Musings From My Yoga Mat: Keeping Romance Alive

If you have an idea of what you want to do in your future, you must go at it with almost monastic obsession, be it music, the ballet or just a basic degree. You have to go at it single-mindedly and let nothing get in your way.

– Henry Rollins

Family portrait Fall 2018 taken by Barlow Girl Photography

I’m in a mood. It’s 9:00PM and both boys are asleep. I can hear David clicking away on his keyboard. It’s a blessing and a curse that he works from home. He can help out with the kids whenever I need, but usually it comes at the expense of our personal time in the evenings.

I go to my yoga mat and in the dim light of our living room, I begin to flow.

It’s basic. Just some deep breathing followed by cat cow and downward dog. The farthest I push my body is from plank to cobra back to down dog again. But it’s enough.

As I get lost in the comfort of motion, I allow my mind to wander and pause on thoughts as they flutter in and out. I start to feel relaxed, less tight, the release of pressure on my eyes that I didn’t realize was there until this moment. Once I reach a state of calm, I know my time on my yoga mat is enough.

Sometimes I’ll continue, just because it feels nice. But tonight, I stop. I sit. I absorb.

Life with two children is complex and much more detailed than I had imagined. I love both of my boys. I love my life with them. I love my husband and all that we have built, are building, together. But there is an edge… one no one tells you about or wants to really talk about…

Life with two kids requires vigilance. You must always be conscientious of emotions and situations beyond the immediate moment. Like when the kids are both in bed and you only have an hour or two before your own bedtime. How will you use those moments? Do you practice self-care? Spend time on your relationship with your partner? Work on a passion project? Call/see friends to catch up?

The balance between your free moments and burnout is always on the edge. If you focus too heavily on one area, the others falter, which in turn affects your ability to be OK. That’s why it’s so important to always be aware. And if you find yourself coming out of balance, knowing quickly how to correct it.

The other day I posted a video on my YouTube channel and a good friend of mine asked me “What do you do to take care of your relationship?” After I responded, it got me thinking about the history of me and my husband’s relationship. While we are good now, there was once a time where we weren’t…

I’m sure most parents can relate to the ice bath that is becoming a parent. There is no way to prepare for how much a tiny little human can alter your life. For us, we took for granted the ability to go somewhere, anywhere, on the spur of the moment. Once that was taken away from us, we began to drift out of balance. At one point, the worst point, we were spending all day apart (I was working full-time) and all night as well. After we’d put our son to bed, we’d either do solo activities – me reading, David playing video games – or we’d just watch T.V. together… not talking. We stopped going to bed at the same time as each other too.

For a long time we thought we were fine. Until one night we realized we weren’t. Busyness has a remarkable way of masking issues you don’t want to deal with. Luckily, we were able to figure it all out. But it was hard and taught us the valuable lesson of keeping balance. We both need time alone, but we also consciously have to make time for us too. It’s not romantic, but it’s what keeps the romance alive.

Now that we are the seasoned parents of two little babes, we are somewhat better at catching ourselves before we get to a dark place. I’ll go to my yoga mat, work out my issues, and patiently wait until David does the same. Then, no matter how busy, we come back together again, even if it’s just for 5 minutes. And now we ALWAYS make it a point to go to bed together.

We have an idea of what we want our life to be like, so we focus on the things that are important to us – our children, our self-care, our marriage – and we let nothing get in the way of that.

Ethan’s 10 Month Update

Ethan is 10 months old!!

Gosh.

I read a great quote the other day about the passage of time. How for adults, we seem to blink and a whole year has passed. But for children the concept is quite literally, unbelievable. It went something like this…

“For children, childhood is timeless. It is always the present. Everything is in the present tense. Of course, they have memories. Of course, time shifts a little for them and Christmas comes round in the end. But they don’t feel it. Today is what they feel, and when they say ‘When I grow up,’ there is always an edge of disbelief—how could they ever be other than what they are?”
― Ian McEwan, The Child in Time

I feel like this sentiment is so true, especially in our family. Ezra will often say things like, “when I grow up I’ll sleep in a big boy bed and when you are a little girl again you’ll sleep here [his crib].”

Laughter is always my first response, but I also find myself reflecting on how simple his perception of life is. How might I adopt some of those same practices in my own? Maybe I’d feel less stress, or less pressure to try and “be perfect” all of the time.

