Family, Pregnancy

Thoughtful {Unique} Baby Gifts

August 2, 2017

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Let’s talk baby gifts, shall we? I want to be a better gift giver, and slowly but surely I’m learning how to be thanks to my mom friends who are great gift-givers themselves. A few of my close friends come to mind, the ones who always have the most unique, pretty and fun gift ideas. Not necessarily extravagant, per se, just spot-on and thoughtful. After having a second baby, and having a ton of friends and family having babies, gift giving has been on my mind. Here are a few of my favorite gifts for babies and new-moms. Not necessarily must-have products but gifts mom will be happy to receive.

1. Comfy Clothes or Gift Card
This is my #1 gift for a new mom. Because chances are she isn’t about to spend money on clothes when her body is in such a time of transition, but a few new items of clothing do wonders for the self-esteem when you’re in such a strange time with your body and living in sweat pants and t-shirts and workout gear. Gift cards to Old Navy have been a go-to for me because you can get a lot of bang for your buck, as well as cute mom-focused t-shirts from The Be Brand, my new favorite mom-gear shop online.

2. Solly Baby Swaddles
I’ve been given these and gifted these quite a few times in the last couple months. I LOVE how soft and stretchy they are – so much better than the muslin swaddles that everyone gifts. They work as burp cloths, swaddles, blankets, sun shades, etc. They are so super soft and stretchy and something I wouldn’t have splurged on for myself but SO appreciate being gifted.

3. A Box of Bows Subscription 
We LOVE A Little Lady Shop hair bows in our house for the girls and they have a cute little “Box of Bows” monthly subscription that you can gift. How fun, right? I love gifting the bow subscription to new girl mommas, especially if its their first girl!

4. Unique Art
I realize that art is really personal, but I think that gifting a print from a place like Minted is so super sweet and thoughtful if you know what baby’s room looks like and mom’s personal style.

5. Baby Play Mat 
I love this Polar Bear Baby Play Mat from Land of Nod. I was gifted something similar from Pottery Barn when Ainsley was born. It was totally something I would never have purchased on my own but I love that it’s designed for baby yet looks cute in your home. Win-win, right?

6. The Gift of Time
When you have a new baby, everyone says “If you need anything, let me know!” But that is so open-ended and most people I know are hesitant to reach out and actually take you up on the offer. I would suggest being more specific, gifting a card along with some time slots that work for you to stop by and help. Saying “I have Tuesday mornings from 9-11:30 available and would love to gift two mornings of my time to you to help out around the house.” or “I would love to take your toddler off your hands for three mornings in the next couple months as a gift to you. Monday or Wednesday mornings work for me!” is the kind of specificity that most moms need to take you up on your offer.

7. The Gift of a Clean Home
When Collins was born, my Beautycounter team gifted me a clean house! Okay, they pre-paid the gal who cleans our house for 9 cleaning sessions. What a luxury! A dirty house stresses me out to no end, so having a clean house during a time of transition and chaos was the most wonderful gift I could have been given.

8. Food Gift Cards
People tend to bring meals during the first two or three weeks after baby is born, but really, I found that I needed the meals and help more as baby girl got older and fussier. The first two weeks were total bliss. Collins slept all the time, she was very easygoing and chill, and life was good. And then the third week rolled around and she woke up, got fussier and gassier, and was generally just a bit more difficult for a few weeks. I felt totally overwhelmed and those that brought meals a little later were much appreciated! That said, gift cards would have been equally welcome!

Family, Pregnancy

Postpartum Vitamin & Supplement Routine

August 1, 2017

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Hi, friends! We are back from family vacation and I’m busy digging into a new week and a new month. It seems almost weekly that I get questions from readers and friends about my favorite supplements and vitamins, and while I’m certainly not an expert, I have done my research and found products that work well for me and my body. The postpartum period is a time when nutrition is extremely important. The postpartum body has gone through a LOT and nourishing it and fueling it appropriately is key to having a good recovery. Plus, our bodies are going through so much change (including lack of sleep) so any extra edge or boost I can get is welcome.

So, all that said, here is what has been working well for me at nearly 3 months postpartum*

1. Garden of Life My Kind Organics Once Daily Prenatal
I love the once-daily format of this prenatal. In the past I’ve taken prenatal vitamins that require you to take multiple pills each day, but I just couldn’t remember to do so consistently. I love Garden of Life products because their vitamins are all made from whole food sources and this prenatal contains folate, not folic acid, a very important deciding factor for me.

