Realities Of The Third Trimester

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I’m in the middle of the third trimester. Since this is the last time I plan to be pregnant, I wanted to take a few minutes and document what reality is like right now. I experienced these things with my other pregnancies, but it’s amazing how quickly you forget about them after meeting your sweet baby.

I’m considering this a list of reminders to read in the future when my friends and family members are in their third trimesters, so I can empathize with them and cheer them on to the finish line.

Realities Of The Third Trimester

-Most anything you do makes you feel like a turtle who is stuck on its back. Especially getting in and out of bed. Rolling over definitely includes counting to three, usually with a few grunts to get you from A to B.

-Even though you feel HUGE, it’s amazing how many times you forget just how big you are. You frequently send your big belly crashing into the spots you used to fit through, and then have to awkwardly back up and try an alternative route.

-You chow down a few Tums for your nightly bedtime snack.

-When you go to a restaurant, you’re sure to request a seat at a table, for fear of getting your belly stuck in a booth.

-You spend a good chunk of each evening sitting on the couch trying to guess which tiny baby part is protruding out of your stomach.

-Your body pillow has replaced your husband, along with the barricade of other pillows you request him to wedge between parts your body.

-You go from hungry to starving in about 2.5 seconds, but when you eat, it only takes about 2.5 bites to fill your shrunken stomach.

-You might as well drink water or anything else while seated on the toilet, because you’ll be there five minutes later anyway.

-You’ve had to recruit your husband to help you shave your bikini line and paint your toe nails.

-Your baby bump not only serves as a built in shelf, but also a catch-all and is constantly full of crumbs or spills.

-You have CRAZY dreams. About childbirth. About your husband. About the bagel shop that you just have to visit the following morning.

-You sort of dread laughing, coughing, or sneezing for fear of “having an accident.”

-When at all possible, you live in yoga pants or your husband’s gym shorts. Elastic is your best friend.

-You are hormonal. And emotional. And your poor husband deserves an award for putting up with you.

-Your baby is resting on your sciatic nerve, sending a shooting pain down your thigh. By the end of the day you are hobbling around and dragging your leg behind you like dead weight.

-You’ve become a huge fan of drive-thrus, and wish every store had pregnant lady parking. You contemplate begging your doctor for a handicapped parking permit.

-You’re dreaming of a day when you can feel your abs again. The closest thing you’ll have for a while are Braxton Hicks.

-You need to adjust the steering wheel in the car in order to fit behind it.

-You have become a professional squatter who can pick up almost anything with your toes. Bending over is out of the question.

-You get out of breath walking from your car into the house and get completely winded after going up a flight of stairs.

-You can almost taste your favorite wine, and are counting down the days until you can pour yourself a big glass.

-You find yourself thinking about all the unknowns of labor and delivery. It’s scary to have no idea what to expect. It’s one of your first realizations that this whole parenthood thing will have so many elements that are out of your control.

A Few Additional Third Trimester Realities For Expectant Moms Who Also Have Other Kids

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-Every time you help your kids get dressed, you plop on the floor and then need help getting back up.

-Toys remain on the floor until daddy gets home who can pick up them up in half the time you can at this point.

-There are plenty of nights when you deem bath time completely unnecessary because why torture yourself and bend over the tub? The kids aren’t that dirty.

-You miss the days of being pregnant with your first when you could get home from work and take a nap whenever you wanted.

-Getting your toddlers in and out of their cribs is a full body workout.

-You’re confident that changing the diapers of your squirmy tot must be equivalent to wrangling an alligator. You deserve major props (or an extra scoop of ice cream) for doing it a million times a day.

Even though you seriously wonder if your body is capable of expanding any more and you’ve already started Googling home remedies to induce labor, in your heart you know this is temporary, and it will be TOTALLY worth every uncomfortable moment. 

You consider yourself blessed beyond measure that your body gets to be used to form your little miracle.

To those of you nearing the end, hang in there. YOU CAN DO IT!

XOXO,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@amberkuiper) and on Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).

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Are We There Yet?

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetOur two-year-old is at that age where he absorbs every conversation my husband and I have. Last Sunday we were talking about this upcoming weekend, and how we’d be going to my parent’s house on the way to visit my brother and sister-in-law. He must have listened to every bit of the convo, because on Monday morning the first thing that came out of his mouth was, “Nana and Papa’s house?” I then had to explain to him that he was right that we’d be going there, but it wouldn’t be until later in the week.

It isn’t easy explaining time to a toddler. The best I could do was tell him we had three sleeps until we’d go there, but I’m not sure it was too effective because every time we got in the car he’d say, “Papa’s house!” and talk about the tractor ride he wanted to go on. Every time I had to reassure him that we were going, but not quite yet.

After a long three days of waiting, Thursday morning finally came. He jumped up out of bed, started taking his jammies off, and ran to his dresser to get his clothes on so we could go. Then he ran down the stairs and found his shoes. Then the poor guy waited so patiently while I got his sisters up and dressed.

We got in the car and I was SO relieved to tell him that we WERE now going to Papa’s house! We hit the road and every five minutes I’d hear his sweet little voice say, “Papa’s house?” Over and over I excitedly told him “Yes! We’re on the way to Papa’s house!” I thought he would surely stop asking after a little while, but I kid you not, three hours into our ride he was still asking me every 5 – 10 minutes if we were going to Papa’s farm. It was adorable how he wanted reassurance that we were still headed in the right direction. I didn’t even get annoyed because each ask was so innocent and sincere.

