Not So Frequent Flyer

For those of you who follow my Instagram account, @mrsbennigson, you already know that Gia and I took off for a weekend adventure.

For the last few weeks I’ve been wanting to head to Newport Beach to visit my brother. We don’t get to see him all the time and in turn, he doesn’t get to see Gia on the regular. We do what we can with technology and FaceTime, but the real deal is always our first choice.

Initially this trip was just going to be my mom coming down to visit Zach – I always have her for Mother’s Day, so Zach was long over due to have some mom time with her. I thought this would also be a good chance to visit Zach with Gia before baby #2 gets here, because Lord knows that we won’t be hopping on a plane with a toddler and newborn right away.

First of all, my hat is off to parents who regularly travel by air with their little ones. Flying can be stressful with or without kids – delays and being surrounded by loads of people means we aren’t really in full control.

Now, I know a flight from Oakland to Orange County is nothing compared to a transcontinental or international flight, but we had to start somewhere! Thankfully our flight was just over an hour and I armed myself to the teeth to make sure Gia and I would be prepared.

I have to say, we had it pretty easy when it came to luggage and necessities. My mom opted to drive down a day ahead of us because that’s just how it worked out. Luckily enough, I sent the stroller, car seat and our luggage with her. Yes to semi-free hands in the airport! All I needed to concern myself with was the little umbrella stroller and backpack with extra undies, snacks and books for Gia.

I think my biggest worry was the whole potty situation and not being able to get up on the plane during takeoff and landing. Fortunately, Gia was awesome about using the potty exactly when I needed her to.

I tried to think ahead and reserved our seat close to the lavatory. (My pregnant brain/mom brain didn’t fail me with that idea!) Once we boarded the plane Gia just hung on to me so she could snuggle, which is a rarity these days. Right after takeoff she dozed off and later woke before our decent. I offered her some crackers and we took a potty break before getting ready to land. Success!

Once we deplaned we were promptly greeted by my mom, or Gagi (gah-ghee), as Gia likes to call her. Needless to say, I was so proud of Gia while she was at the airport and on the plane. I think she must have been proud of herself too.

Anytime we try something new and unfamiliar it has the potential to be a little nerve wracking. I knew we would ultimately do fine on our first flight (and without daddy), but we all want things to go smoothly, especially with tots in tow.

As I’ve said on my blog many times before, just go for it. Don’t let your nerves or fears stop you from anything! Take the flight, apply for that dream job, go on the date, follow your curiosity wherever it takes you. Once you do it you’ll be glad you did, and you’ll wonder what your hang up was in the first place.

Maybe I’m a little preemptive in this post, as my flight home isn’t until Monday, but in the spirit of positivity, I’m sure we will do just fine on the way home too. I realize not all flying experiences go as planned, so I’m sure I’ll have more travel stories to share in the future – good and bad!

Happy travels and wishing all of the moms out there a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend!

Xo

Raising Strong, Confident Daughters

One thing I’ve already begun to realize over the last year and a half, or so, is that bringing up daughters is complicated: Messages of empowerment and achievement are everywhere, yet depression and anxiety plague so many.

I know these things because I am still a daughter even though I’m now also a mother. I know these things because I never want Gialina and her sister to go through the hard things that I went through. I want to raise my girls to be their best, well-rounded selves despite so many negative outside influences in our world.

During a routine morning not long ago, I was looking in our downstairs mirror. I lifted my shirt to look at my stomach – I’d recently found out I was pregnant with Gia’s sister. I was checking for any signs of a growing baby in my stomach and caught myself feeling a little bit upset. I was upset because I selfishly thought about how hard it will be to watch my body grow through another pregnancy. Although the creation of life is truly an amazing miracle, it can really do a number on a woman’s mindset and body confidence. In my case, I suffered from an eating disorder during my early twenties and although I am healthy today, the negative voices are still there and will always need to be tamped down.

After checking myself out for a quick moment I realized that my daughter Gia had been watching my every move, as she always does. To my surprise and slight horror, she walked over to where I was standing and proceeded to lift her shirt to show her tummy. She clearly was just mimicking mommy, but this instance just goes to show you that your children are always watching, listening and learning from you.

I love having a daughter and I am thrilled to be a girl-mom once again, but nothing annoys me more than when someone says, “Oooh, two girls! You sure are in for it!”

I feel like I was born to parent girls because of the challenges I overcame that tend to overwhelmingly affect women. God gave me not only one, but two girls so that I could teach them to love themselves as much as I should have been loving myself through my eating disorder. I’m excited to be raising two strong little girls, but even this early on it can feel like walking a tightrope.

