Car seat love

I was so excited to be invited to my friend Allison's Graco Safety party last week. We've used a Graco infant car seat for both boys, and it was so much fun to see the new features they have added in the Graco SnugRide Click Connect 40. Not to mention, I got to hang out with some super sweet bloggers that I have been reading for years (and was slightly starstruck). :)

(Intently discussing car seats at the Graco Safety party)

I'm not much of a researcher, but when it comes to car seats and my boys' safety, I've done my fair share of Googling and combing Consumer Reports. It horrifies me to hear stories from my mechanic husband about parents who don't use car seats for their kids, or who have seats that aren't properly installed. Did you know car accidents are the number ONE killer of children aged 1-12 in the U.S ("The Right Seat", safercar.gov)? If you have a child in a car seat, I highly encourage visiting this site to brush up on car seat guidelines. This is important stuff!

At the party, Allison and Heather did a great job of explaining the features of Graco's newest car seat:

1. It is the only infant car seat that allows a child to be in the same rear-facing seat from birth until age two - comfortably. It has an easily adjustable 8-position recline so big kids can sit up straighter in their seat (hence, more leg room).

2. Its straps are easily adjustable with no re-threading! (There was much excitement over this during the party!) Most of us admitted to avoiding moving those straps up because it was so darn time-consuming. The Click Connect 40 makes it easy.

3. An optional foot rest prevents big kids from getting mud all over your seats. Genius, I tell ya.

4. The cushy headrest and cute patterns are also nice perks!

Thanks to Allison and Heather for hosting such a fun event -- and many thanks to Graco for providing this awesome car seat for us to review!

{The Graco SnugRide® Click Connect™ 40 – the first and only newborn to two-year infant car seat that actually grows with your baby from four pounds all the way up to 40 pounds. The car seat is designed for a parent on the go. The infant car seat can be easily removed from the base and used as a carrier when the infant is small, providing portability and convenience so you can easily move your infant in and out of the car without disturbing them.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently made the recommendation to keep all children in rear-facing car seats until the age of 2. Graco set out to make this product so parents can keep infants rear facing longer while still keeping them comfortable.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Graco. The opinions and text are all mine.}


On first birthday parties and remembering to breathe

The food was ready, the house as clean as it was going to get. My kids (and hubby) were napping, and I had two hours to myself before my baby's first birthday party. I wandered the house and listened to my heart pump. I ran over in my mind all of the things my guests might need, reminded myself to put toilet paper in the bathrooms. My shingles sores stung, my back tense from the pain and the anxiety. My nose burned from a(nother) sinus infection. My chest tightened and I reminded myself to breathe.

Stress management is not my strong suit these days. My brother likes to remind me that my life is pretty awesome - I have a wonderful husband, adorable kids, a good job. And he's right. But some days it feels like everybody needs me too much, like every little thing is going wrong, like my brain just can't handle all the noise and the emotions. I get all wrapped around myself, spun so tight I can't even move.

And then this morning I read - "Cast all your cares upon the Lord, because He cares for you." He cares. All these little things I'm fretting about - He cares about them. All of my health concerns, my relationships, my goals and disappointments - He cares. And if God cares, maybe I need to care a little more too. If I'm feeling stressed out all. the. time. -- something is not right. My body and brain and spirit seem to be in a constant state of emergency, and I need to respond.

My good friend at work is a former psychiatrist, and has heard about all of my illness and stress during our coffee dates. Yesterday when I told her (for the tenth time) "I just don't know what to do next"; she told me that excuse seems to be the "wall" that prevents me from moving forward, and that perhaps just gathering more information would be an empowering step. I cried when I recognized how "stuck" I've become. I'm so grateful for wise friends who aren't afraid to tell it like it is.

So. My goal to deal with stress this week is to research postpartum anxiety, sinus infections, and shingles, and to find a doctor in my area who will take a holistic look at my health and help me figure out what's going on. Sometimes I think I get stuck in this "martyr" mentality of just suffering through -- but it's been too long. I need to get back to living again.

