Play & Go {Product Review}

Getting our kids to clean up there toys is always a tedious, argumentative task. Cayden’s new thing is “I can’t carry them all”- to which I typically have him use his shirt as a “pouch” and I fill it up. It’s cute- but it’s annoying.

I was thrilled when offered to review the Play & Go. It’s a play mat, storage system that when flat acts as the play mat, and when it’s done being utilized, a draw string cinches the sack together and cleans everything up.

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Cayden loves cars. He loves racing them around, driving them, making roads and lining them all up. What he doesn’t like is cleaning them up.

img_9494The Play & Go mat didn’t change that, but helped it not be such an argument. We received the Play & Go Roadmap print and Cayden loved it. He immediately went and got his cars while I flattened the mat out in the living room.

Now, this thing is huge! 55″ in diameter to be exact and the material is high quality, thick, polycotton canvas so durability isn’t even a concern.

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The size is great as a play mat, but isn’t small hand friendly. Cayden, who is 4.5, couldn’t cinch it together by himself. I had no problem helping him, but would love to see something easier for smaller hands.

Overall what I don’t like, is the draw string system. There are two places to pull the drawstring and with a 4.5 foot diameter, it leaves a weird taco shaped ordeal, not the “sack” I was hoping for. I think if it had 4 places to pull to cinch it closed, it would be better and close more efficiently. temporary

Price wise, you’re looking around $40 for the regular sized and they do offer a Mini which is only $20. It is the same concept, same material, but only 15″ in diameter. It works great in the car for travel toys, a quick snack holder for park trips, or every a makeup bag. Play & Go has a color and design for everyone. Their Classic Collection offers 8 solid colors, the Print Collection offers 14 fun (yet subtle) prints, and their Designer Collection offers 5 choices including a “Color Your Own”. The Mini Play & Go is only available in 2 prints- either Cherrys or Thunderbolts.

You can find this versatile product on Amazon, in select speciality stores or you can send an email to info@hotalinginc.com where they can take you order and ship it direct.

Love the concept and the size. Not a fan of the seemingly ineffective draw string and think it would be more effective with 4 handles instead of 2.

4 out of 5 stars.

Kirstyn

**Burritobuzz received this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are that of my own and no compensation was provided or offered in exchange for a positive review**

 

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Minivan Mama

I officially gained my “soccer mom” status this summer when we traded in my little blue SUV for a MINIVAN. And let me tell you, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made!! It’s true love. I knew I 17194_600always wanted a minivan someday, because I grew up with my parents always having one, and it always just seemed like the most practical with kiddos. What I didn’t know is how much I would not miss my old car and absolutely love this van!

My husband I had been talking about them for a while and finally buckled down and started researching them after we had our second child. We were tired of not having a lot of room in the car especially if we needed to take any extra people anywhere. Two car seats take up a lot of space. We looked at several minivans on the market, but narrowed it down to the Toyota and Honda. We did have a rental Chrysler that we were happy with as well. After test driving, we were actually surprised at how easy the decision was with the Honda Odyssey. The vans were priced roughly the same, but the Honda just felt like it was made better. We didn’t dislike the Toyota (my hubby drives a Toyota Tundra), but the Honda was just better.

 

 

We waited several weeks for the specific model and color to come in that we wanted, but once it arrived, it was love at first sight. I was so anxious and excited that Saturday morning we were able to go and pick it up with the kids. Our 3 year old was excited for the “new van!” too. It was bittersweet leaving our old SUV, but there are new reasons every day why I am so thankful to be a minivan mama now . . .

Here’s a few of them . . .

1.       The automatic sliding side doors… need I say more?! I don’t have to worry about my kids or I banging any cars parked next to us with our doors. You know how loading and unloading our kiddos goes, these door make it a dream come true!! Because of the sliding doors, the opening is so much bigger than an average car door – WONDERFUL! The doors also open and close by the simple push of a button from either the key fob, by the driver’s seat, or on the inside of the sliding doors themselves.

 

2.       Not only is there more room in the doorways, there’s more room EVERYWHERE in this car. I can honestly say I’ve been a passenger in every seat and never once did I feel like I had no space to move. And if you need more room . . . You can MAKE more room . . .

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3.       . . . You can make that extra space because of the movable seats. I know this is typical with most minivans and vehicles with a third row of seats, but the way the Honda was set up was another big selling point for me. Our Odyssey has the option to have an eighth seat. All of the seats are removable (except the front), but with the Odyssey you can have an eighth seat in the middle of the second row. You can easily remove that middle seat of the second row to have 2 captains chairs and an aisle way to the back row, or you can leave it in place to complete the row and have an extra seat. The seat also folds down as an arm rest if it’s left in place. The third row of seats EASILY folds down into the trunk of the van. When we drove to the beach this summer, we opted to fold the third row down so we had TONS of room for luggage and could still see out the back window.

