play big

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 
Marianne Williamson 

How's that for a power-packed start to your Monday?

I've been thinking a lot about this quote lately, and what it means to play big vs. play small. I would love to have coffee with a friend or two to really dive in and discuss what it means, because those are the types of conversations I live for - profound, a bit abstract, and meaningful. But unless Pippa wants to have a metaphysical discussion with me tomorrow, I think I'll have to stick with my own mind for now.

So what does Marianne Williamson mean when she bids us not to play small?

For me, and this might be different for other people, playing small is when I hide what I have to offer because there is a risk someone will reject me, make fun of me, or misunderstand me. Here is what I mean:
It's safe and acceptable and even lauded to wear the title of Spanish Teacher. I hold that title proudly, and others freely give it their approval. I'm passionate about the Spanish language and travel, and I enjoy passing those gifts on to my students. That's an easy way to share my talents with the world and give back to God. Very little risk of rejection.
It's safe and acceptable to wear the title of Mother. One doesn't have to look far on the internet to find essay after essay putting mothers of all kinds on pedestals, reminding everyone how tough and necessary our job is. Staying home with my kids is considered a noble and brave way to serve God and others with my gifts.


It's terrifying to share my other passions with people.

* I absolutely love the art of photography, but I am all too aware of how amateur my photos are. Plus, will others think it's a useless waste of time?
* I have wanted to be a writer since around 3rd grade (around the same time I came to terms with the fact that I would never play for the Green Bay Packers), but chose not to pursue that passion, because it didn't seem like a dependable way to earn a living. Everyone's a critic, and I would be opening myself up to so much rejection to label myself a writer.
* Writing a blog comes with the connotations of being a self-obsessed, materialistic narcissist. Would everyone I know view me that way if I started a blog? I put it off for so long because of the fear of what others would think.
* I started a business from home with a health and wellness company, but the main reason I almost didn't was because of the fear that others would label me a salesperson, a fraud, annoying, or ignorant. I have devoured information about nutrition and fitness since a young age, so this has been such a good fit for me. It allows me to provide for my family while staying home with my kids. This business is easily misunderstood, though, so when others don't take my words in the best way, or when they make fun of my efforts...it hurts. And it's tempting to just shrink back into the shadows and forget about the whole thing. But what about those I could be helping by sharing what I have?
* Sharing my Christian views can be controversial, so I tend to stick with feel-good, agreeable statements in my interactions with others. God forgive me when I shy away from boldly sharing his truth because it might be hard for others to hear.

Gross - all of those statements are about me. What will others think of me? What if I look bad by sharing those gifts? Who am I to think I can lead and help others?

The question is not "what will others think about me?"  The question is "what will I show others about God?"

There is nothing wrong with living a quiet life. If that is how you can use the gifts God has given you to serve him and others, to give him glory, then a quiet life is playing big! I think playing small just means burying our talents out of fear. Hiding our light under a bushel because others might have something negative to say about it. When we are focused on ourselves, then we become miserly with our time, talent, and treasure. When we are focused on serving God and others, we stop worrying about being mocked, gossiped about, or criticized. We start playing big.

So stop worrying about how people will perceive you and what they will say about you. Someone will find something wrong with you no matter what. Stop worrying that people will say you are greedy or attention-hungry if you share your God-given talents with the world. For if you only take enough for yourself, how can you give to others who are in need? If you keep your gifts to yourself, how can you share them with someone looking for exactly what you have?

If you want to write, then write! Someone may be inspired or comforted by your words.
If you want to design clothes, then do it! Someone may find the confidence they need in your designs.
If you want to be an interpretive dancer, go for it! And take me with! Someone may find joy in the beauty of your movement.

Just make sure that whatever you do, you do it to God's glory. That is the only true way to play big, to let your light shine.


friday favorites #2

Oh, this week. What is there to say about this week. It was mainly a constant cycle of cluster feeding, laundry, reading books to Pippa, and letting her watch more Daniel Tiger than can be deemed healthy. Did I wake up to nurse Teddy in the middle of the night with Daniel Tiger's lesson songs stuck in my head? Sí, señor. ("If a friend doesn't want to play with you, you can find something else to do!")

I am experiencing a minor setback with my C-Section recovery. A small infection I caught early enough to just need antibiotics (and not surgery, thank goodness!) that was likely caused by doing too much too soon, but what can be done about that? I'm home all day with a chunky babe and a solid toddler who needs to be lifted occasionally. And then there was that bookshelf at Walmart... let's just say I didn't anticipate it being quite as heavy as it was.

