Hang in There, Mama

I started staying home with my kids when my oldest step-child was in 5th grade, my middle child was 1.5 years old and my youngest wasn’t even born yet. I had an idealized image of what that would look like… I thought it’d be a LOT of arts and crafts, puzzles, laughing, giggling, etc. And for awhile… it was! Then the baby was born.

I had a 21 month old and a baby at home and I was miserable. My daughter was THAT toddler… she hit me, she screamed at me, she threw fits at Target (I’ve written several blog posts about our Target misadventures)… and the baby cried. A LOT. Way more than I was prepared for…. The toddler cried about lack of attention and the baby just didn’t stop crying. The 3 month colic phase felt like years…. I felt like I was drowning. I never got out of my pajamas and I never did anything for myself. I was weighed down by so much mom guilt that I stopped enjoying the little things… I was anxious about my kids’ development, eating habits, temper tantrums, sleeping, EVERYTHING.

I’ll never forget the day that my husband looked at me and said, “Would you want to go back to work?” It was tough to consider: I felt like a failure. I am a MOM… I should be able to do this. My mother stayed home with me, I see other moms staying home with their toddlers & babies and they look so happy (and fit! Holy crap are they fit!). When my husband shined the light on my depression, I realized I wasn’t the best mom I could be by staying home. Staying home with toddlers and babies is the actual hardest job in the entire world. If I were writing a resume, skills include: patience, cooking, cleaning, cleaning again, negotiating, staying calm, not crying despite wanting to OVER AND OVER, vulnerability, and about 100 other attributes. I wasn’t vulnerable enough to admit that I needed help… and I quit. And I’m so happy I did.

Fast forward 2 years: I was so happy at work, I was a better mom than I had ever been, and we were a HAPPY FAMILY. We had arguments, a messy house, and my oldest became a teenager which was a huge wakeup call… but we were HAPPY. Then my mom became sick… like really sick. I realized that the mom guilt I felt when I was with my mom instead of my kids, or when I had to go to work because I had bailed on my team 5 times that month already to sit with my mom was overwhelming. I was torn between spending time with my mother who was dying, my family, and the incredible team I worked with. I chose to resign from my full time position so I could balance spending time with my mom and my family… and it was the best decision I’ve ever made because I was at her bedside when she passed… and I was with my family from then on to tell them about their grandmother and hold them when they cried.

So… what’s life like now with a teenager, a 5 year old and a 3 year old? Ladies… it’s a complete 180 from the picture I painted of life with a toddler and baby. Life is absolutely not perfect… I cry once a week because one of my kids will have a meltdown at Target or they don’t stop fighting EVER. I want to scream sometimes because I feel like no one in my house listens to me unless I turn into the Hulk… and then they tell me to calm down (which, as you know, is SUPER helpful to tell someone). But all that is so small compared to the constant joy. My kids can dress themselves (with a little help), they can make their beds (even if they argue with me about whether or not they need to), they can go to places like the Children’s Museum and, if I make sure to bribe them with a kids’ meal on the way home, they actually listen to me! They play with each other for HOURS… with minimal fighting! They can sit and watch a movie when I need a break… I now get breaks by the way! I can shower and have 10 minutes alone, knowing that they are entertained by whatever I put on TV.

Most of all… we’re happy. The whole frickin’ family. So hang in there, mama of babies and toddlers… it gets easier. And try not to punch the person that says, “Enjoy this time, it goes so fast!” when your toddler starts throwing eggs on the floor at the grocery store. Like, you’re hilarious, Karen, but stop talking to me right now before I punch you.

Here’s an actual photo of me getting space from the kids on a Sunday morning… #momlife



Weekend with Dad

I went to a wedding last weekend in Montana with my teen, leaving my two littles at home with Dad. Now, my husband is an incredible father: he plays with the kids, he takes them to the movies, he builds snowmen… all the things that I hate doing. I prefer to cook, read and cuddle with my kids… we are living in a stereotype people, let’s move on.

