November 27, 2013

Mom Hacks -- Postpartum Mom Gift Basket

Recently, I went to a good friend's baby shower.  (Okay, by "recently," I mean it was almost two months ago, but still...)  I love shopping for baby items, but one thing I felt really compelled to do for her shower was to give her something.  So many gifts are given for baby, from adorable outfits to diapers to nursery necessities, but Mom-to-be doesn't get many things for herself. 

I started thinking to myself, "What did I need/appreciate the most after Z was born? What totally saved my ass when I was exhausted and recovering and adjusting to life as a newborn?"

The answer?


There are tons of "recipes" for padsicles online and on Pinterest, but I sort of modified the procedure for myself ("ingredients" further down in this post), and I ended up being so grateful that I'd made them ahead of time,while I was still pregnant!  The coldness of the pad mixed with the aloe and the witch hazel was soothing and healing, and the lavender essential oil helped me to feel more calm and, sorry to be gross, but, fresh on those yucky postpartum days. 

I also remember being glad that I had packed my own toiletries for the hospital, and that I had a set of fuzzy socks to wear in those cold rooms.  I threw in a few other items just for Mom, and before too long I had the perfect Postpartum Mom Gift Basket!

(click on picture for a larger image)

1) Always overnight pads with wings
2) Dermaplast spray
3) Spray bottle
4) Witch Hazel (organic and natural foods stores sometimes sell the scented kind! lavender, rose, etc.)
5) Aloe vera gel
6) Aura Cacia lavender essential oil
7) Tucks medicated wipes
8) Fuzzy, aloe-infused socks
9) Wipes (unscented, could be used for mom or for baby!)
10) Travel toiletries for the hospital (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, loofah, lotion, hand sanitizer, extra strength Tylenol, etc.)
11) Boppy brand Nursing cover
12) Breastfeeding book (The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding published by La Leche League International)
13) A journal -- for recording feedings, diapers, thoughts, memories, etc.
14) My pair of Belly Buds as a loaner
15) A card just for Mama
16) An extra frozen hospital pad, just in case she likes those better!

I have it on good authority from my friend that the padsicles were "the most wonderful gift anyone has ever given [her]," so I definitely recommend putting the necessary items into any Postpartum Mom Gift Basket you make for an expectant mother!

How to Make Padsicles 
  • Unfold an overnight pad, but leave it stuck to the wrapper.  Peel back the wings.
  • Spray a good amount of Witch Hazel onto the pad with a spray bottle
  • Spread a thin layer of aloe vera gel onto the pad (I used the back of a spoon)
  • Add a few drops of lavender essential oil (or any essential oil of your choice). A little goes a long way!  Here are some benefits of using lavender oil. 
  • Carefully fold the wings back down and replace adhesive paper.
  • Fold pad back together in its wrapping
  • Store all padsicles in a clearly labeled Ziploc freezer bag in your freezer

What did you love/appreciate the most when you were first home with your baby? What was your favorite gift at your baby shower?

November 25, 2013

Loneliness through Visibility

I've been feeling pretty lonely lately.  Is it because the majority of my time is spent with an infant? A beautiful, growing, entertaining but yet nonverbal infant? 

Is it because the holidays are rapidly approaching and, with them, sharp and unexpected pangs of simultaneous sadness and joy at the vivid memories that the voices of Andy Williams and Nat King Cole can suddenly resurrect?

Is it because I'm lacking in constant and consistent interaction with God and His word? 

It's probably a healthy mixture of all of those things, but one thing that keeps shoving itself to the front of my mind when I am aware of my loneliness is the fact that I'm too visible on social media but feel invisible in "real life."  Over 500 friends/connections, a myriad likes and comments and chat messages, but an overall sense of isolation and a growing desire for connection with real humans.

As I told my husband the other day when, yet again, I'd gotten my feelings hurt by seeing photos of gatherings of friends with whom I used to spend time, "I'm huge on Facebook. Everyone likes and comments on my stuff; they just don't wanna hang out with me."

