9 Signs Your Baby is Now a Toddler

I know this sounds cliché, but I’ve really enjoyed every stage of my daughter’s life so far. The newborn stage was so cute and cuddly – exhausting because of the no sleep part, yes – but the cute, silent cuddles were precious! Then the crawling, babbling stage was so fun – watching her take the lead on where she wanted to go and discovering her surroundings on her own. Now, we’re in the toddler stage at 18 months old and I think it’s a riot! Walking, running, talking – her little personality shining through in everything she does. I also understand her preferences now – for example, I’m pretty sure her favorite color is purple because she will only write with the purple sidewalk chalk and she usually picks out stickers or toys that are primarily purple. It’s a fun age but it’s also a messy, mini tornado type of stage – in a hilarious way of course. Here are 9 signs that your baby is now a toddler:

1. You can never find your keys, your lip gloss or your credit card because your toddler goes through your purse, daily, and hides all of its contents around the house.

2. You find strange things in your purse (mostly everything you don’t need), like sea shells from your beach walk last week, a doll’s hairbrush, and a toilet paper cardboard roll  – all strategically placed there by your toddler.

3. You are constantly restocking your first aid kit with band aids and ointments because your toddler has bruises, scrapes and cuts all over her knees and legs from falling at least 5 times per day.

4. You’ve considered, or have already executed, hiding a certain book from your toddler, because you might have to check-in to the loony bin if you have to read it just ONE…MORE…TIME.

5. You’re at the weird in-between stage at the park where you’re not quite comfortable letting your new toddler crawl up to the top of the jungle gym and go down the slide by herself, but that’s all she wants to do in life – so you climb up there with her and find yourself in a sea of kids – trying to fit through the small doorways and bumping your head around every corner because, well, this contraption was not made for adults!

6. You have no less than 25 pieces of Tupperware in your fridge all filled with different meals for your toddler because on Monday she LOVES Mac ‘n Cheese and turns her nose up at green beans, but on Tuesday she MUST have green beans and looks at you like, “are you kidding me?” when you try to give her Mac ‘n Cheese. It’s an uphill battle.

7. Your toddler has a newfound obsession with shoes – her shoes, your shoes, your husband’s shoes – she does not discriminate. And you know it’s going to be good when you hear a “clomp, clomp, clomp” coming down the hall.

baby is now a toddler

8. You have to be on guard around your toddler, because at any moment she could poke you right in the eye and say, “eyes!” Or jam a finger up your nose and exclaim, “nose!”. Learning the human anatomy is so fun!

9. You must be careful what you say around your toddler because they will now repeat anything and E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G – including 4 letter words that rhyme with “fit” and are oh-so easy to pronounce. 😉

I love being a mom to a toddler because it is a new adventure every day! New toddler moms, what would you add to this list?

“All In” – a Reflection for Mother’s Day

With Mother’s Day around the corner, I’ve been doing some reflecting on what it really means to be a mother.

I’ve been on the recipient end of Mother’s Day for three years now. The first year, I was newly pregnant with my first baby and beaming with excitement and anticipation, not knowing what it would truly mean to hold the title, “mom”. I remember celebrating with my husband at brunch and talking about what we thought it was going to be like having a little one running around “this time next year”. We were bright-eyed, still selfish and probably a little nervous.  The second year celebrating Mother’s Day, I would classify myself as a “new mom” with a 6 month old daughter – my first true Mother’s Day because I then knew what it was like to hold this title. I knew what it was like to carry a baby for 9 months and then give birth to that baby and love that baby unconditionally. And I knew what sacrifice truly meant – giving up sleep, personal hygiene and maybe even a little bit of sanity, to care and nurture this tiny human. Now, here I am on my third Mother’s Day, with a daughter who is now almost 18 months old (seriously, where did my baby go?) and a new little bundle of joy ready to make his appearance, come October.

As I reflect back on the past year and a half and what it has truly meant for me to be “Mom”, I decided that being a mom means being all in. Just stop and think about the weight of these two words for a second: ALL. IN. There’s not much else in life you can say that about. You’re not all in with your career – even the most dedicated employees take a sick day or a vacation day and can mentally unplug. You’re not all in with your healthy eating and exercise routine – guaranteed you take a cheat day to eat a California burrito or you skip the gym on Sunday mornings so you can sleep in. But being a mom means committing and encompassing this role 100% of the time – even when you’re away from your child, you never “unplug” from being a mother. I don’t care if you work every day, work part-time, are a stay-at-home mom or work-at-home mom – you are Mom. And you’re all in.

pre-baby self

You’re all in from the moment you see the plus sign on a pregnancy test. You are carrying a baby and it’s time to start eating healthy, giving up certain indulgences (like glasses of wine, raw fish and unpasteurized cheese).

You’re all in when it’s time for your baby to make her appearance and you go through the most intense experience of your life: labor.

You’re all in when your newborn baby wakes up every three hours and you rock her back to sleep each time.

Mother's Day

You’re all in when you feed your baby milk, purees, solid foods – making sure to provide the best nutrition for your baby all day, every day.

You’re all in when you read and play with your baby – teaching her new skills and watching her grow.

You’re all in when making decisions for  your baby. You will research topics until you’re blue in the face, discuss in length with your pediatrician, take a quick survey with your mom friends and then decide what is right for your baby. You provide the care your baby needs, always, because she depends on you and you know what’s right for her.

And as your baby grows and goes through new developments and life stages, and as you add to your family with new babies, you’ll continue to be all in, forever. Why? Because you’re Mom.

