Putting your best foot forward for Spring

And, yes, in Alabama, we consider late February to be spring.

It’s inevitable. It comes every year… that awkward weather phase where booties and sweaters are just too much but it’s not quite time to bust out the Lilly (no offense to those year round Lilly girls). I’ve been literally living in two pairs of Chinese Laundry booties this fall but the girls need to go free… and by girls, I mean toes.

But it’s not quite free-the-girls sandal season yet. (For example, it’s 79 degrees as I type this and tomorrow night will dip below freezing… suck it, global warming). So what’s a girl to do? Google. Internet shop. Load up carts. Check out.

I’ve rounded up my picks for neutral and transitional sandals and wedges to get you through those awkward months and beyond.

copy-of-springs-shoe-round-up

  1. Target Women’s Leigh Laser Cut Shield Heel Pumps – Merona
  2. Nordstrom Halogen ‘Clarette’ Wedge Sandal
  3. Nordstrom Kirstin Cavallari ‘Larox’ Wedge Sandal
  4. Zappos Joie Block Heel Sandal
  5. Nordstrom Andira Platform Wedge Sandal

 

#YoureWelcome

Advertisements

I am a very, very messy person

messy-girls-guide-to-getting-organized

Total honesty here. Being tidy just does NOT come naturally to me. I am was always the girl who had to spend couple of hours cleaning and picking up before we had guests… god forbid, overnight guests. I go all out in so many other aspects of life, I guess when it came to the end of the day, I just never wanted to deal with whatever mess I may have created. And I never thought it bothered me.

(In my defense, my house was rarely ever DIRTY… just unkempt.  And sometimes, not even that to the naked eye… because I’d probably just stuffed everything in a closet somewhere.)

But then I had a child. And being messy was just no longer an option for so many reasons. Now, there were 90 million bottles and bottle brushes and bottle parts and formula cans to add to my stuff. Now there were bouncers and swings and walkers and boppies on the floor. Now there was a baby crawling on a rug that may or may not be covered in pup hair. JK – I became OCD with the floors one III started crawling… but you catch my drift.

(Disclaimer: I have help with the housekeeping. Between working and parenting and general adulting, it’s just something I need. But sometimes I found that she was just having to clean around my clutter.)

So the time came and I had to do it. I had to become a more organized and tidy person. I had to take control of my procrastination and my lazy tendencies and hunker down. And I’m so, so grateful I did.

Here’s How:

  1. I did some research.  This may sound silly to many of you who pick up and put away and organize with ease. But, for me, I really needed to learn how to create and maintain these new habits. And I’m a nerd. So I wanted to research how to set my neat and tidy priorities and then tackle them. (This so reminds me of how Gidget decided to learn to surf by reading a book thus winning the heart of Moondoggy. If you have no idea, what I’m talking about… that should accurately illustrate my nerdiness.). My favorite resource for this was Allie Casazza. While I will never be a minimalist, her tips still proved to be invaluable.
  2. I evaluated my time. This is a huge thing that Allie focuses on in her blog. I always blamed ignoring a lot of household chores on not having time but – in reality – that was a LIE. I literally plotted out my typical day. What I spent my time on. And while there wasn’t a lot of “white space” on my daily calendar between baby and work, there was enough. And there were inefficiencies I could tighten up.
  3. I tackled a few big things first. Before I really started implementing this stuff in my every day life, I tackled a few big projects. One was my closet. I have a huge closet. Bigger than I’d like to admit. Full of clothes that I love… and full of clothes that I hate.  I took an entire Sunday (put G on daddy duty) and went through every single thing.  I purged, then organized. I cannot even describe the sense of relief I felt after. And, I can’t life. I freaking love walking into that closet now.
  4. I let the big stuff trickle down. Once my closet was organized, I took on the laundry room. A smaller task but still one that needed a lot of attention. I figured out what I spend the most time laundering and why. I made that more efficient. I organized our hampers. I got smaller hampers so it would be impossible to let things back up because they’d have nowhere to go.
  5. I fit it in my every day. Allie talks a lot about something she calls rhythms. Basically creating certain habits throughout the day, every day. I’m not quite there yet (and may not ever be) but I’ve found myself doing some of these things unknowingly. I take 2 minutes in the morning after getting ready to throw in one load of laundry. And heading upstairs right when I get home to toss it in the dryer. That may be the only productive household thing I need to do that day and I just made it a part of my routine that I hardly even think about. And pretty soon, without even thinking about it, I just starting putting things away when I was done with them. Some days, I would even shock myself.

