Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Guest Post – Budget Friendly Date Night Ideas

Hey y’all, before I start rambling on about some awesome budget friendly date night ideas I want to take a minute and introduce myself! My name is Jordan and I have my own blog (www.fitbyjordan.blogspot.com) and fitness page on Facebook (Fit by Jordan). I have been married for little over a year now to a wonderful man named Casey. I have a 5 year old son, Caleb (or Peter Parker, he answers to both because he swears he is Spider-Man) and I am due in June with another little boy, Dax Marshall.

When I met my husband 3+ years ago, I was a single mom to a 2 year old. I had to find unique, budget friendly date ideas for us to partake in. I would schedule most dates around the weekends that Caleb’s Dad had custody of him… but I would also try and find sitters here and there to squeeze dates in between the every other weekend schedule. It was hard at times but we made it work, I have to admit it did get easier when I finally decided to introduce Caleb and Casey.

Casey and I decided that even though our relationship started off with having a kid first, we would never let stop us from being a couple and enjoying date night. Having time with just your spouse is VERY important and I believe it is key in a great relationship. The happier I am with my husband, the happier mother I am at home. Plus this is setting a great example for Caleb as he grows up.

Now onto my Top 10 fun budget friendly date night ideas we have had over the past 3 years…

1.       Dinner under the stars: One night Casey and I picked up Jason’s Deli (packed it in my cute picnic basket pictured below), drove out to the middle of nowhere with the truck loaded down with tons of blankets and pillows and parked near a lake. We moved the blankets and pillows to the bed of the truck, lite a bug away candle (this is a must) and had a picnic under the stars with our Jason’s Deli. If you are on a tight budget, you can make your own picnic at home… We sat out there for about 2 hours, eating, talking, dreaming, and well you know... making out! I felt like such a teenager!!!

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2.    Drive-In Movies: At the time that we did this date, we didn’t have a local drive in near us, so we ended up driving an hour to see the double feature. You pay by the carload and not the amount of people in the car, so if you want to make this a double date you can save even more money. I would suggest bringing your own food and drinks and even some blankets or lawn chairs. Most drive-in places will do a double feature, where you pay to watch 2 movies.

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3.    Sporting Event: You might be thinking I am crazy for adding this to the budget friendly list, BUT… if you search for tickets (I usually use www.stubhub.com) you can really pull this one off. Granted you might be sitting in the nose bleeds but hey, it is a date with the man/woman you love and you aren’t sitting at the house watching TV and playing on your iphone. I am not a huge fan of baseball, but I have found that is the cheapest sporting event to attend, next is basketball, then hockey and then football. You could even skip the pros and find a local team in your area. We have enjoyed date night to watch a local hockey team for $5 a ticket… 

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4.    Bike Rides: If you live in a populated city, you have probably seen some bikes /bike racks that have been recently installed around downtown. Well, this is a FUN way to get out of the house, get a workout in, see the city you live in and spend time with your love one. We took advantage of the bikes while we were on vacation in San Antonio, Texas. We had no clue where we were going but we just rode around, would stop at parks and talk, then ride again. Don’t forget to take your GPS with you.

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5.    BINGO!: This was a FUN date (besides the smoking smell and yes we were in the smoke free room). We ended up making this a double date and we played for about an hour. We mostly people watched, a bingo hall as some GREAT people watching let me tell ya. Those old ladies are VERY serious about their bingo!!! We came close to winning, but we left losers…

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6.    Local Waterpark: Casey and I spent the day at a local waterpark last year and I have to admit, this was one of my favorite dates we have ever had. I packed a lunch for us (to save money) and found our tickets on a discount website. I have been told that some grocery stores usually have discount tickets for the waterparks near your house… example: Kroger has some for Hawaiian Falls. But if that is still out of your price range, check out the city water park. Some cities (at least here in the metroplex – DFW) have city recreational parks with little water parks or at least a pool. Go and be a kid again, it is a blast!!!

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7.     Hiking: Like I mentioned above, I have a fitness page on Facebook (shameless plug here: www.facebook.com/fitbyjordan) and I have lost over 100 pounds… well you wouldn’t know right now with me being 8 months, but I have. Fitness is a huge part of mine and Casey’s relationship but working opposite schedules, it is hard to find time to head to the gym together and then when we do it is almost like he is just another person at the gym and I am not really spending time with him. SO… we decided to find a park near our house that had some hiking trails. This gives us some great one on one time together to just talk and to just be with each other without the distractions of technology. Best part of this… it is a FREE date!!

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8.    Groupon Date – Archery: If you live in the DFW area you need to check out the Groupon for Archery at Cimarron Ranch… I promise you, you will not be disappointed. If you do not live in this area, check out Groupon for great date night ideas in your area. You might be surprised what you find. When I found this Groupon, I had never shot a bow and arrow before but thought Casey would love to try this out… so we went. It happened to be one of the best dates we have had. We had so many laughs and learned so much about each other while learning how to shoot.

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9.     Gun Range – If you are not pro guns… go ahead and skip this one. We are very much pro guns in our house but I have never owned one until I married Casey, now we have probably 6-8 shot guns, a revolver and an automatic. I told Casey I wanted to learn how to shoot them so we decided to go on a date to the gun range (indoor, hopefully we can do an outdoor one soon).  Again, this can get pricey BUT if you shop on Groupon, you might be surprised at the prices. You can find Groupons that include a gun rental in case you do not own you own. This was a double date with our best friends and even though I suck at shooting, it was a GREAT night. Plus my husband really LOVED being there and after all the “girly” dates he goes on for me (like see Magic Mike at the Drive-In) he deserved to have a “manly” date!!

