Fairy Lights

I was struggling with what to write about this morning. After staring at a blank white screen for an embarrassing amount of time… I decided to take a nice little mindless scroll through Instagram. Happy couple, happy couple, happy couple… Oh yeah! That’s right Valentine’s Day. 

Nothing says “I love you” like a shot of you-and-yours in an awkward embrace. THEN I STRUCK GOLD. Let me set the mood for you… Effortlessly messy white bedding, complimenting his/her fisherman sweaters, macramé wall hanging (obviously), foreheads touching, eyes closed, intertwined fingers and of all the “natural” things… This couple is knotted-up together in fairly lights!!!! What the actual F is going on here? 

I have so many questions. Who wrapped you in the lights? Is your camera on a tripod with a timer? Does this take place every Sunday OR is it just because it’s a holiday?

Full disclosure I forgot about Valentine’s Day. Boden got nothing and Roger got an extra hour or sleep PLUS a printer-paper handmade valentine. I feel like I really recovered and nailed it. I did nail it! 

I’d like to think the couple in this post argued about filter settings. AND outside their carefully cropped bed-shot is a stained carpet and overflowing laundry basket. So if your V-Day was less than phony-photo perfect? Don’t sweat it.       

Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable

Boden just turned 4-months, so to say I’m a novice at this parenting thing is a BIG understatement. That being said my neurotic and competitive nature has actually (in my humble opinion) come in kind of handy in these early months. If I had to give a nugget of wisdom to new parents, it would be this; get comfortable with the uncomfortable. 

I don’t mean literally but that comes in handy too. I once used every shred of willpower I had to not itch my nose after Boden fell asleep in my arms and I couldn’t move. Then my arms went numb… I still didn’t want to risk moving and waking him. So I sat like that. Numb and itchy for about an hour. But I digress. What do I mean?! 

When we left the hospital Roger handled the car-seat situation. I was like “F THAT!” Straps and buckles oh my!! Then about two weeks later I realized, I would have to eventually leave the house without Roger. I should probably learn how to use that stupid contraption by myself. It was stressful. Worst case scenario… I do this wrong. We crash. He dies. So yeah… I was “uncomfortable” But practice makes progress. I made myself get Boden in-and-out of the car-seat alone (every time) for weeks. Now I’m fine. Same thing went for running errands alone. What if he has a meltdown? Worst case scenario… We leave the store, abandon our shopping cart and drive home. 

Flexing and building confidence in things you’re uncomfortable with is invaluable. The longer you go without learning or doing the things you’re uncomfortable with, the harder it will be to do them. You’re baby won’t realize you’re clueless. Any judgment is self prescribed. Sometimes babies scream. Is it embarrassing and stressful while strangers glare at you?! HELL YEAH!!! But guess what?! It’s going to happen eventually so embrace it. Don’t be a hermit and stay inside with your kid until they’re eight. Nothing is ever going to be perfect. Take a deep breath, give yourself some grace and get comfortable with the uncomfortable.   

Why babies are like dynamite.

In order to do this post justice we need to back-up. Back-up alllll the way to the start. Two high school kids. One played football and drank multiple cartons of milk at the lunch table with his friends. The other casually stalked said football playing milk drinker from another table in the cafeteria… While consuming only Diet Coke. This was the late 90’s and artificial sweeteners were at their prime (God bless Aspartame)!!!! 

Milk drinker and Diet Coke drinker went on like this for most of their high school years. Not talking. Only really knowing each other existed because #smallmaineschool. Then something magical happened!! A rumor spread that milk drinker thought Diet Coke drinker was cute. They went on a date. It was terrible. The end. 

Fast forward to college. They were at different schools. AOL Instant Messenger was invented and the former milk drinker was now screen-name “holybears.” He sent “Christina805” a message and over summer break holybears promised Christina805 a date (“If I don’t call you – I’ll owe you $5 bucks!”) BUT alas… He never called. One night Christina805 saw holybears out with his friends and yelled across the street!!! “HEY ST.OURS!!!! YOU OWN ME FIVE BUCKS!!!!!” And from there we skip ahead 21-years. They have a baby together and share the same last name. 

Now this backstory is highly relevant and here’s why. Well first! If you didn’t guess, this is the tale of how Roger and I came to be. Lots of things happened in the decades leading up to the birth of our son. A sum of all those things, rather naively made us believe we could handle anything that was to come. When we found out we were pregnant I knew parenting was going to be difficult but I was TOTALLY wrong about what parts would be hard. 

Here is why babies are like dynamite. Simply put. If you think you have a rock-solid relationship. Like really really reallllyyyy solid?! You don’t. HOLD on freeking tight dude, because that baby is going to come in hot and highly explosive! They are going to BLOW shit apart!!! 

It is EASY to practice open communication with your partner when you are both well rested, well nourished, well exercised and MOST of your basic needs are met. NOW here is this baby. You don’t know how but somehow you love this thing more than anything on the planet. Toss every preconceived sense of what this was going to be like aside momma – You fiercely love this little human more than anything. More than good design, wine, coffee and peanut butter combined. Before I had Boden I thought this was impossible. Well. It’s possible.  

