Valentine’s Day Brownies + Life.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner…well actually, it’s still a bit of a ways away, but somehow I’m on top of things and made these Vday treats ahead of time. And I tell you, being on top of things is a few and far between experience these days.

Just recently I feel I’m consistently able (even if ‘consistently’ just means once a week) having a moment where I feel I’m on the offense instead of the defense. For instance, I’ll have Jo’s lunch ready before she’s wakes up needing it, instead of having to react and scramble to throw a lunch together (aka be on the defense) while she’s crying and ready to eat. It’s exhausting to always be on the defense, but now that her sleep is so much more consistent and she can entertain herself for a 20 minute stretch or so, I have a chance from time to time to get ahead. 

So much of motherhood has gotten easier now that Jo is over a year old. There are so many days now I’m like, “man. motherhood was actually magical and rewarding today for several hours. this is amazing.” The first year was so hard though. As detailed in posts. I remember in high school where there would be the kids who took the math that was the year ahead of the math they should take so they could get ahead for college (like they’d take calculus as a junior instead of a senior) and they’d complain and complain about how hard it was, but then when you got into that class the next year, sure maybe it wasn’t always easy but it wasn’t that bad and you got through. I thought that the first year of motherhood would be like that, challenging but not as tough as people said. But it was harder than I ever imagined and I found myself constantly wondering how does everyone do this?! How do new parents get through this?! I don’t feel like I’m a very dramatic person (irrational at times, but not dramatic), and besides stopping running and letting my body gain the weight it needed to and not doing anything to change it, that first year with baby is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Every time I see a mom enjoying those early days I feel like I’m a bad mom for being terrified even when just reflecting on those early days. There were definitely wonderful moments in-spite of the sleep deprived blur it all was. I often see mom’s post about “how is my baby x old? Stop growing!” And I never felt that with Jo. I was like please keep growing up little baby I don’t know how we’re going to make it out of this otherwise! I realize everyone just has a different experience based on who they are and everyone has a different baby with a different temperament and different abilities to sleep and ride in a car seat without hating it and screaming at the top of their lungs. One time when Jo was around 4 or 5 months old she screamed for the entire two hours on a car ride when I was driving us someplace we were committed to going. That is not an exaggeration. I stopped once to feed her, hoping it would help and it did nothing. Every 15 minutes I was like “there is no way she can scream for another 15 minutes.” Wrong. She could. After I got out of the car I had never felt more inadequate and ill-equipped to be a mom than I did then or like my nervous system was more on fire.

I think maybe I’m just not a baby person. Or maybe it was the adjustment of going from zero to one child that was so overwhelming. I knew motherhood would be a sacrifice, but I don’t think I could really grasp it until I experienced it. Not knowing what you are doing and trying to pretend like you do is exhausting, which is what I felt like most of the 1st year. And I wonder if it’ll be any different with future children. I’m sure in some ways it will and in some ways it won’t. When I’m struggling, I’ve found the most helpful advice from others begins and ends with (A TON OF EMPATHY) and a “I’m not sure how to make that better but you’re doing a great job” with maybe a nugget of a recommendation concerning whatever it is I’m struggling with smooshed in there…because sometimes I don’t think there are easy answers and recommendations of “just do x” always left me feeling like if I just try x and x and x enough then it’ll be better and this will be fixed and she won’t cry. I think that’s a dangerous message for new moms wanting the best for their babies (as everyone does). Sometimes it’s just hard and there’s not a way to fix it. But we made it through and now I have an almost 15 month old who I adore, even if some moments still leave me crying from a lack of things going smoothly.

I think there are many things that have died in me (things that needed to become less important to me anyways) that have allowed me to relax into being a mom more and more. I’m switching offices in March and even just the rent being less than half what I’m currently paying for office rent is a way to relax into motherhood and not feel I have a large overhead weighing on me.

I spent some time being frustrated that I wasn’t one of those women who felt the only thing they want to do is to be a mom. I figured then I would be joyful. Then this would be easier. But I don’t think that’s true – whether motherhood feels natural to you or it doesn’t, I don’t think either comes with no sacrifice and struggle.