Happy early Mother’s Day to all of the beautiful mother’s out there! And give yourself a pat on the back, because you’re amazing all day, every day! xo

 

10 Signs You’re a Modern Day Mom

As I find myself immersed in this “mommy world”, I’ve picked up on a few new trends. I know they’re new because when I talk to any other mom from an older generation, the response is always the same – “Wow, we didn’t have that when my babies were younger!” Cue Bob Dylan – The Times They Are a Changin’. Here are 10 signs you’re a modern day mom:

  1. Your baby wears an amber necklace to help with teething. No one actually knows if it really works, but it’s worth a shot if it does, amIright?
  2. And what’s that lovely new necklace that YOU are wearing? Chewbeads of course! And you pick out a chewbead necklace based on what color will match most of the outfits in your closet (so anything that matches yoga pants).
  3. You read every blog or Huffington Post article about being a parent because it will either be informative or it will make fun of all of the modern day parenting antics just for entertainment (guess which category this blog post falls into? :))
  4. It’s time to introduce your baby to solids. But hold the jars of Gerber baby food, you have an important decision to make: purees or baby led weaning? Let the Googling begin…
  5. Your son/daughter owns Sophie the Giraffe and loves it! At play dates, you have to make sure to keep an eye on your child’s Sophie because it’s always the hit of the party and that is one expensive teether toy!
  6. All of your toys, baby spoons, bowls, bottles and – pretty much anything that your kid comes in contact with – are BPA free. Wait, children’s stuff made WITH BPA still exists?
  7. You have a B.O.B. stroller or a similar jogging stroller even though you hate to jog (I believe it‘s jogging or yogging. It might be a soft j. I’m not sure but apparently you just run for an extended period of time. It’s supposed to be wild).
  8. You feed your baby nothing but organic fruits and vegetables, either whole or as a homemade puree, while you sit there eating a bag of cheetos (oh wait, just me? Moving on…) and if you dare feed your baby store-bought purees, you best believe they’re organic and you recognize every single ingredient on the label.
  9. Forget Cheerios and jarred baby food, your baby loves Puffs and baby food that comes in (BPA-free) pouches. And (surprise!) it’s all organic.
  10. One word: wubbanubs. Your baby loves them and you secretly love them because, seriously, how cute is that little stuffed animal dangling from their mouth?

What would you add to the list? Let me know in the comments below…

modern day mom

International Breastfeeding Week: A Story of One Mom’s Journey

In honor of International Breastfeeding Week, my dear friend from my Mommy Group, Shelley, is here guest blogging to share her amazing journey/struggles with breastfeeding. Shelley is such an amazing mother and all-around great person and I’m so happy she chose my blog to act as the platform for her amazing story. If you are a new mom struggling with breastfeeding, please read – there are some great resources at the end as well. Without further ado, here is Shelley:

International Breastfeeding Week

My Breastfeeding Journey

By Shelley C.

The latch

Ahh, breastfeeding… sweet, sweet breastfeeding. It’s almost taboo how no one really warns you what lies ahead between you, your soon to be poor, raw nipples, and your little paraná with what feels like razor-sharp teeth chomping down on you.

I remember being pregnant and listening to stories from my mom about her breastfeeding journey, and she had absolutely no troubles. Zero, zip, nada. Not one. So, naturally, I assumed baby pops out, latches like a champ (latch: a term I had no idea I would hear over and over again for the first few months), and the rest is history. Well, not for me. In fact, my breastfeeding experience was quite the opposite. A rough, confusing, extremely painful and emotional journey intertwined with anger, frustration, and doubt. It turns out I wasn’t alone amongst my breastfeeding struggles, and I thankfully was (eventually) able to create a beautiful, positive, blissful breastfeeding relationship between my son and me, who is turning one at the end of the month.

I remember how magical it was after my C-section when they finally brought Tanner to me in the recovery room. They placed him on my chest for skin-to-skin contact and he pecked his way over to my boobies right away. It was amazing to see this tiny little creature have such natural instinct for his mom and his food supply. He latched right on, and no one ever showed concern that something could eventually prevent a struggle.

The hospital I delivered at had a couple lactation consultants on staff who would stop by and check in on you at least once during your stay, because they wanted you to succeed breastfeeding. Mine was named Cari & I remember her popping into our hospital room on day 3 because I was absolutely exhausted. My family and my in-laws were all in our tiny room, and I already felt overwhelmed amongst the chaos. Everyone was so excited to meet and hold Tanner the days following his birth, and inside I remember thinking “Do I ever get to hold my baby?!” I remember how uncomfortable it was that no one excused themselves from my room when Cari was clearly there to observe my boobs, and I knew my nipples hurt so bad I just wanted to lay around topless all day and have her wave a magic wand around to get the pain gone (and for everyone to give me some privacy). Ya, most your dignity goes out the window during childbirth, but there’s still something about whipping your boobs out in front of your dad and mother-in-law that’s just weird & awkward. Cari didn’t have a magic wand, but we did have the bedside curtain to close, and that’s as good as we were going to get for now. I had my mom with me (she’s a nurse and we’re super close, so her seeing my boobs was no biggie) and Cari had Tanner latch on to feed, and watched him nurse. I told her how excruciating it was and had been since his first few latches, but she said his latch looked great, and the pain should only last a couple weeks. A couple weeks?! Ah!! How will I ever survive?! If only I knew that pain would continue for three.more.months. Yep, three.

After Cari came by, the pediatrician came in to do a weigh in. It’s normal for newborns to lose a pound or so from their birth weight, so Tanner’s weight was okay, but he had orange pee crystals, so that was the first red flag he wasn’t getting enough fluids. Instead of someone trying to help me breastfeed further, or call Cari back in, they said the only option was to add formula to some of his feedings. Being a health conscious, I was irritated & confused, but they were the doctors and recommending what’s best for my baby…right? They ensured me they had organic formula and “not everyone can make enough milk.” Are any pro breastfeeders or LC’s losing it right now? Are flames coming out of your ears? Are you throwing things at the computer screen?? I started to hate myself for not being able to naturally provide for my son, and blamed myself (and the breast augmentation surgery I had when I was 22, which turned out to be totally unrelated.)