After four hours, we turned onto the ever familiar bumpy Iowa gravel road, and as we peaked over the top of the hill and could see the farm, his eyes lit up. This is the picture I captured, with pure joy in his eyes that his wait was completely worth it. It was such a treat to be the one who got to see how happy he was.

When I thought about our little adventure, I thought about how we too have seasons of life when we act like my little guy did. We go through times of waiting when we wonder how much longer it’ll be until we get to experience something we hope to, whether it’s a job, marriage, kids, more kids, healing, financial stability, deep friendships, ect. We know that the Lord is faithful and that we can completely trust Him, but at the same time we aren’t able to understand the concept of “His timing.”

As patient as we try to be and want to be, our human nature can’t help but wonder if we’re still going in the right direction, if we’re still on the right path, if we’re actually going to get to a place we hope to be.

For those of you who are in that place right now, wondering when it’s going to be your time to “go” to the next step in life, I want to affirm you and remind you to keep giving your cares and anxieties and questions to the Lord. He wants you to continue to give it all to Him, and He doesn’t get annoyed when you approach Him time and time again with a sincere heart. He wants your honesty. He wants to know how you’re really feeling about it. He’s the only one who can give you the peace and contentment while you wait. Each time you ask, He’ll reassure you that He has it under control.

He wants the best for you, and has great plans for you. He’ll be with you every step of the way.

Keep persevering, friend. Keep praying. Keep trusting and hoping and running to our Heavenly Father. He promises JOY and HOPE!

XOXO,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@amberkuiper) and on Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).

 

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Moms: Let’s Be Teammates, Not Competitors

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAs a mom, I’m constantly discovering the things that make my kids unique. I’m discovering what makes them smile, what makes them sad, what activities they’re naturally drawn to, how they’re affected by the social situations around them, and what their strengths are, to name a few. I love getting to know them more and more each day. I love having the chance to bond with them and learn about what makes them tick. It’s fascinating how each of my kids often need me to respond differently based on the situation and their personality. I consider it an honor that I get to be one of the few people in their lives who knows how to love them the best.

Maybe that’s what I love about motherhood the most. I love that we have been given our specific kids because WE are what they need. We weren’t given them by accident, but rather were chosen for them because we too were made uniquely special, with a specific skill set and strengths that make us the best possible mom for our children.

Sometimes, though, it’s easy to forget that. Sometimes, it’s easier to compare ourselves with other moms. In a world where so many snippets of our lives are canvassed over social media, it can be easy to look at how other moms are doing it, how they always seem to have it all together, how their kids are always dressed in the high end clothes, how they are always well behaved, how they could qualify for preschool at age 2, how they were walking and talking and potty trained years before ours, and how life just seems to come so easy for them.

Sometimes, it’s easy for our mom insecurities to get the best of us. 

However, we are capable of so much more, and quite honestly, our kids deserve for us to change our perspective. I think it’s time that we stop focusing on what we aren’t doing well enough, or aren’t gifted in, and use that energy instead to do two things.

First, we need to recognize the things that make us awesome moms. We need to take an inventory of the things we do well, the things that come naturally to us. We need to give ourselves more credit, and use our God given strengths to develop and love our kids in a way that no one else can. We need to be confident.

Second, instead of feeling inferior to other moms when we realize they have different strengths than us, wouldn’t it be empowering if instead we took the time to acknowledge and affirm them? And then what if we took it a step further and were willing to humble ourselves and even learn from each other, so that we can constantly be refining our mom skills? What if we took the opportunity to grow from one another’s experiences, and made motherhood a collective effort?

We don’t need to walk through mom life alone, hoping we’re doing it “good enough”. You are a GREAT mom, and so is that mom you follow on Instagram who seems like she always has things under control. We’re all great in our own way. We’ve just been given different strengths.

I personally love social media and the online community. Having lots of little kids who are still on nap schedules and have early bedtimes, it’s been an amazing way for me to connect with other moms while I’m stuck at home during these early years that can oftentimes feel isolating.

I do think though, that as moms we have the ability to continue to make Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and all the other social media communities a bit more “community like” instead of logging in only to feel subpar and more isolated.

So, I’d like to propose a little challenge to you that I’m calling “Affirm A Mom.” Whether you’re a mom yourself or not, we all have people who come to mind when we think of women who are “great moms”. Maybe it’s your own mom, maybe it’s a friend of yours, maybe it’s your cousin, or aunt, or sister, or maybe it’s the woman who you’ve followed on Facebook for a while who’s always intimidated you. Whoever those people are, will you do something that possibly feels uncomfortable? Will you take the time to affirm them and encourage them and tell them that they’re people you respect? Will you point out their strengths?

Like me, maybe you’re not a “born teacher” so you’re in awe of moms who are always coming up with ways to creatively teach their children. Tell them how awesome they are! Maybe you love how your friend has the amazing ability to keep her house organized amongst the chaos. Maybe you love how your sister has supernatural patience. Whatever it is, let’s take the time to affirm each other and call out our strengths!

