Family

Toddler Sleep :: Solving Early Morning Waking

February 6, 2017

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If there is one thing our friends and family know about Ainsley’s sleep patterns, is’t that she is a morning person by nature. Like her parents, Ainsley is an early bird. Too early, if you ask me, but I can’t really blame her when Joe and I are both awake most weekdays by 5 or 5:30 and hardly ever sleep in past 6:30 even when we have the chance.

About two months ago I hit a point where the early morning wake times were becoming a real issue for our family. Ainsley was waking most mornings at 5 or 5:30, but instead of waking up happy she was waking up tired, grumpy and out of sorts. We tried all sorts of things – pushing her bed time back, moving it forward, changing nap times, etc. but nothing seemed to work. Although I like to wake up early, having a toddler that is up for the day at 5 am makes for some really long days.

A friend of mine who has three kids of her own said something to me that really resonated. She said that it was important for kids to understand how the house and family “ran” and your kids should, under most circumstances, be able to fall in line with that.

I realized that for months we had been held hostage by Ainsley’s early wakings. I usually get up bright and early to work a little bit before everyone wakes up. Joe gets up most mornings at 5:30 to workout, and I pack his lunches and get him sent off for the day, wrap up a bit more work, do a load or two of laundry and drink my cup of coffee in peace before the day really starts. But with Ainsley waking up so early it was throwing everything – including her own schedule – off.

So I went to Facebook to seek out advice from my fellow mom friends. A few people recommended trying the Ok to Wake Clock, which is a small little clock that you set your child’s “wake time” for the day and when it’s time to wake up the clock lights up green.

I wondered if at 22 months Ainsley was a little too young to understand the concept, but I decided to give it a go anyway. It turns out she took to the clock really well! It shouldn’t have been a surprise, given the fact that our child is a very logical and analytical thinker, but it surprised me none the less.

We set Ainsley’s wake time for 6:30. For the first couple mornings of using the clock she would still wake at 5 or 5:30. We let her fuss/play/cry in her bed until the light turned green. A couple times in the beginning I even went in and reminded her that she could get up when the light was green. It didn’t stop the fussing, but it did help give her context to when mommy or daddy was going to come get her for the day.

After about a week and a half it was if the clock had “re-set” her internal clock. Knowing that she wasn’t going to get up for the day until the light was green seemed to help her go back to sleep if she woke early, and now I’m finding more and more that she is waking close, or even after, 6:30. It’s been such a game changer for us in the sleep department!

So, if you are a mom who is struggling with early morning wakings like we were, I would highly recommend the OK to Wake Clock. It was a cheap but very worthwhile investment.

Madison

Family, Pregnancy

On Trusting My Body

February 1, 2017

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{Hatch Collection Bateau Top} // {GAP Demi Pannel Maternity Skinny Jeans}

Today I went to my doctor’s appointment. I’m 25 weeks pregnant, meaning I’ve got about 15 more weeks to go, and every time I have to step on the scale I cringe just a little bit. I would be lying if I said, given some of my past issues with body image, that it’s easy for me to see my body growing and changing rapidly. Actually, this time around might be playing more games with my mind than Ainsley’s pregnancy.

It’s a luxury, isn’t it? To be able to worry about things like gaining weight. During Ainsley’s pregnancy it was a luxury that I didn’t really afford myself because I was focused on other things, like whether or not my baby was healthy and growing appropriately. Like I said, a luxury to even think or worry about these things but something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately as we go further and further into this pregnancy.

While I was fretting about my pregnancy weight gain after my appointment today, something registered in my mind.

Trust your body. 

Anyone who has experienced pregnancy loss or infertility can attest to the fact that trusting your body doesn’t come easily. In the midst of my losses I didn’t feel I could trust my body at all. It had failed me in doing the thing I wanted so badly for it to do. But throughout Ainsley’s pregnancy, and baby girl #2’s pregnancy, I’ve felt a renewed sense of trust in what my body can do.