I laughed, because I realized just how ludicrous that statement sounded: "I'm huge on Facebook."  For one thing, it's a bit arrogant. I don't mean to say that I mean anything to anyone outside of my friends/connections.  For's a bit sad.  What do all those likes and comments even mean other than a perfunctory "click" to like a photo of my son?

I find myself defending my Facebook activity a lot -- perhaps too often.  Maybe that's kind of telling, now that I think about it.  If I have to defend it all the time, perhaps it's time to step away from it for a while. 

It does serve a purpose, in that I've really made an honest effort to read between the lines and find ways to love others.  A status asking for prayer reminds me, quite simply, to pray. And once I pray for that person in his or her situation, a lovely chain reaction is started that reminds me to pray for others, and then I'm reminded of how thankful I am and I thank God for the humanity that amazes and destroys me every day. 

But too often, I feel sad and selfish instead.  I see pictures of parties and get-togethers and I think about how it would've been nice to have been invited, even if my new lifestyle as a mom would cause me to decline more often than not.  I get frustrated at the battling posts: breastfeeding vs. formula feeding, vaccinators vs. anti-vaccinators, Republican vs. Democrat, etc. 

Having a position of leadership on a few pages will keep me from deactivating completely, but perhaps that is a big lesson in self-control that I can learn over the holidays.  It will create a need for me to take ownership of my own activities and personal time spent on Facebook, but still sharpen my skills of diplomacy and marketing for the pages on which I'm an admin/creator. 

I'll admit something: I'm afraid to step back completely for fear that I won't be remembered at all.  If I'm not on Facebook and therefore forced into people's minds and daily social media activities, how will they remember me at all?  Or will they? 

Will a break from things make me feel better? Or worse? 

I don't know the answers.  But I do know that I need to take a step back.  Check only once a day, if that.  Take my husband's lead and just keep Facebook on the far outer edges of my life and, instead, take pictures with a real camera, use my phone to call or text someone to see how they're doing, get in my car and drive over for a visit and some shared snuggles with Z, and enjoy every moment of my own life, instead of viewing everyone else's life through their Instagram filters.

(Even now, I am thinking "Should I post a link to this blog post on Facebook?)

I know that we live in a world where social media is part of our lives...but I toe the line all too often of making it too much a part of my life.  Making it my daily life.  I think I've finally gotten hold of the desire to be validated and liked...right now it's just about the quality of my interactions.  And Facebook is falling short of my needs and expectations.  A few good friends and quality face-to-face time seems to be what I'd prefer these days. 

Wish me luck.  I'm not really going anywhere...but I am going to try my best to take a real step back from everything. 

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We do have so much for which to be thankful!

November 20, 2013

Mom Hacks -- Two Bottles Only

(But which two am I talking about?? hahaha)
Wanna hear something that will probably blow your mind if you're a mom?

I only have two bottles for feeding my son.

Yep.  Two.  Dos. Deux. Zwei. 

Why, you ask?  Well, really it's a lot simpler than having a whole bunch of bottles.  And if there's anything my life could use more of, it is simplicity.  Especially with a baby in the house and a mom (me) who tends to overthink and overanalyze everything. 

Here's the thing: we live in a very old house with no dishwasher and very little storage space.  If we had a dishwasher, this would be a different blog post entirely. I'd have exactly the amount of bottles that Z takes in a day, plus a few to spare, and I could just put them all into the dishwasher after he went to bed and voila! Clean bottles for the next day!

However, if I had that many bottles now and had a sink full of them at the end of every night, I would cry and cry and cry at the thought of handwashing them all.

With only two bottles, we wash as we go.  There's always a clean bottle ready and usually only one to wash at a time.  At the worst, we wash two.  When we're really on top of our game, both bottles are clean and pre-filled with water for His Highness's next two feedings.

Honestly?  It's the easiest thing in the world. 

Sometimes we moms feel like we have to have backups of everything (and I do...I have a gifted Dr. Brown's bottle, washed and ready in the baby cabinet), and this can lead to an overflow of too much stuff

This saves me precious counter space and precious time with my husband after the baby goes to bed.  Instead of spending time leaning over the sink washing a million bottles/parts/nipples, I get us each our own bottle and we sit down together to relax.

