What to do when you’re stuck in a rut

I’m pretty sure my procrastination level has reached an all-time high lately. I haven’t been keeping in touch well with my friends. I haven’t been planning new and fun things to do for the kiddos. I certainly haven’t been keeping up with my house cleaning. So, what have I been doing then??

We are in desperate house hunting time. We’re supposed to close on our current house next month and there’s literally nothing on the market for us to choose from to buy. We’ve seen it all and passed it up for whatever reason, and analyzed everything 6 ways to Sunday to see if there’s some way we could make it work for us. I search all of the housing sites, Craigslist, then go back and look at the houses we’ve already seen (in case they’ve changed somehow in the last couple of weeks??!!). I literally feel like months have passed by without me being fully present because I’m so engrossed in finding our “dream”/”forever” home. I’m so tired of houses, you guys.

I’m in a rut.

And I need to get out, badly…for my family, and my own mental health. So, here’s what I’ve discovered about getting out of a mental rut in case you’re in one of your own!

1) Determine what needs to change: For me this mainly involves putting my phone down and stepping away from the housing apps. I find myself being much more attentive to my kids and the house if my phone is nowhere near me. The amount of time I spend looking every day isn’t healthy for my life and isn’t really helpful either, so that’s number 1. I also need to change my stress level about finding a house. Something somehow will work out – I know that deep down, so I need to calm myself instead of spending all day on eggshells about a new house coming on the market. I might even look into a yoga class for myself!

2) Set attainable goals: I know that I’m not going to be able to change all of these things at once because I’ve been doing them for quite a while now. I think I’ll first start by cutting down the number of housing apps I have on my phone to 1 (I won’t tell you how many I currently have). I’ll also set a goal for myself of only checking this app at times that make sense for my family, such as when the kids are eating lunch, taking a nap, or otherwise preoccupied without me. I will not make an excuse that they seem preoccupied without me (even if they’re asking me to play with them) in order to check my phone. Honestly, my husband and our agent are as obsessive as I am at this point – so if something does come on the market they’ll probably know right away too.

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A Mini-Vacation in Big Bear

San Diego’s winters are typically warm compared to the rest of the US, so if we want to experience snow and a real winter we go to the mountains. Last year around this time we went to Big Bear for the Veteran’s holiday weekend. We rented a house for 5 days through Airbnb and invited two more families to join us for the trip.


Located in the San Bernardino Mountains, Big Bear is approximately a 3-hour drive from San Diego (and 100 miles from Los Angeles), so it was perfect for a nap time drive. This wasn’t our first time going to Big Bear; in fact, the last time Mr. Cheesecake and I went to Big Bear I was pregnant with StarCakes and there was freshly fallen snow in the mountains. This time around, we had to account for an almost potty-trained toddler and a baby that hated her car seat.

StarCakes was pretty much day potty trained by this time, which meant that we had make stops along the way whenever he needed to use the restroom. GemCakes on the other hand, could only nap in her car seat when the van was moving. This made for an interesting arrangement when we had to make pit stops. Mr. Cheesecake would pull into the parking lot of a restaurant while I drove the van around so GemCakes could still nap. When StarCakes was done, I would go back to being a passenger and Mr. Cheesecake would continue driving.

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Author Spotlight: Gerald McDermott (Folktales/Myths)

Lion is such a huge fan of reading that we frequently go to the library and check out forty or more books at a time. While he’s always had a pretty good attention span for books, since he turned about eighteen months his attention span for longer books has gotten much better. Mr. Dolphin and I appreciate that we can pick up longer books now and read him some of our childhood favorites, as well as discovering new ones that we love to read.

One of the libraries near us has a section of picture books devoted to mythology and folktales. As someone who studied religious studies in undergrad, I love myths, particularly ones that I’m unfamiliar with. It’s always fun to see what myths have parallels with ones that I have heard before and interesting to see how different cultures have a lot of similarities. We have read dozens of fun myths and folktales from Tibet, Mexico, China, the Caribbean and more.

One author that we stumbled across has these really great books on tales from around the world (though mostly in the U.S.), focusing largely on “trickster” tales. Gerald McDermott books are generally brightly colored, differently illustrated (meaning that there is not a common illustrator throughout his books) and hold both parental interest and toddler attention. McDermott was the first Fellow of the Joseph Campbell Foundation and his devotion to mythology is evident. We have loved every single one of these books. Although our two-year-old adores them, I think that older kids in elementary school would enjoy them as well. The teaching opportunities are different, of course, and I look forward to revisiting them when Lion and Panda get older.


