Advice for a new mom of two

MJ from Pars Caeli is taking over the blog today so I can get some sleep and possibly shower while the baby naps! 

advice for the new mom of two

Dear Mom of Two,

Well done! And welcome to life with two bundles of joy. Heartfelt congratulations on your growing family and your hard work to get you right where you are now.

I’m not one to throw out a ton of advice, and even if I were, we both know you have no time to read it. So, let’s keep it simple, sister, and let me share with you three tidbits that helped me with my toughest parenting transition.

1. Celebrate the new normal

Remember when you could put your child down for a nap or tuck her in for the night and let out the big exhale? Well, times have changed and, for now, you’re on for two people who need you a whole lot for a whole lot of time. Your down time has been squished and sandwiched. Give yourself a break, and take the time away when you can, and embrace the time together, even if you’re both crying.

Likely, for at least a short time, you’ll feel more tired and more impatient than you ever expected. And if you’re not, well then there’s another reason to celebrate. Watch your two littles observe one another. Where you can, help them watch the newness wear off as a larger family is created.

2. Rejoice in all you know… and all you have to learn

This is your second time around, and you will never have that moment again of questioning how will you get the onesie on over your infant’s head (or maybe that was just me). You have your own momma groove of how to hold a baby while taking on world domination.

But also, you’re likely to feel like an uncomfortable freshman again, wondering why your learning from child #1 isn’t always helpful with this new little being and his/her variety of quirks. And to this, I say, laugh at yourself – often. No one knows the inner secrets of this new human. Or how strange your firstborn might act in hopes of getting some extra attention his way as he adjust to this sibling.

Embrace your role as an active learner. You’re modeling exactly what you’d hope your children would be.

3. There is no time (or reason) for guilt

A few months ago, you may have scoffed at the mother who let her young daughter play on her phone while she caught a few moments of quiet. You may have judged your neighbor who is always pushing his son into play dates. Maybe even the family who spends too much time watching TV.

Well, fact is, friend, you just might need to fall on some of these helpers yourself. And, when used wisely, there is nothing wrong with any of these activities.

And more importantly, there is no room to feel guilty about these adjustments you’re making in your parenting style.

Remember that this is not forever. And that my kids have all learned incredible animal facts from watching “Wild Kratts” on PBS Kids. And spending time on playdates has opened their eyes to how others live, and, dare I say, made them more empathetic.

Don’t feel weird about asking for help, even if it’s from your remote control.

Get some sleep and shower when you can. And enjoy having another person to love.

xoxo, MJ

Weekend reading: link roundup

red orange lip gloss from sephora

It’s finally starting to feel like spring here in Omaha! I took the kids to Village Pointe, an outdoor shopping center, after nap time last week so we could all get some sunshine and fresh air. While browsing around Sephora, I tried on this bright red-orange lip gloss from Bite Beauty (the color is called “Spice”) that I’m thinking of going back to buy. If you’re in the mood to go bold too, here are the best orange lipsticks for every skin tone, via Harper’s Bazaar.

Do you have the urge to constantly change your cell phone case? Create a collection of customizable iPhone cases for just a couple bucks, via Dream Green DIY.

Should you shop at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods? This infographic will clear up any food-shopping confusion, via The Washington Post.

Don’t be a bad tipper, via Wait But Why.

In honor of Keep America Beautiful month, here are simple ways you and your kids can help the environment, via The Neighborhood.

This Toffee Chocolate Matzoh Crunch looks so delicious that you should probably make it even if you aren’t celebrating Passover next week, via Raincoast Creative Salon.

Give your sofa a spring makeover with these no-sew decorative pillow covers, via Creature Comforts.

And don’t forget: Mad Men begins the first half of its final season tonight, via Variety.

PS – I’m sharing even more on Twitter and Instagram

The “American Blogger” controversy

american blogger movie poster

The hot topic on social media this week has been this trailer for the upcoming documentary, American Blogger. Yes, this is a real film and not a Saturday Night Live parody (or Airstream commercial), as JB thought when he caught a glimpse of the video the other night.

The trailer has been receiving criticism from the larger blogging community (#americanblogger) for its hokey narration and self-important vibe, as well as its portrayal of bloggers as predominantly young white women with perfectly un-done hair who live in eclectically designed (and incredibly organized) homes.

I have to say… I understand the backlash. While I respect and admire many of the women interviewed in the film, all 51 of them are friends with the filmmaker’s wife, a successful mommyblogger herself. I would argue that such a limited demographic doesn’t truly represent the “American blogger.” Also, I imagine that most of them earn an income off their blogs — and most of us don’t.

From that perspective, the project feels more like a promotional video (and a pretty darn good excuse to travel the country!) and less like a documentary about a potentially interesting subject matter… though I suppose I should withhold my judgement until I see the entire film. But what do you think?

(image via American Blogger)

White Converse sneakers for spring

converse girl

white converse

white converse

My first pair of Converse sneakers were turquoise high-tops lined in fluorescent yellow that I loved to wear with the tongue rolled down and two layers of mismatched slouchy socks. It was the late 80s, after all, and Debbie Gibson and the girls in Teen magazine were my fashion role models.

I stopped wearing Converse sometime in the mid-90s when I feared they looked like clown shoes on my narrow size-10 feet. But a couple of months ago, I started noticing more and more of my new fashion role models, bloggers, pairing sporty white Converse sneakers with otherwise chic outfits — and looking effortlessly cool in the process.

