What My One Year Old Taught Me

We made it! Our sweet little Violet is one year old and we can say we made it through the first year of parenting. It has been more challenging, tear-inducing, sleepless and wonderful than we ever could have imagined and we are so so grateful for our amazing little one but I firmly believe that honesty is the most important thing when we talk about being a parent so here we are. In the age of social media it’s incredibly easy to feel like you are the failure if your life doesn’t look like a beautiful instagram feed and the curse of comparison is a tragic symptom of being an over-tired, sometimes frazzled new parent.

Over the past year, I’ve spent so many nights Googling symptoms, behaviors, and quirks, so sure she had some incurable ailment that would take her away from us and spent many many nights worried that other moms weren’t feeling what I was feeling. In my attempts to alleviate my fears, I searched for list-alls that shed light on what moms ahead of me knew that I didn’t. Wisdom that only a veteran mom could share because motherhood in the first year is lonely, terrifying and joyful all in the same breath. So now it’s my turn to share and it’s my hope that somewhere a new parent is reading this,  snuggling their newborn babe who just won’t sleep anywhere but their arms and that person no longer feels alone.  I’m here for you. I was you and I still am today. I hope you find this post on a dark day when you can’t remember the last time you showered and all the breast pump pieces or bottles are dirty. I hope you read this and know that I’m with you and you will get there. I promise.

Your Birth Story Matters but It’s Not Everything
Violet entered this world in a shit storm of chaos and the only word I have to describe it is traumatic. I’m grateful that I avoided an emergency C-Section and it very well could have ended worse but that does not invalidate my experience. Her first 48 hours of life were filled with IV’s, medications, and worry that something would be wrong. That our puffy, bruised new love wouldn’t come home with us or that there would be lasting effects of her birth that would impact her long term. But it didn’t. Even if it had, we’ve learned over the past year that we can do hard things. We can take on challenges and put one foot in front of the other until we get to where we want to be, or at least moving in the right direction. If your little one came into the world in ways that still leaves you bruised, mentally or physically, know that it’s okay to not be okay for a while but it’s important to talk to others about how you’re feeling in order to heal. Remember that no matter where you are right now, you made it through.

It’s Okay to Not Have a Routine
We are two working parents with conflicting schedules who still want to maintain some sense of autonomy. We travel, have hobbies, work long hours and try to get to the gym when we can. That means we rely heavily on other caregivers for our babe. Daycare, grandmas and aunties all play a role in loving on our girl and help to ensure that we can sneak in a workout or take the evening meeting. Because of this, sometimes bedtime is later than usual. Sometimes we skip bath time or she falls asleep in our arms because we were gone all day and missed her. Will this make her a resilient little lady? I like to think so. Moral of the story, do what you can and don’t be afraid to ask for or accept help.

Co-Sleeping is Not the End of the World
I told myself my child would never sleep in my bed. Sometimes she does because it’s the only way she will sleep. Sometimes it’s because we missed her and want her close. Sometimes it’s because it’s the weekend and sleepovers are fun. Whatever your reasons are, know that you are the parent and you call the shots. If you’re co-sleeping and don’t want to be, look into resources that can help you. But don’t feel like you’re doing something wrong by snuggling that babe close. They’re little for such a short amount of time and I’m choosing not to regret these precious, sleepy moments with her.

You Have to Keep Taking Care of You
Let me be clear. This does not mean rushing to lose the baby weight, fitting into your pre-baby clothes or crushing your soul trying to look like you have it all together. I will forever advocate for a healthy lifestyle but I know all too well that it’s hard and sometimes what you value and how you behave do not always align. So focus on a few things you can do to help take care of your well being. Move your body, fast or slow, at home or in the gym, and know that it’s a gift to yourself to get that time. Drink lots of water. I’ve spent 365 days mainlining coffee but my hair, skin, and organs thank me for the 100+ ounces of water I consume daily. Eat your vegetables. Let your body know that yes, those pregnancy cravings did a number on your taste buds but hostess snack cakes cannot be the new normal 6 days a week and lastly, remove the guilt. I spent the first 10 months of Violet’s life feeling guilty for not working out, for not working out hard enough when I did, for food choices I did or didn’t make and for not being closer to my goals. It wasn’t until I shifted my routine, found something new that worked for me, and stopped applying a skewed sense of worth to everything, that I started to feel more like me.