When I got home, I learned quickly that for 3 days, my kids:

-Didn’t get baths or showers

-Didn’t eat a single fruit or vegetable

-Didn’t make their beds

-Didn’t clean their rooms

-Only left the house one time (to see Star Wars)

Messy RoomAt first, I thought I was overreacting. They had fun, everyone is safe and that’s all that matters, right? And then I realized: my husband is my partner…. A weekend with him shouldn’t really look any different than a weekend with me. I’m not saying they can’t skip some fruits and veggies, or go to Wendy’s, or stay in their pajamas for one entire day… but this isn’t a weekend at Grandma’s. This is a weekend at homewith their dad.

When I came home I was instantly the bad guy because I told them they had to clean up their toys before watching a movie. I asked them to make their beds and clean their room before we left the house… HOW DARE I ASK THEM TO COMPLETE THEIR CHORES?!

I think we need to start expecting our significant others to not just “get by” on weekends alone with our toddlers/young kids but to ask for partnership… I’m not asking for perfection but who wants to come home and be “mean mommy” for having them eat healthy, well balanced meals?

My husband will ALWAYS be the fun one… I’m the disciplinarian and the one who makes them feel better when they’re sick or scared. I’m the one they run to when they stub their toe but he’s the one they attack with a light saber when he falls asleep on the couch.

Maybe I’m looking at this all wrong… maybe I’ll start falling asleep on the couch so I get attacked with a light saber. Maybe my husband can take over asking them to make their beds before going to Target for awhile…. Maybe that is a partnership. Regardless, that is marriage.

The Hardest Part(s)

It’s been a week since my mother died.

In that time, my 5 year old has wanted to talk about her grandmother at least 10 times a day. She’s filled with questions like, “Where is her body now? What is cremated? Why will she be buried under ground? How does she get up to heaven? Will she see her mom and dad?”

My 3 year old is handling it differently. When he saw his grandmother sick, when it was time to say goodbye, he wouldn’t go near her. She terrified him with her eyes, usually so warm and full of life, then suddenly closed and unable to open and look at him. She would, however, whisper “I love you” because nothing could stop my mother from telling her family that she loves them, even if she couldn’t tell who she was talking to.

My 15 year old is handling it the hardest, as to be expected. Since feelings are considered uncool, she is constantly pushing down memories of her grandma so she doesn’t have to deal with them. I think the words “feel your feelings” are used a hundred times per day. We tell her that it’s okay to feel sad… you can cry and laugh in the same breath, thinking about everything we’ll miss about her AND how she couldn’t figure out how to ring the damn bell after her last round of chemo and none of us could stop laughing (including the amazing nurses that helped take care of her).

The hardest part? I don’t honestly think that my son will remember his grandmother. I know the 15 year old will, I hope the 5 year old will, but my youngest won’t remember all the books they read together, all the toys they played with, or the secrets they shared. He won’t remember that his grandma was the one who bought him his HUGE car set that has been his favorite thing for a year. He won’t remember the woman who promised to be there for him forever. That’s the hardest part.

While I realize that there are far worse things that could happen (taking my mother to chemo appointments makes me feel very grateful for the healthy life I live- I saw many women with young kids going through treatment), I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. Two of my children might not remember my mother, the person who has most influenced me to be the wife, mother, friend and person I am today. She doesn’t get to impact them they way she impacted me.  And that feels really shitty… but it’s important that we feel these feelings because if we don’t come together as a family and acknowledge just how shitty it feels, we could fall apart. And we need each other now more than ever.

The 7 Parents You Meet at Gymnastics

Listen, all parents need to bond with with one another Whether it’s over lack of sleep, love of wine, love of Living with Landyn… whatever. We just need to unite.

That being said, I’ve noticed that there are a few different categories of moms and dads that you meet when you take your kids to an extracurricular during the day (which likely means that they’re a stay-at-home-parent). I am always one of the types of parents below … sometimes I’m more than one at a time (and don’t kid yourself, you’re one too):

  • The tired parent: this person can’t wait to tell you how little sleep they got, regardless of whether or not they know you. Today, one woman told me about how she has 2 toddlers and was woken up by each twice last night. Another woman with a newborn shared that she doesn’t sleep more than 2 hours every night. It’s not a competition, it’s comradery.

