Kindergarten Jitters

We have a nervous girl in our house. My oldest, Olivia, is on the precipice of pre school graduation, and is thoroughly excited to be a Kindergartener this fall. Yes, that would make me the nervous girl. I’m generally fearless in life, with the obvious exception of icky bugs, so these nerves are a new feeling for me.

Olivia turns five just days before school starts, making her a bit on the younger side, and I guess I’m letting that affect what I know, which is, she is totally ready. We had her last parent teacher conference tonight where we were assured she is socially, academically, mentally, thoroughly, ready.

Celebrating the end of the school year with gusto!

We even went to ‘Family Night’ at Moose Hill a couple weeks ago, which was a smashing success. I loved how all the teachers opened up their classrooms and allowed the Kindergarteners-to-be and their tag-along siblings all access. Hayden got lost pretty quickly in the buckets of cars and old fashioned telephones (the ones with the curly cords that really shouldn’t be called old-fashioned because I distinctly remember twirling my finger around the cord and sometimes my hair, talking to my BFFs, like, yesterday*.)

*Its possible this was 20 years ago.

We even got ourselves a bright green Moose Hill t-shirt, and an adorable Moose keychain, donning a bright green t-shirt. Olivia really appreciated the use of a Moose for Moose Hill. I think the fact that the Moose was wearing a Moose Hill T-shirt may have made her brain explode (in the best way).

We are ready. Right?

Olivia here, clearly demonstrating her maturity level is certainly Kindergarten ready

I have always approached each new milestone for my young kids as a blessing, with hardly any bitterness in the bitter-sweetness of it all. I bid a fond farewell to so many stages: diapers, the crib, the pacifier, the onesies. I was very ready to leave the grunting-gesture phase when they are too lazy to learn to talk. And I especially enjoyed saying goodbye to our middle-of-the night meals, where I supplied the nutritious food and delightful company, and Olivia, (and later Hayden), thoughtfully provided the full diapers and demanding bellies. Beautiful memories, but ones I was ready to leave behind. And instead, I enjoyed the excitement of new adventures yet to come.

Again, very mature, clearly ready…

Perhaps when your first-born hits this milestone, its okay to feel a little nervous, and a little apprehension. I am certainly not the first Mom to get the flutters over the big school bus coming to take her daughter away forever a couple hours. And while I may not shed tears on the first day of school (no promises), I will be the mom documenting, photo-by-photo, (and a video if I have time,) of her first big girl steps onto the big girl bus, heading to her first day of big girl Kindergarten.




This is why we are Always Late

This is why we are Always Late

It’s not that we, the Gudek Family, don’t respect your time, we do. It’s not that we are lazy (our laziness has little to do with this), it’s not even that we have our hands so very full of chores and work and small children. It’s so much deeper than that, and I think it starts with the fact that Dave and I, though wildly different in the most obvious ways, share a few too many characteristics, that when combined, are actually quite dangerous.

 A little about Dave, who is off-the-grid, (essentially I mean, he has no social media accounts, and enjoys tractors.) Dave is spontaneous, excitable, passionate and determined. He doesn’t get an A+ for follow through, or planning. In fact, therein lies the danger. Neither Dave, nor I, are what you might call planners.

Oh, we talk a good game. We know when things are coming. We discuss the things that are coming. We acknowledge how much time we have until that thing is coming. We even say, look at us, discussing in advance, that thing that’s coming up. We are on top of it. And then that thing comes up, and its here, and we are so confused.   What happened to May? I don’t understand. I’m missing weeks here. Didn’t we do the stuff to prepare for the thing? I remember talking about the thing…

And then we make magic by hustling our butts off, pulling out a pretty good THING that would be considered STELLAR if everyone knew how little time we had allowed ourselves to get ready for the thing. Its like watching a movie over and over, you know what’s going to happen, you silently urge the protagonist to avoid his unavoidable missteps, and he falls into the trap and you knew it would happen, and you’re a little annoyed, but then you watch it again, because, I don’t know, there’s comfort in the familiar?

