Archive for: My Life

Weeks 1-5 of Motherhood

Welcome to Monday – and the first #ManicMamaMonday post here on Everything in Particular.  I chose to add a weekly post about motherhood because as the last five weeks have showed me, motherhood is hard.  It’s a bit easier, though, when you have a community of other mothers who have gone before you on, or are going through with you, the journey of being a mom.  My first month of being a mom has had numerous ups and downs…it’s been a huge roller coaster ride.  What’s helped me is knowing that I am not alone, that what I’m feeling, good or bad, is normal, and that things will get better.  So, I’m here to share my experiences with you, in the hopes that I can help at least one other mom in her journey.

Reaghan Grace was born at 41 weeks, exactly, and boy, was I ready for her to be here.  I didn’t want to be pregnant anymore, but it was more that I was so ready to hold and kiss and love my baby girl.  Labor and birth were fairly uneventful, and we had ourselves a healthy baby girl.  She was {and is} beautiful – absolutely the cutest baby I’ve ever seen {and yes, I readily admit I’m likely quite biased}.  I was thrilled to hold her and kiss her.  Zach was by my side the whole time.  I was crying and smiling – he was smiling quietly – we were both amazed the thrilled.  Before long, it was time for Reaghan to be examined by the pediatrician and wrapped and brought back for her first meal.  Let me say, breastfeeding is hard.  It hurts, it’s challenging to get a good latch {who knew such a thing existed?}, and you’re always questioning how well it’s going.  Am I producing enough milk?  Is my baby getting all that s/he needs?  Why don’t I love this more?  It seems that all the moms we see in popular culture and the media love breastfeeding – and they make it look easy.  I’m here to tell you that it’s not easy.  My advice?  Get help.  Take the help offered at the hospital.  Go to any breastfeeding support group at your hospital or in your area.  Know that it does get better.  I don’t think I caught my stride and really ended up somewhat comfortable breastfeeding until some time after week 3 {and, I still don’t enjoy it – and that’s OKAY!}.  It wasn’t as painful and I was getting into some sort of rhythm with it.  My biggest piece of advice, though?  Do what’s best for you.  My OB told me {when I was in for an emotional evaluation in week 3 – more on that in a bit} that “no baby ever died from eating formula.”  In context, what she was saying was that it’s okay to feed formula if you need to.  Your baby will be okay and you aren’t doing anything wrong.  If you decide that breastfeeding isn’t for you, that’s okay, too.  Do what’s best for you and your family.

Another huge obstacle to motherhood?  Sleep deprivation.  That is likely the biggest problem faced by new mothers.  Let’s face it – it’s a form of torture for a reason.  Add in the swinging hormones and you’ve got yourself a recipe for emotional disaster.  I couldn’t sleep in the hospital – I was wired.  I wanted to know what was going on with my daughter.  I was uncomfortable and in pain.  I heard every noise and sound.  I closed my eyes, but didn’t sleep.  By the time we got home, I was exhausted.  Thank the Lord I had my mother and husband to help me.  I would not have made it had it been just me in the that first week or two.  I struggled at home.  I felt like I had to learn how to care for my daughter all by myself, without help, because that’s how it was going to be:  my mom would go home, my husband would go to work, and I would be home with the baby.  I hadn’t slept in three days and I hadn’t LET myself sleep in three days.  I was miserable.  Once my husband and mother held a minor intervention when I broke down in hysterical tears, I slept.  They were there to help.  Zach and I are a team.  I don’t always have to do it by myself.  And, right now, while there’s help, my goal needed to be as much on recovering and taking care of my basic needs so that I COULD care for my daughter the way she needed to be cared for.  One truth new moms need to hear:  YOU CANNOT CARE FOR YOUR BABY IF YOU DON’T TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.  Drink water, eat food, take a shower and rest whenever and however you can.  Sleeping when your baby sleeps, at least in the beginning, is a joke.  I’m calling it.  You are getting used to their baby noises, listening to their breathing and you’re so hyped up waiting for your baby to “do” something, that sleep does not come easily.  I get it.  But rest quietly if you can.

