Truthfulhood Project | introduction

The Truthfulhood Project from claremontroad.com

The short version: I’m jumping on the New Year’s resolution bandwagon and creating a new weekly project for myself. Each week, I will create a piece of art (be it hand lettering, a graphic pattern, orrrrr maybe a scribble on a post-it if I’m really tired) that expresses a truth of my motherhood experience, and share it on Instagram, along with some sort of story behind it. I’m calling it Truthfulhood.

The long version: I’m just about four weeks away from my due date with baby no. 2. While I approach maternity leave, postpartum fun, baby snuggles, sleep deprivation, and a new normal of parenting a newborn and a 3.5 year old, I wanted to give myself a challenge that will allow me to keep up with creating (for myself, not for clients), but without too much pressure. In January 2014 I dove into a daily hand lettering challenge, and promptly gave up by mid-February due to boredom/lack of time. This time around, I’m leaving the medium and final product more open ended, making it a weekly(-ish?) project instead of daily, and in general setting fairly low expectations 😉 And I may not always post on the same day each week, because: motherhood. But I’ll do my best.

I think it’s important for moms of all kind to be truthful about their motherhood experiences and supportive of one another. We all feel and handle experiences differently on this crazy, poop-filled rodeo, and ultimately we’re all just doing the best we can. I’ve been fortunate to have an amazing village of moms supporting me since I first found out I was pregnant with Graham, and one of my highlights of 2015 was monthly outings with a local group of mom friends that I’ve come to be close to. Once a month we’d meet up for a “post bedtime happy hour” (after the kids were in bed, or at least winding down, leaving dads on duty) for drinks, nachos, and whatever else we were in the mood for, to just catch up on life. I could always count on these ladies to be hilarious, brutally honest, and supportive, no matter what parenting/work/life challenges any of us might be facing at any particular time. I always leave our outings feeling refreshed, supported, and understood. Those ladies have become an important part of my village, and this project is a little extension of that sisterhood: sharing the good, the bad, the poop-covered, and the irrational-toddler-inspired truths of my motherhood experience.

Follow along here, or on Instagram. #truthfulhood #truthfulhoodproject

for toddlers who love trucks

My little guy LOVES trucks, and pretty much anything with wheels. Garbage trucks, dump trucks, fire engines, tractor trailers, excavators, bulldozers — you name it. It’s safe to say that his toy shelves are becoming crowded with quite the fleet of vehicles.

Below are some of our favorite truck books and toys that help him uphold his obsession.

Truck Books for Toddlers | Claremont Road

1. Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site – This is a bedtime favorite in our house. Not only does Graham love it, but I love the detailed and beautiful pastel illustrations, and sweet little details like the crane truck who sleeps with his teddy bear.

2. Trucks Roll! – This is another one that I love for the illustrations. Unlike Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, though, these illustrations are bold and graphic — they’re great for helping little ones identify primary colors. We met our limit with renewing this one at the library… it might be time to buy our own copy!

3. Little Blue Truck – This super cute story also includes a cast of lovable farm animals, so Graham was sold the first time we read it! It’s a sweet book about friendship and helping one another, in addition to — of course — including trucks.

4. Little Blue Truck Leads the Way – A sequel to Little Blue Truck, it follows our truck buddy as he heads into the big city, battling traffic with everything from delivery trucks and double-decker buses to limousines and police cars. Basically, a vehicle-loving kid’s dream.

5. Bulldozer – Graham has memorized many of the simple rhymes in this book, so it’s a fun, interactive story to read together. The cute die-cut shape doesn’t hurt, either.

6. My Truck Is Stuck! – This silly little story is also a bedtime favorite, with a playful cast of dogs, beavers, and — you guessed it — lots and lots of 4-wheeled friends.

Truck Toys for Toddlers | Claremont Road
1. Melissa & Doug Car Carrier – We love the simple wooden Melissa & Doug toys, and this one can keep Graham entertained for hours. A nice bonus is that the cars also fit on his wooden train tracks, and his train cars fit on this carrier. Toddler. Mind. Blown!

2. Melissa & Doug Magnetic Car Loader – Since Graham loved his other car carrier so much, Santa brought him this one for Christmas. The magnetic factor adds a whole new element of endless entertainment.