Okay, so planning obviously would help us leave our house an hour before we are supposed to be somewhere in an hour. Lucky for us, Dave knows all the short cuts, though, so we save 8 minutes on the drive and show up about 6 minutes late, right behind the family with the 5 kids and a baby and a million reasons to be late, but astonishingly, everyone’s outfit is clean and their hair is brushed. And since everyone’s looking at them anyway, we sneak in, unnoticed (we assume), right behind them. We totally pulled it off! Secret handshake, wink-wink; it’s really a good bonding moment for us.

Unfortunately, though, Dave and I have another thing in common – we are easily distracted. I often take a look around our house at the end of the day and notice remnants of half finished chores, crafts and well-meaning projects. I think the worst part is watching our conversations get derailed by each others’ distractions. We have both caught each other not finishing a story, or joke for that matter,  (I swear the kids aren’t even in the room when this happens). We are hopeless, yet mildly entertaining.

And the saddest of all the traits we share: we are not neat people. Knowing my shortfall in this area I had always assumed I’d marry into organization. And once I met Dave’s parents, and I thought, Wow. Jackpot. Everything they own goes in a specific place, and that dedicated spot rarely changes. (WHAT?) And they are organized, and prepared, and orderly and their dishwasher is always empty. Think about that. The dishwasher, is empty. And clean. So they load up their dishwasher, turn it on, look at the rest of the dishes in the sink. CLEAN THEM. And put them away. And then when the dishwasher beeps. They empty it. Immediately. It’s always empty. I know. Mind-blowing.

Come to find out, Dave is an enigma in his family. He didn’t inherit the gene that urges you to put your possessions on your desk perpendicular to each other. Or to make your bed. Or to put things away after you use them. Which is really hard for me to remember, so how on earth am I expected to remember to remind him? It’s all very tragic.

And while my parents don’t organize with the fervor and child-like delight that Dave’s parents do, they still had their act together. I won’t say who is who, but essentially one of them balances out the other in that department. They married well. And I think I fell somewhere in the spectrum between the two. Also cleaning is boring, so in my youth, I avoided it whenever possible. I’ve matured and have begun to experience the pleasure of a clean house, but it’s not easy. Or fun.

I’m dishing out a lot of dirty laundry over here – even muddying up my metaphors in the process. The bottom line is this, when we arrive just outside the window of fashionably late to your event, its because we may have forgotten about it, briefly, and possibly got distracted on the way out, and then spent 15 minutes asking each other where the keys are. And Hayden’s shoes. All of this is, clearly, beyond our control. 

So when we show up on time, please reward us, because we do really well with positive reinforcement. I enjoy cake.


The Perfect [Mom] Date

It doesn’t much matter how it starts: a Facebook message, a text, or, a shy smile across the playground; the contact has been established and the plans made. I’m talking about the first date.  And by date I obviously mean a play date.

Olivia has locked down many play-dates with this look

A play date that we know is just as much about the kids as it is about the Moms.

Don’t you just love the first date jitters? It’s so exciting, ANYTHING could happen. Will she ‘get’ me? Will she like me as much as I like her? Will she want a second date?! It’s all very exhilarating.

I’ve been in the market (for a few more Mom friends) for awhile now, and this time, I know what I want. I’m not on my first kid anymore, I’ve been around the block. I will not make lunch for just any mom and kids; I want the whole package. I deserve it. There a lot of amazing Mom’s out there and I’m not wasting my time pursuing mediocre Moms, or force fitting personalities because she lives down the street and our kids go to school together and its just ‘convenient’. No way, I’m out there, looking for THE ONE. (Or two… I may have room for 3, max)

I have had three first dates this year so far, I think. Three worth remembering apparently. With all that experience I feel compelled to share with you the perfect first date. (MY perfect date, anyway)

For a first date, I much prefer their place, not mine, and I avoid nap times but try to include a meal, or snack.

I arrive on-time, and take note of the living area of the home. Now, for me, I really like a nice lived-in home. I prefer the environment cleanish, no more. I’m very forgiving on mess, and have a high tolerance for clutter.

I have a low tolerance for fancy furniture, ultra clean kitchen appliances, and recently washed windows, (unless my date recently had a cleaning person come in, which I immediately admire and envy, good start.)

Watching our kids interact is helpful in determining whether or not this thing has the legs to make it. You clearly don’t want to deal with bullies and criers, but again, I’m fairly flexible on this point: does my date discipline the aggressive behavior, is the crying coming from a hungry newborn? You get the idea.

