Cup o’ Teat.

I meant to write cup of tea, but it came out cup of teat and I felt like maybe that was applicable since I’m still breastfeeding and, well, teats are part of that? Maybe? No? It’s just delirium setting in. Mmmk, I’m alright with that.

These past few weeks… months… whatever. For the past little while I’ve had some things on my mind, so I thought, let’s have a little chat over a cup of tea (or teat if that’s what you’re into).

I’d start by telling you that I’ve been having a hard time lately. But, simultaneously enjoying my life immensely. I love being a mama more than I know how to adequately put into words and being at home with Christian and Eleanor makes me feel like life couldn’t get much better… but… if I push just beyond that I’m questioning everything, re-evaluating everything, sorting through some things that I’ve pushed aside for just a little too long. There was a big shift when I turned 30 and it absolutely blindsided me and these days I’m just trying to sort through it one thing at a time. I will say this, though, the only thing that has made this complete uncertainty any better is talking through it with the people I love. Admitting that I’m a little lost rather than keeping it all bottled up. Having great people, great friends, great family really is so good for my soul.

Next I would tell you about my recent fascination with freezer meals. The past couple weekends I’ve been making freezer meals for my sister and friend Jessica that both having babies. I’ve made an extra batch and just stored it in the freezer for us to have on hand too. There’s something immensely satisfying about freezer meals. I’m pretty sure it might have something to do with writing out the baking directions in sharpie on the foil.

Which leads me into food allergies – we are FREE of food allergies at the Stecker house. After 8 months of no gluten, dairy, soy and assorted allergens, due to Eleanor, we are officially clear and hoping to stay that way. I never wanted pizza so badly and our first reunion was oh so glorious. #bodybypizza

If we’re staying on the food train, which why would we ever leave? Then, I would ask you if you’ve ever made my favorite chocolate chip cookies. You can bet your bottom that I have made these no less than 8 times in two months. That’s approximately 1 batch per week. I want to feel sorry about it, but I’m not. Not even a little bit. Plus, if you’re feeling lazy you can just stick all the dough in a pyrex and call them cookie bars (just reduce the salt by 1 tsp. if you do).

Next I’d ask you if you’ve read Ms. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children? I obsessively consumed the trilogy and find myself thinking back on it many months after finishing. They’re technically young adult books… but I hear 30 is technically a “young” adult… see what I did there? Anyways, we saw the movie this weekend and it was just so-so. I’d give it a 6 out of 10.  With that said, you better believe I’ll still go see any sequel that they make (please, please movie makers, make the sequels).

Lastly, I’d remind you that Christian and I have been married for five years. All I can think is, “boy that went fast”. He is the calm to my storm and the logic to my fervor. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better person to go through life with and feel incredibly lucky he’s all mine.

At this point, I’d have drained my entire cup of tea and probably need to wrap things up!

Advertisements

Finally Friday.

ff

It’s Friday! Hooray!

This was my third week of work and things feel like they may be starting to settle into a bit of a grove. I’m enjoying the challenge of working but also enjoying the benefit of being home with sweet Eleanor at the same time. I love it when life feels like it’s falling into place (at least sort of).

There’s nothing officially planned for this weekend so we’re just going to wing it! The weather is supposed to be in the 70’s (whaaaat?) and I plan on enjoying every darn minute of it. Eleanor better get ready for some long walks because I’m going to make it happen!

Hope you have a great one and enjoy my finds from around the interwebs:

Have you seen the shampoo prank video? I might be the last person on the internet to see it, but I couldn’t stop laughing. If you need a bit of a pick me up, this will certainly do the trick.

I’m not sure I can adequately express my love for this French Vinaigrette recipe. It’s simple, delicious and turns regular old lettuce into something you’ll crave every. single. day. Make it, now. You won’t regret it.

The last time I bought shoes that weren’t tennis shoes was… um… a very long time ago. I’m talking years here. That’s why nobody is more surprised than me that I can’t stop thinking about these sandals for summer. It’s March which means it’s almost summer and I can wear sandals, right?

Every time someone brings up Donald Trump or I catch a glimpse of that terrible haircut, I feel mildly nauseous. This post by Max Lucado on Decency For President really struck a cord with me. And, while we’re on that note, Cape Breton making it easy to move there if ‘ol Donald is elected.

Would you ever try making your own watercolors? This video makes it look so easy (damn you Facebook videos) that I sort of, kind of, maybe want to try it.