2. Bio Cleanse 
I’ve been using the Bio Cleanse since Collins was born after a friend recommended it to me. It’s a supplement made up primarily of magnesium and vitamin C with the goal of helping promote regularity and reduce gas/bloating. I took magnesium throughout my pregnancy to help with cramping and pregnancy insomnia. And since pregnancy has a way of doing a number on your stomach, any extra assistance in keeping things moving is good in my book.

3. ProBio 5 
Again, I’ve been taking ProBio 5 for over a year as I’ve tried to focus on repairing my gut health in an effort not to get sick quite as often as I have in the past. There are lots of great probiotics on the market, but this has been the one that I’ve stuck with.

4. Iron Supplement (HemeVite Plus)
I’m a vegetarian and tend to always be on the lower end of normal as far as iron is concerned. In fact, during my pregnancy with Ainsley I had the worst headaches until I started increasing my iron intake! I know iron can bother some people’s stomachs, but I’ve had zero issues with this brand. I take one pill per day

5. Water, water, water
I’m working on being more intentional about my water intake. Whenever I feel tired or worn down, I just chug a couple large glasses of water. 😉 And since I drink a lot of coffee, too, I try to balance out my coffee in take with water to stay hydrated and energized.

6. OmegaBrite Fish Oil
This was recommended to me by a doctor as one of the higher quality fish oils. In fact, some of the major studies done on mental health and fish oil used this particular brand. Since our family doesn’t eat a lot of fish because it’s hard to come by in small town Iowa, I’ve tried my best to be more diligent about taking a fish oil supplement.

*affiliate links included
**I’m not a doctor or medical professional. All advice is my personal opinions and you should consult your doctor before taking any supplements.

Uncategorized

Independent Play and the Working Mom

July 25, 2017

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This post is sponsored by North States Industries. I was compensated for my work. All thoughts and opinions are

my own. 

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Being a work at home mom (WAHM) has been one of the biggest blessings and challenges of my career. When I worked a corporate 40-hour per week job I dreamed about having a flexible work schedule, setting my own hours and working when it worked for me, spending plenty of time with my kids along the way. And while being your own boss IS amazing in a thousand different ways, being a WAHM is also seriously challenging at times.

Now that I’m a year and a half into this work at home thing, I’m just starting to feel like we’re finding a rhythm – a way for me to get the work done that I need to while spending as much time as I can with my girls. I told Joe that last year would be my “year of learning” as I figured out how much childcare I needed, how to juggle my clients and what projects to say “yes” to. Hint: Saying “no” is hard as a freelancer but often necessary.

One of the unexpected benefits of working from home has been the fact that Ainsley (and hopefully Collins down the road) has learned the art of independent play. I try to not work around Ainsley more than I need to, but sometimes I do sneak in a little work during the days when I don’t have childcare lined up or a babysitter cancels or a deadline looms.

When North States asked if I would be interested in reviewing their Superyard Classic Play Yard, I jumped at the chance. Knowing that Collins will be mobile in the blink of an eye, I figured having a portable play yard would come in handy. A play yard is one product I didn’t buy when Ainsley was younger that I wished I had! But when the play yard arrived, it surprised me how much Ainsley loved playing with her toys inside the play yard. Over the last week we’ve covered it with blankets to make a fort, used it as a place to contain all her Legos and as a cage for the zoo animals (aka our dog Pippa.)

It’s amazed me how much use we’ve gotten out of the play yard already, allowing me to get a little work done around the house, too. And as Collins gets older, I’m looking forward to using it to keep a mobile baby contained in a safe play space in the house. Want to see the Superyard Classic in action? Check it out in our home below.

The best news? North States graciously agreed to give away one Superyard Classic Play Yard to an Espresso and Cream reader. Enter to win below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Family, Pregnancy

Breastfeeding, Bottle Feeding and Supplementing :: The Second Time Around

July 6, 2017

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A few weeks ago on Instagram I promised that I would write this post. And yet here I am, two weeks later, still kicking the can down the road and avoiding writing about the topic of breastfeeding, bottle feeding, supplementing. Not because I’m afraid to write about the topic, but because it’s a complicated subject – one that I feel different about daily. Chances are, if you’re a mom, you understand what I’m talking about. Because in the long run, it’s something that doesn’t really matter that much, and yet it matters so much when you’re in the thick of the newborn and baby days.

