Tired Eyes & A Grateful Heart

As I write this I’m currently snuggled up on our big arm chair that is usually occupied by my husband. I have a loyal dog at my feet and a sweet smelling newborn asleep on my chest. Gia is napping in her room down the hall and Craig is out on a run.

I sit here with a full heart and tired eyes and know that there will be many challenging days ahead as we continue to navigate the ebb and flow of parenthood. For some reason, becoming a mom for the second time has relaxed me. I’ve heard that is usually the case, as this isn’t my first rodeo. But, do any parents really know what they’re doing? No. We are all just trying to do what’s best for our children and sometimes that means making some mistakes along the way.

The most difficult thing about having a two-week old and a two-year old isn’t the sleepless nights and breastfeeding. Albeit, those things are certainly a challenge! For me, what’s most difficult is letting go of my big girl Gia. I have had to surrender my position as her number one caregiver because I have a hungry newborn and a husband with seemingly useless nipples. Seriously though – accepting that I physically cannot do what I did for Gia the way I could before Vivi came is so, so hard. This part is temporary, but that’s hard for me to remember.

Even though we are in the very early stages of figuring out how to balance and adjust to the addition of our newest family member, I cry often about missing my Gia. I can’t be the one to always make her meals, I can’t always get her dressed, I can’t always play with her the second she might want me to, etc. If I’m being completely honest, it’s heart wrenching and scary, but again, temporary.

I know this phase we are all in is just that, a phase. It doesn’t make it easy though. I think that Gia understands and sees that the baby is on me often because I’m obviously feeding her all the time. She sees that I have her and automatically realizes that if she needs or wants something then she should go to daddy. It’s great that she’s figured that out, but there’s a part of me longing for her to do that with me instead.

Craig will be heading back to work in a week, which will be interesting on many levels. I’m very nervous about the thought of holding down the fort all by myself. The thing is, I have so much help nearby if I need it. I just want to be able to figure out how to manage this mom of two thing on my own and with as little delay as possible. It will take time though, and I will ask for help when I need it because there’s no sense in making it harder on myself than necessary.

One thing I am eternally thankful for is Gia’s continued positive reaction to being a big sister. In no way has she lashed out or directed any anger or frustration towards her new sister. She has had her moments of frustration with other normal toddler things, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary.

It’s just amazing to me how this time around, I’m so much more confident in my abilities as a mom. I’m able to trust my gut more and worry less. I’m sure a lot of my relief is directly related to being able to successfully breastfeed. I’m not sure how long my breastfeeding journey will be, but for right now I’m so proud of myself for being proactive in getting it right.

I had such severe mastitis with Gia that it derailed my breastfeeding plans with her. Along with dealing with the physical challenges of mastitis, there was also the guilt and shame I felt for not being able to breastfeed Gia the way I wanted to. As so many people say, fed is best, and as a mom I needed to have my sanity to be the best version of myself for Gia.

The bottom line is, being a new mom is tough business, but the most rewarding thing. I feel like I’m slowing down and really savoring the newborn stage because I now have first hand experience with just how quickly it passes.

Regardless of how much chaos Craig and I are facing and will face in the future, we constantly remind ourselves how others fight so hard to have what we have. We are blessed beyond measure because we have two healthy, beautiful little girls who light up our world.

I’ve never known my purpose until having my children. Motherhood is the best thing to have ever happened to me and I’m so grateful for everything that comes with it.

Xo

A Birth Story: Viviana Noelle

Last weekend something pretty amazing happened – we became parents for the second time. We are beyond blessed to have a healthy, beautiful new little girl in our family.

Our sweet new addition, Viviana Noelle, came into this world 12 days earlier than predicted, with the same ferocity as her big sister, Gia.

Before I dive into the details of how Vivi decided to make her entrance, let me tell you about the days leading up to her birth.

For me, all of my prenatal appointments have a certain excitement about them. This was certainly the case for my 37 week check up.

I had been looking forward to this particular appointment because I wanted to discuss a “plan of action” for the coming weeks. My reasoning for this was because I had an unusually rapid labor with Gia. So you could imagine how I wanted to be prepared for an even quicker labor, and possibly earlier arrival for Viv.

My doctor basically told me that I needed to be ready to go the second I felt the tiniest twinge. To my surprise, I was already 2cm and 50% effaced at that appointment. That could mean no baby for weeks, or it could mean any day. Knowing how I was progressing made the anticipation that much worse. I was also taken aback when the doctor told me she’d see me in two weeks, for what would be my 39 week appointment.

I was a little bit disappointed that I wasn’t going in before then because again, I wanted to know how my body was progressing. I just reminded myself that it didn’t matter and my body would let me know when it was time, appointment or not.

Needless to say, after my 37 week appointment, birth was the only thing on my mind. I did my best to stay present and really enjoy my days with just Gia. Thinking about how my world was about to be turned upside down (in the best way possible) made me stay more in the moment.

As the next week crept along, I continued my usual routines. Gia and I would go to the gym together while Craig was at work. I didn’t do much else outside of town, for fear of going into labor too far from the hospital.

On Thursday, September 20th I started to feel regular contractions. After letting them continue for a few hours I thought it wise to just call labor and delivery to tell them what was going on with me. They knew by looking up my chart that I had a history of precipitous labor and advised me to come in and get looked at.

I sent Gia with my mom and dad, called Craig at work and told him to meet me at the hospital when he was off in 30 minutes. I have to say, walking into the hospital alone, wondering if this was it was a bizarre feeling.

I stayed at the hospital for a couple hours while I was being monitored. I most certainly was having regular contractions, as the nurse confirmed that for us. My cervix was still 2cm, so for that day we were meant to remain a family of three for a little bit longer.