 

Here’s Why:

  1.  It was an underlying stresser.  Remember earlier I said I didn’t think any of this bothered me? Well, apparently it did. It just added so much unnecessary stress. And once, the mess or clutter started to disappear, I started to notice how much happier of a person I was. I recently forgot we were having overnight guests for a weekend and my husband reminded me the night before.  My reaction… “Oh yeah…ok.” No panic to pick up, no stress about the condition of the upstairs of the house. That was NOT the me I knew even just a few months ago.
  2. My environment was affecting me. Take my closet, for example. It was such a messy disaster full of so many things that I didn’t wear. I ended up where the same 7-8 things repeatedly. And I just wasn’t into.  That is NOT like me. I LOVE clothes. I love fashion and design and it’s always been a major way of expressing myself. But that was fading. Since I took control of my closet, I’m actually wearing things I love again. Putting things together that make me feel great… some of which I forgot I even owned. When my closet was a mess, I was beginning to look like a mess. And if I didn’t like my outfit, I was putting less effort into my hair and makeup.  I was becoming my environment. Now, that’s a good thing.
  3. I have time for the things I want to do. My spending my time more efficiently when it came to keeping up the house, I discovered I could actually spend more than an hour doing what I wanted during the weeknight. I could spend time with III and G. I could watch TV, read a book, go to the gym. It was liberating. And I now no longer have to spend long chunks of time on the weekends mass-cleaning my house. Some days, I even have to come up with something to do!

If I’m being honest, I’m not sure why I’m sharing all of this here. I guess I’m just really proud of myself. I decided that, instead of a resolution for 2017, I would just pick a word and try to live by that word for the year in anything I did. I picked the word “improve” because I could use a little of that in so many aspects of my life. I want to improve my health, my household, my mind.  I want to improve as a wife and a mom and a daughter and a sister and a friend.  And by implementing the things I’ve talked about here, I’m able to focus my time and energy on those things. And that’s something worth being proud of.

(Another disclaimer: I’m still not and may never be a completely tidy person. My office at work is a disaster. My email inbox would make some of you cringe. But, hey, one thing at a time, right?)

Going low-carb & a Pinterest recipe round-up

In a somewhat recent endeavour, I’ve spent a lot of time and effort focused on my physical well-being. Post-pregnancy, I wasn’t happy with the way my body looked but that wasn’t exactly a new thing. I’d been uncomfortable in my skin for years.  And now, with a little one, I decided there would never really be a “good time” to make it a priority so I might as well just do it.  After all, I now have a little one who will eventually learn his healthy (or unhealthy) habits from me.

I’ve almost gotten a handle on how to fit exercise into an already overwhelming schedule (along with some time for my mental well-being) but my main focus as of late has been on our diet…. that’s for another post.

Now, I am NOT one of those people who thinks carbs are the devil and then eats a bajillion grams of fat and various other alwful things. Can’t you tell how well-versed I am in healthy eating??  But I HAVE found that one of the most effective ways for me to lose weight and slim down is to carefully monitor my carb intake. This means that whenever I easily can, I keep carbs to a minimum so that when it’s a little hard (for example, co-worker lunches or girls’ night out), I can just not worry about it.

This is a great article about carbs, blood sugar and – most importantly – insulin resistance.  And those facts are what ultimately led me decide which route I wanted to take with me new diet/lifestyle. I found Pinterest to be a treasure trove of delicious low carb meals and ideas to “feel” like you’re getting your carb fix without actually doing it.  These are not my recipes but I will share some details on what I tweaked.

1. Spaghetti Squash Pizza Pie – We’ve all heard about using spaghetti squash as a substitute for pasta.  I’ve alwasy felt that the squash just wasn’t “noodle-ey” enough but this dish really does it.  Once you baked the squash and assembled the meat sauce and layered it like baked spaghetti, you bake it once more (WITH CHEESE) and the second go ’round in the oven really softens the noodles.  This is perfect dish to make double the portions and freeze for later.

