More tips for new parents

There is no shortage of articles giving new parents tips on everything from burping your baby to dealing with diaper rash. Trust me, I’ve read many of them. So it might seem a little superfluous that I, a mother of only two, should feel qualified enough to offer my own tips. But I’m going to anyway. I’m by no means an expert but I have learned a few things along the way that are worth passing along.
Ready? Set. GO…

Ask for discounts

When you get the hospital bill, you may have a small panic attack. I know we did. Even with great insurance and a completely natural birth our bill was still worthy of heart palpitations. The health care system is absurd. But before you freak out too much, call the hospital and see of they offer any kind of discount for paying the bill in full. It might be worth putting it on a card or utilizing a flex spending account when you get hundreds of dollars knocked off the bill. We’ve received 15-30% off our bills in the past. It never hurts to ask (and ask and ask – sometimes finding the right person can take a few calls).

Accept help, and modify it

Lots of people will probably be saying things like, “Let me know what I can do to help” when you welcome your new family member. Theres no denying this is a kind offer but it’s also a vague one, especially because your new parent brain can’t comprehend anything past counting the hours of sleep you’re NOT getting. Take note of those friends and family members who offer to help and accept their generosity by giving them a task when you think of it. Could you use someone coming over to help you with an overflowing pile of laundry? Ask. Could your older children benefit from some time out of the house? Ask.  In desperate need of your favorite Starbucks drink? FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY ASK. Don’t feel guilty. They did offer.

Don’t be afraid to say no

Chances are as soon as you pop out your little miracle there will be half a dozen people asking When will you be home? When can we come meet the baby? When can we invade your space? Ok, maybe they won’t actually ask that last one but there will be days when visitors feel more like invaders. As I mentioned in my recent post on postpartum pet peeves, your hormones might be totally off the charts so there will be days when you’re just not up for company. And that’s okay! If you’re having one of those days, know that it is completely acceptable to say no thank you. The baby’s not going anywhere, they can come another day when you are feeling up to it.

Don’t forget your pregnancy nutrition

This one is more for the new moms out there but important for papas as well. When you’re pregnant a lot of attention tends to be focused on your nutrition. Not only making sure you are eating well for yourself but for your growing baby as well. Just because you’re no longer eating for two it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still work toward great nutrition for yourself. It’s far too easy to turn that nutritional focus toward your baby and let your own eating habits fall to priority zero. From the sleep deprivation to the energy you exert settling into your new role as mommy, you might reach the end of the day and realize that you’ve forgotten to drink a glass of water or eat an actual meal. This is especially important for nursing mamas. You can burn upwards of 600 calories (more if you have a super eater!) just by nursing and if you don’t take the time to replenish your fuel supply, you will quickly find yourself drained… in more ways than one. I know a lot of new moms are driven to losing their baby weight but making sure you have a healthy, balanced diet is just as important postpartum as it is during pregnancy.  You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of the little ones who depend on you.

I invite any other mamas reading this blog to share your own parenting tips and secrets! After all, once you earn the title of mommy we’re all on the same team!

Until next time…

Too many thoughts, not enough confidence

When I first started this blog it was for two main reasons:

1. I was applying for a social media management job and needed a writing sample that proved I had some skill at blogging.
2. We’d just gotten married so I wanted to be able to keep family and friends updated on our lives in Georgia.

Despite the face that I ended up loathing my social media management job, I soon realized that I loved blogging. As time went on and my ‘published posts’ pile began to grow I really fell in love with the process of pulling my jumbled mess of thoughts together, creating something cohesive enough to understand, and spitting it out for the blogosphere to enjoy. Z and I were diving into an adventure as newlyweds with new jobs in a new city and I was working at a few very unique places that provided plenty of blog-worthy stories. I kept things simple and really just used it as a forum to brain dump. All of a sudden I was getting comments on my posts. I was used to comments from family and friends but comments from people I didn’t know… how exciting! That meant people were finding my humble little collection of thoughts. Most of them were fellow bloggers so in an attempt to build a community I started reading and commenting on others’ blogs. With every new blog I found I’d stumble or be referred to three more. Eventually I formed a long collection of favorites which I promptly added to my Google Reader list. Oh how I miss you Google Reader. At first my fellow bloggers inspired and energized me to keep sharing my bits of randomness and even encouraged me to pump up the number of posts per week.

But then one day something shifted.

