Monday, June 18, 2018

That Postpartum Time

I was talking to a friend who is a new mom about the transition to motherhood and how tough the challenges can be. Four years in I still firmly recall bringing Chase home for the hospital and being somewhat overwhelmed with the responsibilities.Who thought trusting me - even at 38 - with a newborn was a wise decision?

There's a lot of advise out there for navigating this big life change. Here's mine:

1.) Throw out the "sleep when the baby sleeps" advice. Personally, I hate this one. Sleep when you can. There will be times you need to do laundry (because spit up.... amiright?). There will be times you need to make a meal. There will be times you can't shut your brain off. I think the "sleep when the baby sleeps" advice can cause guilt or frustration, two things you don't need right now. Do the best you can.

2.) Allow yourself to cry. The hormones are flowing. You're not getting solid sleep. Everything is changing. Crying is okay. People might say "oh you must be so happy" or "he/she is so beautiful. How blessed you are." And that might be true. (It also might not be but that's a separate item!) But you're also allowed to cry. It's healthy even.
3.) Both breast and bottle are okay. I struggled with breast feeding with both kids. I wasn't producing enough. With my first, I didn't have enough knowledge and worked with the lactation consultant at the hospital. But when I went home it was just HARD. I tried breast feeding then pumping to increase my supply. But it was so stressful and ultimately just not healthy for me. So we switched to formula. With my second, I tried again. I saw a International Board Certified Lactation Consultant before delivery. I made a follow up appointment for afterwards. I met with someone at the hospital. But my supply wasn't there and the stress was too much. So again I quit. A healthy and happy mom is truly the best for the baby. Do what's best for you. As my pediatrician said "I was formula fed and look, I'm a doctor."

4.) Take the drugs but also recognize when you don't need them. I had c-sections with both kids. The first was an emergency because of crooked neck Chase. He wasn't coming out. I have scoliosis so that might have been a factor. The second was a scheduled c-section because they believed the same challenge might occur again. Following my doctor's advice on taking the drugs but also listening to my body and knowing when my pain decreased was huge. Addiction runs in my family so I'm very tuned in to listening to myself. Manage your pain with the drugs. But try to tune in to when that pain is decreasing.

5.) Take all the help offered you. People want to help. Let them. But set boundaries as needed. Helping isn't coming in and cuddling the baby for hours (unless that is what YOU want). Helping is doing a load of laundry. Help is dropping off dinner, preferably without staying. Helping is emptying your diaper pail or vacuuming. Don't feel guilty or like you shouldn't say yes. Let people help.

That said, some people will "help" in their own way. You're allowed to set boundaries. If people are sick or haven't had the requisite vaccinations you want, you can say no to them coming close to your baby. If people park themselves in your living room and stay foreverrrrr, have your partner or parent ask them to leave.

6.) If you are feeling sad, down or overly emotional, keep the lines of communication open with your medical team. My family is also prone to depression. I've also had my own challenges over my life. With this in mind, I left the hospital both times with a prescription for an anti-depressant. Sometimes you need help, whether it is counseling or a prescription. Don't hesitate to talk to your doctor or other medical professionals about this. My doctor, the pediatrician, and the lactation consultant all talked to me about it. I'm so glad they did!

7.) Follow your instincts and advocate for yourself. You know your body best. You know your baby best. If something isn't quite right, don't let the medical professionals dismiss you. Serena Williams has very publicly shared the challenges she faced post delivery. If she didn't push, she might not be alive now. I know it can be tough to tell a medical professional "you're wrong" but ultimately you have a great sense of what's okay and what isn't. Push when you need to!!

8.) Don't feel you need to do all the things people do now. And don't feel guilty if you want to! We didn't do newborn photos for either kid. I don't regret it. We took a ton of photos of our own. That said, I love looking at other people's newborn photos. We have more and more "must dos". Determine your own.

9.) Be prepared to buy that thing you didn't even know you needed! We didn't have the best swing for our son who was super colic-y. So we bought a new one. Babies will determine what you need and it might not be what you have. Be flexible if you have the resources to be.

10.) Find your mom network. Having other moms to bounce things off of is HUGE. I had a small group of new moms and some experienced moms I could count on for advice or could run things by. Join a MOMS Club. Put together a Facebook group of moms at similar stages. Join the Facebook group for your Wonder Weeks month. Join the support group at your hospital or local lactation support center.

