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What I want to teach my daughter about her body

June 16, 2016

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My daughter is only 15 months old, and already I’m thinking about what I want to teach her about her body. As a toddler Ainsley is blissfully unaware of how she looks, other than when she sees herself in the mirror and giggles in delight at her own reflection, which I love.

Already, I see how she mirrors me, copies what I do and tries to be just like mommy. Frequently I have Ainsley in the bathroom when I get ready for the day. I don’t spend a lot of time applying makeup, but she’s watching just the same. She grabs my brushes and “puts on makeup” alongside me. I remember the first time she did that I was shocked at the fact that she had been watching and observing all along.

I tell her she is beautiful every day. I see her chubby little tummy and her stunning eyes and honestly? I’ve never seen anything so beautiful in my entire life. I want her to know her worth, to love her body and to be comfortable in her own skin throughout her life.

When I think about my own journey with my body I have a lot of regrets. I think about the times I’ve been wrapped up in the number on the scale or the size of my jeans. There have been times when I’ve felt absolutely horrible about my body and times when I’ve felt near absolute peace, more so now that I’m a mom than ever before. My health journey and my relationship with food and fitness hasn’t always been what it should be, in fact at times it’s been downright tormented, but now that I’ve got a little one who looks up to me, it seems more important than ever before.

You see, I think being healthy is important, there’s no need to diminish that. Not in the pursuit of vanity, six-pack abs or looking hot in a bikini, because those things just don’t matter. The line between health and vanity is a very fine one to walk. But because I never want how I feel about my body to inhibit my parenting.

I want to throw on a swimsuit and head to the pool with no reservations, to run around the park without being winded, to take Ainsley on long walks and point out all the beauty that is in nature and explain to her that God created all that is around her. Our bodies are beautiful gifts worth caring for but not worshiping.

In this season of life I’m working on focusing on how I feel rather than how I think I look or what size jeans I wear. As I sit here writing this blog post, I feel healthy. My body feels fit, balanced, full of energy, strong. My ideal size, weight or pant size may be very different than yours, than Ainsley’s when she grows up, than another mommy at the park. My hope is that I’ll teach Ainsley to celebrate those differences by how I model that in my own life.

Madison

Family

Picky Toddlers + Healthy Foods

June 10, 2016

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I am no expert in feeding toddlers, but every time I post a photo of Ainsley’s lunches using the #EasyBabyEats hashtag on Instagram, I get a lot of questions on how the heck I get her to eat everything that I make.

The short answer? I don’t!

I never want to deceive you into thinking that Ainsley is the world’s best eater, because for a few months we’ve had some challenges with pickiness/feeding the dogs her food/only wanting to eat carbs. But I’ve been learning a few things along the way that I think other moms might find helpful.

1. Keep Introducing New Foods
Your toddler needs to see foods multiple times before they get familiar with them. Ainsley frequently rejects foods the first 5 to 7 times I feed them to her, but I just keep trying! It can be frustrating to make really nice meals for your toddler only to see them feed the dog with their food, but just keep at it. Eventually they will come around!

2. Feed Carbs Last
If your kiddos are anything like mine, the carbs are the first thing they reach for at dinnertime. I strategically feed Ainsley carbs last. I start by feeding her the meat/protein option + veggies. Then, when she is starting to get bored or done with those items, I’ll introduce fruit and carbs. If I start with bread or crackers or rice she will fill up and not want any of the healthier options.

3. Sauces and Finger Food Help
When we were really struggling to get Ainsley to eat her meat (she was a little low in iron at her 1-year) we decided to try adding ketchup or barbecue sauce to her meat and it helped quite a bit! I make sloppy joe meat frequently, which is always a hit, and also find that drizzling her chopped chicken with a little ketchup makes it more appealing to her.

When possible, I try to make her food finger-friendly so she can feed herself. Most toddlers are extremely independent and want to do it all themselves, so let them! It’s a lot messier, but if she has a full tummy then I’m fine with it!

4. Sneak In Protein
I’m not a huge fan of sneaking veggies into foods, but I’m all for finding more ways to add protein to meal-time. Healthy whole wheat French toast, slathered with peanut butter, is one of our family favorites for breakfast. I also make fried rice a lot with plenty of egg mixed in with brown rice and veggies. Smoothies packed with Greek yogurt are a great option, too! I find that when Ainsley eats plenty of protein, her sleep is better and the need for snacks decreases.