Blogging became something I did to get recognition instead of something I did because I enjoyed it. I would be disappointed if I didn’t receive X number of comments on a given post and feel inadequate when I’d see other bloggers with sidebars filled with paying sponsors or getting featured spots on well-known websites and blog forums. I’d read a perfectly formatted, hysterically witty, or insanely creative post and feel completely inadequate in my own writing. I’d end up starting a blog about a topic that I felt really passionate about, remember that inadequate feeling, and stop writing. Soon my ‘published posts’ pile stopped growing and my ‘drafts’ began to multiply. I wouldn’t trash the blogs that I started but I’d become too critical and decide it was better to hide away posts that I felt weren’t good enough. Each time I’d sit down to write I’d just get more and more frustrated. Frustration would turn to anger and I’d start discrediting other bloggers because, clearly, their ability to come up with a pin-worthy blog post was because they had it way easier than me in life.

This blogger has an expendable income so she can go on these lavish vacations and blog about it.  Not me.
This blogger has a house like something out of Better Homes and Gardens so she can blog about all of her wonderful interior design ideas. Not me.
This blogger has started her own business that seemed to get really successful overnight so every blog is a personal advertisement for her business. Not me.
This blogger just has EVERYTHING figured out and lives a perfect, care-free life. Not. Me.

Basically I was creating lame excuses to pad a ridiculous woe-is-me mentality. Which at the end of the day was just a way to hide the truth, my lack of confidence. Combine my hum-drum attitude with the fact that I was no longer writing weekly updates on our daughter and you get a very neglected blog. It was a sad state of affairs and, in some ways, still is. Yes, I was able to kick a few more posts out there while pregnant with our son and have been keeping up with his monthly updates but the love I once had of sharing random thoughts and funny stories has dwindled down to nothing but a tiny flicker. I’ve let my lack of confidence overpower my love of writing. I’ve let the comparative and competitive nature of social media sway my opinion of myself. I’ve neglected the original purpose of this blog and, in doing so, have let myself down.

I know I’ve made a lot of proclamations in the past about starting new habits, new weekly staples, and getting back on a schedule with every-other-day posts. But that’s not what Life in these times… is all about. It’s about this life that I love and am blessed to call my own. It’s about the good and the bad and the poop-covered. It’s about the struggles and the joys. And it’s about all the things that pop into my head that I find worthy of transporting to text. It’s not about what everyone else thinks or being a well-known name… although there is still part of me that secretly not so secretly wants to be a famous blogger, get paid to write, and be able to support my family from home. Then again there’s also a part of me that dreams about Robert Downey Jr. stopping me in the middle of the mall to tell me I’d be perfect for the new blockbuster his he’s filming, but I digress.

The only proclamation I’m prepared to make today is that I’m going to do my best to push my self-conscious tendencies to the side and get back to doing what I once loved.  No more excuses. No more comparing myself to other bloggers. No more writing about something solely because I think someone might find it Huffington Post worthy. Just me. My thoughts. My family. My days of spit-up and stickers. My life in these times…

Until next time…

Four Must-Have Products for New Moms

*This is a guest post from the SmartMom blog. SmartMom is an iPhone app for moms who love to exchange advice and help each other out. You can download the app here to join the community. I’m excited to be joining the SmartMom community not only as an active presence on the app but as a blogger as well! 

If you’re expecting a new baby, chances are you’re overwhelmed by everything you’re reading in the baby books. People will tell you to look for the basics — teething toys, diapers and baby clothes — so we talked to several new moms to find out exactly what you’ll use…and use…and use during the first weeks at home with a new baby.

From taking care of your newest addition to taking care of yourself as a brand new mom, we have five of the best products that you’ll find at your very own drug store or makeup counter.

BB Cream

During the early days as a mom, wearing makeup will be the last thing on your mind…until you see yourself tagged in your friends’ Facebook pictures when they come to visit the new baby. BB Cream, short for beauty or blemish cream, covers like a tinted moisturizer or a lightweight foundation.

Clinique Age Defense BB Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30 contains caffeine to soften lines and vitamin E and seaweed extract to control oil production. Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfecter BB Cream SPF 15 contains hyaluronic acid and glycerin to moisturize dehydrated skin and cover up your dark under eye circles.

You can supplement with a concealer and additional makeup if you’re feeling ambitious, but a good BB Cream will keep you covered through your make-up free days at home with a new baby.

Lanolin Cream

If you’re breastfeeding, your friends or doctor might recommend investing in a nipple cream, but they won’t stress enough how much you’ll really need it. Lansinoh’s 100% pure HPA Lanolin is highly recommended by lactation consultants, but most drug stores have their own brands that are equally effective and safe for baby. If you have questions about a specific type of brand, it’s best to contact your doctor or lactation consultant.