Oh, and the party? It was a blast. Our birthday boy spent half the party snuggling with relatives and half of it hamming it up. He smashed his cupcake and devoured it with a smile. He bounced up and down over his gifts and even said "ta-da" (thank you) for some of them. The cousins played and colored, the grandparents told stories, and I enjoyed every minute. Even when grandma had to ask me where all my toilet paper was. ;)

The birthday boy - so happy about his cupcake!

Do you have any tips for managing stress/anxiety? (MN friends - any advice on good holistic doctors?)

This post is part of a series for the (in)couraging Working New Moms group. Are you a new-ish working mom? You are invited to join us here!


A self-care manifesto for tired moms

Dear, tired, hard-working mom,

I give you permission. Shut your phone off, sit down for awhile. Grab some hot tea, light a candle, take a deep breath. Eat an apple, admire it's color, enjoy it's tartness. Slow. Down.

Your work is good, but it's not everything. Take some time to enjoy the work of the Lord and the fruits of your labor. Enjoy your kids, your back yard, the colors of the sunset. Take it all in.

Play. They won't be asking you for much longer. Build a tower, wrestle, make a fort, read a book, sing a song. Live this moment with your littles. Don't think about what you should be doing. Just play.

The to-do list is not your master. Let the dishes pile up, dance in the kitchen, bake something. Remember what life was like before responsibility - remember what you love, who you are.

Kiss your husband -- hold his face and look into his eyes for a few long seconds. Smile at him. Laugh. Remember those silly things you used to do -- tickle, poke, flirt. Listen. Say yes.

Say no. You don't have to please everyone - only Jesus. Make space for yourself, your family. Stay home once in awhile. The world will go on without you - and your family will thank you.

Drink a cold glass of water. Take your vitamins. Shower. Go to bed early. Eat your vegetables. Go for a walk. Make a doctor's appointment for yourself. Feed the body that bore your children.

Pray. Open your dusty Bible, eat it up, soak it in. Cry out to God. Forgive. Remember how loved and treasured you are. Remember how loving, strong, powerful, present, and beautiful He is.

Take care, love.

(P.S. After a postpartum year of four sinus infections, hand foot mouth disease, anxiety, and now shingles -- I need to take this letter to heart. Self care is important. Our bodies and spirits need daily nourishment; we are not made to operate on auto-pilot.)


Your work is good

Dear working mom,
Your work is good. Your deadline-meeting, phone answering, email writing, blogging, diapering, dinner cooking, toilet cleaning -- it's all good. God in you is pushing back the chaos of a fallen world. He's mending hearts, growing minds, healing bodies -through you.

Your Maker says its good; that the long nights, exhaustion, body breaking, those days you feel you're dying inside - it's joining Him in the cross bearing.

I've spent many days sitting in a cubicle, my heart crying out to Him, longing for more meaning and a purpose. Finally He showed me -- it's not the kind of work you do that matters. It doesn't matter if you're a hand, ear, butt cheek, or femur. Be who I made you, and be it well. Live where I placed you, and live well. Die to yourself, squeeze every drop of joy out of the days, even the bone weary ones. Your work matters because I made you and I treasure you.

I think of how my toddler is learning to write his letters, and how heart-busting proud i am of his squiggly lines. Because he is mine, because he is growing and trying and enjoying his accomplishments. And how my Father rejoices over me too --even my most squiggly lines. Even when I throw down the pencil and cry, refusing to accept help - He overflows with love and grace toward me.

And when your body is drained and your spirit weary, remember his promise - He will be a soul-resting-place for you. You need not be anxious or worried. Pause, look up, give thanks, and rest in Him.

Are you a new-ish working mom? There's a place online for you - you are invited. Also, click over to read Anna's post on the value of our work today.


(in)couraging Working New Moms

I've been waiting to tell you... My sweet friend Anna (from Girl with Blog) and I are starting an (in)courage community group for working new moms! We are so excited for this opportunity to build up other moms during this joyful and challenging stage of life.

We come to you with open hearts and arms, providing a place where you can be honest and real, where you can rest and recharge. I invite you to click over to Anna's blog to read more about our story, our plans, and how to join our group.