Weekend Recap // Mother's Day, etc.

>> Monday, May 14, 2018

Hey, everyone!

Happy belated Mother's Day. 

It was a rainy and cold one here, but we packed in a lot of fun stuff this weekend. Stephen had three track meets last week. And Saturday was a long one in the rain. Poor guy. My parents actually came up on Saturday for the afternoon and took us out to eat at our favorite restaurant. It's my dad's birthday today, too, so there's lots to celebrate. I was bummed, though, because the only menu item they were out of was exactly what I planned to get (a quinoa burger). But I made up for it with a huge slice of vegan chocolate peanut butter pie.

Sunday morning we woke up, tossed on some clothes (nothing fancy -- it was laundry day), and drove down the street to our local diner. It's a good spot. Just basic food. We got there before the big rush, thank goodness. I got a chocolate Belgian waffle topped with whipped cream. And I think I ate it in two seconds flat. Ada had made me a little Mother's Day book at school as well as a last-minute hand-drawn card. Stephen also has a tradition of making silly cards using family photos. In mine, he gave me a coupon to take a spa day for myself next weekend.

He also got me tickets to go see A Quiet Place yesterday afternoon (so good). Going to the movies alone is my favorite thing to do since becoming a mom. It's dark, quiet (and THAT movie was INCREDIBLY quiet), and nobody is yelling for me or needing anything.


I also got a nice gift card from my in-laws for Ulta. So, I thought I'd share my Ulta haul. I know it's silly, but I've gotten in the habit of watching haul videos on YouTube. I love seeing what other people buy or use for different products. I'm not a real high-end type of person when it comes to personal care. In fact, I do still make some of my own bath and body stuff. As a result, I was able to get an impressive haul of things I'll be using for months to come.

Anyway, here's what I got:

Soap + Glory is my favorite. This shower gel and lotion set (with loofah) was on clearance for only $10. Score. They were also running a sale of buy 1/get one 40% off for the brand. So, I picked up another container of my favorite face cleansing milk (best smell ever) and my favorite lip gloss (in Rose & Shine).

I had originally planned to get my hair dyed professionally, but I'm going to go it on my own with this L'oreal box dye. I've used this kind a lot in the past with varying results. It's only hair. We'll see how my highlights turn out. I also picked up a hair oil spritz by OGX. It's super light weight and has organ oil. It also smells amazing.

Neutrogena's hyaluronic acid line (especially the foundation!) is doing great things for my skin. So, I picked up some of the Hydro Boost Skin Serum and the Hydro Boost Eye Gel-Cream. Other skin-care stuff I love is a face mist by Mario Badescu. And I couldn't resist getting a lip scrub that smells like my beloved mojitos. Gosh I miss those when the weather is hot.

Last but not least, I picked up some of my favorite NYX eyebrow pencils. I had been buying the Anastasia Brow Wiz for a long time. But I go through so much product, I needed to find a good + cheap alternative. I am really happy with NYX. And to round it out, I got a bath bomb for Ada that has a prize inside. Fun!

Happy Monday. I'll be back soon with more parenting stuff. You guys really liked my post about why I do the things the way I do with parenting. So, I'm hoping to write more around that topic. If you have questions or suggestions, send them my way!

(Note: I'm linking to Amazon because it's the easiest -- but check local stores for better prices. Some of these prices are great and some of them are not. Buyer beware!)


Aldi // Foods Picky Toddlers + Kids

>> Thursday, May 10, 2018

I get lots of questions about my favorite Aldi foods. So, today I thought I'd give you guys a quick post about what foods I get for Ada and Eloise. Ada's pretty good about trying new things and getting at least some variety. Eloise, on the other hand, is asserting her toddler independence and is a super picky eater, so it's a challenge finding things she will try and potentially love.

As I have mentioned in the past, we are raising our children vegetarian, so the foods I'll be mentioning are all vegetarian or vegan-friendly. Here's what's in our pantry right now. We have actually eaten through a good chunk of what I bought last week (we adults snack on a lot of these foods, too)!

In no particular order.