So (for me) the baby isn’t the hard part. The baby is easy!!! The hard part? Riding the avalanche of relationship-stress after the high of the birth has fadded (for us this was around week two)!!! Now do not despair. You CAN and WILL do this!!! You grew a human with your partner. You will find sure footing again. You will get bulldozed by hormones and cry before, during and after screaming matches… But you will persevere. You will learn how to handle dynamite. You can come out of the rubble stronger than you went in but that baby will expose every crack and flaw you have. You might see parts of yourself that horrify you. 

But maybe babies HAVE to be dynamite. Maybe it’s part of natures plan. Like – In order to truly let them in you need to blast apart what’s existing to make room. Our Little Family is learning together. We are imperfect but who doesn’t like to play with unpredictable explosives from time to time?! 

The only thing good about breastfeeding is peanut butter

When it comes to newborns, I don’t think there is a more controversial topic than breast feeding. The pitbull La Leche League ladies come and visit you immediately after your baby has exited the vagina (or in my case the stomach – Bodie was a c-section baby) and they proceed to judge your “latch” and hammer-home that if you don’t boob-feed, you’re a piece of shit and you hate your baby. Now I’m exaggerating for dramatic effect BUT the pressure you feel is 100% REAL.   

I LOVE my tiny-human and I’m fortunate to have both a great milk supply and Boden had a great latch. However!!!! The only good thing about breastfeeding is peanut butter!!! I say this because you burn about 20 calories per OZ of milk and Boden eats a TON!!! I get my extra 1,000 calories in by eating an obscene amount of my favorite thing… Peanut butter!!!  Everything else is crap. 

Our situation. I stopped feeding Boden from the boob (aka the tap) once he was done cluster-feeding. This was around the 4-week mark. The medical professionals in our circle don’t understand why I would transfer over to a pump/bottle situation. Here is my reasoning in bullet points. 

  • Boden would flail around like a wild animal (I find nipples are most useful when actually attached to a boob. He was ripping them off).
  • I’m a big numbers person and I didn’t like not knowing exactly how much he was eating (pumping and bottle feeding allows me to be precise. Plus you have the added benefit of… anyone can feed the baby!). 
  • I’m not a prude but I’m 100% not comfortable boob feeding in front of my father/father(brother)-in-law. 
  • MOTHER F’ING MASTITIS!!!!! Only 10% of breastfeeding women get mastitis (a rather nasty breast infection, that if untreated… you die from). I was lucky enough to get mastits not once, but twice. Once in the right boob and then again on the left. Glorious!. 

I totally get that tap-feeding can be a nice bonding experience… BUT HELLO!!! So is everything else (holding your baby, playing with your baby, changing your babies diaper, etc.)! Just because you don’t tap-feed doesn’t mean you’re missing out on some magical unicorn moment. The magic is being relaxed, calm and available for your growing baby. If tap-feeding is stressful, hectic and emotionally draining… A magical unicorn moment is not made and frankly your love-nugget won’t really know the difference. Babies are WAYYYYY smarter than we give them credit for and they give zero shits momma! They just want the milk!!! They’re hungry and want food – they aren’t judging and rating their dinning experience. There isn’t some baby Zagat where infants compare notes… boob vs bottle and breastmilk vs formula. You’re not getting a Michelin Star at the end of a feeding… You’re getting a diaper full of poop!!!   

Now I am cheap and breastfeeding is FREE. THAT is why I do it. I can not wait to have my flat AA prepubescent boobs back. I’m a butt girl and these knockers are not my aesthetic. I’m holding out to the 6-month mark as a curtesy to our savings account and because it took me a while to find a formula I was comfortable with (I found one. It’s boujee. We haven’t tried it yet, so I’ll reserve my review for another time!).

This breastfeeding journey requires some gear! Here is what I learnt… 

  • Electric Pump: Yup. It’s a good item to have! BUT please check your insurance. You should get a free one. I went with something small that would hold a battery so I could throw it in the diaper bag or pump where there wasn’t an outlet (I didn’t bother buying the special bra that holds the pump in place). TIP: You don’t need to deep-clean the parts every time. This will drive you insane. Rise them and store them in the fridge. Also! The valves on this Ameda Mya pump are absolute crap, so when they stop working (if you go with this model) and you need to buy replacements, buy the Medela Breast Pump Valves + Membranes instead. They fit the Ameda Mya and are much better.
  • Hand Pump: I wish I didn’t buy this. It was ok to take the edge off when my milk-supply was regulating itself in the beginning (I was engorged constantly) BUT I could have just as easily used my free electric pump. I envisioned myself using the hand pump if we were out… But I just pack my electric AmedaMya instead.
  • Breast Pads: YUP!!! You will leak like mo-fo!!! Skip the disposable ones and go right to something bamboo and reusable. They usually come in multi packs, so you’ll always have clean ones. I bought these, they’ve worked great and the little bag is really handy to keep them organized.
  • Ice Packs: You will need ice pack because those boobies are going to be raw!!!!! They sell ones specifically for boobs. I had a family member emergency gift them to me one night when I was writhing in pain. You could use regular icepacks too but these slip nicely into your bra.
  • Let Down: If you are tap-feeding “let down” means one boob is feeding the baby while the other is making a mess of everything!!!! This is a MUST! BUT here is where I went wrong. I thought I was being so fancy and clever by purchasing a Haakaa Silicone Breast pump!! The idea is that you wear this on one boob while the other tap-feeding. Well!!! Boden is a wild man and he would kick the stupid thing off!! This was HELL’A stressful!!!! It wasn’t until after I had abandoned tap-feeding that I discovered the Haakaa brand makes a  collector; this would have been WAY better! It’s small and could’ve stayed clear of Boden’s legs. Don’t make my mistake – buy this instead.

