Play Cafe- Keeping parents sane since 2015

It’s mid-summer and this stay-at-home mom gig is getting ROUGH. We’ve been to the pool, the library and the zoo about a trillion and one times. We’ve built forts in the living room, made doll houses out of cardboard boxes, taken walks, played in the sprinkler, had playdates with friends and obviously, saw Inside Out (OMG. If you haven’t seen it yet.. GO! RUN! It’s too adorable for words). But despite my best efforts, my heels are dragging because it’s about that point in the summer when all the parents start getting that glazed over look in their eyes and asking “wait, so… how many more days till school starts?”
I LOVE summer. I really do. It’s still my favorite season and I don’t want to wish it away. But I tell ya, my kids and their unquenchable thirst to be entertained is starting to give me an unquenchable thirst to just sit and do nothing. Just to have a moment to sit and stare, perhaps not be asked 14,288 questions per hour and maybe have a cup of coffee is just about all I want to do these days. Oh! A conversation about something other than fairy princesses, boogers or butts would be good, too. But let’s not go crazy here. A cup of coffee and a moment to zone the eff out would do just fine.
Enter: Play Cafe. It’s the new Baltimore spot that’s rescuing exhausted parents one locally grown, fresh-made sandwich at a time. It’s located in Hampden at 3400 Chestnut Ave., just two blocks from The Avenue and it’s goal is to give parents a spot to go that is just as enjoyable for them as it is for their kids. It is “kid-friendly” at it’s finest with it’s fun play area that is just for little ones. But that’s not the only perk. It has tons of great, healthy snacks that parents can feel good about giving their kids. While there are plenty of salads and sandwiches to pick from, there’s also kid-themed snacks like Ants On a Log and peanut butter (or nutella!) with apples or bananas. Obviously, there is coffee, coffee and more coffee and tables and chairs in the cafe area for the parents to post up in.
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While I spent my first visit… doing absolutely nothing (aka drinking coffee, eating a delicious macaroon and playing on my phone and of course, occasionally redirecting a wandering baby), I can’t wait to go back with a friend for an actual conversation! With a grown up! While sitting… in a chair! Sheesh. It really is the little things in life, isn’t it?
There is a $5 minimum for kids to play which is easily accomplished by purchasing a coffee and a snack. Talk about a cheap date! But I’m even more pumped because I just found out Play Cafe has a ton of events coming up that I won’t have to bodily drag anyone to because they will jump in the car willingly with the promise of playing with toys that don’t belong to them (which is always so much more enticing than their own toys) and being entertained by someone other than me (I’m getting a little boring these days).
Upcoming events-
  • Monday, July 27th at 10 am is “Monday Mumbles” with Mr. Danny is a puppet show, plus role play and arts and crafts AND lots of zoned out parents… jk… kind of (this is the last one for the summer but he’ll be back in September).
  • The First Friday of each month at 10 am is Tot Storytime & singalong with Aunt Whiz
  • Saturday, August 15th from 6-8 pm is Family Movie night/social, Robin Hood is the feature film!
  • check the website for more events soon! 

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This spot is great for summer, of course, but it’s open year-round (hello, middle of winter panic.. I almost forgot about you!) It’s the perfect place to head to when you just need a break or a fun activity for the kids that won’t break the bank. They serve breakfast, brunch and lunch. And you can also host a party there!

I’m so thankful for this addition to my hometown of Baltimore. Sorry if you don’t live here, folks! Hopefully a Play Cafe of something similar with pop up in a town near you. It really is something to rejoice over.

Welcome to Bmore, Play Cafe!

Visit the website and stay up-to-date on their events by following Play Cafe on Facebook!

This is a sponsored post. All opinions here are 100% my own. If you wish to contact me about a product review or a sponsored post, email Sarah.bregel@gmail.com. 


Ricki Lake’s new documentary, The Mama Sherpas- How collaborative care is giving women back their rights in birth

My first birth was a standard hospital delivery. It was attended by the on-call doctor, a man I’d never met until my baby was practically spilling out of me. While it wasn’t abysmal, it certainly wasn’t what I thought the birth of my first child would be like. I was forced to labor on my back, like a lot of women, which felt unnatural to me and made my labor far more difficult to bear, let alone to be an active participant in. I was given an unnecessary episiotomy, so quickly I couldn’t protest. I was covered in uncomfortable monitors that dug into my contracting belly and had hands shoved inside me during back labor which was by far, the worst pain of my entire life.

