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Fall Family Fun

Fun in the leavesFall activitiesMaternity clothes

Margot’s Outfit // Fleece: Target | Leggings: Nordstrom

Mama’s Outfit //  Top: PinkBlush | Jeans: Nordstrom

Well, here in Western New York winter is officially upon us. We got a few inches of snow today and the forecast for the next week or so is just more and more of it. Fall has passed, and we are on to the homestretch of a few winter weeks before baby’s arrival!

We had an awesome fall weekend a few weeks back as a family that I haven’t had a chance to share until now. Reed and I raked some leaves at his parent’s house the other day and even gave Margot her own little rake. She was definitely more interested in playing in the leaves as opposed to helping, but we figured that might be the case. It’s crazy that these are our last few weeks as a family of three before baby girl makes her debut in December.

Happy November!

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Baby · Life At Home

Walking Through the Same Path in Life

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Growing up I passed through our local cemetery many times. It was only a few blocks away from my home, so there were plenty of walks, bike rides and more on this very familiar path. One stretch of the cemetery was and still remains my favorite path today.

This path was the part of the loop I learned to ride my bike on as a child. Flat, long and easy to ride back and forth when just learning this new skill of balancing on two wheels.

This same path was walked numerous times as a young teenage girl. Endlessly chatting and giggling with friends, naming boys left and right.

These roads saw my boyfriend and I holding hands, walking through the cemetery enjoying the scenery as a new relationship, and later as a married couple.

These well known paths were where I found myself after I had lost the baby we were supposed to have. I went there hoping it would bring a little joy into my life after such a trying time. I remember walking these familiar roads thinking, “Why does this happen? How do mother’s go on after losing a child?”

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month. One in four women have lost a baby either in pregnancy or as an infant. Before I had a miscarriage I had no idea that there were so many women who had lost a baby. Miscarriage is such a quiet topic. Until I shared what happened with close family and friends I had no idea how many women had similar experiences to my own. Once the conversations began I heard, “My best friend had a miscarriage”, “My sister had two before her first born”, “I was supposed to be a twin, but my mother lost the other baby” or just a simple, “We had one too”.

I consider myself lucky in that I lost the baby before I even knew I was pregnant. I couldn’t pass a pregnancy test, but I knew something was different. Something felt off. When I went to the doctor they told me I had been pregnant, but had already had a miscarriage. I never got that positive pregnancy test, so I never had that feeling that I was going to be a mother. It was still difficult knowing that I could have been a mother, but I never shared that joy that other mothers get and sometimes lose in an instant.

Some people have said to me, “Everything happens for a reason”. I say that phrase is an easy way out. I don’t think everything happens for a reason. I just think everything happens. Life can be so brutally tough sometimes, and there are so many times your questions will go unanswered. All you can do it push through, and figure out how to make each day better. Life goes on, and you slowly figure out how to make the best of it.

Earlier this week I brought my daughter to the same path that I have spent my life on. Moments of sadness, triumph, and love all on this road. I’ve pushed through the hard times, embraced the best times and now I get to walk with my daughter on the very path I cried on about losing a child.

Life has a funny way of working out if you just head back to your favorite path.

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Mama’s Outfit // Shirt: Nordstrom | Capri’s: Asics | Shoes: Nike

Baby’s Outfit // Shirt: Old Navy | Pants: Old Navy | Shoes: Robeez

 

*This post contains affiliate links.

Baby

How to Get Your Dog and Baby to Be BFF’s

Before my daughter came along we had our Saint Bernard, black lab mix, Jack. He is an awesome dog, and we are so lucky to have him. Like all dogs he has his quirks, and he’s not perfectly trained. The skill he is really the best at is doing any command on the first, second, third,  fourth try.

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Because Jack wasn’t necessarily the perfect dog to bring a baby home to, I was a little worried about how he would get along with this new human that would be entering our home, but more importantly his home. He’s always been great with other kids in the neighborhood, but I thought I would do a little research on bringing a new baby home with a dog. Some things I found helpful; some not so much. Here are four things that worked well in our experience with bringing a baby home to our dog.

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Prepare a little ahead of time.

I read you should walk the dog with the stroller a few times to get him used to how future walks might be. Let me tell you, it was good practice for both dog and mama. If your dog needs to be on a leash it’s good practice to figure out how you’re going to maneuver everything. We have a regular leash, but we also had a retractable leash. I found the retractable leash gave him more room, and he wasn’t forced to be close to the moving stroller all the time.