 So. I’m going to miss the XL spoonfuls of peanut butter throughout the day. Like really really miss them but the tradeoff is feeling “normal” again. These breastfeeding hormones have been a roller coaster ride of ALLLLL the feels!!! I’m also looking forward to getting back into my cute collection of unsupportive Lululemon sports bras. They’ve been sidelined while the XXX milk makers do their thing!!! Maybe you’re thinking, this bit$h is selfish and shallow… And that’s cool! Just feed your baby. From a bottle, from the tap… You do you momma and I’ll do me. Peace! 

Minimalist Mom’ing

The other day, it occurred to me that people actually read these posts. Errr… Like some people might actually care about what I have to say. This seems like a great responsibility. An opportunity to be truthful + practical. So let’s do this AND keep in mind mom/dad… YOU do YOU (always)! This is my experience and every tiny-human is different. Every parent is different! What works on a Monday might be rubbish by Thursday, so give yourself a break. There are no hard-and-fast rules here!!! Parenting is like the wild wild west. 

My situation! I’m a mom of a 4-month old boy. I hate clutter. I’m frugal. I’m neurotically organized. This is our first/only child. And… baby “gear” makes me VERY anxious. Readers have asked for an “essentials” list, so here it is!! Grab and coffee and let’s unpack.  

Throughout this pregnancy/postpartum period you’re probably going to pickup a book or two… I read a TON and forgot absolutely all of it once Boden was here. If I had to guess there are approximately 782,423,847 baby books out there; each claiming to to better than the last. However, there are two resources I found invaluable. 

  • Real Food For Pregnancy: The Science and Wisdom of Optimal Prenatal Nutrition (Lily Nichols)
  • Elevating Child Care: a guide to respectful parenting (Janet Lansbury)   

I could go on-and-on about why these books are amazing but just read them. Other good ones include Bringing Up Bebe (Pamela Druckerman) and Simplicity Parenting (Kim John). If you like data, Cribsheet (Emily Oster) is another good read.  