Tired mom

  • The Chatty Cathy: this is the parent that clearly needs some adult interaction. Many days- THIS IS ME PEOPLE. Craving adult interaction is totally normal when you stay home with littles all day. This person will ask you which kid is yours and then immediately talk about how cute your kid is. Then, they’ll quickly move into where their kids go to preschool, how long they’ve been doing gymnastics… whatever they can get out in the 30 minute class.
  • The parent who JUST WANTS TO READ THE NEWS—I’ve also been this mom before. There is constantly noise in my house and I never get a minute to myself. Those 30 precious minutes of quiet, where my kids are being supervised by someone else, are so infrequent that we need to make the most of it. To this parent, this is the time to get in touch with the world. You get 30 minutes each week—live it up.Woman on Phone
  • The one who brings a friend: there is always a set of parents that come together and they talk nonstop to each other but to no one else. This actually isn’t me… I like the quiet too much to sign up for a kids activity with someone else (let’s get real: my kids are WAY too badly behaved for my friends to see them on a weekly basis).

Young Women Travel Together Concept

  • The one with the perfect child: this is the person who literally stands at the window for all 30 minutes and is hanging on the teacher’s every word. At the end of the class, they march up to the teacher and ask how their child is doing… this person wants Simone Biles as their child. This person tells their friends that their 3 year old can wipe his ass already… I can tell you right now: this is never me either. Also, neither of my toddlers wipe their own asses. Add that to my resume.
  • The one who’s child has NO interest in the class. My son, Oliver, literally laid down during his gymnastics class when he was 2. He gave 0 fucks. I took him out after the second class because I wasn’t about to pay for him to lay down for 30 minutes. I feel bad for the parents whose kids want to go to the bathroom every 7 minutes just to spice it up a little. THAT WAS ME until I put myself out of misery.

superhero kid.jpg

  • Finally, the grandparent. This is the angel that was sent to rescue the stay-at-home-mom or dad and take their child to gymnastics. Who knows if the parent works full time or actually gets an hour or so to themselves (or, more likely, with their other children!).

How To…. Create a Farmhouse Centerpiece Box

So I’ve been searching for a rustic centerpiece box for years now and couldn’t find the right one. They were too perfect or too rustic (as in, my children’s hands would bleed if they got too close!) and I had pretty much given up.

Then, randomly, I was in Hudson, WI and stumbled across an antique shop there that had the most incredibly unique gifts. They had amazing jewelry, furniture, trinkets, books and….. a CENTERPIECE BOX! I instantly fell in love… it was rustic and grainy without having splintering wood, and it was the perfect size! I immediately snatched it up and ran to Michael’s.

Here’s the thing: I am a plant person: I have an indoor herb garden (for a later post!) and half a dozen plants throughout my house; however, most plants that need zero light aren’t that pretty… and when you have a super rustic centerpiece box you want to make what is inside of it feminine and pretty (i.e. FLOWERS!). Having that “rustic glam” look is easy…. just make sure and mix the masculine with the feminine.

Centerpiece 1


Here’s a close up of the box after I decorated it. Of course, I can’t find the “before” picture and I’m not about to go back in there and reorganize it (I AM a mom of 3….) so here ya go.

I always keep stacks of Mason Jars on hand because I love the rustic feel they can give to anything! So, on my Michael’s trip, I grabbed plenty of filler (Moss Filler for the base of the box) and a lot of green florals. I also grabbed another jar of stone (filler) to anchor the plants. I put it all together in a way that balances out the colors and textures and I staggered the mason jars to give it some dimension…

Centerpiece 2


It should be symmetrical but not matching exactly. Don’t go too crazy with color because you want it to be simple and cohesive.

Voila! You’ve updated your farmhouse dining room table to rustic glam!


Centerpiece 3Dining Room


I had to post the last pic because Zelda photobombed…. THAT FACE!!!!!

And I Haven’t Looked Back…

I’ll never forget the look that one of my friends had when I told her I was resigning from a job I love. She said, “Stevie…. You could be throwing your career away. Is that what you really want?”

The answer, my friends, is of course not. My mom was diagnosed with Stage 3 Lung Cancer last year… after one round of chemo she was in remission! YAY!

And then it came back…. Fast. Stage 4. Due to a million other things happening in her lungs as well, she stopped seeking treatment because the chemo was putting her in the hospital and she was unable to enjoy the life she built for herself with her family… her kids and her grandkids.