It’s up to you whether you’d like to do it publicly or privately. If you choose to do a shout out on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, I’d love for all of us to use this hashtag: #affirmamom

I think it’d be so neat to click on that hashtag and be encouraged by all the ways we are the best moms possible for our kids.

YOU are beautiful and talented, and deserve to feel like it!

XOXO,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@amberkuiper) and on Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).

 

 

 

 

 

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For The Mom Who Wonders If Anyone “Gets It”

Processed with VSCOcam with b1 presetI’m guessing we’ve each had moments behind the closed doors of our homes when we wonder if our experience of motherhood resembles anyone else’s on the planet. On one hand, we know that women have been raising children since the beginning of time and surely someone has walked in our shoes. But on the other hand, there are so many things that are completely unique to us and our family, and it can leave us feeling alone.

When I became a mom for the first time, I remember feeling like I had entered the secret mom club, like all of the sudden I could see things in a light that only moms could see. All at once I had a brand new appreciation for my own mom, and there were things I never could have understood until having a child of my own. The emotions were intense, and things that never crossed my mind before were now all I could think about.

Being a first time mom is full of all kinds of humbling thoughts and questions. In a way it feels like you’re a freshman in high school again, awkwardly walking with your lunch tray through the cafeteria, trying so hard to act cool and fit in, like you totally know what you’re doing, but in reality you feel like such a rookie as you fumble to figure out how to get the car seat in and out of the car or how to keep the baby latched on during the first few attempts at breastfeeding. Your friends who don’t have kids yet come to visit and overnight you feel like you’ve drifted lightyears apart. You accept their warm hugs and congratulations, but can’t help but think about the fact that they have not a clue what you’re going through. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just the reality. You have experienced something they haven’t. Perhaps this is the first time you feel like “no one gets it.”

Time goes on and your life continues to go down its own path. You realize with each passing day that every person around you has a very different story. It’s not as simple as everyone going to college, getting married, and starting their own families. Age no longer dictates what stage of life you’re in. Some friends are single, some are dating, some married, some in school, and some are with you in the parenthood club.

Even then though, it’s not accurate to make an overgeneralization and categorize every person who has kids by throwing them into the same basket. There are just so many factors that make each of our journeys in parenthood unlike anyone else’s.

Some of us have our kids spaced several years apart. Others of us have baby making factories that never seems to stop. Yet others of us have struggled with infertility and want so badly to add to our families. Some of us are stay-at-home moms, others of us work. Some of us are married, some single. Some in blended families. Some of us have plenty of money, others of us are struggling to make ends meet. Some of us keep our kids on a schedule, others of us prefer a go with the flow approach. Some of us have family who live close by or help often, others of us are doing most of the work on our own. Some of us have strong-willed children, while others of us only need to glance in our kids’ direction for them to respect our authority. Some of us have healthy children, while others of us have spent way too much time at doctors appointments and therapy sessions.

The point is, no matter how you look at it, your story is YOUR STORY and no one else’s. So friend, I get that there are moments when you feel like no one gets it. It’s because they don’t. They might think they know what it’s like to walk in your shoes, but the truth is you are on the only one who knows what life is like behind your closed doors.

I know it can be overwhelming when you feel like your circumstances don’t make it as easy to do things your friends do, or accomplish what they seem to in a day. I know it’s frustrating when you just want someone to understand the work it takes to simply get the breakfast dishes cleaned up, or the sacrifice it takes to attend something that’s past the kids’ bedtime or how funny it was when your two year old sat on the potty and told you, “Mommy, my pee is stuck!” I know what it’s like to feel judged or questioned about the way you choose to do things. I know how it feels when you just want a certain person to “get it” even though you know there’s no way they possibly can.

I want to take a minute and give you credit for doing what you do. I may not see the selfless things you do day in and day out. I may not really know what you’re going through, and I don’t want to pretend to. But I do know that you are working hard, doing all you can do make your story beautiful. I know that you are the only one who knows what works best for your family. I know that you love your kids with all your heart and being their mom is one of your proudest accomplishments. I know you are choosing joy day after day and for that I admire you.

Despite our differences and ever changing circumstances, I want to acknowledge that we’re on the same team.

Let’s take the time to want to understand one another. Let’s take the time to look beyond our situations, and acknowledge someone else’s. Let’s go beyond surface level conversations and ask one another how we’re really doing. Let’s stop pretending we have it all together, acting like we’re super mom, and pursue conversations where we celebrate the real struggles and victories that make life meaningful. Let’s listen to each other’s hearts without thinking we have all the answers. Let’s try to “get it.”

Let’s rejoice when we find others who are walking similar paths, but let’s not leave people out who are in a completely different stage, because they love us the same.

It’s true that each of our stories are different, but that doesn’t mean we have to go it alone.

XOXO,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@amberkuiper) and on Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).

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Virtual Blog Tour

Happy Monday! I’m popping in with a short post today, to share a little bit about why I blog and how I go about it.

A couple weeks ago I was invited on a “virtual blog tour” by Renee who writes at Fit For Motherhood. I’ve gotten to know Renee through blogging, and love reading her posts and perspective, especially since we have a lot in common, as I’m about to join her in the “mom of four” club. She has FOUR girls, including a set of twins, and I’ve been so thankful to look up to her in her journey as she’s a stage ahead of me.

