Losing The Dreaded Pregnancy Weight

There are very few things in life more difficult than losing weight, especially as you get older. It takes dedication and a commitment to make life changes.  As humans we are creatures of habit and unfortunately we pick up bad habits rather quickly.

I recently had my second baby and as a normally petite 5’2” woman, pregnancy has never my strong suit. I also have a giant husband who measures in at a whopping 6’5”.  Together we produced two very large, tall, boys.

Going into this pregnancy I knew it would be my last so I didn’t restrain myself from any cravings. If I wanted a cookie, I was going to eat a cookie… okay, maybe two cookies – who’s counting anyways? I also headed up the Catering department at a luxury hotel so indulging in amazing food was not something I was ever going to turn down.  Pregnant women like to joke they are now eating for two, but let’s be honest here; the second person is practically the size of a melon. I’m sure they don’t require a whole cookie just for themselves.

I admit my love for food is unparalleled, pregnant or not.  This obsession coupled with hypothyroidism, hormone treatments, and an intense sweet tooth caused me to gain nearly 20lbs before I even became pregnant.  During my pregnancy I gained another 40lbs, so I knew once this baby arrived – I would have my work cut out for me.  In my last trimester I put together a weight loss game plan.  I knew if I waited I would get caught up in the daily struggles of taking care of a newborn and my goals may have been sidelined.

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Let me first state that I am not a weight loss expert, a doctor, a nutritionist or even a personal trainer – I am just a busy mom who is passionate about my health and the example I set for my boys.

The first step was writing my goals down and sharing them with friends and family. I am a firm believer in sharing your goals so you are held accountable for them.  Plus, you can use the encouragement and support you receive as inspiration to continue on your path.  Next, I created a realistic timeline.  It takes nine months to put on the weight and it very well may take nine months (or longer) to take it off. Being a mom is stressful enough so be sure to make attainable goals, as you want your weight loss to be a healthy one.  Finally, I downloaded some helpful Apps to track my progress and started following a few fitness blogs. Over the last several months, I continued to stay true to myself and my goals.  If I cheated one day, I made a conscious effort not to do it the next day or any future days.

Below are some tips that helped me reach my goal weight:

  • I wrote down my goals and shared them.
  • I chose to nurse my son.  Nursing, if you can and choose to, will help you lose up to 500 calories a day! This helped tremendously with my initial weight loss.
  • I toned down my portions. Eating off of a salad plate rather than a dinner plate helped me gain perspective on my portion sizes.
  • I eat very little dairy, refined sugars and gluten.  Diary and gluten can give your baby gas when nursing so giving them up was a win for both my baby and me.  I know gluten-free products can be expensive so try substituting one item at a time that your budget allows.
  • Sweets are now just an occasional treat, not part of my daily meal plan. I do miss my cookies though!
  • I signed up for a Mommy Fit class. These classes are a great way to incorporate your baby into your fitness routine, and are  perfect networking opportunities for you to meet other new moms.
  • I enjoy running as a cardio workout so I signed up for future races to keep my goals ongoing.
  • I follow fitness / healthy lifestyle blogs religiously.  Three of my favorites: New mom, Kelsey Byers Fitness, Becci Prather Fitness, and Angela Carpenter, The Yoga Life Blog.  All give recipes, food recommendations, fitness routine suggestions and post videos to show the ‘How To’.
  • I have two Apps that I also use religiously: The Nike + Running App to track my miles and running goals and My Fitness Pal to track my calories, food intake and exercise goals.
  • When the baby naps I try to use that time to work out, whether it’s simple floor exercises, push-ups or using hand weights.
  • This one may sting a little… I consume very little alcohol. Alcohol is a complete waste of calories and it also prevents me from nursing my son.  I now consider it only as a treat on special occasions. The nightly glass of wine for relaxation is now a thing of the past.

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Today my son is almost five months old and my progress has exceeded my expectations. When I checked into the hospital I weighed 185lbs, I currently weigh 120lbs. I feel amazing but most importantly – I feel healthy.

 

 

Post originally featured on Dot Complicated

By now we’ve all learned that it’s not really official – until it’s Facebook official. I say this jokingly, however there is some truth to this theory. People take their social media posts very seriously. They strategize and calculate the perfect time to post; whether it’s to announce a pregnancy, engagement, break-up, promotion, career goal, life goal or even something as simple as a work-out plan. I can’t tell you how many times a friend has shared information with me and then followed up with, “I haven’t posted it on Facebook yet.” This is generally code for: no one really knows so keep quiet!