Postnatal Multivitamins

Every OB/GYN will tell you that you need to take a daily regimen of prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, but it’s easy to forget to take your vitamins when you have a tiny person who relies on you day in and day out.

Nature Made Postnatal Multi + DHA helps to supplement the nutritional needs of nursing moms to ensure they have the nutrients necessary to pass through to their babies. They include Vitamin D and Calcium for bone health, EPA (an Omega-3 fatty acid) for heart health and various B vitamins to support the mother’s energy levels.

Baby Moisture Lotion

We all know about diaper rash, but eczema, dry skin and general irritation is very common in newborns and infants. Stick to a brand that has no added chemicals or irritants. Aveeno Baby Daily Moisture Lotion contains natural colloidal oatmeal, along with other natural emollients, to soothe and help protect a baby’s delicate skin.

What items are on your must-have list for new moms?

For more posts like this one, visit the SmartMom Blog.

My Mush: 4 months

I can’t believe I’m already posting another monthly update, but here we are, watching time fly by. Before giving you Mr. Mush’s 4 month stats, I thought I’d share some deets on what the rest of the family is up to.
We are loving being in Virginia getting some real quality time with my parents. I’m so thankful that I get to have playdates with my high school friends and their babies, and have even taken advantage of seeing some college friends as well! I’m getting theKeenBean back up and running {new listings every day!} and am eager to get back into teaching my natural childbirth classes. Finding an affordable {aka FREE} place to hold my classes has proven to be a bit more difficult that I had hoped but it will all work out.
Z is having a great time in grad school so far, learning a lot and getting some first hand experience teaching. His classmates seem really nice and he’s been comforted by having some fellow dads to connect with. Each day he comes back with fun stories and new ideas on how to use his degree. I’m so proud of him and can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Keelin has adjusted really well to our new living space and is enjoying meeting new friends on a regular basis! She’s also enjoying testing all of us {since there are more people in the house to pay attention to her} and pushing boundaries. You know… you’re average 2-year old shenanigans.

Alright, enough about the fam, on to the star of this show…

The smile. The rolls. The flexed toesies.

  • Rolled over from back to tummy (August 11).
  • First tick. Gross gross gross. Ew. Gross.
  • Officially outgrew his swaddle pouch so we’ve transitioned to a sleep sack and, inevitably, tummy sleeping.
  • Happiest baby in the world – if he’s not hungry or tired he’s smiling.
  • Met a handful of mommy’s college roommates and dance friends.
  • Blows raspberries and bubbles like it’s his job.
  • First belly laugh.
  • First time in his Baby Einstein activity saucer – LOVES IT!
  • Snuggles and smiles with his big sister.
  • Pushed bedtime ahead and still sleeps through the night!
  • Advanced to 3-6 month clothing – although I refuse to take his too-small 3 month clothes out of the closet just yet.
  • Tried out a Johnny Jump Up. Still a little small for it but he’ll push and spin around for a little while
  • Deliberately reaches for toys, people’s faces, mommy’s smoothie, etc.
  • Showing signs of teething {drooling, chewing on everything, etc.} but no teefies yet.
  • Loves falling asleep on your shoulder – prefers it actually!
  • First trip to the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

Seriously, more pictures mom?

Until next time…

Postpartum Pet Peeves

Most mom or pregnancy blogs talk about the stressors of pregnancy because, let’s face it, there can be plenty. From the morning sickness and strange cravings to the swollen ankles and sciatic pain, certain aspects of pregnancy are doozies. While preparing moms for the not-so-glamorous parts of pregnancy is important, the aftermath is often forgotten. Being that I’m four months postpartum with HG, I feel the need to share some of the less thrilling and down-right obnoxious parts of postpartum life. Here are my top three postpartum pet peeves.

Hormone hostage

Just because the pregnancy is over doesn’t mean your hormones are back to normal. There is a definite adjustment period after baby is born where your system is equalizing. Pair that with sleep deprivation, an overwhelming sense of uncertainty and responsibility {especially for first time moms}, hospital bill shell shock, and the unbelievable level of love you have for your new little miracle and it’s no wonder you’re a moody mess. During the time you spend staring at your new baby you could be smiling one minute and bawling your eyes out the next, with no explanation why. And please, please for the love of all things holy, don’t even try watching a sappy/sad/inspirational/romantic movie anytime soon. Especially one that involves babies/children/animals/true love. You’re better off sticking to explosive action flicks.