I provided links where they were easy find with a quick Google search. Otherwise, we just get whatever they have at the store. It's usually just one brand for a lot of the things I didn't link. Occasionally you'll come across store brands at good deals, like LaCroix, so we do take advantage of those.

Here's an example of an all-Aldi nibble tray I made for Eloise this week.

Some kid stuff we don't tend to buy at Aldi include things like peanut butter, bread, frozen fruit, granola bars, and gummies. It's not that we don't like the Aldi brand, we're just able to buy larger quantities for less money elsewhere (like Sam's or Wegman's store brand). I thought it would be good to include a list of things the girls DON'T like from Aldi, but honestly . . . they pretty much eat everything we've bought. So, now I'm wondering why I called Eloise picky!

Scratch that. We DO NOT like Aldi bananas. They are always green at the store and either don't ripen OR they get REALLY weirdly mushy. My girls love bananas, so we buy them at Wegman's (we also get our non-dairy milk, tofu, and a few other items, like large jars of peanut butter there).

Oh, and if you're curious about how we organize our kid plates, etc.

While writing this post, I also discovered that Aldi has a section on its website with snack recipes using their products! And I am also sure I'm missing a whole swath of things I usually buy. Be sure to share your favorites in the comments!

Also: I need to update my Vegetarian Staples at Aldi post! They have so many more options since the last time I wrote about it. Still no tofu, though. Boo!


First Trimester + Morning Sickness Survival

>> Thursday, May 3, 2018

I am by no means an expert on all things pregnancy, but I do feel like I have a good handle on the first trimester. And by that, I mean, I've suffered through pretty brutal morning sickness on four separate occasions. Of course I don't know how to CURE it, but I have developed some tactics that make weeks 5 through 13 at least a bit more bearable. I don't think these will work for everyone. But I figure if you haven't tried some of these things, they may be worth trying.

Accept that you may feel really sick. I would say the vast majority of my friends haven't had terrible morning sickness. And this makes vomiting several times a day feel very isolating. You feel like you won some sort of awful lottery. I found when I felt sorry for myself or dwelled on others' good fortune that I would feel much worse. Getting out and about and trying to power through actually helped. Some people get sick. Some people don't. Some people get only mild sickness. There's such a range of normal.

My morning sickness tricks:

  • Mix water with lemonade (I got the Newman's Own Organic kind). I couldn't stomach plain water this time around. And the lemonade helped my nausea.
  • Take gum everywhere you go. Or hard candy. Find SOMEthing that helps take the edge off when you hit  wave. There's nothing universal that works.
  • Consider carrying a plastic grocery bag in your purse or diaper bag for emergencies. Yes. I've puked in my car on several occasions.
  • Lay down as often as possible. I realize if you work FT this isn't easy. I used to take short naps in my office at work when I was pregnant with Ada. This time around, I laid on the couch -- puke bucket nearby -- while Eloise roamed around the living room. I gated everything off so it was safe and would rotate toys every few days. I'd play with her from my post and it's surprising how much you can interact this way! 
  • Eat what tastes good when you can. I see all these "HOW TO EAT THE BEST FOR PREGNANCY" advertisements on my Facebook lately. Dude, that stuff makes me feel HORRIBLE. I tried so hard to keep eating vegetables and other healthy things in the first trimester and all I ended up doing was throwing up. So, getting some food town trumps throwing up healthy food. Now that I'm in the second trimester, I've replaced all carbs with lots of healthy stuff. But seriously, don't put the pressure on yourself. Your baby is getting a lot from your nutritional stores and your multivitamin.
  • Consider skipping your vitamin for a while. Yeah. This sounds counterintuitive, but I did switch to gummy vitamins without iron with Ada and Eloise's pregnancies. This time around since I know have the MTHFR mutation, I skipped vitamins and continued taking only vitamin D and a special methyl-friendly folate supplement. I'd take the full vitamin regimen when I could stomach it. And now I'm fully back on it at 14 weeks.
  • Don't spend too much money on gimmicks. There are probiotics that claim to help. Sea Bands, which do NOTHING for me. Special morning sickness candies, teas, etc. None of this stuff has worked for me. I guess it's worth a try, but don't go broke.