The nurses were so nice to me when I came in for that “false alarm.” I told them that I was sorry I made them do all that work. Obviously it’s what they are there for, but I felt silly about it. They reassured me that it was completely reasonable that I came in based on my birth history. Their sincerity made me feel better about our short little visit to the hospital that evening.

The following day I was praying that the baby didn’t come. I had house keepers coming to do a nice cleaning in anticipation of our baby. Also, I really wanted this baby to come when Craig was home from work, but the odds weren’t necessarily in my favor since Craig was working overtime that day too.

My prayers must have been heard because that day (Friday) there was no baby. I was now into my 38th week of pregnancy and felt like everyday was Groundhog Day. Little did I know, I’d only have to endure it for one more day.

The morning of Saturday, September 22nd Craig, Gia and I woke up and did our usual thing. We made breakfast, I hit the gym and came home to play with Gia and watch Craig set up our double stroller. When Gia went down for her nap around noon, it was Craig’s turn to hit the gym and my time to rest a little. The whole time Gia was napping I was reading on the couch and timing my contractions. They kept up for over two hours. By the time Craig was home and Gia was up, Craig wanted to head to the grocery store. I said we should give Gia a bath first and get that out of the way. Boy, am I glad we did!

After bath, Craig mentioned going to the store again and I told him that I think I should just call labor and delivery. He knew I was still having contractions and if this was the real deal I didn’t want to let it get going with being at the hospital.

Cutting to the chase, we sent Gia off to my parents and got the go ahead from the hospital to come in. Once we were there I just had the feeling that they weren’t gonna let me go home. I was right. I was at 4.5cm and 80% effaced when they were monitoring me. They said they were just going to transfer me to a room because knowing how I worked, I’d be having a baby real soon.

We were hardly in the triage area and had gotten to our room where the nurse wanted to get my i.v. hooked up. She was explaining everything about an epidural and my mind started to race. I was also feeling very different at this point. Lots and lots of intense pressure was happening. I wanted to try and have a natural birth, just like with Gia. I felt like if I did it once I can do it again, but since I had to make a decision I was nervous about making the right one regarding an epidural.

As the nurse attempted to place my i.v. I was having such intense contractions that I needed to focus and it meant not getting the i.v. in quick enough. Once I had a quick break between contractions the nurse was able to place the i.v., but there was no time to even hook it up.

My water broke and then I immediately felt the need to push. The nurse said you need to wait for the doctor, we aren’t ready. “To hell with that,” I thought. This baby is coming! I was able to hold off on pushing momentarily while the doctor and nurses where able to get things in place. Thank goodness they were fast because it was 6:55pm when my water broke. Nine minutes later and three pushes later, at 7:04pm I had Viviana on my chest.

I remember Craig telling me she had lots of hair and I was doing such a good job. Those words from my husband were all I needed to motivate my body to get her out. I also remember looking up at Craig with Vivi on my chest, telling him, “I did it!” The look on Craig’s face was one of such pride. It made my heart swell and immediately I knew that I had the capacity to love two children equally and fiercely.

After Viv’s rapid arrival, the doctors told me I had a lot of bleeding and clotting that needed to get under control. This scared me because without hesitation I thought about what that could mean. It could mean surgery and even more blood loss. In that moment my thoughts were on just wanting the bleeding to stop so I could hold and feed my baby.

Thankfully, after being injected in the thigh with multiple medications, the bleeding and expelling of blood clots was under control. Thank God.

Now we didn’t need to worry and could continue the focus on Viviana. Being that she was 12 days early, she was smaller than Gia at birth. Gia was born at 41 weeks and Vivi at 38. Weighing 7 pounds, 9 ounces, and 20.5 inches in length, Viv was a good size for being early. I can only imagine how big she would have been if she decided to come on her due date of October 4th.

Our time spent in the hospital was pretty brief. We left in the early afternoon the day after Viviana’s arrival. Gia met her new sister at the hospital before we brought her home. That moment was one I will never, ever forget. I couldn’t have been more proud of our big girl and how we had created this little family. Gia meeting her sister is a blog post for another day. After all, I am writing this post with a sleepy newborn on my chest and a tired toddler napping in the other room.

Women’s bodies are amazing. Birth is amazing. I share my story because it proves how different and beautiful all birthing experiences are. There should be no shame for any one way a child enters the world. C-section, epidural, home birth, natural delivery – they are all equal. As long as I have a healthy baby in my arms, I don’t care how that baby came into the world because it’s not a competition.

To all the badass mamas out there, mamas-to-be and those longing to be mothers, I send all my love and good vibes to you.

Xo

Potty Training: The Good, Bad And Ugly

For the last month and a half or so, I’ve been slightly obsessed with all things potty training. This obsession was spurred by learning a friend of mine started the process with her daughter, who is about four months older than my daughter.

After hearing my friend had taken five days off of work to get the ball rolling, I did some research and ordered a book on potty training to prepare myself for this future milestone. I knew that if my friend’s daughter could do it, so could Gia. Our girls are both very verbal and independent, so why not give them the gift of a clean bum?

I took longer reading the book than I thought because I didn’t want to just rush through it. Also, I couldn’t just finish it in a couple days because, well, LIFE. There’s hundreds of books and opinions out there, so there’s many ways to go about potty training. After all, when we were kids there weren’t all of these resources. Our parents mostly did what they thought was best for us and that’s fine. The way they potty trained, the way I’m potty training and the way you potty train all work for us and our kids. There isn’t necessarily a “right” or “wrong.” You can expect for everyone to interject their opinions though. Just do what you think is best and ignore the rest.

So, if you’re a parent of a toddler, you may be wondering which book I went with. I ordered Oh Crap! Potty Training, by Jamie Glowacki, through Amazon. I gave myself about two weeks time to try and not think about potty training after finishing the book, before actually starting.