Personally, I find that sharing my goals with friends and family on social media not only holds me accountable to my aspirations, but many times it inspires those who are chasing the same goal as I am.

Three years ago I was considering running the Chicago Marathon. It was an item on my bucket list and I knew if I didn’t do it soon, it was probably not going happen. Having never been a consistent runner prior, I was concerned I was way out of my league – or just out of my mind. Before I posted my goal on Facebook I thought about it for weeks. Did I really want to post it? What if I wanted to chicken-out? Or got hurt? Or changed my mind? Or realized I was crazy? Will my friends think I’m a loser if I back out? These were all questions I pondered over night after night. I knew as soon as I posted my plan to run, I would undoubtedly have to. As we all know, there’s no turning back once it’s Facebook official.

Finally the over-achiever in me signed up and posted the news for all my friends and family to see. I knew their encouragement along with my determination would get me through it – or at least get me to the start line.

I spent the next ten months training and linked my Nike+ Running App to my Facebook account. Each run would automatically post to my News Feed and would applaud me whenever friends commented or liked the post. It was the perfect motivation to keep going. And when October finally came – I stood at the start line knowing they all believed in me more than I believed in myself.

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Throughout the race I posted mile-markers to keep my Facebook family up to date on my progress. As I hit walls I would check my phone to read their words of encouragement, and when I crossed the finish line – I cried. I cried because I couldn’t believe I actually did it, and I cried because I didn’t let the people who believed in me down. If it wasn’t for my goal posted on Facebook for all to see, I may have not finished. Or, if I did finish the victory would not have been nearly as sweet. In life, we all need a little motivation – so why not receive it from 500 of our closest (Facebook) friends?

One of my favorite quotes that I live by:

“I am a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.” –Abraham Lincoln.

 

Thank you so much to Jennifer Coburn for her guest post below and for being kind enough to share her book, We’ll Always Have Paris, with me. I truly loved this heartwarming yet humorous memoir about her and her daughters travels and how it taught her to live like there’s no tomorrow.

Jennifer has always been terrified of dying young. So she decides to save up and drop everything to travel with her daughter, Katie, on a whirlwind European adventure before it’s too late. Even though her husband can’t join them, even though she’s nervous about the journey, and even though she’s perfectly healthy, Jennifer is determined to jam her daughter’s mental photo album with memories—just in case.

From the cafés of Paris to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Jennifer and Katie take on Europe one city at a time, united by their desire to see the world and spend precious time together. In this heartwarming generational love story, Jennifer reveals how their adventures helped vanquish her fear of dying…for the sake of living.

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We are doing a giveaway for a free copy!  To enter leave a comment below or like the Facebook post. We will announce the winner on Friday.

You can pre-order your copy here.  All proceeds before April 8th will go to the American Cancer Society in honor of Jennifer’s father, Shelly.

You can also watch the book trailer here

 

Guest Post: Five Reasons To Ditch Dad

When I tell people I left my husband at home when I took my daughter to Europe, they assumed my marriage was on the skids. One mother even confided, “I ditch mine whenever I can too.”

The truth is I would’ve loved if William could have joined Katie and me on our overseas adventure. But when he said he couldn’t come along I had two choices: stay home or go without him. I had very little experience traveling, so the idea of being the only adult – the sole person responsible for absolutely every aspect of the trip – was more than a bit daunting.

I decided to go anyway and I’m so glad I did. Katie and I definitely had our misadventures, but really it wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be. And there were some very real benefits to traveling without dad as listed below:

Trying new roles - When one person is missing from the equation, the family dynamic changes. If William had come with us to Europe, I would have gladly handed him the map and let him assume his natural role as family navigator. Without him, I had to figure out where the heck we were going, and how to read the Godforsaken map. Know what? I can navigate. (I just don’t like it.)

Creating Mommy memories – William and Katie have very similar interests. They watch Dr. Who, Merlin, Sherlock, and Big Bang Theory together. (And now that raunchy cartoon Archer!) They run together; they take rock-climbing class together. They have discussions about science that I can’t even understand, much less participate in. I’ve got to admit, I kind of like getting rid of the competition for a few weeks so Katie and I could discover our shared interests and create our memories.

