October Favorites

HAPPY FALL! I am stoked for this time of year. Though I have yet to down my first hipster Pumpkin Spice Latte (anyone else over this pumpkin spice everything craze?) I have been enjoying the outdoors with long leisurely walks each day. I hope a few of my favorites can help you enjoy October at a more relaxing speed as well.

Podcast 

the-bitch-bible

The Bitch Bible – Host Jackie Schimmel isn’t looking to take anything too seriously. And that is exactly the attitude I need in my life right now as I face down a baby in the middle of a sleep regression phase. Her honest conversations are refreshing and not overly rehearsed. Major language disclaimer, but worth a listen if that doesn’t offend you.

Nail Polish

essie

Hi Maintenance by Essie – Fall is usually about dark colors, but I am all about this neutral and light pink. I use three coats to get the perfect opaque, but not overly so vibe.

Drink

mint-melange-tea

Trader Joe’s Mint Melange Tea – I love to sip on something warm this time of year. TJ’s mint melange tea is just minty enough with out being too pepperminty or overwhelmingly refreshing. It’s comforting and is the perfect way to relax before bed in the evening, or to enjoy while savoring a quiet moment.

Baby Item

coconut-oil

Coconut Oil – Baby skin is sensitive. You want to preserve that freshness, but often the more you put on, the more you can risk irritation. Every night Clint gets a little baby massage with organic coconut oil. Then his cozy pajamas help it soak in his skin while he sleeps. Not only does he smell amazing, but it helps Clint stay soft and smooth.

Way to Unwind

moon-x-pinot-noir

Moon X Pinot Noir – Yup. Another Trader Joe’s fave of mine. This gem is $6.99 a bottle, plus I find it far superior to most $15+ reds. It’s crazy smooth, providing a welcome transition from a summer rose to the delicious reds of winter. Pour it in your fanciest wine glass and throw back a couple of glasses.

Reading Material

texture

Texture – Alright, my faves are running a bit long this month, but I had to throw this one in too. I have a couple of must have magazine subscriptions – Real Simple, Food & Wine – but outside of that I can usually take it or leave it due to the sheer volume and price of newsstand magazines. Enter Texture. You can peruse a variety of topics from business to fashion to my guilty pleasure: gossip mags. The current issues and a number of back issues are accessible, which is awesome when you’re on a binge reading kick. Before you sign up, do a google search to check if there are any current promos. For example, I just got three months for ten dollars. Awe. Some.

Stay cozy!!! xx.

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Surviving Sleep Regression

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Around two and a half months into motherhood, I got really cocky. Clint was sleeping through the night (8 pm – 5 am, nurse, sleep until 8), and I was beginning to catch up on my own deficit. Three weeks ago, that all went away. Clint is now getting up two to three times a night, and though I am able to phase him away from that some nights, we have a ways to go before things smooth out.

The regression is frustrating. I feel like we’re back at square one. Some days my patience does not exist, and we have a relatively calm baby! We are fortunate, but those fussy moments can be grating for any parent, especially as your one sleep cycle is increasingly thrown off.

I know we will get through this soon, but until then I’ve needed some help.

Collagen is awesome. We’re all familiar with collagen and its anti aging effects being plastered on skin care products for years. Now, a lot of collagen supplements help improve the appearance of your skin by keeping it hydrated.

I don’t have the time, or the desire, to apply a lot of make up in the morning. Prioritize. A good concealer is a must, I am really liking Maybelline Age Rewind Dark Circle Eraser. It offers coverage without being super cakey, because sleep deprivation and poorly blended concealer is a horrible look on anyone.

Cold brew gets me through my mornings. I make it with some mocha syrup, or just cinnamon and almond milk depending on what I am feeling that day. It helps keep me full and energized as I workout and sneak in a few household tasks while Clint naps.

The Office/Parks & Rec/Golden Girls, essentially, comedic relief for when things get rough. We aren’t big television watchers, but I enjoy the background noise of my favorite shows. They help to keep me entertained and laughing without requiring any concentration. If I get a quiet moment, I enjoy my Poirot episodes on Netflix, or if I am really lucky I can knock a few pages out of a book. It’s rough going at the moment!

Prep your breakfast the night before. I will make either a smoothie or oatmeal with fruit and pop it in the fridge for the morning. Some days the thought of throwing together something to eat is exhausting. If you want more energy, add some spinach or green powder to your smoothie. I love The Daily Good greens from Aloha. Plus, the additional vitamins help keep your immune system up, something easily compromised as you lose sleep.