Entonces...I've been on the couch more or less all week trying to "rest" (hahahhahahahaha), but that doesn't quite happen because Teddy has been like, "Nap? No can do-sville, babydoll. I need to eat. With 7-10 minute breaks in between feedings. Just enough for you to THINK I'm sleeping, so you try to rest, relax, drink coffee, or get something done. Then BAM! I'm back, baby."


So anyway, favorites are limited this week, as I haven't left the sofa much less the house except to go to the doctor. Here's what's making me smile:

Maybelline Baby Lips

They're moisturizing, smell delicious, and make me feel fancy, even if I'm not leaving the house that day. It's not safe to keep real lipstick in my purse right now, because Pippa wants to do everything like Mommy these days (love it!), which means she's constantly digging through my purse, makeup bag, and closet. She loves this "chapich" as much as I do!

Steel Cut Oats

With brown sugar and cinnamon. Good for milk production and also the soul.

Amazon Prime

We were late to the Prime game. In fact, the only reason we have it now is because it came free with our internet package. So that's nice. Anyway, since I shan't leave the house most days, and right now a trip to Target with both the kinder seems...overwhelming, you can't beat the free 2 day shipping on almost anything in the world you need. And many things you don't. I'm curious, though. What are the best buys on Amazon Prime? How does everyone else use it, besides just a drain on your bank account? Does anyone get groceries, toiletries, or any other monthly expenses from Amazon instead of the store? Spill the beans! I want to get the most out of our subscription while it lasts!


I'm always on the hunt for daily devotions I like. The Proverbs 31 First 5 app is awesome, but sometimes I prefer to not be on my phone for once in my life. Enter the good ol' Meditations devotions from NPH. I was bouncing Teddy in the narthex at church when I stumbled upon a stack of them. They are short and applicable, and bonus, they have a Bible reading at the bottom of each page to guide you through reading the Bible in a year! Last year I finished reading my Bible cover to cover, and ever since then have been wandering aimlessly in my daily Bible reading. I think this should help.

Conversations with Pippa

Kid has been hilarious lately. (Well, to me anyway. Maybe it's just because I'm in desperate need of adult conversation...)

  • Some days she will only address me as Super Mommy! and I must address her as Super Pippa! Some days she is Princess Sophia, and I have to be Princess Sophia Mommy. 
  • She memorizes and sings all the Daniel Tiger lesson songs. My current favorite: "I like you. I like you. Just the way you are." (I manage to catch her singing them on Snapchat. I'm so young and hip. Not like a regular mom. I'm a cool mom). 
  • After I read her a book, she insists on reading it herself. She takes key words and phrases she remembers from each page, and does a pretty good job reading it back to me!
  • If I look upset at all, she will stroke my face and say, "Oh Mommy. I'm so sorry."
  • Any noise she hears, she perks up and asks, "Hey! What was that?"
  • "Pippa gwink coffee." *aggressively takes my coffee cup and tries to take sip*
  • "Hey Justin! Mommy need towel." When I was stranded in need of a burp cloth...
  • "How bout...crackers? Pwease, Mommy, pwease!"
Those are just a few. I'll have to start writing down what she says, because she is becoming quite the conversationalist! 

OK...everyone is now magically napping, and so I must quite wasting my time on this post, and try to catch a few z's myself. 


teddy's birth story

The two weeks leading up to Theodore Scott's birth were at once exciting and frustrating.
Exciting because for weeks I had been experiencing Braxton-Hicks contractions, which were becoming stronger and more frequent each day. Each morning I prayed to feel the pains of labor, because that would mean escaping the inevitable C-Section if I surpassed my due date. Throughout my pregnancy I had read and reread my copy Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method. 
Frustrating because I hoped this would be my chance for a natural labor, but it was hard to remain hopeful with a deadline looming over my head. I was supremely uncomfortable with a giant baby bump, excessive swelling in my hands and feet, and constant heartburn.

My mom flew in from Wisconsin the day before my due date, and I was both relieved and disappointed that I had made it that far. So many people had guessed that I would go into labor early, both because my bump looked comically large on my body, and because of the discomfort I was feeling. At the same time, I was glad Pippa would get to stay in the comfort of our home, with someone she knows and loves during our stay at the hospital. At that point I was ready. The bags were packed, the bassinet set up, and the onesies washed and folded.

My due date was Friday the 17th, and the C-Section was scheduled for the following Tuesday, June 21. That left me all weekend plus Monday to go into labor on my own. Several times I was convinced I was starting labor, but it all came to nothing when my doctor gave me the disappointing news on Monday that I was just barely at 1 cm. I cried and prayed for hours that day. I cried because I was sad my chance at going into labor was taken away again, and I cried because for some reason I was more anxious about surgery the second time around.