Meeting new people – People reach out to a woman traveling alone with children in a way they don’t when they see dad’s along. Sure, there are those European Casanovas who think American women are easy and make their move. And yes, there are a handful of miscreants who see a woman sans a man as an easy target for a purse snatching. But mainly people want to help a mother and children make their way through Europe enjoyably. Katie and I got more free meals and invitations than we ever do when William is with us.

Saving money – Let’s face it, dads take up a lot of space and eat a lot of food. When Katie and I travel with William, our costs don’t increase by half, they double!

Letting absence make your heart grow fonder – Katie and I have now taken four long trips to Europe together, and each time we miss William terribly. We get over it pretty quickly because, hey, we’re missing him from Paris. But we do feel his absence, which reminds us of all the things we love about him. Coming home to him is that much sweeter.

So go ahead and take that trip without him – you’ll be glad you did!

 

 

 

 

 

Girl’s Night Out vs. Mom’s Night Out

Remember when you could call up a few girlfriends on a Saturday morning and plan a night out for that evening? You could then go get a mani-pedi, shop for an outfit and may even have time for a blowout.  The night usually started out with cocktails and a nice meal, followed by some dancing into the wee hours of the morning.  The conversation was often centered around men, careers, travel plans or some other chick you hated at your job.  You were worry-free, responsibility-free and kid-free. Those were the days.

What 'Girls Night' used to be..

What ‘Girl’s Night’ used to be..

It recently dawned on me how much my social life has changed when I planned a girl’s night out for my birthday a few weeks ago.  I enlisted some friends to help because as a working mom I barely have time to eat, let alone plan a night out.  All of my friends attending were moms too so we sent a “Save the Date” a month in advance.  Yes, a month in advance. This was a far cry from the days of “Hey, lets go grab a drink tonight”.

The night finally came and eight of my friends were able to make it. The first stop we made was a candle-making place. This is what’s now fun to us – making candles. I guess dancing on the bar is out of the question. After we made candles we went to a winery where we indulged in cupcakes and wine. We didn’t have time for a full dinner since we all have young kids at home, but I didn’t care because these were two of my favorite things paired with great company. As we’re enjoying our wine, two of the eight girls arrived late and were already in tears as they walked through the door. Wow, we’ve just started and there are already tears?  The tears used to come at the end of the night after many alcoholic beverages. We quickly got them a glass of wine and one spilled hers.  This resulted in more tears.

She explained she had a sick toddler for over a week, which in mom-land seems more like a year. She hasn’t had any sleep and only hears whining around the clock.  As she told us her sorrows she gulped down wine and we nodded sympathetically.  My other friend has a traveling husband and works full-time herself.  That alone is worth some tears.  She complained about her stressful week and how she feels like she is drowning.  Unfortunately, I can relate to both to both of them.

The night soon morphed into a therapy session for all of us.  Sometimes no one understands better than other moms.  We all complained and occasionally threw in the obligatory, “I love my kids, but”. We reminisced how girl’s night out used to be and laughed while we devoured some nachos. We discovered that none of us are Supermom, and we’re all just trying to do the best we can.  Even though there was not any dancing or throwing back shots, it actually turned out to be the perfect night – for moms.

Eventually the tears turned into smiles and we marked our calendars for another girl’s mom’s night in the near future. The next morning I woke up feeling great and I was able to enjoy my kids a little more knowing my friends share in the same struggles as I do.  Time-outs are just as important for moms as they are for toddlers – even if it’s just to make candles. I would, however, recommend that wine be involved too.  Cheers. 

Happy Birthday to me!

Happy Birthday to me!

 

 

 

 

Remember when you first found out you were going to be a parent?  I bet you swore you would never do things you saw other parents do.  You also probably thought you would still be able to partake in adult activities, maintain an immaculate home, and not let your kids dictate your life.

So how’s that working out for you?  

 Not going as planned?

 That’s what I thought.

Before becoming a parent – I too believed in this fantasy.  Now I’ve accepted the things I can’t change and have embraced the nuances that coincide with parenting young children. There are specific certainties that parents of infants and toddlers just have to succumb to. We all belong to a special club and membership requires some if not all of the following:

 

Your living room looks like you put a couch in the middle of Gymboree.

I swore once we had kids that our living room would remain kid-free. Unfortunately, this only lasted a few months. Now it’s plagued with toys and baby gear even though we have a designated playroom downstairs. The couch and ottoman are now used as a trampoline and the television console has become the emergency stop for all my son’s racecars. We used to have nice things – not so much anymore.  