The Essentials List

  1. Happiest Baby SNOO Smart Sleeper Bassinet. Sleep! Don’t believe what everyone tells you “you’ll never sleep again!” This is bleak and an untrue statement. You WILL sleep and your baby will sleep but it will be different than what you’re used to. As a new parent your day will consist of 2-3 hour cycles. You’ll do the same things over and over and over again – so don’t cheep out when it comes to quality items that will buy you added peace of mind day-in and day-out. I was absolutely petrified that Boden would roll over, suffocate himself and die. Yup. That’s where my head would go. It still does. So I’m super happy we were able to borrow a friends Snoo. In short, it’s a robot bassinet that tracks your kids sleep and soothes them when needed. It has wings that clip-in so your kid can’t roll over. They are crazy expensive and in my opinion worth it. You can rent them, to offset the sting of the price-tag. If you do buy yours, you can sell it afterwards and get most of your investment back. The Snoo requires specific sleep sacks/sheets; I recommend buying 3 sheets and 3 sacks of each size. This way you have one available while the others are in the wash. Think 2am spit-up!!! The Snoo is a sound machine too, so don’t bother buying another one. Your kid won’t get addicted to this thing; Babies will outgrow wanting to be swaddled, shushed and swayed after about 6 months. This is when you’ll transition out of the Snoo anyway so don’t panic. TIP: Don’t create a situation where your child needs optimal conditions to sleep. You’ll make your life a lot easier if you avoid things like black-out curtains. Also – Don’t stop living while your baby is napping! Go ahead and run the blender or a vacuum. Have an adult conversation without whispering!!!
  2. Clothes. I do laundry about every other day. This means we don’t need a cray cray amount of shit that he’s going to out grow in a few weeks. We did really well with x3 gown type sleepers, a x5 pack of Organic Gerber Onsies and x3 zipper outfits with feet. OMFG please don’t buy your infant socks or shoes! Socks don’t stay on and your kid isn’t walking anywhere!! If it’s a two-piece forget about it! While adorable, shirts will not stay in-place and pants will make you want to murder yourself during diaper changes. TIP: Buy one unscented/gentle laundry detergent for everyone in your house to use!!! No one has time to be doing special loads of baby clothes! One household. One detergent. Please don’t believe the propaganda that you need “baby” detergent!!! Just buy something that’s not loaded with shit and doesn’t have fragrance. Gown sleepers are a Godsend in the early days when baby is plowing through diapers. Also – We don’t have day clothes and sleeping clothes… it’s all the same. PLEASE wash everything that touches your babies skin before they wear it. I’m partial to neutral organic cotton for newborns but it’s certainly not a requirement.  
  3. Swaddles and Spit Rags. YES you need these BUT you don’t need a million. Buy 3-4 large muslin swaddles and 6-8 big spit rags. Done! Nothing fancy. Boden loves to play with his spit rags and the swaddles have a multitude of uses.   
  4. Baby Bjorn Bouncer Bliss. Seriously… I could be the unofficial spokesperson for this thing! It. Is. Amazing!!!! It’s self propelled and the only real piece of “gear” we have in our house. You don’t need fancy swings or play centers; this thing replaces all of that! Plus it’s super easy to pack in the car or shove in a closet (it folds flat). You can carry it anywhere! The kitchen, while you’re cooking. The bathroom, while you’re peeing. The living room, while you’re _______. Well you get the point! This thing is amazing and we use it several times a day, every-day. It’s good from newborns to 2-years of age, also it’s machine washable and the construction is solid/no fuss.  
  5. A GREAT carrier. This is where your lifestyle kind of comes into play. We have a stroller (Nuna Mixx) but I use our carrier daily.  We actually only really use the stroller to do laps around the house (inside) when Boden is having meltdown. In retrospect, we really don’t even need our stroller. I love our simple Sakura Bloom Scout carrier but really anything that’s easy to clean and has good support is great. You don’t need several carriers! You just need one. Ours is rated 5-45lbs. One and done!   
  6. Convertible Car Seat: This is where people might think we’re insane. I 1000% could not justify spending money on an infant carseat (the type that clicks in-and-out of a base). To spend hundreds of dollars on a carseat only to turn around and buy yet… another carseat?! NOPE. In our case, Boden would have outgrown this type of carseat in 2-months (he’s a big baby); I am really happy we didn’t waste money on this item. It really isn’t a big deal at all to take your kid in-and-out of a carseat for the first couple months. The convertible carseat we bought goes from 5-150lbs, so it should be the only one we need. We have two cars and have the same seat for each (less to think about). TIP: Set-up a PayPal account or something on your registry. This way people can chip-in for big ticket items.   
  7. Thin Down Bunting. This only applies if you have a winter baby!!! But we try to get outside everyday (and live in Maine). A quality bunting is a must! Something thin and with legs so that it easily/safely fits in the carseat. This is obviously not a requirement if you have a spring/summer baby… Or a winter baby who doesn’t spend hours outside. We got ours on super clearance but it’s a ThermoBall Eco Bunting from The North Face; ours is a plain grey color but it’s like this one.  
  8. Booger Tools. There are a million ways to get snot out of your kids nose. The Frida, a suction ball. The only way I like to do this… and the way that has worked the best for us, is a tool called an Oogiebear. Outside of a baby hair-brush, this is really the only piece of baby hygiene gear we have and it doubles as a way to scrape out ear-wax. I am obsessed with cleaning boogers from his nose. I’d consider it a current hobby.
  9. Video Baby monitor. I was on the fence at first about needed one of these at all. In the end I’m really happy we have one but we don’t have anything fancy. When I first stared looking at these, I was looking a Wi-Fi, high range… Then I realized the idea of Wi-Fi freaked me out and I didn’t want to use my phone. We landed on a monitor that is capable of panning and has a wide-view lens. Thinking ahead, I know post-bassinet we want to do a Montessori floor bed so I wanted something where I could move the camera around the room (while wall mounted). I am more relaxed with staring at the monitor now but for the first month, I was glued to the screen… Even though he was only 15 feet away. It’s another peace of mind tool.  
  10. Dyper Diapers. Disclaimer – We spend a LOT of money on Boden’s diapers. They’re worth it to us! I’m not cool with putting chemicals on our infants genitals. I’m also not cool with blow-outs! We have been very happy with this brand and they’re delivered right to the house. Added bonus – the company is VERY easy to deal with (excellent customer service) and Boden hasn’t had a single diaper rash. This makes me feel like we’re winning at parenting!      

More TIPS:

