You make it so hard to be with you sometimes! I mean, have you seen these broker fees??”), but New York always made it up to me.

First roommates

First roommates

New York took me on some of the best dates of my life. New York made me cry. Like all best relationships, New York introduced me to some of the best people now in my life.

I fell in love here. I got married and had a baby here. My daughter’s birth certificate will forever read “New York City.”

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But, like most first relationships, I always knew it wouldn’t last forever.

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I’ve always said I would give New York ten years. It has been almost eight, but, honestly, New York years are like dog years, and I feel like I’ve been here 20.

And as the years went on, the flaws in our tenuous love affair became more and more glaring. I found myself using the word “hate” more often. “I hate how hard it is to get your laundry done!” “I hate how hard it is to find parking!” “I hate how everything is a little bit more challenging here!”

“I hate it here.”

The words fell from my lips so easily, but they still came with a pang of guilt.

Because I’ll always love New York. The way you always think fondly of your first love, maybe not in the same way, but always.

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Eventually, I became that girl who knew it was over but was still holding on. I held on because there were still occasional good times, there were still reasons to stay, but in my heart I knew New York would never commit to me.

Because at the end of the day, that’s what it came down to. I wanted commitment. I wanted consistency. I had aged out of New York, and I was fully okay with that.

I’ve been thinking a lot about New York and me because, well, we’re leaving. After eight years (as of May 23rd), I’m officially packing my bags and getting out of Dodge. I’m not going to lie, I’m super excited about having a new state and new home on the horizon, but, like any good first boyfriend, nostalgia still beckons. New York will always have eight of some of the most important years of my life. And (once I no longer have to deal with the traffic, the people, the schleps to the laundromat) I know I’ll always think of it fondly. I’m proud of each one of those eight years.

But I’m ready for a new adventure.

Also! As blog readers (if you’ve stuck through these numerous dry spells of posting when I was waiting, waiting, waiting to have something to tell you guys), this is actually great news for you. Because a move and a new house are sure to be rife with blog post ideas. I know, I can smell your relief from here. So stay tuned, friends!

Dang, EIGHT years? That’s a long time. If you’ve been reading for EIGHT years (so, my mom and dad), then you know I end every year with a recap since my blog-iversary is December 25th. (I don’t know why I started on Christmas Day. I think because I was on break from school?)

First, let’s recap 2016:

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I quit my job and full-time work completely.

I knew the second I grabbed that tiny little baby for the first time that I wouldn’t be going back to work. January was my first foray into full-time freelance life, and I’ve never looked back.

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We went west.

Travel is significantly less frequent with a baby, but we did take a trip to Seattle and Vancouver this year for our anniversary. Vivi was much more impressed than she looks.

I redecorated our bedroom, and did a bunch of other projects.

I destroyed my phone for the first time.

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We went to Virginia.

This was one of Vivi’s first real road trips. Fortunately, we packed the car with some of her favorite people and a lot of snacks, so it was pretty successful.

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Vivi had her first party.

Clearly, much fun was had by all.

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I started pioneering.

And it has been great. And exhausting. But mostly great.

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Vivi turned one.

And I cried. And laughed. And breathed a sigh of relief that we had survived our first year.

I feel like I owe you guys a million more posts, but all I’ve got for your right now is my annual sum-uppance. Let’s get to it:

Age: 29. Though, if you ask my brother, I’ve been 30 for about four years.

Location: New York City

Occupation: Editor/freelance writer. This year brought a few on-staff gigs, but all that I can do from home.

New favorite food: Apparently your taste buds change every seven years (or so I’ve read), and this year, I found myself actually liking red wine and not hating olives. It’s a brave new world.

TV shows I’m watching: This Is Us is my favorite on-air show (IT’S SO GOOD AND I DON’T KNOW WHY YOU’RE NOT WATCHING IT), and I’m also Netflix-ing Revenge. Mostly because of all the amazing dresses, not going to lie.

Book I’m reading: I just borrowed She’s Come Undone from a friend, but my reading is severely limited these days. #momlife

What’s my hair doing right now: This question started out as a joke, but my answer is literally different every year, and I find it genuinely interesting to look back. (That sounds shallow, but y’all know I have a lot of theories on the link between hair and happiness.) Is grown-out lob a thing? Because that’s what I think I have. And the color is a root-y blonde, which probably just means I need to get my hair done on all counts. Did I mention #momlife?

How I did on my goals from last year: Just to remind you, these were last year’s goals, along with how I did:

1. Travel: We did make it to Vancouver and Seattle, as well as back to Iowa and to Florida to visit my parents. So CHECK.

2. Simplifying: I cut back on so many unnecessary expenses this year, I’m really proud to say that for the first time in a long time, I don’t have any credit card debt AND I have some money in my savings account. (I mean, it will all be gone when we pay taxes, but yay for small victories!). I’m also always on a campaign to clean out the clutter, and I think I did a pretty decent job of that this year, too.

3. Make this whole freelancing thing work: This was such a big change for me (I’ll blog more in depth about it at some point — I think I’m just scared to jinx it), but I’m so happy to say it has been such a big success. I’m loving my work-life balance, and I’m actually really enjoying all of my jobs. Who knew?

4. Keep raising Vivi successfully: It seems crazy to pat myself on the back about this, but I think we’re doing well. I love (LOVE) being Vivi’s mom, and I think she’s growing up to be pretty awesome.