Shedding like a dog

You know how your hair completely transformed during pregnancy? That miraculous volume, shine, and super-human growth you experienced during pregnancy is like hair heaven. You walk around pretending you’re in a Pantene Pro V commercial while simultaneously rubbing your beautiful bump. All is right in the world of cosmetics.
Then you have your baby, looking like a hair model while in labor I might add, and you settle into your new life as a parent thinking you were not only gifted this beautiful new life but beautiful new locks as well. Three months flash by and all of a sudden you wake in the morning wondering when you let the neighbor’s golden retriever use your pillow. Your brush is full of hair, your shirts are covered in stragglers, you’re in a constant state of feeling like you walked through a spiderweb, and you pity the poor shower drain after every shampoo. Your family is even affected as your loose strands somehow find their way to everything from clothes to facial hair. Bye bye Pantene contract, hello tumbleweeds of tangles.

The ‘nothing fits’ phase

Whether it takes you a while to shed your baby weight or you seem to drop most of it with the birth of your child, there’s a phase that most new moms enter into called the ‘nothing fits’ phase. Your maternity clothes are a little too baggy and your re-pregnancy clothes are a little too tight. You can fit into both but nothing actually fits. Maternity clothes are obviously more comfortable but when you’re already feeling a little, well, saggy, there’s no need to add the diaper butt that comes with a loose pair of elastic-waist jeans. Remember those out-of-wack hormones I mentioned before? Yeah, they don’t help much when all you want is to feel comfortable in your own skin and not one thing in your closet fits the bill.
There’s a phase a lot like this during pregnancy, when your baby bump is just starting to grow and you’re not quite ready for maternity garb. It too can be frustrating but the excitement of your healthy growing baby usually overshadows the in-between stage.

Thankfully we as mothers can handle these horribly obnoxious postpartum stages because of the amazing tiny humans we created {our husbands helped too} that rely on us not totally losing our minds.

So these are my postpartum pet peeves, what are yours?

Until next time…

Going grad: let the adventure begin

It’s been a while since I posted anything that wasn’t about being pregnant or tracking the kiddos as they grow. But that’s all about to change.
As I look back on the lifespan of this blog there has definitely been a fair amount of ebb and flow. Obviously my own life has shared the same shifts so why wouldn’t the blog that tracks my “Life in these times…” follow suit? Now my family has started yet another grand adventure and this little collection of memories will help me tell the tale.  May as well kick things off by explaining what we’re up to!

Around about the time I found out we were pregnant with HG, Z started seriously looking into grad school. It had been nearly three years at the Aquarium singing the same 30-minute show as much as four times a day. For a guy who used to tell me, “I’ll never do another summer stock production… 72 shows is just way too much”, {referring to The Lost Colony outdoor drama where we met} you can bet that 1,000 times on stage singing about dolphins took its toll. Not only was Z ready for a change, but knowing that our family was {and hopefully would continue} expanding, the idea of a teaching career that could provide stable income for the future was one we were both pretty excited about.  So we dove into the application process and things just started falling into place:

  • Z was accepted at VCU to receive an MFA in acting pedagogy.
  • My parents graciously offered their home {a stones throw from campus} as a place for our family to live while he is in school. AKA no rent.
  • My mom retired this year. AKA help for me while Z is in class all day and childcare if/when I get a side job.

We created a rough draft of the next two-three years all before HG was born. God really laid out His plan so it was kind of easy to see it all. At least the spark notes version. With a basic idea in our minds we set it all on the back burner so it wouldn’t overshadow the birth of our sweet boy and the adjustment to a family of four.

As you can tell from my recent updates on Mr. Mush, all has been well on the family side of things. We welcomed HG, settled in beautifully to family-of-four status, made our move and, after a relaxing week at the beach, are officially ready to kick things into high-grad-gear. Big, exciting, and completely faith-driven things are in the works and I’m thrilled to see them all unfold. I’m going to be continuing my natural childbirth business and my Etsy shop but I’m also planning to kick this blog back into high gear. More posts, a wider variety of topics, more wit, maybe even some reviews. Overall lots of good things. Que Alec Baldwin circa Along Came Polly. :)

Z’s first day of classes is today and I’m so incredibly proud of him. Good luck my sweet… let the adventure begin!

Until next time…

My Mush: 3 Months

Excuse me ma’am, can my classic good looks and I help you set up your beach chair? What a stud, right?

