Third Time is....not the Charm

Spoiler alert: leaving your baby to go back to work after an amazing maternity leave isn't any easier the third time around.  In fact, it may just be a tad harder.  Because not only is this the end of this maternity leave but also the end of my maternity leave forever.  No more babies.  No more coming home from the hospital.  No more day-old baby snuggles.  No more newbornness.  This is it - my life from this point forward.  Rhett is growing and it's time to return to the real world.  So as I did with the other two, I wanted to write him a letter on this emotional day.

Dear Rhett,

Today is my first day back to work after almost 12 incredible weeks with you.  I have been dreading it for weeks.  Rather, since I learned of your existence one year ago next month.  In November, February 21 seemed like it was eons away.  I should have known better.  I wish I could say it gets easier, but it just doesn't.  You are my forever baby and it pains me so much to have to leave you and this special time we've shared.  I know my days back at work are going to fly, but that's part of the reason this is so difficult.  Before I know it, you are going to be six months old, and crawling, and then one, and walking.  If only I could hold onto this stage for a tad bit longer, I would do it in a heartbeat.  

We've shared so many days, just the two of us, and for that I will be forever grateful.  I'm convinced that this maternity leave was my best yet.  It came at the best possible time of year.  I was home for the holidays and got to enjoy that extra holiday magic with a newborn in the house.  But then my maternity leave extended into what seemed to be the first few weeks of spring (it's been a mild February!), and we got to enjoy some time outside and plenty of walks around the neighborhood, as well.  I got to see your first smiles and witness you morph from an itty bitty newborn to a still little, but very interactive, happy baby.  At 2.5 months old, you are the youngest I've ever sent to daycare, but at the same time, these 12 weeks have been a gift and one I am truly thankful for.

Of course, there's a small part of me excited to return to work.  For the first time ever, I'm returning to students I already know...the same ones I left just three months ago...and I know they will be overjoyed to have me back.  I'm sure it will be a very warm welcome on my part, but nothing--I repeat nothing--beats your smiles and the sweet moments we have shared.

When I do get sad about returning, I remind myself that Spring Break is just three short weeks away.  And then summer just nine weeks later.  I live for summer and I can't wait to spend these upcoming summer days with you and your brothers.

After three babies, this may not get any easier, but after three babies, I still don't want to stay home full time.  I know there are moms out there who would die for the opportunity, but I am not one of them.  I get to pretend in the summers and that is just perfect.  On the flip side, you are going to love daycare and your new friends.  Ms. Stephanie is the best and you are going to grow to love her just as she loves you!  And, let's not forget, your big brothers are ecstatic about having you join them!

I have no doubt that you are going to be okay.  And I will, as well, once I adjust.  It's just so hard for me to say goodbye to my maternity leave(s).  Especially this one.  You are our last baby and I am never going to have a time in my life like this again, which makes it all the more painful.  There have been tears...and there will be more, I'm sure, but I've done it twice and I can do it again.

As sad as I am to be closing this chapter of my life, I know we are all going to thrive in this new routine of ours.  My maternity leave has been perfect beyond words, but I also know the best is yet to come!

Love you so much, Rhett Kauffman, and thank you for giving me 12 amazing weeks off!


My Valentines 2017

Craig and I don't celebrate the Hallmark holiday, but that doesn't mean I can't dress the boys in red and snap some holiday themed photos!  Rhett was easy.  He put on his smile and posed like the best of them.  The other two?  Well, sometimes outtakes are the best takes, right?

I bought this little onesie for some Valentine's-themed photos when Brantley was a baby.  Who knew I would reuse five years later?!

This kid's smile truly melts my heart.  It's such a little thing, but his smile seriously improves my day and gives me butterflies.  Can't. get. enough.

And now for the older boys...
We started with leftover party props from our neighborhood progressive dinner. 
(Theme: Party with a Heart On)

But then ditched them for just the guns, errrrrr roses.

They love to pester each other.  It's not at all obvious, is it? 😳

And this is Holden's "I'm not gonna smile" face.  We see it often.  Ornery little you-know-what.

Then he got mad.  And started pouting.

Fine pout, I'll just take Brantley's photo alone.  The Bachelor 50?

"Noooo, Mommy!"  Well then, cooperate please!

