How to register a 5-year-old for Kindergarten

file-feb-16-9-15-49-pm

March 13-18, 2016
Notice Kindergarten registration is happening. Add reminder to phone to check on 2017 schedule in late February. Congratulate self on organized process and systems.

Feb. 16, 2017 | 7:30 a.m.
Drive past future school. Glance at marquee. Notice Kindergarten registration ends in 32 hours. Have panic attack. Attempt to un-teach future scholar new curse words. Anticipate curse words to surface again only during Kindergarten readiness assessment.

7:38 a.m.
Use smartphone to Google and locate school registration forms. Realize forms must be printed out and completed by hand. All 15 pages. Because 1952 was an especially efficient year for office personnel.

8:06 a.m.
Find list of additional required documentation. Call to confirm that we are applying for public school entrance, not entrance into the US of A.

8:08 a.m.
Call pediatrician’s office to get copy of immunization records. Enter the dreaded first-hour-of-the-morning-everyone-call-the-ped muzak. (Thanks, Flu ’17. You can go now.)

8:13 a.m.
Attempt to find car keys. Fail. Message husband re: meeting to exchange. Decide it will be first and last time I ever use the phrase, “Meet me in the alley.”

8:37 a.m.
Connect with a human being in pediatrician’s office. Request immunization records, this afternoon if possible. Am asked why I wasn’t aware of Kindergarten registration before today. Commence internal screaming.

12:05 p.m.
Begin completing paperwork. (Side note: Explain to me why we’re eliminating handwriting from the school curriculum when all of its paperwork still has to be done by hand. Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think? #earworm #yourewelcome) Learn that falsifying your address on Kindergarten registration paperwork is a first degree misdemeanor. Finally understand where our justice system jumped the shark.

12:07 p.m.
Student Cell Phone: ___________________ Bahahahahahahahahahahahaha no.

12:08 p.m.
Dude. Daytime phone and cell phone are the same thing. But you would know that if you lived in a universe called 2017. Also? 47% of U.S. households don’t have landlines. So please stop asking for my home phone like you can’t make like Drake and just call me on my cell. #earworm #trackchange #yourestillwelcome It travels with me. That’s why it’s called a mobile phone. Because it’s mobile.

12:10 p.m.
Parent Input Form, Question 15: Does your child recognize some letters of the alphabet (first name)? … Seriously? That’s our highest expectation of Kindergartners? That sometime in the last 1,825+ days they managed to learn 15% of the alphabet??? Sweet mercy.

12:11 p.m.
Parent Input Form, Question 18: Does your child hold a book correctly? … I can’t even.

12:12 p.m.
Parent Input Form, Question 25: Does your child sort objects by attribute (color, size, or shape)? … Damn straight he does. He eats his M&M’s by color the way the universe intended. Want him to show you how to work the labelmaker? #TypeAalltheway #likemotherlikeson

12:13 p.m.
Parent Input Form, Question 26: Does your child show understanding of general times of day? … Yes, except for: on Christmas Day, on any day when mom is running 21 minutes behind, or every.single.Saturday morning.

12:15 p.m.
Parent Input Form, Question 35: Name three things you would like your child to be able to do in one year. …
1. Recite the preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America (while copies are still available).
2. Participate in clinical trials for medicine that causes five-year-olds to sleep past 6 in the a.m.
3. Successfully place socks inside laundry hamper without them being balled up.

12:15 p.m.
Parent Input Form, Question 37: Right now I am most concerned about: …
1. Your lack of a comma after “now.”
2. The carpal tunnel in my right hand from filling out 15 pages of repetitive paperwork.
3. Where I’m going to keep the magical leprechaun I’ll need to hire to watch my child during the 1,780 business hours he won’t be at school but the rest of the world still needs me to produce stuff. (Note to self: Ensure leprechaun can teach handwriting.) (Side note: Half-day-only Kindergarten, we in a fight.)

3:26 p.m.
Pick up immunization records on way to work meeting because everyone totes has nothing else to do between the weekday hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. SO WE SHOULD ALL OPERATE UNDER THE EXACT SAME WORKING HOURS SO NOTHING GETS ACCOMPLISHED. Suggest the penalty for picking up a virus in order to complete Kindergarten registration also be a first degree misdemeanor. Spray all the things with hand sanitizer. (Really, Flu ’17. We’re done with you.)