3. CAT Tough Tracks Loader – The CAT toys are especially fun since they look like the real thing. Graham constantly corrects me if I mistakenly call an excavator a front end loader (the horror!) and he has a blast with this loader.

4. Janod Original DIY Truck – This wooden truck comes with a hammer, screwdriver and wrench for lots of building fun. It also has a leash that attaches to the front so it can be carried around accordingly.

5. Green Toys Recycling Truck – Green Toys are all made from recycled milk containers, so they’re a nice alternative to a lot of the other plastic toys out there. This recycling truck is a favorite of Graham’s and has lots of space for carrying/dumping things. He also has and loves the Green Toys Dump Truck.

6. Bruder MAN Fire Engine – This one is on Graham’s wish list, and no doubt he will love it. It’s an investment for sure, but with lots of moving parts, lights, a siren, and a hose that can really shoot water, what’s not to love?

All images via the links above; opinions are my own. Claremont Road is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Happy Halloween

Halloween ranks pretty high on the “days that are especially awesome when you have a kid” scale. Happy Halloween from our little Clark Kent!

Superman/Clark Kent toddler costume | Claremont Road

12-24 Month Favorites: Books

There are days when Graham’s toys go untouched because we’re spending lots of time outside or we’re busy going on adventures, but one thing we still do a good amount of every day is reading, no matter what else is going on. I love how much Graham loves his books, and that reading time together usually also means snuggle time (bonus for Mommy). He definitely goes through phases and will be obsessed with a certain book one week and won’t even notice that same book the following week, but for the most part the titles below are all in heavy rotation in our house.

favorite books: 12-24 months | Claremont Road

ILLUSTRATED FAVORITES 

1. Little Blue Truck
A wonderfully illustrated book with lots of fun animal sounds, this is currently the book that Graham demands we read to him when he wakes up in the morning and when he wakes up from his nap.

2. Otis
I love this sweet story of a tractor and calf who become best friends; the illustrations all have soft, muted colors with pops of red and yellow, which is a nice departure from the sometimes blinding colors of children’s books!

3. I Love You Because You’re You
This one makes me teary on the regular, as the illustrations of a fox mother and son go straight to my sappy heart. Graham loves pointing out all the details in this one, like the cookies, the ball, and the broken airplane toy.

4. Flip, Flap, Fly!
A sweet and pretty exploration of different types of animals, this is another adorable mom-and-baby story told through rhyme.

 

ERIC CARLE CLASSICS
These were some of the first books that Graham ever really paid attention to and showed an interest in. They’re simple, charming, and I love Eric Carle’s illustration style — not to mention the fact that they’re great for learning colors, numbers, animals, etc. From Head to Toe is the latest we’ve added to our collection and it’s SO FUN to see Graham act out all of the movements. Perfect for a two-year old!

6. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

7. The Very Quiet Cricket

8. The Very Busy Spider

9. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

10. From Head to Toe

favorite books: 12-24 months | Claremont Road

BABY LIT® FAVORITES
I could not love these books more — literary classics turned into primers for learning colors, numbers and the like — and we need to continue building our collection. They’re simple stories that leave lots of room for the imagination (such as the 5 marriage proposals page in Pride & Prejudice that we add hilarious commentary to for Graham), and the illustrations are undeniably adorable. You can even buy prints of the illustrations from illustrator Allison Oliver’s site.

11. Pride & Prejudice

12. Moby Dick

13. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

 

BEDTIME STORIES
We (and as a result, Graham) are creatures of habit, so we typically rotate the same few books during his bedtime routine. It has created a nice, predictable routine… which I’m sure will change now that I’ve said that. The below books are mostly short and sweet, and are perfect for prepping the little guy for sleepy-time. Big Dog… Little Dog is a sentimental favorite, as Nick and I both loved it as kids. Funny enough, we’re missing the staple Good Night, Moon from this line-up — we will have to get a copy of that to add to our library, stat.

14. The Going-To-Bed Book

15. Time for Bed

16. Big Dog… Little Dog

17. Good Night, Gorilla

 

I’d love to know what you’re reading to your little ones… what should we add to Graham’s bookshelf this year?