Renee

Here’s a little bit more about her:

“Renee is a wife and mom to four little girls, including a set of one year old twins. To say her life is busy is an understatement, but staying fit and healthy is important. She loves to inspire other moms to take care of themselves through healthy living. Being a mom is not easy, so taking the time to take care of yourself is a must. She encourages people to live a balanced lifestyle; everything in moderation. Renee loves to talk about all things family, fitness, food, and more; her girls are her top priority. Join her on her wild adventure through motherhood and life in general, all while trying to be fit and healthy; most of the time. She loves new recipes, trying different types of exercise, and enjoying her family.”

In addition to getting introduced to a couple new bloggers, the purpose of this blog tour is to share a little bit about why we blog and what goes through our minds when we do it. With that in mind, here are the questions I was asked to answer:

What am I working on? 

Right now I’m in the process of giving my blog a face lift! I’ve never really spent much time into making it “pretty” or user friendly, so that’s my mission! I want it to be a place where you can easily click around and find what you’re looking for, and a place where you are greeted with a little bit of beauty when you have a few minutes to get out of your own chaos.

How does my work differ from others in its genre? 

Good question. There are obviously thousands of mom bloggers out there. I guess what makes my work unique is that I like to think that no matter how much we have in common, God gives each of us a unique story to share, so that we can declare His glory and through the ups and downs, we can remember that we’re all in this together. You won’t find perfection here, but rather a place to relate to one another in our not perfect but beautiful journeys.

Why do I write what I do? 

I write because I have a heart for moms. Since becoming one, I’ve learned that much of what we do is done behind closed doors, and it’s easy to feel isolated in it. My hope is that by sharing real life moments I can remind every mom reading that we are in this journey together, that each of us has our own battles and victories, and that we aren’t expected to be perfect. Motherhood isn’t about sharing perfect pictures and our kids always being the most well-behaved or over-achieving. It’s about loving our kids with the love of Christ so they can grow to be world changers! When moms are filled up and encouraged, I believe we have the power to be the best moms we can be to our littles! And so I’ll keep writing!

How does my writing process work?

In a perfect world, I’d schedule my blog posts and have them done weeks in advance. However, life isn’t perfect, and I haven’t been dealt much extra time. I suppose in a way it technically makes me a “bad blogger” but I like to think it leaves room for the Holy Spirit to direct me and lay upon my heart what he wants me to share. When I feel like the Lord is laying something on my heart, I’ll make a note of it in my phone. I have a running list of topics, and then when I have time to write, I pray about which one to choose and start typing away. It’s always amazing how God uses my most vulnerable moments and posts to connect with other moms. Someday maybe I’ll have more time to be a “good blogger” and write more methodically, but until then, I’ll keep soaking in His grace and sharing my heart as He leads and my life allows.

Okay, now I have the chance to pass on the torch and ask another blogger to join us on the tour. When I thought about my readers and who you’d be encouraged by, my friend Laura immediate jumped into my mind. She and I are contributors for a local blog called Twin Cities Moms Blog, and have become great friends. Laura has a blog called Oakland Avenue, and I am continually blessed by each post. She is clever, witty, hilarious, and writes with complete honesty about her journey in motherhood so far. Laura WiflerHere’s a little more about Laura:

Laura is a stay-at-home mom to Eli, a chubby, blue-eyed, and often literally bouncing, baby boy who will soon be knocked off his throne with a sibling coming in December. Laura stumbled into motherhood unexpectedly, but so far she’s fared better than anyone ever thought she would. Laura loves drinking her coffee while it’s still hot, DIYing (always with the goal of not severing any limbs), and is feared by to-do lists around the world. If you want to see sweat or hear her loud, anxious laugh, just ask her about how motherhood is going. She writes her honest (sometimes too honest, but who’s judging, right?) thoughts on motherhood on her blog, Oakland Avenue.

You can follow Laura on Facebook here, and on Instagram here.

Thank you for taking time to read a not so normal post, and thanks again to Renee for inviting me!

I’ll be back later today or tomorrow with a “real post”!

XOXO,

Amber

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When Depression Creeps Into Motherhood

IMG_2210When I started this blog a year and a half ago, my hope was that it would be used to encourage moms around the world. Last week, I got a taste of how that can happen. I wrote a post in a coffee shop on a rainy afternoon while my mom watched the kids. I wasn’t in a good place. I wrote To The Mom Of A Toddler And A Baby because I felt alone. I felt like no one around me understood what I was going through. I wrote that post from a really vulnerable spot, and when I published it I wondered if anyone would be able to relate. As it turned out, there was a reason those words needed to pour out of my heart. Thousands and thousands of reasons actually. In the past week over 200,000 people have read those words, and that number continues to climb. The point is, I believe that sometimes we go through hard things in life so that we can be bonded to each other. They happen so that we realize that we’re not alone in this crazy world.

The post I’m about to write has been one that I’ve felt a strong pull to share. But to be honest, I don’t want to.  Maybe it’s because admitting that you struggle with depression feels like you’re opening a huge can of worms. It feels like you’re hanging out your dirty laundry not only for everyone to see, but for everyone to give their opinion about how you should deal with it. It feels like you’re admitting that you’re weak, like you’re less qualified to be a person. It exposes you to feeling paralyzed by the stigma that looms overhead whenever you hear the words “mental illness”.

