Bye Bye Baby: The First Trip Away

Before I had Mia I heard moms whining about leaving their one, two and even three years olds for the first time for a night and I rolled my eyes so hard it hurt the frontal lobe of my brain.


The kid is three for pete’s sake, get a grip.

And then, like so many things in life, I had Mia and I became one of them.

mia mommy

I agreed to this work trip when I was still pregnant, woefully unprepared for motherhood and classically ignorant about all things mommy. I did the math in my head, figured out that Mia would be a little over a year when the work trip rolled around – and eagerly agreed to go. She would be done breastfeeding (she’s not), she would be sleeping through the night (only sometimes), and I would be so excited for a little break from the chaos.

The only thing I was right about was being excited for a little escape – but what I completely didn’t take into account was how incredibly, heart-wrenchingly difficult it would be to leave my baby for 3 full nights. Three bedtimes with no kisses. Three mornings with no nursing. Three full days without hearing her sweet little voice cooing for mama and dada.

The trip in question was admittedly a pretty awesome one. A work trip to Bar Harbor to host a bunch of nutrition bloggers and teach them about Wild Blueberries. It was pretty much a paid vacation. But the separation from Mia was awful.

As the trip approached I became increasingly panicked. I cried, I decided to cancel, I called my mom and told her I wasn’t going to go. I couldn’t believe how pathetic I was acting. Especially because I knew I DID NOT want to be one of those codependent moms who can’t or won’t carry on a life outside of their kids. And I knew I didn’t want Mia to be one of those kids.

And that’s why I had to go.

Not because I didn’t want to be “one of those moms” but because I didn’t want Mia to be “one of those kids.”

hi!I want her to go cheerfully, and confidently to sleepovers. I want her to be soothed by her daddy in the same way she’s soothed by her mom. I want her to get her own apartment when she’s older and cook her own food and kill her own spiders. I want her to know how to change a tire and tile a bathroom. How to manage an investment account and navigate an airport. And she won’t do any of those things if 1. I don’t let her and 2. I don’t show her that she can.

I realize that going on a 3-day work trip is not going to teach Mia how to manage an investment account, or even prepare her for a sleepover. But it did show her that she doesn’t need to be nursed to fall asleep. That she can count on her daddy to comfort her when her new teeth are hurting. That she can be Mia without Mama. This trip taught me that I am strong and independent enough to spend time away, and that she’s strong and independent enough to be fine without me. We are deeply connected, but we are two separate people.

I’ve always believed the best relationships are between people who love each other but don’t need each other. I think the same goes for motherhood. I want Mia to want me in her life – but if I do my job right, she won’t need me forever.

As mothers we often pride ourselves on giving everything to our children. But sometimes, I think the best gift we can give is to hold onto to our own identity too. Because before we were mothers we were daughters, and wives and best friends and employees and rock climbers and mud runners – and those people are worth fighting for, too.


Daycare and Diaper Cream

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a non-toxic organic mom. I wish I was, sort of. But I only have so much energy to expend on a daily basis, and making sure my baby is fed, clothed and comfortable takes up about 90%. The other 10% goes to making enough money to keep the baby fed, clothed and comfortable, being an at least tolerable wife and catching up on past seasons of Game of Thrones – so that doesn’t really leave a lot of energy to devote to searching out carseats made of beeswax, or biodegradable bottles (are those a thing?). Organic baby food pouches (Happy Baby Organics are my fav) and non-toxic teething rings (Love these Chewy Qs, which are made in Maine and modeled by Mia) are about as far as I’ve ventured into the world of all natural child-rearing.


However, this past week I discovered a product that is both organic AND non-toxic and it works so freakin’ well that I had to blog about it because seriously, every mom needs to have this in their diaper bag. Plus, it made Mia way more comfortable which means it falls into the 90% energy category.