Lastly, I didn’t see my real doctor, the woman I’d been meeting with every few weeks for nine months, until days after my baby was born. She stopped by the room for no longer than 60 seconds to press on my belly and tell me I was “good as new” and in a flash, she was gone, off to press on a dozen more bellies and deliver just as many babies before noon- that I understood. But overall, it was a highly impersonal, slightly degrading experience and one I had no plans of repeating in the future.

Unfortunately, this is not unlike a lot of women’s experiences with hospital birth and when I talk to other women about theirs, it seems that I was actually one of the lucky ones. The truth is, we live in a culture where it is not uncommon for women to suffer birth trauma because of how their rights in childbirth were violated or how their bodies were manipulated. Rates of unnecessary interventions are sky high, as are the rates of women reporting feeling largely dissatisfied with their level of care during birth. Some say they were seriously wronged during labor or perhaps that they didn’t feel cared for or even safe. Some women are even taking legal action after the events surrounding the birth of their babies.

After working hard to educate myself after what happened during my first birth, when I became pregnant with my second child, I sought out a drastically different option- a home birth attended by midwives. At the time, home birth wasn’t exactly legal in my home state of Maryland (though legislation has recently passed to change that), but I felt it was my best and safest option. The closest birth center was about an hour away and given this was my second birth, I figured it might move more quickly and I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of laboring in a car. I knew without question that I didn’t want to be back in a hospital, forced to labor in a way that my body objected to and be in a situation where I was at a huge risk of having major abdominal surgery (about 1 in 3 hospital births result in c-section, high above the recommended ranges).

After researching home birth success rates, I felt safe and informed in my decision. Still, I knew having my baby at home would give me some extra hoops to jump through, like having to fight to get my baby’s birth certificate (after about 17 phone calls and two home visits from a social worker and we were good to go), not to mention the social stigma of having your baby at home and finding a pediatrician who didn’t treat me like a negligent mother. But I was confident home birth was the right option for me. I’m glad to say that it turned out to be a wonderful experience and one I would do over in a heartbeat, mainly because the midwife care I received was so personal, nurturing and took my feelings about birth into consideration.

It goes without saying that my two birth experiences were drastically different and while I was thrilled with the outcome of my second birth, many women don’t get to experience that kind of liberation with subsequent births. This is especially true for women who have had a cesarean and are hoping to have a vaginal birth with subsequent deliveries (VBAC).  In many states, women seeking a VBAC currently have very few options. Some birth centers refuse them and many doctors will tell them they can “try”, but do little to support their choice. I know many women who have sought out a home birth simply because they couldn’t find a doctor or a practice that was supportive of helping them achieve a VBAC.

Every year, more women are choosing out of hospital birth because of the high rates of unnecessary surgery and interventions taking place in hospitals. In fact, even obstetricians themselves are choosing home birth, as is demonstrated in the documentary entitled Why Not Home? While I’m a huge advocate of birthing at home, I don’t believe this is the right choice for every woman. Simply put, women need more options when it comes to how and where to birth their babies. Some women have high risk pregnancies and other women simply wouldn’t feel safe giving birth outside of a hospital environment. It seems there needs to be a form of care that can support women who want a happy medium- care that is personal, evidence based and overseen by qualified professionals, whether that be a doctor, a midwife or both.

Fortunately, in some practices, this kind of care is now taking shape. In the new film, The Mama Sherpas, created by executive producers Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein (The Business of Being Born) and DC-based director, Brigid Maher, we are introduced to the idea of “collaborative care” which is where doctors and midwives work together to manage women’s health during pregnancy and delivery. In a country where these two professionals are often on opposite ends of the spectrum in regard to practices and policies surrounding delivery, this idea is pretty empowering.

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Women can now reap the benefits of what both professionals offer throughout pregnancy, labor and delivery. The result, as we see in the film, is care that is evidence-based with lower rates of interventions (such as cesareans) and maybe most importantly, women feeling respected and supported during such an important time in their lives. With women experiencing “traumatic births” or even suffering PTSD for years to come as a result of their delivery, I’d say it’s about time for this model of care to come to the forefront of the birthing business.