All images via the links above; opinions are my own. Claremont Road is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Parenthood, So far: Thoughts on the First Two Years

The old cliché really is true: the days are long, but the years are short. Here we are, approaching Graham’s second birthday, even though it seems like just yesterday we were celebrating his first birthday and waiting with bated breath to see when he’d take his first steps. Now he’s a running, climbing, jumping, chatterbox, jokester toddler who surprises us with something new each day. Naturally, I’ve been doing a lot of sappy reflecting, grasping all that I’ve learned in this whirlwind new role. Here are just a few thoughts/pointers regarding the millions of things I’ve learned.

Parenthood, So Far: Thoughts on the First Two Years

Motherhood doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and that’s okay.
I loved my son with every ounce of my being the moment I laid eyes on him, but for a long while I had no clue what I was doing. The books I read and preparations I made taught me nothing about how to truly handle the emotions and changes-every-second craziness of parenting an infant, well through the entire first twelve months. (If I’m being honest, it didn’t really feel like it “clicked” until he was 16 months.) The first year of his life was truly about survival for me; I felt much more like a rattled student in some absurd, completely overwhelming Parenting Academy where you are tested on your capacity to catch spit-up mid-air without getting any on your clothes, and your ability to rush to the changing pad just before the blowout becomes a real problem. I attended a weekly mom’s group that my lactation consultant started for moms of newborns, and for so many months, I felt like I just observed what the other moms did and took their lead without truly feeling like I knew what I was doing; I was waiting for it all to feel like second nature, but it took a very long time for that to happen. I felt like an impostor amidst other moms who took to their new role like pros from the start. Looking back, I recognize that year one was just a complete whirlwind of emotions and newness, every single day, but year two has been when I truly felt like I became a mother. A wipe-my-spit-on-your-face-to-clean-it-off, know-you’re-about-to-scale-the-furniture-even-before-you-do-it, can-get-you-dressed-without-you-even-noticing-because-I-rock-at-distracting-you mother.

You begin to really appreciate all the tough decisions your parents made on your behalf, and realize how scary it is to make decisions for your own tiny human being.
I can now fully appreciate how bad-ass it was of my mom to pull me out of my first dance recital, at age three, because she didn’t want me being objectified while shaking my butt on stage in an Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini. Other parents probably thought it was a cute and harmless routine, but my mom, she of the female art school education during the Gloria Steinem era, knew that it was setting me up for a future of valuing my own self-worth based on my appearance, and she took a stand. It was a statement I didn’t understand at that young age, and I probably didn’t even realize it was happening, but that decision she made for me is something that stays with me still today. There are a lot of tough choices that go into parenting, and I hope Nick and I will do Graham proud when he someday looks back at the decisions we made for him.

Never plan anything important during naptime.
The day you plan that important conference call during naptime “because he always sleeps at least 2 hours” is the day your child will revolt against naptime, complete with ear piercing, heartbreaking screams and flailing arms smacking the crib. Kids have an uncanny ability to know exactly when you’re realllllly counting on them to behave a certain way, and that is the moment they will ensure that it all goes to hell. In other words: naptime is never, ever a given. Anything you are able to accomplish during that peaceful time is simply a bonus, but the moment something depends on it happening, it won’t.

You will buy crap you said you’d never buy, including experiences that your kid will not remember.
I never understood why parents pay for things like DisneyWorld or, on a much smaller scale, Day Out With Thomas, for small kids who will have no recollection of that experience as they grow up. Now I totally get it (and I have the Day Out With Thomas tickets to prove it). Yes, it’s all part of the larger mastermind created by Very Intelligent Business People who exploit the emotional pull that parents feel to make their kids happy. But damn if seeing that huge grin that appears the first time your kid lays eyes on Mickey/Thomas/whoever live and in person (er, in engine?) doesn’t make it all worth it. Embrace the crap and the experiences, and just enjoy those grins and gazes of wonder.

One day your kid WILL stop hating the car seat.
I promise — it really will happen. One day, magically, out of nowhere, your child will actually giggle and be pleasant for an entire car ride, and it will drastically improve your life.

Date nights happen very rarely.
…And when they do happen, they usually entail talking about your child (who is asleep at home while you are paying someone to watch your tv), and getting home no later than 10pm. Your human alarm clock will wake you up when the sun rises the next day, anyway, so staying out late is much less tempting than it used to be. Soak up those date nights when you can, or create mini date nights at home when you can’t fathom paying a sitter.