If you’ve ever talked to me about maternity leave or anything having to do with that, you know that it makes me incredibly angry. INCREDIBLY ANGRY. I couldn’t help but relate to this article and I totally agree that “Having It All Kind Of Sucks“.

I know so many people that are pregnant… which means they’ll be needed a name for that little bebe. This baby name app is tops and I’m thinking it might have saved us from the naming conundrum we found ourselves in. I’m book marking this for baby #2.

Hope you have a good one!

A Day In The Life – 3 Months

I’ve loved reading day in the life posts by some of my favorite blogger that have had children! Just as well, I thought it might be fun to look back in a few months to see what our days were like at 3 months! Here we go!

2:30 AM – I hear Eleanor whimpering/crying out in her sleep so I pull back the (warm, warm) covers and head over to re-insert her pacifier. I head to the bathroom since I’m up and double check that she’s good before going back to bed.

5:30 AM – Christian gets up to get ready for work. Eleanor starts to stir, so I get up and re-insert the pacifier and turn on the sound machine and auto-rock feature on her rock ‘n play. I cross my fingers that this will buy me a couple more hours of sleep and head back to bed. [A few minutes later Christian kisses me goodbye and heads downstairs]

7:30 AM – I hear a distinct squawking coming from the rock ‘n play. Little E’s eyes are wide open and she’s ready to roll. I drag myself out of bed, head to the bathroom and go grab her. She gets a diaper change before we settle in for her first nursing session of the day.

8:00 AM – She’s finished eating and burping. I settle her into her rock ‘n play for a few minutes so that I can pump. I’ve been pumping every morning (after her first feeding) since she was 2 weeks old which has allowed me to really build a freezer stash!

IMG_4234.jpg

8:30 AM – It’s bath time! I gather all the necessities (towel, wash cloths, clothes, a cloth diaper) and get the bath all set up. Eleanor pees twice during her bath which means we have to drain the water and refill twice. Once she’s squeaky clean, I dry her off, lotion her up and get her dressed. Her outfit is a bit big, but I wanted to make sure that whatever I put her in would hold her cloth diaper since it was our first attempt!

9:00 AM – Nap time! I can tell that E is getting tired by a few yawns and a few cranky bouts of shouting. I wrap her in her halo swaddle sleep sack, give her a pacifier and turn on her sound machine. She’s out in a matter of minutes.

I head downstairs to put my milk in the freezer, eat breakfast (a chia pudding, coconut milk and spinach smoothie), do a quick scan of my online blog feed and check email. Today, I also put on the ending key note from Alt Summit (a recommendation from The Small Things Blog) to listen to while I get things done.

IMG_4240

10:55 AM – Eleanor is up! I see her moving around on the monitor moments before she starts crying. I head upstairs to get her. This was a longer nap than usual, she usually sleeps for about an hour before wanting to be freed from her crib. I feed her, change her diaper and we play. She spits up multiple times (also not the norm) and I end up needing an outfit change and so does she.

IMG_4253

We spend time looking in the mirror, playing on our tummy, dancing to some hip hop and play with some soft rattles. She’s pretty spent and starts to baby shout her disapproval.

12:30 PM – Nap time! I put her in her crib (same routine as her earlier nap) and head downstairs for some lunch (gluten-free chicken noodle soup). I’ve been texting with my friend Kelly, so I get re-caught up on the texts I hadn’t read and respond. The kitchen is a mess, so after lunch I do a few dishes and just generally pick up.

I, also, start writing this post and talk to Christian for a while during his lunch break. In between all of this, I run upstairs three different times to re-insert her pacifier. It doesn’t usually happen that many times in one nap, but today’s all about breaking the norm.

IMG_4243

2:30 PM – She’s awake and ready to party! I head upstairs to get her. She’s awake but I can tell she’s wavering on whether she’ll stay up for good. After two bouts of falling asleep while nursing, I throw in the towel. We change her diaper and back downstairs. She plays with her little kick and play piano and we do a bit of tummy time as well as walk to the mailbox to drop off some mail. The rest of the time I listen to her tell me stories and we dance around the family room.

IMG_4269

4:00 PM – Nap time! I take her and put her in her crib (same routine as her earlier naps) and head back downstairs. I carry some things to the basement, start a load of laundry and begin thinking about dinner (honey dijon chicken with broccoli and quinoa)… I better get a head start before she wakes up and needs to eat!