Part of me is so excited for their future. There are so many female role models out there for them to aspire to be like. Unfortunately, there are also things like stress, anxiety and depression that come with high achievement. When my girls grow up and are doing everything possible to be all that they can, I want them to enjoy it. Like any parent, I want my girls to have boundless opportunity, but more than that, I want them to be happy. The bigger part of that is making sure they are ready for whatever challenges they will someday face.

Know the impact you will have on your child – celebrate their uniqueness, praise their imperfections and instill social confidence.

I know that I will always try to raise strong, confident daughters, but I also realize that they will be who they will be. I can’t make my daughters be something they weren’t meant to be. I just hope and pray that I continue to be the best parent that I can be through their challenging teen years and young adult lives.

Looking at Gia sitting beside me right now also makes me relish the simplicity of toddlerhood. She is completely unfiltered and totally herself in this moment. In a couple of years she will be more aware of the opinions of others, but I hope she holds on to her own opinions while remaining kind, strong-willed and unique.

Xo

My Everyday Makeup and Beauty Must-Haves

I’ve always loved makeup, but over the years I’ve learned that less is more, especially for my lifestyle.

In high school I loved browsing the MAC counter and looking for new lip glosses and eyeshadows. I can’t even tell you how many makeup products I’ve gathered over the years – most of which I still have tucked away. (Don’t worry, I don’t use that old stuff!)

Through my college years and the years after, I stuck to the no makeup look, or a minimally done face. Being that I played softball in college, I didn’t really want to wear anything while at practice or during games.

Now that I’ve hit thirty I know the importance of taking care of my skin and not just worrying about what makeup products I use. If we take good care of our skin and use makeup that works well for us, we can slow down the aging process and look our best while we’re at it!

Today I want to share some of my favorite everyday beauty products that I use, including skincare and makeup.

Most days I go makeup free, but when I’m feeling motivated, or if I’m going somewhere that I’d like to look more polished, these are my go-to favorites of the moment:

  • Laura Mercier Secret Concealer For Under Eyes – A little dab will do ya with this stuff. I apply a small amount of this creamy concealer with my finger by gently dabbing my under eye area. It conceals any darkness and under eye circles. I’m sure there is an appropriate brush to apply this with, but I go for fast and easy.

  • Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage – This stuff is great for if you have any spots of discoloration or blemishes on your face. Unlike the under eye concealer, I do use a brush to apply this. It comes with two colors in the palette, which I blend together and then apply if needed.

  • Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Foundation PowderAnytime I wear makeup I wear this foundation powder. I apply it with my favorite foundation brush, not the sponge that comes with the powder. Do whatever works for you. Many days I skip the first two products I’ve listed and jump straight to this. It cuts down on time and often I don’t need the two concealers.

  • MAC Cosmetics Mineralize Skinfinish Bronzer – This bronzing powder is great and I use it for multiple things.  I do a very natural contour of the cheekbones with it, as well as other parts of my face.  When I’m really pressed for time I skip this step all together.  Another great use for this product that I learned from real beauty bloggers, is to apply the bronzer in the crease of your eyelid.  That’s right, it can act as an eyeshadow.  I love this idea because again, it’s quick and easy, and it gives you just a little bit of color while remaining very natural.  Genius!

  • MAC Cosmetics Sheer Tone Blush – I use different shades of blush, depending on my eye makeup or the time of year.  Lately I’ve been using the shade, “Breath of Plum.”  I would think it would work well for many different skin tones, as it’s a very pretty plum-pink color.  Blush always warms up my face nicely.

  • MAC Cosmetics Mineralize Skinfinish Highlight – Highlight is all the rage these days.  I know some ladies like to wear a lot of highlight….so much that they’d like to be seen from outer space.  More power to ya girl!  I like to just put a small amount on the highest points of my face.  This includes the upper cheekbone area, my temples, cupid’s bow, bridge of my nose and a touch on my chin.  If I don’t want to be glowy that day I just skip it.  My favorite shade is called, “Soft & Gentle.”

We cannot forget to talk about brows and mascara!  I’ve always been someone who likes to take care of my brows because I think they frame your face and really make the rest of your potential makeup look great.  Like many others, I love the Anastasia Beverly Hills line when it comes to my brows.  Here’s what I use and my go-to mascara choices:

  • Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz – This little pencil works wonders!  Depending on your touch and how heavy handed you want to be, you can achieve whatever brow look you want.  I just like to keep my natural shape and fill in the areas that might be slightly sparse.  Natural, yet defined is the balance I always hope to achieve.

  • Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder Duo – I recently switched up my brow routine by trying a powder duo.  When I first started doing my brows I always reached for powder.  I thought I’d see how I like this product from Anastasia, and I really like it.  I feel like I can be a little bit more precise because it requires the use of a brush, which I’ve always been more comfortable with regarding my eyebrows.  I go back and forth between the powder duo and brow wiz – sometimes what I use depends on if I’ve run out of one or the other.