You’ll get a lot more sleep in the second year… but may be just as (if not more) tired.
The energy level of toddlers is NO JOKE. Graham typically sleeps 11 straight hours at night and another 2-3 hours at naptime, and it’s no wonder — when he’s awake, he never. stops. moving. Ever. No, really: ever. While we put him to bed at 7pm, have a few hours to ourselves to do work, catch up on housework, or maybe watch tv before we go to sleep ourselves, we’re still completely pooped at the end of the day after running with/after him for hours on end. It’s a different kind of exhaustion from the sleepless newborn days, and it does feel more gratifying because you’re getting a lot more laughter, kisses, and snuggles in return, but it is still pure exhaustion.

Parents’ intuition is real.
When Graham was 9 days old, he was not acting like himself. I felt like something wasn’t right, so we took his temperature, found that it was just a little high, and called the pediatrician on call (it was a Sunday, of course). I remember telling the doctor over the phone that I felt like he was disoriented and out of sorts; he was looking through me instead of at me, like he usually did. Looking back, I kind of marvel at the fact that I could read so much from a tiny human I’d only known for 9 days, but my gut knew that something wasn’t right. We took him to the ER and it turned out he was indeed a sick little guy. He ended up being admitted for three days until his fever dropped and they could determine whether it was a viral (good) or bacterial (bad) infection. That is standard protocol for any baby that young, but it was still such a scary experience for us not knowing what was wrong with him. I’m so glad we trusted our instincts, and it was a good lesson to learn early on to always listen to your gut.

What’s been the most surprising thing you’ve learned as a parent?

The Big ONE: Graham’s First Birthday

Last September we celebrated a very special day: Graham’s first birthday!

first birthday party | Claremont Road

We always knew we’d have a party of some sort, but the details didn’t come together until the months leading up to it. We settled on a family party at our home, and decided we will save inviting Graham’s friends for when he’s a bit older.

I initially thought a nautical theme would be fun… and then within about a day of adding nautical details to a Pinterest board, I started to feel myself getting stressed and overwhelmed by possibilities. That was all I needed to throw the theme straight out the window, and instead a fun color palette of blues, aquas, and greens became our focus. Best decision I’ve ever made! It saved us grief, money, and made it a whole lot easier to not go overboard with any details. (And, as you can tell by the colors of this blog design, I was certainly in my element.) I picked up inexpensive decorations and plates whenever I came across them, mostly at Target and our neighborhood 5 and 10, ordered a dozen colored balloons in mixed hues and a big silver number one balloon at Party City, and made a banner with paper I already had in my stash.

first birthday party decor | Claremont Road

I designed the invitations and had them printed by one of my regular print vendors that we use at Curious & Co. I absolutely adore how they turned out!

first birthday party invite | Claremont Road

I was (and still am) so, so proud of how the cake turned out. I love to bake, but I’m mostly a cookie girl and I had never baked a layered cake and decorated it myself before. I went back and forth about making a cake from scratch, but my wise sister-in-law told me there is nothing wrong with a boxed mix, and I decided she was very right.

first birthday party ombré cake | Claremont Road

Standing in the cake mix aisle at Target, I Googled the top rated cake mixes, and Good Housekeeping told me Betty Crocker SuperMoist Golden Vanilla was a good choice. That was enough to convince me: I bought two boxes to make my layered cake. I also purchased food coloring gel to make 3 of my 4 layers different shades of aqua/teal for an ombré effect. The batter was so bright and fun! I should have taken pictures. But no matter, because they still looked amazing once they were baked, too. I baked the layers the week before the party and froze them until the day before — this actually seemed to make the layers even more moist, and also meant I wasn’t baking the day before the party. Win-win.

first birthday party | Claremont Road

When it came time to decorate, I used canned buttercream icing in between layers, and then watched this video tutorial to learn how to create an ombré effect with the icing on the sides (using more food coloring to achieve the colors I wanted). I loved that imperfections just added to the charm, and I am still so in love with the final result! I didn’t have any fancy tools or a lazy Susan to spin the cake like in the video — I just used my cake stand and a spreading knife to go around and around until I was happy. I added edible pearl details around the top edge and blue crystal sugar to the center as the final touch. I ordered 6″ tall white candles on Amazon to top things off.

first birthday party | Claremont Road first birthday party | Claremont Road first birthday party | Claremont Road

The cake was delicious and every last bite was gone in a flash!