The film looks at one practice in Washington DC, GW Midwifery, which is embracing this model of care and working hard to support VBAC women. The film opens with the delivery of the thousandth GW Midwifery baby (though that number has now doubled), a milestone which the practice is shown celebrating. You can quickly see the outpouring of emotions as one mother thanks the midwives “on behalf of VBAC mamas” and for giving her “a real shot” at having her baby the way she felt safest. With a 93% VBAC success rate, it’s shocking more hospitals aren’t already embracing this model of care, but hopefully, practices like this one will soon be an inspiration to many.

The flimmaker, Brigid Maher, also had a VBAC in a hospital with midwives when she gave birth to her daughter, Josie. Maher claims the experience of achieving the birth, a birth which so few women are given the opportunity, was so inspirational to her she says (in the film) “about ten minutes after her birth, I blurted out that I had to make a documentary about nurse midwives.” Maher says she “couldn’t imagine” trying to take care of a newborn and her older child during what she expected would be another rough recovery if she were to go under the knife again.

In many hospitals, women still feel that their care is limiting, impersonal and lacking evidence-based policies. While the risk for VBACs and the risk for having multiple cesareans is about the same, women are often railroaded into having multiple c-sections without cause. For lack of better options, as a culture, we’ve come to accept the care we’ve been given. With this form of collaborative care now in the works, hopefully, a new trend is on it’s way in.

Midwives and doctors working together seems like a welcomed change that will greatly help to support families in pregnancy and birth. And on a personal note, as someone who experienced two very different models of care during my births, I got chills watching the doctors and midwives collaborate to give moms the best of both worlds. Collaborative care could be the future of childbirth and if so, it’s a great future for mothers and babies.

Watch the full film here or keep up the The Mama Sherpas on Facebook.


Stop Dumbing Down Motherhood: Appearances aren’t everything

A new post called “The New Face of Motherhood: Young, Cool Moms Who Are Totally Killing it” recently caught my attention. While the title on it’s own is enough cause for concern, the meat of the article is a bunch of superficial ways in which young mothers are… looking cool while mothering? I guess? If I’m being honest, I’m still kind of unclear on what the author means by “killing it.”

Sheesh. It’s a tough read by anyone’s standards.

First off, …WHAT.THE.MOTHER.FUCK? Since when do moms have to be young OR cool to be “killing it”? Apparently, these moms are “totally owning the parenting game,” though. I almost threw up in my mouth when I typed that, just in case you were wondering.

Though we learn little about the actual women in the photos, we are led to believe that appearances really are everything. The writer shows us a bunch of images of moms taking cute pregnancy shots, feeding their kids all organic or home-made baby food and of course, being uber-stylish while the do it all. Style is, of course, the most important aspect of parenting. DIDN’T YOU KNOW????!!!! Sorry to be the one to break it to you. As I sit here in the same yoga pants I’ve had on for three days in a row, I’m more confident than ever that I am totally failing motherhood.

If looking cute and teaching my kids to use an iPhone are what’s “killing it” in regard to motherhood, that’s pretty fucking sad. And disappointing. Thank goodness the author of this piece is completely confused. I think we’re all really confused after reading that piece of internet garbage. #sorrynotsorry

I thought motherhood was about hard work, dedication, or maybe a love for our kids. How about triumph over difficulties? Hello, single motherhood or moms who freaking work three jobs to keep a roof over their kids heads? No where in this piece are these moms, ya know, the ones who are actually “killing it” represented.

Perhaps, it’s just about selfies and matching bathing suits, though… yeah. That must be it.

Running around with my kids in tye dye and yoga pants... KILLING IT.
Running around with my kids in tye dye and yoga pants… KILLING IT.

I have no doubt that some of the moms in these pictures ARE actually killing it. In fact, I’m a fan or more than one of these adorable women. I am not knocking moms that look cute when doing motherhood! NO. NO. NO. Saying these moms are better or worse than any other mother is exactly what’s wrong with pieces like this. They tell us what motherhood should look like and what is important about it, and likewise, what isn’t.

The reasons the author chose these moms has little to do with their dedication to motherhood, work, or what amazing and inspiring women they actually are. It’s all 100% superficial and it just makes me want to yell “PLEASE, STOP TELLING MOTHERS WHAT THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE AND CARE ABOUT IN ORDER TO BE GOOD MOMS. WHY! GOD! WHY!????” I seriously can’t take it. It is so bad for women.