[Note: I believe ALL moms are wonderful, whether you chose to breastfeed or to not. This is simply my personal journey with breastfeeding & always wanting to breastfeed. I fully support every mom’s decision to provide for their baby in ways that work for them & their circumstances.]

After meeting with Cari again, she said lose the formula and stick with breastfeeding, because babies only need colostrum the first week anyway, and a teeny, tiny amount.

I would cringe every time he would feed

Around week two and a half post partum I was completely sobbing to my mom (thank god for her; she took every single day of her work vacation days & flew out to help us for three weeks; she was my therapist, our house keeper, our chef, our nanny, my go-to – thank you so much, Mom!!) about how badly it hurt every time still Tanner fed. My nipples were literally cracked, bleeding, blistered and scabby. I would cringe every time he would feed, and any new mom knows newborns’ cluster feeding “schedule” (aka 24/7) is NO JOKE, but something just wasn’t right! We Googled how long new mom breastfed nipples should hurt, and every article and source said max two weeks, or to contact an LC (lactation consultant aka breastfeeding guardian angels) if pain was still present. I felt embarrassed and frustrated I had to reach out for help, and figured since my mom didn’t have problems, that neither would I. This was also right around the time we had Tanner’s follow-up pediatrician visit, and he was in a super low percentile and labeled as “failing to thrive.” Which meant my boobs were failing to thrive. More formula was sent home with me to “bulk him up; you’re hurting his brain growth!” with the phrase “some people just can’t produce enough milk.” Great.

The outside pressure

The outside pressure from everyone else around was irritating too because they just didn’t get it. They didn’t understand my struggles because they all bottle fed or didn’t have breastfeeding issues to be able to offer advice. The bottle feeders always said “just give him a bottle, it’s easier.” Actually, it’s not because my husband travels for work and sanitizing bottles, pumping milk, and warming milk all hours of the night is way more overwhelming. P.S. – Don’t ever say that to a new breastfeeding mom who’s hormones are raging out of control. Ever. I was also the first in my circle of friends to have a baby, so didn’t have any modern mama to turn to for help. Lucky, my husband was very supportive of my breastfeeding desire because he attended the classes with me while I was pregnant and learned about all the health benefits. He had testicular cancer as a child, so his ears perked up when exclusive breastfeeders lower their children’s risk for childhood cancer and can help set them up on a healthier path. There’s something so attractive feeling like your husband’s got your back; that you’re a team; that you’re supported.

After we got home from the pediatrician appointment, my mom found Cari’s card and I called her for advice. She dropped everything she was doing and came for a private lactation appointment at my house. She cringed at my nipples and decided to test out my brand new, ridiculously expensive breast pump to see if I could pump anything. We got a drop. Like literally one drop. After 20 minutes of pumping. Devastating. So she had me get in the shower and try to massage my boobs as hard as I could under the hottest water I could tolerate. Turned out almost every single one of my milk ducts was clogged, and I would’ve woken up with mastitis the next morning if she hadn’t massaged the clogs out. Yes, you heard that right; she literally squashed the life out of my boobs for me while I was naked in the shower to get my milk to come in. We tried the pump again and still only got a few drops. Are you kidding me?!? She said it would take time, and that my milk would continue to come in…

I just knew in my gut, something was off

A couple days later, I still never felt my boobs feel full, and I still hadn’t experienced a letdown. I just knew in my gut something was still off, so we found the schedule for the local breastfeeding support group. My mom packed Tanner and I into the car (I actually had to get dressed?!), and came with me to my first breastfeeding support group session. An LC and about twenty other new moms and babies were there, all having problems nursing, all looking for support. I fell in love with that support group right then and there knowing I was no longer in this alone. They ended up being my outlet & some of my closest friends, and came at perfect timing because my mom had to fly back home a couple days later.

Monster list of tips to increase milk supply

Cari, Nicole, and Janet were the three LCs who ran the group. Each new mom would introduce herself, her baby, and discuss the issues she was having. All the moms were suffering from some sort of breastfeeding issue; nursing pain, latch issues, thrush, low supply, oversupply, over active letdowns, nursing twins, etc…When my turn came around I opened up about my issue, which ended up being classified as “low milk supply.” So after Cari observed Tanner’s latch, which was determined to be good, I was left with a monster list of tips to increase my milk supply…

  1. Pump after every nursing session to try to tell your body it needs to create more milk. (EVERY NURSING SESSION. I felt like a cow. I literally didn’t wear a shirt for weeks).
  2. Bake lactation cookies (thanks, mom!)
  3. Drink Gatorade for electrolytes; some women swear by the red or blue. (Who knows! At least it’s a change from water.)
  4. Drink 90oz of water per day. (Some days I thought I was drowning! PS – never drink all your ounces per day at once; that can be dangerous).
  5.  Eat 2,000 calories full of healthy fats, protein, dairy, and fiber. (Because we totally have time to go grocery shopping and cook. Hopefully your better halves, parents, or friends can help you in the kitchen – it’s for the baby!)
  6. Start taking Goat’s Rue and More Milk Plus by Mother’s Love. Also used Dairy Diva. (You can find them at Whole Foods or online).
  7. Continue to nurse on demand. (If baby is ever sucking their hands the first few months, it’s probably not for comfort; it usually means they are hungry.)
  8. If baby still seems hungry after breastfeeding, supplement with an ounce or two of formula, then pump after for 10 minutes. (This was the most exhausting process!)
  9. Don’t exercise yet- you can lose what supply you do have burning too many calories too quickly. (Be gentle on yourself and your post-partum body. I started working out at 8 months post-baby because I felt confident with my supply, my eating habits, and my water intake. DO NOT DIET while trying to keep your supply up. I know many women who wanted to lose “those last 15 pounds” and they all lost their milk around 5 months because they were limiting their calories. If you’re eating healthy foods, you can still reach the calorie intake you need).
  10. Try power pumping – (keep your pump hooked up to you for an hour. Pump ten minutes on, ten minutes off, for 60 minutes. Obviously try to time when baby doesn’t need to breastfeed).
  11. Try to get some sleep (seriously?)
  12. Your milk is “best” from about 11pm until you wake up, so pump before the last feeding of the evening, the middle of the night feeding, and the first feeding of the morning to boost your supply the most. Your supply is worst from around 4pm-10pm, so pump to stimulate then. (Eek…this mom thing is definitely a full time job!)
  13. Drink More Milk Tea (Sold at Target or Whole Foods. You literally have to drink like a gallon a day, so pre-make a big batch and mix with honey or lemon because it’s GROSS. PS – From the herbs & tea, your sweat and body will start to give off an herby smell, be ready for that 😉 
  14. Try Milky (an herbal blend of milk boosters; it tastes way better than the tea but I’m not sure if it really helps or not).