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10. Game Night: Last but certainty not least… game night!! We have board games in our hall closet that we have not played in ages (not really sure where they even came from to be honest) so we decided to pull them out, invite some friends over for dinner and had game night. It was a blast to stay in, have friends over, team up and get competitive (I love to win, but hey who loves to lose?!)… We would have had just as much fun if it was just us two, but adding a couple (or 2 couples) into the mix made it even more fun!! Group date nights are a blast for sure. Dust off those board games, call some friends and make a night out of it!!! (Sadly we don't have a picture from this night... boo)

Welp, that is all I have for you! I hope that something fun sticks out and you are able to enjoy a wonderful (budget friendly) date with the one you love!!

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Guest Post - Must Have Momma Oils

Hello fellow Hanging with the Huie’s readers! I’m so excited that Kendra gave me the opportunity to do a guest post while she’s temporarily away snuggling that sweet new baby of hers. My name is Ashley. I “met” Kendra on Instagram while we were both pregnant & due in September of 2013. We instantly bonded over pregnancy woes, labor pains, and all the first time Mom problems that are to be expected.

Let me tell you a little about myself – I’m Ashley (you can call me Ash). I’m married to Sundance (aka Diz), Momma to the cutest little boy, Ford, and dog-momma to the best golden retriever, Olivia. I work full time at a busy ophthalmology clinic and I’m a dōTERRA Wellness Advocate. I used to have a pretty active blog (AshandDiz), but then I became a Mom, so now I have a pretty active Instagram!

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I got involved in dōTERRA last year after Ford got his millionth (or at least it seemed that way) illness. Previously, I was the biggest nay-sayer of essential oils. I work in the medical field (for the last 9 years). I have a lot of faith in western medicine and have the utmost respect for medical professionals. BUT – I was ready to try something else, ANYTHING else, to try to keep Ford as healthy as he could be. My friend got me some samples to try for myself and for Ford and days later I was placing an order!

I’d like to share how dōTERRA essential oils have helped my family stay healthier and happier! I’m sure many of you have heard of essential oils and some of you may already be oil users. For those of you who are new to oils, let me explain (very, very) briefly: Essential oils are the natural aromatic compounds found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. Essential oils have many uses including emotional and physical wellness applications. dōTERRA offers a ton of single oils and many proprietary blends, among many other supplements and products. There are 3 ways to use essential oils: diffused aromatically, applied topically, or taken internally as dietary supplements. That is a very basic definition and I don’t want to completely overwhelm y’all, so, if you have questions about the science-y stuff – let me know in the comments or shoot me a message.

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Here are my MUST have momma dōTERRA essential oils & how I use them:

Lavender – I used to hate Lavender scented things until I tried dōTERRA’s lavender. Smells DIVINE. I use a few drops of Lavender in Ford’s bath every night. Helps to calm him down and get him ready for bed time. I also have it in a roller bottle (diluted with FCO – fractionated coconut oil) that I use all over like a moisturizer, especially if his skin is dry or chapped, or I’ll roll it on his hands and encourage him to smell them – it’s turned into our nightly bedtime game. Lavender is a great skin soother! I made my own body balm for Ford using olive oil, coconut oil (the regular kind), beeswax and Lavender and Frankincense – it makes his skin so incredibly soft and he smells so yummy! I will also put 3-4 drops in his diffuser at night to relax him if I’m not diffusing something else already.

On Guard – LOVE LOVE LOVE this oil. I have a lot of favorites, but this is definitely number 1! I use this on Ford morning and night. I have a roller bottle, diluted with FCO and put a swipe on each foot then rub them together. Ford is so used to this routine – he lifts his feet up whenever I lay him on the changing pad – just waiting for his oils! On Guard is great for immunity boosting. Toddlers (babies and children, in general) are walking petri dishes, so I try my best to keep Ford as healthy as possible by using On Guard on him. On Guard also smells divine in the diffuser – it is a blend of Wild Orange, Clove Bud, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary essential oils. When diffused, On Guard can help protect against environmental threats. There are many other products in the On Guard line. I take a beadlet or 2 every day to boost my immune system too. The toothpaste is also amazing! Even Ford uses it!

Clove – this was one of the first oils that I tried that convinced me that dōTERRA essential oils WORKED. Ford had been cutting teeth – I had been giving him over the counter pain medications and he was still miserable. One drop of this oil (very, very, very diluted) on his gums and he was a happy camper. Clove is considered a HOT oil – meaning it can give a warming (hot) sensation when used it, so it must always be diluted. I always suggest that Mom or Dad try it first so you can get a sense of what it feels like. It’s like a tingly, almost numbing sensation. I’ve had painful canker sores in my mouth that Clove helped immediately. Another thing that convinced me was the price – I had spent close to $20 on OTC products that only lasted me a week or two and a bottle of Clove is only $18.67 – and I’ll probably have enough to last me a lifetime!

Balance – ohhh. Balance. It speaks to me. This one is for the Mommas! What new Mom doesn’t feel anxious or stressed on occasion? This oil is for you! When I first smelled it, I told my friend, “I don’t know what it is, but I love the way that smells. It’s smells so soothing.” Balance is a blend of Spruce Needle, Ho Wood, Frankincense, Blue Tansy Flower, and Blue Chamomile Flower essential oils in a base of Fractionated Coconut Oil. I use this every day! I put it on my wrists when I get ready in the morning and I have some at my desk at work so I can reapply when I start to get stressed. I joke that it tames my inner beast.

