Dear 17-Year-Old Me,


First of all, you look great! Stop obsessing about your body because you look hot now, so enjoy that. Stop trying to starve yourself into a Kate Moss body when God gave you a Christina Hendricks-ish frame.   (You probably won’t understand that reference until you really get into Mad Men.)

I know you’re worried about dating. You shouldn’t be. By that I don’t mean you’re going to date a lot or meet Mr. Right immediately freshman year, because that’s not the case. I would be lying if I said there wasn’t going to be nights when all of your friends and roommates are out on dates and you spend the night watching a sad movie on your laptop (I’m past the statute of limitations on that, right?) and sighing into a Cup-O-Noodles. You’re going to get your heart-broken, more than once. You won’t be a stranger to the sting of rejection. It makes you a stronger person, but don’t let it make you hard-hearted and cold. In fact just don’t worry about it. In the words of Amy Poehler “Too often we are told to visualize what we want… Try to care less. Practice ambivalence. Learn to let go of wanting it.” Do you want to know what happens when you stop worrying about how you’re ‘not dating’? That’s right, you meet the man of your dreams. Oh, and throw away all those notes about how you’re supposed to act on a date (yes, you actually pay tuition to take notes on stuff like that, but that’s a rant for another time) or how you’re supposed to look, because he loves you for you. Just the way you are, quirkiness and all.

Let loose and have some fun! You’ve always been a rule-follower so what I’m about to say is probably going to blow your mind. The memories of college that’ll make you smile aren’t the ones where you’re following all the rules. Be sensible, but do something a little crazy every once in a while. It’s good for you.

Love Love Love,

You(24 years-old)

P.S. Maybe put a little more effort into your spaghetti bridge project for physics. I’m married with a baby and people still talk about how awful it turned out. So, don’t procrastinate, seriously.




My Advice for New Moms

It is has been my experience that as long as one keeps herself in the presence of women, she will never be lacking unsolicited advice- bonus points if she is embarking on a new chapter in her life (engaged, planning a wedding, pregnant, moving to a new home.) I don’t blame them. Most of them mean well and just want to share a little something that helped them along when they were in that situation. But, sometimes it can be overwhelming.

When I was engaged, people offered all kinds of tips and tidbits on how to plan a wedding, where to buy a dress, where to go on a honeymoon, etc. This did not prepare me, however, for the onslaught of advice that came with having a baby.

“Never let your babies sleep in bed with you.”

“Bed-sharing is the only way to do it if you are breastfeeding. You are breastfeeding, right?”

“If you pick him up every time he cries like that you’ll spoil him.”

“How old is he? He should be sleeping in his own room.”

It’s just going to keep coming. But you know something? You don’t have to respond to it. More importantly, you don’t have to defend your choice (that’s right, your choice) to do whatever it is you decide works best for your child and your situation. For example, Henry was not a great sleeper. He would wake up at least three times every night to feed and be comforted. Most of the time he cried whenever I tried to put him back in his little crib in our room. I spent the better part of six months absolutely sleep deprived. The only thing worse than that was sleepily browsing Facebook and reading brag posts of my friends’ miracle babies who slept through the night, in their own room at three months old. It frustrated me. So, I sought advice. I tried everything: routines, baths, swaddling. Nothing worked. Then, a few weeks later, I noticed that Henry had only woken up once during the night. Eventually, he slept through the whole night, and recently in his own room. Just like that. In his time.

You’re the best qualified person to be your child’s mother.

I guess all this to say. People who give you advice mean well. They really do. Sometimes their recommendations might not be relevant to you. If that is the case, don’t be rude.There’s already enough of that in the world. Be gracious and smile. Remember you don’t have to defend your choices.

And in case no one’s told you today, You’re doing a great job, mom!

23 Bedtime Story Favorites

When people find out they are expecting, they begin looking forward to things they will enjoy with their little one. From my Facebook feed I assume most mothers expecting girls immediately start on their collection of headbands with flowers and bows bigger than the average infant head. Everyone has the stuff they get excited about. My husband and I did. After we got over the initial shock of the news, that is. He, like most dads, was excited about having a son to throw a ball around and go hiking with him. I, like most women, thought about all of the cute outfits I could put on him, because *Parent Perk* you get to pick out their clothes for the first couple years. The second thing I was excited about was sharing all the stories with him that I loved and cherished growing up.

Children are made readers in the laps of their parents -Emilie BuchwaldIMG_1901IMG_1611

We’ve read some of the picture books, but keep in mind my son is six months old and our bedtime-story time right now is me reading while he scratches the pages and looks all around the room. Sometimes he likes to hold the books and look at the pages. I know he’s young, but it’s a good habit. It’s never too early to cultivate a desire for reading and learning in a child.

