Worth Sharing

As we head into Thanksgiving tomorrow, I thought I'd share a few extra articles in the "Worth Sharing" for reading over the long holiday weekend. Enjoy, and have a lovely Thanksgiving!

Facebook and Apple have now began offering female employees egg freezing benefits. While this could be seen as a great benefit (And definitely would be for some women!), it also seems a bit sketchy - as the Financial Times in London puts it, "Benefits are social indicators ... it implies that women should consider deferring childbirth if they want to do well in their jobs." Something to think about.

Anyone listening to the Serial Podcast yet? I'm a few episodes in and am totally hooked. A perfect way to pass the time while washing dishes or on a long drive. It's essentially a murder mystery, but not scary (I'm a total wimp), and I cannot figure out what's going to happen. If you like This American Life, you'll love this - it's from the same people!

 "When it comes to thinness, 'effort' is unbecoming." Why nobody wants to be the girl on a diet. 

The cool kids in high school turn out to be not so hot in adulthood. 

"How could gluten, present in a staple food that has sustained humanity for thousands of years, have suddenly become so threatening?" Seriously, this is a question that rolls around in my head all the time. The New Yorker looks for answers. 

Ever heard of the term "basic girl?" (There's another, more offensive term, but I won't use it here.) It's a new trendy insult for women just like me - those that fall into stereotypical consumption habits, like shopping at Target and drinking Starbucks. A good perspective on the term, and why I've decided it doesn't matter if I fall into that category or not. 

I don't read "Ask Amy," and I usually steer away from all advice columns, but this was one good answer to a very sad question. It's almost hard for me to believe the question is real. 

There is always a way to survive. What $100 in NYC teaches us about being brave. 

"Older women mock young mothers for being so safety-conscious. Younger women dismiss older women because they don’t know the latest car seat safety standards, or they suggest that the baby would sleep better on his stomach." Found this article about mothering in the internet age so true. How we research and learn about motherhood is so different than it used to be that it can be hard for various generations to understand one another - but there is still so much value in learning from the women who have gone before us. A great reminder. 

Looking forward to reading this new book, Mom Enough, about competitive mothering and gospel grace. Some great authors in there offering their thoughts!

Do you ever get creeped out when you're shopping online for boots or jewerly or something, then you start seeing it advertised every where you go on the great wild web? I know I do. It's called re-marketing or behavioral advertising - but did you know you can opt out of it? They're testing a new system, right over here.

Every year, Mike and I deep fry a turkey for our annual Friendsgiving. And each year we intentionally make a too-large turkey so we'll have leftovers to eat for weeks on end because it's so delicious. Here's a great roundup of 10 turkey sandwiches to make if you're in the same boat. 

The other day on Twin Cities Moms blog, I shared why I don't like being pregnant - even though I have absolutely no reason not to - anyone with me?

My friend Anna at Girl With Blog just came out with her first e-book and I couldn't be more excited for her! It's a holiday devotion for moms that are short and to the point for busy moms that runs for the month of December. If you're interested, you can purchase the e-book righta' here. 

DIY Toddler Busy Bag Ideas

A few weeks ago I got together with a few of my mom-friends for a Toddler Busy Bag Exchange. When my friend asked me to participate, I jumped at the chance - with baby girl coming, I really wanted to have a few things on-hand to keep Eli busy through the winter, particularly as I was nursing. I've heard of other moms that have a "nursing bag" for their older children, a bag of toys that the child can only play with when mom is nursing, and I thought the games included in a busy bag exchange would be the perfect way to fill one for Eli. 
There were five moms total in the exchange and we each made two different activities. There are seriously hundreds of activity ideas online with a quick Google or Pinterest search, so I won't go into too much detail on each activity (I did link them to more detail where I could), but hopefully this can give you a few ideas and inspiration to make one for your little one. 

I threw all of the games in this bag - it's only five bucks on Amazon! I freehanded on a quick star with fabric paint, but realized later I was heavy on the paint, and didn't use enough of the fabric medium - hence the streaks, but Eli doesn't care and just loves pointing to his "star bag," so I'm rolling with it.