Or maybe I don’t want to share my struggle because the only thing worse than depression itself is being pitied because you have it. For me, that’s a huge reason. It’s much easier to keep it to myself. To hole up and become a hermit and pretend it isn’t there. Except I can’t pretend it isn’t there.

Maybe the hardest part about all of this is that it’s tough to feel understood. Because the truth is, unless you’ve been depressed yourself, as hard as you try and want to understand it, you just can’t.

Those of us who struggle most likely keep the struggle close to us. Not because we want to, but because it’s easiest. We don’t want to explain and talk for hours about how we’re really doing. We just want to feel normal. We want to do ordinary things and feel like ourselves.

All that to say, talking about this doesn’t feel natural. It’s awkward. It’s uncomfortable. But today I’m doing it. I’m sharing where I’m at. I’m sharing because I want to be honest with you. When you read my blog, I don’t want you to ever get a false idea of who I am. I’m not the mom who has it all together. I’m not the mom who has the perfect life. Just like anyone else, I have struggles. A big one being depression.

It started to show its ugly face shortly after I had my twins. You can read more about my journey with postpartum depression here. I eventually got on Zoloft but shortly before I got pregnant with baby number four I weaned myself off. I made the personal choice to stay off medicine while I’m pregnant, which has made the daily battle so real and fresh again. Exercise has been my main happy drug, so I’m thankful I’ve been able to remain active throughout this pregnancy. I’m counting down the weeks until I have this sweet baby so that I can reevaluate if/when I need to go on medication again. This time around, I won’t be scared or ashamed if I need to take something. I’m thankful for modern medicine and the ability it has to get those chemicals in my brain back on balance.

When depression creeps into motherhood, it simply can’t stay. I can’t let it stay. I can’t let it steal the joy I feel when I spend precious moments with my kids. I won’t let it make me feel like less of a mom, or less of a wife. I won’t let it make me feel inferior. I won’t let it isolate me from the people I love the most. I won’t let it distract me from all the blessings I’ve been given. I won’t let it win.

Neither should you. If you think you might be struggling with depression, I beg you to do something about it. Whether it’s therapy, exercise, medication, or something else, please reach out and get the help you need. Don’t let it fester. Don’t let it isolate you. Don’t let it become all you think about. The gray cloud that’s hanging over you CAN be lifted, but you’re going to have to take the first step.

You are not alone, friend. I’m battling with you. I know what you’re feeling is so real, so raw, so suffocating. I know you want to get out, but you can’t. I’m cheering you on as you get through some of the darkest days of your life. It breaks my heart to think of you sitting there at home feeling so alone even when there are people around, knowing exactly how horrifying that is. If I was there, I’d give you a big hug. I wouldn’t pry you for information, but I’d reassure you that it’s going to be okay. I’d cry with you. I’d pray for you. I’d tell you over and over again that you WILL get through to the other side. There is hope, sweet friend. Let’s reach for it together.

This topic isn’t one we often see shared in our news feeds or pictured on Instagram. This is the tough stuff that we’d prefer to leave out of the highlight reel. But what if we could change that? What if we could set aside our pride and normalize it? What if we could acknowledge that this is a thing we can walk through and overcome without shame? What if we could end up helping thousands and thousands of people?

Will you join me in offering hope to those who need to hear it? Whether you’re going through it yourself or know someone who is, maybe we’re all connected to the topic so we can be bonded together, and so that we can remember that we’re never alone in our struggles.

XOXO,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@amberkuiper) and on Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).

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What Raising A Boy Is Teaching Me About Loving My Husband

IMG_1540Two and a half years ago I had my first baby. My sweet boy quickly became my world. He consumed my time and filled almost every thought. That tiny babe was so sweet and perfect and handsome and every time I looked at him I couldn’t believe that I was chosen to be his mommy. I was the one who got to attend to his every need. He depended on me for everything and I LOVED IT.

That baby has now grown into a spunky little boy who is curious and busy and discovering that it’s a lot of fun to be independent. He now wants to climb in the car and buckle himself in, and yells “No mommy!” when I try to help him. He wants to peel his own bananas and unwrap his own suckers. And heaven forbid if I put the sticker on his potty chart. ”Stop it! I do it, momma!”

During those moments it hits me that he’s growing up, and that this precious time I have with him is fleeting. But just when I want to go cry in a corner, I hear his voice desperately yell, “HELP! HELP! HELP!” and my sappiness subsides because I’ve been reminded that he’s only two and will actually still need me for quite some time.

And then there are the times I wish he’d grow up just a little quicker. The other day it had been a bear of a morning. He was acting like a typical two year old, stealing toys from his sisters, throwing a tantrum when I asked him to finish his breakfast, chasing the dog with the vacuum, and peeing all over my patio basil plant which I’d been planning to make pesto with that night. He’d put in a full day’s work by 10am. I was frustrated and my patience had worn thin. After he calmed down a bit, I took him upstairs to our room and set him up with a video so I could have a few minutes to salvage my disastrous house [and my sanity].

A few minutes later I went back to check on him, and what I saw stopped me in my tracks. There he was, sitting on the bed squeezing his teddy bear with a look of complete innocence in his eyes. I don’t think there are many things sweeter than seeing a little boy with his teddy. It’s an instant reminder that while they are “all boy” and perfectly rambunctious, determined, and strong-willed, they also have a tender heart that needs to be protected and longs to be loved. When I saw a glimpse of into son’s little heart that morning, all I could do was scoop him up, give him a big hug, kiss him, and tell him how much I love him.