Craig and I decided our start date would be on his first day off of his work week. This allowed us three days together to try and tackle things as a team. Thank goodness we planned it this way because we needed each other’s support. Don’t get me wrong though, there were times we were very frustrated with one another.

Let me just say that the first day was very hard. As a Type- A individual, it was difficult to let go of the fact that my child would not be good at this in the beginning. Duh, Ashley! How crazy of me to think for one second that my child, who has known only diapers since moments after birth, would magically be a pro at potty training!

I think that as a parent I secretly wished that this process would be smooth sailing and we would magically get it done. No such thing, even when children are bright.

The main reason why I’m sharing part of our experience is to let other parents know that this is hard stuff. Fortunately for me, I have a sister-in-law with a newly turned two-year old son, who started potty training last month. After our first day of potty training I asked her if she experienced the things we were experiencing. Low and behold, they did. The bottom line of this is that potty training takes an insane amount of time, energy and absolute patience. These are all attributes that most parents just white knuckle their way into acquiring. Yep, that’s right – we don’t know everything and that’s totally okay!

For those of you in the first days of potty training, I applaud you and encourage you to push through! If I didn’t have encouragement from my husband, mom, girlfriend and sister-in-law after the first two days, I might have thrown in the towel. You will feel the same way, but DO NOT GIVE IN! It is worth having the most challenging time to see progress. We are currently on day six of our potty training and I am amazed. The sense of pride I feel is huge and what’s even better is seeing the big smile on Gia’s face when she goes on her potty. You can see how proud she is of herself too.

Set yourself up for success and do some research, get a potty, get an insert and have wine ready at the end of the day. It will be hard and we all face different hurdles through this time. Working parents, kids who go to day care and stay at home parents all have a different set of challenges to deal with while hitting this milestone.

Even if potty training sends you to therapy, you can do it! If I can get over the hump and continue to push through, so can you!

Xo

Reflecting On A Busy Year & Preparing For 2018

Here we are, yet again.  We are days away from saying goodbye to another year and getting ready to welcome a fresh start for 2018.  This is the time where people begin to think about making resolutions for the year to come.  Normally I don’t make a resolution.  I thought I’d flip the script just a little bit, while it’s great to make new goals for the upcoming year, it’s equally as important to reflect on the year that has passed.  I’m feeling especially inspired to start my 2018 with a clear mind, positive thoughts and heaps of gratitude, thanks to a very, very popular blogger.  I’m taking the time to write a few things down and share them with you, at the suggestion of Julia Engel.  Head to her blog, Gal Meets Glam, to see the post that has encouraged me to do some reflecting.

Now Julia isn’t the only one doing the encouraging – I encourage any of you reading my blog to follow suit and do as I am doing here.  Take an hour to yourself to reflect, show appreciation and yes, plan for a good start to 2018.

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5 things I’m proud that I accomplished this past year:

  1. Sold our first home and purchased our current home.  Life is stressful in many ways, and I’ve realized that moving homes is close to the top of my stressors list.  I’m happy that we are settled in our house and it already feels like we have been here for years.  I definitely look forward to continue making it ours.
  2. Started blogging again.  I follow a lot of different bloggers through their Instagram accounts.  Although I’m not an “accomplished” blogger, I feel that I’ve already become successful.  When I say successful I mean that I successfully put my mind to something, followed through and continued to write, regardless of the opinions of others.  That’s a win in my book for sure!
  3. Deliberately went out of my comfort zone.  Although this does not pinpoint one specific thing, it’s an accomplishment nonetheless.  I’ve done things like take Gia on road trips, try completely new workouts and deviate from our routines.  I’m sure these sound small to outsiders, but for me they’re huge.
  4. Survived the ups and downs of my first year as a parent.  When Gia turned one in August, it wasn’t just a birthday celebration.  It was also a chance for Craig and I to look at each other and say, “we did it!”  The first year of parenthood is magical, but it is freakin’ tough!  Anyone who tells you otherwise is not telling you the whole truth.  From sleepless nights, to that first little giggle, all of it is so memorable in it’s own unique way.
  5. Regained my sense of self.  After having Gia in August of 2016, I dealt with a lot of new feelings about myself.  Many of those feelings about myself weren’t so positive and were likely related to postpartum hormones.  I was able to feel like me again after remembering to make myself a priority.  After all, if I don’t take good care of myself, how can I take care of anyone else?

One of my favorite accomplishments of the year – celebrating Gia’s 1st birthday!

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5 things I want to tackle in 2018:

  1. Do more yoga.  I think I’ve said this for the past three years.  I start the year off doing some yoga and then I fall off the wagon.  This year I want to do it for my mind, to keep my body loose and prevent injury from my more traditional workouts in the gym.
  2. Hold weekly meetings with myself.  I’ll even admit it, this one is lofty.  It sounds really simple, but it’s not that easy.  I want these “meetings” to be a check-in where I can refocus and align my to-do lists with my high-level priorities.
  3. Maximize my time.  I’m going to try and implement a two-minute rule.  Any action that can be carried out in two minutes or less will need to be completed right away.  I’ll be able to finish small tasks before they pile up and take more mental space than they deserve.
  4. Learn to control my emotions.  It’s not like I have uncontrolled anger and need anger management classes, but certain emotions are destructive in all circumstances.  Gaining control over my feelings will allow me to continue to keep a level head and think more rationally, even during emotionally charged situations.
  5. Volunteer.  I want to do good for myself, but I also want to do good for others in the upcoming year.  The times that I have volunteered, or donated, gave me a sense of purpose, made life a little more meaningful, and made me happy.


Now that I’ve listed a few things I’ve accomplished this year and a few things I’d like to tackle this coming year, I want to continue the trend of making lists.  This next one is going to be one that I jot down on paper and keep to myself though.  Feel free to join in and do it too.  Again, these are ideas I’ve followed from one of my favorite bloggers, Julia Engel, of Gal Meets Glam.