  • Anastasia Beverly Hills Synthetic Duo Brush (#12) – This is the best brow brush!  The bristles are nice and tight and the angle is very sharp for easy use.  This is the brush that I use when applying the powder duo above.  I also love that it has a spoolie brush on the end opposite of the angle brush.

  • Lancome Definicils Mascara – I used this mascara for the longest time and I recently revisited it.  The application brush is not big and fat and makes it easy to apply your mascara with precision.  This particular formula really lengthens and separates lashes nicely.  No spider legs here!

  • Le Volume De Chanel – Another favorite of mine!  I’ve been using this mascara on and off for years.  The brush is much fatter and allows you to pump up the volume of your lashes for a little bit more drama – hence the name.  In fact, I’m due to get another tube of this magic stuff.

Last but not least when it comes to makeup, the lip.  I always put something on my lips, especially if that’s all I have time for.  You can always find some type of lip product on me so I don’t get dry or chapped.  Here’s the rundown on my everyday lippies:

  • Christian Dior Lip Glow Color Reviver Balm – I view this little lip product as an amped up chapstick.  I wear it whether I’m bare faced or not.  It is super hydrating and gives me some warmth with a natural color.  If I remember correctly, it now comes quite a few shades.  I think I have them all too.

  • Pat McGrath Lip Fetish Lip Balm – This stuff can be hard to get your hands on.  It frequently sells out online and is a bit more of a splurge, priced at close to $40.  It’s a cleverly packaged, non-pigmented lip balm that is extremely moisturizing.  I feel like I’m indulging when I wear it.  It’s something that is very simple but makes you feel good when you have it on your lips.  Treat yourself!

  • Chanel Rouge Coco Shine – My mom was the one who encouraged me to get a few of these little babies.  These are more like a lipstick, yet are very sheer and give you a bit of color and shine.  They come in so many different shades and if you layer more product on you will get a more exaggerated color.  After having Gia my mom said this is a nice lip product to wear when you don’t have the time or energy for other makeup.  It makes you feel a little bit more pulled together and still is very natural.  Great buy for busy ladies or women who like the sheer look.

Makeup does nothing if you don’t take good care of your skin.  You have to make sure your canvas is clean and clear so that your makeup products look their best, therefore making you feel your best with them on.  My skincare routine is pretty straight forward and I don’t foresee that it will be changing any time soon.  Here’s what I use everyday:

  • Rodan + Fields Redefine Regimen – I’m sure many of you have heard of R + F and have various opinions about it.  Many people are familiar with Proactiv, which was created by Rodan + Fields.  The products that I use are not as geared towards clearing acne as Proactiv.  (Although there are regimens that they make that are.) I use a regimen called Redefine, which is geared towards fighting signs of aging. You can never start too young when it comes to wrinkle prevention.  It’s a three step process that I do twice per day – once in the morning and once at night.  I start with a cleansing mask, followed by a toner, and finish with a moisturizer.  In addition to doing this daily, I use their microdermabrasion paste three times per week in lieu of the cleansing mask.  I swear by this paste!  The first time I used it my skin was beyond soft.  It scrubs away dead skin and really gives you a nice glow after using it.  I’m so much of a believer in these products that I’m also a consultant.

That’s the round up of my makeup and skincare!  I know there’s thousands of awesome products out there and I love trying new things.  Like I already said, I’m no beauty blogger, just a lover of quality beauty products.  I’m positive that there are better things out there than what I use, or better ways to apply these products, so please, be kind – these are just things that work for me and what I enjoy using.  It’s nice to share our favorite things with one another.

Comment with your favorite products or shoot me a message!  I’d love to see what everyone uses!

xo

#MomSoHard

As parents we try our very best to be the ultimate caretakers, protectors, providers and nurturers, but some days we feel like we just flat out suck. If there’s one thing I know, I am not alone with these feelings.

Becoming a parent has hands down been the greatest thing I’ve ever done, yet it’s also been the absolute hardest. Gialina has the power to melt me or crush me with a single word, look, or gesture. It’s almost as if I’m at the mercy of a tiny dictator….an adorable tiny dictator.

I think about how Craig and I made the decision for me to be a stay-at-home mom and I know it has been the best decision for our family. With that, some days I can’t help but think about the single parents, the working parents and parents of multiple kids who seem to always get everything done, and without complaint.

On my tough days at home with Gia I try and remember parents who have it a lot harder than me (the stay-at-home parent raising three kids under three, the parent who cries when dropping their child off at daycare, and the parent working two jobs who just can’t catch a break). I should be so grateful to stay home and raise my daughter, knowing she’s learning from me. I am grateful of course, but it’s not picture perfect, nor should it be.