Your Relationship Will Change & That’s a Good Thing
If you are a parent you know what I mean. Touch overload is a real thing and when you have a baby clawing at you all day long, it’s easy to feel burnt out and have nothing left at the end of the day when it’s just you and your partner. You will argue about who changed more diapers and why you deserve a break. You’ll be short tempered and crave time by yourself. But you will also have a best friend who eagerly sends photos of your baby back and forth, trying to top the cuteness. You will become people who discuss poop color, texture and frequency without batting an eye. You will find so much joy in your little human doing basic skills and discuss how sure you both are that she’s smarter than any other baby around. You will commiserate during teething and lean on each other when she’s sick and neither of you can sleep. You will love them completely and want to punch them in the face and that’s totally and completely normal. Communicate. Ask for help. Be honest and remember that your baby came into the life you had already built together.

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Creating a peaceful home with Essential Oils

In our house, we love using essential oils. There are so many great uses and benefits that these handy little helpers boast, I could truly go on and on about them.. But today I’m going to share my favorite oils and how you can use them to create peace in your home.

Lemon

Now, I don’t know about you but my house is a lot more peaceful when it’s clean.. I would like to introduce my odor killing, grease busting friend, Lemon. This little powerhouse lives next to my kitchen sink. After dinner is done, the dishes get washed and our sink is promptly cleaned and wiped down with Lemon Essential Oil. Not only does it cut through grease and grime but it has antibacterial properties and gives off a fresh clean scent that sticks around. Place a few drops in the bottom of your clean sink and a couple on your sponge to keep things smelling fresh and happy. Bye, stinky bacon grease.

Thieves or On Guard blends

This powerful combination of Clove, Citrus, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus and Rosemary promotes a healthy immune system and guards against seasonal and environmental threats. Put these oils to use when you are deep cleaning and sanitizing your home. Consider purchasing a cleaner concentrate of these proprietary blends to naturally disinfect surfaces and deodorize carpets and upholstery. I use these oils to clean my kitchen counters and table, spray down mattresses when replacing bedding and deodorize carpets after vacuuming. Having a home free of pet and everyday odors is a first step to creating a more peaceful environment in your home.

Lavender & Chamomile

These calming oils pair well in your bedroom to promote good sleep and reduce anxiety. Place a few drops of each in a cool mist diffuser before bed and enjoy a spa-like aroma and better quality sleep. Even better, put down your phone and pair this routine with a cup of sleepytime tea and good book. Breathe deep and enjoy the long list of benefits that Lavender and Chamomile have to offer.

Valor or Balance Blends

Perhaps my absolute favorite essential oil by far, Balance by doTERRA. The blend of Spruce, Ho Wood, Frankincense, Blue Tansy, Blue Chamomile and Coconut Oil promotes feelings of relaxation and calm and the sweet woody aroma is so grounding and peaceful. I regularly diffuse this oil in my sons room and in other shared spaces of the home. This blend is ideal for stabilizing emotions and creating a tranquil environment. This blend or it’s similar counterparts is a must have for creating peace in your home.

Creating peace in our home is so important to us as parents and adults with full time jobs. Having a sanctuary to come home to is essential for our mental health and creating a healthy and comforting environment for our son. I hope you enjoy these awesome oils and their benefits as much as me and my family.

Laura_Signature

 

 


Garbage Mom

It started as a running joke between Emily and I, “You’re a Garbage Mom”. My husband is an accountant at a waste and recycling company so you can see where the humor stems from.

We coined the term and use it when the struggle of momhood is all too real. You all know what I’m talking about. Those days when the chaos snowballs and you turn your back for a second and your toddler is eating hair conditioner in the bathtub. Ya, I can be a garbage mom some days but I don’t consider it a put-down. It’s a way of laughing at the craziness and keeping things in perspective especially with social media being such a huge influence on us moms.