There goes my 'adult' space

There goes my ‘adult’ space

Your car is a place where Goldfish go to die.

The car wash has actually charged me extra when I take my car in to get cleaned. When they see me pull in, half of the staff suddenly goes on break. My car has definitely seen better days, which didn’t include sticky chocolate milk stains and remnants of Goldfish crackers smashed into the carpets.

 

You now dine with senior citizens.

Dinnertime with kids is now at 5 pm. If and when you are able to go to a restaurant, you will only be in the company of senior citizens or other families with small children. Once you’re there you have a very limited time to shovel all your food in your face and then race home before the clock strikes bedtime.  If you don’t make the bedtime deadline your kids will turn into little demons. Not exaggerating.

 

You no longer get embarrassed.

The days of caring what others think are long gone after the first few hundred times your kid acts like a raging lunatic in public.  You become a pro at ignoring them and everyone else.  You also find yourself doing embarrassing things like: smelling your kids butt to see if they have a dirty diaper, licking their face to clean it and even picking their nose. 

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You will never be on-time again.

Even if you plan ahead, set everything out the night before and wake up early – you will still be running late. Your kids have no concept of time nor do they care about being punctual. The simplest thing like putting on their jacket can take up to 20 minutes.  The world now revolves around them.  You’ll need to accept this early in the game in order to keep your sanity.

 

You know every character and song played on Disney Junior.

You can’t remember the last time you watched a non-animated show.  You find yourself singing the songs and getting excited for any new episodes of your child’s favorite cartoons – because ultimately these will serve as the babysitter when you need a break. You may even find yourself sitting in an arena watching all the characters singing and skating around on ice.  Never say never.

 

You have become an expert at multi-tasking.

You quickly learn how to utilize your time wisely.  Who knew you could prep dinner while feeding your baby, paying your bills, loading some laundry and even checking Facebook all at the same time? I often wear my baby around the house so I can have my hands free to take care of other things.  As a parent you have to get creative or you will never get anything done.

 

I’m sure there are many more behaviors that bond us as parents with small children, these are just some of my favorites.  What are the tell-tale signs of parents with small children to you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post originally featured on Dot Complicated

Before entering motherhood I had a preconceived notion of what was in store for me. According to my friends, parenthood was the most amazing thing one could ever experience, which is only partially true. Parenthood is quite rewarding, but it is also one of the most challenging tasks I have ever known.

When my first son was born I read every book published regarding newborns and how one should parent to have a happy, healthy baby. Of course, most of the information I attained was forgotten shortly after his birth, so once he arrived I felt like I was in another dimension. Where was this little angel everyone told me about? I thought there was supposed to be a honeymoon phase? As he grew older and more independent it became even harder. I found my patience being tested daily. There were times I lost my cool and then would wallow in the guilt. I hated raising my voice, putting him in time-out or hearing him cry. I often questioned if I was cut out for this new role I once was so excited to take on. I cried a lot and I judged myself.

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In public, my friends raved about how their babies slept through the night, ate well and hardly ever cried. They bragged about how they couldn’t wait to have another one and that being a mother was so amazing. I, on the other hand, would just listen intently as I didn’t want to say what I was really thinking: My baby is a nightmare most of the time and apparently I’m not good at this mom thing.

On the verge of a Mommy breakdown, I turned to the Internet. I had struggled with trying to be the perfect mom long enough. It was time to dissolve that image and stop holding myself hostage. I couldn’t be the only one who struggled with managing these little minions, right? I started reading Mommy blogs and joined a few online parenting groups who shared their stories, gave advice and encouragement, but most importantly they told the truth. Parenting is difficult and unfortunately there are days you want a reset button. As much as you love your kids, there will be days you don’t like them too – and that’s normal. Having thousands of other parents at my disposable online was truly a lifesaver.

What women did before the Internet is beyond me. Whatever it was, I’m pretty sure there was a lot of wine involved. My advice to mothers, especially new ones, is don’t listen to your parents or friends if all they do is marvel in the greatness of parenthood. They are speaking through the rose-colored glasses of hindsight.

Parents tend to only remember the good times, which would explain why they are willing to have more children. Turn to your virtual friends for the real advice. It’s amazing how truthful people are when their computer screen conceals them. In this age of over-sharing the Internet will be your greatest resource and support system, be sure to take advantage of it.