More important than the kids interacting is how my date interacts with them. Does she sit in the middle of the floor and lead all the children through a round of intricate imaginative play? Or does she offer me coffee, ask if I’d like to sit down in the next room, and let the kids play independently? (If you don’t know the right answer here, you may not be my type)

Next, how does she handle discipline? This is tricky, there are a million styles of parenting and discipline out there, and while I claim not to be picky, there a few red flags for me. Helicopter mom-ing is a red flag, so is completely ignoring rude or aggressive behavior. A big turn off for me? Feeling embarrassed or awkward about disciplining. Do what you need to do, girl. Confidence is beautiful.

During our windows of uninterrupted conversation I explore topics ranging from ‘what do you do for fun?’ and ‘where did you get this montessori-inspired math game?’ And if I’m feeling especially bold I’ll share where I go to church – I usually won’t get that deep on a first date; it can come across a little too intense. Sometimes though, its so well-received I will feel a strong connection, and then I intentionally leave something behind to ensure a call back.


Playing hard, or hardly playing? One thing is for sure, these girls are definitely hard at work posing for us. Nice job, ladies.

For snack time I shamelessly sneak peaks at her fridge: you can tell a lot about a woman by the produce she keeps. I’ll also note the snacks offered – equally impressed by homemade healthy snacks as I am by freeze pops (the girl’s got guts busting out a dessert for snack; you have to admire that). I’ll also note the strictness of table manners, but again, everything but the extremes will fly with me. (see? I’m a catch!)

And its time to go – handshake? hug? high-five? Well, it depends on how the date went. How deep we got, how many laughs we had, was there any chemistry? My best dates ended in hugs, of course, and promises to call again. And you know what? she usually doesn’t. But she texts me, and that’s even better.

And that’s my perfect [mom] date. What’s yours?

Princess tiara askew, leg up on a cup holder, and totally passed out – a sure sign of an awesome play-date.

3 Things I Learned Going SCREEN-FREE

It’s true, I went screen-free for a week, (GASP, an entire week you say?) which means no cell, laptop, TV etc. Any device with a screen = off limits.

And here’s why: primarily to see if the tension in my head would go away, (I get migraines which are now well managed, but I often have mild tension) and secondarily, but probably more importantly, I wanted to see how no screens would affect my parenting, and my own cluttered thoughts.

And since no pictures were taken this week, please enjoy the interspersed pictures of my kids making ridiculous faces.

Here’s what I learned:

Screens are EVERYWHERE

Adjusting to screen-free living was tricky, I didn’t anticipating having to avoid screens outside of the big 3 (TV, Phone, Computer) Like, the baby monitor, or at church, or at the movies (ha), or at the gym.

The massive snowstorms during screen-free week gave me a great excuse prevented me from hitting the gym my usual 3 times a week.

Anyhoo, pretty much every machine has a screen, and though I usually hit the weights [like a BEAST] I do warm up on the stairs or other cardio, so I had to turn off my screen and not look at my neighbors screens. 

So, what else is there to look at while you’re burning one annoying calorie at a time?

Guys, I saw some things.

People sure do like the way their derriere looks in the mirror, and while most fellow-gym goers may not pick up on your self ‘miring, I had nothing to do but study your every move.

So thanks for the show, friend. (I feel like I can call you a friend now, since I’ve seen you in some really compromising positions.)

Avoiding An Addiction Makes You So Productive

The lucky kiddos were stuck with mommy’s full attention along with no tv, during a week chalk-full of snow storms [reminders: Hayden’s fear of snow boots. And snow. And cold.]

It was a fun week. Well, it was a week to remember. Well, it was truly dicey, folks.

Let me tell you. Idle hands are the devils workshop. This is for real, friends. I had to keep my hands busy.

For some reason the little people didn’t enjoy mommy’s spontaneous house-purging efforts: “You don’t play with this anymore, right?” I say, gesturing to half of their playroom.
img_0846And then, after some topless painting we played some quality rounds of hide-and-seek.

Hayden always had to seek – not because he isn’t a good hider; he can giggle under a dining room table like a pro. It’s that he just really enjoys the hunt.