I feel like I’m still trying to figure out my new workflow. I was telling Andrew that I think I stopped blogging for a bit (among other reasons) because I thought then maybe I wouldn’t have to have this conflict inside of me around Jo needing me but me feeling frustrated and wanting to get work done. But all that did was leave me feeling unfulfilled and feeling like I had nothing of my own to stimulate my brain in adult necessary ways or to help me feel creative. One can only take so many bubble baths and do so many facemasks lol before they need stimulation in another way – spiritual, creatively, hobby-wise, etc. I feel like I’m finally caught up on sleep again (after the 9 months of so little sleep), so some nights after Jo and Andrew are asleep I can stay up and jot down some thoughts to share and that is nice time. My best friend and I joke that now we get why our moms always stayed up so late at night. It’s nice to have time when no one needs anything.

The last 3 months with less frequent posting haven’t really been a great 3 months for us. There’s just so much adjusting. And for a bit I didn’t need any more opinions coming my way about what we were doing with our life and just needed some quiet. This blog is no fun for me to write if it loses the real and vulnerable side and for a bit I just needed a break because it wasn’t the right time to share. 

My best friend mentioned the other day that it’s hard to be pulled in so many roles. As in it’s hard to figure out how to be daughter Kylie and mother Kylie and wife Kylie and working Kylie and friend Kylie, especially when 2 or more of these roles overlap at one time. I’m sure there’s another way to think about this that is more cohesive to being one constantly evolving person, but when she said it I was like yep and it was helpful to have someone explain it like that. I’m doing this bible study lately and I’ll be posting separately about it because it’s been really great and helpful in many ways.

So where does this all leave me? I have no earthly idea. But I’m here today with a post! I have a long list of blog post topics on faith, identity, disordered eating recovery and life things jotted down. And one day, when my mind has mulled them over enough and motivation + time + energy levels align, they will get written!

But for now, I squeezed in a photoshoot for these Valentine’s Day snacks while Andrew was on Jojo duty and I’m happy to be sharing them. Most recipes I’ve been following these days are less specific measurements and more here’s-an-idea-and-the-recipe-doesn’t-really-require-specific-measurements-to-come-out-great kinda dishes. So this here is one of those types of recipes. If you’re looking for a Valentine’s snack idea, it’s a great one!

And now it’s midnight and Netflix is asking me if I’m still watching and Jo just woke up crying a bit and I’m not sure why because that doesn’t happen too much anymore, but hopefully I’m off to bed.

Valentine's Day Brownies

Yield: depends on how large of a pan your boxed brownie mix makes


favorite boxed brownie mix (+ ingredients to make it)
pretzel sticks
white chocolate, melted
heart cookie cutter

white chocolate cream cheese frosting
4oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/2 cup white chocolate chips, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
frozen cherries, slightly thawed (optional, but I wanted to add a cherry flavor and a red tint)



Make your brownies. While baking, lay out your pretzel sticks on a silpat (or another non-stick surface) and scoop your melted chocolate into a plastic bag or icing piper. Draw one end of the arrow on each end of the pretzel stick. Allow white chocolate to harden.

Take out brownies and allow to cool a bit. Use your cookie cutter to cut out heart-shaped brownies. 

Make your icing by using an electric mixer to mix together cream cheese, butter and slightly thawed cherries. Mix with the cherries just long enough to add in some red color, then pick out the large cherry chunks and discard (I used 8 cherries), then continue mixing until smooth. Mix in melted white chocolate and vanilla. Mix in powdered sugar and whip until smooth. Spread over brownie hearts + stick in pretzel arrows. Voila! Valentine's brownies! 


  1. I loved the whole post but I cannot help but shudder at the car ride part. Both of my babies have screamed and screamed in the car and the worst is when they get so worked up they’re choking and you’re driving and crying and feel like the worst mother ever. It’s almost like a traumatic experience lol that sounds dramatic but I have vivid memories still. It’s so good to have new posts coming! I love the newness of your life that you’ve been sharing ❤️ Also, I stay up late even though I’m sleepy(and pregnant with number 3) just to have quiet and eat my ice cream with nobody to share with so you’re not alone! 

    • YES. Them screaming and choking on tears. You crying. Been there. So rough.

      Sleep is important (of course), but I think staying up and reading or watching Netflix or blogging may be something worth adding back in some nights. I hear you on staying up late for quiet.

  2. A) The brownies are adorable
    B) Very glad you didn’t stop blogging altogether. I really enjoy your writing.
    C) Ditch the mommy guilt. You are doing a wonderful job <3

  3. Honestly, I felt EXACTLY those way about my daughter’s first year. So much so that we went Fromm wanting 3 children to being “one and done.” She’s nearly 7 now and we haven’t forgotten how hard infancy was.