  • Cold milk: I exclusively pump + bottle feed but the same concept would apply with formula fed babies too… Don’t heat your bottles!!! Don’t create a prince/princess!!! We’ve never heated a single bottle and Boden is absolutely ok with cold milk. He loves it! This has saved us sooooooo much time and headache!!!! Seriously – They won’t mind.   
  • Don’t buy special baby-specific crap. 
    • I have one tub of unrefined organic virgin coconut oil. This is my body lotion. Boden’s body lotion. It was my nipple cream. Don’t get sucked into the consumerism of specialized creams and toiletries! Save the money and use one thing for everything!! Coconut oil works great for us, it’s affordable and chemical free (you can eat it). If I run out, I use olive oil.
    • Soap. We all use the same bar-soap!!! This is also Boden’s shampoo – Dr. Bronner’s Baby Unscented Bar Soap. This makes shopping easy. 
    • Washcloths/towels. We all use the same washcloths and towels. Boden doesn’t have anything special. Your child will not be traumatized by an adult sized linen.
    • Changing table. We use a dresser with a faux-leather pad on top. The pad doubles as a padded play area for the floor. The dresser is furniture that we’ll use well past the infant/toddler phase. This Gathre Padded Micro+ is awesome because you can just wipe off spit-up, poop and pee. Fabric feels like a cleaning nightmare. 
    • Baby nail clippers. He uses ours. 
    • Blanket/play mats. Throw an old blanket on the floor instead (or use the padded micro).
    • Bottle drying mats/trees. Use whatever you use for your regular dishes! Umm… Like a dish-towel!
    • Wipe-warmers. This is crazy unnecessary and will actually dry-out your water wipes. 
    • Diaper trash cans. Use your kitchen waste-can. I don’t understand why you’d want to have a bin of shit in the bedroom.
    • Breastfeeding pillows. Use a bed-pillow you have laying around (that is – if you use anything at all).
    • Baby pillow loungers. Boppy,  Dock-A-Toc, etc. Why?! They fit in these for like 4-weeks! Lay them on a blanket on the floor or just sit with them on the couch.
    • Diaper bag. You can use a bag you already have – We have a dedicated “diaper bag” BUT it’s beautiful and something I’ll use wayyyyyy after Boden is out of diapers.
    • High-Chair: You’re not going to feed your baby solids for like the first 6-months and even then, you don’t know what your stye will be (maybe the baby sits on your lap at the table), so WAIT on this item. You don’t need this giant thing taking up kitchen/dinning area real-estate. 
  • Don’t buy a million of each thing: Be diligent about returning items to specific spots and then you don’t need a hundred of them; we have x2 ComoTomo 8oz bottles and 2 pacifiers (one for the diaper bag and one for the house). We never bothered to let Boden dictate what style of bottle nipple he was into. We committed to getting him to use what we had purchased and he did great. Why let him make this choice? If you want the milk dude… This is the only bottle you’re getting. Simple.
  • Pump Parts/Bottles: Store these in the fridge so you can just rinse them and don’t have to wash them every time. TIP: Check to see if you qualify for a free pump through your Health Insurance. Also – Reusable breast pads are a must!!! You’re going to leak everywhere (breast feeding is a whole other beast I’ll cover some other time). Nursing bras and tops are expensive and silly! Pull up an old stretched out  sports bra or something – and honestly the first few weeks just go topless. It’s easier than wrestling with clips and hidden shirt pockets.
  • Board books and Toys: Don’t register for these. People are going to buy you them!!! TIP: Newborns have NO clue what you’re reading them, so I recommend downloading some free chapter-books online. Reading Charlotte’s Web is a lot more entertaining for mom and dad than Cat In The Hat. Once they can appreciate the story and the pictures… Well that’s a different story.   

So what’s the take-away? Don’t buy everything right away! For example, you don’t need to buy clothes more than a few months out because you don’t know what’s going to fit and if you need something, it’s never more than a few clicks away (AKA Amazon). You don’t have to buy something because your friend/sister/cousin says you need it; what works for someone else might not work for you. Don’t travel? You probably don’t need a Pack’n Play. Decide you need one down the road? Ok! When in doubt, air on the side of buying less! Your list is going to be different than mine and please remember – you’re allowed to change your mind. 

Growing a Human

Real Talk Baby Post: Growing a human is really weird. In my experience, it’s not really “hard” because nature totally takes over and does it’s thing, while you idly sit by, play host and watch/feel the tremendous changes that are taking place with your body. It’s a wild, semi-hands-off experience.

SURE… You can control things like diet and fitness… but even those things, some days, are a crapshoot. There are the physical changes and WOW are there physical changes!!! Things like muscle loss, back fat, boobs (more boobs), a belly bump, swelling, more fat and more belly. Then there are the hormones and custom symptoms. I say custom symptoms because they very (greatly) from prego-to-prego… Cramps, lightning crotch, fog brain, vagina burning, constipation, sweating, headaches, nausea, acid reflux, vomiting, exhaustion, food aversions, back-pain, insomnia, gum bleeding… The list is endless. BUT here’s the kicker!!!! You can’t talk honestly about any of this outside of your OB (who’s paid to listen to you). EVERYONE has an opinion on YOUR pregnancy.

You can’t say “I feel huge today” because ultimately the reply is “You’re growing a human. You need to eat for the baby.” You can’t say “I’m so tired, I haven’t been sleeping.” because twelve people chime in… “OHHHHH!!!! WAIT TILL THE BABY COMES! You think you aren’t getting sleep now… Hahahaha!” You can’t say “We don’t plan on buying that.” because people go ballistic and say “That’s what you think now! You’ll have kid shit all over the place!” I call these people the One Uppers.

The ones who always have something to say. They trump your concern instead of listening. It makes you crazy. It makes you furious. It makes you really worried for when the baby is actually here and all those One Uppers tell you how to parent. Sure. Block them out… but the noise is loud. Everyone is an expert. I am not an expert. I am an almost 40 something who didn’t think she could get pregnant, got pregnant and now I’m figuring s#%t out. Will I mess up? Yes. Have I messed up? Yes. Am I ok with that??!! YES. So if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant… JUST DO YOU!!! People mean well but sometimes they just suck. #26weeks

Minimalism (to me). 