Here's what's included in the bag:

Pool Noodle Pick Up - Have children place noodle pieces on the string in numerical order, and older children can string them on in odd or even patterns. (For the record, I realize number eight is missing! Eli lost it somewhere before I was able to photograph it. Whoops!)
Magnetic Pom Poms with Printables (Put the printables on a cookie sheet and have your child match colors, fill in shapes, etc.)
Wiffle Ball Weaving - Weave the pipe cleaners through the wiffle balls. 
Pom Pom Stuff-It-In - Have your child just push in the poms, count the poms as they go in, or sort them by color. As they get older, have them work on dexterity by using tongs to pick the poms up and put them in the hole. (Quick tip - I ruined a lot of lids in the process of making these. Eventually I found the best way to make the hole was to melt the center with a lighter, then use a toothpick to smooth the plastic out while it was still hot and soft.)
Colored Craft Sticks with Velcro - Toddlers can make shapes or do color matching.
Craft Stick Puzzles - Line up the craft sticks to create the picture.
Paper Clip Match Up - Match the colors of the sticks to the paper clips.
Homemade Playdough - No worries, it's edible - although it would taste disgusting - perfect for toddlers, right?
Spoon Shape Matching - Children match shapes between the clear and white spoons.
Fishing Game Four ways to play: 1) Just fish, 2) Fish in rainbow order, 3) Fish in numerical order, 4) Fish by "eye size." (And look how cute it wraps up below!)

Eli - 19 Month Update

I know you all don't keep track, but I do - this post is nearly three weeks late! I did write it near the 19 month mark so things are accurate, but I didn't take the photos until yesterday. It's been crazy around these parts and I couldn't nail down a time to do it in the daylight with the hubs around to make Eli laugh - so I finally just gave in and took them on my own so I could get this post out - which is why there's odd lighting (nearly nighttime!) and not too many smiles.  Also - you're getting a sneak peek at our new living room! It's SO different you guys, and I can't wait to share all that's been going on behind-the-scenes.

Also, Eli accidentally deleted the "parenting in theory vs. practice" post from Monday (Ironic?), and I only found out about it when a reader told me about it. Anyway, it's been reposted (whew!) so if you missed it because of the broken link, check it out - and if you commented pre-deletion, I'm sorry to say I lost those, so I can't reply. But thank you, I did see them in my emails!
Naps: One nap a day, around 1 p.m. for two to three hours
Feeding: Two percent milk (16-20 oz./day), water all day, and table foods three times a day with a snack after nap.
Clothing: 24 month
Bedtime: 7:30 - 8 p.m. Sleeps 10-13 hours each night.

After a month of practice, he's gotten really good at eating with silverware! He asks for his fork or spoon before eating and while he still sneaks a hand in here or there to help out, it doesn't matter at all. It's so great to be able to give him soups/yogurt/apple sauce/etc. and not have to worry about feeding him. He's really good at keeping things in his bowl or plate and doesn't spill nearly as often as he used to. While I still wouldn't say Eli is a picky eater, he is easily distracted (Hence the origins of the Toddler Tantrum post.) so if he sees something he likes "better" there's really no going back to the good-for-you foods. Mike and I usually eat in stages now, not pulling out things like bread, chips or crackers until the very end and only if we're really wanting it. It's weird because if the carbs are not on the table he eats like a champ, but as soon as he sees them all hope is lost for getting him to the good stuff. It's frustrating but I'm crossing my fingers it's just a stage since he does still eat pretty much everything I put in front of him as long as it's in the right "order."

Sleeping has been a little all over the place this month. He came down with quite the sickness at the beginning of the month, complete with a trip to the ER, and four weeks later he still hasn't quite gotten over it. We are STILL using the nebulizer on him, but only two times a day now, and we have a follow up appointment with his ped to check his lungs soon, so hopefully we'll be given the green light to get off it. That said, he was on a couple different meds with the neb, one of which had a ton of caffeine in it, so he wasn't really napping at all for a while, and he was sleeping only about 10 hours a night. We got off that particular med about a week or two ago, and since then, he's been pretty much back to normal. We still do crib time for about a half hour each morning when we're home - usually one or two mornings a week to replace that morning nap and it has been working well. 

He's pretty much fully transitioned to speaking all "real words" which is awesome. Many of them are still pretty garbled, and I act as a translator a lot, but he rarely just babbles a bunch of mumbo-jumbo anymore. He puts two words together all the time, and sometimes even three. He's finally started saying both the animal name and the animal sound, so if I ask, "What says 'moo?'" He can say, "Cow," instead of just mooing back. He'll also do this with machine noises and sirens. If I make a particular sound, he'll shout, "Train!" or whatever it may be. It's pretty amazing and is one of his favorite games. He's also gotten really into colors lately, I think his grandma must have worked on them with him because one day he came home shouting "Blue, red, green!"  I'd say he's accurate about 30 percent of the time - aka, all complete guesses, but I do think he's getting better. Everything used to always be "Blue!" but now, he'll roll through guesses and usually get it by the third-ish try. But it's funny, like a classic mom, I'll think he has them down because one day he gets a few right, then the next day he'll get everything I ask him totally wrong. Whoops. I know it's early yet, but it's fun since he's so into it. 