  4. Hi Kylie, have missed your blogging but I totally empathize and understand all your sentiments here. My daughter is almost 10 months and to this point, it has been such a whirlwind of adjustment. I like how you explained feeling pulled in different directions, like being a mom/daughter/wife/friend/educator etc. I really relate to this because I feel like I have to turn on different “switches” each time. Anyway I think you’re doing awesome and look forward to trying these brownies!

  5. Yes, completely! I feel like “[s]ometimes it’s just hard and there’s not a way to fix it” is a great summary of motherhood. I had the same feelings during my first child’s first year–like, shouldn’t I be loving this more? Maybe I’m doing something wrong because this is just so dang hard? Is there some magic formula that I haven’t found that would make this not the hardest thing I’ve ever done? I loved her and there were many magical moments, but it was still very hard. And I definitely identify with the “no, but please keep growing because otherwise how will we survive” feeling. When friends would post pics of their kids and say “stop growing” I was seriously like–do you actually feel that, or are you just saying that? Ha. :) Our second is six months old and I feel a lot of the same things, but there are definitely ways in which it’s easier. I think just knowing I survived it once, and this phase will end, and every moment will not be this hard, makes it easier to tolerate, if not actually easier. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  6. Kylie, thank you for always being so vulnerable about motherhood. I relate to you a lot about feeling so guilty that I didn’t love motherhood all of the time and just wanted my son to be older. It’s refreshing to hear that motherhood didn’t come easy to everyone (or at least to hear someone be open about it instead of making motherhood always look so easy). Thankful for you & your honesty  <3

  7. This post made me tear up. I needed to read this so badly. I love my sweet 10 month old but I still feel like I’m struggling constantly. Your words resonated so deeply in my heart. Thank you for sharing and being incredibly real and honest. It’s so nice to know that there are other moms out there that feel the same things that I do. 

    • For us it got SO much easier after a year. I hope it’s the same for you guys! At nine-ish months I was getting predictable sleep, but I think after that it took a month for my anxiety to come down and to catch up on sleep and start feeling calm and rational again. Hang in there!

  8. I think as mothers we can lift each other up with grace and understanding. I’ve loved following along with your motherhood journey. Mom to mom and child to child, everyone has a different experience. I have a 9 month old and can honestly say I’ve loved all of it and don’t want him to grow up!! I never thought I’d feel this way so it’s nice to allow myself to feel how I feel and not compare to others.
    Happy early Valentine’s! I’m thinking heart shaped pizza.

  9. I felt the same exact way the first year of life with my daughter. Nobody around me felt the same way as I did and it was veryyyyyy lonely! 

    She’s is 3 now and it gets so much easier and so much more fun! We are going to start trying for our last one and I’m terrified it will be horrible like the first go around, but I’m being optimistic that 1-2 will be easier then 0-1! 

  10. YES. All of this. Just yes. You are not alone. Baby years are terrible. Wonderful and terrible. You’re doing great. 

  11. Hey Kylie I so appreciate you posting this. I have checked your site on and off to see whether you have updates andhave concluded that you were doing what you said you would which was to reduce your posts….but this is so good and useful to me, thank you. My boy is almost a year now and hands down the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I feel like I haven’t properly inhaled or exhaled in all that time. The thing that has helped has been to admit that to myself and others, and also realise that what I’ve found hard is that most of the childcare has been me doing it, and that’s just….rough. My hubbie is around morning and evenings but it’s not the same as being there day in and day out, and I have resented that he gets breaks. Mums are left to get on with it alot of the time! Change is on the horizon as we’re getting paid childcare now but I will certainly think about how we do it if there is a next time! I don’t want to overload you with content but just to say, THANK YOU and YES, totally get it. Here’s to a great valentines for you :)

  12. Kylie, your honesty is such a breath of fresh air and I love reading your posts! I still shudder some when I think of the newborn/infancy days with both of my children. I think the second was less traumatic because I had set the bar way low after going through it with my first. I feel like you can seriously have PTSD from your child’s first year of life! I know I don’t know you personally but it is very evident through your blog that you are an incredible wife, mother, and child of God. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  13. My girls are 16 and 21 and I still remember how hard the birth was and how hard and lonely the first year was with my oldest. I have always WOH full time, which helped, but it still look five years to decide to have a second. I have really loved every age and stage with them, but I never wanted them to slow down and stop growing up. I enjoyed them more with each passing year, and I treasure every minute with them now. They still need a LOT from me, but it’s different than those first few years.

