Family

Tips for Travel with Little Ones

December 28, 2017

We have recently returned from our first big trip with both girls and man, what an adventure! We had a wonderful time in Florida and I certainly learned that travel with one toddler is not the same as travel with a toddler and a baby. It was good for us to take the trip and learn a little bit about what to do differently the next time we embark on a big trip with these two – most likely this summer when we go to Oregon on family vacation.

Surprisingly, Ainsley was actually the easy one to travel with. I was shocked that on the entire trip to Florida we didn’t even have to get out the iPad or movies on the plane once. She happily entertained herself with figurines, books, stickers, crayons and lots of snacks. Her little sister, on the other hand, was a handful! Collins was as good as a 7-month-old baby could probably expect to be, but she is at an awkward age for air travel. She is crawling now, so she wanted to move and crawl all over every single (dirty) surface. She isn’t old enough to snack on finger foods and toys hold her attention for about 5 minutes each. So we had to work to keep her happy and entertained.

That said, I learned a lot and have a few suggestions for anyone thinking of taking a trip with their little ones!

  1. Take a double stroller with you! I can’t stress this enough. We debated leaving or Baby Jogger Summit X3 (which is currently on MAJOR sale on Amazon!) at home, but I’m so glad we didn’t. Having a way to contain/restrain both kids at once was so helpful when we were in the airport and with the warmer weather, it was really wonderful to be able to take the girls on long walks and have a place for Collins and Ainsley to nap out and about.
  2. Take your favorite baby carrier. Collins LOVES the Ergo 360 and we have gotten so much use out of it. I opted to take the Solly Baby Wrap instead because it’s smaller and more portable, but it was a mistake in the long run. The Ergo 360 would have been so nice to have, so if you can fit your favorite carrier in your suitcase, make it work!
  3. Don’t try to do too much. If it sounds like it’s too much, it probably is. We made a few mistakes trying to go out to eat too close to nap time or bed time, trying to do too much in a single day, etc. It led to tired, melting down kids and exhausted parents. It’s not the end of the world, but if you’re looking to minimize stress and frustration on everyone in your family, bite off only as much as seems reasonable.
  4. Take a diaper bag that has a backpack carry! I LOVE my Fawn Design diaper bag and will sing its praises forever and ever. It’s pretty, functional and the hands-free nature of being able to wear it as a backpack came in handy more times than I can count.
  5. Invest in good car seat bags. We borrowed this Britax Car Seat Travel Bag from a friend and I’m planning on buying two for our family because it was SO handy. We checked both of the car seats for the girls with our luggage and these bags help protect the car seats and make them easier to carry. This particular bag has wheels as well as a backpack carry option which was so incredibly useful! There are some risks in checking your car seats vs. checking them at the gate, but with two kids and a double stroller we really felt it made more sense to check the car seats with our luggage so we could have our hands free to wrangle the girls. Bonus: Car seats fly free on most major carriers!
  6. Take a carry-on suitcase packed with the essentials for each family member, especially if you are traveling in the winter! We took a carry-on suitcase plus one large checked bag for our week in Florida. In our carry-0n bag we had all the essentials in case our luggage got lost or we got stuck in the airport for an extended period of time. Think: Diapers, wipes, formula, extra clothes for each family member, toiletries, etc. We didn’t need most of the items in that bag, but I’m so thankful we had it just in case!
  7. Send larger items ahead of time. I placed a large Target order in advance of our trip and had it shipped directly to my aunt’s house – diapers, wipes, extra formula, baby food pouches, puffs, and a collapsible high chair. It saved so much space for us and the shipping was free!
  8. Spend some extra $$ if possible on picking reasonable flight times and schedules. If you are traveling by air, you will be thankful that you didn’t pick the flight that leaves at 7 pm or that has a four hour layover. If it’s a reasonable price difference, pay a little extra and leave at a reasonable, yet early morning hour when your kids are fresh and get to your destination sooner rather than later. If you can do a nonstop flight – by all means do so!
  9. Have a sense of humor! Things will go wrong, melt downs will occur, delays will happen, etc. My husband is great at this and it helped to laugh off some of the more difficult parts of our trip. Traveling with kids is hard, and sometimes it seems like it’s just not worth the hassle, but it truly is! Remind yourself why you are going through all the effort: So your kids can see their family, so that you can expose them to the big, wonderful world that God created, so they can have new and exciting experiences. Having that perspective goes a long way in making your trip more enjoyable.

Madison

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Fashion, Pregnancy

Healthy Postpartum Hair // A Regrowth Story

December 20, 2017

I’ve talked a lot about hair on Espresso and Cream over the years. About a year ago, I posted this while I was contemplating what to do with my hair. It was brittle, breaking off like crazy, and incredibly unhealthy, despite being 1 1/2 years postpartum and pregnant with another baby. Babies, man, they are hard on your hair!

Less than a year ago shortly after writing that post, I decided to chop my hair. My stylist agreed that there really wasn’t much else I could do to salvage my hair and starting fresh might be the best (only?) option. After chopping my hair I committed myself to growing my hair back out in the healthiest way possible. It wasn’t until yesterday, when I looked at my new color and how long my hair has gotten in less than a year, that I realized how much healthier my hair is now than when I chopped it all off.