I wasn’t prepared for the judgement and competitiveness from other parents when I became a mom. For me it started in the hospital. I had my mind made up, I only wanted to pump when my son was born so my husband and I could both enjoy bottle feeding our son. And if it didn’t work out, so be it! Fed is best. Right?

Picture me, all alone in a hospital bed with a newborn baby. My husband went home to get some sleep and take care of our dog. I have gotten 2 hours of sleep in a 48 hour period. It’s 2 am and I ask the nurse for a bottle so I can feed my crying baby and get some much needed sleep. She looked me in my tired eyes that were starting to form tears and said, “Breast is best.” and left the room.

I will never forget those words and the sting I felt. I was no longer the doted-on mother-to-be. My wishes did not matter. I was simply a vessel, a source of food. Whether I got sleep or time to heal wasn’t an issue. That was my decision to make, not hers but that night she won. To this day, I wish I would have had the emotional strength to say something in that moment. But the exhaustion and hormonal crash I was riding suppressed it.

I ended up pumping for 2.5 months and I absolutely hated it but was so proud of myself and grateful I was able to give my baby what he needed for that time. I was so relieved the day I packed up my breast pump and put it in storage. I was never able to produce enough and always supplemented with formula. I got a bad case of mastitis when Oakes was 2 weeks old and that was the most painful and exhausting thing to go through while still trying to heal and take care of a newborn.. I was proud of the mountain I climbed and happy it was over and I have zero shame in admitting that. Pumping was so challenging, exhausting and alienating for me and Oakes needed a happy and healthy mama more than he needed a couple more ounces of breast milk.

I was shocked by the amount of people who asked or assumed that I breastfed my baby. Like it was any of their business… I also got the unwanted “advice” from those who were clearly judging me for giving it up and had no problem of their own producing a freezer full of supply while blindfolded and standing on one leg… There were also the mom’s who judged me for getting an epidural and vaccinating my son. What happened to this “mom tribe” I heard such great things about that was supposed to be full of supportive, non-judgmental women?

Well I am here for you! Breast fed or formula fed, epidural or all natural, cloth diapers or disposable. Our personal decisions shouldn’t prevent us from supporting each other. There is more than one right way to be a good parent.

Give advice when asked and be supportive always. 

Maybe I’m a garbage mom because I didn’t breast feed. Maybe I’m a garbage mom because I didn’t get any photos of my son’s first Easter. Maybe I’m a garbage mom because I fed him hot dogs for dinner 3 nights in a row last week. But maybe I’m a good mom because my son is always fed. Maybe I’m a good mom because I spent a whole day with my family free of cell phones. Maybe I’m a good mom because I skimped on dinnertime so I could make sure everyone had clean clothes.

The very fact that you worry about being a good mom means that you already are one. Be kind. We’re all garbage moms and we’re all good moms.

Laura_Signature


Taking a Step Back & Why That’s Okay.

You may or may not have noticed that the blog has been quiet for two weeks. Two weeks of “rest” in the least literal sense of the word. Birthdays were celebrated, teeth were grown, babies did or didn’t sleep and work forged on. But as a team, we took a step back because we knew that this space would still be here when we returned. Although there was some guilt and apologies muttered back and forth about our mom fails, we ultimately knew that this rest was needed and these feelings of guilt for taking time off was something we wanted to address.

It’s so easy to take a look at your past week and think, “I literally accomplished none of what I wanted to get done” and if that’s you today, I want you to know that you’re not alone. BUT and that’s a really BIG but, I also want you to know that your worth as a mom, a wife, an employee, girl boss, etc. is not based on your productivity. There I said it. The professional list maker is taking a stance- your to do list does not assign value to you as a human being. We often get sucked into the cycle of feeling like in order to live our best life, the way Instagram intended, that we need to hustle and to some extent that’s true but your hustle might not look the same from week to week. Sometimes taking a step back is what you need to propel yourself forward.

