Self Care and Taking a Breath

Dear sisters,

I find myself so fascinated by this concept of self care. It’s all the rage right now, maybe because everyone is realizing how very wonderful it is. Instead of a Donna Meagle
TREAT YO’SELF day (which is also great), you can do something special and call it self care!

Moving, having a baby, travelling to see family over the holidays, everyone being sick for a month, these things kind of put me in survival mode. There were still plenty of wonderful days and memories to be had, but my over-arching feeling was one of tension, bracing for more illnesses, gritting my teeth and wearing Helen for naps in the airport, not sleeping much so both children were happy and settled. Recently, I’ve realized I don’t need to be bracing for anything, nothing to grit my teeth for! We are here, settled in Fort Collins, we have a fledgling community of friends and acquaintances that we’re getting to know better, and it’s time to take a breath. I wanted to stretch and enjoy my days a little more.

My first step in doing that was journaling. I wasn’t able to think this clearly about what I needed at first. So I started writing out thoughts.

From my first journal entry: “I have a feeling like my brain is turning to mush. I have so many thoughts throughout my day about my life/career/future as a family, etc. and I have no outlet, no way to sit and think them through before I move on to doing something new.” I share these thoughts with Kevin later in the day, so he can get a glimpse into my life at home. He fully agreed with this feeling. Life with two children feels hectic. We’re still figuring out how to communicate with each other about our own needs while parenting our children.

A journal, a book, and two Mennonite Hymnals. Good stuff.

The next step was to find time to read books that help me grow. I LOVE to read. My favorite app on my phone is probably Overdrive. When I’m rocking Helen to sleep, or nursing her, or snuggling with Calvin during Paw Patrol, I’m usually simultaneously reading something on my phone (or sometimes scrolling through Facebook and Instagram…). I love that my phone allows me to have those moments of “me time” while I’m home with the children, but looking at my phone so much also makes me feel fuzzy. I needed to carve out time to read a real book, think thoughts fully, and breathe.

Naptime is my time to do that. Very recently, I’ve managed to sync up Calvin’s nap with Helen’s mid-day nap, which is amazing. I realize I am pretty lucky to have a 2.5 year old boy that takes a 1-2 hour nap every day. He only falls asleep if I’m snuggling with him though, so it’s not perfect ;-). Helen usually goes down a bit after Cal and sleeps for 45 minutes to an hour. Just in the past week have I instituted this self care routine. I’ve done yoga that focuses on breathing and back pain (hello big baby problems). I’ve been reading a few books that help me as a parent and a person. I’ve baked and prepped delicious meals.

I really enjoyed this one! Some good strategies and reminders about how to lovingly set limits to keep yourself sane. Still in the positive parenting genre.
Food prep! Soup and bread and my daily cup of tea :-). This is one of my happy places.

Those are the successful days. Don’t be thinking I’ve got this all figured out. There are also those days where I get Helen down for a nap after Calvin falls asleep, settle into a hot bath and the SECOND I lean back to relax and read hear Calvin calling for me. There are days where Kevin is tired out from having to go to Calvin multiple times a night and we’re snippy all day. But overall, I feel like I’m living a fuller, lovelier life. I’m taking more delight in things.


Looking back, I think I’m kind of healing from the stress of having a baby, moving, losing our friends and sense of community back in La Crosse, realizing we’re so far from family. Kevin and I are very gung-ho people, we jump in and assume we can handle it. We did and we maintained a relative sense of happiness and security through the whole thing, but I can see how I tempered my emotions, locked myself down into survival mode to do it. Now I feel like I’m feeling and thinking in technicolor.

Enjoying a beautiful day, watching Cal play with a friend from across the street, chilling in the garage with my gal.

Sisters and friends, are you doing anything small or large to help yourself? Are you needing something and don’t know where to start? I hope you’re all finding little ways to breathe and treat yourself to something wonderful (even if it’s just reading a book for a few minutes).

Love to you all,


Writing again to share…

Hello sisters,

This blog has been on a long hiatus. I don’t know how much I’ll be writing here in the future, now that I’m expecting another baby, but I know I enjoy looking back at these posts. A lot of big moments have been written about here (and little ones too, which is just as nice), but I thought I’d add another big one.

Kevin and I are moving again, to Fort Collins, Colorado. Now, some of you may be wondering, wait…Colorado is farther away from family and friends, and you’d be right! Kevin and I had been hoping to get back to the East Coast eventually. Being within driving distance of many of our loved ones would be lovely, but at the same time, permanent jobs in the field of ecology are also lovely!

Winter in Fort Collins
I think I may have to learn how to ski…

As Kevin’s post doc started winding down (and federal funding became less of a certainty…), he started applying to permanent jobs. There were lots of fish in the water, but the one that took his bait was Colorado Parks and Wildlife Service in Fort Collins, CO where he will be a spatial ecologist! It’s another big move, farther west. Kevin joked that in 10 years we’ll be in Japan at this rate. Continue reading “Writing again to share…”

Highlights of Recent Life

I miss sharing the little things about life. Whenever I get the chance to talk to you, sisters, or you, friends, it’s hard to tell you everything! I’ve always been the oversharer of the family, rattling on about the minute details of my school day, spewing inconsequential stories about an interaction with a teacher or (during my post school days) sharing stories about all the wonderful people I know. Now that I’m far away I don’t get to do that as often! So here are some things that I would have shared with you, they might not be interesting, but that’s what you get when you talk to Jewel ;-).

ROUGH PUFF! A few weeks ago I made rough puff pastry dough for the first time ever and it was a triumph. I had always wanted to try making homemade puff pastry dough/croissant dough, but I didn’t want to go through the whole butter lamination process. Instead, I read up on the rough puff method: I followed this tutorial at Fine Cooking and it worked wonderfully. It is very similar to making a butter pie crust, except it has a few more steps. The key is not adding too much water, as soon as it seems like it’s holding together a tiny bit, you begin rolling. Here are some pictures of my finished product–apple turnovers! I filled them with a cinnamon/nutmeg cream cheese mixture and a small spoonful of homemade applesauce. Delish.

Continue reading “Highlights of Recent Life”

I’m actually moving!

Dear sisters,

Kevin and I are actually moving to La Crosse, WI! We’ve been out there twice to look for housing and get to know the area and it still hasn’t quite hit me that we’re actually doing this. Today is my last day of teaching, Kevin defends in 15 days, we pack up and move in about a month. For some reason La Crosse doesn’t seem that far away, even though it is 869 miles away from Alfred, NY. I can imagine it being our home really easily because we already have friends there. It’s a nice sized city of 50,000ish people, 90,000 counting the surrounding sprawl. It’s easy to navigate and we’ve walked through beautiful parks, cute neighborhoods, university campuses and along the riverside. There’s so much nature to see all around La Crosse and I’m really excited to explore. During our last trip there I took a few pictures to give you a taste of the city.

This is an overlook in Onalaska, a suburb north of La Crosse. This wide part of the Mississippi is called Lake Onalaska, though it just looks like a fat river to me :-).

Continue reading “I’m actually moving!”