 

4.       Handles on the high way – We drove the minivan on the West Virginia turnpike on our way to Myrtle Beach this past summer, and it handled so much better than my husband’s truck the year before. We could set the cruise control and not have to waver and hit the brake on those winding highway turns.

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5.       Good on gas – I know the gas tank in the minivan is bigger than my tank was in my SUV, but I swear still that the van gets better gas mileage. According to Honda, the Odyssey gets 19 mpg on city streets and 27 mpg highway. Either way, its way better on gas than a huge SUV would be!

 

6.        Does NOT ride like a bus – I traded in a small SUV for my minivan. I had driven it for 5 years. I will say that I was the most anxious that the minivan was going to feel like I was driving a bus after driving my little SUV. I was so wrong. The van does not feel any bigger to me. I would say it sits up off the road the same height as my old car. Even though the van is significantly longer, I really haven’t noticed other than making sure I pull in the garage far enough. The back-up camera has made this easier as well!

 

7.       Bang for the Buck – I’m telling you, you cannot beat a minivan. Even if you have a small family like we do, it is worth considering. For some reason, they get a bad rap, but I can’t think of one negative thing to say about mine. Maybe I don’t look the “coolest” driving the minivan around, but that is the last thing I’m worried about. Most companies offer all the bells and whistles you can find in luxury cars and SUVs, so don’t think those options aren’t available in a van. It’s convenient, affordable, and I know my kids are safe – that’s what matters to me.

If you’re thinking about getting a new vehicle for your new family, growing family, or just want more seats/space, take a look at a minivan. Check out all the options. Take them for a test drive. I think you’ll love it! And if you take the plunge like we did and buy one, you won’t regret it!

-Megan

 

Lime and Lotus Organics: Daily Face Cream {REVIEW}

I’ve never been one to use a lot of products on my skin, let alone my face, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t  think it’s important to take care of it (especially when you’re young) so it looks good when you age! With that said, I was intrigued when I read about Lime and Lotus Organics and their signature Daily Face Cream. So many products nowadays are filled with harmful chemicals and added junk, it’s a wonder they are even allowed to be sold. It’s scary to think about some of the things we put in our bodies, and even though it’s “just our skin,” it is equally as important what we are putting on it because our bodies absorb it!

 

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Lime and Lotus Organics prize themselves on their high standards and pure products using only natural ingredients. A holistic doctor created Lime and Lotus. Her hope was to design products for both her patients and family that were not filled with harmful chemicals. She did it. The products made are free from synthetic chemicals, paraben preservatives, petrochemicals, phthalates, and artificial colors and fragrances of any kind.

 

I was able to sample the Daily Face Cream from Lime and Lotus Organics which uses “Shea Butter, Evening Primrose Oil, and Virgin Coconut Oil to hydrate and soothe your skin while ingredients like Organic Jojoba Oil, Vitamin E Oil, and 3444Bulgarian Damask Rose Wax help to reduce wrinkles, age spots, and lines.”  I have not used the product long enough to note any real improvements in my complexion, but I have been mostly happy with the product so far! The scent is light and refreshing with the primrose coming through which I enjoyed. Only a very small amount was needed with each use, and it was very hydrating. I’m talking hydrating to the point where my skin remained looking and feeling oily even with the small amount and rubbing it in thoroughly. I only ended up applying the cream once a day (instead of the recommended two times a day) due to the oily/over-hydrating aspect. I will say though that when I applied the cream after showering at night before bed, I noted my skin feeling silky smooth and looking fresh when I woke up the next morning. The oily glow and texture were gone.

 

Application of the product is super simple – Warm up a small amount of cream between your fingertips and then gently apply

 

 

 

 Lime and Lotus Organics packages their Daily Face Cream in small glass jars, which means they are BPA free! They also offer and 60-day money back guarantee if you are not satisfied with their product. Please visit their website to read more about their products, mission, and to purchase your very own Daily Face Cream. It is also available on Amazon – Daily Face Cream.

 

You can also follow Lime and Lotus Organics on Facebook, Instagram, YouTubePinterest, and Twitter!