We tried to keep the food as simple as possible in terms of preparation, but still made sure we had plenty to feed to our guests. We ordered a few large hoagies and sandwiches and cut them into smaller pieces; I put Nick in charge of getting lots of fruit, veggies, and cheeses to put some trays together (much less expensive than buying pre-made trays), my best friend brought a yummy spinach dip, and I made cupcakes in addition to the cake, in case some guests preferred chocolate cake. I topped the sandwiches and cupcakes off with little flags that I made from washi tape and toothpicks, after I saw how cute it looked when Amy from The Nifty Foodie did it.

first birthday party | Claremont Road first birthday party washi tape flags | Claremont Road first birthday party cupcakes and washi tape flags | Claremont Road

I ordered a bunch of square Instagram photos of Graham from PostalPix and hung them on twine with mini clothespins around the house; my best friend helped me string banners of multi-colored, varied length streamers that we hung in doorways and outside to greet our guests. I printed the outline of large letters (in one of my favorite fonts) on a few different shades of paper that I had in my stash, and cut them out with my X-acto blade to make a banner that we hung on my grandmother’s large mirror in our dining room. Truth be told: the banner stayed up until it was time to put up Christmas decorations! I was sad to take it down and will probably break it out for as many of Graham’s birthdays as possible.

first birthday party | Claremont Road first birthday party DIY banner | Claremont Road first birthday party | Claremont Road

Because it was just too easy and I couldn’t resist, I made water bottle labels, too.

first birthday party DIY water bottle labels | Claremont Road

I definitely had fun with some of the details (I am still me, after all), but I didn’t let myself get stressed out, which was key. We had a great day with our little guy and our families, and it was so bittersweet to celebrate the end of our first year as a family of three (and the fact that Nick and I survived the first year of parenthood — hooray!).

We are positively crazy about this kid.

first birthday party | Claremont Road first birthday party | Claremont Road first birthday party | Claremont Road

Graham’s favorite toys: 6-12 months

As Graham is swiftly approaching 18 months old, it’s high time I share some of his favorite toys from the past year! First up: his favorites from 6-12 months. It was such a fun time seeing him become more interested in his toys and learning/growing along the way. In my pre-baby world, I would have said we don’t need toys that make sounds or play music, and we’d love to have all wooden toys. Well, when it comes to making your kid happy, sometimes those ideas go out the window!

baby's favorite toys: 6-12 months | Claremont Road

1. Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Stack & Roll Cups
This was a gift from a good friend of ours and it was a HUGE hit — the cups stack together, they connect to form different sized balls, and they make a fun sound if you tap them together. They also come with a little yellow rattle ball that Graham was obsessed with. He could play with it alone, or put it inside one of the balls to shake around. At 17+ months, he still likes to play with this toy every so often. It’s also a fantastic gift at a reasonable price if ever you’re in need of something for a little one over 6 months — I bought it for a few other kids we know and heard the same rave reviews from their parents, as well.

2. Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes
This toy saved me on many a car ride — and still does when we’re nearing a meltdown. The music is classical so it doesn’t bother me, there are two volume levels, and it was one of the first toys that Graham would really grip onto and not let go of. Once he figured out how to push the big button to turn the music on himself, he was even more in love. The beads are a nice help for teething little ones, and this is easy to throw into my purse or diaper bag if we’re on the go. Best feature: it has an “off” switch. It’s amazing how many kids toys that make noise can’t be turned off.

3. P’kolino Fishing Hole Size Sorter
I loved watching Graham’s little brain work as he tried to figure out how to get the fish in the holes with this toy. It was a great way to see his hand–eye coordination improving over time as it became easier and easier for him to figure out, and he still pulls this toy out to play with on a daily basis.

4. Playground Ball
Any old rubber ball will do, and Graham loves rolling his little dodgeball around through the house. So far, all of our lamps are still in one piece.

5. Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Fun with Friends Musical Table
My best friend lent this to us and we only just returned it to her last month. It was one of the first toys that Graham really interacted with for long periods of time, and also one of the first things he pulled himself up on to stand. Sure, the music and sounds got a bit annoying. But as the parent of a pretty clingy little guy, I was thrilled when this toy would buy me a solid 10 minutes to do something around the house, so I didn’t care that much about the noise! He played with it daily until he was 15 or 16 months.

6. Melissa & Doug Deluxe Chomp & Clack Alligator Push Toy
To be fair, Graham got this on his first birthday, but he took to it immediately and began walking on his own after just a few weeks; I think had he gotten this push toy a month earlier, it would have helped him to walk even sooner. I sort of loved hearing the cute click-clack sound rolling through the house, and seeing him so very pleased with himself when he made it to his destination.

7. Battat Electronic Keychain
He loved to carry his little keychain around, chew on the keys, and make noise with all the different buttons. This was another lifesaver on the occasional fussy car ride, and an easy toy to throw in the diaper bag.

8. Remote Controls (not pictured)
Don’t even try to trick your kid with a “play” remote control. Babies are smart and they want the REAL thing. Even when we took batteries out of old or unused remotes and gave them to him to play with, he still wanted the real thing (particularly the Verizon remote that lit up). When in doubt, household items for the win!

All images via the links above; opinions are my own. Claremont Road is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

the best day of his life.

I’d like to think that we provide lots of entertainment for our little guy and fill his days with plenty of joy and fun. But riding in a shopping cart in Target for the first time? This was the best day of his life so far.

Photos are blurry because he would not. stop. moving. He was that excited. The whole time.

Why have I been putting him in the stroller all this time?? Shopping cart for the win.

oatmeal banana bites

Disclaimer: these do not look very appetizing. But they are good!

oatmeal banana bites - Claremont Road

These oatmeal banana bites (my variation of the two ingredient cookies you may have heard about) are awesome to have on-hand for a quick breakfast when you otherwise have a hungry and cranky 9-month old hollering at you for his own breakfast.

Not that I’d know anything about that.

For the first 7 months of Graham’s life, like the diligent breastfeeding mom I was/am, I had oatmeal for breakfast just about every single day to help keep my supply up. And while quick oats are, indeed, quick to make, there are still certain “quick” tasks that become difficult to master with one hand while you have a squirmy baby on the other hip who will not let you put him down without a meltdown. All of a sudden, measuring half a cup of oats, adding a cup of water, opening the microwave, closing the microwave, setting the time on the microwave and pressing start, opening the microwave again, carrying a steaming hot bowl of oatmeal over to the counter, mixing brown sugar and cinnamon in, and slicing up a banana to put on top starts to feel like a near impossible task. Somedays it was and I just shoved a brownie into my mouth and called it breakfast.

Then I discovered the two ingredient cookies. Now, let me be clear: baking does not magically turn a combination of bananas and oatmeal into gooey chocolate chip cookies. When Googling for the recipe one day on my phone when I didn’t have the original link on-hand, I came across a few disgruntled bloggers who were upset that these just tasted like bananas and oatmeal, not the cookies they were promised! Well… they are bananas and oatmeal. And they are in cookie form. That does not make them sugary treats. I would not serve these as dessert at a dinner party in lieu of chocolate chip cookies!

Glad we got that out of the way.

The main ingredients are:
• two large ripe bananas
• one cup of quick oats

Put them in a bowl, mash them together, add anything else you’d like, place balls of them onto a greased cookie sheet (I grease aluminum foil on a cookie sheet, so there is literally no clean up aside from washing your bowl and throwing out the foil), and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Since I typically add brown sugar and cinnamon to my oatmeal, I did the same with this recipe: just eyeballed it based on two servings of oatmeal, and mixed in. If the two bananas I’m using are on the smaller side, I’ll add in a third to the mix.

I have been throwing these together one or two nights a week after Graham goes to bed, and it has made my mornings run so much more smoothly when Graham needs my attention. I just grab five or six of them and eat while I’m in the middle of entertaining him or getting his breakfast together. In general, preparing anything for our day the night before means I’m less crazed no matter what the day holds (lately: teething fussiness — yuck).