I held him close and thought about how I don’t want a moment of his life to go by without him feeling unconditionally loved. No matter how he acts or what he goes through, I want his heart to be taken care of.

My mind often thinks forward to his future and the fact that I won’t always be the only woman in his life. Someday I’ll entrust that responsibility to a girl who will become his forever love.

In that moment, as I held my sweet boy close, I thought of my husband, who was once a little boy like him. I thought about how he too, started out hugging teddy bears. I thought about his heart, now as a grown man, and how it still needs to be loved and protected. Then I thought about how real life has its grip on him. I thought about him gearing up to go out into the big world day after day, so he can provide for our family. I thought about him having difficult conversations and navigating through intense meetings. I thought about the constant pressure he faces to perform and achieve and how he’s required to beam confidence through it all. But yet at the end of the day, underneath it all there’s still a tender heart yearning to be taken care of.IMG_0397I want home to be a place of refuge for my dear husband. When we see each other after a long day, instead of habitually greeting him by passing off a crabby kid, I need to remember to really take time to look into his eyes and tell him how grateful I am for him and what a great job he does taking care of us. When he’s stressed after a long day, I need to remember that he’s worked just as hard as I have and needs a break too. When he does something that annoys me to the core, I need to respond with patience. When we have arguments, I need to set my pride aside so I can understand where he’s coming from. And even though I’m exhausted most of the time from chasing around the kids, I need to pursue him frequently and prioritize intimacy.

More than anything, I want to remember that I’ve been entrusted with his grown up boy’s heart. I’m the one who gets to see him when he’s vulnerable. I’m the one who needs to recognize those moments, stop in my tracks, hold him close, kiss him, and tell him how much he’s loved.

I get to be the one. I’m his forever love, and as we grow old together, I don’t want a moment of his life to go by without him feeling unconditionally loved.

XOXO,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow us along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@amberkuiper) and on Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).

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To The Mom With A Toddler And A Baby

photo.PNGHello there momma.

YOU are on my mind today. I’m thinking of you as your love is multiplying and you’re falling in love with that new baby in your arms. I’m thinking of you as your toddler runs up and wants you to hold him too. I’m thinking of you as you adjust to all your new everyday tasks that have been added to your already full plate. Sure, you probably feel that you’re juggling it all with a bit of awkwardness, but all we see from the outside is you doing with it with loads of grace and patience. You’re tired, I know. Exhausted, actually. But amidst the exhaustion you’ve found energy to intentionally love each of your sweet kiddos because you are amazing and the love you have for them runs so deep that you’d give up the world for them to feel it.

Your love for them truly surpasses understanding. It comes in the form of diaper change after diaper change. You tear up as you go back and forth between the newborn and toddler size, wondering how time has gone so quickly when you suddenly realize how HUGE the older one has become. They may have just left you covered in remnants of pee and poop, but you wash your hands and then squeeze them a little tighter because you know how blessed you are and how fleeting time is.

That sentimental moment is interrupted by a baby who is ready to eat and a toddler who dramatically lost a toy under the couch. You rescue the toy and set him up with an activity that will entertain him long enough for you to have a semi-peaceful feeding without there being any smothering or pulling on one of baby’s fragile ligaments. You settle in and take a deep breath, feeling a bit accomplished after making a successful transition. You are doing it! You are settling into your new normal.

After five minutes of peace, your toddler decides to wander into another room and screams for you to help him. You jump up, baby still attached, and see what he’s up to. You realize that the days of relaxed nursing while you stare deep into your baby’s eyes are long gone, and this time around you’ll become a pro in “meals to go.”

Speaking of meals, YOU are experiencing the hunger of your life. Chasing around multiple kids is no joke. Neither is finding time to shove food in your face or pump yourself with a little caffeine. You take what you can get, and even though you’ve probably enjoyed too many of those desserts your friends and family members have dropped off, it really doesn’t bother you because these days there are more important things than counting calories.

Mom life has a way of changing you. Your joy is no longer found in being freshly showered and fashionably dressed, (although it feels SO good to do that from time to time). You might not feel put together, especially in those early weeks, but yet you’re experiencing the sweetest moments of your life. These days your joy is found when you sacrifice for your children. You give up things so they can be your priority. Their immediate needs trump anything else you want or need to do. They are completely dependent on you, and while that can feel overwhelming, you are momma and you were made to do this.

Day after day, your confidence is building. You even decide you want to venture out to the grocery store by yourself with them. You feed the baby before leaving, which means you have exactly 2.5 hours before you need to do it again. After you pack up what seems like everything but the kitchen sink, you put the kids in the car, and step back inside the house to grab anything left behind. The house is quiet, and you decide to spend just 10 seconds standing at the door, basking in the peace before taking a deep breath and gearing up for the huge undertaking ahead of you. There you are, in the parking lot deciding how to get both kids inside the store safely. I’m thinking of you, sweet momma, as you park near the cart corral, carefully positioning the infant carrier in the cart, and promoting your toddler to momma’s helper. I see you race through the aisles with that look of fear on your face knowing that chaos could break out at any moment. I see you standing in line to check out, trying to remain as calm as possible when your toddler throws a tantrum and the baby starts to fuss, and you get the college aged cashier who doesn’t have a clue what you’re going through. He hands you your receipt which is basically like a handing you a golden ticket. You survived, you conquered, and you need some Starbucks therapy.