Being a mom is hard. I’m alone most of the time and that takes a toll on my mental health. When I say alone, I’m with my daughter, but obviously talking to her is very different than talking to an adult. I sit in my own thoughts and that can have a negative snowball effect on me at times.

It’s easy for me to judge myself and feel guilty about most anything related to parenting. I know many parents feel that same guilt, so I’m not alone, but man….it still feels lonely.

I feel like I didn’t do my best as a mom if I didn’t talk enough to Gia, play enough, take her to the park, etc. These thoughts are completely ridiculous, I know. She gets plenty of stimulation doing the countless things we do at home.

Then there’s that other guilt I get. Guilt from not folding the laundry right away, from not picking up the play room (even though I’ve done it three times already), guilt from not making Craig a lunch for work, etc. After all, my job is to take care of Gia and our family home.

The days I don’t do it all, or don’t feel like doing it all make me feel like I’ve lost. If this is my “job” and what I choose to do then I should be doing better at it, right?! No. I’m doing the best I can, just like everyone else.

Yesterday was a day where I felt like I just couldn’t win. The second Craig walked in the door I felt better because I had my partner in life home. At the same time I was upset that Gia could care less about me because he was home. I’m so glad that she loves both of us so deeply, but I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of envy. I’m with her all day, everyday, bending over backwards to give her everything she needs. Daddy is gone at work, so of course she misses him. I feel bad for having those feelings, but they’re honest.

Once Craig had changed from work and asked me what he could do to help with dinner, etc. I asked if he wouldn’t mind bathing Gia for me. When I walked down the hall to see how they were doing, any feelings of envy disappeared. Appreciation was what I felt in that moment instead.

Tubby time with daddy:

We are all just trying our best to make it through each day, whether we have kids or not. Don’t judge the mom in the grocery store because her clothes are covered in dog hair and don’t judge the person on BART falling asleep after a long day at work. You don’t know what they might be dealing with in their personal life, or how long they were up with their kids the night before.

Xo

Finding Balance While Maintaining A Sleep Schedule

To schedule or not to schedule?!  The idea of having some kind of routine for Gia crept into my mind during the first few weeks after taking her home from the hospital.  I read a couple of sleep solution books prior to Gia being born, in anticipation of being so sleep deprived myself that the last thing on my mind would be a book.

I’ve always been someone who likes a routine and babies and little ones like it too — or so I’ve read.  🙂  For the sake of making sure Gia was/is happy, thriving & rested, I adopted a schedule for her.  I didn’t really know what I was doing, but what I figured was best was to follow Gia’s cues.  And when I say schedule I’m primarily talking about a sleep schedule.

Over the last year and a half we’ve gotten a rhythm and have a pretty good system that works for us.  Nowadays, Gia takes one nap around noon and will usually sleep until 2:30-3 pm.  I prefer to be home for her naps so she can be better rested by sleeping in her crib, as opposed to sleeping on-the-go in the car or in her stroller.  That’s not to say that we don’t do that occasionally, but it doesn’t work as well for us.


Over-tired and out to dinner:

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Here’s a little secret:  I’ve always been in awe of the parents who are “no-schedule” kind of schedulers.  I think it’s because I wish I could be a little bit more like that.  You know what I mean….fly by the seat of your pants, take every minute as it comes kind of thing.  That’s just not how I’m wired, but I’m working hard to bring more of that free spirited attitude into my life.

Again, I know there is no wrong way to do things when it comes to a schedule for your child, or lack there of one.  I just like learning from the ways that other parents do it, so I can see if it works for my family too.

The reason why a set nap time in her crib works best is because Gia does not transfer well from the car to her crib.  I’ve successfully transferred her mayyyybe two times in her life.  For me it’s just not worth having an over-tired, cranky toddler by the time 4 pm rolls around, especially since days as a stay-at-home parent can feel long when they don’t go smoothly.  (Days are long for anyone – working parent, stay-at-home parent, etc.)  I know for a fact that people think I’m strict about how our day goes with Gia, but I really don’t care anymore.  What works for us may or may not work for others and there’s nothing wrong with that.


This is the “no nap” look:

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What I do know about making sure Gia gets adequate day time sleep is that she sleeps well at night because of it.  She’s always been a good little sleeper, but if I make sure she’s happy and rested it makes life so much easier for me.