The best part is that they’re literally the same exact thing as eating my bowl of oatmeal for breakfast (minus the water, of course). And, since I’ve been known to be a snacker, grabbing a few more throughout the day while I’m grazing in the kitchen feels like a treat since they’re in cookie form, except they’re a generally healthy snack. At least, healthier than the Girl Scout Cookies I stockpile each year or going around the corner to help myself to some self-serve froyo.

What’s your best time-saving breakfast tip?

original recipe found here

productively unproductive

Modern technology helped to keep my sanity intact in the early days of motherhood. Hours and hours spent nursing and unable to move were made less monotonous by the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest apps on my iPhone. I could text and email with friends without having to be in front of a computer. I watched the complete “Friday Night Lights” and “Felicity” series’ on Netflix, either on our living room television (via AppleTV) or my iPhone with earbuds in, depending on where I happened to be nursing Graham or where he fell asleep on me.

iPhone selfie (while tiny Graham slept on my shoulder)…
in between checking Facebook and Instagram, I’m sure

Don’t get me wrong: there were lots of moments of quietly admiring my little one and watching him peacefully nurse or sleep in my lap. Those moments of early bonding were very important and we had no shortage of them… but when you’re nursing for what feels like 12 hours a day (actually, according to BabyConnect I believe our max was nearly 8 hours spent nursing over a 24 hour period), you also still need something to make you feel connected to the outside world when your life as you once knew it has been completely turned upside-down. When I otherwise might have felt overwhelmed by the monotony, I was able to stay connected to some sense of normalcy by seeing what friends had been up to, ask questions of my mom friends when I was dumbfounded by my new responsibilities of being a mother, order diapers or other sanity-saving baby gear on Amazon in a matter of seconds, or just get lost in the sweet and honest relationship of Eric and Tami Taylor for 42 minutes at a time.

As with most things, though, there is a good side and a not-so-good side.

While modern technology made me feel connected when I needed it most, it also continues to keep me connected when what I need most is to be disconnected. When catching up on some blogs today (on my iPhone while nursing Graham, natch), I came across this post on Unclutter and it immediately struck a chord with me. “We’ve Cured Boredom and That’s Not Good.”

Yes.

In particular, this quote by Scott Belsky stood out:

Interruption-free space is sacred. Yet, in the digital era we live in, we are losing hold of the few sacred spaces that remain untouched by email, the internet, people, and other forms of distraction. Our cars now have mobile phone integration and a thousand satellite radio stations. When walking from one place to another, we have our devices streaming data from dozens of sources. Even at our bedside, we now have our iPads with heaps of digital apps and the world’s information at our fingertips.

(I encourage you to read his full article entitled “What Happened to Downtime: The Extinction of Deep Thinking and Sacred Space” via 99U when — you guessed it! — you’re avoiding boredom on the mobile device of your choosing.)

This insight from the original Unclutterer post also resonated with me:

It’s impossible to generate a truly creative thought while the incessant barrage pelts us. It’s like complaining that we’re not dry while standing in a rain storm. You won’t dry off until you go inside and get away from the falling water.

What has prevented me from boredom while nursing my little one has also infiltrated what used to be my sacred moments of introspection, brainstorming (intentional and unintentional), plain old quiet, and general unplanned creativity. I’m filling up any limited quiet time I do have — what with an infant around now, and all — with a whole lotta noise. In the last few years, I have probably had more ideas for products or projects than I care to admit that I have not pursued because my mind was too distracted by so much figurative noise to really focus on them. In being what I feel is “productive” with my downtime, I’ve become unproductive where it matters most: my creativity. My mind no longer really has any isolated time to just be. And I’d like that to change.

I’ve seen online friends commit to having social media-free weekends; perhaps I need to give that a shot (though it seems inconceivable to me — probably all the more reason I need to try it). It needs to go beyond weekends for me, though. I need to change my habits for the long term. While there is so much good that has come from the connectedness of technology and social media, I desperately need to find the balance of reaping its benefits without letting it infiltrate every waking moment and limiting my true productivity and potential.

When I close the Instagram app, I need to not immediately open it again out of habit (I have done that more times than I care to admit without even realizing it).

Have you become productively unproductive due to modern technology? If so, what have you done (or what do you plan to do) to take back some quiet time for your mind?