It's also been fun to see him begin to develop more of an imagination and he's doing a lot more pretend play than he ever has. He loves to fake cook and clean, put silly things on his head as a "hat," get ready in the morning by brushing his hair or wearing my shoes, talk on the phone, all those things are really starting this month. He's starting to expand his "humor" - understanding that putting a block on his head is funny because it's not actually a hat, or that putting his shoe on his hand isn't where it goes, so it's "funny." It's awesome to hear his fake laugh - it always gets a real one from me. 

I mentioned this last month, but we really are getting to a point where he's needing more boundaries and intentional parenting/discipline from Mike and I. I wrote on Facebook about the first time I attempted a time out with him and it actually worked! I'm also glad to have another tool in my toolkit for when he acts out and have a bit of practice under my belt. I'm hoping to write a more robust post on this (Update: And I did - right here!), but I've come to learn that parenting in theory is so much easier than in practice! I can read and read and say, "This is what I'll do when X happens." But then it happens and I forget everything or X never happens and I get Y and Z and am totally lost. While Eli overall is a fairly consistent, calm, agreeable child, he can throw a tantrum that will absolutely shock you. Lying face down on the floor, pounding his feet and hands, crying and screaming for oh, 20 minutes? Probably longer. There's no way to get him to calm down but to ignore him. But then the question becomes, what do you do when he does that outside of the privacy of our own home? Oh yes, have I got some stories for you all - but I'll save those for another day. 

We're continuing to work on Eli doing things for himself, like pulling out his stool and climbing up on his own when we brush his teeth at night (Oh my word, anyone else have a toddler that loves to brush his teeth? The only problem is Eli just wants to suck all the toothpaste off and he just fake spits into the sink so he can suck the sweetness down!), getting his own diapers and wipes and throwing them away, or even just putting a bit more effort into getting a toy that's a tiny bit stuck out of the toy basket. I'm thinking it's because he's the first child, but the kid can be completely helpless sometimes. It's been fun to encourage him to be a bit more brave in his daily adventures and see how proud of himself he is when he does accomplish a task he would normally ask for help on right away. Lots of high fives going on in this house. 

Along with the imaginary play, Eli loves to build things and I can see his imagination spinning as he plays with his toys. He can build a pretty tall tower with his mega blocks (and knock it down of course), always wants me to help him build bridges so he can drive his trucks through them, and he loves to work on puzzles, shouting out what each piece is and it's remarkable how he can get them all in the right spots on his own. I feel like that skill happened overnight! He also loves to color, so I often set him up with the learning tower at the dining room table while I work on bible study and he'll scribble for a good 15 minutes, although there's always a huge game of "clean up the crayons you threw on the floor" after, that takes another 15 minutes. Oh well. He still loves to be outside, go on walks, play all the classic toddler games, read books, throw and kick balls, all that good stuff. 

As far as dislikes the big one that started this month is he absolutely hates having to stop playing with his toys to get his diaper changed, eat dinner, leave the house, etc. He's had a hard time with this in some of the months prior, but this month it's really bad. It's awesome to know he's having a ton of fun and doesn't want to stop, but it can be really frustrating when he throws a tantrum or runs away from me when he has a stinky diaper or I need him for something. He used to tell me when he pooped, or at least admit it when I asked him, and now I'll ask and he'll say, "Nooooooo." and run the other direction. I find myself saying, "Eli, this is not funny; it is not a game; please obey." All. The. Time. Other dislikes include being in the car seat for long periods of time, and just generally not getting his way. Classic toddler stuff. 
Momma/Daddy Update:
As always, we'd both agree that it just keeps being more and more fun with this little guy. We love how much he wants to be with us and "help" us do everything and we find we're constantly saying to each other, "How is it that he's ours?" and, "I still can't believe we made him!" and things like that. We're trying to soak up these last few weeks with Eli being our "only" child, and just the other day we were talking about how weird it will be that Eli will be the "oldest," not just our one and only. But we're excited to bring baby girl into the equation and know Eli will make a great big brother. While in some ways we both feel like parenting a toddler is the hardest type of "parenting" we've had yet, we're loving every second of it - except maybe when he throws a tantrum and we're both just looking at each other willing the other person to take care of it and figure out how to calm him down. Spoiler alert: Neither of us do. 