I tried all of these things for months. It became my life. I was literally obsessed with the fact that I wasn’t going to give up. I was determined to exclusively breastfeed. When I would have to supplement I felt so guilty, like I had failed. And I was becoming mentally and physically exhausted. At night it was the most brutal; Tanner would nurse for literally an hour, then I’d have to supplement, then I’d pump for ten minutes. By the time I was done with that cycle, I had to start it over. My husband was also traveling for work 2-3 weeks out of the month, and that started when Tanner was two weeks old, so the bottle & pump cleaning was a nightmare and so hard to keep up with. When my in-laws would come over to see Tanner, I would secretly wish they were cleaning & doing my laundry instead! I was super grateful they brought me meals a couple times, I would’ve probably starved to death when Kyle was gone.

About two months in of these crazy supply tricks, I was still going nowhere. We’d weigh Tanner before and after feedings at class and he was still only getting an ounce after nursing for nearly an hour. And on top of that, my nipples were still totally scabbed, so I was now referred to the nipple shield. The nipple shield is a soft piece of plastic that goes on top of your nipple so the baby’s mouth sucks on that instead of direct contact with your skin, causing less pain and allowing the scabs to heal (like putting a bottle nipple over yours). It helped a little, but Tanner had gotten so used to using it, that he was soon refusing to nurse without it. Ugh, a new battle. Once my boobs felt a little better, It took me two full weeks to completely wean him of using the shield. And then the scabs returned…

We were creeping up on three months post partum (still supplement after some feedings, still dealing with scabs, still pumping after each feeding to stimulate a supply increase, taking goat’s rue and more milk plus three times a day and eating BF cookies like it was my job) when a speech therapist came to our support group to observe infants for the first time. She was there to look for upper lip and tongue-tie issues. I had overheard chitter chatter about this mysterious tongue tie thing from a mom I got close with in support group; her baby, Charlie, had just had both her upper lip and tongue tie removed with a laser. But, no one had ever mentioned that diagnosis to me, so I just thought it was some rare thing.

My Hail Mary

The next group meeting, the speech therapist was there again to observe. I introduced myself and told her that everyone says Tanner has a great latch, but my nipples were still raw going on three months post partum, and I’m still only able to get about an ounce per feeding, so I was still having to supplement. I told her she was literally my Hail Mary, and asked her to observe tanner’s nursing. She watched him eat for thirty minutes and…wait for it…said she was pretty sure he had both upper lip and tongue tie. (There’s a fancy frenulum name for it). Ummm..wait, frenulum what??

As frustrated as I was that it took three months for someone to throw this new diagnosis at me that could be causing my low supply and soreness issues, I was actually excited that there could be a reason for all the madness and my low supply wasn’t going unexplained. Charlie’s mom, Stephanie, referred me to the dentist she went to that specialized in tongue and upper lip tie removal via laser (which is considered to be far more accurate at removing these ties than it being snipped, and is supposed to heal quicker as well). I called the office that day and they scheduled Tanner an appointment the next morning.

When I got to the dentist, I was really nervous and didn’t know what to expect. The one thing I did know right off the bat was that the staff was incredibly warm and friendly, and the office was decorated so cute for fall, smelling and looking like home. I had great vibes from the moment I walked in and was greeted by the receptionists. They took us in like we were their family. (And this was South Florida!) Once we were called back, we met the dentist and other staff, and they were all incredibly friendly as well. They took one look in Tanner’s mouth and said he had one of the thickest, longest upper lip ties and tongue tie they had ever seen, and couldn’t believe I was even still nursing. After they explained everything thoroughly they asked if I wanted to move forward with the procedure. They went over everything in full detail until I felt full informed; like how lip & tongue tie can lead to tooth decay, speech issues, latch issues, and other problems later on in life. And that is cost $1000, which is due upfront, but insurance may cover it partially. The answer was obvious to me – YES. PLEASE HELP US! When children get older, they have to be sedated and have sutures to close the removal of the ties, but when they’re infants, laser is fast, virtually pain free, and the recovery is only a few days. Tanner just made the cut by a week. After three months, they have to be monitored in an outside facility. They put Tanner in the most funny, teeny tiny glasses I’ve ever seen to protect his eyes. I gave him lots of love and snugs, then I left the room so I didn’t have to watch. They preformed the laser on both ties then and there. I was sent home with recovery instructions, and they had him latch immediately after the procedure to see if I could feel a difference. I’m not sure if I was so desperate for an improvement, or if I really felt an immediate change in his lap, but I was convinced I could. (Update: our insurance is 80/20 so they covered 80%, which was incredible! Although, it ended up being priceless to me).

Could this mean he was finally getting more milk from me?