I’m writing down the names of five people (or as many as you like) who were my best supporters during my hardest and happiest times this year.  My plan is to send them a note of appreciation to thank them and remind them of what their actions and presence has meant to me.  These are the people who have contributed to my own personal growth.

The last thing I’d like to do is scroll through the photos on my iPhone and find five pictures that make me happiest when thinking about that memory.  That is going to be hard to do and take quite a bit of time, considering how many thousands of photos of Gia are in my phone.  I’ll be honest, I’m going to save the scrolling for another day.  It will likely be long after Gia has gone to bed for the night – that’s when I do most of my scrolling anyway!

I hope that in 2018 my thoughts become actions.  The act of doing is contagious and with that, accomplishments can come closer each day.  I can’t expect all of my goals for 2018 to happen in January, but with lots of hard work, a little faith and some action, I’ll get them done.

Happy New Year to all!

xo

 

A Week Well Spent

Last week was pretty busy for my family.  I’m so grateful to have been able to celebrate my wedding anniversary, not once, but twice.  Tuesday night my parents sent us to dinner at Corso, an Italian restaurant in Berkeley.  We have been meaning to try it and finally got to enjoy it.  Our meal didn’t disappoint and neither did our cocktails.


Cocktail goodness pictured below:

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Our second anniversary celebration was on the actual day of.  We’re fortunate enough to share our special day with some of our closest friends.  The four of us thought it’d be fun to celebrate together by going to the Bull Valley Roadhouse.  Craig and I just love it there because it transports you back in time.  We hadn’t been in a while, so a dual anniversary celebration was the perfect reason to go.


Pre-prohibition era cocktail recipes from Bull Valley:

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Despite all of the good things happening in my reality, the reality of many others across the country wasn’t as cheery.  The acts in Las Vegas have weighed heavily on my heart since they occurred.  Not only that, but there are countless people suffering devastation from the hurricanes and wildfires that don’t seem to want to take a break.

Instead of heading to Facebook and posting my political views on gun laws and the NFL (which is useless, unless people are actually taking action to make change towards whatever it is they believe in), I decided to go out and make a difference.

I’m not trying to claim that I changed the world this weekend, but I did do something that will help someone, hopefully more than just a single someone.  I gave the gift of my blood with the American Red Cross.

I was inspired by one of Craig’s co-workers who posted a photo on her Instagram of her donating as well.  Immediately after seeing her post I went to the Red Cross website to see if I could make an appointment for that day.  I went downstairs to find Craig and tell him I was going to give blood and asked if it would be okay that I do it that afternoon.

I was emotional and teary when I told him what I was planning to do.  He quickly slowed me down to remind me that we had an anniversary dinner (the one at Corso) that evening and he wanted me to still feel energized enough to go.  I knew it was probably a good idea to wait for a different day during the week to go through with my donation, so that’s what I did.

I decided to schedule my donation for Saturday during Gia’s nap time, which worked out great anyway because Craig’s parents wanted to take Gia for the day.  After going to a yoga gathering hosted by a high school friend (and cutting out early), I zipped over to the American Red Cross in Pleasant Hill for my donation appointment.  (Side note:  I held myself accountable from my previous post about self care by going to yoga!  Yay!)

It was apparent after walking into the Red Cross that they were very busy and had been all week.  It really made me feel like I was doing something good by being there.  The majority of the people who were there that day were first time donors, like myself.  I chatted a little bit with the woman who was donating across from me about how the events in Las Vegas were her motivation to give blood, as well as mine.

I couldn’t help but sit there and think about where my blood would be going. Would it go to a mother, a father, a child, a cancer patient?  Obviously it would end up going to a hospital and eventually to a person, but I really wished I could find out more about who would receive it.  The phlebotomist who was taking care of me told me that sometimes you receive a note telling you where your blood has gone, but most times you don’t.  She also later told me that the amount of blood that I gave that day has the potential to save three lives.  That’s pretty freakin’ amazing.


Photo of me donating:

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This whole experience really made me see what’s truly important in life.  It’s not the house, the sports car, the Jimmy Choo’s, or the handbag – it’s the moments we spend with the ones we care about that matter most.  I’ve known this all along but was abruptly reminded last week after so much tragedy.

I had such a seamless experience donating, that I’ve decided to do it regularly.  Most people have blood to spare, but there still isn’t enough blood to go around.  Since I’m o-negative blood type (the universal red cell donor) I am also committing to regularly giving a Power Red donation, which is different than a whole blood donation.  Power red is similar to a whole blood donation, except a special machine is used to allow you to safely donate two units of red blood cells during one donation while returning your plasma and platelets to you.  There are certain hemoglobin and height/weight requirements, in addition to whole blood requirements to give a Power Red donation – thankfully, I meet the requirements!

I hope that my willingness to share my positive experience can inspire and motivate other individuals to donate.  If my donation story doesn’t push you to donate, hopefully this will…..

Quick Facts About Blood Needs:

  • Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.
  • Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S.
  • Nearly 7,000 units of platelets and 10,000 units of plasma are needed daily in the U.S.
  • Nearly 21 million blood components are transfused each year in the U.S.
  • The average red blood cell transfusion is approximately 3 pints.
  • The blood type most often requested by hospitals is type O.
  • The blood used in an emergency is already on the shelves before the event occurs.
  • It is estimated that sickle cell disease affects 90,000 to 100,000 people in the U.S. About 1,000 babies are born with the disease each year. Sickle cell patients can require frequent blood transfusions throughout their lives.
  • According to the American Cancer Society, more than 1.69 million people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2017. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.
  • A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.