He says ‘ready or not, here I come…’ in a pretty menacing whisper, and he calls his victim’s name in an effort to draw them out of safety. “Wiwwy, (that’s Livvy), where ahhh yooouuu?” Then he tackles with tickles. Its quite a sight.

Given the day of learning and culture the dear children received, I was shockingly productive. I mean, SHOCKINGLY.

In the end the house vomited 11 garbage bags of STUFF we haven’t used in ages, and the basement received a donation of 2 large totes stuffed with kitchen appliances and other items I couldn’t bear to part with entirely, but simply needed to get out of my way.

And the kids, well, they seemed pretty amused with the change in our routine, and all-in-all they faired well.

Clarity Comes From Strange Places

On day 2 or maybe it was 3, (you really lose track of time with a total technology black out), my husband came home at 5pm (early, bless him) and announced he was going on a man-date with his BFF, Doug, and leaving immediately.

I complained about the lack of notice, and he complained about my technology ban, and I decided to shoot for BEST WIFE EVER AWARD, and assured him I’d be fine, and to have a good time. (Please don’t consult my husband to verify above story)

It wasn’t that dinner and bedtime with the kids were too tricky solo — that’s because Dave and I encourage each other to get THE HECK OUT OF THE HOUSE at least one night a week, each.

The difficulty arose at 6:45pm, when I walked down the stairs after tucking in those cute kids I made we made.

I looked around the quiet house, and realized all I wanted to do was decompress.

I wanted to hop on the couch and turn on a rerun of FRIENDS and scroll through my social feeds, then make myself a yummy treat, and repeat.

Instead I planted myself in front of our electric fireplace, and brought a few books over, along with my day planner, which ensures me that I do, in fact, have a connection to the world.

Anyway, book(s) in hand, fireplace roaring, (as much as electric fireplaces do roar) dessert bowl nestled safely on my belly, I was multi-tasking well enough that I didn’t even miss my screens.

Then I stopped.

I just sat, did some deep breathing, and let thoughts come to me. It was surprisingly NOT relaxing.

At first, I kept thinking of all these to-dos; for me, for my kids, for friends, for fun. I couldn’t do the majority of them, I was trapped, locked away from technology.

This was the moment I felt incredibly freed. I was FORCED to not research this product, or text that friend, or read the school’s newsletter. I was forced to be still, and alone, and not only did the stress melt away but big ideas formed, exciting new adventures I would begin pursuing by putting pen to paper immediately.

It was, awesome.

It seems that being swamped in all the little things impedes the big things from getting started, or really going anywhere. Making a major shift in your day-to-day routine, whether its a technology ban or removing some other major vice (not sugar, I’m never giving up sugar), gives your head space to see the bigger picture and recalibrate. I learned this kind of meditation its such a wonderful thing. I’ll be making it regular, in some form or another.

I encourage you to try it. Beware; it takes a lot more planning than you think. For reference, here’s how I prepared:

– Short note to friends and family explaining my unavailability and emergency contact during the week (husband)
– A planner, and planning ahead with friends to ensure a fairly active schedule to ease the transition
– A way to get needed info, weather reports, school closings, (For this, I had my husband tell me everything)
– Printed recipes for the week
– A week/period of time where you don’t have any BIG events going on (early Feb was it for me), I only looked a few weeks out, because life is always ‘busy’ but certainly more weeks are better than others for this type of adventure.

Be sure to share your screen/tech free adventure with me!

DISCLAIMER: I did have to view a few screens, momentarily on days 4 and 5; the snowstorms threw my well-penned plans out the window, so some phone calls and texts were made for planning purposes only. I also glimpsed at the baby monitor before realizing that it, too, is a screen. To compensate, and because I wanted to, I stayed off social media for an additional 10 days AFTER the week completed.

15 Signs You Are Officially Past ‘SURVIVAL MODE’

You were welcomed into parenthood with a tiny newborn cry followed quickly by the sweetest moment of your life until now: reaching out your arms to hold, and meet, for the very first time, your sweet squishy baby.

Or in my case, a newborn toddler (more rolls than a sushi bar)

After that first meeting, you dive right into your first day of parenting, sans orientation, (probably because you chose to nap instead.) And enter what I fondly refer to as, SURVIVAL MODE.