As far back as I can remember I’ve been a little obsessive about being tidy (rare is the small child who gets extreme pleasure out of an all white uncluttered room). The truth is… “stuff” makes me really (really) anxious. If I start thinking about how many items I own, I can legit drive myself into a full-blown panic attack. Birthdays and Christmas make me extremely nervous; gifts = more stuff. 

I have this reoccurring nightmare that I’m attending my own baby shower… people are bombarding me with loud flashing plastic toys, stuffed animals and brightly colored appliquéd outfits. I keep yelling through sobs “thank you but we said no gifts” – no one listens and the gift givers start laughing and chanting “Get used to it!” This is right around where I wake up and probably why I don’t have kids.   

When we sold our house a few months ago, we also sold almost everything in it. We’re currently in limbo with our living arrangements, while we wait for our apartment to be built, so we haven’t replaced anything. We were minimalists before but this is next level. We don’t have a TV or sofa. We have a borrowed bed, a borrowed dining room table and 2 borrowed wood chairs. We have 2 plates, 1 mixing bowl, 2 forks, 2 spoons, 2 cups and 1 frying pan… Our garage has some boxes with personal belonging (books, pictures, tools, some art…), we kept our bikes, ski equipment, a grill and a few other odds-n-ends.  Ohh and we moved our plants plus the dog!! 

Simply – Our accommodations are sparse. 

Even since we’ve moved I’ve combed through my wardrobe, purged a lot of things I was holding onto for no good reason and implemented a spending fast of sorts. 

Having so little in the house has done unexpected things. It’s made me really appreciate and use the things we do have. It’s sparked a self awareness in myself that has poured into other areas; my business, my diet and my mental health. Not having the TV for example has made me waste less time in the evenings… when I could be sleeping. I’m better at prioritizing. I’m extremely selective about what I allow into my life (both physically and emotionally). Selling or donating most of my clothes, means I’m only left with the items I really like! It makes getting dressed really quick and effortless. 

Opening the cabinet and using our 1 vintage milk-glass mixing bowl makes me really happy; I love that thing. I feel freer – Less anxious. It’s got me excited about de-cluttering other areas that can be pain-points. Saying “no” more and building in more time to do the things that interest me. Erasing my personal presence on social media, deleting all accounts and apps that aren’t business related and canceling subscriptions that don’t add value. Pulling everything way back; starting from this new place. 

I rarely compare myself to others but I DO compare myself to my past. Was I more ambitions then? Was I in better shape? Was my skin nicer? Were my teeth whiter? I should get back to that routine. I really looked good there… etc. 

A few years ago (well Hell even a few months ago), I was in the relentless pursuit of more. More work. More hours in the gym. More hustle. That was great… Then. Right now I’m into less. Less chemicals, less products, less pressure, less noise, less technology, less of what doesn’t matter. I’m redefining what “health” means to me today (not harping on what it used to mean). Maximizing through minimizing. 

I’m not suggesting that you need to get rid of all your stuff to have a mental breakthrough (I do plan on buying a couch and full dinning set once we move); I’m only suggesting that there could be great opportunity in re-framing what it means to have less. 

Think of something that makes you incredibly happy; this could be anything. Maybe it’s taking a holiday, going for a bike ride. Maybe it’s refurbishing classic cars… Whatever! Now. Think about what it would be like if you could do more of that!!! The typical approach is this… Work more. Work harder. Make more money. Put hobbies and interests, health and connections on the back burner until… You retire. You pay down some debt. You grind through that job you hate. 

What if instead you did less and got MORE. What if you got rid of that new car payment and drove something used (no payment!). What if you downsized from that house you have a huge mortgage on and lived in something smaller. What if you sold some of your toys (the sleds, RV’s, boat, ATV, that 3rd blender). What if you bought a beautiful, high-quality pair of boots every 5-years instead of emptying your wallet every time you pass a clearance rack (disposable/uncomfortable cheap 1-season footwear). What if you stopped buying crap throwaway toys for your kids and went for a hike instead. What if you shut off the video game and finally worked on that business idea you’ve been talking about for years. What if you didn’t need every NEW iPhone. What if you spent more on what goes into your body (nutrient dense REAL food) instead of shelling out cash for antacids, doctors bills and fast-food. 

What if you did just a couple of these things? What if you just did one?! What if you really think about what makes you happy and prioritized that! People always assume they need to make more… But what if you  just need to spend less. You can be a minimalist and have nice things. Look – I love my Apple products and I’m a sucker for well-crafted home goods and clothes. But the practice of carefully curating what you allow into your life is paramount and doesn’t stop at consumer goods. This includes people, energy and emotions. Minimalism to me means being more intensional. More selective. More meaningful. More from less.

I make WAYYYYYY less (crazy less) money now than I did when I was selling (legal) drugs but my cost of living is a fraction of what it used to be. I had a job that was so stressful it was making me sick. I could have stayed there OR I could get out. My plan was to take advantage of a philosophy I’ve been using my entire life; minimalism. I do more with less now and I continue to learn and change through this process. I have time to do the things that interest me and give me purpose; my possessions are few but they make me happy and have a clear function. 