Let’s back up a little bit first. While I was preparing for Collins to arrive I debating not breastfeeding at all. Not a flippant comment here and there, but rather a very real conversation with Joe about not even giving it a shot. Having had a less than ideal breastfeeding (err pumping) journey with Ainsley, I was traumatized by the experience and not at all keen for a repeat. Exclusive pumping is not for the faint of heart!

I was never one of those people who dreamed about breastfeeding my child. And having formula fed Ainsley after four months of pumping, it made me realize that formula was, in fact, quite a wonderful thing. Nutritionally inferior to breastmilk? Yes, there’s no debating that. But a fantastic second option. Yet time and time again with both pregnancies I was met with plenty of unsolicited “Breast is Best” messaging. I still remember getting a call from a survey taker from the Minnesota state government after Ainsley was born and giving them an earful about how I didn’t want to have breastfeeding pushed on me any more than it already had been.

So this time around I promised myself: no guilt, no struggling to breastfeed, no exclusive pumping around the clock to keep up my supply. Joe and I decided that my goal would be two weeks of breastfeeding to give Collins the colostrum and early milk and then if it wasn’t working I would switch over to formula. My two week goal came and went, and I continued to breastfeed. I’m fairly certain that few moms would classify breastfeeding as “easy” but it was workable, a few issues with over-supply aside.

A lot of the stories about breastfeeding and switching over to formula that you find on the internet usually revolve around times when a mom has no other choice – baby isn’t gaining weight, mom doesn’t have enough supply, latching isn’t working, etc. But what about when it is working? With Ainsley, I had very little guilt about not breastfeeding because her lip gap caused major latch issues that I don’t think we could have overcome. It was my out, my valid excuse for switching to bottles. And then eventually, dropping the exclusive pumping routine and switching to formula. But with Collins? What was my reasoning? What would I tell others who asked?

At the end of the day I don’t really have a major reason. But here’s what I do know: Breastfeeding was not, for me, a blissful bonding experience with my baby. Having bottle fed Ainsley for a year, I knew enough to realize that I enjoyed bottle feeding my baby more than I did breastfeeding her. I could kiss her head and look into her eyes without the stress of whether or not she would pull away or unlatch or get upset. I knew enough to know that because I’m a fairly modest person, breastfeeding in public places was giving me serious anxiety and staying home with a toddler or being home for every feeding just wasn’t an option. I knew enough to know that formula, while nutritionally inferior, would give me the ability to be the most present wife and mom I could be.

So where does that leave me right now? I don’t really know. I’m still pumping three times a day right now, producing enough milk to cover about 3/4 of Collins’s feedings for the day, but I contemplate quitting nearly every single day and switching over to formula entirely. Pumping a few times a day seems like such a small price to pay for providing my daughter with the benefits of breastmilk, yet I long to be completely in one camp or another rather than one foot in and one foot out.

For now, I’m in the murky middle. I’m sure that eventually I’ll fall into the exclusively formula fed camp, but for now I’m just taking it day by day. Realizing it’s okay to be conflicted, unsure, neither here nor there.

Madison  

Family, Fashion

Favorite Workout Gear

June 30, 2017

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This summer I did a little wardrobe refresh in the workout gear department. Both because my body was a little different postpartum than it was before getting pregnant and because some of my workout gear was looking a little sad and worn out. I do dress up some days in the summer, but many days I’m running around after a toddler and need my clothes to be comfortable, functional and able to handle a little sweat.

Almost all of my workout gear is from Old Navy! I just love the price point and fit and have been wearing their workout clothes for years and years. Their running shorts will forever be my favorite! So here are a few of my favorite new items that are both affordable and wear well/look cute for chasing after a toddler and caring for a baby!

Go-Dry Cool Semi-Fitted Running Shorts
I have them in four colors! I buy at least three pairs a year and have for years.

Loose-Fit Lattice Side Tank 
Great for running and running after a toddler

Go-Dry Cross Back Tank
So comfortable and flattering!

Go-Dry Light Support Cami Bra
Not great for working out right now because it’s not supportive enough, but awesome for everyday wear around the house and lower-impact activities

Gap Pure Body Modal Joggers
These are SO comfortable for lounging around the house and were awesome for the first few weeks after having a baby.