If you’re in SURVIVAL MODE, you probably know it because most of your life is centered on the most basic needs: sleeping and eating. Who’s getting what and how can we all get more?

You’ll also recognize survival mode by the influx of cooked meals and ogling new-baby-head-sniffers into your home. (You should be so lucky). Also these comments in public, when you bravely leave your home:

How ARE you?

Is baby letting you sleep?

You look tired.

You look GREAT…. considering you just had a baby

As you start to get your act together, no rush, you may notice
your priorities and concerns switch from ‘how am I supposed to function today?’ to ‘how can I be more productive today?’ Or maybe instead of thinking ‘when is the last time I ate?’ you’re thinking, ‘when is the last time I cooked?’ which is a major improvement, I swear.

As the fog lifts and you see the mess it left it left in its wake, take heart knowing this is the tide turning, the light at the end of the tunnel, the sentence with too many metaphors, you get it.

These are the clues that you’ve officially left survival mode:

  1. 90% of the time, your diaper bag has diapers in it (You totally got your act together)
  2. Your older kid(s) have less tardiness this semester than you did senior year
  3. You do date night. Regularly. And you’re home after 9:30pm. You wild animal.
  4. >50% of people living in your home have brushed hair daily
  5. Coffee is now considered purely enjoyable rather than critical to your daily survival (ha. Totally kidding.)
  6. You know what color the bottom of the hamper is
    Empty Laundry Baskets: Observe the children in a state of delirium over this wondrous day
  7. The glue that holds your wardrobe together is not (entirely) soft and stretchy leggings
  8. Your day planner has plans in it
  9. img_0600-1Your makeup wasn’t purchased during the pharmacy run for diapers
  10. Playing with your toddler doesn’t include the quiet game, and the pretend nap game.
  11. Baby nap times are not always mommy nap times
  12. The idea of a trip to the store with the kids in tow doesn’t make you want to nap.
  13. The idea of being intimate with your husband doesn’t make you want to nap
  14. Your wildest fantasies are not [always] nap-related
  15. And finally, you can envision life with another kiddo. You may not like the picture you see, but you know if it did happen, some day, down the road, you could handle that too.

If this sounds like you, more or less, say a fond farewell to the SURVIVAL MODE phase of your life. Appreciate what it taught you – you can survive anything. [And that sleep is totally underrated.]

Cassie Gudek | January 31st 2017

#2ndkidstyle – Restaurant Outings

#2ndkidstyle – Restaurant Outings
January 17th, 2017

It’s not that we are lazy or, or busy, or even that we’re that much smarter the second time around. But, I’ll be honest, it’s probably some combination of those things that drive us to make wildly different parenting and lifestyle choices with #2.

This month we are talking about our experience with restaurant outings, with one kid, and then with two. Keep in mind, this is a judgement free zone, friends.

First Kid

Let me paint you a picture: the coordinated high chair cover, four toys pre-attached, a bib, and a very thoroughly wiped down eating surface. You’re welcome, Olivia.

Olivia, circa 2013, hanging on for dear life; “these two are crazy”

I cannot emphasize the cleaning enough: I think we used half a package of wipes to clean down the high chair. And the table. And the sides of the table and all adjacent surfaces just in case.

We don’t forget to map out the exits and the kid friendly areas. For the love of our marriage, and eating warm food, we graciously take turns when the little one makes the tiniest of peeps, so as not to disturb our dining neighbors.

OH. And don’t even think of appetizers and dessert. One course, all at once,  and ‘can you bring the kid’s meal out AS SOON AS ITS READY?’

My tight-lipped expression doesn’t go unnoticed by the waitress who either A, flashes us a knowing ‘I totally get it’ smile, (bless you!)  or B, non-verbally implies people with children really should just eat at home.

Jackets are on before the bill arrives. Why dilly dally?
Is it me or is it extremely stressful in here?

Have you ever bumped your head on the table cleaning toddlers scraps off the floor and while simultaneously wondering: is this my life now? and did any food make it into her mouth?