Can I just get one nice photo?

But no, Brantley has to touch (annoy) Holden.

And finally, this.  To which I decided we were D-O-N-E.

At any rate, I hope you had the best Valentine's Day!  Despite their orneriness, I love my little Valentines more than words can express.

Eating Healthy & Colorful with Goodcents

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had signed up for Beachbody and planned to do a 21-day fix in hopes of losing this excess baby weight.  So when a friend contacted me about helping with a Goodcents campaign regarding their new Sensible Sandwiches, it couldn't have come at a better time!  The boys have soccer every Saturday at 10:15, so we've made it a weekly habit to stop at Goodcents on the way home and grab lunch.

The Sensible Sub menu includes six sandwiches all under 500 calories.  The sandwiches are served on a sprouted whole grain bun that is comprised of bran, flax, oats and barley.  However, in true Goodcents fashion, they are baked fresh in-store every day.  So far, I've had the chance to try the Skinny Italian Club, Turkey & Cranberry, and Spicy Ham; they have all been great, but the Turkey & Cranberry is by far my favorite!  

(Turkey & Cranberry on the left, Skinny Italian on the right)

Goodcents also recently introduced rainbow bread for kids.  The rainbow bread features brightly-colored blue, green, purple and pink bread in a bun that tastes like its traditional white bread.  As odd as it looks, the boys looooved it!  In fact, I had to order two kids meals (they usually split one) and they nearly scarfed down their sandwiches before I had a chance to snap a photo!  Non-chicken nuggets for the win!

So if you're local, do yourself a favor and check out these two new offerings from Goodcents!  I promise you (and your kiddos) won't be disappointed!

This post is sponsored by Goodcents but all opinions are my own!

Five Things {at Target}

Hooray for Friday!  And it's supposed to be near 70 degrees here this weekend.  I can hardly wait!  But first, this.  As if you need more reason to love Target, here are five!

 1. Sugarfix by BaubleBar.

Have you seen this new jewelry line at Target?  I noticed it in passing the other day and decided I need every single piece they offer!  Seriously, such cute stuff! 

pink // blue

2. These Over-the-Knee Boots.

True story.  I tried on this exact boot at my local Target over a month ago.  I loved it, but couldn't find the match and it appeared to be an online purchase that was returned, so there weren't any others in the store.  Earlier this week, I was at Target again and noticed the same boot--this time with its match!  Despite being on "clearance", the boots were still $40 (pricey for Target!) so I decided to pass.  Fast forward a few hours and I was kicking myself for not buying them.  I decided to go back the following day and get them.  Well, I tried...and they were gone.  Womp womp.  So I guess it wasn't meant to be.  Maybe I should just focus my efforts on spring transition shoes anyway.  I've got my eyes on these and these.

3. Archer Farms Frozen Quinoa Sides.

I'm pretty good about planning meals, but I struggle to come up with sides.  I found these Archer Farms frozen bags of quinoa at Target the other day.  We tried the Sriracha flavor and it was a huge hit!  Archer Farms always has the best stuff, yes?

4. Retro Games & Toys.

Have you seen the retro toys and games for sale at Target?  Things like this chatter phone, ferris wheel, record player, and cash register--pretty sure we had them all!  The funniest part--my parents still have this original cash register and Holden is obsessed with it every time we go to Iowa!  There are retro games, too (Clue, Guess Who, Battleship, Candy Land, among plenty of others!), which let's be honest, the retro versions > updates versions!  Would it be weird if I added all of these to my next Christmas list??

5. This ottoman.

We've been slowly ridding our house of all the reds and browns and we purchased this ottoman just before Rhett was born.  I love how it brightens up our living room, takes up less space than our old one, and still includes storage!

Happy Friday, friends!

Linking Up With:
Momfessionals and A Little Bit of Everything for Friday Favorites 
September F A R M for Oh, Hey Friday
Smidge of This for Five on Friday

Rhett Kauffman: 2 Months Old

 It's amazing how much you forget about each stage, even after two previous babies.  Two months is all sorts of fun and for so many reasons!  You are staying awake for much longer periods of time and you are becoming a lot more interactive.  You really observe the world around you and pay close attention when being talked to.  You even coo back to me and we have little conversations.  But perhaps my most favorite part of this current stage - the smiles!  Like, legit, real-life, happy smiles!  I seriously can't. get. enough.  I have so many iPhone photos of them and want to just bottle up your personality right now.  I really don't think there's a better feeling than when a baby begins to smile...well, except for maybe those first belly laughs, which not to rush time, but I can hardly wait!!

