Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Getting Fit

When I graduated from high school and went to college I was set on becoming an overachiever. I did. While most of my friends gained 15 pounds or so... I overachieved. I gained 20! Weight had never been a struggle for me, and found myself to be really bad at making healthy decisions when it came to exercise and food.

Once I graduated college and started working--I was so busy that I would forget to eat. I was so exhausted that I would choose sleep over meals in a lot of cases. Without even noticing, and certainly without any planning--I went from a size 8 and 140 lbs to a size 2 at 115 lbs. I didn't exercise, but I didn't really eat either.

I know what you are all thinking, "stupid skinny girl complaining about her weight like she has a problem." I want to tell you that I do have a problem. BUT it is not with weight-- at least right now.

 I got married and got back to a more sustainable weight of about 125-130 lbs. Then I got pregnant, had my daughter, and started breastfeeding. Let me tell you--that is just a glorious thing. Suddenly--I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to eat it, and yet I kept losing weight. It was magic for me. Then...I weaned, and suddenly I was not used to having to watch what I ate like I was in my early twenties. AND I was starting to feel old.

By old I mean that I was starting to get sore from taking the stairs, or have trouble when I didn't stretch before taking a walk. Or be out of breath from just carrying my daughter around the house. I realized that while I was still a size 4--I was anything but healthy.

That thought really freaked me out because it goes against everything we have been taught--that looking good equals feeling good. I look pretty good in clothes (it never looks the same after having a child), but I didn't feel strong, healthy, or good.

As a mom I want to take care of myself. I want to be there for my daughter, and that includes being healthy enough to care for my daughter. So my husband and I are trying to make a commitment to getting healthy, eating right, and exercising regularly. It is certainly harder than I thought it would be.

We signed up a gym membership at a gym really close to our house--no excuses right! Then one day, on one of the many groups that I follow as a blogger, there was a fitness blogger who was looking for beta testers for her new 30 day workout program and nutrition program. I jumped on it. I mean--it couldn't be that hard!

We are on day three of 30 and I have never been so tired in my life at the end of the day. The first lower body workout almost killed me, and I am still, 2 days later, incredibly sore. Nevertheless, I have never felt more energized in the morning, and more healthy at the end of a long day. It's been three days and my clothes are already fitting better. I don't get winded walking up the stairs anymore--although I have wanted to cry because I am so sore. The workouts are really challenging, but I found it to get easier with each repetition.

The main issue that I am having is with the food. I am really hungry at the end of the day. I am following all of the rules--but I am just not a big veggie person. I am trying. I haven't broken yet. My after dinner snack last night was cucumbers and hummus--yum.

Will power can be a fickle thing, but I am really trying. I desperately want to get in shape before I decide if I will be trying to get pregnant in the near distant future. So what better way to hold myself accountable than to talk to all of you about my journey. While I can't share specifics of the program--you would have to purchase the plan yourself--I will tell you all about my successes or failures with it. And let you know at the end what my results are.

Here's to getting healthy for my baby(ies)!


Monday, April 24, 2017

Trips with Toddlers

When my daughter was a baby I avoided taking her out for long periods of time. When she was breastfeeding--it just felt like too much of a hassle to take her anywhere. I got real anxiety at the thought of taking her on a long car ride by myself. I would stress over what would happen if she cried, or was hungry. I avoided taking her anywhere overnight until she was 6 months old. AND that trip was so awful that she didn't go anywhere again until 14 months.

As P got older though, the more she craved adventure, and the better traveler she has become. I know that if I have another one--I will need to find that balance of being able to provide structure without making myself crazy. I do believe that a lot of my issues with travel with my daughter were self induced. I just wasn't flexible enough. I was too caught up in her schedule and nap times to have fun.

However, traveling with toddlers can make even the most confident parent fret a bit.  We are taking three vacations this summer, so here are a few tips that I have found to help while on trips with toddlers.

1. Understand going in that bed time will be later
When we go to Virginia every summer, we do a great job getting P to bed on time each night, but when we were at Disney--she was going to bed at all kinds of crazy hours. I used to try to fit our schedule around P's nap and bed times. It is just too much. You will not be able to accomplish what you need if you are tied to a 7:30 bed time. Let it go. I promise that they will go back to their normal bedtime when you return home. Kids are smart enough to understand that there is a difference when you are away from home.