If you visit… BYOCCSD (Bring Your Own Chair Cup Silverware Dish!!) at least for a few more months!!!! We’ve got the beer. Haha. 

Health + Happiness, 

CC 

What is Food?! You are not a lawnmower.

It’s been a hot minute since my last post. Why? Well – There is a real fine line between work and play for me. It’s hard sometimes to set boundaries between what I want to share and what I should keep to myself… So attitude adjustment. I’m going to let YOU decide what you want to read. I’m going to share my story, my journey because ultimately Carr Eats is “my” brand and it should be unapologeticly authentic.

The purpose of this post is something I feel UBER F’ing (I think you know what this really stands for!) passionate about. Food. BUT what is food? How many times do you hear people say “food is fuel?” OMG – Please stop!!!! This makes me want to punch something every time I hear this. Hard stop because…

FOOD IS SO MUCH MORE THAN FUEL. #FACT

  • Living organisms are not machines
  • Human bodies aren’t combustion engines

Food is information. When we eat food, it tells our bodies to…

  • Do this – Don’t do that
  • Release this hormone – Don’t release that
  • Express this – Don’t express that

People. You are not a lawnmower!!! Food is really really smart and so is your body!! Food is packed with meaning, information, communication and food tells a story… And not just a chemical story, it’s a story about people. Identifying our “food story” will tell us a lot. A ton actually. For some people (like myself), food is pleasurable. I love eating. I love cooking. I love experimenting with how different foods make me feel and how they can transform my body.

I challenge you to define your food story. If you are looking at what goes in your body as calories in calories vs calories out you are missing a lot. Consider this a further refinement of your BEST SELF. If you’re a binge eater. If you’re a sweet eater. If you diet and fail… If you’ve ever been frustrated with results… It’s most likely because you haven’t defined what food means to you. Or maybe you have and it’s a toxic story.

If you’re trying to improve your relationship with food, change your physique… It is 100% critical to do this homework first and then come up with a strategy. So I challenge you to some homework… Take a few minutes and consider these questions.

  • What is food?
  • What is food… for you?

Is it fuel? Is it information? Is it personal freedom? Is it shame? Is it self-esteem? Is it comfort?

Then consider these questions.

  • What would you like food to be?
  • What do you imagine “it” could be?

If you aren’t familiar with my story – For decades food was control. Food was the enemy. Food was lazy, fat and gross. Food was weakness. Thinking about food was my full-time job… Either how to avoid eating it or how I was going to throw it up. I shifted my food story when I started to view food as power… as a way to explore my interests. As confidence. If this is you and you can’t find your way out. Let’s chat. I won’t/can’t tell you what to do BUT I can listen and talk about my experience.  This is 100% the motivation behind my nutrition coaching program. Big picture. Big story. You will NOT get a macronutrient plan (unless that is part of your story).

When we look at food or think of food… we are looking and thinking through our story. For me now, when I see something like a donut, cake, pasta… I see it through my story. How will I feel after I eat this? How is this going to help me get to where I want to be? How am I going to handle this? Certain foods WILL elicit a feeling of “lazy, fat, gross” – so I can’t have these foods. Let’s call this a better restriction (to the alternative). You know from previous posts – I don’t do moderation. You wouldn’t tell an alcoholic to just have one beer and you can’t tell me to just have one cookie. This is perhaps an area that someone without addictive tendencies can’t understand. Again – This is my philosophy and maybe/surely you are different.

So really put some thought into this. Think big. Don’t answer these questions how you think you “should” answer these questions. Get in there. Get dark if you need to!!! If food is the love you don’t feel for your partner or if food is the shame you feel from yelling at your kids… Honor those feelings. Don’t say “food is family” – Bullshit. Bring that truth to the surface. IF YOU CAN’T BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF… In short… YOU’RE FUCKED (said it for real here). You will fail-and-fall and be miserable until you get real and get honest.

No-one can mind read, so who cares. If you’re embarrassed by your food story – don’t be. Work with whatever is going on in that noggin of yours. When you free yourself from food lies… That’s when we can make some progress.

FOOD IS SO MUCH MORE THAN FUEL. We aren’t robots or cars. We are people!!!!

Do this homework. Comment if you (dis)agree; I read everything (even spam). Share your food story if you want and subscribe to this blog (share with friends) if it’s contents bring any value to your life. Reach out if you need some coaching; I’m here for you and YOU CAN do this (whatever “this” may mean to you).

Health + Happiness,

CC

Social Media… ISO. Genuine Connection.

Our social media detox!!! Instagram + Facebook are two things I love but hate in business. They ARE totally necessary, take a good amount energy and YET I kind of die inside when I  catch myself dropping everything to keep our response rate high or silence out an entire room to capture the perfect shot and muse about a witty caption… Sometimes I wonder… Is any of this even real? And of course the answer is yes (well kind of). It’s real in the sense that it’s how we market and make connections. We LOVE new connections and thus – we post and play the algorithm game to stay relevant… and with any luck, in the feeds of those who enjoy our content.