But we're learning and growing as fast as Eli is and we wouldn't have it any other way. It's pretty amazing to get to be his parents!

Definitely Not. No. Well, Maybe. Okay, Fine: Why Parenting In Theory Is So Much Easier Than In Practice

I'm convinced parenting in theory is about eleventy billion times easier than it is in practice. After about a year into being a mother I realized that about one percent of my life as a parent would revolve around the stuff I actually read up on and prepared for as a new mom. Figuring out how to get your child to sleep past the 45 minute intruder or learning that snap pajamas are a total waste of money only mattered for the tiniest blip in the radar in this role we call "motherhood." Yet I can't tell you how many hours I spent researching the perfect first foods, the best sleep schedules or debating the merits of the Boppy vs. My Breast Friend (Turned out to be a toss-up; if you were curious.)

These days, I could care less how many snaps my toddler's shirt has or exactly how many ounces of milk he's ingesting each day. I've got bigger problems to deal with. When he turned about 12 months old, I spent about three or four months in no-man's land, not really sure what to do with my new three foot human that suddenly developed opinions and some downright terrifying ways to express his emotions in what seemed like overnight. Plus, I think there's this part of all moms that just yearns to believe that your baby-turned-toddler doesn't really understand what their doing yet: "He's a tactile learner! He's just exploring the world around him! He's learning to use his voice!"

But soon, you realized that all they were learning is that they can do whatever they want and bonus, momma cleans it all up for them.
So very quickly, I found myself turning every page of "toddler-help" books I could find and was soon swimming in options of what kind of parent I wanted to be. Will I be an attachment or tiger mom or land somewhere in between? What catch phrase will I use? Will I be the mom that says, "Do you have a happy heart?" or, "Are you choosing joy right now?" or, "Are you being kind?" Will I use time outs, removal of privileges, redirection, quiet thinking time, or a combination? Will I even use the word, "No?" or maybe go with the newly popular, "Not for..." And the kicker was that apparently I needed to make these decisions back when I conceived the kid, because, "children thrive on consistency and routine!" And I should have been using my go-to catch phrases since he was infant sucking on his toes on the changing table.

Each day, I'd find a new blog post or book to read giving me different tips on the "Eight Best Ways To Raise A Happy Toddler." And maybe I'd read, say, about discerning the difference in "childish" behavior and true "disobedience." And I'd think to myself, "Ah, ha! This is the key! The golden ticket to knowing how and when to discipline my cave man!" So I'd wake up the next morning resolved to stick to my guns and not just give in and let my toddler eat his weight in raisins just because he cried for them every time I put the hamburger in front of him - which, by the way was cut up into toddler-sized pieces, served with four different kinds of dip and a huge slice of CHEESE melted on top.

And after 15 minutes of trying: time outs/reason/ignoring/pleading/begging I'd begin to wonder if this was worth it at all or if I should have just given him the raisins and serve my pregnant-self a double decker cheeseburger in the peace that is toddler + raisins. And "No way - eat what I gave you," turns into "Whatever," faster than I'd ever want to admit.

And that's just when I'm alone. It's about 10,000 times worse when I'm with other people. The stares of strangers when your toddler screams because he's not allowed to hold all 54 stuffed bears on the end-cap at the grocery store will make you fill your cart to the brim full of bears faster than your toddler can even get up off the floor. In the moment, I try to remember my theories discipline, resolve too not give in, but my mind has been literally taken over by the blood curdling screams of my toddler and my brain doesn't say, "Okay, I think I read on page 82 that in this particular case a nice, quiet moment of reflection is what you need my son." NO. It says, "What do I have to do to make you stop as quickly as possible?"

Because, particularly in public I'm contemplating two things: 1) How volatile a reaction will I receive if I tell him "No?" Aka: Will he acquiesce to my commands without a fight? And 2) Who will see it and what will they think?

I know, I know. Those are not the right things to think about - but let's be honest here - don't most moms at least think something along those lines?

Or even worse, I feel so much pressure when I'm with another mom. Not intentional by them of course, but discipline is the WORST when you're with another parent. You just never really know what their thinking -  I worry they'll think my "language" is weird, or my tactics pathetic. That I'm being to hard on my son or I'm being too easy on him. I worry they'll think, "If she just did this..." or "If she just stopped doing that..."