After each time Tanner nursed for a week I had to rub under his upper lip and under his tongue. They have you do this because the mouth is the fastest healing place on our body, so they don’t want the ties to grow back. You have to keep disrupting the tissue growth. That was by far the saddest and most painful part to watch after the removals, because he was in a lot of pain when I rubbed them (obviously, ouch!). I had to give him Tylenol the first two days for discomfort, but after a week, he was completely pain-free, and the wounds were healing greatly. I was so relieved because we were flying to California the next week to spend Thanksgiving with my family. I was actually able to supplement with the tiny amount of milk I was collecting from pumping after feedings that week, rather than formula. And he was only taking about one ounce. Could this mean he was finally getting more milk from me? Could this really have been the culprit for my supply issues all along?

We got to California for vacation a girl I went to high school with (who was also nursing her son the same age as Tanner) dropped of bags of donor milk for me to supplement with in case I was still having issues. When I was supplementing with organic formula, Tanner wasn’t pooping and would wake up screaming all night from gas pain. (I had been SO fortunate with breastfeeding mamas around me. At first I was using a mix of organic formula & donor milk from a friend of the family in Florida, but didn’t want to risk bringing the frozen stash I had in case it thawed & went bad). I was in awe how generous other mamas were. Once you’re a breastfeeding mom you have this instant bond with other breastfeeding mamas.

I don’t know if the California Gods were with me, if it was finally getting to relax with my family & holiday cheer, or if it was just the perfect timing (2 weeks) after Tanner’s tongue tie procedure, but my milk came in the second day I was home. I could cry just writing this and reliving that day. I woke up and my boobs were HUGE. Like full for the first time EVER. He nursed like “normal” that day & I was literally in shock when he wasn’t crying for more milk after nursing. And he was feeding for an efficient half hour rather than dragging feedings on for an hour+. I continued to pump after feedings that week just to be safe, but after a week of that, I no longer had to anymore. My supply issues were finally over. I couldn’t believe it…His tongue-tie was fixed. It was his latch all along. Three of the longest months of my life were finally behind me.

I feel like it’s my mini calling to help other moms suffering from low supply issues or supply issues related to tongue-tie now. It robbed me of enjoying the first three months with Tanner because I was so focused on being able to breastfeed and all the struggles along our way, that it was literally my 24/7 job.

I’m actually thrilled to announce that eleven months later I am still exclusively breastfeeding, and even happier to report I have just donated around 80 ounces of my beloved freezer stash I had at home (from the whole time I was pumping during my Thanksgiving & Christmas visits) to a mama in the area who was unable to breastfeed due to IGT. Talk about my breastfeeding journey coming full circle! If you have breast milk you won’t be using, please don’t toss it! There are so many moms looking for donors, and you can pay it forward here – https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=180419095335971&tsid=0.2959478737320751&source=typeahead

Use my journey as an outlet to educate yourself, find support and gather advice

If you’re reading this and struggling with low supply, I hope you can use my journey as an outlet to educate yourself, find support in me, and gather advice. Most of all I hope you know you are doing the best you can. You are an incredible mama.

Turns out, there are many different reasons for low milk supply. For example, IGT, chronic low supply, thyroid issues, hereditary issues, breast reduction surgeries, etc. This was my personal experience with low supply related to upper lip and tongue-tie. If you need more support, there are some wonderful groups on Facebook:

Tongue-Tie:

Low Supply:

General Breastfeeding Support:

What is Tongue Tie?

If you are struggling from low supply and want to continue breastfeeding rather than switch to formula, first and foremost, find a lactation consultant in your area. Go to a breast-feeding support group. Actually, find a few LCs and go to a couple support groups. 1. You’ll need all the love and encouragement you can get. You are not in this alone, and there are other mamas struggling just like you. 2. You’ll sometimes need a second (or even a third) opinion to really pinpoint your issue like I did.

To find an LC near you, visit the following:

 

Breastfeeding is hard. Being a mom is hard. But they are both two of the most rewarding experiences I have ever experienced. Happy International Breastfeeding Week, and I’m sending all the positive milk- making vibes possible to you!

 

 

Sous Kitchen: Healthy Dinners Delivered + Giveaway

As busy parents it’s sometimes hard to plan out your grocery shopping, meal prep and cooking – especially if you’re hoping for gourmet, healthy meals. That’s why I was excited to learn about Sous Kitchen, a California-based kitchen that delivers healthy, gourmet, family dinners straight to your door. All you have to do is defrost, cook and serve. Forget about the meal planning, shopping, chopping, measuring and prepping! And the best part? They use all-natural, local California ingredients so the meals are always fresh and delicious.

About Sous Kitchen

  • Areas served: California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Colorado and Arizona.
  • All ingredients used are 100% natural, fresh, anti-biotic and hormone-free delivered daily from local farms and suppliers. No additives or preservatives are used in any part of their process.
  • Meals can be ordered online from the Seasonal Monthly Menu.
  • All meals are family size and serve 3-4 people at an average of $5 – $6 per serving.
  • Meals come in convenient, insulated boxes filled with dry ice (that can sit on your door step for up to a day).

I was able to try a couple of meals from their menu, and they truly did not disappoint! I chose to try the BBQ Chicken, Green Beans with Garlic Butter and Southern Baked Beans, the Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas and the Lava Cake for dessert (yes, please!)

Every meal comes with easy instructions on how to defrost and prepare, so literally all I had to do was throw the green beans and baked beans in a pan, the enchiladas in the oven or the chicken on the grill.

Sous Kitchen

Sous Kitchen

Sous Kitchen

And the final outcome was delicious and ready within 30 minutes!

Sous Kitchen

Sous Kitchen

Sous Kitchen

 Enter to Win a $100 Gift Card to Sous Kitchen

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Disclaimer: I received complimentary food to review this business. However, all opinions are my own and the Mommy Project, San Diego only features services that we can truly recommend. 

My Writing Process Blog Tour

I met Olivia Howell through the site, Rookie Moms, as we’re both first time moms participating in the 52 weekly challenges. I love her blog, The Lovely Sisters, where she blogs alongside her sister about all things style, baby, weddings and really, anything considered lovely. We also share a deep-rooted love for some of the same musicians, James Taylor and Van Morrison! The best.