Crap like this makes moms think they have to do all those things to be relevant but guess what moms, you are so important when you are at your sweatiest, grossest, most stressed! That is when you’re in the thick of motherhood. When you overcome all the crap that motherhood throws your way, have to miss your workout for the zillionth time because somebody woke up early from their nap or puked in your hand and you didn’t flip out or cuss everyone out or threaten to run away. That’s when you’re killing it and that’s what we should support and encourage and post pictures of and talk about how awesome those moms are. The struggling, sweaty, real motherhood. Both motherhoods are beautiful. Not just the superficial matchy-matchy pictures or pinteresty party moms. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME??? THAT’S JUST ONE TEENY TINY ASPECT OF THAT PERSON’S MOTHERHOOD EXPERIENCE. IT IS NOT THEIR MOTHERHOOD. OMG.

Let me tell you about the times I feel like I’m “killing it” as a mom. They are absolutely not when I’m snapping selfies, wearing a bathing suit that matches my daughters or making sure she’s tech savvy. I was killing it when…

1) My infant son puked every day, 15 times a day and couldn’t be put down for a solid week and we got through it.

2) When my daughter lost her shit for about 6 months and resented the hell out of me and my husband after our second baby was born and we gave her everything we had and could to help her through.

3) When my daughter came down with a rare and terrifying illness when she was 8 weeks old and I pumped every day, all day, like it was my full time job in hopes of continuing breastfeeding after a 2 week hospital stay.

4) When I overcame postpartum anxiety/depression.

5) When I didn’t sleep for about 10 months of my life.

6) Three words: Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Twice.

7) Um… childbirth, anyone????

8) Absolutely any time when I want to scream or yell or cry and instead I am kind when I really don’t want to be.

9) When I sacrifice my time, my body, my work because my kids need me.

10) When I feel good about myself no matter what I look like or what anyone else thinks about me and my motherhood.


You know you’re a stay-at-home parent in the summer when…

I’m not gonna lie—being a stay at home mom in the summertime has its perks. Spending a lot of time at the pool and eating ice cream isn’t exactly something to complain about. But, no escape from the kids for a full three months can make a mom long for the ring of the school bell. Aside from the unavoidable fact that you’re home with children all summer long (which somehow seems way, way longer now than when I was a kid), here are a few ways you can tell that you’re a stay at home parent in the summer.

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1. You’re constantly covered in a mixture of sweat, spilled milk, chlorine and, most likely, urine. Hello, baby pool. Note to self: Just don’t think about why the pool’s already so warm on opening weekend.

2. You haven’t eaten anything for lunch besides PB&J crusts and the skins off everyone’s apples in weeks.

3. You keep buying new bathing suits at Target in hopes that your once weekly exercise routines in the kitchen are actually working and it’s just lighting, poorly made bikini tops or all the 18-year-old lifeguards making you look bad.

Continue reading @ Mommy Nearest… 


I never thought I’d be an overwhelmed mother

The kids were finally in bed, a procedure that has been known to take about three hours when I’m on my own. I had screamed at my daughter, let the baby cry after a dozen failed attempts to get him to sleep, then out of pure overwhelming, consuming guilt, sobbed in my 5-year-old’s bed while she stroked my hair and offered the suggestion, “Maybe you should call Daddy?”

It was a fair point. He can get the baby to sleep far more easily than I can, and my daughter knows this. But given how rarely he does it these days, that fact is infuriating enough on its own. There was no point in calling for help (or for sympathy) because he wouldn’t pick up. He was working out of state for the fourth time in a month, and the enormity of my stress and exhaustion couldn’t be pushed away any longer. In that moment, I broke, something I’ve done more easily since having my second baby and finding myself alone most of the time.

There is no way around it—that night, I was a terrible mother. I didn’t just feel like one. I was one.

Continue reading on The Mid… 



Why I’m done tolerating racism on social media #unfriendracism

As a mother who lives in Baltimore during this heated and devastating time for our city, I find myself in a middle place. The story of a young black man being beaten to his death by police is an old one, but we remain ever so divided on it’s implications. And it has never been so clear then when taking a scroll through my Facebook feed or posting a photo or sentiment in support of our African American community.