Fractionated Coconut Oil (aka FCO) – an absolute necessity for any family. dōTERRA essential oils are absolutely safe for everyone in the family as long as you use them correctly. Dilution is key when using essential oils with your babies, toddlers and children.  FCO is super light and the most commonly used carrier oil for topical applications. Won’t clog your pores, it’s odorless, colorless, and non-staining. There are differing opinions on dilution ratios for kids, but most common is 1 drop of essential oil to 1 TBS of carrier oil. I will admit I don’t follow that exactly. I use 10ml roller bottles and I probably put 10-15 drops of the essential oil and fill the rest with FCO. Except for Clove, I have a sample vial that I refill when needed with 1 drop of clove then top it off with FCO.

I hope you enjoyed this post about dōTERRA essential oils. If you have any questions you can leave a comment on this post, shoot me an email at amurie14@gmail.com, or find me on Instagram @ash_and_diz and send me a DM. You can visit my dōTERRA site (http://www.mydoterra.com/ashleyurie/) or check out the virtual product guide HERE (http://www.doterratools.com/documents/usproductguide.pdf).

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Thanks so much for reading!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Baby Brother is Here

I’d like you to meet………..

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Carson James Huie
Born April 30th at 11:36 weighing 8lbs 1oz. and 21 inches long

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He’s an absolute dream boat…….cuddly, sleepy, and all things precious. 
We’ve been dealing with some digestion issues so he’s had a few fussy days thrown in the mix but for the most part he’s such a content and happy baby!

He looks just like his dad and surprised us with a head full of thick dark brown hair. Weston was born with tons as well but Carson has even more hair than his brother did. It’s soft as velvet and we all have a hard time keeping our hands out of it. It’s a good thing he loves head rubs!

He’s just a day shy of being 3 weeks old and has changed so much since we brought him home.
He’s chunking up a bit more. Oh goodness he has the sweetest little leg rolls going on and his cheeks, I just can’t! He’s super alert and is starting to stay awake for longer stretches of time, sometimes even 4 hour stretches. He has awesome eye control and loves to gaze at you while you’re holding him and his eye……just dreamy! I’ll include an Instagram photo at the bottom of the post so you can see what I’m talking about.  He’s usually happy when he’s awake as long as he’s being held (just like his brother). He’ll let you put him down for little stretches of time, juuuuuuuuust long enough for you to make a cup of coffee but don’t you dare think about drinking it!  We’re going to have another baby wearing lover in our house which I don’t mind one bit!

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Big brother is adjusting perfectly to his new role which takes things to a whole new level of cuteness.
The 1st thing out of Weston’s mouth in the morning is “See baby brother!” The other day he was crouched down next to Carson calling him “little buddy”. We even get an “I love baby brother!” every now and then, unprompted I might add.

So far no signs of regression or jealousy. Kent and I try really hard to make sure he’s being heard and he’s getting one on one attention from both mama and dada. Over the weekend Kent stayed home with the baby so I could take Weston out on a little mama and son date. We had such a good time and honestly it was probably more beneficial for my heart than his. I miss my full days with him…..just Weston and I.

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We’ve jumped right back into the role of parents to a newborn. One of the many perks to having babies so close together. It’s not the same this time as Carson is a different baby but it’s different, in a good way.

Kent took 2 weeks off work to help us all get adjusted. On day 4 he was teasing about going back to work because things were going so smoothly at home. Compared to our 1st time around they really have been. Nights with a newborn are long. I’m tired. I spend most days in pjs. Showers and a hot cup of coffee are hard to come by but things are different…..more calm….more chill this time around.

As I mentioned above Carson has his fussy days. When it happens it’s because of his digestion issues but we’re trying a few things to work through it. We’ve had a good 3 day stretch so fingers crossed. 

I never experienced that sleepy newborn phase with Weston. Kent and I were pretty much in survival mode the 1st 6 months. To have a baby that sleeps for hours on end, is happy when he’s awake, and will let you put him down for small stretches of time is a whole new world. I actually organized a cabinet the other day. I’ve been able to stay on top of laundry and pick the house up. And the fact that I’m even typing this blog says a lot. Now I’ve been working on it off and on for almost a week but there was no way I would have been about to do any of this when Weston was a newborn. Thank goodness he was our 1st!

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Kent is back at work and things are settling into place. A new messy kind of place but hey we’ll get there. Kent’s parents are helping keep the ship afloat. They watch Weston during the week and even make dinner for us. This would be a whole different post without them. I haven’t worked up the courage to take both boys out solo just yet and I’m a little afraid of managing dinner and bedtime without Kent. Weston does great at bed time but that’s usually Carson’s witching hour so I’ve been a little reluctant to take on the challenge. Again with time………..we’ll get there!

Noticing the “We’ll get there trend”

I’m trying to not rush or push things if I don’t have to. Trying to give myself grace and just enjoy things as they are. Reminding myself to accept help and let go. I’m not perfect at doing these things but I’m trying. I’ll never get these precious weeks back, Carson so tiny. A free pass to nap and rest. Weston so excited about the newness of his little brother. I know just how fast it all goes by so I’m just taking it easy and breathing it all in.

Here are a few Instagram photos from our 1st few weeks as a family of four!

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Guest Post – Day in the Life of a Twin Mama

Hi All! I'm Danielle Moore, I blog over at Moore Party of Four! Initially it was a blog about our Infertility struggles & miscarriage, then twin pregnancy and now we have 20!!!!! month old twin girls! Besides my random blogging, I am a full-time working mama; I work as a radiographer (ahem. Xray tech), at a local private doctors office- which I love! My husband is a middle school teacher (bless him) and the Head Girls Basketball Coach at Grafton High School. For years, he was both the boys and girls middle school head track coach, but just recently stepped down this year to spend more time with his girls! Awh! The girls have made our lives better in every single way. In ways we didn't know were possible. The days can be crazy, fun, exhausting and just awesome! 