2. Understand that nap time may not happen
At this stage in the game (P is three years old) we are really struggling with nap time anyway. For this reason, I am already mentally preparing myself for the fact that P might not take naps while we are on our vacations this summer. Children (especially toddlers) are creatures of habit, so one little difference could really throw them off. I know that P usually sleeps well at our place in Virginia, because the room is very dark and similar to the environment that she has at home. BUT our cruise for this summer is likely to be a whole different story. I'm not going to worry about it. I know that she will need to sleep later in the mornings to make up for it, and I will try like hell to make sure that that happens.

3. Bring as many comforts from home as possible
Since my daughter is such a product of a strict schedule and environment--I always try to bring as many comforts from home as possible when we travel. This includes all 35 of her stuffed animals (I'm not kidding). If we have room and it can be done, then I bring them. On the list of things that I normally bring on trips with us: her comforter, pillow, stuffed animals, sound machine, monitors, potty seat, and potty stool, and countless of her favorite toys. Obviously if you are going by plane, then it might be different. We will see how P does on the cruise without her potty seat. She will go on public toilets, but protests without it at home and on vacation at times. It should be interesting.

4. Figure out the bed situation
Up until last summer, P slept in her pack n play on vacation, but once we moved her to her toddler bed at home--we knew she was not going to take to that sleeping arrangement on vacation anymore. When we went to Disney last September, I actually bought a toddler cot that she could sleep on. It was adorable, and she slept on it at my parents maybe twice. When we got to our condo at Disney she was so excited to sleep in her own bed in her own room that she actually spent the whole week sleeping in the full sized bed in her room. She didn't want to even look at that cot. This has become a bit of an incentive for P on vacation. Since she sleeps on a smaller toddler bed at home--she looks forward to going on vacation to get to sleep in the "big girl bed." Hey--Whatever works.

5. Bring medicines and other items for emergencies
Now when I say emergencies I don't meal real ones. I mean scrapes, and sniffles. I try to bring any medicine that P has ever needed in her three years. I am a firm believer in Murphy's law (what can go wrong, will go wrong). I like to live in the know. Before A trip I pack the following: eczema lotion, glycerin suppositories (because kids get constipated on vacations), miralax, tylenol, ibuprofen, band aids, benadryl, ear drops, saline spray, boogie wipes, and rubbing alcohol. You just never know when something may be needed.

Preparation truly is key with my little one. I try to keep as much structure in the chaos as possible, and usually she does a great job.

Happy Monday!

Friday, April 14, 2017

10 Things I Didn't Know Before I Became A Mom

While I did a ton of research while I was pregnant there were still so many things that I just didn't know before I became a mother. I was terrified that I didn't have the, "mom gene." It sounds cliche, but I truly believe that your instincts do just kick in. After a few weeks I felt pretty confident that no matter what P did, I would be able to deal with it successfully.

Nevertheless, there are still things that I am finding out each year that I didn't know before I became a mom. I catch myself saying, "that would have been nice to know before it happened." If you are about to become a member of the mom club then check out my list. Maybe you are better than me and you already knew a lot of these, or maybe you are like me and you were completely caught off guard.

1. How to swaddle a baby
I seriously had never even heard of swaddling before I started reading about night time sleep for infants while I was pregnant with my daughter. I definitely didn't know how to do it well. It took me several weeks to get it down, and by then she was ready to move on to one of the velcro swaddles. Do yourself a favor and learn this before your baby is born so you can get some practice in. Here is a nice diagram above.

2. If you breastfeed your period may not come back until you stop
I about had a heart attack when I didn't have a period after my daughter was born. Once I stopped the post partum bleeding I expected to have another period in 30 or so days. I didn't have my next period until my daughter was a year old and I was weaning her. My doctor laughed when I called and left a message thinking that I was pregnant again.

3. Newborns can have tylenol, but not ibuprofen.
I bought a bunch of medicines before my daughter was born, and when she started teething at 4 months of age I reached for the ibuprofen, and while reading the dosage I realized that infants cannot have Ibuprofen until 6 months. What??? Seems like that would be something the doctor would be sure to stress at one of those first visits. Tylenol only until 6 months! I never use Tylenol. I don't think that it is very effective, so I just didn't even think about it. Who knew?

4. Brush up on early childhood development
I'm a teacher, but I teach high schoolers. I have essentially no knowledge about what is typical or atypical behavior from babies and toddlers. ZERO. Therefore I was really stressed out that my baby was progressing too slowly. When one of my mommy friend's baby rolled over at two weeks, and mine did not roll over until 5 months--I thought for sure something was wrong. it would have been much better to read official articles on expected windows for milestones like crawling and walking BEFORE I had my daughter. Knowledge is power and it can save a ton of stress.