My mom is the best person I’ve ever met. She constantly puts others before herself, never asking for too much. She’s truly a Minnesotan because she’ll never actually tell you when she’s disappointed. She’ll just keep inviting you until you say yes. My mom is also the strongest person I know… in the last 5 years that woman has been through hell and back and she came back with a smile on her face. The most important thing to her is family and her grandkids adore her.

When we found out the cancer was back, I thought I could do it all. I could be a great wife, mom, stepmom, daughter, and leader at work all at once. Unfortunately, something had to give. I was leading an incredible team that I loved and I couldn’t give them my all. I was missing doctors’ appointments with my mom and I was missing time with my kids. My mom has been living at my sister’s house and EVERYTHING fell on my sister’s shoulders because I was too busy. I don’t know how my sister did it for so many months.. I knew one thing though: something had to give.

I quickly realized that I couldn’t stop being a wife, mom, stepmom or daughter… I had to resign the job I love. The strangest part? I wasn’t sad at all! I still love the position I held and I love the team but I knew for a fact that it was the right call for my family. You can always return to your career when the timing is right… you can’t choose when to be there for your family.

What have I learned? At the end of the day, literally nothing matters besides family. And I mean that. Clothes, THINGS, eating out at restaurants, going to the movies, vacations…. All of the things that come from extra income: none of it matters. I’ve quickly learned that my love language is quality time spent with my family. I spend WAY more time with my kids and I’ve been able to spend WAY more time with my mom, my sister, and my nieces and nephews. I’ve learned that THIS is what matters.

And I haven’t looked back.

How to Potty Train a 3 Year Old…

Ready to potty train?


Here we go:

-Buy a poster board and sharpies and make sure to carefully draw the lines between each day of the week…. Your toddler will get pissed if your lines aren’t straight.

-Buy about 3,000 stickers because they come in packs of 500 and your toddler requires Star Wars, Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol AND Justice League. Obviously.

-Go pick out your toddler’s favorite underwear…. Just like the stickers, you’ll likely have to buy about 17 times as many pairs of underwear as you need… thanks, Target, for providing so many different types of Licensed underwear.

-Drive home and GET READY FOR FUN!


-Now: throw all that shit into the garbage because this weekend will be hell. Maybe make a quick stop at the liquor store though.


-Get out all 75 pairs of underwear because your toddler is going to pee JUST A LITTLE BIT IN EACH PAIR

-Your will and determination will be tested. It will make quitting smoking cigarettes seem like just a typical Tuesday with how many times you have to say, “This is worth it, this is worth it, this is worth it.”

-Your toddler will grow little horns on his head.

-And probably pee ON you at some point. Or 20 times. Either/Or.

-Your amazing partner who woke up Saturday morning with the same determination as you will either sink or swim, it’s every man for himself. He/She will either try and keep you in line reminding you that this is worth it or they’ll back out and go upstairs for some quiet time and leave you picking up the broken pieces of your family.

-Your two older kids will do literally everything possible to “try and help” but, in reality, will get in the way. They’ll complain that they aren’t getting M & M’s, that they don’t get stickers, that they aren’t getting attention….

-At some point, your toddler will go into a full on monologue (one that makes NO sense because, let’s face it, he’s 3) about how HE LOVES DIAPERS AND WANTS TO BE IN DIAPERS FOREVER. How on earth could you be so mean as to take diapers away from him??

And then…

-Finally… FINALLY: your toddler will pee for literally one second in the potty and you get so excited that he cuts the stream off and then pees on the floor 10 minutes later. And then you start over.

And then… he actually starts peeing in the potty. Consistently.

-After what seems like 19 straight days of full on potty training (when it’s actually been 3-4 full days), you’ll emerge from your house in victory. Sure…. He still wears pull ups for naps, bedtime, and some Sundays JUST BECAUSE HE ALWAYS WINS AND BABY GETS WHAT BABY WANTS…..

But: you’re free of diapers. Mostly. Until he starts wetting the bed because your oldest child shows him the movie IT when he’s only 5 and they hide a clown in his closet every night.

And they all lived Happily Ever After.

The End. You’re Welcome.