I’m a few days late posting this month’s update because, as you can tell from HG’s white onesie deviation, we’ve been at the BEACH all week! He officially turned 3 months on Wednesday so I had to snap some beach-tastic photos to celebrate. A lot has happened in his third month, here are the deets:

  • Big time hair puller
  • Loves chatting… ALL THE TIME! Such a talker. As my aunt says, “He’ll be speaking in paragraphs when he actually starts talking”
  • Smiles and laughs with his whole body
  • Moved to a new state- first long road trip at 9 1/2 hours. Slept almost the whole way!
  • Sleeping through the night!
  • Does great with tummy time, lifts his head all the way up and pushes his booty into the air while digging his toes into the ground.
  • Rolled over (tummy to back) on July 22!
  • Met his great grandmother (Gigi) as well as lots of cousins, great aunts, and great uncles!
  • First shots- cried for about 5 seconds. Mommy kept it together pretty well.
  • Stops nursing to look up and smile at me… Talk about heart melting!
  • First time at the beach/toes in the ocean! Wasn’t sure about it at first but loved sitting in the surf by the end of the week!
  • Swaddle Houdini. Manages to get at least one arm out every night.
  • first giggle
  • Loves everyone he meets and handles ‘pass the baby’ with ease.
  • First dip in the pool
  • Has conversations with stuffed animals, especially ones with BIG eyes!
  • Has the best open mouth grin EVER.

happy to get that bowtie off!


Until next time…

My Mush: 2 Months

So in love with this happy little mush and the JOY on his face in this month’s photo! He was looking up at his daddy so it’s no surprise he was so excited! Can hardly believe he is already 2 months old! Here are this past month’s stats!

  • first trip to the pool – his toes were not impressed
  • has the dreamiest, sweetest, widest smile. Obsessed.
  • loves getting raspberries and watching mommy and daddy do lip trills.
  • transitioned to his crib
  • wearing 3 month clothes
  • adios Huggies, big boy is wearing his Sunbaby cloth diapers now!
  • slept through the night for the first time! Still not doing it every night but getting there!
  • went on his first boat ride – baby life jackets are ridiculous
  • watched his first fireworks show on the 4th. He was mesmerized!
  • super cheeseball. He’s always giving us open-mouthed grins.
  • his eyelashes have tripled in length and featheriness. Seriously I’m jealous.
  • prefers napping on his belly {when he’s not sleeping on your chest} but will go to bed on his back if he’s swaddled.
  • is an expert at smacking his pacifier out of his own mouth
  • always has a death grip on my shirt when he’s nursing

And here are some additionally adorable photos from this week’s photoshoot!

blowing raspberries back at daddy

om nom nom bowtie

My Mush: 1 Month

Welcome to the FIRST monthly onesie photo for HG.  I stuck with the same overall ‘onesie’ theme from K’s weekly photos but with a few changes. Instead of a fantastic headband/bow and a different background fabric every week, little man will be using the same grey chevron background in each photo but sporting a different dapper bowtie every month. I’m already loving the way this first photo turned out and can’t wait to snap lots of photos every month! And in case you were wondering, YES I will be making a quilt with squares that represent each botwie I already have squares set aside for the bowties I’ve already made. {In case you missed my instagram post of the quilt I made K, check it out here. I finally got it done and turned it into her BIG SISTER gift when we brought mush home.}

What do you think of the new layout? I’ll also be keeping things short and sweet each month because, let’s be honest, who has time?

On to me gushing about my son.
My little mush is 1 month old! Seriously, how can that be?
Oh yeah, notice the nickname? When I was pregnant with K I called her ‘little manatee’ and then ‘the bean’ once she arrived because of how she loved curling up like a little bean whenever I’d hold her. I wasn’t surprised in the least that HG inspired two nicknames as well, ‘pumpkin’ when I was pregnant {thanks to my pregnancy announcement} and now I love calling him ‘mush’ because… well, he’s just so mushy and wonderful!

Here are some 1 month stats:

  • nurses like a CHAMP – hence the adorably delicious arm rolls
  • sounds like a cat when he really gets crying
  • has hulk-like strength when it comes to holding his head up
  • loves bath time and the post-bath hair dryer time
  • wakes up 1-2 times a night
  • loves sleeping on mommy or daddy’s chest
  • smiles all the time
  • giggles, snores, and gurgles in his sleep – this kid is like his own little orchestra
  • loves getting kisses from his big sister
  • squeaks like a clown horn when he’s nursing
  • loves his sleep sheep

Until next time…

Some other favs from today’s photoshoot. {another staple for these monthy posts!}