Here’ the list I’ve started. I haven’t read all of them with him yet, and we’re still working on adding them to our library, but we’ll get there. Most of them are picture books, stuff I can read to him while he’s a baby. Let me know if you have any favorites you are looking forward to or already have shared with your children.

  1. Dr. Seuss books
  2. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  3. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  4. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  5. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle
  6. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (personal favorite!)
  7. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
  8. Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
  9. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
  10. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst (while I’m here, can I just ask that we stop trying to make classic children’s books into movies? It doesn’t work. Includes #6 and #1, exception some #1 and #9)
  11. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
  12. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch (If I can make it through without crying!)
  13. The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
  14. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.  and John Archambault
  15. Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
  16. Chrysanthemum by Kenvin Henkes
  17. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
  18. Corduroy by Don Freeman
  19. How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
  20. On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
  21. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
  22. Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown
  23. Dinosaur Roar! by Paul and Henrietta Stickman

Two Months: Expectation vs. Reality

Henry is two months! It’s so hard to believe. We took him for his two month checkup  this week. It’s all good. He’s gotten bigger. He got his shots (I cried more than he did.) Even though it’s only been two months I have learned so much about being a mother.

Expectation: I’m totally gonna sleep train him right away. I googled it, so I pretty much know the gist of it.


Reality: It’s a little early to sleep train right now, but I’m glad I never shared my unrealistic sleep training expectations with other mothers because I would have, without a doubt, been laughed at. Losing sleep is, from what I’ve heard, pretty much inevitable, and that’s okay. It does get better. Henry sleeps most nights now. I have my sanity and did not experience any of the crazy things that popped up when I googled prolonged sleep deprivation.

Expectation: I’m not going to baby him.

Reality: I baby him. I pick him up when he cries because his cries mean something. I don’t think he’s figured out that he can cry for attention yet. He has this one cry that just kills me:  He pouts and has this just cry that just sounds like sadness. I think he’s starting to figure out that I have a weakness for that specific cry. But, I do “baby” him, after all, he is a baby. Duh!

Expectation: I’m never going to talk “baby talk” to him.

IMG_0922Reality: Anyone who knows me that I HATE when people who are not babies speak in a baby voice to other non-babies. So, I never imagined any scenario that would involve me using that voice. Until recently. Henry just started smiling, and as you can imagine nothing makes me happier than to see his tiny, squinty-eyed grin. Consequently, I will do the craziest things and speak in the most obnoxious voices to get that little man to smile.

Expectation: I’m not going to be one of those cliché and over-protective first time mothers who makes people use hand sanitizer before holding their baby.

Reality: Okay, this one was actually pretty spot on. If you want to relieve me of baby holding duties and

1) I know you

2) I don’t think you’re going to run away with my child

and 3) you seem like a normal human being with good hygiene, then you can hold Henry. You can be sure I’m not going to pull Germ-X out of my purse. Plus, I still have no upper body strength, and he ways over ten pounds now, so if you want to help me out, just thank you.

I’ve learned a lot in two months. I can’t wait to see what else I learn as this little man gets older.


Why Was I Scared of Motherhood?

Needless to say, a lot has changed since my last post. I am now the mother of the most amazing little boy, Henry David.

I really never pictured myself as a mother, mostly because I’ve never been great with kids. Growing up, my friends all had that magic touch where they could walk into a room full of children, kneel to their level, speak to them in a voice that was an octave higher than normal and instantly connect with them. Not me. Nothing made me feel more awkward than trying to converse with a toddler. I was not much of a baby whisperer either, and that was something that made me anxious during my last trimester of my pregnancy. Actually, there was a couple of things that made me anxious as my due date grew closer.

1. Being sent home from the hospital because I wasn’t actually in labor:  I had read about this being common among first time mothers who don’t know what it’s like to be in labor. I was determined to not have this happen to me. So naturally, I was only sent home on two different occasions before Henry was born. It wasn’t that big of a deal, I technically was having contractions on both occasions, they just weren’t progressing fast enough to be admitted. One of those times was the night before Henry was born. The hospital couldn’t admit because, again, my contractions weren’t close enough. They sent me home to get some rest. Not that I could because I had contractions all night. Luckily, I had an appointment with my doctor the next morning. He confirmed that my contractions had grown stronger and closer together, and that my husband needed to get down to the hospital ASAP!

2. Labor (of course):  I don’t handle pain very well. I remember freaking myself out thinking about how painful it was going to be. Pretty sure I even lost sleep over it. Long story short, thanks to the marvels of modern medicine it was practically painless. I was able to spend those last few hours with my husband just talking and relaxing. I realize that route is not for everyone, and I have a definite respect for the all-natural birth mothers out there, but this was exactly what I needed.