I’ve seen my body expand and grow, gaining 35 pounds, enduring 16 hours of labor and 2 hours of pushing to give us our beautiful Ainsley. That same body lost those 35 pounds and then some. It’s pushed a stroller for miles and bounced a fussy newborn for hours in the middle of the night. It’s run races and endured countless workouts. When I’ve called on my body to be there for me it has been there and then some.

So today when I was tempted to worry about what my body was doing and how much weight I’ve gained, I made the decision to trust my body and believe it will do what’s needed to grow and carry this baby. And then when that baby is here, it will feed, cuddle, and nurture that baby, too.

So fellow pregnant mommas, join me in giving your body the grace and appreciation it deserves, even on the hard days. Because the hard days will come. We’re only human, right? But how we choose to respond to those hard days is what really matters.

Madison

Food & Recipes

Brown Butter Chopped Pecan Pie

January 30, 2017

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Good morning, friends and happy Monday! I’ve been thinking a lot about blogging lately, as I’ve had a few conversations with friends who have blogged but now are choosing to close their blogs, to say goodbye to sharing their life online. Or, should I say, sharing more in other formats like podcasts and Instagram rather than a blog.

I’ll admit that sometimes blogging these days feels a little like, “Hello? Is anyone listening?” With all the other choices out there for reading and absorbing information (there are so many!) blogging can seem a little old school. Isn’t that crazy to say? And after blogging for over 8 years myself, I’ll admit that closing this blog has come to mind a time or two.

But can I also admit that I love this little corner of the internet? Oh I love blogging so much. I’ve heard from so many that they stopped blogging and didn’t miss it one bit, but I know that for me this is my favorite creative outlet and I’m itching to share more and more here in recent months rather than drawing back from my site.

So, that was a long preamble to sharing about pie, wasn’t it? I’ve been meaning to share my favorite pie crust for a while but never really got around to it because, well, laziness? I still hope to do a full video for anyone who is intimidated by crust, but this recipe is foolproof enough to work for even a beginning baker. Trust me, I’ve tried dozens of different recipes all claiming to be the best and this one really does take the cake. For the original inspiration and full explanation as to why this recipe works, check out Serious Eats.

Joe recently returned from a trip to El Paso where he was visiting some of his pecan suppliers for work (he buys pecans as part of his job) and brought home more pecans than I have any clue what to do with. Bags and bags of them line our freezer right now, so this is the fourth pecan pie I’ve made in the last couple weeks. We’ve never really been huge pecan pie people over here, but chopping the pecans and adding a little brown butter? Go ahead and sign me right up!

I adapted my recipe over the four attempts from this original from Brown Eyed Baker. More pecans, browned butter, less corn syrup, less vanilla, more salt. You get the idea. I think that this recipe is pretty perfect, but give it a go and see for yourself!

Brown Butter Chopped Pecan Pie
 
Ingredients
  • Crust
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons ice water
  • Filling
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ⅔ cup light corn syrup
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups chopped toasted pecans
Instructions
  1. First, prepare pie crust: In the bowl of a food processor, combine ¾ cup of the flour, all the butter, the sugar and salt. Pulse 25 times with short on-off turns. Add the remaining flour and pulse 5 more times to incorporate.
  2. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and add the water to the flour mixture, stirring with a rubber spatula as you add the water to incorporate evenly. Use the spatula to stir and press the dough together. Once it begins to hold together in large clumps, transfer mixture to a clean work surface and work with your hands into a disc. Don't over-work, but make sure that you work the mixture enough that it fully comes together in a smooth disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  3. Heat oven to 400°F. Roll dough out in a thin layer on a floured work surface. Transfer pie crust to 9-inch pie plate and press into pan. Roll/crimp the edges as desired. Spray a piece of aluminum foil with cooking spray and place sprayed side down into center and up sides of pie crust. Fill foil with pie weights or dried beans all the way to the top of the foil to prevent shrinking during baking. Bake 15 minutes, remove foil and weights, bake 5 minutes more.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the filling: In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Continue to cook, swirling frequently, until butter is lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the brown sugar, corn syrup, eggs and salt and stir until well combined. Return to heat and continue to cook until mixture is hot to the touch. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and pecans.
  5. Transfer hot filing mixture into pre-baked pie crust. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F. Bake 45 minutes more or until filling is puffed and crust is golden brown. Cool at least 2 hours before cutting into slices to serve.