And really, all their probably thinking is, "I'm so glad it's not my kid misbehaving right now, I'd have no idea what to do if I were in her shoes." At least, that's what I'm thinking.

In the parenting books and blog posts, the experts make it sound so easy, so simple. If this, then that. If that, then this.  A, B and C require X, Y and Z responses from the parent respectively.

Honestly, if parenting was that easy, there wouldn't be 10 trillion books on it.

So here's the deal. I'm learning about discipline, consequences, happy hearts and choosing joy right along with my toddler. I've never done this raising-a-child thing before and there's absolutely no reason why I have to decide in a day, a month or even a year exactly what type of parent I want to be. I want to be a good one - and that's about all I know.

I want to be firm and consistent. But I also want to give grace. I don't want to spoil him, but I also would give him the moon if I could. So putting pressure on myself to, "Always have the same response every time!" is pointless. Yes, I want my toddler to know boundaries and have a general idea of what to expect from me, but at the same time, putting a ton of pressure on myself to, "Always, always, always be intentional and consistent in discipline," just stresses me out. And sometimes? There's no harm in letting your toddler drag a bolt of brown minky fabric all over JoAnn Fabric for the day because he thinks it's a teddy bear and it keeps him from throwing a fit on the floor in front of the cutting table.

Plus, over time, I'm finding the tools I'm slowly picking up from books, blog posts and friends that have semi-tame toddlers aren't so unfamiliar to me anymore which is making discipline a whole lot easier than it was when I first began having to do it. I'm learning through trial and error the methods that work for me and my toddler the best and I've already started to find that some of the sayings and "rules" that felt so foreign and strange to me a few months ago are beginning to roll of the tongue a bit better. Which means I don't have to think about them so much in the moment, so reacting to a tantrum isn't nearly as stressful or pressure-filled as it used to be. And bonus, I'm finding my toddler is getting more used to my methods too - the first time he told me, "I cry. Time out?" I about passed out.

At least to me, it always seems like the "other mom" has it all figured out. She always seems poised, composed and methodical in her actions when her toddler misbehaves, but really - I'm willing to bet she's flying by the seat of her skinny jeans just as much as I am. We're all trying to figure this parenting thing out and as soon as we feel like we've got a handle on at least a little of it, it changes again. And I'm learning that that's an okay way to be. As long as my focus and end goal remains the same, it's okay if my methods bounce around a little on the path to get there.

Books, articles and a friend's advice can teach us a lot, but they aren't the end all be all. Parenting is definitely a whole lot easier in theory than in practice - which is why my, "Definitely not," turns into, "Maybe, okay fine," more than I'd like. But I'm learning and getting a little bit better at this parenting gig every day, throwing the strict theories out the window and just practicing in a trial-by-fire sort of way that takes the pressure off.

The other day I was with about eight other parents and my toddler was throwing a fit. After trying everything I could think of besides giving him the one thing I said he couldn't have, I just turned to them and said, "I have absolutely no idea what to do. Any ideas?"

They all looked at me and said, "Nope."

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Worth Sharing

The "family dinner" seems to be the new thing to do - and I'm all for it. But admittedly, there's quite a bit of unrealistic pressure on how it should look. Let's take it down a notch and just get the chicken on the table. 

I shared this over on Facebook, but many of you asked for the talk I went to before writing this post on worry and our children. The talk hasn't been posted online yet, but the speaker did write a blog post that summed it up quite well. Here it is.

Over the years I've waffled back and forth in my love for DIY. Most of the time I'm obsessed, but other times I hate it as much as Eli hates being told to, "Eat what I've made you, cause Momma's not making anything else." I've slowly been learning when to DIY, and when it's best to just pull out the wallet - but not before I committed all seven of these deadly DIY sins. Check 'em out. Can anyone relate?

World's youngest female billionaire and genius. Love stories like these - just makes me wonder what I might have missed out on because I actually did finish college ... one can dream.

Clever writing advice. Always love these, but never remember them. Oops.

The age of uncontrollable fame and how the pendulum swings. "You could go to bed one night your regular self, and wake up to find you are an icon — but you won't get to decide what you represent." What Alex from Target teaches us about fame in the internet age. 

"You are not running late, you are rude and selfish." Think about it. I sure did.

Over the past five years, my nuclear family has expanded from a family of five to a family of 14, soon to be 15 with baby girl. Basically, we've exploded and therefore have had to quickly learn how to travel well together. So, I shared my top tips for traveling with extended family and small children over on Twin Cities Moms Blog. 