So…without further ado: Calendula Diaper Rash Cream by Weleda. It costs $14 which, I know, is like 3 times the cost of Butt Paste, but guys, this is worth it. I mean your baby’s butt cheeks are in the balance here! And believe me, Weleda is not paying me to write this (I wish they were!) – I was actually so impressed with their diaper cream that I wanted to blog about it so other moms could find it and give their babies the smoothest butts ever :)


Mia got her first “real” diaper rash last week and of course my first reaction was to completely ignore it and hope it went away (mom of the year award!). When that didn’t work I slathered her up with one of the 12 tubes of Butt Paste I received at my baby shower – and her rash promptly got WAY WORSE. I guess chemicals are bad for babies after all…

So I was about to call the doctor, when deep in Mia’s changing table drawer I discovered a tube of Calendula Diaper Rash Cream. It was given to me by one of my mom’s friends (a massage therapist and expert on all things natural) along with a tube of Calendula Body Cream (which I have been using on Mia since she was born and absolutely LOVE – mostly because it smells so delish). Since I loved the body lotion so much I figured I would give the diaper rash cream a try. It’s made with zinc oxide, Calendula flower extract, chamomile and beeswax, which made me skeptical it would work (where are the hard to pronounce chemicals that actually cure things?!) but literally overnight her rash was gone and her bum was smooth and yummy as ever.


Which brings me to the daycare part of this story. I was so impressed with how well the diaper cream worked that I wanted to make sure they were using it at daycare, so her rash wouldn’t come back. I brought the tube with me this morning and asked Melissa, her home daycare provider to use the special cream. I told her I would buy a tube to keep at daycare in the future. I had barely even made it to work before I received a text from Melissa, letting me know I didn’t need to buy an extra tube, she had already ordered it online and it would arrive at the end of the week. I offered to reimburse her and she refused. She wants the best for Mia, too.

I know that might sound like a minor thing but how many daycares do you know that will special order a non-toxic, organic diaper cream for your child? How many do you know that buy your kid clothes to keep at daycare so you don’t need to bring back-up outfits? What about a daycare that feeds them 3 meals a day at no extra cost? Takes them on weekends or at night as needed? Offers to drop them off at your house when you get stuck at work? I mean seriously, how did we get so lucky?

Leaving your child at daycare is one of the scariest things ever. How could a stranger ever care for your child as well as you can? I can say with complete confidence that Melissa cares for Mia with as much love and tenderness as Dan and I do – and for that I will be forever grateful, and forever spoiled. Thanks Melissa!

Under Construction

It’s been about fifteen and a half seconds since we finished remodeling the upstairs bathroom in our new house, so naturally we’ve already found another project that requires ripping up floors and tearing down walls.

photo 5

I’ve come to the realization that we are going to be living “under construction” for the next 20 years rest of our adult lives.

I’m mostly excited that sometime in the foreseeable future we will have a much more beautiful downstairs bathroom, but I’m also a little bit dreading the angst that an OCD person such as myself endures during the process of picking out tile, paint colors, vanities, countertops, toilets, etc. During the first bathroom remodel I changed my mind about the vanity no less than 3 times, ordered two different countertops, visited 6 tile stores and returned 3 full orders of accent tile. I spent 4+ hours selecting a vanity light, and then returned it – and spent over $100 on soap dispensers and toothpaste holders that have yet to be used. I have a serious love/hate relationship with remodeling.

Before and After of the Upstairs Bathroom

Before and After of the Upstairs Bathroom

Anyway…the reality is that Dan has already torn up the floor of the downstairs bathroom which means we are DOING THIS. So below is my first go at an inspiration board for the new look. And if you don’t like the vanity or granite top, you can keep to yourself because those items are already purchased. Dan learned his lesson last time and is not letting me think for very long about my choices. Because thinking leads to mind changing and mind changing leads to angst and angst leads to Hannah being a total bitch to Dan for weeks at a time. Also, this time around I’ve been told I’m not allowed to return things. OMG THE PRESSURE.

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 11.32.51 AM

On another note – we are doing this entire remodel on a $1500 budget. So we are being thrifty thrifty thrifty. I know you all think I’m crazy but as much as I like to spend money, I also like a challenge. So here we go… I’m determined to prove that a budget bathroom can still look beautiful. Or at least be functional. Or at least look better than this:

What it looked like when we moved in. Ya...I know.

What it looked like when we moved in.

So….think we can do it?