  14. YES to all of this! Motherhood is the friken hardest thing in the world. It has honestly slapped me in the face so many times, I really had no idea what I was in for.

  15. My daughter is 9 years old now and I can look fondly back on the baby years but it was a long long hard road. She cried from colic for the first three months and I got zero sleep the first year. I vividly remember the lack of sleep, guilt and inadequacy but I also remember the sweet cuddles and all the firsts. I so love the little girl she has become and would do it all over again even knowing what I know now but I never realized how hard motherhood would be. One year old made everything so much easier. 

  16. YES. I also find that the more I stay away from social media (especially the comments of posts) and blogs that don’t align with my version of motherhood, I feel a LOT better about my own parenting.

  17. Boom mama! Yes x 100! I have a 10 month old and can relate to the nth degree. Lol at the thing about wanting these babies to grow up, Amen! I feel you on the balancing act or lack thereof. It’ll never be how it was pre kiddos and finding that new “normal” is challenging and draining. I’ve sort of found those people/ interests that matter will naturally be integrated into our lives. There are some relationships/ interests that have fallen to the wayside and I used to want to save them but realized I just need to let go of them in this season of life. God will make prominent what matters. 

  18. Thank you for sharing! The depth of change to one’s life when becoming a parent is staggering. My twins are 5 months old and we’re still very much in the trenches. The good days are great – I feel confident and like I’m juggling mom-ing, working outside of the home, and my hobbies so well. But then the bad days roll in and they are SO dark. I feel like I’m half-assing every aspect of my life and drowning – exhausted, not a good mom, not a good employee, definitely not a good spouse or friend, etc. We don’t have family nearby, so a lot of people’s advice (ask for help, go on a date night, etc.) are well meaning, but just make me feel worse. Children are a blessing but such hard work.

    • The term “matrescence” (aka the birth of a mother) was a new term a friend shared with me and it’s been helpful and super interesting to read articles on.

      Not having family close must be brutal. We have family close and it’s still hard, but not having that line of childcare and support would be rough.

  19. I’ve definitely missed your blogging, but All. The. Empathy; I’m sure you are doing a great job. Take your time, do what is right for you, & we’ll all be excited when you get back to that list of posts! (I’m even excited to hear that the list exists!)

  20. Just everyyyything you said about baby’s first year I have felt. My son is turning ten months this week and though things got light years better after sleep training and I am able to enjoy things much more now, I  am still eager for him to get past the 1 year mark. Sometimes I feel guilty like shouldn’t I be ‘cherishing’ this more and not rushing it? But every month that passes something gets a little easier and I breathe a sigh of relief like ‘we’re almost there’. I try not to scare my friends who haven’t had kids yet because I know there are others who have easier babies and can tote their newborns around everywhere just fine, but I also wish someone had told me the details of this reality beforehand so I would know it was normal and OK to feel this way through infancy. I still want more kids too, so there’s that insanity! I agree with another poster that I’m expecting the “easier” part in the future is having survived the first time – and though it felt incredibly slow moving when I was in the thick of it in reality it is such a small moment in time. 

    • I was thinking about sleep training the other day and when we did it at 4 1/2 months-ish the only thing it accomplished was Jo falling asleep at the same time every evening and giving Andrew and I a couple hours of togetherness (WHICH WAS HUGE AND AWESOME AND I’M SO GLAD WE DID IT!), but I chose to continue nursing on demand through the night so she didn’t sleep through the night the first time until 5 1/2 months and then consistently wasn’t able to sleep through the night until closer to 9-10 months. A mom the other day said none of her babies slept through the night until they were fully weaned and I was like “Ohh! That’s really helpful actually!” I think just expecting that, or knowing that is a possibility/normal occurrence for future babies helps a lot.

      A go-to phrase that’s been planted in my head lately is “just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean you’re bad at it.” Which I find really encouraging.

      Thanks for commenting, Kelly!

  21. I identify with loads of the things you have put, its great to read I’m not alone! I hope that working and putting my needs high up on the agenda give my 2 girls a good role model for the future. But I do usually feel guilty pretty regularly with juggling work/childcare/family life and I still have exams but hopefully getting there. Mine are 3 and 1.5 years old now and occasionally play together nicely on their own for maybe 10mins but I’m hoping this can only improve! 