You are still the best baby who rarely cries.  You are sleeping through the night, about 9 to 10 hours straight.  We moved you to your room (and crib) just two days shy of your 2-month birthday and you have done amazingly well (not that I expected any less), but at 8.5 weeks old, you win the prize for the longest stay in our bedroom.  What can I say, you're the baby!  You are just a little guy, weighing in a 9 pounds 4 ounces and in the 7th percentile, but you sure make up for it with your sweetness.

Other second month things:

You were baptized along with your older brothers, which makes it all the more special.  More to come on that.

Your hyperextended ankles are so much better!  I'd like to say it was the PT exercises, but I sort of slacked off with them after the first few weeks.  At any rate, they aren't the freak show they once were!

I did start to worry about a flat spot on your head.  You always look to the right and rarely to the left.  The PT freaked me out at our follow-up for your feet, but your pediatrician assured me that you're fine and said your head shape looks great.

You had your first walk in the stroller around our neighborhood.  We've been having off and on warm temps, so I attempted a loop around the block with three kids and a dog.  I'll call it a success.

You are growing some peach fuzz on your otherwise bald head.  It typically sticks straight up after a bath.

We are officially transitioning you to formula.  I had gone back and forth for weeks and truly considered pumping upon my return to work. I just couldn't decide what I wanted to do, but was looking for little signs to convince me one way or the other.  Let's just say there were plenty of signs so I have been weaning myself from the pump for about a week now.  You are on almost all formula at this point and seem to be handling it well.  And honestly, I think it will be a huge benefit to both of us.  I won't have to ration my milk as much (I was always so concerned about filling 6 or 7 bottles per day) so hopefully you can start to pack on the pounds!  I can also go to bed much earlier now (which will be huge when I return to work) and my life won't be ruled by a stupid pumping schedule. Formula for the win!

I'm still savoring all things newborn and loving this stage more than I ever have!!!

2 Months of Rhett

Size: 9 pounds + 4 ounces (7th percentile)
22 inches long (17th percentile)
15 inch head circumference (12th percentile)

Words: None, obviously, but coo-ing and ahhh-ing and plenty of baby noises.

Activity: You love to observe the world around you.

Food: 4 ounces 6 to 7 times per day.

Sleep: Still napping quite a bit during the days and sleeping for 9 to 10 hours overnight.

Bedtime/Waketime: We put you "to bed" after your 10/10:30pm bottle and you generally wake sometime between 7 and 8am.  You used to wake up around 4am almost every night and need your paci, but that is becoming less and less frequent.

Hair: Reddish peach fuzz on top and a row of your newborn hair at your neckline that is still dark brown/auburn-ish.

Eyes: Blue

Teeth: None

Wardrobe: Still in the 0-3 month stuff.

Diapers: Size 1s.

Likes: Laying by the fire (on your DockATot), your paci, car rides, sleep, being held tightly, being swaddles, being talked to, your mama.

Dislikes: The hiccups, getting your bottle taken away mid-feeding, and being hungry.

Mommy Update: Let's just say there have been a few rough patches in regards to my current body situation, but other than that, great!

Brother Update: Brothers are still doing great and loving on you on the regular!

Mommy's Fave - Can't beat those smiles! 💙




Valentine, You Rule

Valentine's Day is sneaking up quickly so I thought I would share an easy (and inexpensive) DIY in case you still need to check this to-do off your list.  I wish I could take credit for the idea, but I can't.  I actually found the pre-made Valentines at Walmart, but didn't like the card they came with so I made my own.  So by all means, steal the idea because that's what I did! 😉

What You'll Need:
A color printer
Scissors or a paper cutter
6-in rulers (I like these)
An x-acto or utility knife

What You'll Do:
1. Download and print this free printable.  It includes four Valentines per sheet.

