Friday, November 28, 2014

A letter to my husband.

It's Friday morning, the day after our first Thanksgiving as a family of three. You just left for work, not complaining once, just quietly getting dressed while we relax in the living room in our pjs. I know you're exhausted, you were up many times last night comforting our daughter...

I'm lounging on the couch admiring our beautiful Christmas tree, the one you lugged all the way home for us from the tree farm last weekend. The one you so patiently put up for me late into the evening when we got home, because I insisted it had to be put up right then. 

Lara fell asleep a few minutes ago, so I began scrolling thru my Facebook newsfeed. I noticed you shared a link to a news story, which you rarely do, so I decided to read. 

I'm so glad I did. It's been hard for me to understand how deep you love Lara because I've never felt that...

You are such an amazing father.
You are patient when I am not, you are loving when I feel as though I've exhausted all the love I have to give, you have energy when I'm convinced I'm going to die from exhaustion.

But most of all, you absolutely adore her. And you show it often, unconditionally

I wasn't old enough to feel that kind of love from my dad. He was gone too soon, too young. But watching you love Lara shows me what that would've felt like. I can't wait for Lara to look in your eyes and know how much you love her. 

So in the spirit of giving thanks, thank you for loving us. But most of all, thank you for showing me a love I've never felt before. 

Your wife 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Freeze Your Eggs, Free Your Career. Bullshit or Brilliant?

Let's just dive right in, shall we?
This fury within me all began when I was about 6 months pregnant, walking thru the lobby at work.
I glance over and see this...
It could've been the hormones, but I just about lost it.
Is this really what we've come to as a society?!
I threw the magazine in the trash and stuffed the anger to the back of my mind, and went on to have my sweet baby girl a few short months later. 

Until last week.

I'm sitting at home playing with my girl when I hear a reporter come on TV, covering a story about Apple & Facebook.  According to Business Insider, come January they will begin paying their female employees up to $20,000 to help cover the cost of freezing their eggs.
Call me radical, but if you genuinely feel that advancing your career is that much more important than becoming a mother, maybe you're not meant to be one.
I have always been extremely career driven.  I work hard, I ask questions, I want to learn, I want to promote, I want to take on more responsibility, I want to make a difference. 
Why do we doubt that we can do both, and do them well?
Is it because some women have tried & failed?
Is it because society is trying to tell us otherwise?
I'm one of the biggest Sheryl Sandburg fans out there, who's ironically one of the top executives for Facebook.  I've read her book, highlighted the hell out of it and live by several of her mantras.  

She believes in empowering women to lean into their career, while building your family at the same time. She believes in "changing the conversation from what women can't do to what we can do." 
One story she speaks of in her book is one that really resonated with me a year ago.  They were recruiting Priti Choksi to join Facebook's business development team.  Upon receiving the job offer, she wanted to meet to discuss further questions she had about the position.  Sheryl, being the forthright woman she is, straight up asked Priti as she was leaving if she wanted to discuss the possibility of her not taking the job because she may want to have a child soon.  Priti immediately sat back down and they had the conversation.  "I (Sheryl) explained that although it was counterintuitive, right before having a child can actually be a great time to take a new job.  If she found her new role challenging and rewarding, she'd be more excited to return to it after giving birth." She ended up accepting Facebook's offer.  "By the time she started at Facebook, she was already expecting.  Eight months later, she had her baby, took four months off and came back to a job she loved. She later told me (Sheryl) that if I had not raised the topic, she would have turned us down."

As a society, we have to improve on empowering women, women who truly want to be mothers,
that it's ok to love being a mom and also love your career at the same time.
As far as I'm concerned, what Apple & Facebook are doing is screwing up
all the progress we've made.
Marketing your company to women by offering to freeze their freakin' eggs  is
It's telling women that we can't do it all. 
And we can.
If I can wipe my daughters booger off her face, rub it on my black pencil skirt & run out the door to a successful day at the office.
You can too.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Our Typical Day of Maternity Leave || By the Hour

This post was super fun to create! Thanks to Megan for the idea. I originally saw it on her blog a few weeks ago and just knew I wanted to recreate. I also have to give a HUGE thank you to my girl, Siri. Without the hourly iPhone reminders, this post would NOT have happened. 

Today marks my last official day of maternity leave. I will no longer single handily financially support the entire organization otherwise known as Target. No more 3 hour Hobby Lobby trips, meandering down every single aisle convincing myself it was time to redecorate my entire home. 

I took a photo every hour of the day, earlier this week, in an attempt to capture what our typical day of maternity leave looked like. I'm so thankful to have this post to look back on and remember this beautiful life we've had over the past 3.5 months!


Rise and shine!!  Hands down, one of my favorite parts of our day.