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I worked yesterday 8-8, so the girls spent the day at my parents until Andrew got off at 3:30pm and then he picked them up and took them home. They were in bed by 645 that night.  I usually work 3 days a week 12 hour shifts. My schedule is Monday, Tuesday, & Thursday 8-8. Unless I work a weekend day I get off early one day through the week. Wednesday's are my favorite! I haven't seen the girls in two days and they are extra snuggly!

1253AM-  Ella whined and cried for a minute. Binky check. 

215AM- Bria has a small night terror. I'm still unsure if it's a nightmare or night terror. Some days she's easily comforted and some days she thrashes and doesn't acknowledge I'm there- all while asleep. Tonight's she was easily comforted. 

555AM- I hear talking from both. I go in, lay them both back down and say it's still night night. Some times it works, sometimes not. Today it worked! 

640AM- Ella is awake and talking. She is always awake first. On days I work- I would have already gotten up at 530 and would be ready and almost out the door. Some days the girls wake before I have to wake them and the last 2 days we've had to wake them up to change them to leave by 645. So this is sleeping in to me. 

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My husband, Andrew, wakes up and goes to take a shower. Today, the girls wait for breakfast and color. I go in and pick out their clothes for the day, wrangle the two crazies and change their diaper and clothes! Andrew comes out and starts breakfast for them around 7. He's the cook, thank the lord. While he does that and they eat at their table, I unload and load the dishwasher.  Today they had scrambled eggs, waffles and applesauce, with water. 

Andrew leaves for work around 715 and the girls say their bye byes and blow kisses and give hugs. They finish up breakfast and we clean up the living room so I can sweep! I make sure on the days I'm off I do dishes and sweep the upstairs to keep some sort of consistent order in our house and it's been working out well. 

Around 750/8AM we venture downstairs. Where we have the ultimate playroom and our main living room. 

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Then it's crazy play until 945. 

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There's a ton of dancing and music videos. These girls have moves and love to dance! 

At 945/950 it's time to go upstairs. The girls grab their blankets (frozen of course), monkeys, and binky’s & sit down to watch frozen. I unload the dishes from earlier and let the girls wind down for their nap. I'll never understand why they can be up for 7 hours in the evening but barely make it 3-4 in the morning. 

Nap from 10-12. This is where I usually plan lunch and dinner, get myself ready, eat lunch for myself, pay bills, craft (I already crafted last night and made some shirts for a friend - I love my heat press!) Today I threw chicken and potatoes in the crockpot. I get myself ready and our bag ready for our play date today with some girls I graduated X-ray school with and their kiddos! These are the things I dreamt of when we were trying to get pregnant! I got myself ready, and started the girl’s laundry. Their bag is packed with sippy’s and snacks and I make their lunch- pears, Mini pizza and cheese.

Of course today they get up at 1130! I finish their lunch and set them down to eat. I hadn't changed yet, so every time I tried to sneak to my room- they followed. They didn't eat very well and the sandwich I made for myself didn't get eaten either. It was a nut house trying to wrangle both kids, change diapers, and get socks and shoes on and their jackets. While I was getting Ella's socks and shoes Bria opened the wipes container and had them spread all over the floor. 

1219- We are out the door and in the car. I let them both run to the car. Bria goes in first and Ella goes in last kicking. 

1225- We are at the post office. I have to mail onsies to a friend. Bria is sitting nicely on the bench and Ella is up running around. The post master tells me the last time my husband was there with them both, it was the same scenario. 

1235- Back in the car, and on our way to our friend Megan's for a play date. I get stuck behind a train. Ella pretty much screams the entire way there because she wants more snacks, even though she didn't eat her lunch. 

100 PM- we finally arrive at our friend Megan's. It was hysterical. They have two dogs, which my girls are obsessed with puppies. Megan has two boys and Ashley had her boy there, her daughter was in school. The girls took a few minutes to warm up, but loved every minute to it. The enjoyed snacks, Legos, playing with cars, getting kisses from the puppies and lots of pictures. It was so nice to meet up with them, I have totally missed them more than words and I'm glad I can finally bring my own kids to play dates! 

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At 230 - We left. Stopped at sheets because the girls were cranky and momma was thirsty! 

300- We are home inside and coloring. Waiting for dadda. The girls wouldn't stop talking about the puppies. I change diapers, and eat a few bites of chicken since I missed lunch. 

330- Daddy arrived home and the girls start tackling him. They love being thrown around and kissed a ton so this is one of my favorite parts of the day.  We play mommy and the girls swaddle their babies and burp them. I say how great of big sisters they would be. & I get sad again, that they probably won't ever be big sisters for multiple reasons. Sigh. 

430- We run to the grocery store to get a few things we needed, soap, the girls were out of most breakfast foods, bananas and tin foil. 

515- We are back home and Andrew starts boiling water for our corn on the cob. Ella has a meltdown or two. I change Bria's diaper, she has pooped again. Ella is throwing herself on the ground- The usual.

545- Dinner is finally ready (well the crockpot was done, just waiting on our veggies) and the girls pick at their dinner. It's so frustrating that they are barely eating the things we make  and it's things we know they love. Corn, mashed potatoes, etc. We even gave them a yahoo each to entice them to sit down and eat and nothing. Ella throws a giant fit, sits in the bad chair. She eventually agrees to eat dinner and says I love you. 