Don't ignore symptoms or think everything you feel is pregnancy related. When I was pregnant with Eloise, I was peeing every five seconds in small amounts. I had a lot of pain and pelvic pressure. I figured it was just due to being pregnant. It went on for weeks and I finally decided to speak up. Come to find out, it's not normal to always feel miserable in the first trimester. And I ended up having group B strep UTIs my entire pregnancy. This time around, I have absolutely nothing like that going on. So, if you don't feel well or think something's amiss, chat with your doctor sooner rather than later.

B6 + Unisom under your doctor's guidance. I'll be completely honest that I don't feel this was the miracle cure for me. That said, the Unisom in particular really helped me get to sleep at night and take the edge off my exhaustion during the day. I found when I was less tired, I was also less nauseous. Your doctor can give you guidelines for how many milligrams to take and when. I have seen several approaches. I took a whole tab of Unisom at night with 25 milligrams of B6.

Let your child watch a little a lot of TV. I know there are differing views on this, but to survive, there were weeks when Eloise and Ada watched a lot of TV. If I felt well, I'd try to make the most of it. But in the scheme of life . . . I don't think several weeks of television is going to make or break my kids. Here's a list of Extra Gentle TV Shows for Toddlers/Preschoolers if you need suggestions. We watched Sesame Street on Hulu, and I think it's a great show.

Exercise when you can. I found that continuing with exercise really helped me feel like I was still human. It's been different in every pregnancy, though. With Ada, I had nothing else going on so I could run whenever I wanted and rest whenever I wanted. With Eloise, Ada was in preschool and working out in the mornings often felt the best -- so it was easy. This time around, it was ROUGH. Winter was super long and that meant that stroller running was out of the question. I still was able to keep up with about 12 miles of running each week and some 30 minute sessions of YouTube Barre or yoga sprinkled in. I usually get this hour-long high after working out and my nausea would temporarily subside, so I'd take full advantage and try to eat something good-ish.

Make a count-down calendar. Since this wasn't my first pregnancy, I sort of knew that my nausea tends to subside around 13-14 weeks. I still get bouts of it from time to time, but it's been strangely similar each time. So, I made a paper calendar where I would physically cross off the days as I got closer to the second trimester. It felt overwhelming in the first weeks, but after a while it really helped to see that it would be over soon.

Have your partner cook as much as possible, etc. For me, this wasn't really possible because of track season. Even talking about food for several weeks would get me dry-heaving. So, whenever Stephen was home for dinner -- he knew he was cooking it. Otherwise, I stocked up on lots of healthy heat-up options like organic, low-sodium soups, Mac + cheese (that I'd do with frozen veggies), whole grain toaster waffles, and other really quick meals that required like no prep and no interaction with the food. It sounds awful saying I didn't cook for my kids for that long, but I seriously just couldn't. We got into a good groove, though. Whole fruit does wonders in a pinch.

Ask for help. I flat out begged my parents to come hang out with me on long days when it was really bad. I mean, they wanted to visit anyway, so it was a win-win. But if you face really long days alone with kids when you have bad morning sickness, take offers from friends or family to watch your kids or just help out. It feels weird at first, but it can do wonders just having a little support.

Remember: You're doing the best you can. It's easy to go hard on yourself for not doing lots of Pinterest art projects, cooking expert meals, or being like an A+ mom in all regards. But you're pregnant and likely feeling quite awful. It will end -- hopefully soon. Again, this is a blip on the radar of your entire life. Most likely, your kids won't remember you having to check out temporarily. Do what you need to do to survive.

Also: Revel in the times when you thrive -- and try not to worry that means something is wrong with the baby. If you feel well, try to eat something or get some exercise. Enjoy those moments of relief. Take it from me, I was wickedly ill and still miscarried . . . so I do not believe that morning sickness strength is always the indicator of a healthy pregnancy. And the reverse, then, would also not mean that having no morning sickness means something is wrong.

Do you have any tips to share? 

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