Any time events like these unfold across the country, my social media erupts into two sides and I realize how, as a Caucasian middle-class woman, I am wedged between people who want change and people who still lack so much compassion for a human experience unlike their own. And while my heart is warmed by so many of the loving gestures, the good will of those who have volunteered or marched for peace, I have also, never been so disappointed. Upon asking for messages of love for my city, first were some comments of love and hopes and prayers for justice. And then, as expected, came the callous and uncaring remarks about another dead black man.

Photo credit, Deanna Kopf
Photo credit, Deanna Kopf

Some comments were to the tune of “who cares? Baltimore’s favorite heroin dealer is dead? Big deal!”, others pointed to just how much black on black crime takes place in our city, saying “who is killing the majority of black people anyway?” One young mother expressed utter confusion when I shared a powerful image of an African American woman holding a sign that read “Stop Killing Black People” asking me why shouldn’t the sign say “Stop Killing All People”? Well, because police officers are killing black people (apparently she has not been watching much of the news, now or well, ever).

What is sad but true is that many of my acquaintances don’t realize how deeply racially charged their statements are. Even friends from Baltimore, who live just a block or two from the riots, the fires, the National Guard tromping through the streets, don’t seem to understand. If you don’t care about the life of a black man, if it means nothing to you because he is black, if you can shrug your shoulders and tell the world via Facebook “he got what he deserved” with no understanding of the life he has lead, no empathy, no concern for the way he left the world- that is racism at it’s core.

Most of my peers, people I went to high school with, family and friends are middle-class Americans who don’t know the depths of the inner-city. They might drive through it or catch glimpses of it on the way to a baseball game and wear the badge of being from Baltimore like we’ve seen a thing or two. But the truth is, we are blissfully removed from what it is like to grow up in inner-city Baltimore. It has been far too easy for us to turn the other cheek, to hear racism and not speak out, to simply be polite.

Social media is so imbedded in our culture and we cannot just ignore racism in this forum and pretend it doesn’t matter. While it is true that arguing with every person who makes these remarks probably won’t do that much good, I think there is something to be said for speaking out and telling the world “no, I do not accept this. This is not okay. You are missing the point.” And as a mother, a woman, a citizen of Baltimore, I don’t accept racism in the year 2015 on the internet or anywhere. Social media is the way of our times. You can’t be racist on the internet and not racist in real life. If you’re racist on Facebook, guess what? You’re racist.

There may be a time when I, too, may have turned the other cheek. But when such a lack of understanding, of caring, of human decency, even blatant racism is put out into the world for me to see, I can’t ignore it. When I see racist comments, I am speaking out. I am hitting unfriend. I am taking a stand because it is my responsibility and yours and to say “no more.” This issue needs all of us, from every single community to do better, to understand, to show our children a world where we stand up to racism.

What saddens me the most is when parents on social media are the ones making these uncaring comments. How can any parent not understand the anger of losing a child at the hands of officers who have sworn to protect? Freddie Gray was 25 years old. He was no doubt troubled, but he didn’t deserve to die. He was someone’s brother, child, friend. He was a human being but some of my friends, distant family, acquaintances, refuse to see him as such. And that fog, that cloud, that confusion and lack of concern for a life is because of his race.

There are people who truly want justice and then there is the other half who somehow find a way to not care that another young man is dead because of the color of his skin. So when we see racism out in the world, which social media is undoubtedly a part of, do we scroll past it, the online equivalent of looking the other way? Or do we speak out? I, for one, am done tolerating racism on social media or anywhere else. I am speaking out and I am hitting unfriend. I hope others will do the same.  #unfriendracism


Needing more than to be needed

As a mother who stays at home, works at home, wipes snotty faces and does everything else at home, on any given day, finding time to shower or go to the bathroom is a struggle. When I do, it’s hurried or a spectator sport at best, a crying, massive, ridiculous meltdown in the making at worst. One baby screaming in his crib and flailing his body against the rails while his sister throws things at him or down the stairs or tries to make him dance while he protests and cries harder. Who knew peeing (or God forbid, pooping) could cause such utter chaos? People with bladder control problems and mothers (so basically, just mothers)- that’s who.