A typical day with no exciting plans usually looks like this:

  • 7 am Wake up
  • Breakfast time + play time
  • 9 am Gym (Gia plays in the daycare while we workout)
  • 11 am Lunch time for Gia
  • Play until nap time at noon-ish
  • 2:30-3 pm Wake up
  • Play + snack
  • Run necessary errands or go to the park
  • 5 pm dinner for Gia
  • Bath time
  • 7 pm Bed time

We went down from two naps to one nap per day for Gia pretty soon after her first birthday.  She was fighting going down for her second nap of the day on a consistent basis, so I knew that was a sign to cut it down to one nap.  That nap transition wasn’t the easiest because I felt limited in what we could get done in the morning.  If we were in the car anywhere from 10 am on, that would result in falling asleep and hindering the sleep plan for the day.  Not the end of the world, but still tough on mom, dad and toddler.

Now, we just make it work and I never feel deprived or as if I don’t get to go do anything with her because of our routine.  I’m making a point to go out once a week where we just wing it through the day, as far as naps and a schedule goes.  Many times this results in a challenging afternoon due to an over-tired 18 month old, but we are all learning how to deal with these curveballs.  In a strange way, the days that naps go haywire are the days where my mental health is challenged and made stronger.  See, I’m finding the positive in something that I would’ve considered negative.


On-the-go sleep:

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I’m curious, do any other parents out there have any tricks up their sleeve regarding schedules and napping?  What do you guys do when your child has skipped their nap?  How do you make it until bedtime with minimal meltdowns?  What do you do if you want to enjoy a day out as a family?

I know sometimes these hiccups are just par for the course, but I’d love to hear what works for others so we can try things out to see if they work for us too.  We’re in this together!

xo

 

A Birth Story: Gialina Eve

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There are two days in my life that I will never forget – one is my wedding day and the other is the day Gialina was born.  I know lots of mommy bloggers share their birth stories, so initially I shied away from the idea of sharing mine.  What changed my mind is that everyone’s story is so unique and beautiful.  There is no right way to give birth and no mother should be shamed for going through natural delivery, an epidural or a c-section.  So much is out of your control when you bring another life into the world and any way that your child arrives is a perfect miracle.

I used to dislike saying that childbirth is such a miracle (silly me – that was before I actually went through it), but as cliche as it sounds, that’s the only way to describe it.  So, so much can go wrong from the time of conception until you meet your baby.   Inevitably, the wold miracle is the only proper one that encompasses the whole process.

I’d like to start by saying that the day I gave birth was just an ordinary day, but it sure didn’t feel that way to me.  I was so done with being pregnant!  Gia’s due date was July 28th, 2016, but our little lady arrived according to her own plan an entire week late.  The morning of August 4th, 2016 I had a pre-scheduled appointment with my OB/GYN.  That morning I felt pretty normal and remember the slightest little stomach cramps.  Of course my brain went straight to “I must be in labor!”

I was hoping that once Craig and I got to the hospital for my doctor’s appointment that they would confirm that I was in labor and I could just stay there and get ready to welcome our daughter.  WRONG!  I got all hooked up to some contraption to check and see if I was actually contracting and in labor, and the answer was a big fat no.  Come to find out, I was only dilated 1cm.  Womp, womp.  I was so bummed to hear this because I was thinking that this was it.  My doctor reminded me that things can change quickly, so don’t let yourself get too fixated on it.  Either way, I was penciled in for induction a few days later if mother nature didn’t get things moving on her own.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting induced.  Modern medicine is amazing and whatever my doctor thought was best for the baby was what I was going to do.  I have to admit that I really, really did not want to be induced.  I had heard a lot of stories about induction and it being a lot more painful, due to the pitocin that is given.

I took my doctor’s advice and just tried to relax as much as possible and not let my body get stressed.  Since I realized again that I was not the one in control here, I went about my day the way I usually would.  I opted for a walk in the neighborhood instead of heading to the gym like I had everyday prior.

Most of the remainder of the day was spent at my mom and dad’s house.  No matter how old I get, I will still always need my mom and that’s who I wanted to be near (along with my husband, of course) if I happened to go into labor.  So, Craig and I hung out at my parents house until my brother flew in from Orange County and my dad got home from work. (Since there was a possibility of being induced, my parents flew my brother home for Gia’s birth.)

All afternoon I was feeling oddly crampy.  I was uncomfortable but it felt more annoying to me than anything else.  I kept asking my mom and Craig, “Am I in labor?  Don’t you think I would know?  I can’t tell if I’m in labor or not.”  I know that sounds ridiculous, but I didn’t know what to expect, as I’ve never even experienced menstrual cramps, let alone childbirth.

We decided it couldn’t hurt to time the “possible” contractions.  I was all over the board when it came to timing these cramps, as I called them.  I was in complete denial that I was in labor and was able to sit and have dinner before I told Craig it was time to go home.