My Healthy Hair Routine //

1 / Beautycounter’s Volume & Shape Line
I switched over to Beautycounter’s Volume & Shape Shampoo, Conditioner and Volumizing Mist when they launched their new salon-quality hair care products this spring. I fell head over heels for the V&S collection from the first weeks I used it and haven’t looked back. What I learned about traditional hair care is that a lot of the products make your hair feel healthy rather than making your hair truly healthy. Beautycounter’s line doesn’t contain sulfates, silicone or SLS and uses PureFoam Cleansing Technology to get the amazing foam without sacrificing safety. My hair has never felt so clean, so shiny, so truly healthy and strong!

2 / Continuing Prenatals 
I still take my prenatal vitamins on the regular even after having a baby. There are a lot of “hair growth” vitamins out there, but many of them contain cheap biotin and b-vitamins that aren’t the bio-available variety. Don’t settle for cheap vitamins. If you’re going to take them, make sure your vitamin contains methylated folate (NOT folic acid) and that they are good quality. My favorite prenatals come from Seeking Health or Garden of Life.

3 / Collagen Supplements 
I take a collagen supplement most days to help my skin and hair from the inside out. My favorite collagen is from Vital Proteins and can be bought on Amazon! If you’re curious to learn more about why collagen is good for your skin and hair, this article does a good job breaking it down.

4 / Dropping the Dry Shampoo
I was also struggling terribly with itchy scalp when my hair was at its worst. I read enough scary articles to convince me that perhaps dry shampoo wasn’t helping my hair but was, in fact, hurting it and contributing to my itchy scalp and hair loss issues. The first few weeks to a month my hair looked greasier between washes, but now that I’ve gone without it for nearly a year, I find that my hair doesn’t need it – even if I only wash it a few times per week. When I really need to absorb excess oil on my hair between washes I use Beautycounter’s Mattify Powder on my hair and brush it on where needed. Does the trick well!

I hope this helps someone who may be in the same spot I was in! It’s SO frustrating to deal with hair issues and the two year long saga of my hair has really been a learning experience for me.

Madison

Family

let me stay in this season

December 12, 2017

Last week I was sitting with a handful of moms a few steps ahead of me in the parenting journey – moms who have kids who can stay by themselves for a few hours at a time, who don’t wear diapers or take naps and spend the whole day at school. Who dress themselves and can go to the bathroom without assistance.

As I listened to them talk, for a second it sounded really nice. On the hard, long days I dream about my children becoming more independent. I’m only about three years into this parenting journey and I’ve already forgotten what it feels like to have any semblance of independence or freedom with my time, my body, my head space.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how very at home I feel in this stage of life. What once was foreign and difficult now feels familiar and comfortable – the physical exhaustion, the frazzled mind and disheveled hair, the expanding and contracting body stretched and changed from having babies. Juggling all the things all the time. Squeezing in workouts, quiet time, and trips out by myself in the margins and fringes of time made available to me when possible.

Oh, I’m sure the more seasoned mommas out there will be quick to tell me that the best is yet to come and there is so much more fun to be had as our girls get older, and for that I’m so thankful. But right now I want to stay in this thick, heavy, physical season of motherhood. Because while there are some days that I’m not sure I’ll survive, parenting a toddler and a baby is really the sweetest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. It’s demanded so much from me, revealed so much selfishness and yielded equal amounts of personal growth.

My baby is seven months old and it’s gone so fast. Faster than the first, for sure. Collins is perhaps the most kissable, cuddly baby I’ve ever met. I want her to stay a baby forever, and at the same time I can’t wait to have conversations with her and know what she’s thinking.

My toddler is lanky and lean, talking all the time and having real conversations with us. It’s amazing! And yet I could be brought to tears wondering where my first baby went, realizing I will never be able to get that little baby Ainsley back again.

And that pretty much sums up motherhood, doesn’t it? Loving every season, anticipating the next, mourning the loss of the season that has passed. If I go on to have ten kids, you’ll know why!

Madison

Family, Food & Recipes

Sausage, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches

December 5, 2017

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This post is sponsored by Tyson as part of the #JimmyDeanSausage campaign. All opinions are my own and I so appreciate you supporting the brands that make Espresso and Cream possible. 

Breakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day as an adult. Perhaps because it’s accompanied by lots of coffee with half and half, or because these is a level of comfort and ease around our breakfast table that doesn’t exist other times of the day. I wish I could say I loved dinnertime as much as breakfast, but my early-rising kids are in a much better mood first thing in the morning than when 5 pm rolls around, and most dinners are spent bouncing a fussy baby and bribing a toddler to eat a bite of everything on her plate. A struggle that doesn’t usually exist at breakfast.

Joe works out at the gym and eats his breakfast on the road most weekday mornings, but Thursday mornings when Joe is home a little longer than usual, I make a little extra effort to make breakfast special. We’re not talking elaborate and time-consuming – just something savory and hot like eggs with toast and bacon or sausage (Joe and Ainsley’s favorite).