Quick Facts About Blood Donors:

  • Half of Red Cross blood donors are male, and half are female.
  • The Red Cross accepts blood donations only from volunteer donors. Among Red Cross donors in a given year, 19 percent donate occasionally, 31 percent are first-time donors and 50 percent are regular, loyal donors.
  • Only 7 percent of people in the United States. have type O-negative blood type, which is known as the universal blood type. Blood that is type O-negative can be given to people of all blood types. Type O-negative blood is needed in emergencies before the patient’s blood type is known and with newborns that need blood.

To learn more about blood donation and the Red Cross, please visit redcross.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

 

Green Banana Muffins

Okay, so for those of you who follow me on Instagram – Do you remember those green banana muffins that I’ve posted about a few times on my stories?  Yes, no, maybe? – Doesn’t matter because I’m gonna share them with you here today!  Unfortunately, I cannot claim that I’m the recipe developer for these tasty and healthy muffins.  I got them from Kristin Cavallari, who is a mom to three little ones and is married to Jay Cutler.  (If you’ve never seen “The Hills” or watched football, you won’t know who I’m talking about, and that’s fine!)  They are from her book, “Balancing In Heels.”


Here’s a link to a clip from Dr. Oz with Kristin talking about the muffins:

Kristin Cavallari’s Green Banana Muffins


I’ve been wanting to make these for Gia this whole week, and what do you know, I got too tired/too busy to do it.  So here I am writing about them and not actually making them while she’s napping.  🙂  As soon as this post is up I’m heading back down to the kitchen to get mixing.

First off, let me tell you why I like these muffins so much.  They have clean, wholesome ingredients and there’s spinach in them!  The last few days Gia has been protesting drinking her milk and eating some of her usual favorite, nutrient-rich foods.  Toddler life, go figure!  I know it’s a phase and next week I’m sure we’ll be tackling something else that’s new.


Photo of Gia with her muffin at breakfast – Look at that bed head:

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Not only does Gia gobble these muffins up, but I really like them a lot too.  I’m one of those people who likes to work out in the morning and it’s always tricky for me to fuel myself properly.  If I’m planning on doing sprints or a distance run I tend to eat super light because I don’t want to get a cramp.  That’s where these little green babies come in handy!

What I like to do to make these muffins more well rounded is add a little smear of nut butter on top.  I get good energy from the carbs and some healthy fats to boot.  (I’m no nutritionist, chef or wellness coach, but this works for me.) These muffins are very moist, probably from the banana and apple sauce in them, and they rise nicely too.

You can always play around with the ingredients and swap things in or out depending on your dietary needs, personal preferences, or adapt to what’s sitting in your pantry.  That’s what I’ve done in the past when I’ve made them.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 bag (6 oz) baby spinach
  • 3/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup plain unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 flax egg**
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed banana (about 3 small or 2 large bananas)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a food processor or blender, combine the spinach, maple syrup, almond milk, flax egg, applesauce, and vanilla and process until completely pureed. Add the wet ingredients and the banana to the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
  3. Fill each muffin cup about three-quarters full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool at least 10 minutes.

**A flax egg is one tablespon ground flaxseed plus three tablespoons water. Let set for about 15 minutes until it becomes a gooey consistency.


Happy baking!  I’m off to make a batch now too!  Let me know if you have any recipe requests – after all, my mom is a chef, so if I don’t know how to make it, she certainly will!

The Longest Week Ever

It’s been almost a week since my last blog post and I’m beating myself up about it.  My goal is to try and post every other day, if I’m feeling inspired.  I’d hate to write just to fill the page to hit my personal quota.  I would much rather go without content for longer than I’d like, in order to feel like I have something I’m really wanting to talk about and share.  In today’s case, I have to update you all and let you know why I’ve been so absent!

As I’ve mentioned a few times throughout the last couple of weeks, we’re moving.  Now I can say “we’ve moved!”  Yay!  We are officially out of our old house and moved in with our new roomies – my mom and dad.  😉  This last week was kind of chaotic and most definitely would not have happened without the help from our families.


Here’s Gia with some great bed head, relaxing on bedding that needed to be packed up:IMG_0019


If it wasn’t for my father-in-law, and some of our friends, the grunt work of this move might have never happened.  Let’s just say they helped us move all of our crap into two, count ’em, two, storage units.  As of a couple days ago Craig and I were very seriously contemplating getting a third storage unit.  How asinine is that?!  Where did all this stuff come from??  We didn’t end up getting the third storage unit because the facility we are using is totally full.  I guess that’s a sign to start purging more of our things.

I’m so glad that we can get back to some normalcy in our lives now that we are in my mom and dad’s place for the next month and a half.  Gia had a fun time this week playing with both of her grandma’s while the Craig and I got things squared away with packing up.  G-girl had quite a few adventurous trips to the local park, as well as her first trip to the Nut Tree – – To this day I remember going there when I was little with my grandparents.  My grandpa even made me a replica of the giant rocking horses that they used to have there.  Don’t worry, I still have it stored away for Gia to use when she gets bigger.


Photo of Miss Gia having a blast at the Nut Tree:

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We ended our week on a really high note, celebrating our sweet friends, Sean and Jenn.  Craig and I had the pleasure of attending their wedding yesterday in Jenn’s parents backyard.  We had so much fun and thought it couldn’t have been a more perfect day.  Their adorable little girl Isla stole the show as she came down the aisle in her Radio Flyer just before her mommy (who couldn’t have been more beautiful) made her grand entrance.


Photo of the lovely couple after saying I do:

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Jenn and Sean looked fantastic and had a beautiful cake made by Wildflour Bakehouse, who I mentioned last week.  It was almost as stunning as the newlyweds!  Thank goodness Sean was a gentleman and didn’t shove the cake in his bride’s face after cutting into it.