Keeping it real with this one – Here I am, clueless as to the fact that I’d be giving birth very soon:

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Since my dad and brother had arrived home, the house was getting a little louder and I found myself becoming irritable and wanted to be in the quiet of our own home.  Craig and I grabbed our things and were walking down the hallway towards the front door when, yep, you guessed it – my water broke!  It wasn’t at all like what the movies make it out to be.  I literally felt like I had peed my pants and couldn’t stop.

I remember screaming in disbelief, excitement and let’s be real, fear – “MY WATER BROKE, MY WATER BROKE!”  Thankfully, Craig was so on top of things and was dialing labor and delivery before I could think to do it.  The nurses on the other line instructed me to get in the shower and rinse off before making my way to the hospital.

Lucky for me my water broke right next to the downstairs bathroom, so I just went a few steps and took my quick shower.  That’s when sh*t started to get real.  My contractions came like a bat out of hell, fast and furious, almost immediately after my water broke.  Things were so intense that I could hardly get to the car.  I’m pretty sure I just hovered over the passenger seat while Craig drove faster than I’d like to know to get me to the hospital, which was maybe 12 minutes away or so.

I made Craig run the last light before getting to the hospital because I was literally about to give birth in the car.  Craig parked his car in the middle of the emergency room driveway, grabbed me a wheelchair and pushed me into the ER asking how to get to labor and delivery from there.  Everyone was literally staring at us saying nothing until the security guard chimed in and said, “this lady is about of have a baby, get her upstairs!”

Once I was upstairs I was brought to a delivery room right way.  The nurses were so calm and nice, and even making me laugh through my contractions.  Don’t get me wrong people, I was by no means comfortable.  I distinctly remember telling the nurse that I wasn’t opposed to getting an epidural if this was how I was currently feeling.  No need to try and be the hero, right?!

The nurse told me she needed to check me first before she could give me a yay or nay on the epidural.  All you mamas out there are probably thinking, girl it’s too late for that.  The nurse confirmed and said word for word, “Oh no, honey, you’re having a baby right now.”  I was already fully dilated, so I asked the nurse if I could push now.

During all of this chaos, Craig’s car is still in the ER driveway.  He asked the nurse if he should go move it (DUH!), but she said, “Not if you want to miss the birth of your child.”  Thank goodness my family was right behind us on the way to the hospital, so Craig literally tossed my brother his keys, so he could move his car.

I sat down on that delivery bed right around 8 p.m. and I think I pushed maybe five times and she was out by 8:31 p.m.  I had never felt more like Wonder Woman in my entire life.  Well, I should say I felt like Wonder Woman who just got a really good beat down by the bad guy.  I did it!  I was holding our beautiful daughter, who had a head full of hair and the sweetest little face.  When the nurses were weighing her I remember fixating on her hands and feet because I couldn’t get over how big they were.  I was in utter disbelief that she was just inside of me and I was able to push her out.  She was no tiny baby either.  Gia was a healthy 8 lbs 15 oz and 20 inches long.

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Giving birth to our daughter is my proudest moment and I will never tire of telling the story of her arrival.  Women’s bodies are amazing and capable of enduring so much.  I have to say, there was moment after the nurse told me that I couldn’t have an epidural that I got scared.  I questioned if I was strong enough to do it.  I was strong enough, and every time that I look at my daughter today, I cannot believe she is part of me.

I was grateful to be able to have such a quick delivery, but that doesn’t mean it any easier.  I’m just glad I wasn’t laboring and pushing for hours like many women do.  Those women are the real tough ones!  We are all goddesses, whether we have given birth or not, all women are amazing and capable of doing anything.  Sometimes we just need a gentle reminder every now and then!

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

 

Those Who Matter Don’t Mind & Those Who Mind Don’t Matter

So, this morning it was brought to my attention by someone who read my blog post from yesterday, that the post was “offensive to a lot of people who can’t have children, or are childless by choice.”  This was juuuust the tip of the iceberg.

First off, I am saddened and quite frankly, shocked that this was how my post came across to this reader.  I stated in the post that it was not meant to offend or single out anyone or any single incident in my life.  I know that my little disclaimer doesn’t prevent people from being offended or sharing personal opinions.  I just wanted to come and clarify, for lack of a better way to put it, that I meant no harm.

I always post with the best of intentions, while keeping in mind that I want to stay true to myself and be authentic.  It has taken me many years to realize that I should just do what I love and be me!  Now that I’m actually doing that I feel a bit taken aback.

Second, I was not aware that a single reader could speak for ALL who are childless, by choice or otherwise.  I felt it unfair to have one person make such a blanket statement for a group of people who may have differing opinions than the one they tried to present to me via message.

Let me include that this person is childless, as I’m sure you could have guessed.  There is nothing wrong with deciding that having children isn’t for you.  There is also a countless amount of people who struggle to have a child, which I most definitely sympathize with.