 

Fashion, Pregnancy

Maternity Capsule Wardrobe

January 27, 2017

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During Ainsley’s pregnancy I sincerely wish someone had sat me down and told me this piece of advice: When it comes to shopping for maternity clothes, buy high quality, classic pieces that you love and that make you feel great. Invest in a capsule wardrobe now and you won’t regret it.

You see, I got trapped into the idea that pregnancy is only nine months. Why spend money on clothes you will only wear for a short period of time, right? Wrong. If you hate what you wear during those nine months, if your clothes aren’t cut well and don’t make you feel and look good, it will feel like nine years. Truth.

If you plan to have more than one kiddo, I promise you won’t regret it. I didn’t do this and I sincerely wish I would have. I’m convinced that while some of the items listed below are pretty expensive, I would have actually spent less in the long term by really curating a capsule wardrobe for pregnancy. Since we hope to have one or two more kiddos down the line, I’m thinking of doing this for the remainder of this pregnancy in hopes that I’ll get plenty of use out of my clothes down the road.

When selecting the items listed below I picked quite a few pieces that were designed to be worn during and after pregnancy, hence the large number of Hatch pieces that I’ve suggested. I have a few friends who own clothing from them and they have said that their Hatch items have gotten wear long after baby has arrived, which I love!

I also avoided most tops with any obvious rouching on the sides, as that just screams “maternity!” and you will never wear those items after you have baby, even if you do have a bump after delivery.

Oh, and on the subject of seasonality, I tried to keep that in mind as well. By selecting slightly lighter weight dresses and tops you should be able to get wear out of them in any season. Pair your tops with an open cardigan or utility jacket in the winter and wear them alone in the warmer months. Chances are if you’re pregnant during the winter you will run a little warmer, anyway. The same holds true for dresses! You will, of course, need to invest in some seasonal items – a maternity winter coat, perhaps, or an extra maxi dress or swimsuit, but I tried to just cover the basics here.

TOPS 

1. Classic Striped Top :: Hatch The Bateau Striped Top 
2. Basic White Dress Shirt :: Hatch The Classic White
3. Chambray Shirt or Tunic :: Old Navy Maternity Chambray Pullover 
4. Tunic-Length Top (either sweater weight for winter or lighter weight for summer)
2. Well-Cut Basic Top :: Hatch The Everyday Top

JACKETS & CARDIGANS
1. Basic Layering Cardigan :: Liz Lange Maternity Open Layering Cardigan
2. Military/Cargo Jacket :: Gap Maternity Utility Jacket 

DRESSES
1. Dressy Day-To-Night Style :: Hatch The Tulip Dress 
2. Casual Everyday Style Dress :: Hatch The Shirt Dress or The Afternoon Dress

JEANS 
1. Skinny Jeans You Absolutely Love :: AG Stella Maternity Skinny Jeans

BASICS
1. Basic Layering Tanks in Black, White and Grey :: Liz Lange Maternity Tanks
2. Basic Maternity Leggings in Black and/or Grey :: Gap Maternity Pure Body Low Rise Leggings
3. Basic Layering T’s and Shirts :: Liz Lange Maternity V-Neck Tee or Long Sleeve Shirt

Family, Pregnancy

My Prenatal Supplement Routine // What + Why

January 25, 2017

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I posted a photo to Instagram the other day sharing the little handful of vitamins and supplements I take on the regular when I’m pregnant. This routine varies slightly from when I’m not pregnant, and I got a lot of questions about what and why I take each supplement. While I’m the first to say that I’m not an expert on the topic, I’ve done my fair share of research and feel this is a good, well-rounded fit for me while pregnant. As always, consult your doctor when debating any chances in supplements, especially while pregnant, as recommendations can vary from person to person!