I also really look up to Olivia as a great writer which is why I was so excited when she invited me to join in the “My Writing Process Blog Tour,” which is a really fun way to see how different bloggers approach the thought-development and writing process. The idea is for me to answer the following 4 questions, so my readers can get an idea of the thought process that goes into my blog posts. So, without further ado, here’s my blog tour:

(1) What are you working on?

My passion project with this blog is the Fab Moms series because I personally LOVE reading other moms’ stories. After I read each guest blogger’s post, I truly come away inspired in one way or another. So, I’m on the search for more Fab Moms to feature!

I’m also really loving my Whine & Dine series and am getting some great feedback from restaurants in the area inviting me to come and experience their venue with my family. As a new mom and a foodie, it was sometimes hard to decipher if some of the nicer, trendier restaurants were family friendly or not. I think my Whine & Dine series continues to highlight amazing venues and great cuisine in a, surprisingly, family friendly environment.

And, of course, I’m always searching for the “golden” posts – the ones where I can share some raw, more personal insights into “mom life”. I think those touch my readers the most.

(2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

There are definitely a ton of other fantastic blogs out there that focus on being a first time mom, but with The Mommy Project, San Diego, I try to keep it pretty light-hearted. I’m the type of person that will just laugh at myself if I trip and fall, so I think my blog sort of reflects that “laughing at myself” type of mentality as I navigate motherhood. However, along with the hilarious moments I’ll occasionally share some of the “doomsdays” because I don’t want to fool anyone into thinking that my family and I live in some perfect little bubble over here – motherhood is hard.

I also try to make my blog useful for local parents – highlighting great restaurants, attractions, businesses and outings for moms and families to explore and enjoy with their babies in San Diego. The Rookie Moms Challenges got me thinking this way and once I started with the challenges, exploring this city through new eyes (with a baby in tow), I wanted to share all of these great, sometimes hidden, gems I was coming across.

(3) Why do I write what I do?

First and foremost, I’ve always loved writing. In the 5th grade my teacher told me that one day he was going to stand in line to have me sign a book for him because he really believed I would publish my own book one day. That has really stuck with me and, although publishing a book is a long-term goal of mine, I started this blog to chronicle being a first time mom. With my new title as “Stay at Home Mom” and this life-altering transition before me, I thought this blog would be the perfect outlet to share my experiences that, hopefully, would resonate with other moms. From time to time I will do sponsored posts (It’s nice to receive some fruit for my labor) but the main point of this blog is to write, to share, and to connect.

(4) How does my writing process work?
I’m actually quite moody when it comes to my writing. I never write just for the sake of writing because I find that I will put out less-than-stellar articles when I do this. I need to be moved by something; an idea, an experience, a cool restaurant or activity. Blog post ideas usually come to me suddenly and I typically write the “idea” of the post down in my notes app on my phone so I don’t forget. I then think and ponder over the idea (in my mind) for a few days before I start typing. After I type out the first draft, I sit on it for a couple of days, tweaking it, re-reading it first thing in the mornings while my mind is fresh. Hitting the “Publish” button always requires a deep breath in and a deep breath out and a quick click. :)

There have been a handful of times when I was so excited about an idea or a post that I had basically written the entire article in my head before typing a word. Then from time to time you may see my blog go silent for a week or so – that’s because I’m not inspired to write anything (or I don’t have any time because I’m chasing around my adorable little 8 month old). Like I said, I’m very moody with my writing and I need a spark – something that triggers an idea for a post, and then my mind just works it out from there.

Thank you for your interest in my writing process. The second part of this Blog Tour is to share some of my favorite bloggers, so here they are, in no particular order:

Oakland Avenue

I’ve featured Laura on my Fab Moms series, I was a guest blogger on her site sharing my New Mom Confessions and her blog remains at the top of my daily reading list. I love her honest approach to being a first time mom and her dash of humor keeps me coming back for more. I’m also a huge fan of her This is how I feel series. If you’re a parent, these are absolutely hilarious.

Chic/Social SF

My bestie, Meg, recently started this amazing blog in San Francisco talking about all things SF – restaurants, fashion and design. I just LOVE this line from her “about” page:

So, in a city of Lost Boys, this site is for the Tinkerbells. The dreamers. The dare-to-believers. The ones who don’t take No for an answer and who live life with moxie.

That’s just SO Meg, and I love it and you must follow along with her adventures in SF!

San Diego Mom’s Night Out

Technically,  is this cheating because I also write for this site? (Hope not!) But I wanted to include SD Mom’s Night Out because Angela and I go way back and I’ve worked with her on several events while I was in the hotel business, and now as a mom. She was also a huge inspiration for me in starting my own blog.

SD Mom’s Night Out is not only a blog, but a wonderful, local community of influential women who get together for regular events to celebrate some amazing San Diego venues and businesses. Their events never disappoint and I’m happy to be a part of the talented team over there!