Weekly outings with Clint are important for me. You need to know there is life after sleep regression. You also need to know it is possible to have a relaxing life with your baby. It can be something as small as a quick trip to get groceries, or an all morning outing with the family on the weekend. Being in new environments also helps build confidence in yourself as a mother and increases a bond with your baby. At least, that’s how I feel about it. The background noise and different surroundings are good for your baby to be exposed to, while providing a welcome change of scenery for me as well!

Post Baby Wardrobe

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Getting back in pre-baby shape can be a real pain in the butt. Literally and figuratively. It’s also a battle you will never really win. If you don’t get back in shape fast enough, you are judged. You must not care. You certainly couldn’t be trying that hard! If you lose the weight too fast, then you are unhealthy. How dare you risk your health when you are raising a baby! Motherhood is full of double standards you will never survive unscathed. At the very least, you should be comfortable on your journey.

I don’t believe in spending a lot of money on “in between” clothes. I bought a handful of pregnancy clothes, but tried to use as many regular clothes as possible. The same philosophy applies to after pregnancy as well.

At ten pounds away from my goal weight, I’m still wearing my maternity jeans and tops at least half the time. I don’t want to risk stretching out my normal clothes and having to spend more money later. Plus, honestly, bending down to play with your baby is just easier in stretchy pants.

Bottoms:

To make my maternity jeans fit, I wear my belly band over the top of them and fold that and the top of my maternity jeans over. It acts like an elastic belt, and helps suck in your core a little bit as well! Most people will not be able to tell your jeans come with a stretchy waist, and if they do notice, they’re looking too closely anyway.

The reverse it true as well. As your every day pants begin to fit, use the belly band as an elastic belt to hold them up.

Footwear:

Easy to put on shoes are a life saver. Somedays you’re in such a haze getting the baby ready, you’re unsure if you can successfully do the same for yourself. Enter slip ons. I love Keds. I am a total soccer mom at heart on that one. These are rather fashionable as far as Keds go and you know you can safely navigate the stairs with your baby in your arms while wearing these.

Keds Chambray Stripe SneakersKeds Crashback Chambray Stripe Slip-On Sneaker

Tops:

Comfortable tops to wear while breast feeding can be tricky. Most days, I simply wear a camisole and throw a maternity shirt or tee over it before heading out the door. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll wear a tank like the one below. It’s flow so it doesn’t cling too tightly to your still healing belly. It’s also not too difficult to navigate while breast feeding.

Twisted Seam TankWho What Wear Twisted Seam Tank

Dresses:

If you’re heading back to a professional environment, or have a special event coming up you need a go to dress. I love this one and plan to wear it to Clint’s christening in October. Look for details like adjustable cinching around the waist. It’s equally forgiving and flattering.

Belted Slip DressWho What Wear Belted Slip Dress

Other bits:

Accessorize with whatever you feel is flattering. If you’re a new mom, chances are pampering yourself with a hot shower and tinted moisturizer will leave you feeling you can take on any obstacle coming your way. Your body will more than likely take a while to get back to your ideal shape, and that’s more than okay. Feeling your best often stems from dressing in a flattering manner. Even if that simply means having clean yoga pants to put on in the morning.

Don’t forget to take care of you, mamas! xx

Parenthood

Well our baby has arrived. After a very chaotic day of minor contractions while attending an OBGYN appointment in the city and running errands, that evening found us fighting rush hour traffic to get back downtown as my labor contractions hit hard late afternoon! Our little guy, Clinton (Clint),  arrived at 1:52 in the morning on June first after a relatively quick labor and a speedy delivery. To say you have no idea how much you can love someone until you have a child is undoubtedly true. I kept waking up and poking Clint just to make sure he was okay and I still think he’s the cutest thing ever created.

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We went home on Friday and the first few days and nights were rough, babies apparently have their days and nights confused which makes for a lot of long nights. Thankfully, Clint took to nursing easily after a couple of days and has been packing on the pounds ever since. We have established a relatively consistent schedule, and there have been two nights where I have been able to get four hours of consecutive sleep! He has already outgrown his newborn clothes and while I long to for full nights of sleep, I also know time will be going by all too quickly now. Dahu has proven a great, and surprisingly gentle, watchdog. She’s still working on some things but the most she’ll do is sniff him during tummy time, and even more intensely when he has a dirty diaper.