5. Don’t Be Perfect
I feel like I need to put this one in there, because I see a lot of snobbery on the internet when it comes to feeding kids. I was one of those parents when Ainsley was very little, but I quickly realized that sometimes it’s better for your kid to eat something than nothing. Things like teething and sickness can really zap your kiddo’s appetite, so during those weeks Ainsley eats a lot of yogurt + pouches + crackers. It’s life! I want Ainsley to grow up eating healthy food, but I don’t ever want to deprive her of some of my childhood favorites, like Goldfish crackers or ice cream.

I make Ainsley’s colorful, fun lunches because I like to cook and it’s always been a way to show people I care about them. It’s my passion and gift, so it doesn’t feel like a chore, but don’t be daunted by seeing what others do. Use the ideas as inspiration and make it work for your family and kids!

Madison

Family

A Safer Summer

June 1, 2016

Sunscreen

Over the years you’ve probably heard me talk about sun protection and skin cancer prevention from time to time. Growing up with a dad who has survived two bouts with melanoma and numerous other skin cancers, I’ve become a little militant with my use and encouragement of others using sunscreen. I’ll admit that I haven’t always been so good about sun protection, but as I’ve gotten older I shudder at the thought of what I did to my skin when I was a little more foolish.

Just last week my sister-in-law shared that she, too, was diagnosed with melanoma on her foot. I’ve never been more thankful that she caught it early and got into her dermatologist for a skin cancer screen. Being proactive literally saved her life!

One of the first products that I used from Beautycounter was their sunscreen. If you know anything about sun protection, then chances are you’re familiar with just how much sunscreen you should apply to your body and how often you need to re-apply to stay protected. That’s a lot of sunscreen getting absorbed into your skin every time you are out in the sun! Switching to safer, less toxic sunscreen is my #1 healthy living recommendation for summer.

Traditional chemical sunscreens work by being absorbed into the skin, and hence, into the blood stream, circulating through your entire body. I’ve done a lot of research about natural vs. chemical sunscreens, and I’m convinced that choosing the safer option is a necessity for both ourselves and our families. Don’t believe me? This article from Women’s Health Magazine walks you through the ingredients in chemical sunscreens that are more than questionable.

Our family has now switched entirely over to Beautycounter sunscreen products, ditching our entire supply of the chemical stuff about a year ago. The products are all safe for babies, kids and adults alike, and don’t leave a white residue on your skin like some natural sunscreens tend to do. If you’re interested in making the switch, I would suggest starting out with the Protect All Over Sunscreen. Additionally, I love using the Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer daily because it contains SPF 20 along with a little coverage for hiding skin unevenness at the same time.

Have more questions? I would love to talk about them with you! Email me (madisonjanemayberry@gmail.com) if you’re interested.

Madison

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My Haircare Routine

May 25, 2016

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I’ve been getting a lot of questions about my hair lately, so I thought I would do a little post about how I care for my hair and the process of growing it out over the years.

About two years ago I made a commitment to growing out my hair. I’ve always had medium-length hair and wanted long hair but was never able to get over them hump of mid-length hair. There have been about a thousand times in the last two years that I’ve been tempted to cut it (hello, postpartum hair loss!) but I made my husband hold me to my hair growth goals, which was good for warding off impulse chopping.

Care //

I wash my hair about 3 times/week, even less if I can make it a few more days between washings. Washing my hair less has been key to keeping it healthy. I usually blow dry it with a round brush the first day, then curl it the second day and put it up the third day which helps stretch the time between washes.

Although I used to hate getting my hair trimmed, I’ve acknowledged the fact that trims are a necessary part of growing out your hair in a healthy way, so I get it trimmed about four times a year. I ask for a “dusting” to make sure that my stylist doesn’t take too much length off.

Hair Care Products //

Shampoo ::
Living Proof Full Shampoo rotated with Head and Shoulders Dry Scalp Care (postpartum itchy scalp about did me in!)

Conditioner ::
Beautycounter Kidscounter Conditioner (the best for long hair!) rotated with Living Proof Full Conditioner

Post-Shower Products ::
Moroccan Oil on the ends of my hair after showering.

Beautycounter’s Sea Salt Style Spray when my hair is about 1/2 to 3/4 dry for volume.

Color //

After a very horrible experience in college with too-blonde hair, I came around to the idea that natural is better and looks better on me than platinum blonde ever will. I do a full-foil highlight every other time, alternating with a partial highlight. I color my hair every 10 weeks or so, sometimes more sometimes less, but usually not more than 12 weeks between appointments or things start to look a little funny.

