Just for Fun

$4 flag for the 4th of July

Fourth of July has always been my favorite holiday… fireworks, sunshine, and four days before my birthday! This year, I wanted to do something special for the 4th of July. Several of my neighbors had some cool decorations out, so I decided to make a flag for our front flowerbed (since there will probably never be plants there).

It was one of the easiest things I have ever done, and I got lots of compliments on it, so I thought I would share with you all!

Supplies:

  • Pallet – $0
    These are pretty easy to find for free – my husband brought mine home from work, but places like Home Depot and Lowe’s have them as well.
  • Paint – $2.70
    I used Anita’s paint from Hobby Lobby which is  normally .77 and was on sale for 30% off. I used two red, two white, and one blue! You can use classic rw&b or mix it up and pick some bright variations of these colors!
  • Stencil – $1.19
    I picked up an adorable flag stencil (reg. $1.99 and used the 40% off hobby lobby coupon). There was also one with funky-shaped stars which would be totally cute for those of you who are not as Type A as me.
  • Paint Brushes – $0
    Most crafters have paintbrushes laying around the house! If not, the cheap-o ones from Hobby Lobby work just fine!

I chose to cut my pallet down leaving five planks so that I could have red on the top and red on the bottom like the American flag. I measured enough space to repeat my stencil twice, and that made up the blue portion of the flag.

flag craft

 

There you have it – easy and cheap, but a huge visual impact! I plan to leave this out all summer! Then maybe I’ll figure out how to make a cute pallet Christmas tree!

 

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Motherhood · Recipes · Wellness

If You Ever Get Tired of Tacos

You guys, I am bad at cooking. I burn everything, mainly because that’s the way I like it. I also have an unusual disdain for trying anything new. I’ve been ordering the same meal at the Cheesecake Factory (and every other restaurant we frequent) for 10 years. My usual weekday meals consist of eggs for breakfast and taco meat for lunch with a side of potatoes and avocado. Seriously. Every day. I really don’t mind repeating meals over and over throughout the week – it cuts down on cooking/cleaning time, wasted food, and decisions.

Honestly, I think my dislike of cooking is more of a lack of confidence, so I jumped on google and found some recipes that I thought I could try out. I found this recipe from Paleo Hacks and knew I could work with it. I am so excited to share, because it was delicious, free (we had ALL the ingredients on hand), and fun to make!

easy sushi recipe

Sushi Towers

1 filet mahi mahi (I pan-fried mine)
1 can salmon
-Mix each of these with a dollop of paleo mayo
1 cucumber
1 large avocado
1 cup cooked white rice
Makes 4 Sushi Towers

Layer a measuring cup with chopped cucumber, mashed avocado, the fish of your choice, and fill to the top with rice! Put a plate on top, flip it over, tap the measuring cup, and you have a super fancy meal!

 

 

 

 

Breastfeeding · Nutrition · Postpartum

How to Whole30 With a Newborn

Whether it is your first or your thirtieth round of Whole30, having a newborn throws a kink in the best laid plans for success. There are a number of reasons new mamas might want to complete a Whole30. My main reasons were more energy and less anxiety.

If you’re ready to jump in to the Whole30, here are my best tips for doing it with your mini-me in tow.

  1. Find recipes that you enjoy cold.
    Not only will you have to eat on-the-go, but even when you’re at home, reheating food is a luxury with a newborn. Leftover steak is delicious straight from the fridge. Believe me.
  2. Get a handy lunch carrier.
    You will be out and about with your little one, and we know everything takes longer than you think it will. Do yourself a favor and pack a mini-meal any time you’re leaving the house for more than an hour!
  3. Eat breakfast. No. Matter. What.
    It doesn’t matter if it’s not “breakfast food” – just eat a meal that follows the meal template.
  4. Keep a “treat” on hand.
    Without breaking the SWYPO rule, keep something on hand that you can reach for in the difficult moments. A favorite treat of mine is grapefruit La Croix in a wine glass.
  5. Plan around growth spurts.
    This is the BEST advice I have for you. Basically ALL of the newborn stage is a growth spurt, and the first three leaps come at 5, 8, and 12 weeks. Do your best to have extra food on hand, especially if you are breastfeeding your little one.
  6. Don’t be afraid to quit.
    Consider your goals and whether or not a Whole30 is right for you! Do you simply need to be more mindful of your eating habits? Do you need to become more comfortable with your postpartum body? It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, and we don’t need one more reason as mamas to be hard on ourselves. Maybe commit to just giving up sugar and dairy and not worrying about grains. Maybe work really hard toward 80/20.

