everything’s better with brownies.

Our little guy had a bit of a rough morning. He had his two-year shots, which was not fun. (For him, the three nurses holding him down, or his emotional mommy.)

Thankfully, it was over fast and we were on our way home with promises of lots of chocolate.

Lately, he’s been into watching a cake-baking video clip from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. (Yes, that Daniel Tiger from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. He’s baaaack! Though, this time he’s animated and much cuter than the puppet of yesteryear.)

So, we baked some totally not homemade still delicious brownies together.

Normally box brownies take about two minutes for me to prep. This took at least 20, and was much messier. (It definitely made me thankful I didn’t take the time following a recipe with him.)

It was fun.

We used the KitchenAid (speaking of KitchenAid, have you heard about this social media fiasco?) mixer to finish it up, but it was fun to see his wheels turning and he got a kick out of mixing the eggs into the mix.

He couldn’t taste the batter (Raw eggs. Jeez. I’m such a mom now.), but he was allowed to sneak a few butterscotch chips. Pure joy, my friends. Pure joy.

As I turned my back and stepped one foot away to the mixer, Joseph decided to take baking into his own hands and dumped the remaining butterscotch chips into the (already greased) pan. So that was fun!

It might have been messy, but it was totally worth it. Joseph and I (and let’s not forget Thomas the Train) had a pretty sweet time together. (See what I did there?)

I think he’s forgotten the pain of the shots.

And I’m totally excited to dig into those ultra-thick brownies.

overcoming mommy guilt: a little moment with a lot of love.

As we were lying in bed last night, I confessed to Jonny that sometimes I don’t feel like a good enough mom. I love our little guy beyond words, and sometimes I feel like he deserves more.

That I should do more.

Create more learning activities. Make healthier food. Be more organized. The list goes on.

Like the awesome husband (and dad) that he is, Jonny reminded me that the best thing I can do for Joseph is ensure that he knows he is loved.

That by just doing our best to love, we are doing OK.

Serving more vegetables and creating a learning environment is great, but so are cuddles and hugs and high-fives and reminding your child that you love him, no matter what.

I fell asleep praying that above all else, I would radiate love. That Joseph would feel and know unconditional love.

This morning, our little two-year-old was watching Thomas the Train in the living room as I got ready in our room. I was putting on my shirt when Joseph threw open the door and tromped into the room. (Still working on boundaries.)

He saw my bare tummy, and playfully smacked it. I looked at him and said, “Oh, Joseph! Remember the baby! Where’s the baby?

Baby?” he asked, looking around the room.

Remember,” I said, placing his chubby hand on my tummy, “there’s a baby growing in Mommy’s tummy.

His big brown eyes looked up at me, and I could see his gears moving.

He took a moment, and leaned over, grasping his hands around my waist.

And then he planted the sweetest, softest, and longest kiss on my little bump.

At that moment, I could feel nothing but his love.

And at that moment, I knew that he knew he was loved.

Because when you know you’re loved, love flows through you.

He’s going to be a great big brother.

There's a little baby in there! [15 weeks] This little bean can now suck it's thumb! [15 weeks] Ruby had to get in on the action. Of course. [15 weeks] It's a point of pride for me that I'm not wearing any maternity clothes! [15 weeks] Joseph couldn't decide if he wanted to play in the dirt or join Mommy. [15 weeks] He makes me smile about a billion times a day. He's going to be a great big brother! [15 weeks] This guy. I'm so blessed to be his mom. [15 weeks]

Today marks 15 weeks in my growing of a human! To celebrate, I convinced my [slightly embarrassed] husband to stand in front of the church for a mini photoshoot to snap pics of my little bump. [I have no shame. I know this.]

Here’s what What to Expect says:

Curious why your body is finally looking like it’s pregnant? That’s because your baby is growing bigger each week — he or she is as long as four and a half inches right now. Need a better visual (and a snack)?  Hold a large navel orange in your hand — that’s how big your little darlin’ is at 15 weeks pregnant.

what it’s like to be a work-at-home mom.

The mommy wars have me thinking about what it’s like to be a work-at-home mom (WAHM), an awesomely tiring combo of being a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) and working mom (is there a mommmy blogger abbreviation for that?).

Before getting into this, I feel like I have to say that I give a giant standing ovation to all moms who love their kids and parent to the best of their abilities. I’m still learning that being a mom is beyond-words wonderful and difficult all at the same time, and I know that every family is different. OK, so no judging here.

At different times in my life, I’ll probably experience being a full-on stay-at-home mom and a work-in-an-office mom. Right now, on this day, in this moment, you could/can call me a work-at-home mom.

But what is a work-at-home mom?

That’s a good question.

Most conversations with acquaintances usually tend to follow one of two formats:

Conversation 1

Person: So, how do you like being a stay-at-home mom?