So when we first visited Omaha’s new outlet mall last fall, I pulled JB and Levi into the Converse store to try on a pair of white low-tops, mostly for shits and giggles. I still worried my feet would be too long and skinny for them but was curious to see if I could somehow make them work.

white converse

white converse

Wouldn’t you know, Converse All-Stars run big, so instead of a size 10, I only needed a 9.5. And anyone with big feet can relate to the joy of wearing a size or even a half-size smaller than usual. I was nearly ready to pull the trigger based on sizing alone, but first I needed reassurance that I could really pull them off.

To my surprise, JB didn’t think the white Converse made my feet look like Ronald McDonald’s, but he wasn’t sure that I was actually a “Converse girl.” So I wasn’t hip (or hipster) enough to wear Chuck Taylors? No, that wasn’t it, he said, trying to explain that he thought I was too “fashionable” for them. Whatever that meant.

So I did what any modern girl would do when she needs a second opinion: I snapped a photo and asked my Instagram followers. The general consensus was that the white low-top Converse were cute and — hooray! — I could pull them off, but that they’re really, really uncomfortable. Like, sit in your closet uncomfortable.

white converse sneakers with dress

white converse

Despite JB’s hesitation, I bought them… and they sat in my closet for months. But not because they were too uncomfortable to wear; I just didn’t think white Converse were “winter shoes.” (That’s weird, right?) Plus, in my very pregnant state, I tried to avoid wearing shoes that needed to be tied. At a certain point, you just can’t bend over to deal with shoelaces.

I’m still debating whether I’m truly a Converse girl, but I’m going to give them a shot this spring. With some Dr. Scholl’s insoles for added comfort.

What do you think of wearing white Chucks with, well, everything? Are you a Converse girl?

(images: [first and last] PolienneSincerely, JulesP.S. I Love FashionMoeh Fashion, A House in the HillsRemain Simple tumblr)

Mom Meet Mom: How to make new mom friends

Christa from Mom Meet Mom is taking over the blog today while I’m on a brief maternity break!

mom meet mom

Once upon a time, I had a premature baby girl. I was incredibly lucky that I had a tribe of mamas who all had babies right around the same time I unexpectedly had my own. What I didn’t have was someone with whom I could share the unique experience of having a preemie and everything that goes with that: The discharge from labor and delivery without a baby in your arms. The constant feeding struggles. Early intervention. Weekly weigh-ins for months. Being trapped at home during cold and flu season.

It was a sad and isolating bunch of months.

But time marched forward and after a while, aside from her diminutive size, my preemie wasn’t much of a preemie anymore. I went back to work, and that’s when I once again found myself flying solo because no other mama in my life had to add ‘working’ to her job title.

While my baby grew and I worked, two more moms had babies and started their own motherhood journeys. One, my friend Julia, moved across the country with a high needs 18-month-old in tow to a city where she knew no one – flying solo by default. The other, Meg, a stranger to me then, had a son who she’d later discover had a severe nut allergy and she had to figure out how to navigate that all on her own.

There were others, too, the moms we three knew. Moms of toddlers just diagnosed as being on the spectrum. Working moms who were hanging on by a thread. Moms going through tricky divorces. Moms who were having their second, third, or even fifth kid when no one else was, and moms who felt like they just plain didn’t fit in, among others.

The common thread was loneliness. Who’d have thought that becoming a mom – adding people to a family – could make you feel like the loneliest person in the world? Who’d have thought that motherhood could be so isolating?

mom meet mom

And that’s how Mom Meet Mom was born. Three moms, three different situations, but each of us wishing we had a way to connect. Not just virtually, but locally and without stress or awkwardness or fear of rejection. We asked around and it turned out that it wasn’t just us three, but rather hundreds of moms (and if we extrapolated from that, it was more like thousands of moms) looking for something more than the uncomfortable experience of walking into a mom’s group where everyone already knows each other or trying to muster up the guts to ask for another mom’s digits on the playground. ‘Mom dating,’ it turns out, sucks.

When Julia, Meg, and I didn’t find an easy way to get what we were looking for, we said, “Okay, we’ll build it.” And we did, with the help of an awesome team of developers. Today, Mom Meet Mom works kind of like a dating site: we don’t just give members a way to search for local moms; we actually match them with the nearby moms who they’re going to get along with and have the most in common with based on their answers to questions about their families, their interests, and their lives.

mom meet mom

The Mom Meet Mom that exists now is kind of different than the Mom Meet Mom that existed in our heads and when we first started out. If there’s one thing moms are good at it’s telling people what they want. We’re good listeners, and we listened – shaping the site based on the kinds of things moms were telling us they wanted to see. I actually think that’s my favorite thing about what we’ve accomplished so far. The site isn’t just our project, but a collaboration between ourselves and between us and the hundreds of moms who’ve written with suggestions, compliments, and yes, complaints.

Actually, no, my very favorite thing about co-founding Mom Meet Mom is that in creating this website, I inadvertently solved my own problem. I was a working mom in a sea of SAHMs. Now I’m one of three likeminded moms working together. Of all the successful matches made among moms on the site, the friendship that has developed between myself, Meg, and Julia as we worked – and continue to work – on the site will always stand out in my mind as the first, and best, Mom Meet Mom success story.

Christa Terry is one of the founders of Mom Meet Mom, a social network where moms can find new friends, activity buddies, and playdates for their kids. The site has been featured on Good Morning America and in TechCrunch and DailyCandy, as well as in many other notable places.