While we have years of learning experiences to come, here is some new parenting insight I can offer thus far:

  1. Don’t sweat what’s in your hospital bag. All really needed was clothes for the baby and I to go home in, though I could have even worn what I wore in, the clean clothes were nice.
  2. Stock up on freebies. When going to get the car, Tom had his hands full and then some. Take all the diapers and supplies you can get your hands on. We were also told the hospitals baby blankets, though not too cute, were excellent for swaddling once you got home.
  3. Don’t let the crying drive you insane. Clint isn’t too fussy. When he is, it’s pretty minor, unless it’s bath time, tummy time, or during a diaper change. He’s rather dramatic during all three. Babies sense stress and if you’re getting worked up, it will only make the baby worse. Stay calm and do the best you can. Easier said than done, I know, but I’m determined to raise calm children and this is the best method I know of at the moment.
  4. Sleep when they sleep. Sometimes. It sounds crazy, but maybe you’re too sleep deprived to sleep. Or maybe you need to use that nap time to do things around the house, take a shower, or just sit and do nothing for the first time in a few days. Eventually those naps will be used to run errands with him in the carrier and to get back into a workout regime, but for the first few weeks give yourself a break.
  5. Follow a healthy diet. If you’re breast feeding, drink as much water as you can stand. It helps your milk supply and it makes sure you and baby don’t get dehydrated. I eat three meals and two snacks, even if I don’t feel all that hungry. Otherwise, I start to get lightheaded or worse, hunger hits in the middle of a breast feeding marathon where I can’t move from the couch for and hour or more. Limit your carbs, stock up on protein and vegetables.
  6. They don’t need to be in a new ensemble everyday. Currently, I change his onesie every one to two days – obviously more if there’s spit up or a poop situation, or if he’s just had a bath. But keep the outfits simple. A onesie, socks, and baby mittens to keep them from scratching themselves is more than sufficient, especially for summer. Cover them in blankets when outside or during naps, and at night pajamas with buttons over his day outfit is our go to. The buttons let you take off the pj’s from the waist down for diaper changes without a drastic temperature change for the baby. I couldn’t imagine wrestling with pants or shorts every diaper change, regardless of how cute they made him look.
  7. Use your resources to your advantage. I feel badly for my mom. Every time she comes for a visit, she ends up helping me clean the house. I do what I can each day, typically one thing gets done: a load of laundry, sweeping the floors, wiping down the kitchen, but that’s my max. As it should be. Your priority is the baby, not a meticulous home, even though that admittedly drives me crazy at times.
  8. Read and sing to them. This study addresses the benefits of reading to your child beginning in infancy. Plus, it’s a wonderful bonding experience and a way for them to be exposed to the English language outside of all the baby talk they will have to endure. On that note, some baby talk is okay. I get it, they are really cute. However, you can always tell the children whose parents have actual conversations with them. They’re more rational, calmer, and are honestly more pleasant to be around than other children of that age.
  9. Don’t rush feedings. Feed them as much as they want, burp them properly, and rock them a bit before putting them back down. We have Clint in a swing during the day and his crib at night. The swing isn’t always on, as I don’t want him to get used to that! To shortcut feedings when you’re tired is tempting. Even when you don’t rush through things, they often fuss for an hour afterwards. Doing the process full out increases the likelihood they will sleep better, and for longer. Also, change their diaper whenever they wake up for feedings. Don’t wait until the diaper smells, is ready to explode, or there has already been a blowout! That makes everyone cranky.
  10. Bonus hospital tip: get the epidural (if you want)! I was determined to have a natural childbirth. How bad can it be? I thought! The contractions were bad on the way to the hospital, and once we arrived, they grew even worse. Like can’t talk, can’t breathe, pain in my abdomen and back and legs! We were at one of the best, if not the best, women’s hospitals in the city so when the time came, I opted for the epidural. Doing so allowed both of us to get some sleep before the delivery and made the delivery itself much less stressful for everyone involved. To each their own, but if you are comfortable with getting an epidural and have a knowledgeable medical staff on your side, I recommend it.

 

May Faves

I can’t believe May is almost over. This month may have been so overwhelming due to the baby prep, but we are officially ready to go. The car seat is in, the nursery is set up, and I have our dog’s specific daily schedule on the fridge. My mind is constantly going with different ways I can help prepare everything and ease the transition into parenthood. Here are a few things that have eased the tension or aided in the preparation process this past month.