The time I have away from my children at this point in my life is very limited. It is almost nonexistent. My husband travels for his job about half the month and during that time, I am holding down the fort and sometimes unraveling, briefly, then putting myself back together before too much damage has been caused. I am always hopeful that by the end of the day, tired children will go to bed easily, sleep well and there will be a few moments in the day for me. That I will end the day on a high note, feeling like I did the best I can do and once they are tucked in my good karma will kick in and I can put my feet up. Usually, that doesn’t happen, but I remain hopeful with each passing day that soon it will.


Instead what almost always happens is some variation of the following. My daughter gets excited because she has me all to herself. There is no other adult in the kitchen to talk to and sneak glances to or to help me make dinner. Just a baby who doesn’t talk and a 5-year-old who never stops talking. If my mind drifts for a moment my silence is met with “mama!… mama!” I love her adoration of me, but sometimes, it is suffocating and it is overwhelming, especially now that there is another tiny person to feed, clothe, bathe and put to bed, too.

She is in my lap, she is pawing at my hair, she is covering me in garments. Her tiny hands are all over my body. They are on my bare breasts, cozying up to me while the baby nurses. On my face and neck and belly. They are everywhere. They are hands that I love more than anything, but they are playing a very intrinsic part in my combustion. I grit my teeth and take deep breaths and sometimes I say “mommy, needs some space,” but more often than not those words are lost on her.

This feeling rises up in me that I can usually push away. It’s just me. And it will just be me at 3 AM and first thing in the morning and when I’m at my breaking point. Even my breaking point doesn’t matter. There is no getaway, minus when my heart-of-gold neighbor with her own small child offers to take the crying baby so I can jog out my stresses before he implodes from separation anxiety or hunger or angry-baby-itis. Or when my mother watches him while I go to a long overdue dentist appointment, settle into the chair to watch Regis and Kelly and feel like I’m on vacation. That is, until they tell me how pregnancy and hormones have done a number on my gums and holy hell, that hurts and why didn’t I find time to come to the dentist in the last four years?

More often than not, at some point in the day that I start out having the highest hopes for, I feel completely defeated. And I ask myself “why is this so hard?”

On my husband’s most recent trip, my daughter stayed home from her morning preschool due to a mild fever the night before. She’d been running circles around me all day while I tried to not picture the entire lonely week ahead of me.  After hours of making dinner, begging people to eat dinner, cleaning it up, tantrums, baths, nursing, more tantrums, a teething baby who can’t sleep and big kid who was enraged about it, I lost it. I yelled. I sobbed. And then my “me time” that I’d been looking forward to, instead of spending it putting up my feet, watching The Mindy Project, I spent feeling the pangs of horrible, devastating guilt and wondering “how did I become this angry, tired, overwhelmed mom who yells? This isn’t who I wanted to be. This isn’t how it was supposed to be. In fact, it’s the opposite of everything I wanted to be. This isn’t what my motherhood was supposed to look and feel like. This is not my motherhood.”

I spend almost all of my time and energy loving the shit out of my kids. Finding these little magic moments in ordinary days. Kissing dirty faces and being easy going and making sure everyone has gotten enough enough hugs, kind words and discipline. And then I spend just a little bit of time wanting terribly to get away from them. Needing to get away from them. And it’s not because I’m a horrible person or because I’m not enjoying motherhood as much as I should be. It’s not because I’m emotionally unbalanced (well, maybe, a little). Mostly, it’s because “away” doesn’t exist. Breathing easy, being alone, working, writing uninterrupted by a poopy diaper, a spilled drink, or getting hit in the head with a sock monkey, it’s just not a part of my life. Or it’s so fleeting, it’s over before it started.

Even on my best day, when I’m calm, cool and collected, or do a good enough job pretending I am, by 10 PM, sometimes earlier, I just want to curl up in bed and not be needed. I want to do a good job, not a mediocre one, on something I get paid for. I want to prioritize something thats mine, instead of always letting my work, my ambitions, my “chances” slide because there is too much else that’s important. And I let that thought come in, that sounds something like “I can’t see them anymore today. Not right now. Please, stay in bed. Please.” And I let it wash over me and feel the enormity of the guilt that comes with it. Every ounce.

My motherhood experience is not all roses and I don’t need it to be. I don’t need to be told how much I will miss these times because I already know how true that is. The other day I was driving home and I started thinking about when my daughter was two with her white tuft of hair and her long eyelashes and her fearlessness. I got a tear in my eye but I couldn’t finish the thought because she yelled “mama!… answer me!” from the backseat and then it was gone. The opportunity to reminisce, to miss something, evaporated.