I am honestly hurt that someone could say that my post was “a scathing vent of why my time is more important than any of my childless friends.”  Let’s be clear here….EVERYONE’S time is important and I am not saying that my worth is more than someone who is without children.  That couldn’t be furthest from the truth!  The people who really know me well know that I am a good person who would never claim superiority because I am a mother.  True friends are people who will seek to understand.

My post was meant to humor those who do have kids and help them see that as parents, we all go through growing pains.  Yes, I realize that when I chose to start blogging that others would give their personal opinions, and that’s great.  This is a discussion board of sorts, and I’m glad this person messaged me because I can always learn something from these kinds of interactions.  What I think is a bummer is that the message also affirmed that there are people who are not willing to have a dialogue, and will cut you out.

The hurtful message assumed so much wrong about me and the point I was trying to convey. Since I have a blog that revolves around being a mother, fitness, cooking and family (all things I love), am I not able to talk about those things for fear of constantly “offending” someone else who has a differing opinion?  So, now am I an insensitive person because I talk about being a mother??  Am I not allowed to talk about the role that has changed my life, just because I’m afraid I will hurt the feelings of someone who is struggling to become a mother?  That sounds pretty ridiculous to me, especially considering it was not easy for me to become pregnant.

I will continue to write about things that interest me, things I’m passionate about and yes, I will absolutely write about what it’s like having a child!  Blogging will always invite opinions and discussions, some of which might be hard to accept.  In turn, since this is my space to share my opinions, you now know my opinion of the message I received.  As a side note, this was the only negative commentary I received on yesterday’s post.  I received many in support of what I wrote and thanking me for being open and honest.  I’ll never please everyone, so it’s best if I just come to terms with that now!

So here it is….I’m warning all of you now that if you don’t like what I write or if it’s offensive, you can stop reading my posts just like this individual did.  We all have a choice.  🙂

Things People Without Kids Need To Understand

Okay, I get it.  I need to be compassionate, and most days I am.  I need to remember that people without children don’t know what it’s like to have them.  After all, I was one of those people 16 short months ago.  But, now my life is totally different.

I understand that when you don’t have kids you still care….you just don’t get it.  There’s no way you can help someone who doesn’t want kids, or is yet to have them, understand this whole mom thing.  I’m a different person now than I was before I had Gia.

Sometimes my wish is that those who are without children, especially those who know and love me, would pull up a chair, take a seat and let me explain a few things.  I feel like it would benefit both parties.  (No, this post was not prompted by anyone or any specific incident, and it’s certainly not meant to offend anyone.)  So, here we go:

  1. Meeting up last minute doesn’t work for me.  I used to be free spirited when it came to meeting up for an impromptu happy hour, or coffee date.  These days, I need to bring my busy toddler with me, along with a full arsenal of her “things.”  Basically, this kind of stuff takes a little planning, so I need a few hours notice to successfully meet up!
  2. It can take me hours to respond to text messages and days for voicemails.  Don’t read into my lack of urgency in responding to you.  It is what it is.  I just haven’t been able to get back to you because I’m busy putting my child down for a nap, washing dishes, or actually taking a shower.  Trust me, I care about you and want to give your text or message attention, but only when I can sit down and give it the thoughtfulness that it deserves.
  3. Let me show you what a real mess is.  Spit-up, diapers, baby food, bottles, dishes, toys everywhere and a few unmentionables.  If you want to feel better about the state of messiness that your home is in, just stop by my place after hurricane Gia has played all day.
  4. Do not tell me how exhausted you are, even though I know you’re allowed to be tired too.  Okay, you’re tired, but I’m a walking zombie.  Sleep regressions are real people!  Teething babies, sick babies, you name it, it means less sleep.  (All worth it of course!)
  5. Yes, I have to, and more importantly, want to bring my child with me.  I’ve missed out on countless invites to things because people simply think I can’t come now that I have Gia.  If you don’t ask me I certainly can’t join.  Now, I can join, if it’s okay with you that I bring my child.  This probably means interrupted conversation, food everywhere and if we’re lucky, maybe even a meltdown.  No, I can’t just let her sit in her stroller while we sip on a glass of wine on the patio of the newest restaurant somewhere.  She won’t just sit still and lay in the sun like your dog.
  6. I just don’t have time.  I’m usually cleaning my child, feeding my child, or trying to prevent her from getting into something that she shouldn’t be getting into.
  7. Parenting ain’t easy.  Insert comment from non-parent here: “I will never do _____ when I have children.” 😐
  8. No, I can’t just make my toddler stop crying when she’s having a meltdown.  One year old children can’t use their words, because they simply don’t know enough of them!  Even if they do, crying and getting upset tells me they need something.
  9. I constantly talk about my daughter, so you’ll have to get used to it.  I just love her more than life, so in turn, I love talking about her.
  10. Raising a pet is not the same as raising a human.  It’s just not.  The end.
  11. I post lots of pictures of my child.  I can’t help it!  I just think she’s amazing in every way.  It’s my prerogative.  If you think I shouldn’t post her photo to social media, that’s fine.  Feel free to unfollow me or roll your eyes in the privacy of your own home.
  12. I still need you.  And I’m still here for you too, I just keep odd hours.  My friends without kids shouldn’t feel like they can’t call me anytime.  I just might not respond or answer right away.  (See #2)  My life won’t be this chaotic forever….well, it might be, but eventually my little girl is going to grow up.  She will have friends, school and activities that keep her occupied and engaged.  She won’t need me as much as she does now, which makes me sad, yet proud.  By then I’m sure I’ll have a little more time to be the type of friend I want to be.  Although, by then, you might have one of your own.  At that time, I’ll just read this list I made to remind myself of what you might want me to understand.