We also let Jack into the nursery a lot. Sometimes we would even bring him in there to play on the rug and show him it’s a fun space. To this day it’s one of his favorite places to relax. We also set up some of the baby items around the house (pack ‘n play, swing, etc.) to get him used to where some of these things would go.

I was told it’s good to let the dog smell some of the baby toys or clothes that had been washed in baby laundry detergent to get him used to new smells. Dogs are very keen to smells, so I’d like to think that this really prepared him for the newest arrival.

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Don’t change the dogs designated space.

I know that babies come with a ton of stuff, but do your best to keep the dog items in the same places. This could include dog bed, food location, where the toys are kept, or even some of his favorite places to lay. At one point we thought we might move the basket of dog toys to a new spot, but we found he never touched them and instead started going up to the nursery and stealing baby toys. Once we moved his toys back it definitely helped make him feel at home again. He may steal an occasional baby toy here and there…

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Have a fun, safe greeting when baby first arrives.

This helps if both parents are available. Let one parent hold the baby, while the other can worry about the dog. Try to stay very calm and excited to show the dog that this is a very exciting thing that’s happening. If the dog keeps getting too excited or aggressive just keep taking baby away and trying again. At some point the dog is likely to lose a little energy and sniff baby to see what this new adventure is all about.

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Always give the dog an escape route.

This is more for when the baby is at a crawling or walking point. Most likely your baby will want to play or crawl on your dog. In our experience our dog did not mind this with our daughter. He was so gentle as she tugged on his ear and pulled his tail. He took it like a champ.

There was one time he was trapped between her, her toy basket, and the couch. He had no way to escape. She began really tugging at him and he was sick of it with nowhere to go, so he barked really loud at her. Fortunately our daughter thought this was hilarious, but my husband and I could see the possibly of this escalating quickly. We let Jack out so he could get away, and he stayed in the other room for a little while.

After that we learned to always make sure he has a way to get out of a situation. If he is trapped or stuck with the baby we move something, or move her to make sure that if Jack is done being poked and prodded that he has a way to get out. This has made life easier for him, and safer for our daughter.

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We are very lucky to have a dog who is so well behaved and loves our daughter. I hope that these tips will help you adjust to this exciting, new time in your life.

Baby

Four Helpful Tips I Learned About Parenting Before I Was A Parent

When I was pregnant there were plenty of questions constantly running through my head. Will I be a good mother? Will my kid be a jerk? What kind of food do kids eat when they start eating? Will I ever sleep again? Is my relationship with my husband going to completely change? Am I going to completely change?

That’s a lot to worry about, and that wasn’t even the start of it all.

You’d think with all these questions running through my brain I’d be one of those new moms who would read book after book to figure out each answer.

Nope.

I only read one book. Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman.

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This book answered a lot of my questions while also making me feel relieved that maybe not all my questions will be answered right away, and I may just have to learn the answers as I go. The entire book discussed raising a child in France and the differences between raising a child in a French culture versus raising a child in an American culture.

Let me just say I enjoyed this book so much that for a while I was truly trying to convince my husband to move to Paris. Well that didn’t happen. Here are a few points the book hits that really stuck with me.

 

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1. Don’t forget you’re a person too.

Yes, you will change. Your body will change. Your schedule and routine will change. Your hormones will change (again). Your needs will change. MANY things about your life will change, but it’s also important to remember that you need to take care of yourself as well. You will naturally want to put your needs on the back burner and take care of that precious child. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But is it okay to have some alone time? YES. Is it okay to allow someone else take care of your child while you take that much needed nap? YES. Nap, nap, nap!

I hear so many people say, “Well now I’m a mom so I guess I can say goodbye to my old life”. Not true. Having a baby changes a lot, but it shouldn’t completely change the person you are. Adjust your old life to work with your new life. It is definitely easier said then done, but it can be accomplished. Find time for yourself, your needs, your significant other, and the things you enjoy.

2. Your baby is a real human.

I mean obviously. You grew that real human so you definitely understand the concept. But this book really hits on the fact that most people think of babies as these little people that are incapable of doing anything. You’d be surprised at how much your baby picks up, and how quickly. They are constantly growing, watching and learning.

Some people maybe don’t believe this, and I’m not going to lie at first I was definitely skeptical. Druckerman discusses the idea that if you talk to your child they really might understand. She says give your child a tour of your house when they first arrive home. Explain to your child what you’re doing, and why. If they start tearing books of the shelf, explain that we don’t do this in our house, and these need to be put back on the shelf. It worked for her children, and I truly think it is already working for my daughter.