The fleetingness of motherhood is with me, always. But so is knowing that I need more than simply to be needed. Part of my motherhood experience is remembering me- the mother. And finding her and telling her she’s important, too. I love my children all the time, but sometimes, I just want to miss them. I want to know what it’s like to come up for air. And I want to know that that’s okay.


The #AsLongAsYouCanStandIt Challenge

I recently got back from a 3 night/4 day trip with my family. It was wonderful in many ways. Minus sleeping arrangements… apparently it’s not a good idea to have four people sharing a hotel room without another room to shove the sleeping baby in. We could get away with this with one kid… kind of. But I guess these days we will have to shell out for a suite even on shorter trips. Between my husband’s snoring (sorry, hunny) and the kid waking up the baby and baby waking up the kid, there wasn’t much restfulness going on on this trip which I suppose is to be expected at this juncture. But there was a lot of eating and drinking and not much working out. Riding bikes and walking, yeah. But sweaty exercise, not really. I did get to the gym one day, but, felt rushed, per usual and didn’t do my best.

Having a kid who didn’t sleep for the better part of a year who continues to be tough upon every milestone and a energetic 5-year-old… and a husband who travels and my love of food and wine and inability to workout at a moment’s notice… has seriously taken it’s toll on how healthy I feel (or don’t feel). Not to mention, I’m still nursing a baby which although they SAY burns up a ton of calories, it also makes me hungrier and groggier, sometimes. Yes, nursing burns calories. But it also can make your body hold onto extra weight because it knows you are still feeding another human. THIS IS WHAT I’VE READ, OKAY. Let’s not argue. Just let me have my believes that my body is not doomed. BTW… this is about as body-UNpositive as I’ll get. I am totally on board with respecting my body as wonderful and amazing having housed two babies, even if it’s not in prime, tip-top condition currently. But with that being said, I’m needing some extra energy and to feel lighter and healthier. I figure a lot of parents out there may be feeling the same, so I hope we can do this together.

I decided I’m going booze-free for 30 days (this doesn’t mean you have to chose this challenge in order to participate, btw. I don’t know why you would unless you need red-wine-detox as badly as I do). Here’s my regret face after I posted this on Facebook yesterday on the car ride home.

This... is gonna suck.
This… is gonna suck.

The challenge will run for 30 days, starting TODAY, April 13th, 2015. Here’s what it will look like:

1) Pick your goal or goals. For example, my goal is going to be to attempt not drinking for 30 days (yikes) and eat clean(er). I also want to get to yoga or the gym 3 days/week. That one is SO much harder than it sounds right now with a baby that won’t let me out of his sight and screams bloody murder when I try to leave him at the gym stay-and-play. They should call it stay-and-scream-until-we-call-your-mother-on-the-intercom-who’s-crying-because-she-doesn’t-get-to-workout-AGAIN.

2) Post an inspiration shot (or MANY) on Instagram or FB and tag @TheMediocreMama (make sure you are following) and hashtag #AsLongAsYouCanStandIt. OR post on Facebook to The Mediocre Mama fan page and hashtag #AsLongAsYouCanStandIt. These photos will be your entries in the challenge. I’ll be posting tons of pics so you can follow my example. A note about this postings- they do not have to be “LOOK HOW GOOD I DID TODAY!” although those posts are fine, too! But I’m looking for REAL inspiration. Like, “ugh, here’s how much I want wine today and this happened that was crappy and DAMMIT ALL TO HELL!” Tell your struggles, your story, whether it’s work, kids, traveling hubby. What makes this challenge tough for you but why is it important for you to feel good and be your best you?

3) For extra entries, share, share away!! Always tag @TheMediocreMama and use the #AsLongAsYouCanStandIt hashtag to document your challenge.

PRIZES: I’m going to pick three winners. The person who inspires us the most with his/her or her genuine, real life struggles/accomplishments will get a $50 TARGET GIFT CARD! The more you post, the better your odds. I will also pick two other winners with prize packages to be announced at a later date.