 

-Megan

 

**Burrito Buzz received this product at low or no cost for the purpose of review or testing. No compensation for a positive review was provided. All product reviews are based 100% off of our personal experiences and we never guarantee a positive review.**

 

When you stop bending your life…

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I just saw Bad Moms this week, and I relate on so many levels it’s almost scary…

All of the BurritoBuzz moms know how busy I am. I know that everyone is busy, and that “busy” is just a state of being when you’re in your mid to late twenties. Life doesn’t stop. And if you let it stop, you’re either 1. Dead. 2. Homeless or 3. Eating Doritos on your couch binge watching Stranger Things (no judgement). If you read this blog, you know that I take busy to a whole new level. I work, own a business, write for BB, hike, am a gym rat when time allows and raise the most beautiful, amazing 18 month old (in addition to somehow keeping a clean home). And sometimes, when things come up, I inconvenience my entire daily routine to appease others. I like doing things. If you’ve heard people being termed “do-ers,” that’s me. I can’t sit still. And while I like doing things, because it makes me feel fulfilled, sometimes doing things means bringing unneeded chaos into my life, out of the fear of offending someone by not doing said things.

But here’s the thing: outside of the things I have to do, I shouldn’t be bending my life unless I want to. Things that used to take precedence in my life have been moved to the back burner.

Need a card for a birthday party but it’s nap time? Too bad, we’re going to color a card instead of going to the store. (Aren’t handmade cards better anyway?)

Impromptu friend get together at my toddler’s bedtime? #WholeLottaNope Changing that tiny human’s sleep schedule makes everyone miserable. Want me to go out past 10pm? Also, a big fat no. With a toddler that gets up at 5am-6am, this mama requires sleep.

Want to have a huge family gathering, but it’s hot as shit and there’s nothing he’s going to want to do outside of ripping your breakables from your shelves? Hard pass.

My once feelings of guilt for not always saying “yes” have subsided. Because let’s face it, the sanity of my family is infinitely more important. And while I firmly believe that life shouldn’t stop when you have a baby and that you should integrate them into your typical life happenings, some things are just more hassle than what they’re worth. When life is a constantly revolving door of work, unpaid Uber driving for my toddler and trying to make sure that I at least have enough food in the fridge to feed him, the last thing I should be worrying about is the impression I’m leaving on others when I do or do not participate in events.Moms-funny21.jpg

So, my guilt? Gone.Thankfully, most of my friends and family remember the days of having small children and understand fully that we do what we can, when we can. We try to see everyone and participate in life, but they understand that life happens and that tiny humans are unpredictable. But to the occasional person that forgets these things, or just doesn’t realize how truly exhausting and long the days are, please forgive us. Our lives are ruled by tiny dictators and sometimes a nap for a grumpy toddler trumps the party that we missed.

– Katie

Playground Etiquette 101

2009-04-21_Hampton_Forest_Apartment_Homes_playgroundTrust me, it’s a real thing and no one seems to know about it. It’s like a list of silent rules to abide by in order to not make other moms and dads despise you (and your child) on the playground. With warm weather becoming more steady, and playgrounds being a great way to socialize and wear out your stir-crazy toddler, I figured it couldn’t hurt to share the (unspoken) playground rules.