IMG_4267

5:15 PM – She’s up! I spend 15 minutes trying to get her back to sleep, no go. Time for a diaper change and feeding. We head downstairs so that I can turn the stove on and put the broccoli in the oven. Once she’s done eating I put her on her play mat so I can finish dinner!

6:05 PM – Christian is home! He takes Eleanor with him to get changed while I finish dinner. She’s pretty happy for a few minutes, but starts squawking around 6:15. We put her in the swing while we sit down to have some dinner.

6:45 PM – Eleanor is dozing in her swing and we’re watching the latest episode of Castle. During a commercial break we pause to get Rick Krispy treat. The dogs take big time advantage of snuggling their parents while Eleanor takes a nap. We try to give them a little extra love at night to make up for giving their sister more attention these days.

7:15 PM – I give Eleanor a little snack while Christian and I watch TV. I play with her for a bit and hope that she’ll doze a little more before we head upstairs for the night. No go. We end up dancing with her, swaying around the room and trying all manner of activities to keep her happy rather than crying.

8:30 PM – We start wrapping things up downstairs – packing up leftovers, getting Christian’s lunch ready for the next day and doing dishes. We wash all the pump parts and head upstairs.

8:45 PM – Christian and I brush our teeth and I wash my face. Eleanor gets a diaper change and we put her in some footie pajamas. She usually plays with us for a bit before we give her a final feeding.

IMG_4280

9:15 – Time for her last feed of the day! I fill up her tummy, burp her and then wrap her in her swaddle sack before putting her in the rock ‘n play for the night.

9:45 PM – I get in bed and read and do a final scan of my email I’m trying to stop checking email at bed time, but its a hard habit to break! After a few minutes of that I pick up my book. I’m currently ready the Josephine B. trilology — I’m a sucker for historical fiction and this is no different.

IMG_4282

10:45 PM – Lights out! So we can start all over again tomorrow!

Each day is different. Her napping schedule and temperament will seem consistent until it’s not — tis the way of babies! We also usually have a few outings during the week and definitely some visitors, we just happened to be on our own yesterday!

I sure love every minute at home with Ms. E and couldn’t be more grateful to have her as my girl.

 

 

 

Preggo Reads.

Pregnancy Reads

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

When I found out I was pregnant with Eleanor, I couldn’t wait to get reading on all things pregnancy, birth and babies. BUT… I was scared that I was going to jinx things by delving too far into believing I was pregnant. It’s crazy, but it’s true. I had serious pregnancy anxiety!

Over the course of my pregnancy (especially once I could feel her kick) my fears subsided and I dove head first into any and all reading material I could get my hands on. This list contains some of my favorite pregnancy related reads!

Lucie’s List – You guys, this site and the email newsletter (based on where you are in pregnancy/postpartum) rocked my socks. I was on here all the time and actually looked forward to every email I received — which is not something I can say about pretty much any other newsletter I get. There is a wealth of information here on anything and everything pregnancy/baby/birth. (Just a note: the newsletter gets EVEN BETTER during postpartum. She’s got tips, notes on baby milestones and all sorts of other good stuff to help you feel like you’re on the right parenting path.)

The Wise Baby – As much as I loved the newsletter from Lucie’s List, my all-time favorite site was The Wise Baby. I was on this page multiple times per week looking at product reviews and absorbing the new mom favorites post. They took a bit of a hiatus over the winter, but they’re starting to post again. If you do only two things it’s look at this site and sign up for the Lucie’s List newsletter.

Bringing Up Bebe – This was one of the first books I read because I could rationalize that it wasn’t totally a pregnancy/baby book. I love reading about the way different people/cultures do things and this book was no different. The author was very relatable and did an excellent job comparing and contrasting pregnancy, birth and child rearing in the US vs. France. I liked this book so much that I had a hard time putting it down and it made me want to move to France for reasons other than croissants. It had a lot of good information on parenting in general with more philosophies to remember than hard and fast rules to follow. Read this, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

The Pregnancy Bible – I ordered this book from Amazon after seeing it on a list of “best pregnancy books”. It’s really comprehensive and covers just about anything you’d want to know about pregnancy as well as what comes after. It was really interesting to see/read about how the body changes as well as go in depth about what is happening at each step along the way. My only critique of this book is that it didn’t go as deep into some topics as I would have liked. Overall, it was just a great general guide.