This shot of Gia sums things up pretty well.  Dirty face, getting into something, all while living her best life.  I wouldn’t change a thing!

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Healthy Gingerbread Muffins VS. Traditional Gingerbread

It’s a good thing I love to work out because I also like to eat good food.  As they say, “everything in moderation!”  For some that can be a hard saying to live by during the holiday season with so many parties, cookie swaps and family gatherings all centered around food.  The holidays are definitely the time of year where many people indulge more than usual, but rightfully so!

With moderation in mind, I wanted to share two recipes that I came across for gingerbread.  One is a healthier muffin version and the other is for all you traditionalists – a classic gingerbread.

But first, here’s Gia helping in the kitchen:

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For those of you who follow my Instagram account, I’ve shared some of my baking escapades over the last few days.  On Monday, Gia and I made the healthy gingerbread muffins, which were a total hit with her (and the dog – oops).  Gia has had one muffin everyday for the last three days!  As for Homie, our Frenchie, he got ahold of a muffin that Gia accidentally dropped yesterday.  Unbelievably, Gia didn’t mean to drop it.  Thankfully Homie didn’t get sick after devouring the totally off-limits treat, he just had excessive gas, which isn’t too far from the usual for him.  Sorry, TMI!  Anyone who owns a French Bulldog can sympathize.

I finally tasted the healthier gingerbread muffins the morning after I made them.  I decided the muffin would taste good with some espresso, so that’s what I paired it with.  The flavors of the muffin were there, but it was on the dry side.  I totally expected that would happen, due to the “healthier” ingredients.  For those who are wanting a taste of the holiday but also want to be mindful of what they’re eating, it’s a good compromise.  The downside is, it might just leave you yearning for the old school version with all the calories.

I knew I had to make some traditional gingerbread after my husband, Craig, dubbed me a junior baker after making “healthy” muffins.  Let’s say I’ve regained my usual title of household iron chef after making the real deal!

I found the recipe for this classic gingerbread from another blogger that I enjoy following – Jenna Beaugh, known as @eatliverun on Instagram.  I love following her Instagram account because she is someone I can relate to.  Jenna is a mom of two boys and is a food and travel writer who is based here in the Bay Area – Berkeley to be exact.  She keeps it real with the ups and downs that come with motherhood and she is always sharing great recipes.  Go follow her!

We have yet to taste the recipe that I used from Jenna because the gingerbread has literally just popped out of the oven.  The plan is to bring it to my grandmother’s tonight for my family to enjoy for dessert.  We’re going to have an early dinner, followed by some fun at Tilden Park.

Gia is going to ride the steam trains and look at all of the Christmas lights and decorations this evening.  It should be fun!  I’m looking forward to taking her somewhere that I went as a child.

I hope everyone’s having a great holiday season so far!  For those wanting these recipes, here you go:

Healthy Gingerbread Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 tbsp. coconut oil (melted & cooled to warm)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1 egg @ room temp
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/3 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I used whole milk for Gia)
  • coarse sugar for sprinkling (optional)

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Preparation

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, line muffin tins.
  • In a large bowl whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves & salt.  Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, add coconut oil, maple syrup, molasses, egg, yogurt and milk. Whisk until smooth.  Add dry ingredients, mix until well combined.
  • Pour batter in muffin liners, filling halfway, sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  • Bake 18-22 minutes. (Makes 12 muffins.)

Jenna Beaugh’s Gingerbread

According to Jenna, this recipe is from her great grandmother.  The original recipe is from the 1930s, so Jenna updated it with a couple of tweaks.  I’m sitting here letting mine cool and it smells fantastic!  Click here to get the full recipe.

Happy baking!

xo