Photo of the cake with signature macarons:

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As a sidenote, a few people have asked me this past week what the difference is between a macaron and a macaroon.  There is a BIG difference and I’m sure any pastry chef out there would cringe if someone called either of these treats by the wrong name.

macaron is a meringue-based cookie made with almond flour, egg whites, granulated sugar and powdered sugar, then filled with buttercream, ganache or fruit curd.  It’s a delicate treat with a crunchy, yet chewy exterior.  To add the the confusion, it’s also called a French Macaron.

macaroon is a totally different type of confection.  Mostly, this term is equated with a coconut macaroon, which is dense and moist.  It’s composed of egg whites, sugar and dried coconut, and sometimes dipped in chocolate.

I dunno about you guys but I like both!  I’ve never met a sweet treat I didn’t enjoy.

Speaking of sweet….I’ve got another pretty sweet collaboration going with a company based out of the UK, called Curly Ellie.  I found out about them through another mommy blogger who is based in the UK as well.  She has three daughters, all of which have beautiful curly hair.  I knew I wanted to try these products on Gia because taming her hair after bath time can be such a process.  Not to mention, I don’t want to hurt her little head getting those tangles out!

To make a long story shorter, I tagged Curly Ellie in a photo on Instagram with Gia in it, showcasing those curls in all their glory.  Curly Ellie said they would love to collaborate with me, as they mentioned how lovely Gia was.  I couldn’t agree more – obviously I’m biased!

I’m so excited to receive all of their products and try them out on Gia.  I’ll be sure to give you all a full report on what we think of them.  I might even try them myself.  After all, Gia did get her hair from me.  So for any of you mom’s out there with curly haired babes, stay tuned.  Or if you have beautiful curls yourself, you might want to think about looking into these products.  I hope they work wonders on Gia because I love discovering a brand or product and telling everyone about it.

I should also be receiving the leggings I got from the other company I’m collaborating with – Pineapple Clothing.  The shipping process has been delayed due to the horrible damage caused my Hurricane Irma.

My thoughts and prayers continue to be with the people of Houston, Miami and Puerto Rico during these times.  May we all remember how lucky we are while others are facing such hardship.

To help efforts towards hurricane relief please visit the Red Cross.  There are many ways to help, donating through Red Cross is just one of those ways.

 

 

 

Dare To Live

Over the last couple of weeks I have found myself doing things that are way out of my comfort zone.  A few of those things you guys are pretty well aware of already:  1.) Starting this blog  2.) Becoming a Rodan + Fields Consultant  3.) Selling our home

As scary as it is to put yourself out there, it’s so freeing.  I know that is oh so cliche, but it’s true!  I was nervous to start this blog because I thought no one would want to read it, but then I told myself that I didn’t really care.  This blog is serving a purpose and it makes me feel like I have something to contribute.  I have somewhere to let my thoughts out, talk about the good, bad and the ugly, as well as have the opportunity to share it with someone who can relate.  Am I getting too big for my britches thinking that my words might help someone?  Be honest with me!


Photo depicting everything out of my comfort zone, letting Gia skip a nap and get in the water without a swim diaper – LOL!:

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I think it was right around the same week I started this blog thing up again, that I also hopped on board with Rodan + Fields.  I haven’t talked to any of you about it yet for fear of annoying you.  I was telling my brother this on the phone yesterday and that I’m doing well with my new R + F gig, and that it really is a business where you get what you give.  What I mean is, if I put the effort in, I will see a return.  The only problem I saw with that while telling Zach about it was that I didn’t want to become one of those people you see on social media.  You know who they are….the ones who are posting about whatever product or service they are pushing, private messaging you, texting you, etc.  What he told me was such an “duh” moment – he told me that it’s part of the game and who cares if you are succeeding?  Instantly I thought, well you’re right!

After Zach enlightened me a little bit and reminded me that I should not care if other people think I’m being annoying, or “who does she think she is anyway?”, I told him I found a really great quote that I am starting to finally apply to these things in my life.

“Your happiness will never offend the people who truly care about you.”  –@bravebabesmovement

Soooo, with that quote in mind, I want to share something with you that I’m really excited about!  Since starting this blog, I’ve tried to dovetail it with my Instagram account by posting video stories of myself (another thing I am always scared to do, for fear of judgement) and photos that are related to things that I like to talk about here.  Well, someone noticed my Instagram account and my blog and must have liked what they saw.

I was reached out to by a Miami based clothing company for women and girls, and was asked to become an ambassador for them!  So cool!  After talking to Craig and giving it a little thought, I said why the hell not?!

The company is called Pineapple Clothing and they celebrate ladies of all ages, shapes and sizes.  (Who can’t support that?!) They have tons of unique prints and bold designs.  The fun thing about Pineapple Clothing is that they also have a mommy and me selection of clothing for you and your little babe to match.

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I’m patiently waiting on my first shipment from them – capri activewear leggings in a funky print.  Yes, I ordered Gia a pair too!  I can’t wait to sport them running errands and out playing with Gia.  In all seriousness, I live in workout clothes and activewear, so to find something like this makes life for this mommy that much better.

The best part of my new role as an ambassador for Pineapple Clothing is that I have a unique 20% off coupon code for any of my subscribers, friends and family!  Please message me on Instagram, or comment on my blog so I can share it with you!  🙂

 

 

 

Fantastic Favorites

So….I woke up this morning in complete shock – I slept until 7:45 a.m.!!!  That does not happen, like ever!!  I couldn’t even tell you the last time I slept that late, even before Gia came around!