2.  Taco Turkey Burgers – We eat these OFTEN. I typicaly don’t have tortilla chips so crush up and use in these (and that would carb it up) but I will use a small amount of panko bread crumbs or almond flour to help bind the patties together, which ground turkey often needs a little help doing. I also tend to mix in diced onion and bell pepper.  I found the best finish for these in to broil in a cast iron skillet and add cheese for the last 45 seconds-1 minute for a nice golden brown topping. So basically I don’t follow this recipe at all. Still, so yummy.  I make about 12 patties total and make 4-6 depending on if I want to take leftovers to lunch the next day (1.5 for me, 2 for G, and 1 for III to eat on for the next two evenings for dinner, and an extra 1.5 for me to take for my lunch).  The other 6 patties get frozen individually to cook and eat later.  And they are awesome with just about any sides… you could do an avocado salad, sauteed brussel sprouts, or sweet potato fries.

3.  Cauliflower Mash – talk about some TRICKERY! Ok… if I’m being totally honest, these aren’t a perfect replica for eating mashed potatoes but honestly, it’s super tasty and typically appeases my carb cravings! I follow this recipe exactly but I’ve also done it greek yogurt… and a little extra butter never hurt! This also freezes well so you can make it larger batches.

You can see these and more on my Low Carbin’ Pinterest board!  Stay tuned for an upcoming post on my meal planning and prepping process!

What I learned during 7 months of baby reflux

reflux-blog

After a somewhat complicated delivery and extra week spent in the CCN with III, I was SO relieved to come home.  I had struggled with breastfeeding during the 11 days we were in the hospital but I blamed it on us both being on antibiotics and him being connected to IVs and monitors for 7+ days.  I assumed once we got home, relaxed and found a rhythm that things would fall into place.  But that just was not in the cards for us.  I continued having a difficult time producing. I ate ALL the oatmeal, was taking up to 9 fenugreek tablets a day, baking lactation cookies and even drinking some digusting green flavor Gatorade that somebody told somebody told me helped with production.

It was my mother who finally convinced me to just let it go. God bless her!  I was legitimately overwhelmed and Tripp was starving.  Even when he wasn’t starving, he was screaming. Let me say here that I totally understand the benefits of a mother’s breastmilk but there’s also a benefit to having a fed baby and a mom who doesn’t feel like she’s losing her mind. All of that to say, this is not meant to be a breastfeeding post.

Once we were on formula, things normalized a bit but III was still unsatisfied – even unhappy – after feedings.  His reactions to mealtime began to worsen until he basically refused to eat altogether. We were on the cusp on heading to the ER for IV fluids when our pediatrician finally conceded to the idea that he might have acid reflux. We moved to a gentler formula and were prescribe Zantac. That was at 6 weeks old. Over the course of the next 6 months, we saw numerous specialists and increased dosages little by little as III gained weight until he was at the max dosage for an infant. Because he was gaining weight, doctors didn’t seem to be too concerned with the “inconvenience” of a baby that fought and screamed at every feeding.  I remember one particularly bad night calculating how many HUNDREDS of bottles we had left until he hit the magical 6 month date where most babies stop having reflux issues.

That date came and went and we still needed meds. Because of all the tests that were required of III during this process, we discovered a chronic health issue that has the potential to be far more serious than the reflux we were dealing with.  (That is a post for another time). So, in a way, I am grateful for our reflux experience… although that’s hard to admit when I think of the worst of it.  But I learned a few things along the way that might be helpful for some desparate new mom our there googling the heck out of baby reflux hoping to find some answers.