I don’t know how I would have made it through the last three years if it weren’t for my virtual friends, blogs and parenting groups on Facebook. Throughout my journey they have made me laugh, helped me potty train, warned me about the normal behaviors of a toddler, but most importantly they made me realize – maybe I am not such a bad mom after all.

 

Motherhood and Murphy’s Law Go Hand-In-Hand

I’m a glass-half-full type of person, but ever since becoming a mom I’m starting to believe there’s some truth behind the theory of Murphy’s Law.  Actually, I may have proof from this last week of disastrous events that proves this law to be true.  Once Murphy rears his ugly head, it’s all down hill from there. It seems that no matter what you do–he’s coming for you.  You can be proactive and try to think of everything that could possibly go wrong, but either way you are never fully prepared to match him. Things will and do go array, so just learn to accept it. Wine helps.  Luckily moms get smarter by the day. We learn from our own trial and error methods and from other mom’s horror stories.

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Over the last week I’ve had my fair share of Mr. Murphy. First, I got an email that strep throat was sweeping through my son’s school.  I was worried, but my son managed to dodge several outbreaks over the last few months so I figured luck was on my side.  In fact, I even told my mother-in-law earlier in the day that I was happy my kids had not been sick so far this winter. That was my first mistake–I should have kept my mouth shut.

Low and behold, Saturday my son wakes up and says his mouth hurts. He also had a fever. I didn’t see anything in his throat and he wasn’t complaining too much so I thought we could ride it out. We carried on with our weekend preparing for my husbands new job, and on Sunday my son woke up with a head-to-toe rash, high fever and crying because his mouth hurt. Awesome–the only two days in the last 10 years we weren’t covered by insurance and now my son needs medical attention!  I took him in and had to pay out-of-pocket for the visit and his antibiotics.  Couldn’t he have waited a day to get sick? 

Me-0, Murphy-1

By Wednesday he was back to his normal self and could return to school.  Thank God because I needed the break to get things done.  As I’m getting the kids ready to leave the house, I open the door to what appears to be an explosion of snow! I literally cannot see my car. Great, now we are going to be late! I go outside and start clearing the snow off my windshield with a brush, which is not easy when you are short and snow is blowing in your face at warp speed. Just as I finish the last window, the snowplow comes along and banks me into my spot! Is this a joke?  I opened the garage to get the shovel–but it’s nowhere to be found. Surely we have a shovel.  We’ve lived in Chicago for 10 years! I texted my husband only to get a reply of, “Oh it’s in my trunk, I didn’t know you would need it.”  Doused in snow with a red nose and watering eyes I threw my hands in the air and yelled, “Screw it!” I go back inside, remove the hundreds of layers of clothes off my kids and turn on a Disney movie so I could defrost in peace.

Oh look it's my car!

Oh look it’s my car!

Me-0, Murphy-2

The following day my friend asked if we wanted to go to the aquarium for a play date. Before she could finish her sentence I blurted out, “Yes!” We needed to get out of the house as Cabin Fever had taken over. The plan was to leave the house by 8:00 a.m. Of course with kids this meant 8:30 a.m. or later. We wanted to stop for coffee first because we both desperately needed it. We drove around for 20 minutes looking for a parking spot on the streets closest to Starbucks that weren’t yet buried in snow and were somewhat legal. We eventually found a spot, semi-legal, but it would have been worth the ticket because my Hazelnut Macchiato never tasted better.

Me-0, Murphy-3

We made it to the aquarium parking garage at 10:00 a.m.  Yes, it took almost two hours to travel seven miles. We unloaded the strollers, bags, snacks, etc., and headed toward the elevators.  Apparently one must have bionic super-powers to get in the elevators there because the doors would shut after a millisecond of being opened. It took several sprints just to get on. Also, nothing was clearly marked so we got off on every floor wandering around trying to find the path to the aquarium. As we finally neared the exit of the garage I realized my double stroller wouldn’t fit through the doors. Again–is this a joke? I had to unpack the stroller, make my toddler get out and take the infant car seat off.  I then had to fold the stroller, carry it through two sets of doors, repack my belongings and strap the kids back in. The thought crossed my mind several times to just turn around and leave, but my kid was so excited to see those stupid sharks. I guess a promise is a promise, right?

YOU LIE! It is not that easy!

YOU LIE! It is not that easy!