I was kind of excited that I had slept that late, but then I was kind of annoyed because I had already wasted a good chunk of my morning.  Regardless of that, I guess my body was letting me know I needed the rest.  When I woke up, Gia was playing quietly in her crib, happy as a clam.  She must have known mama needed the rest too.  🙂

After hitting the gym with my girl, while Craig was at a training for work, I put Gia down to snooze and got to thinking about some of my favorite things.  Let’s be real, I have a lot of favorites when it comes to many different categories, and they are ever-changing.  I always enjoy hearing about favorites and suggestions from others, so I thought it’d be a nice thing for me to share with all of you.

As you may have seen earlier on my Instagram, I was making a quick and easy frittata with Gia.  It’s one of my favorites for breakfast, or in today’s case, it was lunch.  I thought I’d share this recipe with you, along with my favorite cookbooks of the moment, as well as a few of my favorite gifting items.

Favorite Cookbooks of the Moment:

“Eating Purely” – by Elizabeth Stein

This cookbook is awesome because it keeps things super simple.  Cooking certainly doesn’t have to be rocket science, and this book shows that.  It has more than 100 all-natural, organic, gluten-free recipes for an overall healthy life.

I don’t eat a strictly gluten-free diet, but I will definitely make things that require you to use gluten-free ingredients.  I don’t discriminate!

The recipes are pretty fun and approachable, ranging from brunch and salads to vegetarian mains.  (Craig and I enjoy being carnivores, but it speaks volumes that he will eat anything lacking meat that I make from this book.)


Here’s a look at the frittata I made this afternoon from “Eating Purely:”

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“The Seasoned Life” – by Ayesha Curry

I can’t be the only person who is loves the Curry family, can I?!  I love Ayesha’s cookbook because it comes from her roots and everything is super easy to pull off!  I’m sensing a theme here, aren’t you?….nowadays I need quick, easy, nutrient rich and delicious!  Ain’t nobody got time for anything other than that!

There’s something about a good meatloaf that makes me feel like I’m eating at grandma’s, and Ayesha’s is one even grandma would approve of.  I remember when I was newly pregnant with Gia, meatloaf was my first craving!

I also love this cookbook simply because Ayesha Curry is just like any other mom out there.  I know, I know – I don’t even know her, but I did have the pleasure of meeting her and her husband, Steph, when I was still working.  I want to support this mama because she is following her dream, as we all should!

“The Big Book of Organic Baby Food” – by Stephanie Middleberg MS, RD, CDN

Giving your baby solids for the first time is a pretty exciting milestone.  (At least it was for me!)  The first thing we gave Gia was green beans and she didn’t exactly love them.  My thought process with solid food was that I should give her veggies and not-so-sweet foods first.  It’s a given that a baby will like bananas.  It’s like dessert for them!

This book was great for me when I was in a food rut with Gia.  I was adamant about making all of her food and wanted to make sure she was only getting the best and healthiest kinds of food.  My favorite thing about this cookbook is that the food progresses with your baby.  As your child gets older, the food is a different variety, with different textures and recipes.

Now, I am less anal about the things that she eats.  I don’t let myself get upset if she will only eat yogurt all day, or skips a serving of milk.  I can’t sweat the small stuff and I know she is growing and developing properly because of what I feed her and how I care for her.


Here is photo evidence of Gia’s first encounter with green beans:

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Favorites for Gift-Giving Right Now:

Venus Et Fleur

Elegant luxury is the best way I can describe what you get from Venus Et Fleur.  It delivers the romantic tradition of sending flowers, but with exceptionally stylish design.  To be honest, I don’t really recall how I stumbled upon this company, but I recently sent a Le Petite box of champagne colored roses to one of my best friends for her 30th birthday.

I have to admit they are a bit of a splurge, but well worth it indeed!  What makes these flowers so unique, yet also pricey, is that they are real roses that can last for up to a year, if cared for properly.  I know some of you are calling BS right now, but if you go look at their website and read about their “eternity roses” you will see what I mean.

This is the type of gift that is best suited for someone who appreciates a meticulous, hand-crafted floral design.


This is the exact Venus Et Fleur arrangement I sent my girlfriend, Catherine:

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Glassybaby

Glassybaby is a glass blowing studio that sells unique, handmade candle votives and drinkers.  It’s a Seattle based company that has multiple locations, with Berkeley being the closest to me here in the Bay Area.

I heard about Glassybaby a few years ago from my dad.  Yes, believe it or not my dad is very up on what’s cool.  He regularly reads his magazines, like GQ and Esquire, and should probably be at New York Fashion Week right now.  (He’s a tough guy but likes to look good.  He was a model when he was my age, but that’s neither here nor there!)

My dad bought a variety of Glassybaby drinkers as a Mother’s Day gift for my mom a while back.  I looked into the company after he bought them and found out they hosted glass blowing parties as well.  I had my 29th birthday celebration there last year and it was a blast!

I love giving the votives and drinkers as gifts because they have any and every color/hue that you can imagine.  What makes them really special is that they all have a specific name.  For example, I got a good friend of mine a votive a few months ago that was a gradient silver color.  It was called “Silver Lining.”  She was going through a tough time and I wanted her to have a little pick-me-up.

I enjoy giving gifts from Glassybaby because they can have deeper meaning, depending on the occasion.

Here’s is a picture of me at my birthday party with a bada** glassblower who helped me craft my own beautiful bowl:

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Stargazer Barn

I cannot talk about Stargazer Barn enough!  Yes, this is another floral arrangement type of company, but their blooms are show stopping!

I first heard about Stargazer Barn through an old friend and colleague, who happens to be a very successful blogger – Kristy Wicks.  (If you don’t already follow her on Instagram, go ahead and do it now, thank me later.)  She partnered with Stargazer Barn and I decided to see what they were all about after hearing her rave about them.