(I think it's easier for me when I don't know what to expect. That way, I don't have to worry about things ahead of time. Sometimes the anticipation of pain is worse than the pain itself.)
The next day we awoke at 4 a.m. (let's be honest, I was up by 2) so we could be at the hospital by 5. The surgery was scheduled for 7:45. Most of the anxiety was gone - at that point I was just excited to meet our little guy! Once we arrived at the hospital I felt even more at ease with our situation. Each doctor and nurse we had the chance to work with was so kind, efficient, and understanding. I chatted a little bit more in depth with my nurse about why there was a deadline for the C-Section, and the conversation put me at peace.

When the anesthesiologist walked in the room, the medical procedure honestly started to feel more like a party than major abdominal surgery. The only way I can think to use to describe him is "cool dude." He was tall and lanky, super laid back, but really good at his job. He joked around with us, and made me feel so at ease, even with an uncomfortable IV in my hand. (I maintain that the IV was the most painful part of the experience - the only time during the whole procedure and recovery I actually shed tears of discomfort). When I brought up how nauseous my C-Section with Pippa made me, he assured me that there was no way he was going to let me feel sick. At that point, we were ready to rock and roll.

Justin "suited up" somewhere while I got wheeled into the operating room across the hall. The nurse and anesthesiologist got me through the spinal with no issues, and before I knew it I was lying flat on my back. All at once it seemed my husband was whisked into the room and someone told me that the surgery was beginning. "Oh! What a pleasant surprise!" I remember thinking, as I couldn't feel a thing. I remember a lot of pushing and jostling when Pippa was brought into the world, but felt nothing of the sort this time around. Only once did I have to warn the coolest anesthesiologist in town that I was starting to feel ill, and within seconds he worked his magic and the feeling was gone.

I felt so at peace on that operating table, and I'll never forget Justin gasping, "Oh! He's a big boy!" as newborn cries filled the sterile room. Joy and impatience were my primary emotions in that moment. I felt like an interloper- the nerdy kid peering over the cool kids' shoulders- as I tried to get some information about el bebé. "Well how much does he weigh?" "Let me see him!" "How long is he?" But in the moment it was like I didn't exist, save as the vessel that brought him into the world that needed sewing up. I wasn't mad or anything...it was just a few moments after all. But those moments lasted an hour to a mama who is excited to meet the one nestled inside her for 40 weeks.

At long last my husband brought his son to meet me. Immediately a nurse helped me get skin-on-skin time right there on the operating table! We even got a chance to breastfeed for a few moments while the doc took care of sewing me up. Everything I had stressed about, prayed about, cried about for the last few weeks didn't matter anymore. I was blissfully united with our son, and how he arrived didn't matter one bit anymore.

Back in the recovery room, I soaked up newborn cuddles while Justin made the obligatory phone calls to family - which in our case took about 30 minutes, since I have 5 siblings, and Justin has 4. Once it was determined that everyone had heard the news, all that remained was for Theodore Scott to meet his big sister. Pippa was so excited to meet Baby Brother, especially because that meant she got a present "from him." She smothered him with tender hugs, kisses, and head rubs ("Gentle!"), and repeated his name over and over. Then she promptly forgot about him, and focused on her "pwesents!"

We only stayed in the hospital for two nights this time, and the whole experience couldn't have felt more different than it did with Philippa's birth. With Pippa's struggle to gain weight, the jaundice, the hip displaysia, and the trouble we had breastfeeding, there were nurses and doctors constantly in and out of the room, charting ever ounce she ate, grilling us about diapers. This time, the charting of diapers and feedings was half-hearted at best. The pediatrician barely stopped in our room for more than 45 seconds, since everything was so normal. Feedings were coming along swimmingly, and my recovery was going well. One nurse declared that I was her easiest patient ever! I aim to please, what can I say? We were happy to climb into our new minivan on Thursday, July 23rd and drive back to all the comforts of home.

Now here we are, a family of 4 (plus Pablo), and figuring it out together.

The name Theodore means Gift of God, and that is truly what he is to our family. So wanted, prayed for, and loved. Welcome to our family, Teddy!


friday favorites #1

I love reading about other people's favorite things, so I finally decided to play along. This way, I can look back on each week to see a little snapshot of what life was like for our family in that moment, while at the same time sharing my favorite products and activities!

Yesterday and today have been the first 2 days I've truly been at home alone with the 2 bebés for long stretches of time. It's been manageable, mainly because newborns sleep a lot, but it has also been a lesson in prioritizing, realistic expectations, and giving myself grace. There's only so much you can do with one hand while holding or feeding a baby! Meanwhile, Pippa is awesome at entertaining herself, but she's still only 2 and 2 months. She needs help with a lot, and I'm still not cleared to lift her!