  1. It’s a jungle gym, not a babysitter. I know “gym” sounds like “Jim” and it can be confusing for some, but I assure you “gym” won’t take very good care of your child. Under no circumstance is it okay to leave your child, no matter the age, at the playground. Please do not try to give me your phone number and ask me to text or call you if there is an emergency. I don’t know you. You don’t know me. See Rule #4.
  2. Don’t let your kid be a punk. I know, I know, name calling isn’t nice and I would never tell your kid he’s a punk to his face, but I would have no problem letting you know. If your kid pushes, hits, kicks, spits on or throws a handful of mulch at my kid, the playground drama will be redirected between you and I. I mean seriously, its a park. It’s full of fun things, let’s keep it fun.
  3. Stay off your phone. This is my biggest pet peeve and I’m sure everyone else would agree. Pay attention to your child, and not whatever time consuming electronic you brought with you to the park. This kind of goes hand in hand with Rule #1 and #4. Multiple times I have seen parents show up to the park, release their children and find a shady bench under a tree and sit down and scroll through what I’m assuming is Facebook. It only takes a second for your kid to put themselves in a potentially dangerous situation and I’m sure your Facebook feed isn’t nearly as important as the safety of your child. I can’t make this up… 2015 Mom of the Year shows up to the park with her 3 kids. Kids run to the play area, mom sits on a picnic table in the shade 100+ yards away and digs out her phone and throws on some headphones. I’m paying attention to my child and chit chatting with the other parents whose child is playing nicely with mine. Fast forward 10 minutes… Mom of the Year hastily runs over in a panic to me and another mom, and asks if we have seen her son and how she doesn’t know “how this happened” and that she was “checking her email and listening to Spotify”.  Turns out this kid is severely non-verbal autistic and he wandered over 400 yards from the play ground and was on the walking path through the wooded area by himself. SEVERELY NON-VERBAL AUTISTIC CHILD. FOUR HUNDRED YARDS AWAY… on a WALKING PATH THROUGH THE WOODS all because his mother wanted to sit in the shade and rock out to the Biebs. What irks me even more is when I hear a kid yell “Mom look at this!” and the poor kid gets an “uh huh” while their mom scrolls through her phone not even glancing up. Come on lady, your kid is begging for your attention. Who cares if you’ve seen them go down the slide backward 99 times before, they obviously think the 100th time is just as cool and important as the first 99. The little moments go by in the blink of an eye, and the next thing you know the “Mom look at this” comment is when they’re handing you their college acceptance letter.
  4. Your child is not my responsibility. Attach this to Rules #1 and #3. If little Tommy wants to climb to the very top of the highest piece of playground equipment, I will most likely belt out a friendly “oh no don’t fall” and then proceed to tell my child that if he ever thinks that’s a good idea, to unthink it. If your child falls face first in a pile of mulch and you’re not paying attention, please DO NOT get an attitude with me because YOUR child fell while YOU weren’t paying attention. My child is my responsibility and your child is yours. It’s that simple. Maybe I should make it a habit to get non attentive mother’s cell phone numbers so when their child is in a situation where they will  have splinters of mulch in their face, I can just shoot them a text to advise her.
  5. Unless your child is “5 or under”, they shouldn’t be in the “5 and under” area. This is pretty self-explanatory. If the sign says “5 and under” then keep it that way. Us toddler parents use it as a safe haven from the oblivious-to-others older kids who run around playing God knows what and trampling our toddlers. Yes, I will tell your child nicely to watch out for the little ones and that “this area is for smaller kids”. Why would I correct someone else’s child? Because clearly their parents haven’t told them.

It’s really not that hard. It’s very basic concepts but the lack of common sense when on the playground makes it miserable for everyone involved. My kid cries because your kid is being mean, your kid cries because you’re not paying attention, you’re crying because your child wandered away. It’s a playground, let’s keep it fun.

-Kirstyn

…Not the mainstream mom.

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Oh the things I thought I would be as a mother BEFORE having my child… I was living in some crazy dream world.

I thought for sure I’d be the Pinterest moms in the photos. You know the ones: cute matching t-shirts, making all meals organic and from scratch, doing a different educational activity every day while also balancing a career.

Let me tell ya’ folks, I’m not that mom.

As I sit here in yoga pants and a shirt I wore in high school, with a pile of laundry next to me that has no less than 5 other pairs of yoga pants (ya know, enough to get me through an entire week,) I wonder if these supermoms really exist, or if it’s a big facade. (If you’re actually that supermom, just don’t tell me so that I can continue to think this is normal.)

We’re pretty active parents. We both work during the week, (I’m working part-time, and my husband full-time,) and run a business on the weekends. We grocery shop on a whim, clean the house infrequently and on turbo-speed during our son’s short naps, and our lawn looks like it’s battling some disease (it probably is.)

All those things I pinned on Pinterest while I was pregnant, planning to do when my son was finally here? I don’t think I’ve looked at a single one of them.

If I get through a day and have even 10 minutes to myself I feel pretty stinking accomplished.

 

Moderation. We hear it’s key all the time, but it’s so true. When I became a mother I completely lost myself in trying to keep up and have a picture-perfect life. It’s like I saw bits and pieces of how others parented, picked out all of the good, and tried to be that parent. I had zero time for myself.

And while I’ve learned to balance and make time for my own needs, I’m still often feeling inadequate thanks to the world we live in now where comparison is always glaring in your face (thanks, social media, you cruel bitch.)

My son is smart. Loving. Ornery. He’s exactly what a toddler should be, even if he isn’t doing Pinterest crafts every day and using baby sign-language or whatever the latest craze is.

So here’s the reality: my son is SO well-balanced, and so am I. Sometimes that means that he’s walking out the door with cheerios in his hair, or that the TV was on an episode longer that it should have been during the day, or that I haven’t had time to clothes shop for myself in an eon, and I live on coffee and dry shampoo.