We finally got inside and my friend and I were already sweating and panting with exhaustion.  It was approaching lunchtime so we headed to the cafe onsite to get something substantial instead of just snack food. After getting lost a few times we came upon a darkened room that seemed to be the cafe.  Just our luck–closed! Perfect, now we are starving and there’s not a place to eat. We decided to give the kids 20 more minutes to play until we hoisted the white flag. As we prepared to leave we noticed the kids playing in a water-table exhibit and had completely soak themselves. Did I mention it was 4 degrees outside? At this point we were both close to tears, so it was time to go. We actually ran back to the garage to prevent the kids from turning into icicles due to their wet clothes.  As the kids start to cry because they are cold, I unpack the mammoth stroller and carry it through the doors again. And just to twist the knife a little deeper, the pay station wouldn’t take our money for the parking fee–it was broken.

We stopped for another coffee on way home as the kids slept peacefully in the back, however what we really needed was a bottle case of wine. Here’s hoping this week Mr. Murphy can cut me some slack.

Me-0, Murphy-4

Embracing the Stay-At-Home Mom Status

It has been one year since I resigned from my corporate job.  Although I work from home part-time, most of my time is spent as a stay-at-home mom.  The first few months of my transition where difficult as I had been working, sometimes two jobs, since I became of the legal age to do so.

I had grown accustomed to the rat race and always being in a rush. I wasn’t bothered by my phone ringing constantly, or by the dozens of people who needed me daily – all at once.  My days were filled with presentations, client meetings, analyzing budgets and attending strategy meetings. This was my normal and I enjoyed it for a long time, however when my work-life balance began to fade quickly when my son was born – my priorities shifted.  If I was going to bow out of the race for a bit, there wasn’t a better time to do it. So….I did just that, gracefully of course. Carpe diem!

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At first I marveled in the thought of finally having time for me. I envisioned a life of leisure – spending my days working out, lunching with friends, running errands and doing things with my son.  Unfortunately, this fairy tale never came to be.  The reality was my frantic corporate job was much easier than being a stay-at-home mom. I am just as busy and my days revolve around entertaining a toddler.  My presentations are now crayon drawings of stick figures labeled: Mommy and Sebastian.  Boy.. are their attention spans short or what!? It’s a constant dog-and-pony show around here. 

The days have flown by and we finally figured out a schedule, until we welcomed our new baby in November.  Now I am back at square one.  I’m hoping by his 10th birthday, I will have it together.  All of this is a far cry from my life just a year ago, however through it all I have learned to embrace the benefits of being a SAHM.

Some benefits (for me) are:

More time with my little men!

This is obviously the biggest advantage of staying home. Before, I was lucky if I got to kiss them goodnight. Our weekends were often rushed with activities and chores, which translated into stress and anxiety.  Now I get to hug and kiss them a lot more, which I am sure they love too!

SAHM friends!

First order of business after my resignation was to make other SAHM friends.  It’s hard to have SAHM friends when you work because once you get home you are doing the same thing they’re doing: baths, dinner and bedtime routines. Making new friends allowed me to get adult time and give my kids new playmates. Plus you have someone who gets how being a SAHM is just as difficult as working in the corporate world. Trust me – adults can act like children just as much as your toddler can.

Embracing the yoga pant!

My first few weeks at home I dressed up – literally.  What was I thinking?  You are thrown up on all day, why would I wear something nice?  Then one day I put on my yoga pants to work out in…. and they stayed on for the next ten months.  First, yoga pants are extremely comfortable and second they make everyone think you are a regular at the gym.  Suckers! My only warning is that yoga pants can somewhat trick you – we often forget they stretch. This means they still fit after you binge on cake and nachos.  Then you act surprised when you put your jeans on and they seem a little tight. Ladies, don’t let the yoga pants fool you; you really do need to work out. Damn it – I thought I found a short cut!

Yay no more suits!

Yay no more suits!

HGTV/ Food Network

TV was a luxury I just didn’t have time for.  On the rare occasion time did allow for TV, it was showing Disney Junior.  Not that I have a lot of time for TV now, but when the boys are napping I can feed my obsession with HGTV and The Food Network!  I learned to cook from The Food Network and HGTV brought out the designer in me that I didn’t even know existed! You just have to be careful not to get the bug to renovate your entire house from all the ideas you get.  House Hunters International makes me feel like I’m exploring the world from my very own couch.  Who says you need to pay for an expensive, exotic vacation? It’s all right there on HGTV!