Home Item

Microfiber cleaning cloths

Microfiber cleaning cloths – These things are amazing. Our dog doesn’t shed a lot, but a weekly vacuum also doesn’t cut it in our household. I bought a pack of these microfiber cloths to use in place of disposable Swiffer cloths. Wash them in cold water before use and I create a little pile of the used ones and wash them separately or with rags to ensure clothes don’t get covered in the process.

 

Nursery Items

Mist and Gray Owls crib blanket

Mist and Gray Owls musical mobile

Mist and Gray Owl blanket and musical mobile – I ordered both of these and the anticipated delivery date was mid June. In the happy news department, they arrived today and I love them both. The blanket will go with us to the hospital to keep the baby warm on the way home, and the mobile is adorable.

Simply Love crib sheet

Simply Love crib sheet – We’re trying to go gender neutral on a lot of items, saves money for future children and not everything needs to be cars and manly items. I got our crib sheets from Target, they’re lightweight and perfect for warm summer weather. This sheet in particular is my favorite, it’s just too sweet.

SnackChile Spiced Mango

Trader Joe’s chile spiced mango – I haven’t had many cravings. There was one night I was beyond obsessed with getting my hands on KFC, but outside of that my indulgences haven’t been abnormal. The exception may be TJ’s chile spiced mango. To say I could go through an entire package in one sitting is an understatement. The longest one of these packages has lasted is three days, and that’s only because I forgot I had it! The dried mango is chewy, somewhat sweet, and not overly spicy. Delicious.

Go to Dress
Motherhood-Maternity-Black-Maxi-Dress

Motherhood Maternity Maxi Dress – The weather here is either rainy, cold, or unbearably hot. It’s remarkable how I can never seem to be comfortable. This dress looks fancy enough for a dinner out and it’s comfortable enough to wear to the dog park on an oppressively hot day. Trust me, I’ve done it.

Way to Pass the Day

Agatha Christie’s Poirot on Audible – I spend a lot of time organizing, cleaning, and walking the dog. Sometimes it’s nice to put a good book and zone out. I love Christie’s Hercule Poirot, I’ve seen nearly every episode on Netflix, but I can’t Netflix and walk so Audible is a great substitute. Most of them are narrated by none other than Hugh Fraser, aka Captain Hastings in the television series. You’re welcome in advance!

Building a Maternity Wardrobe

Having to spend a large sum on, essentially, an entire new wardrobe is a great cause for panic. Especially when you know new baby costs are just around the corner. As I enter month eight of my pregnancy, I am satisfied to say I own a number of appropriate items without going too maternity clothes crazy.

The best advice I received, though I doubted it at the time, was to buy what you need as you need it. I thought this approach was not nearly proactive enough and I would wake up one day with nothing to wear. I did get a jump start on things around Christmas time as my mom bought a number of winter appropriate tops for me, but outside of that I’ve picked items up as I’ve gone along. So what do you really need to buy? It may be different for you than it is for me. I’ve gained a healthy amount of weight, but I can still fit in a number of my shirts, as they are a stretchier fabric. Though I am measuring fine, I don’t look as far along as I am. So, fitted shirts are far more preferable and comfortable than their loose, overwhelming counterparts. Those disclaimers being said, here is what I recommend.

Building a Maternity Wardrobe

Topstees and tanks layered under your current sweaters and cardigans for colder days, then they transition easily into spring/summer months.
Belly Band – this will help hold your pre-pregnancy pants up when you need to unbutton, and they hold up your maternity jeans when your belly doesn’t quite fill them out yet. The first couple of months fold the band in half to make it tighter, then you can wear it across the belly as shown.
Leggings – any kind you have will likely work for a few months, come second trimester you will want an over the belly pair
Jeans – skinny and boot cut are ideal
Comfortable shoes – the basic Keds tennis shoe will always be my go to, recently I also picked up a pair of these slip ons for when shoe tying gets too hard. A nice bonus? The padding in the slip ons is excellent.
Underwear – if your fanny grows in the slightest, get yourself some new underwear. I am in love with these Calvin Klein super comfortable no show panties. Some reviews say they can run small. I ordered a size up from my usual because, duh, pregnancy.
Compression socks and stockings – if you are like me and pregnancy has given you the gift of cankels and varicose veins, get yourself some compression gear stat. And then find a good vein surgeon post pregnancy to fix those guys, I know I will. The higher the “mmHG” the more compression they provide.
Yoga Pants – I am still wearing the same size and style of yoga pants as before, though I have had to buy additional pairs as I wear them so often. This is one area I don’t plan to have to buy an “over the belly” variety.
Dresses – I can’t speak much to this category. It’s still a little chilly for dresses in the Chicago area, but I will be going to get a baby shower dress this weekend. I am picturing a flowy, effortless maxi dress style.