My stylist does a mix of highlights and lowlights which match my natural color. Doing this helps my hair outgrowth not be as noticeable and looks more natural/blended than if I just did highlights. I might be wrong, but I think she also focuses more highlights around my face than in the back of my hair.

I think that’s it! My routine is super low maintenance, and with summer approaching I’m hoping to air dry my hair more frequently and use the blowdryer less. Once in a while I also do a hair mask and/or deep conditioner while I’m in the bath, and I try not to over-use any styling tools, running them lightly over my hair at a lower heat setting.

Madison

Family

We Can’t Have It All (and that’s OK)

May 24, 2016

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I spent a lot of time while pregnant with Ainsley trying to figure out how I was going to “have it all” as a working mom, wife, friend and blogger. I read articles and strategized and figured that those who didn’t have it all were just bad at time management and prioritization. After all, we’re told that we can have it all everywhere we turn, right?

But now, 15 months into this mothering gig, I’ve realized that just simply isn’t true. I don’t say that to be discouraging to those who haven’t yet had kids, or to those with little ones who are in the same stage as me, but to set the bar a little differently when you’re pulled in many directions.

Now that’s not to say that you can’t be satisfied, creatively inspired, healthy, balanced and energized once you become a mom. You absolutely can! (Okay, I lie, you’ll probably always be a tiny or a lot a bit tired.) But for quite some time, the myth of having it all was pushing me further and further away from balance and satisfaction I craved.

In the name of having it all, I’ve…

// said yes to more commitments than I had the time for because I wanted to be a good friend, to develop more relationships, or be more connected.

// worked out more than necessary because I was pursuing an unhealthy ideal.

// took on too many work projects because I was afraid to let a good freelance gig pass me by.

// spent too much on clothing because I wanted to look the part.

// been too distracted by my phone and “getting stuff done” rather than focusing on the blessings that were right in front of me.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that there are some things that need to be done, and other things that would simply be nice to have done but aren’t a necessity. Joe and I have been working on continually refining what “necessary” means for our family, and how we can let the less pressing things slide to the wayside. And by doing so? We’ve been creating more room in our lives for “having it all” and by “all” I mean balance.

Practically speaking, what does that look like? 

// Well, for starters, I’ve been letting go of my ideal of a perfectly clean house. I will never be comfortable with a messy house, but my floor boards might be a little dusty and my windows may need to be washed a bit more frequently, and that’s OK. We also purchased a Roomba vacuum, so that’s one less task that I need to do on a daily or weekly basis. I’m still working on convincing Joe that having someone come clean our house once a month is a good idea. 😉

//I’ve realized I needed a little more time to work. This means less time during the week with Ainsley, but in striving for balance my hope is that having 30 hours of childcare this summer will allow me to fully engage in the work I love to do, but also allow me to be completely disconnected during the hours that I’m with Ainsley. And while it might be an unpopular opinion in some circles, I’ve realized this year that I love to work and feel called to use my talents in the workforce. For me, having it all means a bit MORE time with Ainsley that a 40 hour/week job might allow, but it certainly still includes a fair amount of work.

// Weekly date night has become a priority. Although Joe and I are really happy to binge on Netflix together after Ainsley goes to bed, we’re looking to add some more intentionality to our time together by implementing weekly date night. We’re not talking elaborate dates every week, maybe it’s as simple as getting out to go play tennis together or grab a pizza, but we’re committed to dating one another and keeping our marriage a priority.

// Moving my body is essential, but I’m working out smart. I was really struggling with how to manage my schedule and find time to work out and shower each day. I work better when I’m put together, but most of the time I don’t really want to get ready if I know I’m going to workout later in the day. So even though I dislike it at the time, I’ve been working out first thing in the morning, showering and having breakfast before Ainsley wakes up. It opens up my whole day! And I’m more focused and productive in all areas when I start the day with a good sweat session and put myself together. That said, I’ve found I can be in the best shape of my life while working out LESS than ever before. It’s totally possible thanks to the intense but short at-home workouts my sister-in-law introduced me to! 

For me, having it all has been about re-evaluating what is important to me and what isn’t. As much as I desire to be all things to all people, I’ve been realizing how finite my time and resources are. So instead of having more, I’m focusing on being more satisfied by having less. It’s a work in progress, that’s for sure, but it’s a goal worth pursuing!

Madison

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