Watching my beloved train for a marathon that is THIS WEEKEND! since April? May? means I’ve cheered, encouraged, cried in frustration, jumped up and down for joy, and been schooled in stamina and sacrifice. And this big toddler up here ^^will be screaming DADADADA at the finish line.

It also means I’ve learned to make space. Make space for him to do something he’d love, even though it’s not always been convenient or fun for me. Where’s the sacrifice and growth for me if it were easy for me to encourage and support him in his training? If it’s easy, I’m probably not learning much. And this past 5 months or so have not been easy for either of us, but we’ve both learned sooooooo much.

AA has been a serious runner forever. As a middle schooler & high schooler, he broke and set all records for his long distances. He was asked to run for a fabulous college. He lived, slept, ate, breathed running for a very long time. In the decade between his peak collegiate running and us having kids, he ran regularly. Add kid. Add long hours high stress job. Add more kids. Running had fallen to the wayside.

Despite the wife encouraging and nagging, it took him finding his own visceral need for it again to bring forth: marathon training! I listened as he gauged and researched and poured over his laptop for races near by and far from the Twin Cities before he landed on the big TC Marathon. When he announced he thought he’d sign up to run for it, I almost shrieked with joy.

DO IT. Just do it! You will be so so happy you did.

I knew he needed the happiness hormones that running releases. I knew he needed to go back to a pursuit he loved, something wholly of his own in his own time and space and place. To me, it seemed a no-brainer. Run! I’m totally cool with covering any time you’re gone and watching the kids. Or so I thought.

After he crafted his running schedule which consisted of daily runs, I started to see the reality of the daily run. Every day. It means you run every day. Even when you’re tired or your back is off (and your wife wants you to rest it). Even when it’s rainy or you were up with the baby. Every single day.

I’d catch myself asking when he was running the next day and then . . . exhale a big dramatic sigh for how long that would be and how long he’d be gone and how tired was. And then I’d try to rectify it and say something supportive and cheery. Somedays I was more convincing than others. I was still harboring this selfishness in a way. This secret resentment he was doing something he loved.

Somehow during this long training he still managed to help night wean the baby, get up a million times with the reluctant older sleepers, run 20 miles four Sundays in a row and still help with the kids those days, go on a family vacation, hold down the fort while I went to an out-of-town wedding, clean up at night around the house, push hard at work, and give me the occasional foot rub. He never stopped parenting or partnering despite pushing his body and mind to the max. He worked attentively to ensure his running didn’t put additional burdens on me, that he could help. He never complained; I’m obviously not that saintly.

One day I erupted. It was late summer. He’d just returned home from a night run (mostly he ran in the morning), and I’d spent the late evening playing whack-a-mole with each of the kids alternating who didn’t want to fall asleep the most–instead of the evening of work I’d planned for. Half-sewn leggings littered my studio floor, and an unattended Uptown Funk was on repeat on YouTube.

I erupted saying something along the lines of I need something for ME. I need to do something that’s for myself for me. You are off running and enjoying that for you and what’s for me? Where’s my enjoyment?!? I want to have fun too. WAAAHHHH.

“I want to have fun, too.” Wow. What is this? The sixth grade end of the year water balloon party? But this realization was a turning point for me. I could either play martyr wife or I could acknowledge it was hard being a marathon-spouse, and then pick my own damn activity to enjoy.

I could take care of myself, too, if I gave myself permission.

So for every 4:35 am awakening with the baby, hearing my husband just out the door for his run, and my chagrin that I couldn’t roll over and tap AA that the baby was awake, and for every Sunday morning when he rolled in from his hours+ run right around when the kids were eating breakfast and I insisted he put his feet up and rest, I learned that taking care of yourself sometimes looks like hard work and can require sacrifices from your loved ones. Again, making space and then being in that space.

Taking care of yourself by doing a healthy, life-giving activity that you love means you’re going to be a happier and more balanced person.

We parents of young kids cannot continue as exhausted zombies. We must make the space for each other to find that life-giving activity, that pursuit alongside our work and families. Whatever it is, I hope you’ve found it for you and I hope you’re willing to sacrifice for your loved one to find it for himself or herself. I had to fall down along the way and be a big baby about it–hopefully you’re beyond that.

Thanks for reading this ramble & please offer a prayer, a positive thought, a beam of love for my speedy amazing husband on Sunday morning at 8am because he’s going to be killing it on the course!


fav Kitchen items What can I say? I was raised on Velveeta and Tastee bread. But I’ve come around to love real food. And love making it for my family. So much so that when we took a family-do-nothing-vacation, I relished the opportunity to cook–> photos back here. I used to blog a lot more about food so recipes & other items related to food & garden are here. I ran a meal planning linkup for a while, too, called WeekEats. I’ll even throw up food pics on instagram under #wholeparentingeats

But now, I’m a slacker in this. Trying to get back into planning ahead. With three kids at home with me and always underfoot, I’ve finally figured out how to make dinner without crashing and burning. I make it during NAPS in the afternoon. And then warm it up for their 5pm dinner time. My husband doesn’t get home til after six, but at least the kids aren’t howling monkeys, or if they are, it’s not for empty stomaching.

A quick list of things that make my multitasking life easier in the kitchen:

1) Digital Probe Meat Thermometer.

Gift from my sister Bridget a few years back. I use it on meatballs, meat on the grill, you name it. Love it. So so much. I summarily wipe the pointy blade clean and put it away. No more wondering if the chicken is done and overcooking it. Like I did for about a decade.

2) Plastic Cutting Board with Grip.