Snuggles on the couch in our pjs, while watching the local news.

And down she goes for her first nap of the day!

On a good day, we actually changed out of our pajamas around this time...

My girl just loves mornings.  She's always in such a sweet, smiley mood!

We usually break out of the house around midday. 
In this photo we were in the waiting room at the car dealership getting my oil changed.

Off to Hobby Lobby we go!  Hello Christmas décor!!

Poor girl!  Her stroller was taken over by garland, but she wasn't phased. 
She loves shopping with mom!

Phew, all the decisions wore her out.

Poor babe was so tired!  But, baby has to have food so off to Target we go.

You'll notice she's chewing on the bottle, not really drinking it. Lara's teething, so the evenings are pretty rough around our house.  We usually give her some Tylenol around 5:00 or so and then again around bedtime.  She can't usually take her 5:00 bottle unless she has Tylenol in her system because her little teeth hurt so bad.

Daddy's HOME!!!!! 

Sorry this one's so blurry!  Daddy took this for us.  Our evenings usually look like this.  Passing the baby between us while we eat dinner.  One of the only things that brings a smile to her face past 5:00 is her big sister, Belle.  Hence why she's sitting on my lap facing the dog. 

By this time, we are ALL worn out.  In fact, you'll notice my nightgown is on INSIDE OUT. 
That's because I threw it on as quickly as I could while Jon got her ready for bed amidst hysterics.

And she's out.

I didn't realize how well these pictures told our daily story until I looked back over them, after I'd climbed into bed exhausted, a few minutes after this last one was taken. 
All smiles until we inch closer to 5:00 pm. That's when the real work begins.
At the end of the day, Jon and I feel as if we've completed a relay marathon, passing the baton baby around, doing anything we can to keep her happy.  As exhausted as we are, we look forward to running the marathon all over again the next day. When our sweet baby girl finally drifts peacefully off to sleep, we realize, we did it.
We got the gold medal.

Monday, November 17, 2014

I hate this post.

I'm nauseas just sitting here beginning to type.  It's my last "official" day of maternity leave.
I go back part time for a couple weeks starting tomorrow.  I'll go back full time on December 1st. 

Right now, it feels like a part of my world is ending. 
I feel somber.
I feel anxious. 
I feel sick. 
I feel sad. 

I have loved every second of these past 93 days.
It's been 93 days since my little girl was born!
93 days of pajamas & coffee to the sound of her sweet little baby coo's watching her kick away on her playmat.

93 days full of picture taking so not to miss one facial expression.

93 days of doing absolutely nothing but enjoying every ounce of my beautiful baby. 
I know every single mother can relate to the emotions I'm feeling right now.
I know I'm not alone in the dread that comes as this day inches closer.
But unfortunately, that doesn't make it suck any less.

In fact, I just took my hands off the keyboard to pop my knuckles out of nervousness.
While I'm sick about what's to come, I also know I'm meant to go back to work.

I know some will not understand what I mean by that, and that's ok.
While I'm somber, anxious, sick and sad.
I'm also excited but anxious....and ready but not.
I want to give my daughter the world.
And I don't mean financially.
I mean by giving her the experience of relationships & growth.
I know it's good for her.
And that's what matters more to me than anything else.
 While it's good for Lara, it's also good for me.
It's good for me as a mother, it's good for me as a wife.

I commend all mothers who choose to stay at home with their children. 
I honestly believe in my core, that being a stay at home mom is the hardest job of all
It's tough. It's relentless.  There are no lunch breaks. 

And no, mascara is just not going to happen most days.
But while it's hard, it's also the most beautiful job of all.
You get to be your child's one and only.
And for some families, that's exactly how it should be.
Just not for my family.

While I will hate every second of dropping her off at daycare, I will love seeing her interact with all her new baby friends.  I will love picking her up and getting her adorable turkey picture she made out of her handprints.  I will love getting home & proudly hanging it up on our fridge.
Ya, my daughter made that!

  And most of all, I will LOVE seeing her cute little grin when mommy & daddy show up
at the end of each day.
Sure, it'll sting from time to time. It'll probably sting like hell.
 But her happiness is what brings me happiness.


So tell me, any survival tips from when you all braved the return to work?????

Friday, November 14, 2014

I judged.

I used to be one judgmental.....  

I judged the stressed out mom in the bathroom at Target, trying to juggle their diaper bag and wet wipes all while trying not to drop their baby. Why do people do this to themselves? She looks miserable! And mam, can you please move your stroller? I need to use that sink. 

I judged the parents on airplanes. I mean, who the hell would think it was ok to bring a BABY on an airplane. Can't you leave the kid with grandma or something? 

I judged the parents who could never hang out, WITHOUT the kid. Hello, didn't you know this was an adult only get together? 