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She again refuses to eat, Bria is just running around the house and I haven't even attempted to sit down and eat. I finally make my plate, while the girls calmed down and have been stealing bites from daddy. 

They both come over to me, Bria starts eating my baked potato and Ella asks for a bite of my corn on the cob. Apparently, she only licked it and I kind of love pepper. Whoops! She is scratching her tongue and I make her take lots of drinks of her chocolate milk. She finally steals my corn on the cob, Bria has devoured my entire potato and all I have left to eat is my chicken. 

615- The girls get ‘nakie’ and this is when the fun starts. They haven't been listening well in public or when we are outside, etc when I tell them to stop. I thought a game where we played stop/go would be fun with M&Ms as rewards. It turned into a giant track meet, Ella just did it for fun and Bria just did it to eat the M&Ms. I *think* they got it at the end? I don't know. 

640- Bria has a gigantic poop. We just decided to start bath a few minutes early. Bria runs to the bathroom, Ella follows behind with corn in hand. She is walking around saying yummy while I get her pajamas out.

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She says she's done, Daddy has run the bath water and both girls get in. We have a pretty good system for bathing. Andrew bathes the girls and entertains them. I get pajamas, diapers, milk, towels, and clean up what mess I can while they play. They played until 655. I change Ella and dress her and she starts drinking her milk, but is mad I won't give her any snack before bed. Andrew finishes dressing Bria and they both Lay down on our laps and watch Mickey Mouse. 

Bria declares she is "all done" and they both hop up, give each other hugs and kisses. Adorable!! And give us kisses too! There's lots of I love you's. Ella gets both binky’s and hands Bria hers. We carry the girls in the bedroom and lay them down with their monkey and Blankie. Sound machine on, humidifier on, room darkening blinds closed. Done. 

It's 710pm. I hear one giggle and then nothing else. We clean up from dinner and crash on the couch for a few minutes. Andrew falls asleep with the cat. I go down and start another load of the girl’s laundry and clean the downstairs from this morning. I put away some clothing items I bought the girls the other day for $1 in the next few sizes up in the laundry room. I’m super cheap so I already have 2 full garbage bags of 3T, 1 full of 4T, and a small 5T bag.

After that I come upstairs, clean up a bit again. It’s around 830pm and I sit down to log on to Facebook and order some things from a Co-Op I am a part of. It’s the last day to order and deciding on what color moccs to get was hard ;).

930PM –  I have to work tomorrow so I need to go to bed early and that is where I head. We take the monitor in and crash in bed. I search facebook, my favorite blogs, Instagram, etc. Andrew does the same. We have survived another day! ☺

Connect with Danielle……
Blog: Moore Party of Four

Monday, May 18, 2015

Guest Post – 2 Under 2

Hi there, I’m Lilly! I am a born and raised Texan, Texas Tech Red Raider (Guns UP!), IT professional, firefighter wife, and mama to 2 littles. Evelyn Kate aka EK, Ev, or wild girl is 2 (almost 3) *Born 5/17/2012 and James Augustus aka Jamesy, bubba, or sweet boy is 1 *Born 12/31/2013 – My NYE baby!

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I love following Kendra on IG and reading her blog, and thought this opportunity to write a guest blog post would be fun! I’ve always wanted to document my “story” of becoming a mama of two under two, and this was the perfect reason to write it out!

Also, I wanted to share my story because I think it’s important to see variations of normal. My journey and challenges are different than everyone else’s, and I want others to see how we made our own normal. I love reading stories of parenthood and how different families navigate the unique challenges they face. Our challenges and struggles are what made our family, and overcoming those trials have made our family stronger.

So here is my story into motherhood of two under two:

Let’s go back…. The last five years of my life have been a little crazy, here is the short version on my story:  I fell in love, started grad school, got married, bought a house, had a beautiful baby girl, finished grad school, had a handsome baby boy, and lived happily ever after*!  *Still in progress

Life leading up to when my daughter was born was busy, some might even say hectic! We bought a house when I was 8 months pregnant, my husband was finishing up fire school (like EK was born the day after he finished), and I was working full time + working on my MBA.  But after EK was born, we settled into life with a baby fairly quickly! My husband starting working as a firefighter, I continued grad school, and eventually went back to work. And Evelyn’s first year was great! Yes, there were many sleepless nights. Yes, some days were just plain HARD. But we survived, and had figured out how to navigate our lives with a baby. But not to belittle the first year of parenthood.. surviving the first year should be overlooked, it is TOUGH!

The week leading up to EK’s first birthday, I didn’t feel quite right. I chalked it up to being busy planning a birthday party and excited about seeing all of our friends and family. I had a brief moment when I thought- “What if I’m….” and laughed it off. But in the back of my mind, I knew I was pregnant. I waited until after her birthday was over to confirm my thoughts, and it was POSITIVE. I was going to have a BABY and a 19 month old, and was terrified (insert scared face emoji)!  We knew we wanted more kids but we were just coming off the high of surviving a year with ONE baby, and the thought of a second was a little scary! And as luck would have it that WONDERFUL baby girl of ours, turned into strong willed, stubborn toddler (still applies)!

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Secretly a family of 4, but I think someone had her suspicions! (Photo cred: IG @debbafaith)

My second pregnancy was hard. I didn’t lose all the weight from the first, plus I was carrying a toddler around. My body just hurt a majority of the time! My back was killing me until the day I gave birth. I was too stubborn to go to a chiropractor, and regretted it immensely. I was finishing up my last semester of grad school, and thankfully walked across the stage with my MBA 5 months pregnant (with my 15 month old snoozing in the stands). I may have blocked out parts of this time in my life, because it was tough! I even survived a 3.5 hour road trip at 38 weeks pregnant to make it to my sister-in-laws wedding, because I just couldn’t miss EK being flower girl! Which she ended up being the cutest flower girl, ever (well worth scaring everyone and my doctor)!!  