You've got this Momma! As you navigate this life change, I'd love to hear what advice you think I missed. And please, believe in yourself. How lucky that kiddo is to have you!!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Motherhood Tears

Motherhood has often driven me to tears. Just yesterday, my daughter was complaining about dirt of the floor and “clean it Mommy, clean it”. Like I need housekeeping criticism from a 2 year old. Add that on top of being overtired, frustration over some knee pain, and the desire to fix breakfast without someone whining at me and you have a solid recipe for tears.

Motherhood is tough. It pushes you - physically, emotionally, and mentally. Little people need you constantly. They need milk or a snack or someone to play with. They need you to wipe their tush, change their diaper or reach something on the counter. And yes that stuff can be rewarding (except maybe the poop parts!) but it’s also completely exhausting. It is all consuming. It leaves no time for you to exist in any role other than "mom" sometimes.

I struggle with self-care. I wake up early, eat some food, read, and workout. All before my family is up. I go to sleep early (most of the time). I create. I sew, paint, or hand letter. I get outside. But I’m also very much an introvert. There is never enough time with small kids for the time I need to truly recharge. By myself.

And so sometimes it builds up. Sometimes the release is tears. Sometimes the release is begging my husband to stay with them while I slink off to try to get alone time. And sometimes I just have to wait it out, hold it together, and know the next day (or hour!) will be better.

I will say motherhood is also one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. With apologies to the US Army, I think they got it wrong. Motherhood is the toughest job you’ll ever love. With all things worth doing, tears sometimes happen. It's how you know it matters. I'm so glad I'm doing it but goodness I could use a nap.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

First Time (Working with Lace)

 Last night the hubs and I went out to dinner to celebrate his birthday. I don't get a ton of chances to dress up and what better occasion than celebrating the man I love entering into this world. I made this skirt the day before. I've had the fabric and the idea for quite some time but finally I had the time to do some selfish sewing!
I used a LuLaRoe Cassie from my closet as a guide, adding seam allowances when I traced it. You'll see from the pattern photo, I cut two main skirt panels - a front and back - and two waistbands. I had this green lace I got on clearance that I envisioned using as an overlay. Altogether I cut six pieces.

I attached the overlay front and back to each other and sewed up the side seams. I did the same with the black main fabric and the waistband pieces. I then turned the seamed sides in, placed the green skirt pieces on top of the black skirt. I carefully pinned the waistband piece, folded in half, to the main body and sewed around. Last step was hemming both skirt bottoms. Since my overlay was cut slightly longer to provide a sheer bottom, both were hemmed separately.
The skirt is a great somewhat dressy piece to add to my closet and altogether, cost about $15-20 total. Such a steal!! I used less 1 yard of both the lace and the black knit. Both were purchased at my local JoAnn's this spring.

I paired it with a thrifted shirt from ThredUP, Cole Haan heels from my closet (DSW discount pair!), a Stella and Dot necklace, bangles my kids gave me for Mother's Day (I think they are Five Below!) and a Vera Bradley clutch from the outlet sale. I felt sexy and well dressed!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Hawaiian Chicken

I didn't really have a game plan for dinner tonight. I had gone grocery shopping yesterday and bought a bunch of good for us food but I hadn't meal planned in advance. My son was itching to cut into the pineapple I bought and so Hawaiian Chicken came to mind. I didn't have a lot of time to research recipes so I winged it. Honestly, that's my favorite type of cooking. Here's what I used:

2 tbsp of soy sauce
1 cup cut pineapple
2 chicken breasts
6 to 7 stalks of asparagus
1 boil in a bag rice packet

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Smash the pineapple and add the soy sauce. Spoon over chicken breasts in a 9x9 pan. Add asaparagus, cut in pieces. Cook everything for about 30 minutes. In another pot, bring water to a boil and cook the rice according to directions on the box.

Pour rice on plate and put chicken, asparagus, and pineapple/soy mixture on top. Pour any of the liquids in the pan over rice mixture.

It turned out delicious. If I make this again in the future, I might add some cashews for a little extra crunch! 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Best Products in my Mom Streamlined Routine

Since I became a mom I've really streamlined my morning routine. I don't have the time or need for a lot of makeup. Maybe it's that I'm more confident. Maybe it's time. Maybe it's being older. Whatever it is, I'm happier with a more naked face. So what am I doing to ensure my skin is still protected, clear, and happy?