Happy Birthday Mia

Today is Mia’s first birthday, which is also the international day for “ask the parents when they’re having the next baby.” So I’m going to just get out ahead of it and let you know that it will be a cold day in hell before I have 2 children under 2 years old. So no. Not yet. Not soon. Not thinking about it.


Right after I had Mia I wondered to anyone I met with multiple children WHY OH WHY they voluntarily put themselves through the pain of childbirth more than once. I mean the first time I get it – you have no idea what you’re in for. But after that, you’re just an idiot, or a glutton for punishment. Everyone I talked to smiled and laughed and said, “oh it’s just too fresh – you’ll forget how awful it was.”

LIARS. All of them.

One year ago today I pushed a 7.5 pound child out my vagina – for 19 hours. Just let that sink in for a minute. I have not and will not forget that. Ever. And if by some small chance my husband manages to trick me into doing it again I will have more drugs in my system than Paula Abdul on an episode of American Idol.

delivery 2

But all the ridiculous memories aside, today is about Mia. She’s been earthside for an entire year and she is absolutely the most incredible, wonderful, joyful, frustrating, fun, difficult, awesome thing that ever happened to us.


Today is also a special day for me because it marks one full year of breastfeeding Mia. I know that sounds like a simple thing to celebrate but it was NOT easy, and it was SO important to me and I am really, really proud of myself, of Mia and of Dan for reaching this major milestone. According to government statistics, less than 10% of full time working mothers are still breastfeeding at 6 months. So that number is likely much smaller for working moms still breastfeeding at one year. I am so happy that we were able to make it work for this long, and I will treasure forever and ever the many tiring, sweet, sleepy moments the two of us spent rocking in the nursery (or sitting on a plane, or in a restaurant, or the home depot lumber yard or the Hannaford produce section) filling Mia’s belly with nutritious milk and filling my heart with love unlike any I’ve ever felt before.

Raising a child is so hard and so happy. Thank you Mia, for teaching me to be a mother.


Here’s to your first year of life:


Also, there was a party. And it was pretty sweet.

We relaxed.

We relaxed.

We played with bubbles.

We played with bubbles.

We played with grass.

We played with grass.

We played in the pool.

We played in the pool.

Cousin Dylan

Cousin Dylan

BFF Charlotte

BFF Charlotte

We played piano.

We played piano.

We played in the sandbox.

We played in the sandbox.

Cousin Dylan and Great Uncle Ronnie

Cousin Dylan and Great Uncle Ronnie

We hung out with grandparents, and great grandparents.

We hung out with grandparents, and great grandparents.

We hung out with Auntie Alex.

We hung out with Auntie Alex.

We took family pictures.

We took family pictures.

We cooked on the grill.

We cooked on the grill.

We opened presents.

We opened presents.

And oh yeah, there were cupcakes.

And oh yeah, there were cupcakes.

Lots of cupcakes.

Lots of cupcakes.

Mia even got to eat one.

Mia even got to eat one.

Make a wish!

Mia made a wish.

And then her wish came true.

And then her wish came true.

Happy Birthday big girl!

Happy Birthday big girl!

Baby Sleep

This post has a stupid title because babies don’t sleep. Actually, babies sleep a lot, just not usually during nighttime hours.

Sleepy Baby (Not Sleeping, Sleepy)

Sleepy Baby (Not Sleeping, Sleepy)

Scratch that. Babies sometimes sleep during nighttime hours. But only for a few minutes (hours?) at a time. Or when they are attached to a nipple or laying across your chest or with a couple of tiny little fingers wrapped around your hand that if you move. even. a. little. bit. THEY WAKE UP REALLY MAD.


Scratch that. Some babies sleep just not mine. Or my baby sleeps but just not like other babies? Wait what was I talking about again? I can’t remember because I haven’t slept in a year, or a month, or maybe just one night but it feels like a year. I don’t know. Where am I?

That’s what it feels like to be on baby sleep time.


It’s sort of amazing that I’m even alive. I mean you see all this research when you’re awake at 3am surfing about how humans can actually DIE from sleep deprivation. (A tip for editors: this is NOT helpful information for new parents!) But somehow I’m still alive, despite sleeping in very short increments for like, I dunno 11 months now.