2. Cut exactly in half length and width-wise (at the 5.5-inch and 4.25-inch marks).

3. Use the x-acto knife to make two slits--one at each end.  Your slit should be the same height as your rulers.  I cut one card and then used it as my template for the others.

4. Slide the rulers through and that's it!

Easy, cheap, and non-candy-friendly!  And the math teacher in me loooooves that we are giving rulers to Brantley's 4 and 5-year old classmates!!  Start 'em early!

(Note: Check the Valentine's section at Walmart for these Valentine's...they include 10 rulers for under $2!)

And if you're interested, here are the Valentines we gave last year as well as a list of other bloggers' DIY Valentines.

Five Things

Oh hey, Friday, and oh hey, February!!  It's officially back-to-work month and though I know I'm going to cry on the 21st (and probably the 19th and the 20th and who knows, maybe every day until then!), I'm getting excited that next month is March and March always brings about all sorts of happy feelings for me.  Spring break, warmer weather, the return of baseball - can't beat it!  Anyway, here are five things on this Friday.

| one |

The hubs and I snuck away for our very first date night since Rhett on Tuesday for the Eric Church concert.  Eric is the one singer we both just love and Craig bought me tickets as a birthday gift.  This was the forth time we've seen him live, the first being at a small venue in Topeka in 2012 when I was pregnant and before Eric was as well-known as he is now.  Anyway, I swear each concert is better than the last and this one took the cake for sure!  He performed two sets broken up by an intermission--and then came back on for an encore.  39 songs total according to the Kansas City Star and so many of them that have been huge hits.  Anyway, it was a ton of fun--clearly, when you don't get home until 1am--even though I had to pump on the way there and again on the drive home.

| two |

Speaking of, earlier this week I decided it was time to kick my pump to the curb!  I had been wavering back and forth on whether or not to continue pumping upon my return to work.  My schedule this year would have allowed for it, though it wouldn't have been easy so I was looking for signs to persuade me one way or another.  I'll spare you the details, but let's just say my milk was a nice shade of raspberry from cracked and bleeding nipples - again.  I decided that that was enough of a sign and started to wean myself almost immediately.  Not to mention, he's eating more, I was producing the same; we were having to start supplementing anyway.  I'm currently pumping four times per day and only for 20-30 minutes instead of the 45-60 I was doing before.  It has already been a huge weight off my shoulders to feel like my life is not quite as controlled by a darn pumping schedule and as bittersweet as it may be (#lastbaby), I do look forward to my life returning to normal once again!  (In other news, we moved Rhett into his crib and it has been going fabulously!  More normal life things!! 👏)

| three |

Last night, I did something completely out of character and signed up for Beachbody.  I am so not a person who has ever worked out regularly (or at all--I hate it, I really do) but I'm still carrying 20+ extra pounds of baby weight and I became quite upset last weekend when none of my clothes fit.  So I bought an all-access membership to Beachbody and I'm going to start drinking the Shakeology shakes once per day, as well.  My blog-turned-real-life-friend, Brittany, (also a mom of three) is my "coach" and she actually has an entire blog devoted to her fitness.  To say I'm nervous would be a huge understatement, but I have to do something about these L-Bs because I'm definitely not buying all new clothes come summer!  I may kick start the program with a 21-day fix.....but you know, not until after the Superbowl obviously!!  Anyway, I got the Cafe Latte flavor of shakes and I have high hopes they're going to be comparable to these.  Hahaha kidding.  Haha sort of.

| four |

 Speaking of the Superbowl, we're throwing a party similar to last year: BYFP.  Bring your favorite pizza.  In case you need further explanation, that can be found here.  I highly suggest throwing a BYFP party because it requires little to no prep, which is in part why I offered to host. 😉 

| five |

And not to end on a sad note, but a friend of a friend has a 4-month old in the NICU because of something that happened at daycare earlier this week.  My friend doesn't know many details, except that a miracle is their only hope right now.  This is a third baby and a boy, so it really hits home.  Please pray for this little baby and his family.  I simply cannot imagine.  

And so I don't end with such somber news, here are some of the sweet smiles we've been getting from Rhett lately!  I just love this little kid so very much!

Happy Friday!

Linking Up With:
Momfessionals and A Little Bit of Everything for Friday Favorites 
September F A R M for Oh, Hey Friday
Smidge of This for Five on Friday