3. Being a mother in general: I remember at one point wondering how I was supposed to know why my son was crying. How was I supposed to calm down a baby if I didn’t know why he was crying? We definitely were blessed with Henry because he’s not much of a crier, and when he does cry it’s pretty easy to tell when he’s hungry or tired. I was really concerned I was going to screw up as a mom and scar him forever some way. I still have a while to get this things settled though, since he isn’t going to remember anything for at least two years. So, I have until then to get some of this “mom stuff” figured out and  have answers to all sorts of weird questions.

So, in conclusion, I worried a lot about things that I didn’t need to worry about.. Everything worked out fine. Even if it hadn’t, the result was definitely worth it.

IMG_0684 IMG_0744 IMG_0806

What I Didn’t Expect About Pregnancy, But Probably Should Have

Whether your pregnancy was meticulously planned, medically coaxed, or happened by surprise, one thing is certain – your life will never be the same.  – Catherine Jones

1. The Questions

I realized that my situation (early twenties, married less than a year and pregnant) would raise some eyebrows, as well as questions. I had just always imagined they would be subtle, or just behind my back in general. I was definitely taken back by the boldness of some people and their intrusive questions. Obviously I’m not talking about the well-meaning “how are you feeling?” from other mothers. I’m referring to basically different versions of these questions from people I barely knew:

“It was an accident, wasn’t it?”
“Were you on birth control?”


2. The Doctors

Now for the literal poking and prodding. I have been very blessed to say this is my first experience with a need for consistent medical appointments. That being said, I cannot imagine there is anything (except maybe a previous pregnancy) that could make the feel of a cold, latex glove-covered hand through a paper gown feel any less invasive or foreign.  At least uncomfortable questions are more justifiable when asked by a medical professional.

3. Coffee

One of the first things I said when I found out I was pregnant was “But, I can still drink coffee, right?” Little did I know that the sweet, silky taste I looked forward to every morning would take on a bitter, acrid flavor whose very smell  would nauseate me.  Apparently, it’s nature’s way of keeping you from those things you should avoid during your pregnancy like sushi, deli meats, cookie dough etc.

4. Smell

If I had to choose to have one of my senses enhanced, I never would have picked smell. That would be the lamest super power ever, right? Sometimes I like to think it gives me a Sherlockian edge. Not that there is a lot one can deduce with only an amplified sense of smell and dulled brain power such as: who ate leftover lasagna for lunch, who just took a smoke break, who sprayed on some cologne to conceal a smoke break etc.

5. The Tears

Though some people may not believe it, I have always been somewhat of a crybaby. Pregnancy adds some ridiculous fuel to that. It’s like the hormones in my body are urging me to think of awful, sad things at the most inopportune times. The other day I found myself teary-eyed as I was washing dishes. Why? Because I was thinking about the Holocaust. Why was I thinking about the Holocaust? Because the other day my husband suggested The Boy in the Striped Pajamas as we were scrolling Netflix. That’s about as much sense as that is ever going to make.

While these all are things I was not expecting to face when I got pregnant, it does not compare to the excitement I feel when I think about being a mother. It has to be one of the greatest and most terrifying experiences, but I love it. My husband and I are lucky to have support from family and friends everywhere. Thank you all!




It was my junior year of college, I, like every other
student, couldn’t wait for the short Christmas break that marked
the end of a particularly rough semester. I had just started seeing
somebody, nothing serious at that point, but I really liked him. He
was different, and by different I mean he someone I found
interesting for a change. It was the first time I wasn’t going to
be headed home right away. Because of work I would have to stay an
extra ten days on campus before I could go see my family. I told
myself it wasn’t a big deal, that I could handle it. Who was I
kidding? I had a chapel date for the annual dismissal service,
which was good because it would keep me from throwing myself a pity
party and letting myself sulk in jealousy for all those who would
be on their way home to food with flavor and private showers. It
was a good date, we laughed at the jokes, joined in with the
timeless carols, and enjoyed each other’s company, no sulking. We
watched  Mr. Evan’s dismiss with his infamous solo. All of
the students eagerly waited for the  “Have yourself a merry
little Christmas… NOW!”  The line was sung, the chapel
emptied, and we sat enjoying the chaos. I wanted to sit there
forever. I didn’t want him to go home. It was a nine-hour drive to
Northern Michigan, and he had his car ready to go. But he didn’t.
Instead, he walked with me to the dining hall where we ate bland
food on styrofoam plates. Every morning for those ten days, he had
breakfast with me in the Square where we played endless games of
Scrabble and talked for hours. I couldn’t believe it. Every morning
there he was, sitting on the other side of an uncomfortable booth,
drinking bad coffee with watered down creamer. With me. He chose to
stay with me. He didn’t have to. We had been “dating” less than
three months. He had no obligation to stay. But, he did. Those ten
days felt like nothing. Do you know why? Because every morning I
would get dressed and walk into that little campus restaurant and
see him sitting at that booth with two coffees and a Scrabble
board. A year later, he asked me to marry him. Stephanie &
Jesse Wedding [Captured by Studio Cline] Lake Portrait 045