Whatever you decide to do, get plenty of support from your partner and and the rest of your tribe and know that with each healthy choice you make, you and your baby are reaping the endless benefits found in choosing to eat real food!

Have you Whole30d postpartum? How did it go? What tips would you share?

 

Postpartum

New Mama’s Anti-anxiety Kit

At 18 weeks postpartum, I am so thankful that I am no longer under the dark cloud of postpartum anxiety that held me captive those first few weeks. But anxiety is still something about which I must be mindful on a daily basis. I find value in gentle, natural remedies. I want to share the items that help me cope with the normal levels of anxiety that come with being a mother in hopes that some of these might work for you as well.

  • Nevaton Forte is a supplement that contains St. John’s Wort, Saffron, and Skullcap. (Note: St. John’s Wort can mess with the effectiveness of birth control and anecdotally increases a forceful letdown.)
  • CALM Magnesium Supplement
  • Chamomile Tea
  • Vitamin B-50
  • Probiotics (I like Garden of Life)
  • Vetiver and Orange Essential Oil (A few drops in a carrier oil on your tootsies before bedtime)
  • Happy Juice

In combination with chiropractic, exercise, and of course a healthy diet, these items go a long way in keeping my anxiety manageable.

 

Disclaimer: Considering I made a “C” in 9th grade biology, I am obviously not fit to give medical advice. This is just a list of things that worked for me!

Motherhood

Too much too; Not enough enough

Motherhood is full of questions.

Questions about baby. Is baby gaining too much weight too fast? Is baby gaining weight too slowly? Am I spending too much money on disposable diapers? Am I letting him cry too much? Am I letting him nurse to sleep too much? Am I being too rigid with a schedule? Am I being too flexible without one? Did I do enough research on vaccines? Do I wear my baby enough?

Questions about ourselves. Have I gained too much weight? Am I snacking too much? Am I drinking too much coffee? Do I exercise enough? Am I getting enough sleep? Am I producing enough milk? Am I drinking enough water? Do I swear too much to be a mother? Do I spend too much time on my cell phone? Am I too anxious?

Questions about our relationships. Do I sleep too much when I should be spending time with my partner? Do I depend on family too much to help with baby? Does each side of the family get equal time with baby? Do I try to control too much?

Questions about finances. Did I spend too much money on groceries this month? Do we have enough money for that vacation we so desperately need? Does my spouse make enough for me to stay home? Do I make enough money to send my child to the best daycare?

Ask any mother and I can guarantee she has asked herself these questions more than once. More than once per day, most likely. What we are really asking, though, all boils down to one question: Am I enough? Am I enough for my baby? Am I enough for myself? Am I enough for my partner? Am I enough for my employer? Am I enough for the amount of grace I need to get through the next 17.5 years? Yes, mama, you are enough. Give yourself permission to let go of all the “too” and embrace the enough.

Breastfeeding · Motherhood · Postpartum

Fitting in in a new world.

The first time I went to Milk Moms, it was two days after my baby’s tongue tie revision and it took everything in my power to get myself out the door. I arrived and it was packed. All the other moms were wearing jeans and mascara… I sure didn’t fit in. I left early. On my way home, I called my mom crying, telling her that I’d never fit in with these moms because they are so much better than me with the jeans and the mascara and babies happily nursing and napping. I had rendered myself unworthy of their friendship because I assumed I didn’t fit in. I assumed they had it all together. I assumed their babies cried less than mine and probably even slept in their cribs. I assumed they knew more about breastfeeding and birth and raising babies than I do. I assumed I was the only one who wasn’t completely on the cloth diaper bandwagon. I assumed these women didn’t have space in their life for this clueless mommy.