I judged the parents at restaurants, letting their screaming babies ruin my dinner. You couldn't get a sitter for 2 freakin' hours?

I judged the mom walking around the mall with her bulky stroller. Bless her heart. That most be just terrible, trying to shop with a newborn and all. 

I judged the mom in line at Walmart with her screaming child on the ground, clinging to her leg in the midst of a championship meltdown. Seriously! Why aren't you DOING something to make the kid shut up?

I judged new mommies that had a baby, then overnight it was like nothing else in the world mattered BUT said baby. The incessant photo posting of said baby sleeping, bathing, drooling. Get a life lady.  A life outside your baby. 

Having a child changes you in ways you could never imagine. It opens your eyes to a world you haven't seen before. Before Lara, I had to feel with intent. In had yo remind myself to empathize with others. 

In three short months, becoming a mother has taught me compassion. It's taught me patience. It's taught me how to really love. And I'm sure it's going to teach me a hell of a lot more in the coming years. Honestly, I can't wait. 

I'm now the mom in the Target bathroom  trying to manipulate a massive amount stuff to change one tiny diaper. But caring for my daughter is not something I resent. It's the most fulfilling feeling in the world. 

I'm the mom who's brought my child to adult only get togethers. I now understand that sitters aren't always the easiest thing to come by so at times, if you want to hang with us, we're a package of three. 

We're the parents with the crying baby at the restaurant. While we do have a responsibility to take Lara outside in order to not disturb others, we actually like hanging out with this thing, fussiness and all. So yes we DID bring her to dinner with us. 

I'm the mom with the bulky stroller you just walked by at the mall. And no, it doesn't suck. I'm actually proud to tote around my girl....and the 50 pounds of bulk that comes with her. 

Is Lara screaming hysterically clinging to my leg in the Walmart check out line? No. But there's no doubt in my mind that she will be one of these days. I no longer look at that mom with judgement. I now go up and offer to help carry her bags so she can carry her screaming toddler.

And lastly, I am that new mom that seems to have lost her old self, her previous identity, because I had a baby. Just because I love my baby, doesn't mean I can't love myself at the same time.

But for the sake of being honest, when I look back at aspects of who I was, I'm glad I lost some of my "old self." I now see the world thru the lenses of motherhood. And I kind of dig it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

DIY Photo Heart

Last week I got all hopped up on Starbucks during one of my weekly Target/Hobby Lobby trips, and this was born.

If I had to count the number of pictures I've taken of Miss Lara over the past 12 weeks, it's rapidly approaching 1,000.

I mean, if you looked at this face all day...

I have printed off all the pictures I've taken since birth because I'm terrified the internets going to totally shut down one of these days due to a cyber apocalypse, and I'd lose all my online albums. 

I adore each and every picture because they all remind me of a different moment in time, and the emotion to go along with it. She's brought so much love into our lives these past few months and I didn't want to miss a thing. 

If you'd like to make your own, it was SUPER simple & super cheap. Speaking my love language right there.

4 supplies
Foam Board (30% off at Hobby Lobby), Xacto Knife
Scotch double sided tape

Total spent was less than $10 thanks to Snapfish, the online service I use to print my pics. They give me 100 free prints a month, then add in discounts found on the RetailMeNot app, I print 200-300 pictures at a time for less than $15, INCLUDING SHIPPING. 

To start, I free handed the heart without tracing. Remember it doesn't have to be perfect, you are simply using it to provide support and direction on photo placement. Your pictures will stick out all around the edges.

Then you simply begin placing photos all over the heart using the double sided tape.
Thankfully I had a pretty good 'lil helper. 

We decided to hang it up in the stairwell for now. We used some command strips so it could be moved if need be. For now, I'm digging it. I love seeing our little girl everytime I use the stairs. Makes the daily up down, up down, up down trips a hundred times more enjoyable. 

What are some creative ways you've displayed your pictures outside of traditional frames??

Monday, November 10, 2014

Birth Announcement || 12 weeks later...

Ok, ok. I'll own it. I sucked it up when it came to the whole birth announcement gig. 

If I'm being totally honest, I don't really see the point in them with Facebook and all.
But then....

I saw these.

And it was over. I HAD TO GET THEM. 

So I decided to put a little different spin on the traditional birth announcement by adding a little note on the back talking about a few things we've learned about her our first couple months home. 

I didn't share the picture I used with anyone prior to sending them out, so at least that was somewhat of a surprise to our loved ones. 

I mean, lets be honest, with the 8,000,000,000 photos of her that I post to Facebook on the regular, I think we passed the need to announce that she'd arrived into the world. 