Like I mentioned above, Joe and Ainsley both love sausage so when an opportunity to work with Jimmy Dean Fully-Cooked Sausage came across my desk, I really had no choice but to accept! We’ve purchased Jimmy Dean Fully-Cooked Sausage from the refrigerated section many times on our weekly grocery trips to Walmart; I love that the patties only require quick heating through and are sealed in smaller sub-pouches in the box. For a family like ours, who only has hot breakfast together a few times per week, this cuts down on food waste – something I can fully get behind.

This week’s breakfast went above and beyond our usual scrambled eggs, sausage and toast, because who doesn’t love a good restaurant-style breakfast sandwich? Toasted Ciabatta buns filled with sunny-side-up eggs, sharp white cheddar cheese, sausage, and fresh mixed greens. Because I had to get some greens in there. It’s a compulsion. I just can’t be helped. In full disclosure: Ainsley didn’t eat the greens because, “I don’t like that salad!” But we’re working on it. 😉

Sausage, Egg & Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 4 Ciabatta rolls, halved lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese, shaved
  • 4 Jimmy Dean Fully-Cooked Sausage Patties
  • 1 cup mixed greens
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange rolls, cut side up, on baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and ground black pepper. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt butter. Crack eggs into the skillet one at a time. Sprinkle with the salt and black pepper. Cook about 3 minutes, until whites are set and yolks are still runny. Place one egg on bottom half of each of the four rolls. Top each with some of the cheese. Prepare sausage patties according to package directions. Place one sausage patty on top of egg and cheese. Bake 5 minutes to toast rolls slightly and melt cheese.
  3. Remove from oven and top with some of the mixed greens. Top with roll top and serve immediately.

 

Family, Pregnancy

Mind and Body After Baby (The second time around) // 6 Months

November 29, 2017

I can’t believe we are here, six months postpartum with Collins! I remember thinking about when I would write a six month postpartum wellness/fitness update and thinking it seemed SO far out, but time has passed so quickly.

My hope in writing these updates is that I can be an encouragement to those who are perhaps not quite so far along in their postpartum recovery. I remember looking at my body in the hospital and being both in awe of what it was capable of and in dismay because I felt so very unlike myself. Recently, I’ve learned a lot about what it means to give your body grace in the transition and appreciate small victories along the way.

Mind Update //
Months three through six have been pretty uneventful! After making the switch to formula I really felt an overall emotional leveling out and an improvement in my mental health as we finally got into a good groove with sleep, naps, and general schedule. Although I try not to live and die by the schedule, I find having predictability in our routine helps our whole family function better. For me a schedule actually creates MORE freedom in my days.

I’ve also felt myself making huge strides in terms of my overall body confidence and satisfaction – something that I’ve struggled with on and off for years. For the first time in a very very long time I feel so good in my own skin. Strong, healthy, capable. And while I know there are things about my body that aren’t perfect, becoming a mom the second time around has really pushed me past focusing on the imperfections and embracing the here and now in regards to my body.

Fitness & Body Update//
In terms of actual fitness, around the 5 month mark I started to really feel like I was back in pre-baby shape in terms of my fitness and endurance. As you probably remember, I started working out about two weeks postpartum with Collins and it’s been a LOT of hard work and sweat equity over the past five+ months. Last week I ran my first 5K post baby – and my fastest ever time. And although I felt like I wanted to puke after, it was fun to see how far my body has come in the last five months.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions on Instagram about what workouts I’ve been doing. I run once or twice per week when the weather is nice, go on lots of long walks with the girls and doing workouts at home with my Beachbody on Demand subscription. I’ve done a lot of different workouts through BOD – 21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix Extreme, Shaun Week, Shift Shop, 22 Min Hard Corps, etc. – but my favorite continues to be T25. The workouts are hard, fast-paced and can be done in 25 minutes. That said, I do try to mix things up so my body doesn’t get too comfortable with any one workout. And I think I’ll be doing the new 80 Day Obsession when it launches in January!

Eating and Food//
Since I’m no longer breastfeeding, and haven’t been for quite some time, I am able to eat with a little less thought about calories and overall intake. I had been curious about intermittent fasting for quite some time but it wasn’t good timing while pregnant and nursing, obviously. I’ve been dabbling in intermittent fasting for over a month now and have LOVED it. If you’re curious on learning more about the science behind IF, I would recommend this podcast to start. This article is also a good intro to the concept.

Basically, I try to fast for somewhere between 14 and 16 hours per day, with a minimum of 12 hours. I’ve tried not to be too legalistic about any of it, because life happens, but it’s really encouraged me to NOT mindlessly snack or eat after dinner. Additionally, as an early riser, I was finding that I would eat a snack after dinner, around 8:30 pm and then get up and have breakfast early, around 5 or 6 am, which meant my body’s digestive system wasn’t really resting much each day. The more I read about IF, the more convinced I was it was worth trying. And so far so good! I’ve noticed that my body has leaned out a bit, I have more energy and it feels good to give my system time to rest without eating around the clock.

You can read my other postpartum recaps below:

Mind and Body After Baby // 3 Months
Mind and Body After Baby // 3-6 Weeks