My mom reminded me that the most important thing is to just keep showing up. So the next week, I put on jeans and mascara and showed up to Milk Moms. And you know what? Those same mamas were wearing yoga pants and ponytails just like me. They are just other mamas who, like me, want to make new friends. Mamas who just like me had dealt with tongue tie revisions and painful breastfeeding. Mamas who are going to stay home just like me. Mamas who studied marketing in college just like me. Mamas who use disposable diapers! I’m not the only one! Mamas who love their babies and try to give them the best, just like me.

Turns out, I might not “fit in,” but I do belong. There is space for me, my loud laugh, and my disorganized diaper bag full of ‘sposies. As Brene Brown would say, fitting in is not belonging. I don’t have to be anything other than myself to be worthy of friendship. I don’t have to change anything to fit in, because I belong – ponytail, yoga pants and all.

 

 

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding Was Harder Than I Expected.

One lesson I continue to re-learn is that life is all about expectations. When you expect things to go a certain way, even if you don’t realize it, you get attached to your expectation, and any differing outcome turns out to be a disappointment. One of my main reasons for desiring a birth free of medical interventions was to give myself and my baby the best chance for developing a successful breastfeeding relationship. I expected that because I was successful in achieving my natural childbirth, that breastfeeding would come easily. And while I will say that I now have a beautiful breastfeeding relationship with my baby, I will also say that it was harder than I expected.

Here are a few things I learned during the first 5 weeks of my breastfeeding journey:

1. Pain is an indicator that something may be wrong.
As with anything, there is an adjustment period and a learning curve to breastfeeding. Some initial pain or weirdness is normal, but pain at every feeding and pain between feedings is an indication that you should check with a lactation consultant.

 2. Nurses and pediatricians are not a substitute for certified lactation consultants.
Even though I birthed in a baby-friendly hospital, the advice I received was not in line with my personal ideas. For example, I was told to use a nipple shield and I was also given medicated ointment that must be washed off before feeding baby. These unnatural things did help in the short-term, but I wanted a more natural solution and to be able to latch without the use of these items. My pediatrician, who I have come to adore, missed my baby’s tongue tie. In fact, she told us we had nothing to worry about. But I still had pain and I knew something was wrong. One night I was in so much pain that I was crying and seriously considered giving up on breastfeeding. The next day, I visited a different lactation consultant who referred me to a pediatric dentist who specializes in tongue tie revisions. I got my baby revised (in four places) and that put us on the path to pain-free breastfeeding.

3. You might have to teach baby how to latch.
I am sure that some babies do it perfectly without help, but after the tongue tie revision, I had to teach baby how to latch correctly. This was the biggest turning point for me. It was NOT easy. It took lots of practice and hands-on assistance from a certified lactation consultant. The latching advice that saved me:  1) bring baby to you, not breast to baby and 2) if it hurts, it’s wrong – take baby off and try again.

4. You WILL question your supply, even if your baby is perfectly happy and gaining weight. 
I am 11 weeks into breastfeeding and I still question my supply sometimes, like when my baby cries right after feeding, or when my breasts don’t feel full after 8 hours of sleep. But please, please, please, do not give up if you think you have low supply. Chances are, you don’t! From what I’ve learned, the majority of mamas are fully capable of producing enough milk for their babes. Seek the help of a lactation consultant before you make any decisions!

5.Oxytocin is a powerful thing.
You may have heard that one of the benefits of breastfeeding is the happy hormone that you produce which helps you bond with baby. However, the release of oxytocin can also exacerbate feelings of anxiety and loneliness. Because I was feeling alone and anxious already, breastfeeding was fueling my anxiety. If this same thing happens to you, this does not mean you’re not bonding with baby, it means you’re a normal human being who potentially just went from interacting with hundreds of people a day to sitting alone nursing a baby who can’t yet speak or even grin in the early days. The loneliness can only be cured by connection. Find yourself a tribe of other mamas – I promise they’re going through the same things you are!

I never even considered the option of not breastfeeding when I was pregnant, but there were definitely days in those first five weeks I wanted to give up. I would not have been successful without finding a knowledgeable lactation consultant, pediatric oral surgeon, and my wonderful Milk Mamas. If breastfeeding is your desire, you can do it – just know that you may experience some hard times before smooth sailing. Get the right help, find your tribe, and just keep loving that baby with all you’ve got!