Another truth to new motherhood?  Nothing prepares you for the life change that is becoming a mother.  You can listen to other mothers, you can read stories, you’ll hear what doctors tell you…but, until you’re in it, there is no understanding it.  I had this picture in my mind:  I’d be tired, but I would take care of the baby, the house, myself, my husband, the chores, work part time, write this blog, run my equestrian business and explore other professional avenues.  Go ahead, you can laugh.  I do now.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  I probably had it in my mind that my daughter would come pre-programmed with a schedule.  She’d wake up, eat, have a diaper change, get some kisses and be held while I lulled her back to sleep.  Then, she’d sleep for an hour or two, during which time I could sleep, work, do chores, whatever.  Then, it would start all over again.  Guess what – that doesn’t exist.  Days and nights are messed up.  Your baby might sleep for 45 minutes or 3 hours.  You’re still working out this whole breastfeeding thing – and, it still hurts like you wouldn’t believe.  Babies cry and fuss and need comforting.  Sleep won’t come easily.  You’ll run into them at every sound they make, asleep or awake.  You’re too exhausted to walk downstairs and start a load of laundry.  Fitting in work is laughable.  I was overwhelmed and anxious and scared that I couldn’t be a mom, especially without help.  Never-mind being a wife and homemaker.  It was at this point that I lost it.  I cried.  I balled.  All these feelings and realizations weighed on me so heavily that I felt guilty and I really struggled.  Being a mother and at home was NOTHING like I thought it would be.  I felt detached from my child, this child I wanted so, so badly.  This child I waited for and carried for 41 weeks and couldn’t wait to hold.  Now, I couldn’t wait to lay her down and step away – preferably to find myself, or some part of my “old” self, to do something that I used to do {although I never had any idea of what that was}.  I felt like I didn’t know who I was anymore.  I missed being a wife – I felt like all I did was mother my daughter now.  And, I felt like there is more to me than being a mother.  All these feelings made me feel guilty.  Here I’ve been given this amazing gift of a beautiful, healthy daughter – a true answer to prayers – and I wasn’t sure that I was happy about it.  I missed my old self – wow the guilt.  I felt burdened.  I looked at Reaghan and didn’t feel that pull of mother-daughter, I didn’t feel that connection.  I wanted to feel it.  I wanted all the hard parts to be worth it because of my overwhelming love for my daughter.  I didn’t feel any of that.  And that brought the fear and the tears.  I asked myself, “Is this normal?  This can’t be normal.  Why do I feel this way?  What do I do?  Is this depression?  Anxiety?”  All I can say is thank goodness for a mother who said, “You will be okay, you are a good mom and it’s okay that you call the doctor and ask these questions and get help.  I’m here for you.”  Thank goodness for my husband who held me and said, “I love you.  We will take this one step at a time and figure out what we need to do.  It’s okay.  It’s not your fault.”  I had friends, moms and otherwise, who said they knew what I was feeling.  They told me they were there for me.  There wasn’t something wrong with me.  I had nothing to be ashamed of.  Family stepped up to help.  I called the doctor in tears, told them something didn’t feel right and asked for an appointment.  The OB said that everything – EVERYTHING – I was feeling was normal.  She said that given the extreme sleep-deprivation, the hormones going crazy, the toll pregnancy and birth took on my body and the significant life-change of having a baby, it’s no wonder things are wacky right now.  She said that they will get better.  She validated my need to prioritize my basic care.  She said that motherhood is hard, breastfeeding is hard, it’s all hard.  She said call in the ranks and get help.  Get as much sleep as I can.  She said eat as best I can, drink lots of water, feed formula if I need to, pump and bottle feed if I need to, let the baby sleep where she will {as long as she’s safe}.  She said this time is all about survival.  Worry about finding a schedule and routine in a few months.  Babies won’t have much of one for a while.  Do what you have to do to get through.  So, I offer her words of advice to you.  I immediately began to feel better.  Someone, who knew what they were talking about, told me everything I felt was normal.  She told me that I would begin to feel a bond with my daughter.  She said that my love for her will be overwhelming in it’s strength.  She validated my feeling of being burdened – she said babies ARE a burden.  She told me it would all be okay, it would get better.