3:36 p.m.
Stop at house. Apologize to confused dog for interrupting Nap #29347. Locate all documents needed for applying for green card Kindergarten. Can’t remember passcode to husband’s super-secure-spy-level-Army briefcase. Throw entire briefcase into trunk.

5:15 p.m.
Pick up children from preschool. Explain impending adventure as “Visiting The Place That Hasn’t Heard About Google Forms Yet.” Ask Siri to tell five-year-old what “bureaucracy” means.

5:43 p.m.
Turn in forms. Intend to take obligatory picture with building sign but forget. Ask Yelp to find closest family-friendly establishment with wine on draft. Ignore husband when he says that’s not a thing.

5:54 p.m.
Call preschool and ask about permanent enrollment. PTA not scary there. Computers from this century there. Complex childcare system not needed for before school/after school/we’re-closed-because-theres-a-snowstorm-in-Kansas days there. DON’T LEEEEEEAVE USSSSSS.

6:12 p.m.
Ask five-year-old if he has any questions. Confirm that, yes, he may get a Minion lunchbox and, no, he will not be driving himself to school. Yet.

Sob. Sob sob sob sob sob.

The End.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

  
What I’ve accomplished the past three months:

Enjoyed the holidays with my family 

Started a new (fast-paced, demanding, but exceptionally rewarding) job

Survived the baby’s first winter in daycare with only three trips to urgent care and two pediatrician appointments

Established a freelance editing business (find me on Fiverr: aestarr)

Coordinated a full-office move for my favorite volunteer organization

What I haven’t done:

Sleep

Tackle house projects

Blog

So, I’m taking some time to get the first list in order, then I’ll be back! Enjoy the archives & find me on Instagram (@sensibleaudrey) in the meantime 🙂

Always thankful

It-is-not-happy-people-who-are-thankful.-It-is-thankful-people-who-are-happy{Source}

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! Since it goes without saying that I’m thankful for a family that loves me (neuroses and all), the world’s greatest children (if not the world’s greatest sleepers), a warm house that welcomes both (vintage-home wear and tear included), and so on, I thought I’d list a few of the smaller luxuries I’m grateful for this year.

White noise apps. If I ever meet the genius who designed this sweet, sweet blessing, I’m buying them a lifetime supply of coffee. I’m pretty sure 85% of the sleep I’ve managed to convince Starr Baby 2 to take so far in his young life has been due to the lull of heavy rain/sprinkler/chimes/fan noise in the background via someone’s iPhone. Life. Saver.

Plentiful amounts of good coffee. Despite item number one, we have not been blessed with a strong sleeper as of yet (I’m hopeful he’ll get there in time — his older brother has been a fabulous sleeper since about 12 months), and thanks to some updated research noting that breastfeeding mothers can, in fact, indulge in a cup of coffee a day no harm done, I’ve taken advantage of this delicious elixir to power my days. Thank you, good people of Starbucks/Panera/McDonald’s/Keurig for giving this mama some early-morning sanity.

My Kindle. I’ve managed to read close to a dozen books since my maternity leave started, thanks to the flexibility of holding a Kindle with one hand while nursing or seeing my iPhone screen in a darkened nursery or flipping through virtual pages on my iPad on my lunch break. While I’m still a fan of the feel and design of hard-copy books, there’s no way I’d be able to get through them in this stage of life; having an electronic repository that follows me wherever I am, and is easy to hold and navigate through, makes a world of difference.

TV on demand. I’m not a huge follower of the latest TV, but for the shows I do watch, I’m on a small children schedule, not a TGIF lineup one these days. Having the ability to dial in to the show I want, when I want (even if that’s not until 10 p.m., and requires three pauses to replace a pacifier/change a diaper/rock back to sleep), helps make me feel like a semi-relevant adult.

Preschooler conversations. Oh, how much fun this stage is! The mind of a preschooler can be frustrating, but mostly it’s hilarious. I’m one more funny convo away from installing a Cash Cab-style dashcam in our car to record the backseat musings of Starr Baby 1. “Did you get to have Thanksgiving lunch in a special conference room today?” “Yes, mommy.” “What was the most exciting part?” [My expectation: Getting a special outing, eating a turkey dinner, seeing me in the middle of the day, going on an elevator…] “We saw a HOLE!” [Instead: Referring to road construction on the way to the event.]