This past year, I switched to Rodan + Fields. If you're anything like me, you have at least five friends who sell R+F. I had tried a bit here and there. And then my friend Laura let me try a regimen. I use Soothe and it has made a world of difference for the redness on my skin. It's even helped with some sunspots! And it gives me a sunscreen as part of the regimen so it's one less thing to think about, which is huge for me.
I also use a sugar and coconut oil scrub to slough off some of the flaky skin on my face (or anywhere really). This is part of my homemade skincare. It works well, does the job but is easy on my skin, and doesn't taste bad if I accidentally get some on my lips.
My other homemade product is lotion. I mix shea butter (bought on Amazon) with coconut oil and peppermint essential oil. I use it on my legs daily. with every store bought lotion I used, I'd still get dry patches in the winter. This mixture has saved me and made my skin so much softer. It's great especially for dry patches on the ankles or elbows.

I've cut back on washing my hair to twice a week. Second or third day hair tends to be best for me anyway. Still, day one hair was frizzy and I was unhappy with it. While randomly looking for products at CVS one day I talked to a woman who used this It's a 10 product. She said all of her friends did too. It was a little more than I'd normally spend, especially on a product I hadn't tested already. But I went out on a limb and tried it.  And it's a winner. It's a good leave in condtioner, helps detangle, and tames the frizzies better than most things I've found (except perhaps my hairdresser. She rocks!). I also fell for this Eva NYC Therapy Session Hair Mask after getting it in an Influenster box. It makes such a difference!
All of that said, I still use a few makeup products somewhat regularly. Although my face is most often naked, I love these products when I need a little something. I keep the Pixie out and use it on my cheeks and sometimes lips for color. I also love love love Dr. Jart's BB Cream. It's got a good sheer coverage but still helps disguise some of my skin imperfections. And that chubby stick is a classic. It feels so creamy on and is just the right color to add a little something.
I do sometimes wear a fuller face but this is closer to my day to day. I'm happy with the improvements to my skin - even as I age - and feel better about the minimalism. What are your favorite products?

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Right Now....

Right now, I'm....

listening to: my son play with his legos and make up stories. He's building a monster truck police car.

ordering: more lavender essential oil. I love the aroma as I drift to sleep each night. 

reading: Better Homes and Gardens magazine.... from March. I just finished. I'm so behind but still enjoy!
eating: this spinach salad on repeat. With a few different tweaks each time! Today it was spinach, chick peas, goat cheese, tomato, hand boiled egg and balsamic.

creating: I'm in the midst of some selfish sewing, as it's called. I just finished a dress for me. Sadly, it's a velvet dress I started in October or November. So now it will sit waiting for fall! I have fabric and a pattern for a cold shoulder dress which I'm hoping to start soon.

smelling: the flowers my husband brought home last Friday. They still look so fresh too!

wearing: workout clothes. Each day! I'm trying hand to get a sweat on each day. I know it helps with those little aches and pains. And after taking a few days off, I'm feeling it in my hip.

painting: place cards for my friend's wedding. They are half done. And I'm loving the challenge!

anticipating: a short vacation with my husband to attend the above mentioned wedding. I can't wait to get away with his for two nights. It feels like it's been a long time since we've been able to just spend time together.

drinking: tea with honey most mornings. I haven't been a regular tea drinker ever but honestly, this small ritual makes my mornings better.

wanting: this necklace with the moon of my wedding day. I fell for it at the store the other day. Here's hoping my husband heard me offer a hint about this!! Our anniversary is coming.

cleaning: a bit of everything. We swiffered the first floor like crazy the other day. I have been trying to organize the craft room and our pantry. It must be spring! Deep cleaning the first floor bathroom is next.

hand lettering: a quote from Hope Floats - "beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it's the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will, too..." For some reason it popped into my head today.

celebrating: my daughter used the potty for the first time today!!

Play along! Please feel free to use this prompts for yourself. Tag me if you can so I can see you answers!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Why of My Fitness Journey

shirt by My Fitness Tribe
For the last year I’ve been working out regularly. There have been pauses but I’ve mostly been working out at least 5 times a week. It’s gained importance to me, not just because of my fitness group, but because of how it makes me feel.

If you don’t know me, there’s a key fact that influences my fitness journey. My dad had a heart attack at 44. It killed him. I’m 42. And my kids are little and I’d like to see them grow up, graduate HS and college, and get married or succeed in a career that inspires and challenges them.

I’ve always had a little extra weight on my body. But the bigger deal was my cardiac health. I wasn’t working my heart. Now my favorite thing is cardio. I’m not exactly sure how that happened. I have seen a difference in my ability to walk up multiple flights of stairs with greater ease. I can jog along side my son when he run. I’m stronger too. My push ups are better. I can tell my abs are a little more defined. I still have a little extra weight. I need to continue to fine tune my diet. But I’m better than before and I’ll keep getting stronger.