Yeah, me neither…

Second Kid

Ok kiddos, you know the deal, if you’re 2 and under you’re eating right off the cleanish table. The plate is for aesthetics only, obvi. Listen, everyone knows that a sterile environment is no bueno for kiddos. (Boy were we relieved when we learned this)

We pack no toys because crayons & kids menus are always exciting. But mostly because we like a little danger in our lives. Okay, really its because we generally forget non-essentials.

Also, we put the kids high chairs right next to each other so they can keep each other busy. Don’t worry about the noise.

Who doesn’t enjoy the sound of a child’s laughter followed quickly by tortured screaming?

You know we are totally getting dessert. I deserve it. And that’s the only way I could get the 4 year old to eat restaurant broccoli (“mama, its squishy. There’s SO MUCH of it. Why can’t I just eat the bread and dessert?” I often ask myself the same thing, sweetie.)

And if there’s a mess left behind. (You and I both know there is) we tip, heavily. And pray that God totally gets it too.

Stay tuned for more confessions  stories of our 2nd kid style parenting. xo.

Dear Soon-To-Be Mom of 2 under 3,

January 9th 2017 | Cassie Gudek

Atta girl! You took the plunge. Again. And whether being pregnant is your favorite season, or you experience all 100 pregnancy symptoms with neither grace nor humor, I know you’re thinking about what life will be like post due-date. Don’t worry; it’s also completely normal to forget you’re even pregnant one moment to the next.

I couldn’t forget because for the last 8 weeks of my pregnancy I had a comically large beach ball under my tank top.

Did you think I was joking? BEACH BALL.

When we got pregnant [quickly] with our second, I certainly found myself feeling a mixed bag of emotions: excitement, anxiety, sadness (that my only wouldn’t be my only anymore), and amused (when did I become such an adult?). Sifting through these feelings, I found that my anxieties about transitioning from one to two were truly a wasted emotion.

Here’s what I will tell my myself 2 and a half years ago when I get my time machine up and running…

1. It really is possible to feed a newborn and supervise a curious toddler simultaneously:

One of my anxieties was rooted in the entire nursing experience. It felt all-consuming to me with my first, especially with our difficult beginning (more on this later). I found myself worrying, what if my toddler starts a play school kitchen fire while I’m nursing the fresh one? Or runs into a wall? Or finds magic markers and makes glorious body/floor/wall art?

Me doing some awesome multi-tasking in the early days

A friend once gave me what felt like a harsh and unhelpful answer, but in reality makes total sense. When I asked her about managing her toddler and newborn at the same time she said “The truth is, you just figure it out.” See? Incredibly unhelpful.

The sentiment is true though. You simply adjust to the new normal. You find you are much more capable and efficient when you’re forced into it.

As for some practical tips, I gave my toddler, Olivia, a box of special toys (Hint: regular toys, in a special box.) (Hint: regular box, just call it ‘special’) that she could only play with while I was nursing. This kept her occupied in the early days. Then later, I got to be a pro (as you will too) by reading a book, or playing a game, while also feeding baby (boob or bottle), and doing a pretty bang up job at both.

If I can guarantee any resume enhancements due your way, it will be finely tuned multi-tasking skills.

slightly better multi-tasking

I also enjoyed feeding on the go, its good to get you and your baby used to this. I wish we did it more often, honestly. Being out of the house is a sensorial delight for your kids; sunshine, trees, animals, people; noises, sights and smells…to go somewhere new is basically magic to a toddler.

Parks, stores, walks around the neighborhood, visiting friends, do it all, and feed wherever you are. Not only will your toddler be happily preoccupied, but your newborn will get comfortable eating in a variety of settings, which can only benefit you in the long run.

2. Get out early and often

Another hang up I had was the ANXIETY over how to handle two in public. Some common fears about being in public with two were: Handling a poonami in an awkward setting (so, anywhere).

[Poonami: A baby poop so explosive it destroys both the diaper and the outfit, with many innocent bystanders affected: like, my shirtsleeve, the car seat, and everyone’s nose. And eyes. Because ick. ]

Other fears: toddler tantrum, spit ups and nipple leaks, a suddenly and unexpectedly hungry baby, stuck in line with cranky kids, and any combination of any of these very annoying and highly likely incidents.

I’ll just say it, the grocery store: I feared the grocery store.