On the eve of 2014 sweet baby James was born. He was perfect and sweet from day one! However, he was not a sleeper and was a spit-up master. He was the complete opposite baby than his sister, and I had to “re-figure out” how to take care of a newborn. NOT TO MENTION still take care of a very busy toddler. A few weeks before James was born our beloved babysitter gave us the devastating news that she was moving, on December 31st (ha)! So we were in the process of transitioning EK to new childcare, after being passed around throughout the holidays. She was completely out of her routine and had a really hard time adjusting. Unhappy toddler, unhappy life….

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This is motherhood of two under two

While my husband had a few shifts off, he eventually went back to his 24 hours shifts leaving me alone with TWO for 24 hours at a time.  It was just plain hard, to put it bluntly. There were many sleepless nights, long days, and times of doubt. But survived! Mainly because you can’t give a baby and a toddler back to the hospital, so we were stuck with them. (I’M KIDDING!) We had tons of help and support from our wonderful family, all who live 3+ hours away and willing drove over to help us at the drop of a hat. And as time went on, we figured it all out again. Baby James started sleeping more, EK got into a new routine, and life got easier. We found new childcare for both littles, and I went back to work and we figured out our new normal again.

I quickly learned that life with two littles is like running a marathon (not that I’ve run one, but I assume it’s like one)! It starts out a little tough, then you get in a groove. Then you hit a hill and slow down, and struggle to find that groove again, but then sprint down the hill and find a good pace etc, etc… BUT when you cross the finish line (1st birthday of #2) you look back and say, ehhh that was hard but I’d do it again!

I could write a book on the challenges we’ve faced throughout this journey, and I could also write one on all the happy moments that have filled my heart with more love that I ever thought possible. But I thought I would leave you all with my lessons learned throughout this journey.

I am far from an expert, but this is my personal “what I would do differently” list:

  1. Not keeping a consistent routine for baby #1 before/after baby #2

In my case this was hard. James was born a week after Christmas, so EK being out of her routine was kinda unavoidable. Plus, she had to start at a new daycare a few weeks following. But I should have tried a lot harder to keep her daily routine consistent. When a toddler doesn’t know what’s happening when, and then mom is holding a new baby.. wahhhhhh! Disaster alert!

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Pic Caption: I promise, she really does love him! She just wasn’t thrilled about him at first…

  1. Stop constantly comparing babies

I promise I tried not to compare my first baby with the second, but it’s HARD. EK loved to sleep, and loved being swaddled, and nursed a certain way… But that was all out the window. Baby James had a nasty case of acid reflux and was the spit up master, and I found myself frustrated because his sister NEVER spit up like this. So I had to constantly remind myself that they are not the same! So just because you think you’re a baby pro after surviving the first one, you’ll quickly be reminded that you still have plenty to learn!

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Pic: But I mean.. they looked so much alike! Sorry about the pink tub bubba! (EK top, James bottom)

  1. Put my fear of leaving the house aside

You know how it’s a daunting task to leave the house with a baby – diaper bag, car seat, bottles, snakes, toys, etc. Well double that with two. I just was too scared/tried to get out a majority of the time. But I wish I would have pushed that fear aside and gotten out a little more. Even though it was a lot of work, it was always worth it once we were out.

Side note: A week vacationing at the beach with a 2 year old and 8 month old is debatable on if it’s worth it. I may know from experience. ;)

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(Photo cred: IG @debbafaith)

  1. Not try to control it all/do it all

My attempt at supermom status failed! After trying to cook, clean, feed, diaper 2 babies, etc. I quickly realized that something had to give. I wish I would have “Let it Go” (like Elsa kept telling me) and just enjoyed the early days more. As long as there was two happy healthy babies in the house, it shouldn’t matter if it’s clean or dirty. And as long as a majority of the food served contains fruits and vegetables, a little pizza or mac and cheese never hurt anyone!

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(Photo cred: JRenePhotography)

  1. Try to take all advice as positive advice

One of the hardest parts of motherhood is the criticism and judgment that is passed to us, not to mention the endless suggestions that everyone wants to give out. Unsolicited advice and suggestions can get overwhelming, and start to feel like criticism before we even realize it. I was too hard on myself the second time around, and started taking any and all advice as judgment. When I probably should have tried a little harder to have listened to it with a positive undertone, whether it was or not. And just brush the haters off! Grandma’s suggestion on swaddling really is heartfelt, she means well (even if it is slightly outdated). Smile and nod!

Side note: I am so guilty of trying give out suggestions to others, but NEVER mean it negatively or judgmentally. I just like to share my lessons learned if I think it will help someone. But I have to remind myself now that I once was the one struggling with unsolicited advice, and to make sure it’s warranted!

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The best sibling days are spent in pajamas (pant-less), in a messy house, sharing a pink chair

I’m not a writer or a blogger, my daytime job is on a software design team, but my full time job is being a mom. I am nowhere near perfect, but I try to admit my faults and continue to improve. My husband is my rock and without his support I would never be able to live my dream of building a career and a family (see, variations of normal). I’ve decided that parenting doesn’t get easier with age, it actually gets harder and scarier, BUT somehow so much more rewarding, fun, and heartwarming. My kids have grown into two pretty amazing toddlers and life with them continues to get more exciting. I never thought I would be a mama of two littles 19 months apart with a full time career, but I honestly can’t imagine my life any other way.