A few quick details; I use Beachbody on Demand (BOD) and work out at home in my family room. I usually work out at 6 am, before my family is awake. I have tried a few different programs with BOD. I like Core de Force, Clean Week, and A Little Obsessed the most. I also use the company’s Shakeology and Energize products on occasion. 

I hope I live a long life. I hope I get the opportunity to experience many different life milestones. And I know greater fitness will remain part of my journey.

Monday, April 16, 2018

I love....

I love.... my people. The warmth of sunshine on my skin. Stress Away oil. The crisp turning of pages in a new book.  The din of people on the train. Dogs. Always dogs. The hum of the sewing machine. Strong hugs. The way really amazing sushi kind of melts in your mouth. Clean sheets. Babies. Good chocolate. Acts of kindness. Kids laughter. Manicures. Hot stone massages. Mimosas. The feeling I get right after a cardio workout. EOS chapstick. Monograms. Watching snow coat the trees. Hydrangeas. Peonies. Long necklaces. Creating. Sand between my toes. Billy Joel. Crab cakes. Cake with lots of frosting. Buffalo. Freedom. Waking up next to my husband. Leadership. Books that make me think. The way new books smell. Baby snuggles. Sunshine. Sore muscles after a great workout. Writing. Fabric. Peppermint oil on my temples. The smell of clean laundry. How my son loves to cuddle. New shoes. Target trips sans kiddos. And that dollar section. New markers. Butter and sugar creamed together. Naps. Decorating magazines. The West Wing. Lobster rolls. Cherry pie. Apple picking. Good quotes. Hikes in the woods. Long talks with good friends. A cup of tea. Compassionate honesty. Clean laundry. Cherry blossoms. Rain boots. DIY projects. Organization. Holding hands.

Monday, March 26, 2018

On Motherhood (Part 1)

My son is four years old. Lately he is more whiny, territorial (primarily with his sister), and quicker to throw a temper tantrum. Last night he kind of lost it and ended up in his room until he could be calmer. I'm guessing this is four? That's what I've heard at least. My least favorite part of it is the "I don't like my sister" part. Because ugh. Yet, he can be ultra cuddly and delightful. That's God's wicked sense of humor right? Keep them driving you nuts right up until they need to kill you with love.
I've known I've wanted kids since I was a kid myself. I love children, always enjoyed babysitting, and believed motherhood would be rewarding and fun. And it is. But it's also a struggle. Friday it made me cry. To be fair, I was hormonal. And the kids weren't getting along. And I slipped down a hill and got dirt all over my pants, my sweatshirt and through to my underwear. (I don't do things halfway!) Thank goodness of the camaraderie of mom friends. And unlimited texting because my friend got quite a few messages.

More than anything, I want to meet my kids where they are. I want to be a calming force when they get upset. I want to help them to address all of those emotions they are feeling and unable to process. Because that's my job. I'm big. I've had a lot of time to learn stress management. I've had time to grow and develop coping mechanisms. But it's a definite challenge some days. My father was a yeller. And one of the things I don't want to be is a yeller like that. I don't want my kids to have those memories. So I'm constantly adjusting my attitude to remember to be calm.

Motherhood is tough. But it's a challenge I love.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Apricot Glazed Chicken Quinoa

I still had two packets of the boil in a bag quinoa left from my Influenster VoxBox and was itching to try something else. This time I decided to add some chicken as I know the husband is always happier with a little meat. I wanted a more Asian feel to the dish this time and figured the apricot soy sauce I love would give a nice flavor to the dish.

2 chicken breasts, cubed
2 cups vegetable broth
10 spears of asparagus
1 cup quinoa
1/4 of a cup carrots, sliced
1/2 cup apricot preserves
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon ginger (I used a paste)

In a large skillet cook the chicken. Empty and set aside. In the same skillet add broth, quinoa, asparagus, and carrots. Simmer for about 16 minutes stirring regularly. Check the vegetables at the 15-16 minute mark to see if they are getting tender. If they are close, add chicken back in and continue stirring for 3-4 minutes.

In a separate pot, add apricot preserves, soy sauce, and ginger. Simmer over low heat until sauce is a bit runny and warm.

Dish chicken and quinoa mixture into a low bowl. Add some of the apricot glaze over the top and serve. Altogether, this should make about 4 servings.

I hope you enjoy this. I love inventing dishes. Rarely do I follow a recipe exactly (except baking because that's kind of necessary!), This dinner was only different in that no recipe inspired it. Rather, I just combined things and hoped for the best. It turned out delicious and is definitely something we'd repeat. And, if you make it I hope you'll come back and tell me what you liked or didn't like!