Reverie Print Shop

 

Checklist for Baby’s First Beach Day

Heading to the beach with Baby? Things have changed from the days of putting on your swim suit and flip-flops, grabbing a towel and a magazine and heading for the coast. Now, you have a tiny little human who requires much more thought into the  beach packing process. But don’t worry, I’ve done some extensive research on which items you’ll need to make your day full of fun under the sun the best one yet with your little bambino in tow! Here is the ultimate Checklist for Baby’s first beach day:



Baby's first beach day

  1. Sun Tent: preferably a large UV protected sun tent like the Pacific Play Tents Baby Suite I Deluxe Lil Nursery Tent With Pad to keep harmful rays away from your baby.
  2. Sun Hat: Choose a sun hat that has wide flaps, a chin strap and UV protection, like this Baby Girl’s Splashy Bucket Hat from Coolibar with UVF 50.
  3. Beach Blanket: A waterproof beach blanket like the JJ Cole Large Outdoor Blanket is perfect for a wet and sandy day at the beach.
  4. Sun Screen: If your baby is 6 months or older, check out this list from Lucie’s List of recommended sunblocks – gentle enough for baby, but strong enough to keep harmful UV rays off the skin.
  5. Sunscreen Bands: How cool are these Sunscreen Bands? You apply sunscreen to you skin and the band, and then it will change color when it’s time to reapply or to remind you that you’ve had too much sun for the day.
  6. Rash Guard/Bathing Suits: I think it goes without saying that your little one will need a cute little swim suit for the beach. I’d also recommend packing a couple juuuuust in case. I love the swim zip line because it’s a bathing sut and rash guard in one – and it’s adorable – like this baby girl’s sassy surfer look.
  7. Portable Crib: Think something light weight with mesh sides and easy setup, like phil&teds Traveller Crib (only 7 pounds) that fits nicely under a large tent and gives your little one the perfect place to take a break from the sand and get some shut eye or play time.
  8. Lightweight Blankets: Chances are you little bambino will tucker out while you’re still at the beach. Pack some light weight blankets like the Aiden and Anais Snuggle Bug organic dream blanket to keep them covered while napping.
  9. Portable High Chair: For longer stints at the beach, a portable high chair like this Ciao! Baby High Chair can come in handy to keep sand at bay while feeding your bambino.
  10. Snacks: If your babe has begun eating solid purees, I highly recommend packing these convenient and organic puree pouches from Plum. Easy to pack, easy to store (room temperature until opened) and BPA free packaging.
  11. Mini Blow-Up Pool: If your baby is too young to splash around in the actual ocean, consider bringing an easy-to-inflate mini blow up pool to keep your baby entertained and to double as a place to rinse sand off of baby. Choose something with a sun shade and UV protection like this Sunsmart Baby Hideaway.
  12. Diaper Backpack: Don’t make the same mistake I did and haul your every day, designer diaper bag to the beach – no matter how hard you try, you will get sand inside. And, as recommended from a mom in my playgroup, a Diaper Backpack allows you two free hands perfect for beach set-up – like this Eddie Bauer Broadmoor Diaper Bag.
  13. Wet/Dry Bag: Don’t forget to keep wet clothes/bathing suits away from clean/dry clothes in your beach bag, with a wet bag handy. And how cute is this Fairfax Navy Striped Wet/Dry bag from Pottery Barn Kids?



  14. Disposable Swim Diapers: I just recently found out that there was even such a thing! Try these Huggies Little Swimmers and soggy, wet diapers will be a thing of the past as your baby plays in the water!
  15. Baby Sunglasses: Not only will these make for adorable pictures, but they’ll also help protect baby’s eyes against UV rays. Check out my list of baby sunglasses I’m loving for summer 2014.
  16. Hooded Beach Towels: How cute is this personalized Cape Cod Whale Nursery Wrap from Pottery Barn Kids?
  17. Beach Toys: Something appropriate for water time fun, like this Lanco Natural Rubber Bath Time Ocean Set that is 100% natural rubber, PVC, BPA, and Phthalates Free (appropriate for 0+ months).
  18. Baby Powder: During my research for this list I came across several suggestions that recommended bringing baby powder that supposedly helps get rid of unwanted sand by rubbing a little onto the skin. The powder absorbs moisture, acting as a magic eraser for all stubborn sand. Try Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Dusting Powder. The 100% natural, talc-free powder is non-irritating and hypoallergenic.
  19. Sanitizing Wipes: I use these on the reg, but I’m sure they’re especially useful at the beach! I like these from CleanWell – alcohol-free, cruelty-free, and safe for sensitive skin.
  20. Comfy Outfit for Ride Home: It will be a good idea to change your little one out of the wet, sandy beach clothes and into a soft snuggly outfit for the drive home – something like this Button Footy in Pink Twinkle by Feather Baby – so soft!

What else woud you add to this list? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

We’ll see you on the beach! Surf’s up!



 

 

My Unexpected Journey to Becoming a Stay at Home Mom

Leaving the corporate world to become a Stay at Home Mom was an easy decision that surprised me more than anyone. If you would have asked me  about my career plans 7 months ago, right before Blake was born, I would tell you that I planned to keep working and building my career. You see, I’ve always had a job ever since I was 14 years old. The day I turned 14 and was of legal age to work in California, I marched myself into Baskin Robbins/Togos and got myself a minimum-wage job scooping ice cream and making sandwiches – I was ecstatic for a paycheck all my own!

I continued working through my high school graduation and then moved to San Diego to attend San Diego State University where I found 2 more jobs that allowed me to put myself through college. At times it was difficult to juggle class, selling advertising space for SDSU’s school newspaper during the day and waitressing at night and on the weekends – but I managed to graduate in four years. The week before I threw my black hat up into the air and celebrated my college graduation, I had already received a job offer from a company in Orange County as an entry-level sales and marketing associate.  It was a great first corporate job and despite me living in San Diego, I was thrilled at the opportunity. I commuted to Orange County bright and early every morning because I felt lucky to have landed a job straight out of college.



As the years passed I continued to bounce around from job to job, pushing myself higher and higher, gaining more real-world experience and building more equity in myself. When I landed my dream job with Hyatt Hotels, I thought, I’ve made it – this is exactly where I’m supposed to be. Flash forward four years later and I was running the marketing department at one of the largest properties on the west coast. Nice suits, a new slick car I bought for myself and an office with a view – I felt important, driven and had big plans to keep scaling that corporate ladder.

The point of all this is that working is in my blood, my DNA, and I’ve worked hard for everything I have.  I don’t know how to not work. So when Blake graced us with her presence last November, I honestly didn’t think my mindset would change all that much. I had an amazing job waiting for me and big plans for my future. And taking into account all of my hard work, since I was 14 years old, how could I turn my back on my self-bought education and all of the years I spent investing in myself?