  1. YOU know YOUR own baby. Well-meaning friends and family may unintentionally play down what you are dealing with in an attempt to comfort you or make you feel like nothing is wrong. I can’t tell you how many times others suggested that maybe he was “just a fussy baby” or had colic. I’m a smart person. Common sense can tell me that if my baby is seemingly normal at all times OTHER that feeding times, our issue is definitely feeding-related.
  2. Find a pediatrician YOU TRUST. And I don’t mean trust as in your think they’re a nice and honest person. Most are… there aren’t alot of evil pediatricians out there. But find a pediatrician you have confidence in. Many tend to not worry too much if you child is gaining weight (which mine was…becase I was basically force feeding him). Acid reflux in infants is extremely overdiagnosed so they will often avoid the diagnosis or attempt to let things “take care of themselves.” I resented our first pediatrician for not listening to me or taking my concerns seriously and then when she finally conceded to a reflux diagnosis, she seemed very overwhelmed and uneducated as to why things were not improving.  I had ZERO confidence that she could help me keep my son healthy (especially after a later and unrelated diagnosis). So…I consulted other moms and found one I trusted. And we love him.
  3. Don’t compare your baby to others.  This can be said about alot of things when it comes to parenting… parents tend to compare their children to others based on their size (what’s the obsession with having “big” babies these days???), the timing of their milestones, how quickly they hold their bottles… the list goes on. In the same vein, your baby’s reflux and someone else’s will likely not be the same. Tripp’s reflux lasted months longer that most babies whose moms I’d spoken to and I got so discouraged. And then one day, it stopped. All that desparation and concern that something else was wrong with him was gone. I had done so much unnecessary worrying.
  4. Rely on other moms. Someone else is going through the same thing. I had mom friends that hooked me up with others that they knew had gone through similar situations.  I texted my best friend and III’s godmother an ungodly amount of times throughout our “battle” with reflux. I had a million questions and sometimes just frustrations that needed venting and I would have been much worse off without them.

Here’s the things about acid reflux in infants… it’s not life-threatening (unless you’re in a failure to thrive situation).  But it’s more than just an inconvenience.  I used to feel so guilty about feeling sorry for myself when there were so many mom and babies out there fighting much more difficult battles.  But you know what? No matter the source, it’s terrifying to watch your baby be in pain. It’s gut wrenching to feel like you have no power to help them. And you’re ALLOWED to feel that way.

Here are some specifics about our reflux diagnosis in case you are interested:

  • Diagnosed at 6 weeks, prescribed Zantac
  • Hospitalized at 3.5 months for refusing to feed for 2 days
  • Dosage eventually increased to 1.5 ml 3 times per day
  • Sought chiropractic care at 8 months
  • Stopped usage of meds at 8.5 months
  • Reflux free

I’m not interested in getting into a debate or feeling judged about our decisions to seek chiropractic care but I will share this with you (and you’re welcome to contact me directly if you’d like to discuss further). Around 5 months old, III was coming home with constant run of the mill daycare colds.  Every kid in class had the same cold but III was being sent home because he was vomiting.  Think about that for a minute… consistent (and massive) vomiting with EVERY SINGLE COLD. The average child gets upwards of 10 colds in their first year of life. Our assumption was that the reflux was causing this reaction… either way, one puke and you’re outta daycare for a full 24 hrs…. imagine what that was doing to my paid time off at work.

I’d been advised by many to at least look into chirorpractic care. After speaking to others and doing my own independent research, we decided to take III in to Homewood Friends and Family Chiropractic (PS – they do NOT pop and crack babies so let’s please not go there).  It was the chiropractor that suggested that perhaps it wasn’t III’s reflux but his reflux meds that were causing the vomiting. You see, Zantac is the type of reflux drug that neutralizes stomach acid.  At that point, the only thing III’s body had to digest was breastmilk, formula and watered down fruit purees. Imagine if he was constantly draining (because babies don’t have sinuses) and his stomach acid was not acidic enough to break down that mucus. (I know… this is all very gross). So after just two sessions, we decided to take him completely off the Zantac. Since that day, III has been reflux (and cold-related) vomit free.

I’m not here to recommend chiropractic care as an acid reflux solution for ALL infants. I’m certainly not qualified to do that. You should BY ALL MEANS find a pediatrician you are confident in and trust the diagnosis and prescribed care they give your child. I do fully believe that Zantac was the right solution at the time it was subscribed and that it helped to decrease the symptoms of III’s reflux… until it became the problem. That’s where chiropractic care came in for us.

With their help, we are lucky to be out of the reflux storm now. At 9 months, Tripp is eating, drinking and sleeping like a “normal” baby (whatever that really means).  I personally found motherhood as a whole to be quite overwhelming and dealing with this only made things more difficult for our family. BUT I am a better mom because of it. In just a few months, I went from the new mom that panicked about everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) to a mom and wife who can actually enjoy the fun parts of motherhood.  Who can handle a cold or virus like a normal person without a total meltdown. Who can intentionally time with her family. We are lucky.  And my hope is that you will be too.