Here’s the good news:  it has.  My weeks of feeling the baby blues are mostly behind me {it’s a process and feeling better doesn’t happen overnight}.  Don’t lose hope for yourself.  It’s hard, but it does get better.  Accept help and go easy on yourself.  Take this one day at a time.  Use whatever you need to get through each day.  Find a community of moms who can offer support and camaraderie {that community can be here}!  Remember, you are a good mom – you can do this!

Cheers,

Sharon

Happy New Year – 2017 is the Year!

Hello!  I cannot believe how many times I’ve started a new year and thought “This will be the year I actually stick with blogging consistently!”  However, I’m convinced that 2017 is finally that year!  2016 was a blessed year, full of so many life changes – the biggest being the birth of Zach’s and my baby girl, Reaghan Grace, which has finally brought me home full time.  While being a full time mom will be just that – full time – I can also put time towards keeping up with Everything in Particular – and I’m excited!

Something I’d like to introduce this year is #ManicMamaMonday – posts every Monday about my experiences and journey of being a new mom, with the idea that perhaps there are other moms out there who need to hear stories (and find support and encouragement in them), have a laugh or maybe even get some advice from my lessons learned (likely the hard way).  Reaghan is five weeks old today and let me tell you, it’s been quite the experience already – and it is not easy (it’s wonderful, but very hard).

I will also stay true to the original ideas of this blog – to share with you my passions in life, which happen to be numerous, and my experiences exploring them.  Everything in Particular is an odd mix of a homemaking, cooking/baking, crafting and travel blog, with doses of lifestyle and how-tos thrown in.  I anticipate that its identity will evolve a bit this year – and I look forward to that, especially with feedback from readers.  I am excited for the community I hope we build here and to learn about all of you, too – so never hesitate to leave a {respectful} comment, either here or on our Facebook page!  I’m looking forward to 2017 here in EIP!

{Stay tuned for the 1st (of many) #ManicMamaMonday post later today}

Cheers,

Sharon

Re-Introducing You to My Blog

Re-Introducing You to My Blog

It’s been a while. Life has certainly gotten the better of my time over the last year or so. Lots of changes, lots of new things happening. So much to share with you here on the blog.

I thought I’d start with a re-introduction…of myself and my blog. I’m Sharon. I’m a twenty-something living in beautiful Northern Colorado with my husband, Zach, and our Chocolate Lab, Duke (who, as I write this, is curled up in a very tight ball snoozing next to me on the couch). My Thoroughbred gelding, Irish, lives not far away on a peaceful farm. I love cooking, baking, crafting, decorating, traveling, reading, gardening, homemaking, health and fitness and I LOVE the holidays (all of them). I’ve also recently discovered the concept of more natural living and homemaking. Essential oils, make-your-own products using basic ingredients, eliminating chemicals and more. Thus, I decided to document my love of these things here, on Everything in Particular Blog

In the coming weeks and months, look for posts exploring all of these fun topics: trying new things, sharing my favorites, remodeling our house, natural living, holiday celebrations and so much more! And please, share your adventures, tips, failures and successes on the same. Looking forward to it!!!!!

Cheers,

Sharon

Why Mondays Get Such a Bad Rap

Who likes Mondays?  For those of you who have a job you love or are working towards something wonderful, Mondays may seem wonderful…but really, after a lovely weekend home with my hubby, Mondays just don’t compare.

On top of that, don’t all of the weirdest things happen on Mondays?  I mean, those kinds of things that would never happen on, say, a Thursday?  This morning was, in one word, a Monday…

…face washed, makeup on, teeth brushed, pinning up my hair (nothing fancy, mind you).  I had a bobby pin in my hands/teeth trying to pry it open and it snapped closed, popped out of my grasp, and landed in my coffee cup.  Yup.  Plopped right in there.  Yes, there was still coffee in it.  No, I didn’t fish it out.  Two inches in diameter and that little pin decided to land right there.  Impressive, right?  Nope.  Just a Monday.

Hope your Monday was as wonderful as mine….