Natural Hospital Birth – I was hoping to have a natural birth, in a hospital… hence the purchase of this book. I really like the approach the author took in respecting the expertise of the medical staff, but also trusting in your body and standing up for what you want. It was the perfect mix for me since I’m neither 100% crunchy mama nor 100% I believe medicine is king. There were some really great helpful tips as well as practical applications to help make a natural hospital birth a reality. I would definitely recommend this if that’s the approach you’re wanting to take.

Ina May’s Guild To Childbirth – This is the quintessential natural child birth book. Ina May is the country’s most renowned midwife and this books spares no detail in what natural child birth looks like — however, it does it in an empowering way. I think you’d be hard pressed not to believe you’re capable of natural labor after reading this book, though being capable and willing are different things entirely! If natural childbirth is the path you’re planning to take this book is a MUST READ.

During the course of my pregnancy, I also read Birthing From Within. It was WAY too crunchy mama for me and I ended up scanning the pages and wishing I hadn’t spent the money on it. I can definitely see how some people would enjoy this approach, but it wasn’t for me. To each their own.

The (First) Lose-Lose of Motherhood.

IMG_6437.jpg

My twelve weeks are almost up.

My baby isn’t old enough to sit up, she’s exclusively breast fed and has eaten from a bottle only four times in her little life. She’s just starting to laugh and really chat it up with the goo goo gaga business. I’m mostly healed from pushing a 10 lb baby out of my nether regions and feeling almost back to myself.

All of which seems to mean I’m about to face one of the infamous lose-lose moments of motherhood.

Going back to work or staying home.

Either way, the moral of this story is that you lose.

Looking back 3 years ago, Christian and I decided to start trying for a family. Over the course of our journey to get pregnant we would discover I have PCOS, endure all sorts of hormone treatments (which weren’t a walk in the park), suffer a miscarriage and weather through the tears each month when my period showed up instead of those two little lines.

The day I found out I was pregnant with Eleanor I was ecstatic while also feeling an equal measure of fear. Nonetheless, my pregnancy progressed pretty normally and being pregnant was even better than I had imagined it to be (most of the time). Throughout each day I’d be met with questions about my pregnancy, about the baby – each holding a air of excitement and wonder. Everyone is excited about pregnancy, everyone is excited about babies.

Fast forward to the present. No one is excited about a 3 month old (well except me, her dad and probably her grand parents). My profession tells me it’s time to give up the goat. Go back to work. Leave my baby – the baby I fought so hard for. The baby that believes I’m her entire world.

And if I do? If I go back to work full-time?

I’m a bad mother.

In fact, I’m giving up precious time with my child, I’m leaving my child at her most vulnerable stage, I’m leaving her when she needs me the most. I’ve been asked “do you want her to be bonded to you or to a nanny”? Isn’t the answer clear and more importantly why is this even a question in the first place?

On the flip side of this argument, I can stay home.

When you check out the other side of the highly judgmental Mommy wars – this is what is supposed to happen. This is nature’s way. I can breastfeed on command, I can snuggle that sweet little baby when she needs me and clearly she will be bonded to me… and not a nanny.

But… but…

What do I lose in the process?

I lose the last 8.5 years of work, I lose the salary I worked so hard to earn and I mostly lose any future job prospects once I’m out of the work force for a couple of years. I went to college, I’ve worked hard, I have dreams.

I’m not special, this story isn’t unique and neither are the anxious feelings I’ve been fighting. The problem is bigger than me. It’s bigger than the atrocious maternity benefits my company offers. It’s systemic and it’s a shame.

Right now, I don’t know what to do. The only thing I do know is that either way I lose.

Pregnancy Favorites

Pregnancy Favorites.jpg

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7

When I found out I was pregnant I was cautiously optimistic, but also THRILLED. Even through the extreme food aversions, nausea and other less pleasant pregnancy symptoms, I was happy to be pregnant and nothing was going to stop me.

Despite my quest to savor and enjoy as many moments of pregnancy as possible, there were still moments where I felt rough, exhausted or just plain uncomfortable. There’s only so much smiling you can do when you’re back feels like it may crack in half and the thought of eating makes you gag. It’s even harder to smile when all you want to do is sleep, but you know that you’ll never get comfortable… meaning there’s no end in sight to your insomnia.