May your holiday be filled with too much food, too many blessings and plenty of time to enjoy both.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants On Parade Party

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

Annnnnd I’m back! With something worthwhile to show for my blogging absence (aside from having a house that’s messy but still standing and a family that’s busy but still happy). Last week, I hosted a birthday party for our oldest, who is now a big four-year-old. In honor of his love of elephants — and his bonafide BIG-boy status — we held Owen’s Big Birthday Bash: Elephants on Parade.

It was a BIG hit. (He. He.)

DECORATIONS

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

I found so many baby shower or first birthday elephant party themes online, but nothing for older birthdays, so a lot of what I invented was a new frontier. The party’s color scheme was navy, light blue, light gray and white, with chevron and large polka dot accents.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

I found a fabulous graphic design shop on Etsy, Paper Clever Party, to custom design the invitations, which I wrote the wording for:

Our BIG boy is turning 4
Wait ‘til you see what we’ve got in store!
Please join us for a TON of birthday fun
[Party time/date/location]
This party will be HUGE So don’t be a Scrooge
[RSVP details]

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

They also created matching water bottle wraps, favor tags, buffet cards and thank you notes. I was also able to use the polka-dot invitation backing as the background for station signage I created myself in PhotoShop (see Tolsby frames, below).

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

The tables received navy blue tablecloths with a gray-and-white chevron runner, which I made in about 15 minutes using fabric from JoAnn’s that I used peel-and-stick hem tape on. You could certainly get all formal and fancy and sew them, but I don’t have that kind of time these days. On the main table, I used a light-blue-and-white-polka-dot runner for variety. Full disclosure: I didn’t even hem that one. I just folded it over. #sorrynotsorry #keepingitreal

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

I found navy and gray paper pinwheels from Dress My Cupcake on flash deal site Pick Your Plum (note: They were super cute and easy to assemble, but the adhesive they were manufactured with didn’t stick at all, so I ended up using hot glue to keep the pinwheels fanned out.) I hung them with clear fishing wire over a plain blue twin-sized flat sheet from Walmart, which was attached near the ceiling with heavy-duty Command hooks. In a perfect world — or at least one where I am sleeping more than 3 hours per stretch every night — I would have ironed it, too.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

I chose two of my favorite Owen pictures from the past year, edited them to black and white, and had them printed at 16×20” via Shutterfly, using several promo codes and $20 off coupons I’d saved up, so they were only about $5 shipped. I used spray adhesive to mount them on thin white foam board, and also hung them using clear fishing wire. The white elephant in the middle is freehand cut from plain poster board, and in retrospect I would have made it bigger and/or added a circle around it. Ah well. We threw some DIY helium balloon bunches on the side as well.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

For centerpieces, I made DIY elephant topiaries after seeing something similar on Etsy by way of Pinterest. I bought the gray poms from PomVillage on Etsy and cut out the ears/trunk from a paper plate elephant craft template I found in a Google search HERE. The eyes are stick-on google eyes I found at Michael’s. I hot glued everything together, then hot-glued it to a wooden dowel rod I spray-painted gray. (I bought two of them at Lowe’s and cut them to size.) The whole shebang is stuck through a styroforam half-ball that’s sitting in a small terra cotta pot (also from Lowe’s), both of which were painted like the dowel. I found the most adorable paper mache elephants at JoAnn’s and spray painted them gray and light blue for both the main table and one of the side tables.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

I used the ever-popular (for a reason) white Tolsby frames from IKEA to display station signs. Overused? Maybe, but I still love, love the clean look and ease of use (and re-use).

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

I got the guest of honor’s T-shirt from Doodlebug Embroidery on Etsy, and was able to customize the elephant’s fabric to match the party’s chevron scheme.