1. Metanx/L-Methyl-B Tabs (generic)
I’ve talked a lot about the benefits of avoiding folic acid and choosing methylated folate a number of times on the blog. You can read some of my reasons for avoiding folic acid and MTHFR here. In short, after our second loss I found out that my body doesn’t process folic acid (a synthetic form of folate) because of something called MTHFR. During my pregnancy with Ainsley my doctor and I agreed that I could and perhaps should take Metanx, a prescription form of methylated folate and B-vitamins. I’m taking the generic this pregnancy because it’s quite a bit more affordable. For information on the generic, you can read more here.

2. Iron
During Ainsley’s pregnancy, when I was about 18 weeks pregnant, I starting getting the worst headaches. I’ve always been prone to the occasional headache, but these were entirely different. After doing some research, I found that it could be because of an iron deficiency. Your blood volume increases 30-50% during pregnancy, which can lead to low iron levels and even anemia. Since I don’t eat much, if any, red meat, I figured it could be contributing to my headaches so I started and iron supplement and boom! My headaches were gone shortly after. I started an iron supplement while trying to get pregnant this time around and haven’t stopped since. If you want more on symptoms of iron deficiency while pregnant, I found this article helpful.

3. Baby Aspirin
Please hear me out when I say that this isn’t a recommendation for everyone during pregnancy. Taking a daily baby aspirin during Ainsley’s pregnancy, and this pregnancy, is a decision that my doctor and I made together based on my history of miscarriage and I’ve continued to do in this pregnancy for the same reason. Taking baby aspirin isn’t recommended in a normal pregnancy with no history of other issues, so I would caution against doing so without your doctor’s advice. I talk a little more about why we decided to take baby aspirin in this post from the archives.

4. Magnesium
I’ve seen stats that somewhere between 65-90% of the American population is low in magnesium. Crazy, right? This is a new addition to my prenatal supplement routine during this pregnancy, and I’m so glad I decided to start taking it. Magnesium has been shown to help reduce constipation, ease muscle cramps/twitches and I swear that it’s helped me have more restful sleep this time around, something I really struggled with during Ainsley’s pregnancy.

5. Probiotic
I haven’t done enough research on particular probiotics to really recommend one over the other, so I will leave the particular brand I take out of this post. I started taking a probiotic last year because Ainsley and I had been SO sick all winter and after countless antibiotics and three rounds of the stomach flu, my gut was totally wrecked. I’ve been focusing this year on repairing my gut, which includes eating more fermented food and taking a probiotic. It seems to be working thus far!

6. Fish Oil
Taking the right, high-quality Omega-3 supplement can be really beneficial if you’re not getting enough sources from food, which I know that I don’t. We don’t have enough access to quality fish, and while we do get frozen wild salmon from Costco that we eat occasionally, our local grocery stores are lacking in the seafood selection so we eat less fish that I would like. I take OmegaBrite if you’re curious! Not the cheapest but worth every penny, in my opinion. Also, someone brought to my attention that their anesthesiologist said during their first pregnancy that they didn’t love when women take fish oil supplements, but the American Pregnancy Association gives it a thumbs up.

And that’s it! I’m sure that I will get questions about why I don’t take a prenatal. I’ve decided not to because I am getting a lot of my nutrients, including the very important folic acid, in the vitamins and supplements above. Additionally, I usually have a Vega Protein & Greens smoothie every day and eat a lot of fruits and veggies throughout the day so I felt that taking a prenatal at this point would be overkill. If you are looking for a quality prenatal, I would recommend Garden of Life Once Daily Prenatal or Seeking Health Optimal Prenatal, both of which I’ve used and really like/trust.

Madison