As Martha would say, "It's a good thing."

November 18, 2013

Outfits of the Day

Last week's/today's outfits!  (Obviously, anyone who can count and knows the number of days in a week knows that there is an outfit or two missing...but sometimes I can't find time to go and awkwardly take a selfie in the break room bathroom.) (Or I just really dressed like crap that day.)

Left to Right:

Cardigan: Old Navy party cardi.  Thrifted.

Tank: Old Navy (there's a really pretty floral embellishment on the side, covered by the cardigan)

Pants and shoes: same as seen here.

Black and Grey top: Old Navy (sensing an Old Navy trend...)

Skirt: Stitch Fix.  Worn with same tights and shoes as seen here.

Leopard print dress: Phillip Lim for Target.

Purple long-sleeved shirt: Old Navy. 

Scarf and necklace: Gifted and Thrifted

Jeans: MATERNITY SKINNY JEANS, YO.  No shame here!


As the weather goes up and down here in North Texas, it gets really difficult to dress appropriately. Mornings require a heavy coat that leaves you sweating when you leave at 5pm.  I'm anxious for the weather to even out a bit. 

November 15, 2013

Before I Die

One of the many, many reasons I love my little city so much is because there is art and creativity all around me.  I work at a university known for it's music program and its diversity, and I see elements and evidence of that every day I come to work. 

Today, as I went out in search of lunch, I noticed two giant boards with chalk writing on them.  Naturally, I went over to take a look.

I spoke to the young man, Robert Trusko, who organized having the boards on campus, and he told me that he's currently working on what seems to be a beautiful, multimedia performance that will integrate the words written on these boards as lyrics set to music.  He was inspired by the original installation by Candy Chang (read about how it all began here).

Having done some very similar artistic endeavors before involving performance and visual art, naturally I was intrigued and impressed by his vision....and also his kindness and enthusiasm when answering questions about the project.

After having Z and suffering from postpartum anxiety that included my own fear of death and leaving this Earth too soon, I felt so drawn to the words written on these boards.  Some made me laugh ("be a NINJA!") and others brought tears to my eyes ("learn to love myself"). 

I don't want to go on and on and wax philosophical about this, but I'd love to encourage you to think about what you would have written in the blank.  Feel free to share.  And, if you happen to be around on the evening of the 23rd, check out the performance. 

Here is the Kickstarter page.

Here is some information about the event.

And here is one of the MANY thoughts I could have written on the board:

"teach my son to love Jesus and all people & to be KIND"

Good luck, Robert! I love this idea so much.


November 13, 2013

Mind and Body Update

We're just going to go ahead and skip the "body" part of this because it's embarrassing to admit month after month that I'm not doing ANYTHING exercise-wise.  I find myself fighting a lot of long-time instincts to hurry up and get back to a certain size/weight, so I'm trying instead to just sloowwwww down and rejoice in the fact that I'm wearing my pre-pregnancy clothes, and that there is no rush.  I'm only 4.5 months postpartum, and I am not a celebrity.  There is no rush or expectation for me to look a certain way.

Eventually I'd like to get back into an exercise routine so I can not get so winded when I'm taking the stairs, but there's no hurry.  Because there are much more important things to talk about and focus on right now: the fact that I'm happy and feeling so confident!

You read that correctly: CONFIDENT.

Man, God has really been working on me in the last month and I just feel...freer. (That word looks really stupid ...MORE FREE. FREEDOM.  That's what I feel.)