The blooms that they grow are definitely flowers for flower lovers, if you know what I mean.  Stargazer Barn grows tulips, lilies and irises.  Farming is hard work and these people work tirelessly to ensure that the flowers you send/receive are enchanting.  They offer actual varieties of tulips, instead of “red tulips” or “white tulips.”  The same goes for for their lilies.

Anything you order from Stargazer Barn would stand out in a crowded marketplace.  If you know a flower connoisseur, I recommend sending them some of these beauties right away!


Here a few shots of flowers I have sent to friends:

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I could keep this favorites variety list going and going, but I’ll save some for another day. I also want to share some of my favorite baby products/toys because no mom and dad should be missing out on some of the things I’ve come across.

Also, I have a long list of fitness related products that I can’t live without, so that will be coming soon too.  And of course, you can always count on an eventual post about my favorite places to dine, sip and hang!

I hope you take my advice and look into some of the things I’ve mentioned.  The gifts will not disappoint and neither will the recipes from the cookbooks!

Until next time my friends!

xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wine Cures Everything

Today was an exceptionally hard day for me mentally.  The strange thing is that I woke up on the right side of the bed and started my day with my usual routine.

Normally my house is awake between 6:30-7:00 a.m.  I like to bring Gia in our bed once she wakes up for a few minutes of morning cuddles and giggles before heading downstairs for breakfast.  Once we’re downstairs we get the coffee going and I start making Gia some eggs, or whatever is on the menu for that particular morning.  When Gia has eaten her fill, Craig and I head to the gym together with her.  (It’s nice going to the gym together on his days off instead of taking turns – more time for us to do things together the rest of the day.)  Gia loves playing at our gym’s child care – today I went in to get her when we were ready to head home and she didn’t even notice me come in!  That was a first.


Here’s Gia having a blast and not even noticing me snap her picture:

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After getting my cardio in on the stairclimber and lifting upper body, we got home and put Gia down for her nap.  The plan for the day was to get cleaned up and ready to go while she was sleeping, then head to Napa to pick up our Fall wine shipment and our champagne shipment.  (We became members at Artesa – we got engaged there – and Domaine Chandon last Fall.)


This is a shot of Gia and I during her first trip to Artesa:

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As soon as I got out of the shower and started to look for something to wear, things quickly went downhill for me.  I couldn’t decide what I should wear, which isn’t usually a problem when my everyday attire consists of workout clothes or something comfortable.  I wanted to feel a little bit more presentable today….you know, have my hair done, throw little make up on, wear a cute outfit that I never get to wear, because I’m usually chasing my child at the local park.  Not too much to ask, right?

I grabbed a pair of tailored white shorts and decided to throw them on.  There was my first mistake.  These shorts didn’t quite fit the way I wanted them to.  They were slightly more snug than I liked, which sent my mind spiraling out of control.  That damn pair of shorts was the catalyst for what was to come the rest of the day.

I tore the shorts off and immediately felt defeated.  My mood turned sour and I went through the script that many women know all too well.  “I have NOTHING to wear!  I look terrible!  I don’t want to go out today anyway!”

Once I was finished saying nasty things to myself, I thought that if I went on our outing to Napa I would not be a pleasant person to be around.  I told Craig that I did not want to go pick up our shipments and he could go ahead without me while I stayed home with Gia.  Obviously he wanted to know what was wrong and why I didn’t want to go.

Where do I even start???  I’m sure you’re wondering how a stupid pair of shorts could turn my day so upside down….

I’ve had a tough time dealing with my postpartum body image ever since Gia was born.  While I was pregnant I was so scared that my body would never be the same and I’d never be fit again.  Well, my body is not the same – I carried a healthy baby girl to full term and had a natural birth that was fast and furious. (Gia was born in 30 minutes!) I’d be crazy to think that after having a child my body would be exactly the same as before.


This is a picture of Craig and I, just days before I gave birth to Gia:

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I do have to say, I worked my a** off – literally and figuratively – to achieve the fitness level that I’m at now.  I lost all of my baby weight by eating nutrient rich foods and training like a beast.  It’s amazing what our bodies are capable of.  Even with all that said, my body is still totally different.  I think that my hips shifted to accommodate such a big, healthy baby, and my ladies lumps…..well, let me tell you that they were enormous when I was preggo and now they aren’t quite as perky!  I’m more than okay with all of that because I have an amazing child to love for the rest of my life.

Even though I’m okay with that, I still have my days where I think I look as terrible as I sometimes feel.  On top of these ridiculous feelings, I had more ridiculous feelings that I was a bad mom for letting Gia go with her dad on an outing without me.  Wouldn’t people wonder where this little girl’s mom was when they saw her only with Craig?  Wouldn’t my husband think I was being selfish for needing some mental health time?  Why do I have all of these feelings, but all of the other moms that I see look like they’re perfectly fine with their bodies, with their ability as a mother, with life in general?

The answer is that other moms do have these feelings.  They just don’t always talk about them.  My mom told me something today that really resonated with me – what you see of others is only a snap shot – it does not mean that they don’t have tough days.  Most people feel shame and choose not to talk about it when their days are like the one I had today.

I’m sure some of you who have actually decided to read this far are thinking, “boy, she’s making a mountain out of a mole hill.”  Maybe I am, but this is my reality and sometimes it doesn’t feel so good.  I’ve mentioned before that I’m an over thinker and that I’m hyper-critical of myself, especially as a mother.  All of it stems from a good place, but it ends up making my mind spin in circles.

Now as I sit here with a glass of Artesa’s Pinnacle, I’m reminding myself that I’m a work in progress.  Tomorrow will be a better day and I will have more tough days too.  The next time one of these tough days rolls around I’m going to take my brother’s advice.  I’m going to say, “Get out!”  Get out to all of the thoughts that my head just doesn’t have room for any more.  I’m letting go of my need to be perfect and trying to embrace my humanity.  I hope you can too.  🙂