Verdict is still out on if there will ever be a baby #3! I’m totally down for another challenge, husband isn’t on board yet… ☺

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Guest Post – Postpartum Healing

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I'm Michal Grappe, married to Mark and mother to Wyatt. I'm trying to navigate motherhood and pursue health and happiness in an overly processed world. I never considered myself very crunchy and in fact rolled my eyes and waved past Crunchyville but I was always health conscious. In October of 2011, I was diagnosed with Guillain-barre Syndrome, and when medicine failed the Lord took me on an alternative path to wellness. Slowly, we have worked very hard to heal my body.  After this experience, and my life being totally devastated...we were forced to take natural living more serious. I’m a full blown crunch now, happily reside with firmly planted roots in Crunchyville. I'm sharing this tidbit of information for you to have some background information on why this post has a lot of information for natural solutions...it's because that's what I know!

I want to share some helpful information on how to ease into motherhood without unnecessary stress. And I'm so thankful Kendra asked me write it!

Postpartum is a beautiful time. Not always an easy time. In most instances it resembles paragliding in a wind storm. The ups and downs that proceed the delivery of your perfect little baby can be gently eased with proper mama attention. It's important for the mom's physical needs to be met, so that she can provide the physical needs for her baby while she heals. But I would say it's equally important for the mom's emotional and spiritual state to be cognitively nourished in the early weeks of becoming a mother.

I'm going to list some great practical tips
to help the days seem sweeter, as well as address some common pitfalls.

From the moment your baby is in your arms...it's total bliss. And then they start crying...and sometimes don't stop until you have done a thousand particular things in a very special order to help them. Or you could have that unicorn baby that is perfectly content all the time! I say unicorn because I've heard about them, read about them, even seen pictures of them but remain in my mind as some mythical creature. With my own son, I focused so much on his routine and the clock instead of really tuning into him and forming our own rhythm. I mean...is it really that big of a deal that they fell asleep 5 minutes before their "sleep time"? In hindsight...I don't think so!  This sort of situation in unison with your own physical discomfort, can make the days (and nights) so hard.  Let's talk about swelling...assuming a vaginal birth has transpired, things are a little puffy. Can we also just acknowledge how everything from the head to the knees looks and feels unrecognizably "fluffly"?

My advice on swelling---steal as many of those ice packs from the hospital or midwife!  Guys...they feel amazing. And you will want them around when you are home! I remember a very sturdy German woman was my discharge nurse. She asked if I needed anything before I left...i told her that I would love more of those ice packs. She told me that it wouldn't help anymore after the first few days in her very tough voice. I questioned for a second, then was like heck no...give me more of those! I was so happy to have them...because she was wrong. So wrong. So. So. Wrong. If you’re not able to snag some from the hospital here’s a great post that shows you how to make your own Postpartum ice pads!

homemade-postpartum-pads-683x1024  My Little  Me

I recently attended a midwife appointment with a close friend as her doula, and I got to listen to her postpartum instructions. She said: "2-3 days IN BED! No house work, cooking, running errands for 2 weeks." And the reason for this instruction was to help the pelvic floor heal, and allow the body time to recover properly. When a mom jumps into life a little too quick, it can cause more swelling and initiate more pain. Our pelvic floors are amazing--and nobody wants a prolapse! So just take it easy. Let your mom or mother in law come stay and help you with responsibilities. Postpartum doulas are also an option to think about. They can come and help you with WHATEVER needs to be done.  Or maybe your significant other can take the reigns for a little bit. I love my husband...but truthfully, my mom can prepare a meal and clean my house better than I can. So I love when my mom comes to stay and turns my humble home into a 5 star resort. And if my husband was in charge of meals...we would eat sausage wraps and Chipotle every day.

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I have a few friends that have impeccable planning skills and began freezing meals a month before they were due. When they would make a meal, they doubled the recipe and froze the other half. I thought this was genius, but didn't think of it until way after the fact! This convenience would be crucial to a mom that won't have much help in the early weeks!

I'll confess. I did not rest like I should have. I spent the 2-3 days in bed, but I did not take 2 weeks off. I took 6 days...and then my mom left, which was sad. And around the 7th or 8th day, I felt great! I did all the things I wasn't supposed to. And that night I paid for it!  And I'll say my recovery was much harder and very uncomfortable.I'm definitely not doing that again! I'm admittedly one of those people that really test boundaries and it usually backfires (and I just now realized where my sons testiness came from ... as in writing this I'm connecting dots )

So since we are talking about some of the unpleasantries of vaginal birth. There are a few products that I highly recommend.

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The Earth Mama Angel Baby bottom spray and bottom balm. I LOVED these products! They were numbing, cooling, and best of all healing.

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And of course...pads.  I know it's been amazing not having to deal with that aisle of the grocery store for the length of your pregnancy but now is the time to enter into the gates. Granny panties are also a must. You know the ugly pair that's too big and um, ugly? Those are the keepers for this stage of your life. Belly binding is also an interesting addition to postpartum care. A lot of cultures do this, and the art is slowly emerging into the United States. Mother NaturAle is a wonderful source for more information on belly binding.

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A cesarean birth entails its own set of unique unpleasantries as well.  I asked a few of my friends for their recommendations on this one, and I learned a lot too! Stretching is important. Try not to hunch over while you nurse or even while you sit. A belly binder or compression garment will help with the "my guts are falling out" feeling. It was also recommended that depends were more comfortable than pads. I know what you're thinking. Just try it!  The reason is because they rise higher than the incision scar. Again, granny panties are your friend. A few friends of mine made their own ointment for the incision with essential oils to promote healing and prevent infection. Earth mama angel baby also makes a c-mama balm that is legit.