Remember, you don’t have to go for a full 30 days- this challenge is shaped by YOU. What do you want to get out of it? It could be as simple as “I’m going to watch less TV” or “I’m going to put my phone away at 5 PM.” It could even be “I’m going to be more mindful” or “be kind to myself.” This is YOUR challenge. Just be sure to document it and hashtag away! Now get going and let me know you are participating by commenting on this post or on Facebook. Get a friend to do it with you so you can encourage one another to stick to your goals. Complaining encouraged!! Good luck!! #AsLongAsYouCanStandIt


Review: Soft Star Shoes

A few weeks ago, I was cruising through Target while the baby growled at me from the carrier and my daughter yanked things endlessly off the shelves and begged for toys, clothes, books, shoes, cheez-its. In all of her begging and pleading, I ended up throwing one crappy pair of flip flops into the cart, knowing they’d end up in a giveaway bag fairly quickly, but… the things we do to save our sanity.

Anyway, we got home, she promptly put the flip flops on and ran around the backyard. In about five minutes she was complaining that they hurt and in ten she had a blister between her toes. “Maybe you just need to break them in?” I said. But, no. They were hard, plastic, blister-makers and she was finished with them before Spring had even sprung.

So about a week later, I came across a company called Soft Star Shoes. I started cruising their website and had to have them for the kids, although they make adult shoes, too! The company graciously sent me a pair of shoes for my 10-month-old son and 5-year-old daughter. I was pretty pumped because as an almost-walker, my boy needed something soft and comfy and obviously, my daughter needed some summer kicks that didn’t give her blisters and me migraines!

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Soft Star Shoes- sandals and moccasins fresh out of the box!

A couple of days later the shoes arrived and OMFG. Just as they appeared on the site, they were the sweetest looking (and feeling) things ever. My daughter has barely taken hers off. Can you blame her? They are ADORABLE.

I absolutely love that her pink sandals velcro around her ankle and she doesn’t get tripped up on them like regular flops and that they are super comfortable. They will be perfect for the coming months of back-yarding, beaching, pooling, etc.

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The baby moccasins are the perfect first shoes. Not only are they cute as hell, but when I put my hand inside I went “WHOOOOA.” The soft lining feels awesome! Definitely not going to hear any complaints out of baby about these kicks!… and that’s pretty amazing because he complains about pretty much everything else. 😉

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Both of these pairs of shoes have become our every day shoes. They are easy shoes to slip on the baby when I can’t find socks (I CAN NEVER FIND SOCKS!) and any shoes my daughter willingly puts on without me asking her 2329813 billion times are an A+ in my book! The shoes pictured here are currently priced at $30 (for the moccasins) and $48 (for the child sandals). For hand-made premium-quality shoes and just how loved I know they will be, I’d say they are each worth that price tag. They are definitely worth it for the first shoes my son will wear on his little baby feets and learn to walk in. And we could easily go through three crappy pairs of sandals for my daughter this summer that break, fall apart, cause blisters or get thrown off a bridge (woops). I’m glad we’ll just have these cuties to get us around the town.

I’m so happy to introduce you to this amazing company. Go check out Soft Star Shoes for yourself or the kids. You will be so impressed when they arrive and your little ones will likely love them so much you won’t have to hold them down and shove their feet into them while they knee you in the crotch or anything like that.

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this product review and the opinions here are 100% my own. If you wish to contact me about a product review or a sponsored post, email Sarah.bregel@gmail.com. 


Why I love honest moms

I have a high-needs baby. There is no way around it. He is the apple of my eye, as is his five-year-old mile-a-minute sister. But this kid is far from easy-going. He doesn’t like many people besides me. He doesn’t like getting his diaper changed and he hates bottles. But on the list of things he doesn’t like, sleep is number one.

My not-so-newborn absolutely hates sleep and will fight it at all costs, until I’m crying in the basement, letting him scream for just a few minutes so I can do the same in private. At seven months, he is now in the throes of separation anxiety and I, a not-religious-in-the-slightest person, am finding myself talking to God on the regular, hoping He will send me a lifeline.

My husband and I have thrown our hands up and given each other blank stares, not having any idea what else to do. I have swaddled, nursed on demand, laid on my bed for two hours (or more) not moving a muscle while he napped. I’ve begged my daughter to please play quietly. I’ve made her cry by snapping at her. I’ve let the baby scream so I could give her a much needed hug. I’ve also felt worse about myself as a mother and a person than I ever thought possible.

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