I mentioned in an early blog post (that I'm too tired and lazy to go find for linking purposes) (probably about breastfeeding) how disappointed I was to not meet many of the expectations I set for myself while pregnant...mostly related to attachment parenting.  Breastfeeding didn't work out for me...I was too selfish about keeping my multiple blankets to try co-sleeping...and I was really awkward about babywearing for several months. But Michael and I both really wanted to try, so we started with the easy-to-use Baby K'Tan wrap:

Tiny 3-week old Z in the Baby K'Tan wrap
It can be very intimidating to start babywearing, and there is a whole other language associated with it: Woven. Ring sling. Mei Tai. Rebozo. Tails. Rails. Rucksack. Double hammock. Reinforced ruck. Tibetan tie. Nubs and slubs. Sleepy dust. FWCC.  Semi FWCC. Tied at shoulder.  Tied under bum.  Soft structured carriers. Crotch danglers. Wrap conversions. AND SO ON.

The babywearing community, just like any very passionate sect of the parenting community, can get really intense and judgmental, which can make it even more intimidating to start.  You'll see eye rolls and scoffs and snarky comments about "crotch danglers" and women who clutch their pearls at the thought of pushing their baby in a stroller. (I have a stroller. It's awesome.)

But the community can also be really really awesome! For example, I'm a part of a Moms group online that includes several babywearers.  As I got to know these women individually, I also saw that the babywearing community can be not only incredibly helpful, supportive, but also generous.  A couple of these awesome mamas loaned me some wraps to try other than my K'Tan, including a Ring Sling and a couple of woven wraps in different sizes (a Didymos Mermaid Indio and a Natibaby Notes), and those were super intimidating at first.

But with the help of YouTube, text/Facebook messages between the lenders and myself, and some awesome feedback from babywearing groups online, I'm getting much more confident!

Natibaby Notes, size 4. FWCC tied under bum.
In the ring sling at the pediatrician's office.

I've worn Z while vacuuming...

...and even experienced some of that elusive "sleepy dust!"

Didymos Mermaid Indio, size 6. FWCC.

As I got more confident in the role of Mommy, I got much more confident babywearing. The two are definitely linked.  There were times with those borrowed wraps that I just wanted to call it a day and give up.  But when it did work and I wasn't all sweaty and dealing with a thoroughly pissed off baby once was an incredible feeling!

Now I'm trying new carries when I can, and even getting brave and trying back carries:

Didymos Mermaid Indio, Ruck tied in front

I'm officially converted.  I love wearing Z, and I love experiencing the "babywearing high" that I've heard my mom friends talk about.  When I'm grocery shopping and wearing him in front, I talk to him the whole time. I ask him what kind of cereal I should get.  I tell him about how my day was.  I know it seems silly, but it's so amazing and natural to have him so close to me all the time when I'm wearing him!  He's close enough for me to kiss his head, and when he gets tired or overstimulated, he can just nestle down and go to sleep.

I feel confident and in control and close to my son all at the same time. Because I'm hands-free when I'm wearing him, I can actually get stuff done around the house (see above: vacuuming with baby). And he seems to really love it.  He fusses while I'm getting him wrapped up, but once he's secure, he looks around in wonder at the world around him and he's comfortable.

It's a glorious feeling. 

November 11, 2013

Outfit of the Day

Playing some catch up today!  Last week was a bit crazy.  I had my Big Monthly Meeting on Wednesday, and that always takes up a huge portion of my time and energy.  I also got the wind knocked out of my sails on Friday with a monster migraine, so there are a few outfits missing.  I'm actually wearing the red dress and tights in the top left photo TODAY. 

I wore a lot of black this past week!  I think I need to work on integrating some more colors into my wardrobe.  The red dress and that bright blue blouse are a start, but I do wear a LOT of black. 

Also shown in this collage are two things I LOVE about fall fashion: boots and patterned nights! 

Most of the things in this collage are repeats.  The red dress was last seen here.  The blue top was seen here, and the skirt is from my first Stitch Fix.  You've seen (and will see) the black cardigan MANY times.  The slacks and black draped neck top in the top right picture are both from Kohl's.  The leopard print flats are from Target and the shiny black shoes are another favorite you've seen before

One thing I've found that I need is MOAR CARDIGANS.  I love them so much, but I'm not very adventurous with them re: mixing and matching yet.  I'm going to work on that. I love this black cardigan with my whole heart but I need to start wearing other ones and mixing up my look a little.