As a human (and business owner) I am allowed to change my mind. And I have changed my mind when it comes to how I conduct myself on social media. When Carr Eats was in its infancy, I created both an Instagram + Facebook page. I wanted “everyone” to see us… So I followed “everyone” – My goal was to drive numbers (#followforfollow) I have since done a total 180!!! I don’t want “everyone” I want OUR PEOPLE!!! And apparently – this even hurts us, in the form of low engagement. I want to create a like-minded community; we’ve got A LOT of work to do. Over the past few years, we’ve accumulated over 7k followed-accounts. I say “accounts” because using the follow-for-follow method means you follow A LOT of shit – bots, ghost followers, naked people, bogus pages, etc. We did not discriminate – just followed everything. I thought I was growing our reach. Turns out – I grew nothing.

Whenever I log into Instagram, admittedly I get that dopamine rush when I see new likes and comments. That goes away when you read “Nice photo, there is no need for more words, I just wanted to say hi (heart eye emoji)” from fpr.Records… a hip-hop producer based out of Ontario. Mind you, the post this account was referring to was an ordering deadline (no photo at all). Or we might get some bot telling us how sexy we look after posting a picture of roasted root vegetables. Confusing and I can only assume, auto-generated, unless you really think root veggies can be erotic.

So where do we go from here? What’s the goal? Well – We’re basically starting over!!! We’re on a schedule to un-follow and un-follow and un-follow (Instagram actually only allows this in batches of 200) and then when we have a clean slate… We will build our account back up. Following, only those who are relevant to our Carr Eats Community. This may seem like an odd way to spend our time but one of our goals for 2019 is to really tap into and grow our Carr Eats Community. We want engagement and we want to make an impact!!! Social media is an excellent way to do this and overtime we hope we will have made some genuine connections. Not numbers – People. When I post something I want to feel like I’m telling a story at a dinner party… Not pouring content into a formula. I’m happy with less but more valuable vs. more but meaningless.

We’ll be more diligent and intentional with our Social Media from here on in… and we’re kind of pumped to see what happens!!! Maybe its a flop, maybe it turns out to be a mistake… Or maybe my gut reaction is correct and this turns out to be great!! #carreats #forreallife

What’s Your Plan?

When people ask “what’s the plan for Carr Eats?” I respond with… When?! Because I LOVE plans and I have many. I have a plan for right now. A plan for the week. A plan for the month. A one-year, five-year and ten-year plan. A short-game plan. A backup-plan. A worst-case-scenario plan. I have plans for my personal life. I have plans for my businesses. I even have a plan for eating and sleeping. Why? Because, in general, I don’t like to be surprised. I’m a scheduler. A type-A controller. A plan gives me purpose and order. A plan is organized and broken-down into steps and waypoints. A plan gets me to my Long-Game. My long-game doesn’t include leaving anything on the table and thus I hammer into my thoughts and do.

I started Carr Eats out of camping-coolers in my house almost three years ago; I couldn’t see into the future then and I can’t know what’s around the corner now. Carr Eats will move into its own commercial production space, The Kitchen Company, this Spring; my newest entrepreneurial adventure. I don’t have a looking glass… I only know there’s more.

Whenever anything seems out of reach, hard or impossible; I sketch my thoughts and intensions out on paper. I daydream the playbook. I think in increments. I get obsessed. The great thing about a plan is that no matter how hard you try, they WILL be unpredictable. A plan will get messy. A plan will flip-flop and wriggle as detours, roadblocks, obstacles and life pileup in your way. Quitting is not a plan. Quitting is a default you lean into when the plan gets hard. Plans might need to be lean and agile while you test them out, but a plan is nothing without the doing so you’ve gotta move. Maybe you spend years living-out a plan only to discover a dead-end. Perhaps the plan was wrong? Maybe after some reflection the plan sucked. Pain-point? Yes. But maybe through all the struggle, wrong-turns and misfortune you found a better way. Be honest. Don’t condemn your future by denying what’s happened in the past but don’t be so self-deprecating that you’re paralyzed by fear.

My relationship with food is at a place today that at one-time seemed impossible. I couldn’t pave the road that that led me here because I wasn’t entirely sure where I was going. You hear stories of people who were born knowing their path. Mine is not that journey. I have been a lot of things. I have made a lot of plans. I’ve quit, failed, succeed, started over and reset more times than you could possibly track or calculate. However. The one constant through everything? Me. Either you are living life or life is happening to you. Today is an arbitrary day, unmarked by purpose. It will be the same as tomorrow and as unmemorable as yesterday until you press-play and turn that plan into action. Don’t choke out a dream with lies and self-appointed logistics. Get busy. Don’t leave anything on the table. The work will feel good and the reward is all the things, people and awareness you’ll accumulate along the way.

My plan for Carr Eats is community. My plan is to grow our customer base into a powerhouse of Eaters who leave nothing on the table. Who use our meals as a catalyst for excellence. I want our meals to fuel-fires and free-talent. I want our meals to remove-doubt and grow-confidence. Lofty?! Yes. But not impossible. We aren’t ready to put a limit on what our meals can achieve so until then we will keep cooking and planning. Think we’re just food? There’s more and we’re excited to show you. That’s us. What’s your plan?