VIP at Starbucks

Starbucks takes on a whole new role when you’re a mom – it’s your escape. It may be the only adult contact you receive all day, and they make you a delicious, energy-boosting beverage.  The only way your beverage could be better is if there were alcohol in it!  It’s also awesome that you don’t have to wait in line like cattle during rush hour!  All the barista’s know me and are involved in my life.   They know my drink and have it ready as soon as I enter the store, and they even act like they love my kids. I heart you Starbucks!

Less guilt

When I was working full time I always felt guilty.  Do my kids know me? Am I neglecting them? If I went to get a haircut or went to the grocery store without them, I felt like it was one less minute I should be spending with them.  In doing this I created more anxiety for myself.  I needed (and deserved) that time for me too. Now since I spend most of my time with my boys, as soon as my husband gets home I have no problem running out the door for a pedicure. It’s a win-win, we spend time together and my feet aren’t hideous!  I actually enjoy my me time without feeling like I have to rush home now.

 

I’m sure there are many more, but these are my top observations over the past year. As a work-a-holic, I thought I would absolutely hate staying home and it turns out – it’s pretty awesome! I have fully embraced this new chapter in my life. What are your favorite things about being a SAHM? Or a Working Mom? Share with us.

 

Baby Gizmos & Gadgets

It’s hard to believe how much has changed in the land of baby paraphernalia since my first son was born just three years ago.  Walking through BuyBuyBaby shopping for our second baby, I’d literally get heart palpitations.  The people behind this store are brilliant because they make any mom feel like she needs everything they are selling.  Why yes, I need that $900 stroller…who doesn’t?  I would stand and watch demo videos for every product in the store with wide eyes, then gaze at my husband with puppy dog eyes.  This was code for: we need this or our baby will be doomed!  Needless to say we spent a small fortune on top of all the hand-me-downs from our first son.  Some items were definitely worth it while others were not.

I know there are a lot of new moms and moms-to-be who follow the blog so I wanted to share some insight on my favorite things, as well as things you could probably pass on. Each photo has a link to the product for your convenience. 

Items I love:

  • Momaroo – Awesome-a-roo! This thing is LEGIT. Totally worth the money and as a bonus – it’s small.  As a Chicagoan this helps tremendously as our space is limited.  It fits nicely in the corner and my little guy loves it.
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  • Medela Breast Pump- If you are nursing this is hands down the best pump.  It lasted a full year of pumping with my first son and I’m able to use it with this baby.  Spend the extra money, it’s worth it.
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  • Grocery Cart Protector - This turned out to be one of my favorite things!  We used it all the time with my first son.  You can even lay your baby down in it.  Being a germ-a-phone, it also eased my mind knowing my baby wasn’t touching all the germs on the handle. Totally worth the purchase.
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  • Hands Free Pumping Bra - I didn’t know about this with my first son until a friend clued me in. If you are pumping, this is a must.  Who doesn’t need their hands free?  It is great to use at work as well because you can still answer emails and catch up on work uninterrupted while pumping.
Follow Link to Purchase

Follow Link to Purchase

  • Nose Frida - Okay this looks gross, however it is amazing.  It works way better than your typical nasal aspirator. It completely clears your baby’s nose. My baby has a difficult time nursing when he can’t breathe fully from his nose. Nose Frida takes care of that and clears his sinuses. Do yourself a favor and get one stat!
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  • Boppy Lounger - This has been really helpful for both my son’s.  I set it next to me on the couch and lay my napping baby on it.  I can still be close to them and it’s comfortable for them to sleep on.  This is not to be used if unattended.
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Follow Link to Purchase

  • Pack-N-Play with Changing Area - I’m an idiot and did not get a Pack-n-Play with my first son.  We didn’t have the room in our small condo.  However now that we live in a three-level town home, this works perfectly.  The changing table prevents me from running up and down the stairs all day to change him.  If you live in a multi-level home, I would definitely recommend this.
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Follow Link to Purchase

  • Wipe Warmer- I’ve seen other Blogs say this is a waste of money, but when you live in Chicago or any cold weather climate – it’s a must.  The cold wipes send my son into shock followed by a screaming tantrum, especially at night.  It’s cold! They are cold! Those wipes are cold! At least try to comfort their booty with a warm wet wipe.
Follow Link to Purchase

Follow Link to Purchase

  • Portable Music Player (MyBaby)- This little piece of magic machinery is a life saver! I put this in the bassinet and his car seat. It instantly calms him down.  It comes with four sounds, has a timer and a clip to easily hang from the car seat.