Now that my daughter is 3, I still find that there is so much that I do not know about her development. When I see her around other kids her age or I talk to her teachers at baby school--I sometimes get fears that her development may be lagging in an area. As a mom, we have a tendency to over react, and I am REALLY bad about that. I tend to take it personally when I shouldn't. It is just so hard not to. I find myself calling my mom (who has an early childhood degree and has taught 3 and 4 year olds for years) a lot with questions relating to P's development. Usually she tells me that I am crazy and that she is right on track. 

Sometimes I wish that there was a parenting class that you could take where they would tell you things to watch out for. I just feel like there is much more awareness now about cognitive and developmental delays, and I just don't feel like I would notice a delay even if it was there staring me in the face. I want to protect my daughter and support her in any way that I can, and these types of things scare the crap out of me.

5. Teething can cause cold like symptoms
When my daughter started teething and was running a low grade fever for a week solid--I rushed her into the doctor thinking surely something was wrong. I had no idea that teething can exhibit all kids of symptoms like congestion, and fevers. Who knew?

6. You are never out of the woods with night time sleep
I used to think that once you got your newborn to sleep through the night that it meant that they were able to consistently sleep through the night. I had no idea that you have to LEARN to fall asleep.  That it is a skill. I had no idea that she would continue to go through sleep regressions (didn't even know there was such a thing), wake up when she was overly tired, or sick. CRAZY.

7. That I would literally have nightmares about tantrums in public
If you missed my post on tantrums from Wednesday, then you can read it here. Toddler tantrums are my number one fear these days. Public toddler tantrums are my very own version of hell on earth. I knew that kids threw tantrums,  but having never remembered throwing one or seeing one myself--I had no idea the level of mortification that they can cause on the parent's part. Am I the only one?

8. Kids use car seats until they are 8 years old or 57 inches tall
I am all about safety, but I just didn't realize that car seats would be a thing in my life for 8 years. I don't remember sitting in one myself past 4, although I can't really trust my memories from that age. In addition I didn't realize that there were so many different stages of car seats. If I had I would have bought the Graco one that grows with them. I probably will if I have another.

9. How truly important a good support system is
I had heard "it takes a village" my whole life when it comes to raising kids. However, you just do not understand the true meaning of that phrase until you actually have children. It is so important for you to be able to take a moment to breathe. You need people on your side. Even if they are just someone to bounce ideas off of. It can make such a difference. I joined a Mommy and Me class when P was 2 weeks old. I still talk to a lot of those mommas. I am so grateful for their friendship.

Family is also so important. I want my child to have influences outside of her parents, and my child has her own little village of fans. It is so important to us and we could not do it without them.

10. There is no limit on love
I used to think that I knew exactly what my capacity for love was. I prided myself in being emotionally intelligent. I thought I loved deeply and fully. When I had P--my whole world changed. I no longer felt like I knew anything about love. She taught me that love means so much more. It exceeds exhaustion, frustration, grief, and anger. I love that little girl more than I love anything else in this world.

I occasionally worry that I would not be able to love another child like I love her. But the other night I was thinking about when I was pregnant with P--how I would worry that I might not love her. Thinking about how I feel about her now only confirms what she has shown me in her short three years of life--my capacity for love is endless when it comes to my children. Whether it was 1 child or 5--my ability to love would multiply with each one. I am certain of it.

I hope you enjoyed this list. I am feeling led to leave you with this quote:
"making the decision to have a child--it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body"
How very true these words by Elizabeth Stone are.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

How I deal with Tantrums

First let me preface this by saying that I love being a mother. I really do. It is what I love most in this world. I thank god every day that I was blessed with my daughter...

BUT....That tiny little three-nager has moments that make me question why anyone would ever want to do this thing called motherhood.

P started throwing tantrums at 18 months of age. This correlated with starting baby school which made me feel doubly guilty as a new working mom. However, over the last two years I have figured out some ways to help shorten the length of her tantrums and lengthen the amount of time between tantrums.

I, by all means, am not a psychologist and I am not an expert. I am just a Mom who has one too many times given the knowing nod to a fellow Mom who was tussling with her toddler in the aisles of Publix. I have many times offered a nice comment like, "I've been there girl. Hang in there." I believe that these types of interactions are powerful between moms. I appreciate when I get these types of affirmations myself, so I love to pay it forward.

Let's just get that all out of the way here. You are doing a fantastic job! Don't let your toddler's tantrum define you. It is not your fault. It is just a symptom of the age. It's developmental. Don't listen to those other bloggers and "friends" of yours who claim that their two year old never acts the way that your child does. They are full of it....BIG TIME!

Now on to what I have found that works for my little tantrum thrower!