There were, however, a few key things that helped (my tried and true buddies) me get through the rough patches. And those, pregnancy superheroes were:

  1. Bump Nest. The whale roll is a real thing. Trying to turn a full sized, pregnant mammal while readjusting for comfort was pretty darn near impossible. I’d shimmy around trying to find the position of least suffering, all while moving my army of pillows to support me. It was a pain, quite literally. Enter the bump nest. This thing saved my pregnant life each night from about 16 to 32 weeks (at 32 weeks, all sleeping bets were off). It was great in both belly and back support and was easy to turn after one of my many night time bathroom trips. The only cons: that both sides weren’t full length and that the portion under my knees deflated a bit after a while.
  2. Life Factory Water Bottle. You know you have a hydration problem when your doctor comes in and tells you that your urine is high in ketones and that you had better giddy-up on the daily water intake. I hauled this water bottle around with me just about everywhere and filled it up at least 6-7 times a day. Plus, I loved that it wasn’t plastic. As a personal policy, I try to avoid plastic when I can.
  3. Reed’s Ginger Candy. For starters, I loved these things even when I wasn’t pregnant. However, my nausea in the first trimester garnered them an even higher ranking. They’re delicious and the ginger really helped to settle my stomach when I was having a hard time getting anything down.
  4. Breville Juicer. The food aversions were real. No chicken, no vegetables, no big hunks of meat… the list could go on. By the end of pregnancy I was convinced that I would probably never eat vegetables or chicken again and I was truly sad about it. In order to make sure I got some sort of fruit/veggie nutrients, we bought a juicer. I faithfully drank (or gagged down) a glass of juice each day from week 7 or 8 until the third trimester. If you’re having a hard time getting anything of real nutritional value down, I would highly suggest investing in one of these bad boys.
  5. Ritz Bits Peanut Butter. I turn to peanut butter Ritz Bits whenever there’s an emotional high or low in my life. They’re like an old comfy sweatshirt on a bad day or a big glass of bubbly for the carb addicted on a good day. So, it was no surprise to me that I turned to them during each phase of my pregnancy. They’re the perfect food when you need a little something to stave off nausea. They’re the perfect snack. They’re the perfect little treat to kill a few minutes. Really, there isn’t a bad time to eat these.
  6. Stash Lemon Ginger Tea. I have a huge drawer in my kitchen devoted solely to tea. I like tea. I’ve turned to fertility tea when I was trying to get pregnant, I drink throat coat when I’m sick, I drink green tea because it tastes delicious and because it’s good for you. Which means, that I turned to lemon ginger tea to help with my nausea… and it helped (at least a little).
  7. Belli Elasticity Belly Oil. I rubbed this oil all over my abdomen each and every night. I still came out of pregnancy with stretch marks, but I’m pretty sure it could have been worse. It smelled good and definitely left my skin soft. I liked the belly oil so much that I also used their facial products during pregnancy too!

Even though my sweet girl is here, I still miss being pregnant. It’s such an incredible experience… both pregnancy and motherhood. What were your favorite items when you were pregnant? What made your life easier/more comfortable.

 

Julep Maven Subscription Box.

Over the past year, I’ve become a bit of a subscription box addict. It all started with Birchbox, then Stitchfix and now the Julep Maven box.

Snail mail is my favorite kind and the anticipation of receiving a box full of surprise goodies each month is so hard for me to turn down. I hadn’t heard of Julep until recently when a couple of the fashion blogs I follow started mentioning it. Then, via creepy Google advertising (simultaneously great and stalkerish) their ads kept popping up several times per day and it turns out that I’m a marketers dream… because I took their online quiz and ended up as “Classic with a Twist”. I clicked through to see the other options and ended up ordering the originally suggested box.

Taking a sneak peek into other bloggers monthly boxes is something I love, so I thought I’d share mine.  After ordering, the box came a few days later… with good packaging I might add.

photo 2

This month, there were two nail polishes:

Myrtle

Zora

A cuticle serum and nail buffing blocks.

photo 3

photo 4

There was a free code: FREEBOX (feel free to try it and see if it’s still working), so I only had to pay the $3.99 in shipping (what’s the harm in that). I’ve painted my nails two different times with each of the colors and have loved the consistency and color of the polish. The only down-side I’ve come across is that the bottles tip easily since they’re designed to be so slender.

Also, I didn’t love the cuticle serum… but you win some you lose some.

If you’re curious, I’d say it’s absolutely worth the $3.99 to try it out and, honestly, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for February. To sign up for Julep (or to browse around their site, you can click here!