It didn’t help that a friend one baby ahead of me said she delayed her first trip (with two) for weeks over these same fears.

Believe it or not, it’s completely doable. Like, 100% manageable. And when it’s not, you will live to tell the tale. And telling a horribly traumatic grocery store experiences to your mommy friends will totally make their day.

Here’s how we handle it: we eat the whole store. Raisins, yogurt pouches, (we bring our own water, because that’s just fiscally responsible), but essentially the big one indulges in snacking and is an absolute delight.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this line of thinking, but generally speaking, if it works,  and is a habit you don’t mind starting, just do it. Some other (more appropriate) tips:

  • Use a baby carrier for the newborn while doing everything else exactly the same
  • Feed just prior to going. Duh.
  • When your 2nd is old enough for the front of the cart “promote” your eldest to the big part. I promise he/she will be psyched.
  • Know and avoid the busy times at your local stores & try to be consistent with the time of day you go; we always did Wednesday mornings right after eating and way before nap time, for obvious reasons
  • Get those crazy carts with benches and steering wheels and actual bells and whistles. #YOLO
  • Bags can be hung right on the outside of the cart, right under your kid’s dangling legs, totes saving on precious cart space.
  • Know what you’re getting – seriously, be an adult and make a list

3. My math was wrong; there is most definitely more time in the day

My other mom-friends of two and I giggle at our naïve former selves, reliving our so-called ‘busy and harried lives’ as a mom of one.

I remember having deep nonverbal conversations with my 3 month old, also watching her sleep, and of course the endless staring. Not the ‘is she breathing?’ ‘Is that a rash?’ staring. I mean the totally indulgent, ‘she is so ridiculously cute, I can’t believe I made her, and I most definitely cannot do the laundry right now’ staring.

Okay, let me break it down for you, you can do SO much in one day, and not feel stressed and rushed.

Know your limits but stretch them:

  • Utilize nap times effectively – figure out what can be done fairly easily while they are both awake, and save only the most difficult or impossible tasks [to do with one hand] for nap time
  • Remember that EVERYTHING entertains a newborn; put that baby in a carrier or a swing, and let her watch you cook, clean, feed the big one, and see you in all your domestic glory
  • Friends are your friend: Make one. Enjoy short play dates. Or long ones. Invite them to YOU. And boldly ask them to watch the littles while you switch the laundry. Seriously. We all do it. (note: switch the laundry also means make lunch, change into something more stretchy, or a luxurious pee break, your call)

The bottom line, you adjust to the new normal in your own beautiful way. Find the short cuts that don’t short change your values or priorities. Know what you want to give on and what is nonnegotiable. And goodness, be nice to yourself. Those kiddos are lucky to have you.

Glass Half Spilled – Chapter 1

Glass Half Spilled – Chapter 1
January 5th 2017 | Cassie Gudek

This is the day I first caught Hayden on his [now daily] fact finding mission: what happens when I dump a full glass of water on the floor?

Result? Well, some of us laughed (daddy) others scold (big sister) and still others grab their iPhone because they know it’s pretty cute when your toddler steals the bathroom footstool and makes himself a water on the rocks.
You see, Hayden’s glass is most always half full. Except, of course, when it’s on my floor.

So, some interesting combination of becoming a parent, gracefully exiting my 20s, and lots of self-indulgent soul searching has forced me to adopt a positive outlook on what others might consider a generally chaotic time in my life. There’s always a silver lining and I am pretty gifted in finding one for every dark cloud threatening to rain on my kids’ latest sidewalk chalk creation.

I’ve decided this phase of my life I’m finished stressing about the mess; instead I’ll live in it and soak it up. I’m done planning and worrying about the future; instead I’ll be living in the moment. And I’m most certainly done with endless comparisons on my parenting, my children, my decisions, and my marriage. I’m seeing life through new eyes, and I’m pretty damn proud of it all.

Glass Half Spilled is failing to be the perfect parent, the perfect wife, the perfect person. And instead, living in the MESS. And not missing a second of it. It’s an honest look at the hard parts, and being present for the good stuff. It’s absurd situations we parent ourselves into. Join me on this adventure, its basically a very lovely family dinner out; we’ll appreciate the humor of total disaster, and thank God it wasn’t our kids… this time.