FOOD

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

We kept the fare simple since we were feeding a crowd of out-of-town visitors (and have I mentioned the not sleeping thing?) Lunch was a DIY sandwich bar, complete with an elephant-shaped sandwich cutter and juice boxes disguised as elephants (based on a Pinterest find). The dinner lineup included Jumbo Ravioli Bake (Three bags frozen ravioli, covered in two jars sauce and baked for about an hour at 375 degrees; I added Italian seasoning, fresh mozzarella and basil leaves on top and broiled for 5 minutes on a friend’s recommendation. We’re still enjoying the leftovers!), Gigantic Family Salad and “Elephant Ear” Bread.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

I ordered sugar cutout cookies from my favorite local baker in the shape of elephants and number 4 in the same colors as the invites, and an 8” double-layer cake also based on the invite design. Both lasted a day or two after the party, which pleased the birthday boy to no end. Bottled water with custom elephant wraps completed the menu; we also created a signature cocktail, Pachyderm Punch, that consisted of cranberry Sierra Mist and vodka, for the really big kids :).

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

ACTIVITIES

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

The crafts and games were my favorite part of this party. I found printable elephant coloring pages by searching Google, and even found create-your-own-story pages featuring Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie characters. I got some elephant-shaped crayons from Diddy Colours on Etsy, too.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

There was a make-your-own elephant mask station, and a Pose with a Pachyderm photo booth where partygoers could snap a selfie with an elephant. The prop lineup included famous pachyderms like Babar, Horton, Willems’ Elephant (and Piggie), Jumbo, the elephant from Jerry Smath’s But No Elephants, and Dumbo.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

I also made a few quote cards featuring sayings from those books/movies, as well as some hashtags, because it’s 2015, my friends. We had story time with books featuring these characters as well.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

Owen opened his gifts by playing a version of the White Elephant Exchange game, where I assigned each gift grouping a number on an elephant sticker and let him choose which number he wanted to open first, and so on.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

The most popular game, though, was my Elephant in the Room scavenger hunt. My dear husband crafted nearly a dozen colorful origami elephants (using THIS YouTube video tutorial), which we then hid Easter-egg style around the house. It was such a hit that we’re (a) still playing it nightly, and (b) have already given it some twists, like find-the-elephant-in-the-dark-using-just-a-flashlight. I made hunt checklists (download mine HERE; or, just Google elephant silhouettes and drop into a Word doc), where you could either color in the elephants you’re hunting in advance and check them off as you find them, or have kids take crayons with them and color them in themselves as they locate elephants. Last, we played a couple rounds of Memory, playing off an elephant’s impeccable one.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

The final touches were mini notepad favors — which I found in white and gray in the dollar section of Michael’s and packaged in cello bags with gray chevron ribbon — because “an elephant never forgets,” and a new Elephant and Piggie book — I Am Invited to a Party! — for guests to sign with a birthday message.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

I have a feeling there will be elephant detritus around my house through the holidays — there will certainly be party toys strewn across my floor long past then — but I have one happy four-year-old. With a new baby in the house, it was about time he had a day (ahem, weekend) all to himself.

BIG Birthday Bash: An Elephants on Parade Party | The Sensible Home

Even if the baby did try and steal the show with a “Mommy’s Little Peanut” shirt :). (The elephant jokes…they just keep coming.)

You can also check out this party on Catch My Party!

Little lamb nursery reveal

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

[This room was featured on Honey We’re Home as part of the HWH Loves Bloggers summer room series. Check out some of the other amazing nurseries HERE!]

What happens when you mix one part back-to-work-post-maternity-leave with two parts up-three-times-a-night-nursing-schedule and three parts work-crazytown-thanks-to-major-events-and-coworkers-with-personal-turmoil? A blog that doesn’t get updated, that’s what.

But one thing that did receive a major update this year was our nursery for Mr. Emmett, transforming it from a makeshift toddler room that we never decorated into a sweet, serene space for all things baby boy. Save for one small cross-stitch sheep that I have yet to finish and hang, the room has been complete since shortly after he arrived. Which is more than I can say for his baby book. Or photo albums. Or my mom’s one-line-a-day journal.

But we all remembered to brush our teeth this morning, so there’s that. #winning

The before:

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

And, here are the “after” highlights:

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

I wanted a classic baby-blue and white color scheme and fell in love with Restoration Hardware’s sheep line; the bedding and upper wall color (Cloud Blue) are from it. The sentimental side of me loves that both boys had RH Baby & Child-themed nurseries (check out Owen’s chocolate-and-sage nursery HERE). I don’t know if they do this every year, but RH had a big blowout sale right around New Year’s that I took advantage of.