If your in the market for announcements, head on over to Tiny Prints. They have the most unique selection to choose from, and all for a reasonable cost.
(According to me, not my husband, but isn't that always the case)

Another tip, download an app to your phone called RetailMeNot for fantastic coupon codes to just about everywhere. I saved almost $30 on my purchase.
All in all, I got 35 announcements for around $65 total. 
Happy Monday everyone!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Talking all things diaper bag.

As promised, I'm talking all things diaper bag today.  As I've gotten older, when it comes to accessories, I believe less is more.  I used to pile on the jewelry and I truly believed the bigger the purse, the better.  And I'd fill that sucker up.  I'm talking 25 lip glosses, 4 pairs of sunglasses my hairbrush, tubes of mascara.  You name it, I carried it with me in my suitcase purse. 
If I couldn't fit an entire bottle of wine in it, I didn't buy it. 
 Now that I have a child, my stockpile has dramatically decreased and believe it or not, I've survived.  I have a tiny little clutch that holds all of my things, that I throw in the diaper bag. I've simplified and I have to admit, it feels good. If it doesn't fit in the clutch, it doesn't make the cut. 
When I was shopping for mine I wish I'd been able to find legit, real life reviews on different ones from real moms. Not the reviews you see posted below the item on the website. 
Those are a crock of crap. 
I fell in love with a Timi&Leslie bag only to see it in person at the store and laugh at how ridiculous it was.  No practicality whatsoever. 
After much research I ended up with the three below!
Let's start with the Carters.  This bag was by FAR the cheapest but I love it equally as much.  Just goes to show that expensive as hell, isn't always better. I'm into the backpack style of diaper bags, so I immediately fell in love with this one.  The link to purchase is via Kohl's, however I actually found it at Burlington Coat Factory in their Baby Depot section.  Sign up for email alerts and they'll send you 20% off coupons on the regular, so total I spent around $30 for it.
Pros: VERY large opening, makes it super easy to see what you need and reach right in and grab it.  It's shiny gold so can be worn with dressier outfits if need be & the material is waterproof.  LARGE exterior pockets hold bottles, keys, cell phones, you name it.  SUPER REASONABLY PRICED!
Cons:  The faux leather accents won't likely wear well over time. The changing pad isn't very soft and because it's waterproof as well, it's cold to the touch.  Baby girl isn't crazy about that.

 Moving on to Miss Petunia Pickle Bottom...

I first spotted this bag in black and for some reason, I just didn't pull the trigger.  Later that afternoon I found it at Buy Buy Baby in this beautiful, soft grey and loved it even more.  Because of the hefty price tag, I ended up going with the less expensive Vera at the time, but the next day I went back with my mother in law who purchased it for me as a gift.  To date, I've carried this one by far the most out of the three.  I can be a bit compulsive about matching, so the grey works for just about any outfit I throw on. 

Pros: My favorite thing about this bag is that it can be worn several different ways; over the shoulder, messenger style & backpack. Reasonably sized interior that can comfortably fit multiple outfits, diapers, burp rags & mommy's things. The two exterior pockets are roomy.  I throw my bottle in one side & phone & keys in the other. The material is super soft but still looks chic. I love love love the fold out changing table. It makes changing those dirty diapers much easier when you're on the go!

Cons:  PRICE.  It retails for a little under $200.  Because it's designer, I could not find a coupon that you could use on it. Honestly, I would not have purchased on my own.  I just couldn't bring myself to spend that kind of money with a new little baby on the way, but I'm so thankful to have it these days.  I'd have to say accessibility is a little tough on this one.  While it's spacious on the inside, it's tough to see all that you have with the narrow opening you have to work with. The interior is not waterproof.

And last but not least, let's talk about the Vera.

I found my Vera one at my local Buy Buy Baby and I just adore it. I had a few giftcards so the price tag of $130 wasn't too much of a hit.  Like the Petunia, it can be worn multiple ways including over the shoulder as well as backpack style.  When lugging a carseat around, being able to strap your diaper bag to your bag is a LIFE. SAVER.

Pros: I love that the interior is waterproof.  Also, the fact that it's a lighter color and wild print, it helps differentiate the items inside making it easier for you to quickly grab what you need.  I love the mesh pockets INSIDE.  There are several of them which I love.  The material is super soft (like most Vera's) however it looks quite dressy in person. Lastly, the changing pad is super soft!!  It's made of a white terrycloth material that I just love, and so does Lara. 
She told me the other day.... ;)
Cons:  Like the Petunia, this bag has somewhat of a narrower opening.  The exterior pockets aren't quite as roomy, so you can't carry around very many diapers at one time.  Also the exterior side pockets are small as well.
Alright, there you have it!
Feel free to holler if you have more specific questions about any of the bags.
Happy Shopping!