When my daughter wakes up in the middle of the night and I know she is fed, changed and comfortable I have talked to her and said, “Everything is okay, you just need to relax and try to fall asleep”. Maybe it’s just the sound of my voice, but she has slowly learned to calm herself down and has been sleeping through the night since she was two months old. Druckerman gives other examples of this type of behavior in her book. Whether you believe it works or not, it’s worth a try right?

3. Wait, Wait… WAIT!

This is hard sometimes. REALLY hard. Obviously if your child is hungry… FEED him! If your child needs changed… CHANGE him! If your child needs attention… GIVE IT to him! I strongly encourage that, especially if they are a newborn. Newborns needs this attention.

But once you feel like you and your child have somewhat gotten to know each other and start a small routine, feel free to try the waiting game. If you know your child has all their needs met, give waiting a try. Babies have not learned many skills that may seem obvious to adults. One of those skills is soothing themselves, and learning how to fall back asleep.

When I heard my daughter cry in the middle of the night I would feed her, burp her, change her and get her back to sleep. When she would cry again 20 minutes I naturally had the urge to grab her and help her. Most times once I did this, she didn’t stop crying. I learned that if I just gave her even five minutes to cry she was learning how to cope with this upset feeling she had. Sometimes she would even fall back asleep on her own! If she didn’t fall back asleep she still had learned that it’s okay to cry for a little bit, and eventually mama will come to the rescue. Babies need to learn it’s okay to feel lonely, hungry, or upset because they are one day going to feel those emotions, even as adults. Those five minutes of waiting will not hurt them, it might even help them.

4. Your husband is still there.

As a new mom you want to put all of your attention on this new, adorable baby that needs you. You should. You should also give daddy some attention. Don’t let being a mother take away your role of being a wife.

Before baby my husband and I exchanged a hug and a kiss every morning before he left for work. After two weeks of our baby being home with us, I thought to myself, “When is the last time I kissed and hugged him goodbye in the morning?” Our mornings had turned into sleepy, screaming baby, hurry to change and feed mornings that even a simple kiss goodbye was not even a thought. One day I finally said to him, “WAIT! Kiss me goodbye!” I put the baby down for 30 seconds to kiss and hug him goodbye. Those 30 seconds did not ruin her morning, and it made my whole day completely better.

One tip Druckerman suggests is have adult time after baby goes to bed. I found this was hard at first because when the baby was sleeping I either had a million things to do or I wanted to sleep. Once we had a schedule down these evenings became such a great bonding time for my husband and I, and definitely much needed alone time as man and wife, not mom and dad.

My baby is not even a year old yet, and I have found her book so helpful in so many ways. There are other great ideas that she discusses as well. Ideas for introducing foods, how saying “no” is completely acceptable, and allowing children to explore and learn at their own pace. So if you’re looking for an amazing book to help give you ideas on any of these aspects or raising a child I would definitely recommend “Bringing Up Bébé” by Pamela Druckerman. You won’t regret it.

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Love

15 Easy Ways to Show Your Husband You Love Him

My life is busy. I’m a teacher by day, mom by night, and there is this guy I live with that I occasionally see that goes by “husband” or something.

I’m so guilty of putting my daughter first, at times myself and sometimes even my students before my wonderful husband. He works so hard, and does so much for our family.

One night after a very busy day, we got into bed and I thought to myself, “Have I even asked about his day yet? Have we hugged or kissed today? Have I even said ‘I love you’ at all?”

I realized WHOA. Step back and reevaluate this. It’s time for bed and you’re not even sure if you’ve had a meaningful conversation, a quick “I love you”, or better yet a simple hug or kiss. Either something has to stop, or something has to start because this is not okay. I wanted to find more ways to show my husband that I love and appreciate him.

Thank him.

Thank him for something he’s done. Even if it’s small. Even if it’s something he SHOULD be doing, and SHOULD NOT need to be thanked for. Whatever it was, he did it and he will appreciate being thanked for it.

Help him.

Ask him if he needs help with something. Even if he doesn’t he will appreciate that you asked.

Apologize to him.

There is no shame is owning up to something you did or something you forgot. Mistakes happen. Apologizing about a fight, a crazy outburst, a minor thing you forgot, anything that you’re sorry about. He will respect you for taking responsibility.

Leave him a small note.

Everyone loves getting a letter or small note. Leave him a little note somewhere surprising to tell him you love him or you’re thinking about him.

Buy something special for him.