Cheers,

Sharon

First Week of Wedded Bliss

It hardly seems an entire week has gone by since Zach and I walked down the aisle and said “I do” to forever together.  Despite there being little change to our daily lives, there is something inherently wonderful about being married and being a wife.  Something as simple as a smile is now different – it’s deeper and lingers longer (and makes me happier).  Spending time together has that much more meaning – it is truly sharing your life with your spouse and that is not something that can be compared.  Then, there’s being called “wife” – I’m telling you, that, I cannot hear enough (even when it’s in a teasing manner).

Tonight we “celebrated” our one-week “anniversary” by sitting outside and chatting while Duke hung out in the yard, getting into something or another, cooking a simple meal (spaghetti) and watching a movie we both have wanted to see (Trouble with the Curve).  It’s amazing to sit quietly and laugh with the one you love.  It’s even better when that someone is the person to whom you’ve committed to spend your life, and and it sure put a smile on my face.  The simple, everyday things that don’t cost a thing.  Talk about a perfect night and a wonderful first week of marriage.  Nothing crazy, or catastrophic or even anything out of the ordinary – and that’s why it was perfection.

As a side note, Trouble with the Curve was wonderful, we both liked it.  A little funny, a little sad and a wonderful ending.  Not to mention that I love Amy Adams and Clint Eastwood.  I’d call this a family movie and I recommend it 🙂

Cheers,

Sharon

Save the Dates and Invitations

Oddly, save-the-date cards and invitations were a more simple part of the wedding planning process (and one of the least expensive).  I had narrowed down a few options and then drafted Zach to help finalize our decision.  We chose something simple and a little bit rustic.

The challenge to the save-the-dates and invitations was narrowing down the details – time, including website details, ensuring address information was correct, etc.  However, needing these details forced us to make decisions, which was a good thing!  Having an idea of time and other specifics helps in moving forward with planning.

Once in, the fun part began.  Addressing and stuffing.  In the interest of saving time, I utilized labels.  Instead of paying for a calligrapher to do work that would end up being thrown away, I chose an easy-to-read, rustic font and typed up address labels (which can be printed twice – once for save the dates and a second time for the invitations).  It was simple and it cut down on the time needed for getting everything out the door.  (Bonus:  we bought everything from Invitations by Dawn and were fortunate enough to get a 25% discount)!  I was very happy with the final product – it was affordable, simple and the invitations were a reflection of us and our wedding.

I personalized slightly by choosing fun stamps that had a rustic, country feel.  They “spiffed up” our envelopes and added a bit of color.

If you’re planning a wedding (or any large event) – I truly suggest choosing simple invitations – they will be more affordable and easier to work with.  Try typing labels with a nice font and find a fun, colorful stamp to finish off your envelopes!  Good luck 🙂

Cheers,

Sharon

(Before) Photos of the Basement

As a brief side note, I am unsure as to why these photos are so grainy.  Apparently I’m not as savvy as I’d like to think…I’ll see what I can do about that in the future.

Without further ado, here are the pictures of our basement.  Two bedrooms, 3/4 bath, laundry area, rec room, and general storage.  I think the bathroom forgot to leave the 80’s when the rest of the world moved on…

As you can see, we have plenty of room – can’t wait for our friends and family to visit!!!  We have already started work on the remodel/updating upstairs – this house could single-handedly be a portfolio for Zach and I – there’s just that much work!!  But it’s a fun project and we’re loving it!!  More on our work on the house to come… 🙂

Cheers,

Sharon

The Guest List

First – we are 87 days and counting ’til our big day!!!

Okay, now that my excitement is out of the way for the morning, I can continue.  The next step in wedding planning was determining our guest list – that was a bit stressful.  My biggest concern was that we might forget someone…well, turns out, that just can’t be avoided.  You should just know now that you will forget to invite someone to your wedding.  Can’t be helped.  If you’re the one forgotten, don’t take it personally.  Seriously, you can spend a lot of time thinking about who you’re going to invite to your big day, and when the time comes to put it all on paper, every last name will rush out of your head and you’ll be stuck.  That being said, we somehow ended up with 300 people on the guest list.  Zach has a large family, thankfully, because I love family, and we knew we wanted to invite everyone.  So our wedding will be somewhat of a reunion, too – which essentially means, it’s going to be one big party.  I could not ask for anything better.  🙂

The good news is:  if you start organized, you’ll stay organized (in theory, anyway – I’ll let you know in a few months if my theory is true in practice, too).  Here’s my tip(s) for starting and staying organized when it comes to the guest list…3 words:

Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet.