So that’s what we did. We took a step back and I’ve found myself doing that in more areas of my life than just our mommy blog endeavors. I’ve taken a step back from feeling like I have to constantly be working towards the next step in my career. I’ve always pushed myself to do the next thing, take the next opportunity or improve my credentials even when I didn’t know what I wanted to do (and most days still don’t). So I made the decision to take the summer to just enjoy where I’m at now and giving myself that permission to find peace in the present has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. I’ve also taken a step back from the seven day a week workout grind I new so well but just wasn’t working for me when I transitioned into motherhood. I felt like I was failing if I wasn’t getting up at 5 a.m. or if I ever missed a day. So I went back to workout classes that I love, four days a week and force me to be social and require me to be away from Violet. This new level of accountability is what I felt like I needed, even if on paper it seems more complicated or time consuming that before. I’ve also taken a step back from trying to make everything perfect. If I don’t get the dog hair vacuumed up, then the world will still turn.

So in case you needed to hear this on a Friday, I’ve got your back. You are doing/being/feeling enough but if you feel like you’re stuck in the chaos, it’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to change your focus and it’s okay to try something new. You make the rules. Remember that.

 

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True Life: We’re Co-Sleepers

It’s true. Our dirty little secret is out in the open. I’ve been pretty forthcoming about the fact that our ll month old daughter, Violet, is no longer sleeping through the night but what I haven’t shared about as much, is that she sleeps with us most of the time. Before I dive into the why, the how, and our struggles with it, I just want to be clear. We are not looking for people to weigh in on our choices. We have some amazing friends and family in our lives who have given us great resources but at the end of the day, we are the parents and whatever we choose for her, is what’s best.

Violet has always been a really great sleeper since birth. She was very self-regulatory which meant a routine wasn’t really an issue. She got sleepy at the same times every day, didn’t want to be swaddled but slept in her bassinet on her back very well. We did use a Snuggle Me Organic lounger in her bassinet (gasp!) but promptly transitioned out of that when she began rolling over. She moved to her own room at around 6 1/2 months and had no issues. She slept until after 6:00 a.m. most days and was not taking night bottles anymore.

Fast forward to February of this year. Girlfriend was around 8 months when she got a terrible cold. I’m talking choking on her own snot, fever, can’t go to daycare, SICK. Because we are new parents and terrified of RSV, we let her sleep with us so we could keep a better eye on her. This was mostly for our sake and I 100% take responsibility for that one. Cut to the next week and we’re on vacation- a strange place and literally hundreds of new experiences/foods/sites a day. She slept in our bed for that entire week. When we returned home, we had a few good nights but ultimately began waking up multiple times a night to soothe her. The only way she (and we) would get any sleep was by snuggling up between us in our bed. Mind you, our sleep wasn’t nearly as fitful as hers but any sleep was better than no sleep for two parents who work full time and then some.

So now as we are coming up on her first birthday, she is STILL in our bed. She falls asleep in our arms, gets put in her own bed, and then when she does inevitably wake between 1:00-2:00 a.m., we take turns getting up and bringing her in the sleep the rest of the night. Ya’ll sleep deprivation is REAL and sometimes we just need a few hours of crappy sleep if the alternative is no sleep at all. Having an emotionally charged, stand-off in her room at 2:00 a.m. doesn’t feel so helpful when I have to be up for work in 4 hours. And yes, we’ve read up on sleep techniques and know the importance of routine but we are working parents in 2019 who also rely on other caregivers for our child so sometimes we’ve just gotta go with the flow.

So we’ve been co-sleeping for almost three months and although we would like to have her in her own bed sooner rather than later, it’s not all bad. Co-sleeping has helped us feel safe. When she’s sick or we’ve had a weird day, we like to keep her close. Yes it has it’s downsides but she will leave us one day and that day will come far too soon. There’s really nothing better than when she wakes in the night and wiggles herself closer to get a good cuddle. If she needs a snuggle to feel safe, then who am I to deny her? Violet is also down to one nap a day if we’re lucky- I’m not kidding this girl doesn’t sleep! So if co-sleeping helps her get ample rest, then that’s what we’re going to do.