And now…goals for next year:

It gets harder and harder for me to make goals the older I get, I think because I realize more and more how little control I have over anything. I want to get my time in as a pioneer. I want to keep doing a good job as a mom. I want to keep doing a good job at work. We’ve been talking a lot about next steps for our family, so I’ll keep you posted on any developments there, but right now, I’m waiting and seeing. Not an easy task for me, but it’s always good to try new things.

See y’all next year!

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So, I’ve officially begun weaning Vivi.

Side note: Can we please find a new term for this? Weaning sounds like a loose mix of taking a leak and the noise an animal might make as it dies. Not. A. Fan.

But the point is, we’re down to one nursing session a day (right before bed), and it’s leaving me with a lot of mixed feelings.

On one hand, it’s nice to have a bit more freedom in my day. I can wear dresses that don’t button! I can take her anywhere and not worry about having to find somewhere private for meals! I can wear dresses that don’t button! I can leave her with a sitter for more than four hours at a time! I CAN WEAR DRESSES THAT DON’T BUTTON!

But while I do like this new age of freedom and independence for us both, I’d be lying if I said I was completely thrilled by the development.

Sometimes, I miss the closeness. I miss getting to snuggle up four to six times a day (or even more in the beginning) and feel so bonded to this lovely, tiny person.

Of course, that’s the nostalgia talking. I know in my brain that nursing wasn’t always to picturesque. But there is a tiny part of my heart that breaks anytime Vivi asks to nurse and I have to give her a sip of water or milk from a cup and distract her away from me.

I’m trying to focus on the good things. I was able to go to an all-day work conference for my new job (that I absolutely love). Vivi was able to spend the day with her grandparents at a company picnic on Long Island. (Though, not going to lie, sending her off in a car with someone who is not me was much harder than I expected.)

Basically, we’re all growing up. And, for the most part, dealing with it.

Just don’t grow too fast, k, Viv?

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Actual footage.

Remember when I used to take the Long Island Rail Road a lot? And I whined about it. A lot.

It has been almost four years since I officially bid adieu to the rails, and, I’ll admit, even I started to wonder if maybe I hadn’t been the eence bit of a drama queen.

I mean, it’s just a train through Long Island. How bad could it actually be?

And then, last week, I had to take it again after over a year of abstaining.

And, you guys? I think it actually got worse.

Granted, my train home took off at 11:30, so, really, what was I expecting? But, here’s the thing: I expect the drunk train. I expect a little rowdiness.

What I don’t expect? To find myself in a full-on frat rager before it’s even midnight.

For the entire 30-minute ride I shared with this crowd, it was non-stop screaming, seat-hopping, and literal chanting. Not like, monks-finding-inner-peace chanting. Like, THIS. IS. CHAN. TING. (*clap clap clap clap clap*) And the lyrics were, shall we say, not fit to print.

It was, in a word, unpleasant.

At one point, the conductor passed through to clip tickets and whispered to the guy across the aisle and me that “they might not notice you if you stay quiet.” It was that bad.

The good news is that they got off a few stops before me, so at least part of my ride was relatively peaceful. Even so, I think I can officially scratch “am I a drama queen?” off my list of concerns.

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Sometimes I feel like I can barely remember how I felt when Vivi was first born.

I don’t mean the good things. The good things are so indelibly burned into my brain that I don’t think anything short of a lobotomy (or, you know, something like this) could ever get them out. I’m talking about the bad stuff.

I swear, you guys: I know I was stressed out and exhausted and overwhelmed and tense all the time…but I can only barely remember what it felt like.

It must be like giving birth. I know it hurt like WHOA and that I threw up a dozen times and was kind of hating life near the end there, but all I can remember is that I powered through it and felt like Superwoman at the end. Superwoman with the cutest, most amazing baby ever.

Almost ten months after that day (good LORD, time, will you stop breaking my heart already!), I can honestly say that I rarely feel like the mess I know I was at the beginning anymore. It’s not that I’m the perfect mom — I’m not. It’s not that I have it all figured out — I do not. I just…don’t beat myself up the way I used to.

I don’t expect perfection from myself because I know Vivi doesn’t either. We’re both fed and clean(ish) and happy, and that really is good enough for both of us.

When I first had Vivi, I was also just beginning this crazy world of freelance, part-time work, and that was scary and overwhelming too. (Remember this panic-induced all-nighter? Yeah, not fun.) I remember one day feeling like I was just being bad at everything and wondering if I had spread myself too thin. Maybe I couldn’t do it all. Maybe I couldn’t do anything.

I’m glad I was able to shake those feelings off eventually. Or, rather, glad I gave myself time to adjust before deciding I was just a miserable failure.

And now? Now, I actually feel confident in my abilities as a mother. My friend Madison once said that she felt like she was truly the best person to be her child’s mother, and I completely get that now. Now, being a mother just makes me so, so happy. I still feel all the feels from this post. Now, I feel like Vivi and I have a routine that works for us and makes everything seem so much more manageable.

In short, I feel like I’m hitting my stride. In so many ways, whether that be motherhood or my new career or my relationships or even things like my health and fitness. Things just seem to feel even and peaceful.

And I know that even putting that thought into print is a guarantee that everything is about to change and I’m about to face a whole new bunch of challenges, but, you know what? I actually feel confident in our ability to face those, too. (Though I wouldn’t mind if they took their time getting here.)

Side note: If you haven’t had your fill of mush yet, I highly recommend going back and re-reading this post for the photos alone. That spiky hair and tiny baby smile? I die.