1. Pick your battles
OMG I hate that I am using this overused phrase, but it is just that true. You have to learn to pick your battles with these little monsters. I would venture to say that I am displeased with 75% of P's behaviors during a day. But if I corrected each and every thing that she did that I didn't like, then that would be my only interaction with her every day. AND it will most certainly end in a frustrated toddler who is primed for a throw down.

Instead I try to focus on a few behaviors each day, and rotate through them. I still hit them all each week. I just focus on one at a time. Yesterday it was the fact that she was refusing to take naps during the day, whining, and nose picking. Today I will pick something else like noise level or paying attention to me when I talk.

Part of the issue is that I spend so little time with her during the week that I really have to be careful about the negativity. Which brings me to number 2.

2. Use positive behavior reinforcement
After a few tantrums we start to figure out what is likely to send our little angel over the edge. The trick is to avoid, avoid, avoid like the plague if you can. BUT there are some things that simply cannot be avoided.

 For the longest time my daughter would throw a tantrum over her clothes in the morning. I had bought all of these really cute shirts and ruffled pants and she HATED them. Every time I tried to put her in the clothes she would throw a tantrum, and we would all end up late to work/school. She has to get dressed, but she doesn't have to wear those clothes. I had to let it go for both of our sanity. However, we occasionally still disagree on what she should wear.

So I figured out that a lot of her friends were wearing skirts with their uniform tops to school and that P wanted to look like them. This is why she was pitching a fit over pants for awhile. So we chit chatted and I told her that if she could get dressed every morning without throwing a fit for four days, then I would let her pick out a dress to wear to school on Friday. On Friday, they get to wear what they want anyway, so I was really giving up nothing, and P felt like she was gaining something. Everyday that she got dressed without crying or whining--I gave her loads of high fives, kisses, and verbal praise. It really works for my kid. All she really wants is for me to be proud of her.

3. Provide choices
Another area that has the tendency to set P off is food. There are certain things she likes and the list is VERY short! Her doctor wants me to be a little stricter on her in this department, by sending her to bed without dinner if she refuses what we are having, but in my house that has never been productive for me. What we end up with is a 3 hour tantrum and a child too wound up to go to sleep. So I had to improvise.

Since J and I normally like to eat dinner a little later (especially now that soccer is in season) P was needing to eat earlier anyway. I started offering her choices for dinner. Since she pretty much won't eat any of the meals that I make--it is not a big deal to me at this point. I let her pick between two options. If she won't choose, then I just make her what I want, and put it in front of her. If she eats it, then fine, and if not, then I don't really stress too much. I have learned that she will not starve. If she is hungry, then she will catch up somewhere. For the most part she will make a choice, and eat what she chose with a smile.

4. Don't be above bribery
I know, I know, all you perfect moms out there are gasping in horror that I am suggesting that bribery is a good parenting tactic. Well, you can all kiss it, because this is the tool that works best for my child. AND I DON'T CARE WHO KNOWS IT!!!

While, I don't want to have to continue to bribe her her whole life--I do think that when used sparingly it is very effective. P's doctor claims that you cannot reason with a child under 5 years old. I firmly disagree with this notion. My daughter is able to asses consequences and rewards of different options and has been able to for a year. If your child cannot yet, then I do not suggest trying to use this method.

My daughter loves stuffed animals, candy, Peppa Pig, Mickey Mouse, Disney Princesses, movies, Disney World, the park, and any kind of trip. She would rather be out and about than at home. I have noticed that if I keep her in all day everyday she will have a meltdown after a few days. She needs to get out even if it is just to run an errand or go to the playground. Since she loves these things--they hold power with her. I have been known to hang a playground trip over her head to get her to take an afternoon nap on the weekends. She will go to sleep without problem. EVERY. TIME. I'm just saying. Find what your child loves, and reward them with it.

5. Validate your child's feelings
Ultimately they are tiny humans with big people emotions. They cannot fully communicate to you the momentous feelings that they are experiencing. They  just don't have the vocabulary yet. Therefore, I find that helping my daughter communicate her frustrations can stop a tantrum that is brewing.

When P is getting upset she will clam up and stop talking. She will revert back to 18 month old P, who just pointed and grunted when she wanted something. I HATE THIS! It drives me nuts. But instructing her in that moment not to whine and "use her words" will almost certainly end in a full on floor slapping, leg twitching tantrum. Don't do it! You can address it later. I promise your child will remember.

Instead I give her the words that she lacks. It sounds like something straight out of a therapist's mouth, but I swear that it works so well for her. Here is how it goes most of the time.