After that there are many more firsts. The first time the baby sleeps through the night. The first time baby smiles at big brother or sister. The first time you actually get them to nap at the same time. The first time you’re alone overnight with them. The first time you leave them both with a babysitter. The first time they get sick at the same time. The first time they play together. The first time they fight. The first time they giggle with each other. The first time they share without your prompting. The first time you get to drink a hot cup of coffee again. Each of these firsts is a big deal. You are experiencing something so special, so significant. Don’t let anyone ever let you feel otherwise. Little things matter, the work you are doing matters, and most of all YOU matter. Through every difficult challenge and small victory along the way, YOU matter.IMG_1429So yes, today, dear momma. Today I’m definitely thinking about you. Because sometimes, when you’re in the thick of it, you just want to know that someone else gets it. You need to know that someone else gets it. You need to know someone else knows how hard it is, and how unbelievably incredible it is at the same time. Sometimes you just need to be acknowledged and remember that YOU are amazing. That YOU MATTER. That YOU are loved. That YOU are doing work that makes the world a better place.

To you, dear momma of a toddler and a baby, YOU are beautiful beyond description, and I’m cheering you on as you embrace the chaos. Keep on keeping on. I’m in awe of you.

XOXO,

Amber

I share many more “real life” mom moments on Facebook and Instagram. I’d love for you to follow us along on our crazy, not perfect, incredible journey. Follow me on Instagram: (@amberkuiper) and on Facebook (Mommy’s Me Time).

 

 

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Twin Talk Blog

Since becoming a twin mom, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with many other twin moms, meeting many of them through Instagram! If you don’t already follow me on there, please do (@amberkuiper)! I’m much more consistent on there than my blog most weeks!

Anyway, I met Amber Massey when the girls were newborns, and her and I instantly connected. She’s a dietician and has a great blog where she shares all about her darling family as well as practical meals for the whole family, including toddler eats! Her twin girls, Parker and Jolie, are just a few months older than E & M, and I love watching all the great ideas she has for them, including every adorable outfit she has them in.

I’ve also gotten to know Meredith Haynes who has toddler boy/girl twins, Jude and Sloane! She has a personal blog too which is full of all their adorable family adventures in parenthood!

When Amber and Meredith announced that they were starting a blog called Twin Talk Blog a few months ago, I knew it was going to be good. They wanted to provide a platform for twin moms to share our experiences and share about how fun it can be instead of how scary and overwhelming it can seem.

How gorgeous are these mommas?! (Meredith on left, Amber on right)Amber and Mer

If you are a twin-mom-to-be or a newish twin mom, please do yourself a favor and start following their blog! It is FULL of great resources from other moms who are going through the trenches with you.

Today I’m over there sharing about my experience with exclusively pumping for my twins. It seems that quite a few twin moms tend to take this route, so I’m sharing why it worked for our family along with tips that helped me make it manageable.

Check it out here: Exclusively Pumping For Twins

Like Twin Talk Blog On Facebook: Click here

Twin Talk Blog on Instagram: @twintalkblog

XOXO,

Amber

 

 

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Why We Take Babymoons

Before we had our first baby, Jake and I decided to take a babymoon. If you aren’t familiar with this term, it’s a vacation that parents-to-be take before the baby is born. At the time, it just sounded like a fun idea, since obviously we had NO clue what we were in for. That trip ended up being amazing in so many ways. It seemed that we had been so busy preparing for the baby that even then we had started to take the focus off of our marriage and onto our sweet baby boy. Having a week to lay in the sun, forget about work, nursery decorating, and all other normal responsibilities gave us time to connect, talk, and just be us. We returned refreshed and ready to embark on the journey of parenthood we’d start a couple months later.

Before the twins were born, we took another babymoon, this time piggybacking it onto a work trip for Jake that I happened to be invited to. It was the first time we’d been away from Baylen for more than a night, and it was so hard. It was great to be with Jake, but difficult leaving a piece of our heart back home. I ended up talking about Bay a little too much. Toward the end of the trip we made a pact to limit the amount we talked about him so that we’d actually focus more time on each other. It was completely necessary and I’m so thankful we had that time before our world would change forever jumping from one baby to three.

When we found out I was pregnant this time, we immediately started conversations about when we’d take our babymoon. Perhaps the most important lesson we’ve learned over the past year and a half is how important it is to prioritize our marriage during parenthood. It sounds so cliche, but when we’re happy, our kids are happy. When we’re connected and on the same page, our kids feel secure. And the truth is, that doesn’t just happen. Their immediate needs often take precedence over “our time” and if we don’t intentionally schedule date nights and little getaways, before we know it we barely know each other anymore.

Last week we took our third babymoon. Yes, we missed our kids like CRAZY. But my goodness was it a treat to spend consolidated time with the man I love. There was time to look him in the eyes for longer than 30 seconds and remember why we fell in love in the first place. There was lots of flirting and hand holding, and sleeping. Lots and lots of sleeping and napping whenever we wanted. And of course some little squabbles along the way as we adjusted to what it was like to interact with just the two of us. I found that I’m so used to leading our kids throughout the day and being in charge, that submitting and trusting Jake’s lead took a little extra work. In a way it sort of felt like a honeymoon again, rediscovering each other in a whole new way. We had great conversations that went beyond our children, and spent time just enjoying the blessing it is to do life together.