With that in mind, here are the things this week that are bringing ease and joy into our lives:

>> Summer Infant SwaddleMe 

These lightweight cotton swaddles are lifesavers when it comes to putting Teddy to sleep! When I see him getting restless or sleepy, I immediately swaddle him up, bounce him for a minute or two, and he's out like a light. I love that he can't startle himself awake with his newfound limbs, so we get nice long stretches of naps out of him. I'm not really sure how we got by with just one when Pippa was a baby. We have 3 of them for Teddy, and between spit up and diaper leaks, it feels like they are in constant rotation in the wash.

>> Tervis Tumblers

The need for coffee is great, and these babies are the perfect travel mugs when we're heading out the door for a doctor's appointment or errands. They can also serve as water bottles, and we've even used them for cocktails and mocktails while lounging outside. All purpose, durable, and super cute.
I'll take some coffee with my creamer, please.
>> Rejuvity Skincare Line

I have never been known for my clear skin, especially with the cocktail of hormones that comes with pregnancy and the postpartum weeks. Thankfully I started using this all natural cleanser, moisturizer, and night cream this spring, and have had nary a blemish to speak of since. Miracle! I'm saving up to invest in the whole line...eventually.

>> Fisher-Price Little People

Ok, not my favorite thing, but Pippa could play with her Little People for hours by herself. She names each of them after family members (Noah from the Noah's Ark set is named Granddad lol), and plays quietly while I feed Teddy or get chores done. Lifesaver.

>> Hydrate Daily App

Hunger and thirst while nursing a baby is no joke. While I'm playing zone defense on the kids, I sometimes forget to stay hydrated, so I've been playing around with different free apps to remind myself to drink more water. This is the one I'm currently using, but would take recommendations for your favorites!

>> M&Ms

So 85% of what I eat during the day is pretty healthy. Whole grains, fruits, veggies, green smoothies, protein shakes, Greek yogurt, and lean meats make up the majority of my food choices during the day. Cereal and M&Ms make up the remainder. I got a craving for M&Ms on our road trip when we moved down to Florida, and haven't been able to kick the habit since. I love having just a small handful of chocolate after dinner. Yes, there are healthier choices I could be making for a dessert. But also, it's dessert, so...whatever.

>> My Mom!

I can't believe it's been a week since we took my mom to the airport. She stayed with us from the day before Teddy's due date, all the way until last Friday. I didn't worry for one second about Pippa while I was at the hospital, because I knew she was comfortable, happy, and spoiled with her Nanny. I didn't feel one moment of guilt over taking afternoon naps after Teddy was born, because I knew my mom was around to help with chores, dinner, and Pippa. It's hard to accept help without feeling guilty, but I'm so glad we did! I do know how we would have managed the transition without her!

>> Baby snuggles

No explanation needed. Look at this cute little slugger!

And that's what we're loving around here lately!

Any other tips or favorites from parents of 2?

What are some of your favorite ways to beat the heat?


the next thing

my little snuggle buddy after a 5 a.m. feeding
Today marks exactly 2 weeks since Theodore's birthday. 2 weeks of recovering from surgery, late night feedings, one million diaper changes, and an active toddler to boot. 2 weeks of joy, laundry, and exhaustion.

Teddy is actually a really great sleeper so far. If I feed him at 10, he wakes up again around 2 and 5 to eat - sometimes the stretches between feedings is even a little bit longer. It doesn't worry me, though, because he's already almost a pound over his birth weight. By newborn standards, we are getting plenty of sleep - no complaints here! But I will say, I forgot how tough it is to wake your body up out of a dead sleep twice a night, every night, and make it do things, and function enough to do something as simple as change a diaper. Parents of babies and toddlers - you feel me.

The transition from one to two kids has been mostly great so far, too! For most of the two weeks we had extra helping hands around the house. Justin hasn't gone back to work full time yet (yay for being married to a teacher!), and newborns sleep...a lot. But that doesn't mean there haven't been moments where Pippa is throwing a fit, and Teddy is screaming to be fed, and one or both of us parents are losing our cool .

Then there are obstacles like recovering from surgery. There is the frustration of not fitting into any clothes. And the clothes I do fit into being in a constant cycle of laundry, wear for 5 minutes, spit up (or other bodily fluids), laundry. There are the to-dos looming over my head - preparing for the school year, scheduling doctor appointments, slowly dipping my toe back into working from home, thank-you notes, and all the grown-up things that come along with moving to a different state.