It’s funny how becoming a parent makes you blind and awakened at the same time. Once Blake was born, something changed in me. I wanted to be there when she laughed for the first time, when she said her first word and when she took her first step – I wanted to raiser her. I could care less about my journey to success – I suddenly was blind to all of those years I spent building my career – they didn’t matter as much to me anymore.   This little family that Mike and I had suddenly created – this was where I was supposed to be. It was so crystal clear and I didn’t doubt it for a second. I was also extremely lucky that I even had the option of becoming a stay-at-home-mom. I know many mothers don’t have that option because of financial reasons or don’t want to put their career on hold, and I totally get it and sympathize with them – but everyone has their own journey.

The Journey is the Destination

I love the quote, “The journey is the destination”. Even though I had bigger plans for my career, I didn’t miss out on the destination – my journey was the destination – and a destination that led me to a beautiful life, loving husband and adorable baby girl.  Now, I still do some marketing consulting on the side and of course I run this blog as a creative outlet, (remember, I don’t know how to not work?) but my full time job is raising Little Miss Blake. And forget fancy suits and an office with a view – this is the most important job I’ll ever have.

Pre-order my book, From Boardroom to Baby: A Roadmap for Career Women Transitioning to Stay-at-Home Moms



stay at home mom

 

Mental Snapshots, Vol. 1

I’m the first one to admit that I take way too many photos of my daughter. When I start to think that I should print them all out and make some sort of photo album, I begin to hyperventilate because there are just SO.MANY.PHOTOS! For now, I have them safely stored on my computer. But even with all of the photos, I miss capturing most of the good stuff…the stuff that melts you to your core and happens when you least expect it. It’s these moments that are the most dear to my heart, so I’ve started taking “mental snapshots” – hoping I can call on these memories after Blake is grown.

Here are 10 of my favorite “Mental Snapshots” so far:

  1. The moment the doctor put Blake on my chest after she was born. I have one image in my mind where she turned her little cone-head upwards and looked right into my eyes. At that moment, the last 19 hours of labor were forgotten, everyone else in the room faded away and I just saw her perfect little face. The first thought that ran through my mind when she looked at me? Worth it.
  2. The moment I picked Blake up from her crib and I felt like she really saw me  – the newborn “fog” had lifted and she just studied my face.
  3. The time I walked into our family room and saw Mike fast asleep with his mouth wide open, with Blake sleeping on his chest and her mouth wide open too – they had never looked more alike.
  4. The first time Blake smiled at me because she thought I was funny (not because of gas or an accidental smile) and that moment when I realized, I can make her smile! Oh, the triumph I felt.
  5. The first time Blake giggled which was really the first time I heard her little voice – precious and surprisingly loud! At this moment I began to look at Blake in a new light – she wasn’t really a newborn anymore – she was a bouncing, laughing baby girl!
  6. The moment when Blake was crying in her monkey bouncer and Tucker beat me to her, licked her face then laid down right beside her – the first time I realized he loves her.
  7. The first time Blake watched Tucker walk into the room and smiled so big – the first time I realized she loves him.
  8. The moment Blake discovered her hands – she stared at them so intensely, opening and shutting her little fists, that her eyes turned cross-eyed.
  9. The first time Blake rolled over – she scared me, her Auntie Jaclyn (who was also in the room), and herself – it was hilarious.
  10. The moment when Blake began her jibber-jabber. I was changing her diaper when all of a sudden, she just couldn’t hold it in any longer – she had things to say! We must have had a 30 minute conversation back and forth that first time on the changing table.

What mental snapshots do you have stored away? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

mother daughter

10 Things I Would Tell My Pre-Baby Self

Dear Pre-Baby Kristin:

  1. You know how you think that labor is going to be really hard? Well, it’s going to be even harder than you can ever imagine, so BUCKLE UP, sister.
  2. SLEEP. Forget whatever you think you have to do that is more important than sleep…it’s not. Just go to bed and enjoy a solid 9 hours of uninterrupted shut-eye.
  3. Do more exercises to strengthen your back and arm muscles. You’re going to have an ever-growing little weight in your arms 24/7.
  4. Breastfeeding is harder than you think and will be a constant worry of yours when the babe is here – prepare yourself and go into it with the right mindset.
  5. Appreciate the simplicity of your life right now – like going to the grocery store, going to get coffee or even just taking a walk. Things are about to get a whole lot more complicated with strollers, diaper bags and a tiny little human.
  6. I know you have big plans for your career after the baby is born, but be prepared to pump the brakes a little bit in the beginning.  You’ll come to realize, raising a baby is a full time job.
  7. When I say raising a baby is a full time job, I really mean it’s a 24/7 job – and it will be your hardest one yet. But don’t worry, it’s also the most rewarding.
  8. Right now you’re the most selfish you’ll ever be – enjoy it! Do what you want to do whenever you want to do it. Soon your daughter will be your number one priority.
  9. I know you think that having a dog is good practice for having a baby,  but it doesn’t even come close, sister. Sure, it’s a step in the right direction but, nope – not even close.
  10. I know you think that you will love your baby a lot, but the truth is – you can’t yet comprehend this type of love. This love gets you out of bed every 2 hours to take care of your baby, without any hesitation. This love keeps you up at night worrying that you’re doing enough for your baby. This love makes you blind to all of the things that you previously considered “gross” – poopy diapers, snot and baby spit-up. This love will send you on an emotional roller coaster – creating so much joy that you think your heart will burst,  creating doubt and feeling more lost than you’ve ever felt and feeling the most complete in your entire life. Embrace each emotion – this is all a part of the journey called motherhood.

What would you tell your pre-baby self? Let me know in the comments below!

pre-baby self

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