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  • Glass Bottles- Bottles are always a hard find.  It depends on what your baby likes. With this baby I decided to try glass bottles because heating anything in plastic makes me nervous.  I’ve come to love (and my baby too!) Life Factory bottles.  He doesn’t get gas from air pockets, they fit in any bottle warmer and they are easy to clean. They also come with a cute little silicon cover.
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Now for some items you can pass on:

  • Fancy Burp Cloths - Guess what? They vomit on them 24/7 so why spend money on cute little (thin) burp cloths?  I use old school cloth diapers.  You can get (6) in a pack for the price of (1) fancy one. Don’t waste your money.
  • Clothes - I guarantee everyone else will buy you clothes.  This is the most common gift for new babies. Plus, you’ll end up just rotating whichever clothes are easiest to change their diapers in. Also, more than half the clothes your baby has will never be worn because he/she grows by the hour.
  • Swaddle Blankets - Good news – the hospital gives you those!  Stock up on a few before you leave, you are paying for ‘supplies’ on your hospital bill anyways – take advantage of the ‘free’ supplies!
  • Crib Sets - Baby bedding is so expensive and they can’t have it in their cribs anyways!  Bumpers, unless breathable ones, are not supposed to be used. The big thick blankets pose a suffocation risk too.  Buy a simple crib sheet and for warmth buy sleep sacks.  Save the bedding money for when they are toddlers.
  • Shoes- In case you didn’t notice, babies can’t walk.  Their feet never touch the ground, so why buy shoes? Plus, they grow so fast they may get to wear them only a few times. I know baby shoes are cute but until they can walk you are better off just buying cute socks.

Helpful savings tips:

  • Sign up on Diapers.com or Amazon Mom for diapers and wipes. In the long run you’ll save money and they send you discounts and coupons frequently. Shipping is free too!
  • If you sign up to receive emails from BuyBuyBaby, you get 20% off coupons frequently by email and regular mail.  You can use BedBath&Beyond coupons there too! Lastly, they take multiple coupons for the same transaction. When you have kids it’s all about saving money!

Hope this information helped.  If you have any additional tips or products you loved, leave them in the comments section for our new moms who need the advice.

 

The Other Woman

*Article originally featured on DotComplicated*

Every year we get the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start a new. Many of us make resolutions to lose weight, pay off debt or lead a healthy lifestyle.  My goal this year is to reconnect with my husband and kick the other woman in our marriage to the curb. You may know her by the name of Siri.

Before Siri my husband and I would talk about our days or current events at the dinner table.  At bedtime, we would catch up on Breaking Bad and cuddle before going to sleep.  During our limited free time we would take walks around the city, grab coffee, dream up vacations we wanted to take in the future, or talk about our children.

There were times he fell into digital induced comas, but they were few and far between – until he met her.

I have to admit I first introduced them, which is something I now regret. My husband’s job required him to have a Blackberry, so he was not interested in getting an iPhone.  He was blissfully unaware of the instant obsession one gets when they get their first iPhone, and he liked it that way.  I begged him for months to get one so when he traveled he could Facetime with the kids and I at night.  I also wanted him to feed my addiction by playing Words With Friends with me.

Half way through the year his company finally switched to iPhones and then – I lost him. Siri, equipped with her sexy English accent he gave her, became the first woman he talked to in the morning and the last woman he talked to before going to bed.  She joins him in the bathroom, graces us with her presence at the dinner table every night, and even accompanies us on date nights.  There have been numerous occasions where he will have his laptop, iPad, the television and Siri all being utilized at the same time.  How many sports highlights, scores and games can you actually watch at once?  Who are you Jerry Maguire?  I’m afraid I have created a monster. Oh, and by the way he hates playing Words With Friends, so my entire plan backfired.

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As of the New Year I will no longer be an enabler or a participant.  We agreed our digital obsessions, particularly his, have gone too far.  Ms. Siri is now banned from the dinner table at home and on date nights. When our kids are awake we will now focus on them without looking at our phones constantly. Sunday’s are strictly family days with limited gadget play. Finally, Siri is no longer welcome in our bed. I’m sure she can find her own out in cyber space and stay out of mine.

I’m confident her sexy English accent could never replace my warm touch. My husband would agree, or at least I hope.