Me: Well, I actually work from home, too. It’s stressful but great!

Conversation 2

Person: Hi, Kayla! Good to see you!

Me: Hi, person!

Person: So, what are you doing?

Me, to myself: Well, this morning I was planning a content schedule, grocery shopping, writing an e-newsletter, visiting the pediatrician, wiping my son’s nose…

Me, to person: I work remotely and stay home with Joseph.

Honestly, neither of these conversations bother me. Unless you have experience being a parent and freelancing/working from home, it wouldn’t be fair to expect folks to understand.

I’m a weird mix of both, but it works. I get to experience life with my son, and I’m thankful to have a gig with a flexible schedule that I can do remotely.

Sometimes, I’m stressed. Really stressed. Sometimes I feel really guilty for being on my computer and plopping my son in front of Curious George. Sometimes I feel really guilty for taking my son to the park and not working on that newsletter. It’s a balance that is new every day.

I will now be slightly self-indulgent and let you know what being a work-from-home mom currently looks like for me:

What I do: Edit magazine print content for Web, plan and write e-newsletters, and tackle story assignments for various media outlets as they pop up. (I don’t know if this sounds fun to you, but it is! Now you know I’m a nerd.)

How often I do it: I work about 20 hours per week (give or take).

When I do it: My laptop is never far from me. I work during naptime, in the evening, and on weekends. Friends & fam fill in and watch the little one during in-office meetings. Sometimes I have conference calls while simultaneously cooking chicken nuggets and serving mac + cheese.

Working from home means that your office looks like this:

And you need lots of this:

And your afternoons get to look like this:

And it’s all worth it.

steady as she goes.

I have about 11 months to check 25 bullets off my to-do list before I celebrate my 25th birthday.

I’ve had the honor of being part of some beautiful stories in my 24 years, but I don’t want to dwell too much on the past that I miss the beauty of the present, or the future.

I’m working on what I’ve coined my '25 by 25' list. 

My tangible goals, in no particular order:

  1. Take Ruby the Dog on two walks a week. With illusive daylight and an inquisitive toddler, this poses a challenge. I think this means I have to wake up early, while Jonny + Joseph are still sleeping, in order to make this a reality. I don’t do mornings well, so this could prove impossible. But good for Ruby, because she is getting chub-by. Probably couldn’t hurt me, either.
  2. Climb a mountain. I know. But for 24 years, I’ve lived in the Midwest. I want the challenge (because let’s face it, no matter the size of the mountain, it will be a challenge — I’m no athlete) but mostly, I want to stand atop and feel it. Ya feel me?
  3. Try real sushi. And I just heard a collective gasp from all of my cool friends. Actually, probably from all of my friends, since I am really late to jump on this bandwagon. Yes, you’ve read it here first, folks. Rolled up goo has never graced my mouth. I had a sample of something resembling sushi at Costco once, but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count. Sushi become so mythicized now that I don’t really know what to expect. There’s a lot of pressure. What kind? What restaurant?!
  4. Write Joseph’s story. The whole story. Beginning to end. I’m not sure we’ve even processed all of the ins + outs, highs + lows. A gazillion emotions are wrapped up in the story, moments painful to relive and moments absolutely bursting with joy. It’s daunting because there’s just so much to tell. But for Joseph’s sake, I need to start the process now, while it’s still fresh. 
  5. Compile Joseph’s baby book. Similar, but not the same as writing his story. His baby book is just like any other, except it focuses on his first year with us, instead of his first year of his life. We have hundreds upon hundreds of photos, documents, sheets, passports, stamps and momentos that it’s also daunting to start this project. But it’s a must-do this year.
  6. Create our wedding album. I’m starting to sense a theme here. But seriously, Jonny and I will celebrate our fourth anniversary this year. I need to just get on Shutterfly and order a stinkin’ photo album before we’re celebrating our 50th anniversary. Procrastination, you can’t hold me down!
  7. Pay off my student loans. This is a slightly lofty aspiration because I don’t exactly have a small amount of student loans to pay off. Also because any + all savings we might have had last year went toward Joseph. But these monthly bills would be sososo great to erase forever.
  8. Start an adoption savings. Also in the money management realm. I know that when God tells you to do something, you do it. And he will see it through. He did it before and he will do it again. While Jonny and I feel like we’ll eventually be led to add to our family adoption again, now is not the time. But, now is the time to save. How amazing would it be to have a fund for when God says ‘now’? Also, I’d love to pull from this set-aside fund to support others.
  9. Try a new recipe every week. Before becoming a mom, nutrition, cooking time + cost of food weren’t things I really thought of when making dinner. But with a picky (and growing) eater and a cramped schedule, these are much more important to me now. I have a multitude of amazing cookbooks + recipe apps, so I really have no reason not to try something new. Plus, I love feeding the people I love.
  10. Meal plan + grocery shop every Sunday. In our pre-kid days, Jonny and I flew by the seat of our pants when it came to suppertime. We’d get home from work, stomachs a-rumblin’, and make a fast, last-minute dinner decision that usually meant an unexpected trip to the grocery store at least a few nights a week. That time has definitely passed. After picking 5 weeknight meals, I want to make an itemized grocery list — and then immediately go shopping. I think it’ll be cost-effective and time-saving.
  11. Make lasagna. I absolutely love my mom’s lasagna. In college, I’d come home and beg her to make it so I could jam all the leftovers in my mini fridge. A pan lasted me about two days. It’s seriously thatgood. Which is why I’ve avoiding trying my hand at it. Such a basic dish, you say. Yes, but why mess with perfection? Well, because I miss eating it and I don’t have her as my personal chef. If it fails, it fails. And I probably won’t document it on the Interwebs.
  12. Bake a pie. A real pie. Not a Jello instant pudding pie or a pre-fab cheesecake, but a real, up-to-your-elbows-in-flour type of pie. My mother-in-law is seriously the pie queen, which is why I haven’t even attempted to bake one. This seems like a pie-in-the-sky aspiration (hardy, har, har) but as summer rolls around, nothing compares to a rhubarb pie. Seriously. Nothing. Again, if I fail, I will not be documenting it. You’ll be able to find me holding my knees, rocking back-and-forth in the corner, repeating, “I’ll never be your mother! I’ll never be your mother!” <— Just made myself LOL.
  13. Incorporate Common Prayer into my daily routine. We’ve had the book for about a year now, but it has been dutifully collecting dust, waiting to really be cracked open. Something about liturgy is absolutely beautiful. I think meditating on and worshiping with this will lead to some really good time with Jesus.
  14. See Shane Claiborne speak. I know some Christians roll their eyes at Claiborne (But honestly, who don’t they roll their eyes at?) but his books have invigorated me and pushed me and I think his voice has been much needed to a watching world, especially when ultra-conservative fundamentalists tend to take over and stain Jesus’ name for a lot of people. My personal favorite book of his is collaboration with John Perkins, ‘Follow Me to Freedom.’ Plus, anyone that can write a heartfelt, non-corny piece about Jesus in ‘Esquire’ is good in my book. Bonus: I know that I will definitely accomplish this — he’s coming to Iowa in February. Win!
  15. Visit friends in PA. This spring, two of our closest friends moved away. And then they had a baby. And then we adopted one. We miss doing life with them. They’re the type of people that are down-to-earth and down-right amazing. Do you have a type of friend who would take a day off work to last-minute drive from Des Moines to Atlanta and back in 24 hours for a visa so you can fly to Nigeria the next day? We do. These peeps definitely left a hole in our hearts and I hope to see them soon.
  16. Get new glasses. I’ve been rocking the same maroon, oval-shape glasses since undergrad. They definitely get the job done (I’m Coke-bottle blind, you guys) but they’re not exactly fashion forward, which means I only wear them very late at night and very early in the morning — the rest of the time, I’m shoving contacts into my dry eyes. I’d probably wear glasses more if I had some I thought were cute. And we just got vision insurance! Which means I can go to a real eye doctor and get real frames instead of a recent grad working the corner of Sams Club. But I don’t know if even the hipster-est of glasses would make me look adorkable, or just like a dork. My elementary pictures suggest the latter.
  17. Go to Target Field. I spent my formative tween years in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, which means I got dragged to my fair share of Twins games at the Metrodome. Turns out, I kind of loved the Metrodome and I kind of can’t believe the Twins don’t play there any more. I have got to see this new place for myself. And Joseph needs to experience his first MLB game! I know Jonny would push for the Cubs, but if I get Joseph a Mauer jersey, we won’t have a choice, now will we? (Cue evil laughter!)
  18. Clean my closet. We currently live in a 1.5 story house from the 1940’s, which doesn’t leave a lot of space. Which is good, because it forces me to downsize. I really have so many clothes that could be doing way more for others. I’m not sure if the best way to tackle the threads is to commit a whole day or to do little by little, section by section. Downsizing. Simplicity. Sounds good to me. Thoughts?
  19. Read two books a month. Pretty self-explanatory.
  20. Blog weekly. Ditto.

Okay. So I have room for five more. Help?

Well, actually four because one is more on the DL. :-)

    You probably already know this, but I thought I’d make an offical blog announcement, too: I’m going to be a mommy! The hubster and I are adoping a 4-month-old baby boy. His name is Joseph and we could not be more excited. We are traveling to west Africa to visit him in February and we are praying for him to come home soon.

    Learn more about Joseph at our adoption website.