(Hopefully this doesn't come off as complaining - we are extremely grateful for this overflow of blessings in our life. This is just shedding light on how overwhelming big life transitions can be at times!)

There are moments of emotional weakness when everything feels like too much. There are moments of exhaustion in the middle of the night or the wee hours of the morning when I feel like I just. can't. do it.

In those moments, a small voice in the back of my mind whispers, "All you have to do is the very next thing." It's so simple, but so elegant.

For example, when I hear Teddy stirring, and I peak with sleep-blurred eyes at the clock that reads 2:23 a.m., and all I want to do is roll over, pull up the covers, and ignore my parental responsibility, that small voice says, "All you have to do is pull Teddy into bed and feed him - then you can sleep!" And then when that one teeny, tiny task is done, and I feel like I'm too tired to even reach over and put Teddy back into the bassinet, that voices urges, "All you have to do now is change a diaper - then you get 3 more hours of sleep!" And when there's a fresh diaper on that cute little bottom, the whisper continues, "Now just one cozy swaddle and you're back in bed." 

This strategy has worked for chores and to-dos, too! When 30 thank-you notes seems daunting, that voice whispers, "Hey! Don't worry! Just write one quick note. It will only take 5 minutes, and you'll feel so great when it's done! Then you can snuggle with your baby on your chest." And it keeps urging me to do it until the work is done. "All you gotta do is fold a few cute little onesies and blankets - you can even listen to a podcast or watch a show while you do it!"

For some reason, this mindset of breaking down what seems like an insurmountable task into small, manageable steps has been propelling forward these past two weeks. Maybe it's really silly, but it has been working for me! I think I can even apply it to working out when I'm cleared to do that again - "All you have to do is 5 push-ups!" or "Just run to the stop sign and back - that's it!" I can apply it to grading papers, learning to manage a baby and toddler on my own, paying bills, and any other small or large matter that I don't feel like doing. (Reminds me of the mini goals I used for the New Year - which I actually stuck with until the craziness of moving and baby hit).


pipdate - 2 years + 2 months

Some days I can't tell if she's barely 2 years old, or 12. Her language has exploded in the past few weeks, and we are are left shocked or trying to hide our laughter at the sentences that are coming out of her mouth.

Also, I realized that 95% of the pictures I have of Pippa this month are in swimsuits. Because it's summer in Florida.

She is in the classic two-year-old Jekyll and Hyde phase, where one moment she is sweet, helpful, and funny, only to turn around and throw a show-stopping tantrum with no warning.

Some of my favorite Pip-isms, currently:

+ "Jood gob, Pippa!" (her version of "good job" when she feels she's done well)
+ "Good idea, Mommy!"
+ "Hi Baby! Nice to meet you. I'm Pippa!"
+ "Sweet baby!"
+ "Oh I'll get it! I'll be right back!" (whenever she decides she wants something)
+  "Oh my goodness!" (But pronounces goodness as "guiness")
+ "Good morning Mommy. How sleep?"
+ "Gwink" = drink
+ "Big agua" = ocean
+ "I miss" = I want. For example, if she wants a glass of leche (milk), she'll say, "I miss leche."
+ "What name this?" = What's your name? (while pointing rudely)
+ "What you call this?" = What's your name? (while pointing rudely)
+ "One more George then all done, okaaaaaay?" (asking to watch one more Curious George)
+ "How bout...cookie? Good idea, Pippa!"
+ "How bout...two, three, four, five, six em-nems?" (M&Ms)
+ "Ohhhhh, Mommy." (with a big hug)
+ "What Teddy doing?" (whenever I'm feeding him)
+ Lately she's been calling us "Daddy Justin" and "Mommy Emily"
+ "Hi _____! Want go to beach? Ok! Bye!" (when she's pretending to call someone on the phone)
+ "Geeyotch"/"Beeyotch" - we have no idea what these words mean, but she says them all the time
+ "Hey! That's mine!" (rude)
+ "That's Spanish" (of her favorite books in Spanish)

Favorite things:
+ Songs: Let It Go, Jesus Loves Me/Cristo Me Ama, I Am Jesus Little Lamb, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Alphabet, Huitzi Huitzi Araña
+ Movies: Lilo & Stitch, Curious George movies, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
+ Shows: Sophia the First, Curious George
+ Books: all of them...she'll empty the bookshelf if we let her
+ Toys: Little People (she'll play for hours if left alone), Matching/Memory games, puzzles
+ Stuffed Animals: Pete, George, Monkey, Stitch
+ Activities: opening and closing doors, swimming, beach, torturing Pablo

Does NOT like:
+ messy hands