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Next form of physical discomfort usually presents itself when you begin breastfeeding. I have quite a bit of experience here. My son was lip tied and his latch was so shallow in those early feedings. I had an amazing birth doula that was also a lactation consultant and held my hand through it all. That's also a perk to a doula! They come TO YOU to help you! She observed several feeding and really worked to help us stick with it. We finally got the hang of it, then later got thrush...and then later got mastitis. Again there are unicorn breastfeeders! The ones that have no issues EVER! I love that women can experience that, because when pain is gone it's truly the most magical and beautiful time.  For those of us with cracked or bleeding nipples...we need a cream and we need a hug. And that hug is to be done at distant embrace without actually feeling pressure on the chest. Lanolin is sworn by in most women I meet. There are so many nipple butters/creams available. I would just check ingredients as this is a product that your baby will likely ingest when they are at the breast.

So if breastfeeding hurts...call a friend, a lactation consultant, an IBCLC, get in touch with your local Le Leche League group, or join a breastfeeding Facebook group for support! These people are there to help!
If you are pumping, find a support group in an online community! A pumping station can also make the experience more of a mommy break. Find your comfy chair, and favorite beverage, some reading material, or edit pictures of that sweet baby while you pump that gold.

Now on to emotional hurdles. I think all mom's need tender care and a safe place to
talk about their feelings, the painful struggle and growth on the road to become a mom. Not everyone, but many women I meet or have relationship with go through a time of grieving of their birth experience. Mostly because they wanted situation "A" and ended up with situation "B" or "C". I know that we are told that a healthy baby is all that matters and I have to say that I disagree. Your feelings should not be invalidated or neglected on this premise. It's okay to be sad. To feel like your experience wasn't what you were expecting. Give those feelings a voice, a letter, and as many tears as you need.  Don't feel ashamed of those feelings and stuff them down. Joy and gratitude come with every new life, and it's okay if you feel negative emotions at the same time. Give yourself time to process and emotionally heal.

Now after birth, as soon as you thought you were off the hormonal crazy train, they kid nap you and carry you off again. I know many mom's that have encapsulated their placentas and have amazing testimonies in the comparison between postpartum experiences. Reports of iron being restored, bleeding stopping really early, general mood balance, increased energy, increased milk supply, and the benefits of bioidentical hormones to prevent the baby blues. Some of my friends had a history of postpartum depression following pregnancies except when they had their placenta encapsulated. Fearless Parent has further information on placenta encapsulation.

This hormonal shock is very normal and it's because there is a physical lag between the time that you give birth and the time that your brain switches on to start regulating hormones again. So you are going to cry. Happy tears. Sad tears. Happy and sad tears at the same time. Mad tears. Tired tears. Painful tears. Protective tears. And so many more Love tears. Becoming a mom is such a process, and for me it presented many growing pains. Give yourself grace. You are learning. You are going to do "something" wrong. And you will do a million things right. Trust your instinct above everything else. The Lord gave it to you for a very important reason. I recently listened to a doctor lecture on the physical and measurable heart-brain connection between a mom and her baby and it was such a testimony to me. They separated the mother and the child and found brain activity and heart rates that immaculately aligned spontaneously. Your instinct can be trusted. I wondered how powerful it would be for a generation of women to tune inward and feel empowered to really believe that their intuition is right. And truthfully, that's the only reason I knew how to do anything at first!

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In the first days/weeks try to spend as much time skin to skin with your baby. It helps establish your milk supply. It helps the baby regulate their body temperature. It helps the your body release happy hormones. And it's also nice to have a reason to keep your baby close. I felt so protective after my son was born. I had such an intense need to have him with me. I did not understand or expect that!  I would let family and friends hold him, but if he cried...my primal mama bear came out to snatch him up. This instinctual assertiveness will ease up and become easier, but just know that it's totally fine and acceptable if you don't want your 3rd cousin twice removed that you haven't seen in 2 years hold your newborn. No guilt needed.

Post partum is not the time to evaluate your body compared to the pre-baby body. If you want to cry...just let those thoughts carry you away into the abbess.  Be kind to yourself. You just grew another life. And your body is beautiful because of its intrinsic ability to carry a child. Be proud. It's truly incredible.

When you are home, nestling your bundle, and trying to care for their every need. It's important for you to have time to yourself. Find a book that you have been wanting to read, or magazine for some mindless reading.

Pour yourself a cup of coffee and savor those first sips. Then try to drink it quick, otherwise you will most likely have to reheat that same cup a few times before noon.

I know everyone says to sleep when your baby sleeps...listen. to. them. Go ahead and assume that you won't get another opportunity! It's also important to stay hydrated! Nursing will take it out of you. I had a rule that each time I nursed my son, I drank a tall glass of water. Continue taking your supplements that you took while pregnant. And consider a probiotic supplement if you or your little one had antibiotics during or after delivery (you can pass them to your baby through breast milk). My son had reflux and was pretty colicky. We managed his gut sensitivities successfully with diet modification, essential oils, probiotics, and chiropractic care...but that's an entirely different post on its own!

Last bit of advice: savor your newborn. Trace those tiny fingers. Smell their head. Learn their cries. Get to know them. Sleep next to them. And let the unconditional love overtake you...the wonder deepen your capacity to love...the gratitude fill your eyes with tears...and the essence of your child wash over you.

Michal’s Instagram Page:
Michalgrappe

For postpartum encouragement visit these Instagram accounts:
4thtribodies 
Takebackpostpartum