Tips:
– You can get these items anywhere, but be aware of the price. Target had the best price on the belly band (called beband) and every day tanks and shirts. Motherhood Maternity had the best full length legging price – they can run nearly $100 a pair elsewhere, and I got my jeans there during a sale.
– If you gain a “normal” amount of weight, you will likely buy everything in your pre-pregnancy size, but don’t be afraid to try on before you buy. For example, most everything I buy is a small. However, the Liz Lange tees from Target fit my chest better in a medium, even though the tank tops fit me better in a small.
– Keep wearing your normal clothes as long as they are comfortable and any additional stretching isn’t causing damage to the fabric.
– Remember, you aren’t pregnant for that long, so unless you work in a very fashionably demanding field or just love maternity wear, don’t feel pressured to overbuy. Buy what makes you feel good – maybe you don’t like fitted clothing –  and enough of it for you to be comfortable – have at least a weeks worth of tops, underwear, and pants you can wear without being required to do laundry. Also, store your maternity clothes properly whenever you are able to wear your everyday clothes again. This ensures they won’t get lost or damaged should you need them, or a pregnant friend want to borrow them, in the future.

Baby Registry 101

Baby Registry

As first time parents we not only have no idea what we are getting ourselves into, we also have no supplies to help us take on this adventure. What do we register for? Furniture, changing pad, stroller, obvious. What about everything else? Do I really need to register for blankets and onesies? How intensely serious should I take reviews? It’s a mentally exhausting process. We spent maybe half an hour at a baby store checking out stroller quality and dimensions of bedroom furniture and honestly that is all the time I wanted to spent there. I didn’t want the pressure and overwhelm of a baby registry consultant guiding us item by item, I wanted to google what we might require and set down at my computer to research and register.

I read a handful of articles about what is useful and what isn’t, this one I certainly agree with. I also asked some friends and created a list of what I believed we would use, need, and not want or be able to get for ourselves. Some of the best advice I received?

  • Don’t register for every last detail, blankets, toys, clothes, UNLESS you want something specific. For example, there is an adorable picture I have had my eye on for a year, so I added it to our registry. Plus, People will often get you the small stuff, like bibs, diapers, or outfits as gifts.
  • Test drive the big things. This was more of a personal revelation. I had one specific stroller/travel set in mind, this is what I was going to register for and that’s that. However, once we went to the store and compared that stroller to a similar one, I immediately changed my mind. We registered for what we consider to be a higher quality, and ironically more cost effective, stroller.
  • Do you really need it? I received recommendations about a co-sleeper aka bassinet from friends and was planning to get that very one. However, our nursery is right across from our bedroom, I would never bring the bassinet around the house or to another location, and I ultimately felt it was an unnecessary pricey item that our baby would outgrow in a few months anyway.
  • Will it last? I plan to buy these “big items” one time, so getting something of quality is crucial. Not only will it ensure better safety for each child as the items are not manufactured cheaply, it will also help with the longevity. Also consider some gender neutral items, or at least don’t get everything in magenta if you plan on having future children as your possible future son will not appreciate such things. We are having a boy, but his teal stroller and gray diaper bag will work just as well for his possible future sister.
  • Where are you registering? I opted to register at Babylist instead of individual stores. First of all, I wanted items from a number of places and I didn’t want to have a mile long list of “The couple is registered at…” Another perk, the site offers buying options. Maybe one item is cheaper on Amazon or at Target, Babylist will tell the buyer the cheapest place to purchase, while allowing that purchase to be attributed to your registry. And maybe my favorite thing? You get an email each time someone buys you an item. It’s like Christmas in your inbox every day.

All that said, any and all things baby related we are certainly learning as we go along. Next on the baby agenda? Registering at the hospital and getting the nursery deep cleaned and ready for the arrival of baby gifts!