But I digress.

Today’s post is all about Ethan! And the fact that he has had 10 wonderful months of life on this Earth.

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Some milestones include:

  • He’s 23 lbs!!
  • Loves to speed crawl.
  • He pulls up on furniture and cruises around the edges
  • Drinks 6 oz four times a day and eats solids 2 times a day
  • Sleeps through the night again (praise Jesus!)
  • Loves to talk (a.k.a. yell at us)

And so much more.

I’ll be honest, it’s getting harder to write/make these posts. He’s essentially doing the same things he was doing when he turned 8 months old. Only, he does each of those things better than he was before. So a lot really is changing, but on a surface level isn’t. Does that make sense?

But I will continue on. I know I’ll look back on these posts in the future and be so happy to have captured our family’s life, for all of us to reflect on and enjoy.

If you’re curious to see E’s newfound skills in action, check out my latest update on YouTube. It’s something I’ve gotten really into lately and would love to share bits of my life with you there, in addition to the posts on the blog.

I hope you’re all having a wonderful day! xoxo Kristin

Are you done having kids? + 10 Ways to tell if you are.

Are you done having kids?
Me, 5 months pregnant with Ezra. Photo taken by Elisabel Balderrama

I have a coworker who swears up and down, “she’ll never have children.” I admire that confidence. I’m jealous of it, even. The ability to know so deeply and surely what you want is a gift. It’s something I’ve struggled with my whole life.

Usually an inability to decide, “do I want a latte or black coffee?” isn’t too problematic (just one of my daily conundrums). It’s when the indecision is over major life choices – such as having a baby – that things get icky.

For me the question of having children was one that I was certain of in my early 20’s (a resounding hell no) and then flipped in my late 20’s (a frantic I need a baby NOW). When I decided I did want children, it was a no holds bar sprint to try and conceive that was only fueled by my fertility issues. The trend only continued after the birth of my first son. Once he turned one year old, I was already gearing up for baby number two.

However, after Ethan’s birth I was pretty certain I was done. The sleepless nights, breastfeeding, self-care, cleaning, and baby colds were much harder to endure the second time around. I even went so far as to pack up all of the baby clothes, toys, and various infant related products as Ethan grew out of them, with the intention to sell or give away… for good.

But then something happened. People started posting on Facebook they were expecting in April (weird how EVERYONE seems to get pregnant around the same time on social media…) and I started to feel that old familiar pang. You know, the one where you long to hold that little newborn, be in a nesting phase, and just soak up all of those precious early moments.

I know for certain I don’t want to be pregnant right now. Ethan is only 9 months afterall and still very much my tiny baby. But do I want to be done, I mean done done, for good?

When in doubt I always turn to Google for answers, so here is what I found… 10 ways to know you are done having kids. I answered the questions, but I feel like I may be more confused than ever…

10 Ways to Know You are Done Having Kids

Are you done having kids?
Ezra’s first pair of shoes. Photo taken by Elisabel Balderrama
  1. You conveniently forgot how hard it is:Nope. I still very much remember and do not look forward to how hard motherhood is in pregnancy and the first few months of life.
  2. You can’t part with all the cute stuff:
    True. You got me there. It’s all packed up, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of it… yet.
  3. You keep asking…:
    I do. I bring it up with my husband every few days actually… “so are we done having kids? I mean really done?”
  4. You just know:
    I don’t just know. That’s why I keep asking and googling.
  5. You keep the name in a vault:
    Eleanor Francine…
  6. You want to help the economy:
    Quite the opposite actually. I want to protect the environment. Kids are not very eco-friendly unless your cloth diapering game is strong.
  7. You want to bottle it:
    When I hold a baby, even my baby, I do tend to linger more now, wishing I could freeze the moment in time.
  8. You’re perusing the pet stroller aisle:
    That’s just a weird thing to say… but I get it. I peruse the actual baby stroller aisle… because I might want another baby.
  9. Lego my Lego?
    This question refers to stepping on your children’s toys. If you curse and can’t wait for the day you can get rid of all the tiny little toys, you’re probably done. If not, you may still want another. I fall into the latter camp.
  10. You’re babysitting a tad too much:
    I don’t babysit, because I still have my hands full with my own tiny humans. So I’m not sure how to gauge this one… what I do know is, I don’t miss being pregnant or having a cesarean (who would miss surgery?) but I do feel a pull towards the aftermath… the little baby that you get to hold and love and watch grow…

So who knows. Maybe I’m not done. Maybe I am. The jury is still out. What about you? Are you done having kids? No matter the answer (which I’d still love to know in the comments below) how did you know?