  22. Also I found the transition from 1-2 much easier than 0-1 :)

  23. I really love this post, the vulnerability, the raw truth, all of it. This is why I have been a loyal reader of yours for years now and am not planning on stopping. So happy to see you in a much better place now, and I’m sending you so much compassion and peace. You’re an inspiration <3

  24. First, I have always loved your blog and I adore this post. I love following you on instagram and I can tell what an amazing mom you are- in addition to the amazing person you are. I relate to this so much. I always say that the first year of my son’s life was the longest year of my life. I HATED when people said, “Enjoy goes so fast.” NO… no it did not. Every day was an eternity. I will say the second year went faster and each year even faster than the second. I remember you sharing that JoJo’s nanny said that Jojo cried more than any baby she knew and I wanted to cry for YOU. I am convinced that some babies/kids just have a more difficult temperment. When I was pregnant with my second, everyone would say, “Are you ready for her to come?” and inside I was like, “Not really.” I was terrified. But, she is totally different. She only cries when she is tired/hungry/sick. She will be a year next month and it has went by so fast. So, those moms that make it look easy…I’m convinced it’s because their baby/kid IS easy.  

    • A mom friend told me that she has experienced the most judgement from moms who have one kid who was a unicorn baby or women with no kids. Some people just have a hard time understanding an experience if it wasn’t theirs, like me having trouble understanding moms who love that first year of newborn life haha. So hard to imagine for me because it’s been really overwhelming! I think having Jo and future babies with different temperaments will open my eyes to the wide spectrum of experiences motherhood can bring. Like I said on another commenter’s comment “just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean I’m bad at being a mom”, which I think was where my thinking was falling some days. So realizing that thought and calling it out as untrue has helped.

      Thanks for the encouraging comment, Karla :)

  25.  It’s weird, because my first baby was definitely not an easy one… Colicky for months, didn’t sleep through the night until he was over a year old,  hated the car seat, demanded to be held constantly until he became mobile etc. However, I truly loved every bit of motherhood and had that feeling of “slow down, stop growing!“. I was so shocked by that as I had been pretty ambivalent at the idea of having kids for quite some time. HOWEVER, my second baby is just about four months old now and oh boy, this has  been a much harder adjustment for me! I now have a lot more empathy for the feelings that you and others have said they had about the difficulties of motherhood.  For whatever reason, the not sleeping, car seat screaming and needing to be held has made me feel a little batty this time. Maybe because I’ve got this little 2 1/2-year-old person who is a crazy active little boy?! Ha.  I have found it really difficult to split my attention between the needs of both kids. Even though I have had zero jealousy issues with my toddler, I have felt sad at no longer being able to spend large quantities of undivided time with him.   As time goes on, I am definitely finding all of this getting easier though. I wonder if people will have a hard time adjusting to their first baby tend to have an easier time the second time and vice versa? All of this has made me realize that too is probably the limit for us though    Thanks for all your honesty, I love your posts!   You are doing a great job and JoJo is so adorable 

    • “feel a little batty” <-- that is a feeling I'm very familiar with and has just recently started to improve. Thanks for sharing your experience, Jen!

  26. This post resonated with me. The first year was the absolute hardest with both of my kids, and it improved so much after they turned 1 and started walking and were able to play more.  It was just as hard with my second but I had the experience to know that it gets better so maybe that is what makes it easier? Anyway know that your not alone with this sentiment

  27. Just had to say “hi.” I went back and read a few of your posts about early motherhood, too, and I was nodding along the whole time. The first 6 months were especially difficult for me and I wouldn’t say I really hit my stride until 12 months either. I also had a very fussy baby who was never content to just chill in a car seat or bouncer or swing or really anywhere but me holding him and standing (never sitting! never anyone else!). My son is now 21 months old and even with all of the challenges of having a toddler, motherhood gets SOOOO much better and I enjoy my son so much now. Errands with him no longer give me anxiety! I am expecting number 2 here in a month or so and still nervous about the beginning but at least now I know that the struggle is so worth it. Not that you don’t feel that way in the beginning, because you do, but it gets so much easier.

    • I was always confused how Jojo seemed to know the difference between me walking around with her vs. me sitting + swaying trying to mimic walking (but not killing my back)…she was always for walking/standing, so I feel you on that! Wishing you a smoother experience with baby 2, but I agree it’s nice knowing the struggle of the newborn months/year is worth it when you have the toddler to remind you what you’re exhaustedly working to get to. SO MUCH BETTER NOW.

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