November 7, 2013

Z at Four Months

Check out those delicious hands/fingers!  Couldn't get him to take his fingers out of his mouth for the pictures this month...methinks we might see the beginnings of little baby teeth sooner than later!  He always has his hands or something in his mouth these days!

Month four was very exciting for our little guy!  He got to visit the Dallas Arboretum and Spiral Diner for mommy's birthday...(EDITED TO ADD: I just realized all of these Arboretum/Pumpkin pics were in the last post, too. Oh well...sorry! You get to see them again!)

....and he had his very first Halloween!  A week before Halloween, he had "Halloween Pajama Day" at his school, and they did some really freakin' cute Halloween-themed artwork for us to take home.  Then on Halloween itself, we dressed up in our planned-for-months-before-we-knew-we-were-pregnant family costume!

 He is hitting so many awesome milestones this month!  He is now a pro at tummy time and doing baby pushups, and he is rolling from back to front, and then front to back!  He's decided that sleeping on his tummy is the cool way to sleep, and he is laughing more and more (it's the best sound in the world, by the way).

He's so strong!  When he's reclined, I only have to pull gently on his arms to get him into a seated position -- he uses his own core muscles to do most of the work.  And he's already straightening his legs and putting weight on them for a few seconds at a time.  He's going to be all over the place before we know it.

At his four-month check-up at the pediatrician's office, he weighed 16lbs and was 24.5 inches long!  The doctor is thrilled with his growth and his development.  He cried when he got his shots, but Daddy was there to comfort him and he calmed down pretty quickly.  Brave boy.

He's learning object permanence.  He's happy as a clam when we're around and he's playing on a blanket on the floor, but he starts crying as soon as he realizes we're no longer in his sight.  (True or False: Mommy likes this? Means he misses us, right?)  (Or just wants attention...)

He's just getting so fun.  So happy, so generous with his smiles, and really interacting with people and objects around him more and more!  He's just perfect.

November 4, 2013

First Halloween - Little Shop of Horrors!

Z's first Halloween was a pretty huge success, considering that most Halloween activities are at the absolute worst time for small children.  Our family costume was a Little Shop of Horrors theme!  I was Audrey, Michael was Seymour, and Z was (the small version of) Audrey II, the man-eating plant!

Yes, those are lipstick marks on his head...I can't help myself with that sweet face.

This costume idea was planted (heh) in our heads way before I even got pregnant!  We are huge fans of the  movie/musical, and we knew that, little boy or little girl, this was going to be the first Halloween costume for our baby. 

I was very pleased with the result! 

I made Z's costume myself, because I had a feeling there wasn't a huge market for infant man-eating plant costumes.  It was pretty easy and only took me a few hours on a Sunday afternoon, and there was NO sewing involved!

I found a green thermal body suit from Old Navy at a wonderful secondhand store called Once Upon a Child, and then I went to a craft store to get red and white felt (this particular felt had a bit of glitter in it, which I thought was fun), yellow paint, green bias tape, and some artificial leaves and other plant accessories.

I lined the inside of the hood with the red felt (I just used hot glue; fabric glue would also work), and then used the light green bias tape and small triangles of white felt  glued around the outside of the hood to create Audrey II's "lips" and teeth.

Then I used bits of red felt and yellow fabric paint to create the outside "shell" of Audrey II.  This was the most time consuming only because it took about four hours for the paint to dry.  Then I just pulled bits of leaves off of the artificial plant and glued them to the arms and legs of the costume.

Our costumes were easy.  I borrowed the wig (it's nice to have theatre friends with a stash of wigs and costume pieces!), the dress/belt/shoes were all mine, I got Michael's sweater vest at Goodwill and the rest of his costume came from his closet.

My shoes were leopard print, too!

Z looked adorable,and he was such a sweetheart at the Fall Festival where we took him to show him off! 

It was so much fun to enjoy Halloween with a baby, and to see our vision realized! It would have been so easy to just buy him an infant costume from a store, but this was so very us and now we have such awesome memories of his first Halloween!