That’s actually an exaggeration because Mia sometimes sleeps for like 8 or 10 hours at a time. Sometimes for a couple weeks in a row. But every time I get all excited that she is finally “sleeping through the night” she says fuck you and wakes up at 3am. And 5am. And other am’s that are too horrific to mention. And this girl can seriously WAKE UP. I’m not talking about a little whining. I’m talking about full blown, wake the neighbors, ear piercing shrieking for hours (that is NOT an exaggeration BTW, I have OCD and I time her for my cry it out sleeping training records) at a time.


People are always asking new parents if their baby sleeps through the night. Now when people ask me that I ask them which night they’re referring to.

Because really, what is sleeping through the night anyway? I once saw a post on Facebook from a mom that said her daughter ALWAYS sleeps through the night she just gets up two or three times to nurse.

Umm…ok? Way to be glass half full I guess.

But anyway I feel like it’s a mommy blogger “coming of age” thing to write about baby sleep. And I would know because I read like 5000 blog posts about how everyone else’s baby wasn’t sleeping and now they are if you just do these 3 things…

The problem is, those 3 things are all different and they contradict each other and are impossible to do. Like always co-sleep with your baby but never in the same bed but always in the same room but not in a big room or a small one… get the point. This blogger really nailed it when she wrote this post.

So when I set out to write a post about baby sleep I knew that a. not many people will read it anyway and b. the few people that do are not interested in any miracle sleep tricks (which is a good thing since I haven’t discovered any yet). But I wrote this post anyway because in my 11 months of not sleeping I have figured out one thing that actually seems to help with the sleep deprivation.

No, not coffee – although I wouldn’t advise against it. Same goes for a margarita or even a shot of whiskey.

What I’ve figured out is that the key to surviving sleep deprivation is to give up.

That’s it. Just give up.

Stop trying to make them sleep through the night. Stop trying to figure out when they’re going to sleep through the night. Stop trying to define what it actually means to sleep through the night.

Seriously, just stop. If they start crying and you don’t feel like getting up, let them cry it out. If you feel like nursing or giving them a bottle, than do that. If you feel like rocking them back to sleep, or getting in the crib with them, or sleeping in the basement so you can’t hear the crying – then do that. I put my 11 month old baby in a swing sometimes still. (A baby sleep expert somewhere just fainted I think).


Dan and I have tried every sleep strategy on the internet – cry it out, rock it out, drink it down – wait, no that was something different. Point is – we’ve done it all and the result is the same. Sometimes she sleeps and sometimes she doesn’t. Our friend’s baby always sleeps and has never woken up during the night since 9 weeks old. They didn’t do anything differently than us except get so. goddamn. lucky.

I’m not advocating for doing anything irresponsible, I’m simply suggesting that you ignore the “rules” and do whatever it takes to get through it. You may or may not get more sleep, but at least you won’t be suffering from sleep deprivation AND guilt that you are somehow ruining your child’s life by not teaching them how to sleep properly.

I know a lot of sleep experts will debunk me on this. But whatever – I already gave up on you people. I’m going to take a page out of one of my (childless) cousins’ books and set ridiculously low expectations so that I will either be right, or happily surprised.

At this point I don’t expect that Mia will ever sleep through the night. Not by 12 months, not by 24 months…hell, maybe not even when she’s 18 years old (but at least then she will be moving out, so I won’t have to worry about it). I just take it as it comes and move on.

Come to think of it, that’s not a bad strategy for parenting in general. And by the way, is sarcasm a side effect of sleep deprivation?




I Love You That Much Too

Today is the first Father’s Day I’ve had two daddies to be thankful for. The one that gave me life, and the one that gave me Mia.


It’s a funny thing when you have a baby…like, the actual moment that they come out. Because you look down at your precious little miracle and you think you couldn’t possibly love anything more in the entire world. And then you look over at your husband, and you see the look on his face (surprise, terror, tears, joy, adoration) and you fall in love again so hard that you can’t really describe it.