The crib and changing table are holdovers from Owen’s nursery (Taylor line by Baby Cache) and have both held up very well. There are a few nicks — and a small rust-colored scratch that I suspect was caused by Woody from Toy Story dive-bombing off the mattress — that could easily be filled in with a paint pen. Or, I can just call it vintage-y and move on. The knit pillow (with sheep buttons — squeal!) was made by my awesome mama. She also made the knit baby blanket you can see on the ottoman. (Sorry, she’s mine.) The plush sheep is from Pottery Barn Kids.

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

The monogram canvas was an easy peasy DIY project, which I can totally vouch for since I project-managed it and the hubs actually executed because he was afraid of paint fumes around the pregnant lady. I bought the largest canvas available at Hobby Lobby (20×30″ or something like that) and a 14″ unfinished wooden monogram from The Letter Shack on Etsy. The hubs did some sort of math voodoo that made my head hurt and figured out where to tape off the stripes with painter’s tape, then painted them in. We used Restoration Hardware’s Toast, which I got in a sample can for less than $3 during that New Year’s sale. The monogram was painted RH’s Cloud Blue, then attached to the canvas studs using small nails and a nail gun (we painted over the tiny holes one more time). Some wire on the back for hanging and it was done. Definitely my favorite part of the room!

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

I was a fan of how I laid out Owen’s changing table from a functional standpoint so I recreated it, spray painting the Sara Bear diaper caddy Krylon’s Almond and swapping out his chocolate-brown changing pad covers for light blue ones. I’m a big fan of Carter’s minky dot covers, and found several of them this time around on eBay. The curtain rod is from Martha Stewart’s line for Home Depot, and the curtains are Lenda from IKEA. I also have Matlida IKEA panels that I meant to put up, but bought a single instead of double curtain rod by mistake. I also found THESE stick-on blackout panels to help with lighting (or lack thereof) during the day.

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

The rocker is Stork Craft Tuscany’s glider with ottoman, an upgrade gift from the hand-me-down glider we had for Owen that was fully functional but a bit tight in width, making it uncomfortable the older he got, especially during feedings. This glider is wider and taller in back (hello, middle-of-the-night dozing) and has covered arms, which I love. The pockets on either side of the arms are super handy, and the cushions haven’t lost their shape at all. I loved the look of upholstered rockers, but when we test-drove them I hated how stiffly they moved and preferred the swinging motion of the gliders.

The lumbar pillow is also from RH Baby & Child’s sheep line and is both cute and functional as a mini-Boppy pillow (which came in handy with a baby who only wanted to be held for naps all summer). I took advantage of a Shutterfly free-poster sale in May and had one of Emmett’s hospital newborn photos enlarged to 16×20″ — the frame was on sale at Michael’s. (True story: I ordered this print during a 3 a.m. feeding from the Shutterfly iPhone app. Seriously, I would have accomplished nothing outside of keeping us all alive this summer had it not been for the good folks at Apple.)

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

The Threshold Carson bookshelf I found during a furniture sale at Target. Some of its styling pieces:

  • The lace runner was given to me by my grandmother;
  • The picture frames are Hobby Lobby;
  • I used washable light-blue stamp ink to make the footprint/handprint on white cardstock, cut to size;

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

  • The clock I found in an antique store and spray-painted Krylon’s Almond;
  • The lamp I found at a thrift store years ago and then added a clearance $5 lampshade;
  • The candle pedestal was picked up at Target several years ago;
  • The travel sleep sheep was a shower gift before Owen was born;

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

  • The matching chicken-wire baskets I found at JoAnn’s;
  • The round picture frame holding baby socks was from my stash and also got the Almond paint treatment;
  • The name plaque is just an unfinished wooden plaque from JoAnn’s, painted RH Cloud Blue with cork letters (also from JoAnn’s) glued on;
  • And the shelf curtains are made from drop-cloth remnants (ahem) and held up by mini tension rods.

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

Above the bookshelf is a basic peg shelf found on Amazon and a sheep garland I found on Etsy at The Path Less Traveled.

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

The Willow Tree figurine was a Mother’s Day gift, and the silver frame was in my little sister’s nursery and then handed down.