Banish the guilt

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What do you feel most guilty about? I’m not talking about lies, or stealing, or anything heavy like that. I’m referring more to unfinished projects, abandoned goals, or ideas you never entertained.

What is something you thought about doing, wanted to do, but never followed through with?

There’s a whole host of scenarios like that for me: running a half marathon, getting my yoga teacher’s certificate, finishing my graduate degree, traveling more… just to give you a sense.

Today the weight of un-pursued goals is heavy. I’m a “grab life by the reins” type of gal, but lately I’ve been feeling somewhat stagnant. I have a wonderful job, a busy family, and a YouTube channel I just started. But those are routine activities. I sometimes crave change.

Lately, I’ve been combating this feeling by waking up earlier – 5:30 AM to be exact – which sounds like a strange way to implement change. How is adding another component to an otherwise static routine a way to “shake things up”? Let me tell you.

When I wake up at 5:30 AM, it’s before my children are awake. This gives me a solid hour to hour and a half to myself. I’m able to do things like:

  • go for a run – so that maybe one day I can run that half marathon
  • practice yoga – so I can get in shape to pursue my certification
  • study for the GRE – so I can go back to school one day
  • research far away places – so that once our debt is paid off, I know where we can go

Today, I chose to write a blog post about wanting to create this new habit. Because I needed the motivation. Because waking up at 5:30 AM is hard, but being discontented with your life is harder. And I wondered if anyone else out there ever feels this way too. And if you do, what do you do to get out of a rut, try new things, or banish the guilt?

Let me know below.

And I hope you are off to having a great day ❤ xoxo Kristin

How Well Do You Know Your Spouse?

Do you remember the game M.A.S.H.? It was all the rave among 8 year old girls in the 90’s. I used to have a spiral filled with all the different versions of my future life, dreamed up in the wee hours of sleepovers, during periods of class (when I wasn’t paying attention), and on the playground at recess. My favorite version I can remember was:

I’m going to marry Jonathan Taylor Thomas, live in a shack with $1, and be blissfully happy with 5 kids. We’ll be poor, but it’s OK because JTT is cute.

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My 8 year old heart be still

In case you aren’t familiar, the acronym MASH stands for Mansion, Apartment, Shack, or House. There were also offshoot categories such as Wealthy, Rich, or Poor; How much money will you make? And my favorite, Who will you marry? (always JTT).

The thrill of the game wasn’t that you really cared about your future life predictions. The real drive to play was so you could compare your answers with your friends and see the similarities, differences, or creative answers other people came up with. Today I’d like to revisit this childhood game… but the 30 year old, I’m going to play with my husband because I’m too old for sleepovers version. It’s called: The Husband and Wife Tag.

If you aren’t familiar with the concept, it’s essentially a game where husband and wife (or partners) go back and forth asking a specific set of questions to gauge their spouse’s response. There are a lot of different “Tag” questions floating around the web, so my husband and I just used the first set to pop up on a Google search.

We didn’t read through them beforehand (I think it’s more fun to be put on the spot) and decided to record it as a way to look back and remember the little details about our relationship as we get older.

If you decide to play the game and see how well you know your spouse, leave a comment down below (or on the video) and let me know how it went and which questions you used!

As always, I hope you are having a wonderful day. xoxo Kristin

How I Balance It All as a Working Mom of Two Young Children [video]

First off, let me just say that I feel *immensely* blessed to be able to work. The extra money is nice and it helps that I actually LOVE what I do (I work in development for a nonprofit, in case you didn’t know). But even with this realization, life can still get overwhelming if I let it.

In today’s post/video, I talk about what my schedule looks like, how we do childcare, and how we balance our routines to make it all work. Oh, and in case you ever wondered what the heck a Nature School is (it’s the type of preschool my son goes to) I explain that also.

As always, I hope you are having an amazing week!

Cruelty Free Brands Worth The Hype

I’m sharing this post today in case anyone else out there (who isn’t already following Sophie Harris!) was curious about good quality cruelty-free makeup/skincare brands. I personally use Pacifica and LOVE their products. On my list to try is e.l.f. – I had no idea they were cruelty-free!