And then your dad walks in the room and looks at you, and you can see how proud of you he is, and for the first time you understand how much he actually loves you. And suddenly you realize, that you love him that much too. And you can’t believe your heart is big enough to hold so much love.

mia meets grandpa

A few minutes later you look down and the doctor is putting stiches INSIDE  your vagina and just like that all the love melts into a puddle on the floor and you say “who the FUCKS IDEA WAS THIS ANYWAY?!!”

But back to the sappy stuff.

I’ve always had a special relationship with my dad. On the day I was born I looked him right in the eyes, unusual for an infant, and since then we’ve had a special bond that has yet to falter. He coached all of my soccer teams. He taught me the “spin move” that led to ULTIMATE DOMINATION in rec league basketball. He convinced me never to play hockey. He taught me how catch a “whoa nellie” wave on a boogie board. He let me drink beer before I was 21. He listened to me cry when my high school boyfriend broke up with me. And then he cried because he didn’t like to see me sad. He attempted to teach me how to drive a stick. He didn’t get mad when I said “fuck it” and bought an automatic. He went digging through the scrapyard to find new (original) window cranks for my 1991 Oldsmobile Ciera. He’s trusted every.single.decision I’ve ever made. Even when they were real nail biters. He loves me more than he loves anything in the entire world, except maybe my mom. And I really, really hope that he believes me when I tell him, that I love him that much too.


But today, my dad isn’t the only daddy I have to be thankful for. Because this year I have the incredible blessing of watching Dan become a daddy too.

The past 10 months have been a whirlwind of sleeplessness, love, joy, frustration, desperation, and acceptance. They have been filled with diapers, bottles, blowouts, giggles and moments of pure joy watching Mia reach for Dan. Smile at him. Say “dada.” Dan has always known he wanted to be a dad, and Mia is a lucky, lucky girl to have him watching over her, loving her, being patient with her and being so incredibly proud of her.

morning kisses

When it comes to parenting, my dad set the bar really, really high. I’m not sure I will ever be as great a parent as my parents were (are). But when I met Dan, I knew he could be. And watching him live up to those expectations is the greatest gift – for Mia, and for me.

Thank you Dan, for keeping me sane, for loving me anyway, and for loving Mia more than life itself.

Happy Father’s Day.

I Love You

Every morning when I wake up Dan tells me he loves me. He tells me I’m smart, I’m beautiful, or that I’m a great mom. Not always all of them all together, but every day he tells me something that he loves about me. And not in a a way like the cashier at Hannaford says “thanks, have a great day” when what they really mean is “hurry up, next please.” But in a way like “don’t you want to get naked?”

nobody-cleans-a-house-faster-than-a-man Just kidding. Well, not really that probably IS what he’s thinking – but it doesn’t usually happen and he still compliments me every morning so he’s either a VERY slow learner, or he says those things because he genuinely means them.

I know I’m kind of a horrible person for admitting this, but those compliments pretty much go in one ear and out the other. I hear them, but what I’m thinking is “what am I going to wear today?” and “do I have enough time to shower before Mia wakes up?” I’m already onto the next thing before he even finishes his thought. I completely take his compliments for granted.

Today on the way to work I was thinking about how he says those things every morning, and how incredibly kind and loving that is. How reassuring it is that he still thinks I’m beautiful and takes the time to TELL ME even though I have 15 pounds of extra baby weight on my hips and day old mascara underneath my eyes. I haven’t shaved my legs or washed my hair in a week, but those aren’t the things he notices.

He notices that I got a promotion at work, or that I cleaned the kitchen, or that I removed a spider from the bathroom window without a meltdown. And then he tells me he’s proud of me. How lucky am I?

And that got me to thinking, when do I say that to him?

I’ve been with Dan for almost 7 years now, and he’s always done all the cooking, and all the lawn mowing, and all the fixing of broken appliances, clogged drains (even when its clogged with my long, curly hair), and overgrown gardens. Now that he’s a dad he’s stepped up even more – changing diapers, cleaning bottles, singing nursery rhymes and soothing meltdowns. And he should. That’s his job, too. But just because it’s his job doesn’t mean I shouldn’t let him know I appreciate it, the same way he appreciates me for doing things that are ordinary, expected.