P--Grunts and points in direction of lollipop that I have just said she could not have until after she has eaten her sandwich.
Me--"I understand that you're getting frustrated and angry at me because I told you that you could not have the lollipop. I am not saying that you cannot have it later. I am not trying to make you angry. I just want you to take a few more bites of your lunch. Can you do that for me? Then you can have your lollipop."
P--Whines and then shakes her head yes and picks up sandwich.

Once she completes her end of the deal--I reward her with the lollipop. Later that night I will talk to her about using her words and not pointing when she wants something. When she is calm and in a better mood.

I hope these tips make sense to you, and that you have success with your toddler tornado.

I am also interested in knowing what works for you? I would love to try it out as well.


Friday, April 7, 2017

Friday Favorites: Brushes Edition

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a small compensation if you click on these links.

Happy Friday! I am not too happy about it being Friday because I have been off of work this week for Spring Break. Not too excited about going back to work on Monday, but I can't complain. Being a teacher really affords me a ton of family time. I am so grateful for that life.

This week I received some new brushes, and after working with them all week I am a total fan. So--I thought I would give you the run down of my favorite makeup brushes of all time.

1. Real Techniques Expert Face Brush
I have been using this brush for about a year and I LOVE IT! The densely packed bristles and soft and really give your foundation an airbrushed look. I use it on clients as well. I love that it has superior performance without the high price tag. Get yours down below.

2. Real Techniques Powder Brush
I recently received this brush and have quickly become a fan. It feels so soft and luxurious on the skin. It is well constructed and doesn't shed over time. It dispersed powders evenly and expertly. If you are in need of a big fluffy powder brush then there is no need to spend a ridiculous amount. This brush will do the trick and you will love the results. Buy yours below.

3. Real Techniques Multi-Tasking Kabuki Makeup Brush Set
I recently received this brush set and also love it. It comes with three different brushes that seve multiple functions. That is my favorite thing about a brush--versatility. If it is a brush that can only be used for one thing--then I have a hard time justifying spending money on it. I want tools that can serve multiple purposes. If you are a girl who wants a few quality brushes that can work for your whole face, then this is the set for you. It includes an angled brush that could be used for blush, highlight, powder, or even to apply foundation. It also contains a pointed brush that can be used to highlight and contour your face. Lastly, it contains a big fluffy eye brush. These types of brushes are my favorite for getting a really smokey look on the eye. And all for less than $17. That is truly a steal. Get yours below!

4. Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge
Everyone who has been around in the makeup world in the last few years has heard about the craze of using Beauty Blenders for blending foundation and concealers. I love a good damp sponge to blend out of concealer, and even to bake my face. But I don't want to pay beauty blender prices. The Real Techniques version works just as well, and even has a flat bottom so that your damp sponge doesn't roll off on your dirty floor. We've all had that happen and it gives me the willies! Gross! I seriously cannot tell the different between performance and it is half the price. Buy your below!

5. Real Techniques Setting Brush
The last brush on my list is this setting brush. I love it to brush highlighter on the tops of my cheeks or to contour mu cheeks or even the sides of my nose. It is small enough to do all of these jobs. Just like all of the other Real Techniques brushes it is sturdy and won't shed on your face, but is affordable, actually it is a steal for under $4. Grab yourself one today at the link below.

So there you have it, I set of brushes that will service your entire face, but wont break the bank. Until next week my lovelies!


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

How To Do The Perfect Winged Eyeliner

I have been getting a lot of questions on how to do the perfect winged eyeliner. The other day I posted a tutorial on my Facebook group. You can watch that again below.  But I also decided to give you a step by step guide using pictures.

I use the Revlon Color Stay Liquid Eye Pen and I swear by it. It is easy to control and stays all day long. The only other tools you will need are a concealer brush and a concealer or paint pot. I used the NYX Eyeshadow base in Skin Tone. I love this stuff!

Step one
Look at your eye and your brow. You want to draw your wing starting at where your lower lash line ends and out towards the end of your brow. I even take the angle down a bit from the end of my brow. Don't worry if the line isn't perfect. That is what the concealer is for at the end.

Step two
Starting about 1/4 of the way down from the end of your wing connect the wing with the middle of your eye like above. You will then color this area in and connect it with your inner corner.

Step three
Connect your line from step two to your inner corner and color in any missing spots.

Step four
Take a tiny bit of concealer on the back of your hand. dip the end of your concealer brush in the concealer and CAREFULLY clean up your wing line. Then just add mascara to your top and bottom lashes and you are done!

Typically when I do this look I go for a neutral eye look. The wing is pretty dramatic all on it's own, and you want it to be the star of the show?

What tutorial should I do next? Let me know!