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

The sheep cross-stitch is Count Your Blessings by Country Cottage Needleworks; framing by Michael’s. The baby brush was mine, and I found the silver cup on eBay.

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

I made the vinyl “The Help” quote using my Silhouette (I think the design was $1 or so) to go above my framed christening gown — find the how-to details HERE. Definitely my second-fave part of the room (other than the baby, natch).

The bottom half of the wall and the doors/window trim were a basic Sherwin Williams white, which we had a painting company come in and do for us. The hubs added the chair rail himself after they finished.

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home

Last but not least, I had to hang up this door sign my grandma made for me. I like to think it has magical grandma-induced powers to encourage sleepy babies :).

New baby, new room — and one more step forward in our ever-evolving quest to make this house a home. That’s enough of an update for me, for now.

Little lamb baby boy nursery | The Sensible Home{Photo by Kristin Jent Photography}

Check out my other room re-dos:

Turquoise & fuschia laundry

Turquoise & fuschia home office

Shabby chic foyer

Craftsman-inspired chocolate-and-sage nursery

Nourishment

Five must-have items for the breastfeeding mama | The Sensible Home #WBW2015 #breastfeeding{Photo by Kristin Jent Photography}

It’s World Breastfeeding Week, which is either seven days of advocacy and awareness or every second of my life right now. The theme of #WBW2015 is breastfeeding and work, and since I’m one week (and 180+ ounces of pumped milk) in to my return from maternity leave, I should have offered to be their poster child.

I nursed our oldest son for a year and plan to do the same with our youngest — only 278 days to go. And yes, I’m counting.

I am passionate about breastfeeding, but there’s such a learning curve, both in terms of finding my own way and in helping others around me learn, too.

It’s why marathoners proudly display 26.2 magnets on their car trunks — they trained, they cried, they pushed, they stumbled, they kept going; they did it. It becomes part of their identity, to say they accomplished this thing that, at many moments, felt impossible. That others told them was impossible, or too hard, or too uncomfortable to witness.

Breastfeeding is physically challenging. My husband spent his first Father’s Day out buying an electric heating pad so I could treat a plugged duct; I spent this year’s Mother’s Day stocking up on lanolin thanks to a newborn whose tongue-tie prevented a perfect latch. I’ve sat through church services praying not for salvation but for my milk to not let down as someone else’s babe cries four pews back. I’ve driven 125 miles home from a daylong business meeting, swollen and sore after forgetting my pump parts on the kitchen counter.

Breastfeeding is logistically difficult. I’ve expressed milk in offices, bathrooms and backseats so my son could have sustenance while we’re apart. I’ve improvised nursing covers out of burp cloths and pillowcases. I’ve watched 6-hour road trips tick upwards of 10 hours with each 30-minute nursing pit stop. I’ve interrupted dinner-and-a-movie dates and long-awaited full nights of sleep for pumping breaks that ensure my supply stays up.

Breastfeeding is stressful. I’ve sat in a doctor’s office, listening to a nurse tell my deer-in-the-headlights new-mother self I’m feeding my son too much; two weeks later, that I’m not feeding him enough. I’ve spent countless 3 a.m. feedings illuminated by the soft glow of Google as it answers my queries on football holds and oversupply and whether that glass of merlot will derail my son’s acceptance to Harvard. I’ve cashed in $200 worth of gift cards five days before returning to work, all in a panicked effort to find the holy grail of bottles for a picky 2-month-old.

But, mostly, breastfeeding — more than diapers or baths or hours singing Little Bunny Foofoo — is, for me, the most selfless thing I’ve ever done. I’ve learned to give of myself, even when the days are so blurry I don’t remember my own wedding anniversary and I’ve consumed so much fenugreek even my eyelashes smell like maple syrup. I’ve learned to put someone else’s needs above my own, even as I eat my weight in oatmeal and rotate through on-the-hour growth spurt feedings. I’ve learned to slow down, relax and simplify — not an easy feat for a Type A perfectionist. I’ve learned to be a better person.

Not everyone runs marathons. Not everyone breastfeeds. But it’s okay to celebrate when a person succeeds at a personal goal that takes incredible dedication and commitment — even if your life, and your choices, look different.

I’m proud of my run — no car magnet necessary.