I’m picky about not cutting my garlic and onions on the wooden cutting boards in the kitchen. Then when I go to slice an apple for the kids, they make that face. I also know I can throw these in the dishwasher and really disinfect them. To top everything off, they have GRIP. My counters are slippery granite. They need this. I need this. My sister ALSO gifted me with one of these. You can tell she’s a foodie.

3) Slotted Stainless Spoon with a Corner.

A corner. Did you hear that? It means you don’t have to wrench your arm around to get into every corner of your pot or pan. I buy this regularly for newly weds. It’s my weird-go-to-gift. I literally use it every single day. That’s a lot of hyperbole for “I hope you have one of these to make your cooking life a better place.”

4) Zester Grater.

Top that soup with parm? Top those green beans with lemon zest? Don’t snag your knuckles and shred them like you do on the box one? Yes, yes, and yes. And my secret fav way to use it? Freshly grated nutmeg in Dutch Pancakes–> recipe here.

My mom picked one of these up after seeing and experiencing it in my sister Molly’s kitchen. She and her husband should have some kind of reality food show. They’re superb in the kitchen. So I’ve been exploiting my mom’s purchase ever since.

5) Cast Iron Skillet.

When this puppy is seasoned (so the base of it is smooth and oiled like butter), you can literally do an over easy egg and flip it. It’s the most versatile of all my pans and we use it all the time. If you need a quick saute of veggies or to brown meat? Your gal is right here. And they’re so affordable!!

+ Cookbooks I Can’t Live Without.

whole parenting fav cook books

People gave us cookbooks for our wedding many moons ago and I love and cherish those thoughtful gifts. But these few in particular I use regularly and have learned so so much from. Okay, I lied. FIVE. Not that few.

The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller

The King Arthur Flour’s Baking Companion

Jerusalem, a Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

Alright, tell me your cooking wins and needs.


Tot in Cap Whole Parenting Goods

It’s been a fascinating journey for me, to sew and create patterns, and sell the goods to friends and strangers alike at my shop, Whole Parenting Goods. I’ve learned so so so much about fabric and how forgiving or unforgiving it is, how long it takes me to do a job, and how much delight I feel when seeing babies kicking around in something I was able to make for them.

Mostly, I’ve oscillated between humility and elation.

My products have range from double layered blankets, bandit bibs, contoured burp cloths, leggings, skirts, caps, banners, washcloths, and then an assortment of washable wool knit blankets.

I wrote a post a while back about tips to starting your etsy shop. Now I’m ticking off what I’ve learned along the way.

whole parenting goods

1) Precision and perfection.

Sewing for others taught me to be precise, not a skill I had before. To truly tweak and fix and press and stitch as correctly as a human being can–not natural for me! To know it needs to stand up to wear and tear and washings and wearings informed my skills at durability.

Yet, these are handmade items. No one is going to be exactly like the other. No one is going to be perfect. I’m not a perfectionist but I am always striving to be better and better. Sometimes that means I’ve had to change my pattern, or drop a product line. A few times my daughter stabbed a scissors through a leggings that I was ready to ship. A few times I couldn’t get more a fabric. It’s humbling.

2) Customer service and how kind people are.

The customer isn’t just always right, for me, the customer is also usually tied into my community in some way, be it reader, follower, or friend. It feels personal. If someone messages me and says it doesn’t fit right, or after washing, something has happened to a seam, I immediately either replace, repair, or refund. No questions asked.

People are so generous and kind, supporting a mama-artisan endeavor. Each piece of mine is handmade by me. When someone loves it, I’m so happy. When the special child in my customer’s life loves it, I’m even happier.

whole parenting goods

3) Social media presence is everything.

My instagram friends and followers have purchased so many leggings! Having the fabric on hand and doing custom sizing has helped whet their appetite, but these ladies are good to me. I see movement from Facebook as well but since Instagram is a photo-based platform, it’s very helpful for my customers to see the products in action and gauge accordingly if it’s what they’re looking for.

4) You have to love it because it’s a lot of work.

Building patterns, curating fabric, cutting & sewing and labeling, then shipping and packaging and sending: hard work. Being a mom with three little kids, it’s also great joy to have a little outlet for my creativity. I learned how much I can bite off, and how much I can’t. How many late hours I can sew, and how many are too many. I do love it. I do I do ;)

If you’re hoping to make a ton of money, that’s probably not going to happen. A little extra? Yes, but a ton, no. And if you love it and derive joy from it, that’s probably okay by you, as it is by me.

whole parenting goods

5) It’s seasonal.

I mean this in more ways than one. Folks buy in seasons–caps for the summer, leggings for the fall, new fabric offerings for different seasons. Wool blankets don’t sell in the spring (even in Minnesota!) and cotton skirts don’t sell in the fall.

I’ve also learned that there are seasons wherein I have more time to sew and create and others I don’t. I’m in a bit of a quieter time right now for sewing. We’ve commenced homeschooling our five year old and that’s a joyful but energy-consuming endeavor.

Whole Parenting Goods has been quiet lately. I still have my shop up! But I’m not doing custom offerings of legging fabric releases again until Cyber Monday.

whole parenting goods

6) Change up your products.

Right now the shop has banners & caps. Very soon it will also have a onslaught of Baby Gifts Sets:

a) blankets, banners, bibs, and burp cloths all bundled for the new babe in your life!

b) caps & leggings!!

I would feel stunted always sewing the same patterns time and time again. It gives me joy to shake it up a bit! And then something new for you. And you. And you.

So thanks for being here, friends! You are my muses.


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