What about you? What are some of your favorite eco-animal-friendly brands?

Ethan’s 8 and 9 Month Baby Update [video]

If you watched my last video, then you are already aware that I started a new job. Because of this transition, I took a month off from blogging, vlogging, and social media in general. Now that I have more of a grasp on my schedule, I’m ready to get back into the swing of things!

I’ve set a pretty ambitious goal for myself – consistency is something I struggle with if you haven’t already noticed – but I’m determined to capture as much of Ethan’s first year of life as possible. So even though it’s not ideal, here is a video covering Ethan’s 8 AND 9 month update.

As always, I hope you are having a lovely week. xoxo Kristin

Fall Favorites: Pumpkin Spiced Banana Bread

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Hello Friends. For the month of October I will be featuring a favorite food related recipe, place to eat, or cookbook every Tuesday. If you have any suggestions on what you’d like to read or a recipe you’d like to share on my site, please drop me a message and let me know!

At the ripe age of three, my father introduced me to the world of baking and cooking. It started off with simple recipes – scrambled eggs, cinnamon sugar toast, sun tea – then evolved into more “complex recipes” like macaroni and cheese (the Kraft version), cornbread, and my all-time favorite: banana bread.

My Dad’s recipe, our recipe, is one I’ve been making for the past 27 years. In the beginning, my only contribution was licking the spoon. Around the age of four I was upgraded to “mixer” and by the time I was five I cracked the eggs, sifted the flour, and poured the batter into the prepared pan. With all the practice I’ve had since then, I know the recipe by heart and have tried several variations… none comparing to the original.

The whole baking process symbolizes so much more to me than “just making a dessert.” When I’m stressed or missing my Dad (who now has dementia) I always go to the kitchen, to this exact recipe. There is a comfort in knowing the ingredients and quantities like the back of my hand. I don’t even set a timer most times. I just know when it’s done by the heat of the kitchen, the smell of the bread.

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My Dad loves his banana bread with pecans. So I’ve always made it that way, never walnuts. If we were ever feeling naughty, we’d add some chocolate chips and eat it while sipping hot cocoa with marshmallows.

The past few years have been hard. My Dad was diagnosed with dementia shortly after my wedding and doesn’t always recall that my children are not newborns, or that I don’t live where I used to, or that I called three minutes ago. Some days are good. Some are great. Others are just hard.

It’s on these hard days, where he’s fallen and doesn’t remember how or why or who he’s talking to, that I run to my kitchen. I grab the ingredients from my pantry in a system I’ve had since I can remember and I assemble them into a bowl in a way that I know by heart. This kind of automation is therapeutic – to not have to wonder if I need to shop for the ingredients (they are always on hand in my home), or constantly reference a recipe, or check the oven multiple times to see if it’s ready – it allows me to escape, to go back to that place when I was a little girl, standing on a stool in the kitchen, next to her daddy, baking banana bread, and feeling all the love.

Now that my oldest son is three, we’ve begun our own tradition of baking and cooking together. I’ve kept the same recipe, which my son lovingly refers to as “PaPa Bread,” and we make it for my Dad whenever we go out to visit him. But yesterday, my son wanted to add something new. He wanted it to be pumpkin spiced like the muffins at Starbucks. So I obliged and it turned out magical. I will always make the original recipe when I’m alone or in times of hardship, but this new version is one that I can uniquely share with my own son. I’d like to imagine he’ll revere our time baking together the way I do about me and my dad. But even if he doesn’t, it’s another fond connection to this delicious bread I can carry with me always.

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The Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 5 over-ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).
  2. Grease a 9×5 in loaf pan, set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine mashed bananas, eggs, sugar, melted butter, and vanilla.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet ones and then stir until just combined.
  6. Fold in half a cup of chopped pecans.
  7. Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour (depends on your altitude and oven brand)
  8. Bread is ready when golden brown on top and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

 

Life Update: Going Back to Work? [video]

I’ve posted a couple of times this past month, but nothing consistent (big surprise). This time however, it’s not because I’ve gotten complacent, questioned my involvement with social media, or just plain forgot… the video below will explain more.

I hope you all are having a wonderful week and I *promise* there is going to be a steady stream of content flowing your way over the holidays! xoxo Kristin