Anansi the Spider: A Tale from Ashanti: This book received a Caldecott honor and is a sweet book about Anansi, a spider who sets off on a journey and is saved by his sons. Anansi has only one reward, though, and must figure out which son deserves it.

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I’m Having Two Babies: the Aftermath

When we last left off on the journey to bringing the boys home, I had just discovered I was having twins at my twenty week ultrasound. As an aside, one of the most common responses I get when people see the boys is, “I’ve always wanted to have twins!” And I get it, I really do. Twins are super cute, and if you haven’t had any kids yet the idea of only being pregnant once is pretty appealing.

I found, though, that once we learned that there was some sort of BOGO sale on babies nobody told us about, our conversations at home revolved less around how cute and fun twins were going to be, and more around dealing with varying degrees of panic and apprehension.

“When will we sleep?”

“How will we afford this?”

“What have we done to Addie?”

“How will we PCS with a five year old, two one year olds, and a dog?”

“No, but seriously, when will we sleep?”

IMG_0809I don’t know what you’re worrying about. We’re adorable.

I also learned that I had some serious opinions about acceptable twin names. After many, many conversations, I presented M with three simple rules we had to follow in choosing names for the boys.

  1. The names couldn’t rhyme.
  2. The names couldn’t start with the same letter.
  3. They had to sound right together, without sounding like a matchy-matchy set

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Transitioning from WAHM to SAHM

I spent the last 5 years working from home… and although it was the best scenario for me at the time, I was completely comfortable with the recent decision to become a stay at home mom. Since I had been working at my family’s business, I was given the trusted opportunity to work from home. It was especially nice being able to stay at home when I had intense morning sickness for the first 3 months. I can’t imagine going outside when I was in that stage! I absolutely commend all the working women who had to crawl to work with that intense nausea! When Baby Pencil was born I had so much intense guilt that it made working so difficult and distracting! I basically had this innocent face staring at me while I typed on a computer from 2 feet away:

Screen Shot 2016-10-02 at 8.04.02 PM
“Work can wait… right?”

Being a WAHM meant:

  • I could see, play and hug my kid whenever I wanted
  • I would be distracted pretty much all day long
  • I had to plan meetings and phone calls only at night or during naps
  • I still had to cook, clean, and take care of the kid while trying to squeeze in work here and there
  • It was nice being able to plan play dates, as long as work was squared away
  • I felt like I was just half-working and half-being a mom 24/7 with no sense of boundaries
  • I still looked horrible and hardly showered (yay)
  • When asked “how’s work?” I never knew how to respond. Work was something I sort of just did all throughout my days, even on weekends. It kind of felt like going to meetings and managing work in your pajamas with a baby strapped to your back, babbling nonsense in your ear all day.

But since becoming a SAHM, I’ve realized it meant:

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When Testing Doesn’t Resolve Anxiety

My NIPT (non-invasive prenatal testing) results for hemophilia came in exactly two weeks after my blood sample was scheduled to arrive in Toronto. I had emailed the genetic counsellor that morning with an “I promise I won’t harass you every day, but is there any word?” message, and she told me she was expecting them shortly and assured me she’d call as soon as the results landed on her desk. I was anxious for the rest of the day, and snatched up the phone on the first ring when she called late into the afternoon.

I really felt mostly uneasy about the chromosomal testing — I could not fathom getting bad news at this point. I didn’t care whether the baby was a boy or a girl, mostly because with 40+ years of no boys born on my maternal side of the family, and already having had a daughter, I was pretty darn sure this new baby had to be a girl.

So when the genetic counsellor said “It’s a boy!” I almost dropped the phone. My exact response was “WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT.”

After collecting myself and finding out that the rest of the testing came back low risk, we briefly went over the next steps — they’d be rushing my genetic testing, and the geneticist would have to do some work to inform my doctors about how to proceed with delivery, because we basically have to pretend I’m a carrier for hemophilia, even if I might not be, thanks to the uncertainty with my family’s DNA. I didn’t feel very anxious at that point, because the baby was chromosomally healthy, and I was in such shock about having a boy.

That lasted for about a day, at best. I started getting uneasy, thinking, “Now I know it’s a boy. Now I can picture a boy. I can’t lose this baby.” And, “We don’t have boys. Something is going to go wrong.”

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The Ultimate Children’s First Aid Kit

Mrs. PB&J recently blogged about giving a children’s first aid kit as a baby shower gift and I love that idea (I made a similar emergency kit for my friend’s wedding many years ago)! Charlie has had his fair share of injuries in his almost 7 years of life, while Olive has always been our much more cautious child. This is what I would gift a friend in my children’s first aid kit!


For Babies


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