I tell everyone else how great he is. Because, he’s really, really great. But I only ever tell him when he’s fucked something up. Because I’m a bitch human.

The beginning of relationships is all about “I love you, you’re the one.” And somehow over time that turns into “I love you, will you take out the trash.” And that’s normal. And it’s ok. Life gets busy, kids get cranky, sleep runs low and it’s hard to find time to remember why you love the one you chose, and even harder to remember to tell them. But isn’t it the hard things that are worth doing?

Dan is many things. He is stubborn, he is smart, he is hardworking and short tempered – just to name a few. But more than any of those things, he is uncomplicated. He doesn’t think in to-do lists or tomorrows or IOUs. He thinks that right now, he loves me, and he gives me a kiss. And it’s time for me to put away my laptop and thank him for that, and for making dinner, and for mowing the lawn and for reminding me why we’re in this rat race to begin with.


Because we love each other, and we love our daughter and our dog and our families and nothing else really matters. It can all wait, for at least a minute. So that I can tell him “I love you” and he can hear me. And I can mean it.

Because it’s true. I just don’t say it enough.


Mia’s Crawling and We Have a New Bathroom

Hello long lost blog. It’s been almost a month since I had five seconds to visit you. The past few weeks have been so busy I haven’t had time to post anything nevermind have an insightful thought ;)

Instead I’ve been cleaning, painting, nailing things into the wall, raking, working, traveling and chasing after a CRAWLING BABY!

I know. So crazy. Mia is mobile and life as we know it is now over.

In other heartwarming news, she dances.

She also finally has a finished bedroom, which is wonderful for all of us (we were sleeping all three of us + harley on the sunporch for a few weeks while we worked on the upstairs of the house and that did. not. go. well.) Everyone is now in their respective bedrooms and we’re all sleeping MUCH better.





We also made significant progress on the bathroom. And by “significant progress” I mean, it’s not done yet but since I’m impatient and it’s close enough, it probably won’t ever get finished. Progress is progress though, and I’m proud of what we’ve done so far.

Here’s a little reminder of what it looked like before.


photo 2

And now, a month and a half later, its SO CLOSE to being done. Just waiting on some baseboard heater covers, a new window and for me to paint the trim.




So aside from my lack of photography skills, it’s looking pretty ok. And it’s fully functional, which, as Dan has to constantly remind me as I go to purchase a THIRD vanity light since I didn’t like the first two, is the the ultimate goal.

In addition to the bathroom and Mia’s room – we’ve also been hard at work repainting the entire upstairs of the house, adding a walk-in closet to our bedroom and spring cleaning/planting all kinds of flowers and vegetables in our yard. We also have 3 cords of wood to stack and I joined a 530am running group – so there is no rest for the weary in the Richards household. More photos to come as we finish projects.

This is what 530am looks like in Cumberland, Maine. Not too shabby...

This is what 530am looks like in Cumberland, Maine. Not too shabby…

This was AFTER the run was over, hence the smile...

This was AFTER the run was over, hence the smile…

We also celebrated my first Mother’s Day (actually my second one, since last year I was preggo and Dan bought me a dozen roses, a bag of Doritos and a giant slice of nutella coffee cake) on Sunday and this year Dan decided to get food poisoning or some other horrific stomach virus at 7am on Sunday morning, leaving me on my own for most of the day. He did manage to hold it together long enough so that I could have a shower without a baby in tow – which is, you know, pretty much what every new mom wants for Mother’s Day – so its all good. And the day turned out pretty great anyway since I was able to meet my parents in Newburyport and spend the day with them eating, going to the beach and walking around town. Mia pulled herself up to standing for the first time and also got her own pancake for the first time. She ate at least 50% of it, which I found to be pretty impressive considering she only weighs 18 pounds. pancakes





And finally, when Mia and I got back home on Sunday night, Dan was feeling much better and had made us a yummy dinner. He also gave me a beautiful scarf (that doubles as a nursing cover) and matching one for Mia – so cute!


So overall, life is busy. Life is good. And yet again I am reminded of just how incredibly blessed we are.