I merged some cells, added some basic formulas, threw in a few column headings, added a title in a pretty font and Voila!  I have me all my guest info in one place!  I made columns for:  Person, # of Invites, Address, Save the Date Sent, Invite Sent, RSVP, Names Attending, Gift Notes, and Thank You Note(s) Sent.  In the Person column, I gave one line for every individual we intended to invite.  Then I merged the rows in the following column, # of Invites, for each family or group to which I was planning on sending an invite – and I put the number 1 in each merged cell.  At the bottom of the Invite column, I used the Auto Sum button to tally up the number of invites I need to order – it makes quick work of adding everything up, instead of counting by hand.  Next column, same as the previous, I merged each row for each family/group, and started compiling addresses.  In the next two columns, I simply put “yes” when I sent out the corresponding save-the-date and invite.  Since I sent out over 100 of each, I did so in batches and it was a good way for me to keep track of where I was at in the process.  (Side NOTE:  You can print this thing, mark it up as you work, then go back and make edits on the computer later, and reprint a clean copy…Repeat as necessary).  As I receive RSVPs, I’ve been putting in the number attending in the next column.  As with the Invite # column, I just totaled this guy at the bottom, using the auto-sum feature, and I now have a running tally of the number attending (again, super convenient).  Finally, in the Gift Notes column, I can keep track of who sent us what, when (I’d include a date received so that you can be prompt in your thank you note writing) – and then if I’ve sent a thank you note in the last column.

Talk about convenient.  This spreadsheet has it all, and keeps you organized, with all guest information in one easy place!

I’ve loved learning more about Zach’s extended family, and it makes my day every time we get another RSVP in the mail!!!

I cannot WAIT to see everyone in July 🙂

Cheers!

Sharon

(Before) Photos of the Main Level of Our New House

Here are the photos of the main level of our house.  Keep in mind, these are before – as in, waaaaaay before.  We have since pulled wallpaper, started patching and sanding the walls (which needed that, badly), all in preparation for paint (also badly needed).  We also have plans to refinish the floors – we will do that ourselves, as well.  Stay tuned for stories of our renovations and house work, as well as pictures of our basement!  🙂

Good Friday – the Best Friday of the Year

Today is Good Friday.  Not to be confused with Friday being good.  Good Friday.  Today is the day we remember Christ’s sacrifice on the cross to save us from our sins.  The Ultimate Sacrifice.  I remember growing up having this bulletin board in our laundry room.  Mom had about three pieces of paper pinned to it.  One was Attitude (the poem), one was an inspiring quote from a little picture card from Alaska Airlines, and the third was a photocopy of a cartoon.  That cartoon has resonated with me.  I believe that the comic strip was “Wizard of Id” – and it was about Good Friday.  Many, I think, struggle with the idea of Christ dying on the cross as something less than “good.”  This comic strip puts it all into perspective:

A:  I hate the term ‘Good Friday’

B:  Why?

A:  My Lord was hanged on a tree that day.

B:  If you were going to be hanged on that day, and He volunteered to take your place, how would you feel?

A:  Good.

B:  Have a nice day.

Says it all doesn’t it?  I get the chills and tear up every single time I see that comic and every time I think about the kind of love Christ and our Lord have for us…all of us.  It’s so perfect, so complete.  It makes my love for Him grow, too.  We cannot imagine, cannot wrap our minds around that kind of love, not really.  But we know it, we know it in faith, in our relationships with Him.  What hope it gives me.  We are saved.  And we are saved because we are loved.  That makes today a good day.

“Have a nice day”

Cheers,

Sharon

P.S.  Here is a link for this comic strip.  http://facultycommonsslo.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/good-friday-cartoon-bc.png