Plus as a follow up to the post here on OA about my Sick Toddler Toolkit, I shared my best tips for taming the cough that follows our children around all winter on TCMB as well. Some great discussion in the comments too, so be sure to check those out!

And finally, just a little housekeeping update: I'm going to be sharing my New Mom Confessions over on Facebook and a bit on the 'gram from now on, because I keep forgetting them by the time I sit down to write the post. So follow along over there if you want to feel better about your mothering. Like how I kneed Eli in the face during a dance party the other morning and now every time I ask him to dance he says, "Dance? Ouch." Yes, I'm a rock-star mom over here. 

Mom's So Lonesome She Could Cry (And She's Not Even Alone)

The stuffed bear stared at me from across the couch cushion. Perched precariously on a chartreuse pillow, its sad eyes bored into me - and I felt for a second - like it could see into my soul.

I made a face at it.

Then I slowly turned away, looking forward for a few moments, then whipped my head around, willing it to move and let me catch it in the act.

It didn't.

"What, that all you got?" I said aloud to it.

Is this what I've come to?

This has got to be a new low.

Maybe it's the changing of the seasons and there aren't as many park play-dates or walk offers. Or maybe it's the fact that my son's been pretty sick, which has kept us cooped up within the four walls of the house, but I'm feeling pretty lonely.

And maybe that's just par for the course as a Stay-At-Home-Mom.

Of course, I'm never really alone. But there's a big difference in being alone and feeling alone.

My conversations are not really conversations, just one word exchanges, "Dink?" "Food?" "Outside?" "Walk?" I try to use full sentences, but I have to admit, at times toddler-speak can be much more efficient. I even find myself hearing my inner monologue sounding less like me and more like my toddler's high-pitched, sing-songy voice.

Building bridges and zooming trucks through them, while fun the first six times because it makes my toddler laugh, start to drive me batty by the 15th time, and make me want to pull my hair out by the 38th time.

By the end of the day, I think both my toddler and I are bored with each other. Both of us throwing tantrums, mine in my heart, his on the floor.

I've heard moms say that because they're with their children all day, they "are never lonely!" I tell myself they must be lying or clinically insane.

And while I love my son more than anything, I'm amazed at just how lonely I can be at home all day with him and I. It actually started when he was just a newborn, creeping in on me in a way I didn't even notice, until it started affecting my other relationships - mostly, my poor husband.

And what I've learned, even in my very short 19-month-stint thus far as a mother, is that it is a normal feeling and it's okay. It is possible to absolutely LOVE and adore being at home during the day with your children, yet still feel lonely. I used to feel guilty about it, but the truth of the matter is, I love my son with every bone, vein, muscle, organ, FIBER of my body, but he's not capable of being my very best friend.

That's what play dates were born out of. That's what mom's nights out were created for. That's why date nights with your husband are not nice-to-do, they are a need-to-do. Moms need adult relationships. Moms need friendships.

I don't think any of us get these things as often as we need, let alone like. Because the fact of the matter is, in motherhood, kids take the front seat, while friends take the back seat. But we have to soak up our friendships for all they're worth when we do get time to invest in them. As life allows - in between the sniffles and laundry and belly laughs - we can remember that we can in fact speak in full sentences - paragraphs even!

But at the same time, we can't let loneliness steal the joy of this season we're in. Because usually, it just ends up with us feeling sorry for ourselves in some way. Breeding jealousy or anger or regret or guilt. Wishing for something other than what we're currently doing. Feeling emptiness from a lack of social life and choosing to dwell in it, rather than fill it.

But I'm here to remind you that there are plenty of things to fill that emptiness with. For starters, let's try all the tickles and snuggles and kisses and "Momma, you're pretty's" that motherhood is made up of.

This is a season. One I hear we will miss and wish we could give anything to get it back.

So have peace with the pull in your heart. The tug of loneliness pulled tight by the tug of joy on the other end. It is okay to live with both, because we know that joy will always be stronger and will always win the fight.

I think sometimes we Stay-At-Home-Moms feel like we must be the only person in the world that feels so lonely - so my hope is, that maybe - just maybe - after reading this, you'll feel a little bit less alone.

Don't let loneliness steal your joy momma. It is good and right for us to have time away, time to refill our tanks and come back to motherhood refreshed and energized. But it will never happen as often as we wish it to be. And so remind yourself, this is a season. A wonderful, weird, amazing, dirty, loving, exasperating, fun, crazy, incredible, marvelous, and yes, lonely, season.

And that is okay. That is normal.

You are not alone.