We had time to pause and get out of the trenches of everyday life long enough to reflect and remember how blessed we are to have made it through the baby stage with three healthy kids. Life with little kids feels like a constant whirlwind most of the time, so it was so good for us to be still.

If you’re going to be parents for the first, second, third, or tenth time, I can’t recommend a babymoon enough. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive. We’re lucky enough to have lots of hotel points from the travel Jake does for work, so we capitalize on those. Maybe you have family friends who own a lake home, or maybe there’s somewhere local you could go for a staycation. Be creative, but I promise it will be worth every bit of sacrifice. Having the chance to get out of your normal routine and “just be” with the one you love is a beautiful gift you can give to your baby, who will soon take up so much of your attention.

Here are a few highlights from our babymoon! We flew into Boston, drove out to Martha’s Vineyard for the weekend, then spent a couple days in Boston, and a few days in New York City.

The only way to get to Martha’s Vineyard is via ferry or boat. Here we are exiting the ferry onto the island!IMG_1581 We stayed at the Dockside Inn in Oaks Bluff. It was an adorable place across the street from the pier with lots of great restaurants within walking distance. We’d definitely stay there again. IMG_1577IMG_1647The food on the island was fabulous. Lots of fresh seafood and ice cream on every corner. IMG_1586The first night we were there we were, a local tipped us off about a place called Backdoor Donuts. It’s a bakery in Oaks Bluff that opens late night and while they’re making donuts for the next morning, they sell the fresh ones hot off the press. This was THE BEST apple fritter I’ve ever tasted. It was the size of my face! IMG_1593Martha’s Vineyard was gorgeous. Everywhere we looked we were taking in some of the most picturesque views imaginable. We explored the entire island while we were there. It consists of three main towns: Oaks Bluff, Edgartown, and Vineyard Haven. It’s only about 85 square miles, and everything is accessible by public bus rides.IMG_1595photo-26One of the many things we loved about the island is that there wasn’t a chain restaurant to be found. The towns were dotted with quaint cafes with unique items on the menu. My favorite place we went for breakfast was a little place called The Art Cliff Diner in Vineyard Haven. IMG_1601My favorite town to walk through was Edgartown. It was exactly what you’d think of when you think cape cod. Gorgeous homes and an adorable downtown area with high end boutiques. I could get used to this view every morning. IMG_1630IMG_1627IMG_1639IMG_1636IMG_1638We also made the trek out to the far southwest corner of the island that’s filled with acres of trees which hide the homes of billionaires. At the very tip there are these breathtaking cliffs. IMG_1617It was tough leaving Martha’s, but thankfully we still had much of our journey to look forward to. We headed back to Boston where we spent the next two nights. We really just had one full day in Boston, so we seized the day. We started by taking a tour of Samuel Adams Brewery which was a lot of fun. More fun for Jake, who actually got to sample the beers. IMG_1665Then we headed downtown, did a little shopping for Red Sox gear, and went on a Duck Tour of Boston. This one one of my favorite things we did. We were able to see the important highlights of the whole city in about 80 minutes from both land and water. IMG_1680IMG_1678That night, even though they were playing the Twins, we became Red Sox fans for a night and embraced our first experience at Fenway Park. It was a memorable atmosphere and evening, enjoying baseball in the most picture perfect weather we could have wished for. IMG_1684IMG_1688IMG_1691Early the next morning we hopped on the Amtrak bound for New York City. We landed in Times Square just in time for lunch and an afternoon of exploring. IMG_1695We hung around Times Square for most of our trip, enjoying amazing food and shopping. We came out fairly empty handed on the shopping front. Being 7 months pregnant with my last baby deterred me from buying many maternity clothes. I’m holding out for a day soon when I’ll be able to fit in regular sizes again! Nonetheless, window shopping on 5th Ave is always fun. IMG_1712IMG_1814One morning we woke up early and were in the live Good Morning America audience. I was so excited about this. I have it on almost every morning while I feed the kids breakfast. It makes me feel like I still have a clue what’s going on in the world when most of my world revolves around my little people. We got there around 5:45 and surprisingly were the first people there! I guess it paid off because we were on camera! Fun stuff for small town folk!IMG_1744

10492043_10152133390457061_9214305473362698532_nWe ventured to lower Manhattan one afternoon to visit the 9/11 memorial that opened a few months ago. It was humbling and neat to see.IMG_1787The last night we ate at a Tuscan restaurant. It was quiet and romantic and we talked the night away. The food was to die for. I even enjoyed a half glass of wine. The waiter told me it was good medicine. I didn’t take much convincing. IMG_1800IMG_1796More than anything, my favorite thing about our trip was spending time with this handsome guy. I’m so thankful God paired me with this wonderful man and am excited for all that adventures that are in store for us as a family of six.IMG_1705

Have you taken a babymoon? What would you say to parents to be who are thinking about taking one? 

XOXO,

Amber

P.S. A HUGE HUGE HUGE thank you goes out to my parents who took care of our kids while we were gone! We are so blessed by their generosity!

 

 

 

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