Five must-have items for the breastfeeding mama | The Sensible Home #WBW2015 #breastfeeding{Photo by Kristin Jent Photography}

My Top 5 Nursing Mama Must-Haves

There are so many things I know now, 12 weeks in to my second round of motherhood, that would have saved me a lot of grief in the beginning. (Insider tip: Act like it’s 1975 and try latex bottle nipples.)

So, here are a few of my favorite nursing mama things. Grab yourself a nursing pillow, a charged e-reader and an industrial-size water bottle and get comfy.

1. Online resources. The KellyMom.com website is a breastfeeding woman’s bible. I’ve used it often to do everything from calculate what size bottle to give to remember how long pumped milk can last in the fridge. I also enjoy the conversations and camaraderie in social networking groups like Facebook’s Working Pumping Moms — sanity savers, right there. Because #sisterhood.

2. Lily Padz. You know you’ve reached a special level of adulthood when you have designated “around the house” breast pads (the paper ones are lovely, if you don’t mind wearing diapers on your chest) and “going out” (silicone) breast pads. THESE are the ones I leave the house in, and I love them. They’re tacky on one side, so once you put them on, they don’t budge. They’re also super thin and undetectable under clothing, and — most importantly — they work extremely well.

3. Total Baby app. This app deserves a post all its own, that’s how in love with it I am. I found it with my first son and it’s only improved since then. It tracks everything baby-wise, but especially feeding times, which side you last started on (because goodness knows I can’t ever remember, especially at 2 a.m.) and gives you daily/weekly/monthly averages so you know how he stacks up. The pumping tracker is especially robust and lists expiration dates, storage location and more. You can even export all the data in spreadsheet form via email to yourself, your husband, your doctor, your neighbor, whomever. A SPREADSHEET! OF STATS ON SPIT-UP! But if Excel docs don’t do it for you, I also really liked my Itzbeen timer.

4. Medela labeling lids. I adore these for marking pumped milk in the cooler/fridge, but I’m also a self-proclaimed label fanatic. (I’ve also use these removable date stickies from Inchbug, but more for labeling daycare bottles each day.)

5. Nursing nightgown. I splurged on a few new nursing nightgowns this time around, and fell in love with these from Baby Be Mine. Very comfortable — not too light, not too heavy, good length. Well-placed elastic around the arms and chest make it easy to nurse but also keeps you well-covered, making this a perfect choice when you’re around a lot of visitors. I wore it in the hospital and it instantly lifted my mood. Three months later and it’s washed really well and not stretched out a bit.

Baby on the brain? Also check out my Ultimate Baby Registry list.

DIY reusable Post-it frames

DIY Post-it Note Frames | The Sensible Home

After the success of my son’s Energy In a Jar teacher appreciation gifts last fall, our PTA group went looking for something equally crowd-pleasing to hand out during National Teacher Appreciation Week in May. Given that I was T-minus six days away from giving birth, I went looking for something fast and easy to assemble. Our pick: DIY Post-it Note holders. They’re made from basic acrylic picture frames, so the recipients can either add more Post-its when they run out or use it as a picture frame. Our inspiration came from THIS site.

For 40 teachers and staff, we spent just under $130 for all supplies, making them less than $4 per person. I bought 4×6″ landscape acrylic frames in bulk on eBay, the pens, Post-it Notes, and adhesive velcro on Amazon, and the scrapbook paper at Michael’s. If I had had time (and been able to see my feet without laying down), I would have inserted matching scrapbook paper strips into the pen chamber for an extra punch.

DIY Post-it Note Frames | The Sensible Home

I cut 4×6″ sheets of paper in matching patterns but different colors — so they would match throughout the school but allow teachers to choose their fave shade — then used square scallop paper punches I had on hand to cut out the message, which I printed on basic white cardstock. (Find a downloadable version HERE.) A couple swipes of an adhesive glue roller (I love THESE — but you can usually find any brand of these on discount at places like Ollie’s, Tuesday Morning, etc.) to adhere the papers together, and into the frame they went. I used hot glue to attach the Post-it Note pads to each frame, and adhesive velcro strips to secure the pens.

We had PTA volunteers deliver the frames to each teacher, letting them choose which shade they wanted, and they were a HUGE hit. I could see these also going over well for nurse appreciation, administrative assistants day, etc.

What have you crafted for someone else lately?