There’s a ton of stigma around co-sleeping and I’ve literally said (more than once) that I would never let my child sleep in my bed. But here we are. I’ve talked to so many moms who co-sleep with their children but don’t really talk about it because of other people’s perceptions of it. But co-sleeping can be tough, even if it’s by choice and it feels a whole lot better to talk through those things with moms who get it, without fear of being mom-shamed. So if you’re there with me now, I’m sending good vibes and coffee your way, and if you don’t co-sleep now, just remember that one day you may have to. Be kind to moms who do things differently than you and be kind to yourself because there’s no rulebook for this parenting thing and sometimes you’ve just gotta roll with it.

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5 Chicken Freezer Meals

Happy Monday, beautiful! Today I am going to share with you a super simple meal prep that can be done in 30 minutes that yields 5 easy dinners that can be tossed together in a pan or insta pot. These meals are easily prepared with fresh fruits and veggies, steamer rice or even in a delicious spinach wrap. They’re versatile, easy and make dinner time a breeze.

Chicken is the protein of choice in our house so I start with about 3.5-4 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts. That’s about 6 chicken breasts. I dice up my chicken into bite size pieces and distribute evenly to 5 freezer bags. Now, these meals are made for about 2.5 people so if there are more mouths to feed in your house, simply adjust the amount of chicken you need. Once you have the diced chicken divided up into their bags, we can start adding the rest of our ingredients.

The recipes of choice in our house this week are:

  • Honey Mustard Chicken
  • Honey Pepper Chicken
  • Sesame Chicken
  • Southwest Chicken
  • Buffalo Chicken

The nice thing about this meal prep is that there is no chopping up vegetables. I like to keep items like steamer rice, fresh broccoli and greens, spinach wraps and cauliflower rice on hand to pair with these recipes.


Honey Mustard Chicken

  • 2 cups cubed chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp grain mustard
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp cracked pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 sweet onion or chopped green onion (optional)

Put ingredients into freezer bag and shake to incorporate. Release the air, label with the date and contents and freeze. To prepare, thaw and toss contents into a frying pan on medium heat or into your crockpot or insta pot until chicken is well done. Serve with rice and fresh veggies.


Honey Pepper Chicken

  • 2 cups cubed chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • 1/2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cracked pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Put ingredients into freezer bag and shake to incorporate. Release the air, label with the date and contents and freeze. To prepare, thaw and toss contents into a frying pan on medium heat or into your crockpot or insta pot until chicken is well done. Serve with rice and fresh veggies.


Sesame Chicken

  • 2 cups cubed chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • chopped green onion & sesame seeds (optional)

Put ingredients into freezer bag and shake to incorporate. Release the air, label with the date and contents and freeze. To prepare, thaw and toss contents into a frying pan on medium heat or into your crockpot or insta pot until chicken is well done. Serve with rice and steamed broccoli.


Southwest Chicken

  • 2 cups cubed chicken breasts
  • 1/2 can of yellow corn
  • 1/2 can of black beans
  • 4-5 tablespoons of salsa
  • 1/2 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put ingredients into freezer bag and shake to incorporate. Release the air, label with the date and contents and freeze. To prepare, thaw and toss contents into a frying pan on medium heat or into your crockpot or insta pot until chicken is well done. Serve over rice, in a tortilla, use as a base for burritos or quesadillas.


Buffalo Chicken

  • 2 cups cubed chicken breasts
  • 1/2 can of yellow corn
  • 1/2 can of black beans
  • 2 tbsp ranch dressing
  • 4 tbsp buffalo sauce (or more if you LOVE buffalo)
  • chopped white onion or green onion (optional)

Put ingredients into freezer bag and shake to incorporate. Release the air, label with the date and contents and freeze. To prepare, thaw and toss contents into a frying pan on medium heat or into your crockpot or insta pot until chicken is well done. Serve as a salad over greens or in a spinach wrap.


 

Full honesty, I eyeball a lot of my ingredients instead of measuring them out. So use what you have, feel free to experiment and enjoy having some easy meals on hand to keep your weeknights simple. Enjoy!

Laura_Signature