I’m not saying go buy him an expensive watch or a car. If you’re at the grocery store and you see some beef jerky that you don’t usually get, buy it for him. Unexpected ways of showing him you were thinking about him (well, and beef jerky) will make his day.

Send him a quick message.

A quick call, text, email, Facebook message, to just say I love you will put a smile on his face.

Compliment him.

It needs to be genuine. Are you proud of his work ethic? Does he look good in that shirt? Was that a funny dad joke? Whatever it is compliment him. It will go a long way.

Plan something for him.

Maybe it’s just a dinner for the two of you to enjoy. Maybe it’s a cards night for him and the guys. Maybe it’s a surprise birthday party. He will love that you took the time to think about him in some way.

Cook his favorite meal.

Figure out his favorite meal and cook it every once and a while. Don’t save it for a special occasion, do it just because you knew he’d love it.

Check something off his to-do list.

Now don’t go meddling around in his workshop or shed if you’re clueless, but if you know he needs to get something done that you can handle, do it for him. Take a chore that he usually completes and get it out of the way for him.

Let him pick.

If you’re a person that usually picks everything let him choose something. Watch a scary movie he’s been dying to see even though you hate them, or go to a weird restaurant that he’s into even though you could care less about it.

Grab his hand.

Out in public without the kids tugging at your hands? Go for his. Nothing like a sweet, public display of affection to show your love.

Listen to him.

Sometimes he will just need to vent or tell a story. I know life is busy, but if you’re constantly doing other things while he talks, he may feel like a burden or unappreciated. Stop and just listen to him.

Kiss, kiss, kiss.

Find one time of the day that you start kissing him every day. Maybe it’s in the morning before work, before you go to sleep, before you sit down to eat dinner, after dinner cleanup (hopefully it’s all of those and more). Finding at least one consistent moment in the day to give that husband a smooch will be the highlight of both of your days.

Tell him you love him.

Probably the easiest way to show your husband you love him is by telling him that you love him. Feel free to give him more than just, “I love you”. Be honest and truthful about all the reasons you love him. You don’t have to list them all at once, but make sure he knows why.

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(Husbands glasses are from Warby Parker)

Baby

To My First Born

You will never know the special place you hold in my heart, my first born. It doesn’t matter how many children I have, there is one spot in my heart that is saved specifically for you. This does not mean that you will be my favorite, and it certainly does not mean that I will love you more. It means that you and I will have a bond that none of my other children and I will share. I know I will hold a strong attachment to them in someway as well. But you, my dear, you are my first born.

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You made me a mother.

You are the first person to give me the greatest title I’ve ever received, “mom”. I always wanted to be a mother, and you made that happen.

I will have more children, and I will also be their mother, but it was you who put me through the initiation.

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You’ve taught me so much.

I knew nothing about raising a baby before you came along. Literally nothing. I was so scared. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. “How will I know how much she needs to eat? Is she going to be warm enough in this? Is it okay if her poop is this color?” It was a new and challenging time for both of us.

You made it easy, and slowly we figured out things together.

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You introduced me to all the wonderful things about motherhood.

Watching you grow was the greatest thing I’ve ever witnessed. Every small thing you did I celebrated. It was so exciting to see a child discover the world around them daily, and you were able to give me that excitement for the very first time. I know I will be just as excited when my other children have their first accomplishments as well, but you introduced me to how truly remarkable a growing baby can be.

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You introduced me to the tough things about motherhood.

There were times when I was lost. Times I just didn’t know how to make you happy. There were days that we both just sat there and cried and neither of us knew what to do. I felt like I wasn’t doing anything right. We made it, though. We’ve made it through everything together, and it’s made us stronger. Maybe you’ve even paved the way for the next child so things won’t be as hard for me the second time around.

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You’ve made me appreciate others.

Even though you were an easy baby, you were still a lot of work. You made me appreciate the family and friends that were constant supports whenever I needed them.

You showed me a new side of my parents as you gave them this new title, grandparents. You helped me to appreciate the way they raised me as I began to raise my own little human.

You made me look at my husband as not only the man I married, but this wonderful new father, whom I saw in a new light. We became a stronger team, having to make decisions and come up with new ideas together for you.

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You showed me how to love in a completely different way.

I never knew how much I could love something until you came around. It was like a different part of my heart that I didn’t even know existed opened up to love this tiny baby more than I have ever loved anything. I feel like I can love more, and I feel like I can love harder.

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Thank you, my first born. Thank you for entering my life and changing it completely for the better. I will never be able to explain the place you hold in my heart, and just how deeply I love you.