Here I am world, imperfect. Imperfect, but somehow whole. I’m not leading a lesser life because I don’t add up to what other mothers add up to (whether they’re faking it or not. I’m speaking to you Hilaria Baldwin.)

-Katie

Finding Mary Poppins

fecsw3ihprcwbtbqpeln.jpgAt some point in our crazy journey of parenthood we’ve all needed a babysitter… Which means we’ve all realized just how virtually impossible it is to find someone who is the perfect fit, and who won’t break the bank.

After over a year as a SAHM, this momma has rejoined the workforce…which also means, I’ve rejoined the someone-else-has-to-watch-my-kiddo-force too.

So, how exactly do you pick the perfect sitter? Note: I have not personally used every resource listed in this post, so please do your own homework and research.

Try sites such as care.com or sittercity.com.  They require tons of information from people soliciting their sitter services, and most have background checks available to.

You can even turn to Facebook to the local buy, sell, trade pages as they often contain a vast amount of information. Do your research. Ask for references. Meet with the sitter prior to dropping your child off, and go with your gut.

Your best place to start would be writing down just exactly what you want in a sitter so you can narrow your search down.

  • CPR/SIDS/First Aid Certified

If you’re going to have someone with your child during the day, unless you’re going to wrap your kid in a bubble, it’s good to find someone who has been trained for the worst. Things happen. Even under the best care and watchful eye, things happen. If someone is prepared to deal with said “things” then it makes it all the better.

  • Cost

I have found that home childcare ranges from $50-$200/week. I always shoot for somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. It needs to be worth while for you to work. If you’re working just enough to pay for childcare, then what is the point of working? But also remember, you get what you pay for, typically.

  • Availability

Will the sitter be available when you  need them to be? Do they offer drop in care or last minute care? Nights? Weekends?

  • Meal Plans

Maybe it’s just me but this is a big one. If someone is going to feed my kid junk food all day and sugary juice, I won’t even entertain it. I’m not asking for free range chicken and bacon wrapped filets, but at least hit some different food groups other than “highly processed” and “full of sugar”

  • Experience with food allergies

If the potential sitter has no clue what gluten is, and your child has a gluten allergy, this is probably not a good match. I prefer someone who knows the warning signs of a real, true allergy attack and knows when action is needed.

  • Punishment tactics

This is a touchy subject. I am not so picky on who punishes my child…but better yet how they punish him. I had a potential sitter tell me that she has spanked children before. She has SPANKED a child that did NOT belong to her. I was baffled. I mean, I can deal with an age appropriate time out,  removal from the situation,  or even a stern “no”,  but lord help the person who lays their hand on my child.

  • Activity plan

Coloring? ABCs? Macaroni pictures? Something other than a TV on a constant repeat of a DVRd Peppa Pig? Ask. Seriously.

  • Duties

Are you expecting the potential sitter to come to your home and clean? Take the child to appointments, or play dates? Are you wanting them to help with bottle weaning, or potty training? This all needs to be conveyed and explained.

It’s hard enough to find child care. It’s even harder to find someone you trust.

Do your research. Don’t be scared to ask for references and follow your gut.

Your Mary Poppins is out there.

-Kirstyn

I am a Millennial Mom Sick of the Commentary

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Millennial is defined by Wikipedia:Millennials (also known as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y) are the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates when the generation starts and ends; most researchers and commentators use birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s.”

As a millennial, born in 1988, the commentary on millennials is familiar. More so, the negative commentary. Millennials are categorized as lazy, entitled, spoiled, whiny, coddled, fiscally irresponsible, unskilled,  socially inept, narcissistic… the list goes on indefinitely.

I find myself in a generation where we are between a rock and a hard place. Growing up many of us were pushed into higher education, only to come out and be shoved into the conveyor belt of a workforce during an economic recession. I find that millennials have high expectations of life, a generally optimistic outlook, and are willing to work for what we want… even if that means long work hours and minimal pay, benefits, and no option of a pension plan, not to mention the inequities created by former generations between genders and races.

I finished my bachelor’s degree in (the not-so-standard) four years– because let’s face it, when you’re required to take courses like “The History of Rock” and “Earth Science” you’re typically stuck taking a good 5 years to get through a bachelor’s degree. I left school with a sizable amount of debt, but I was more practical about my student loans than many (I went to a state school, had grants, scholarships, and didn’t live in campus housing… certainly saving me thousands.) I quickly got a decent job. I had a small savings account, paid my bills, went to work, paid my debts, practiced my frugality…ate a lot of Spaghetti-O’s.

I got married, to someone I dated for 5 years. After being married 3 years, we had a baby (which we planned for, both in the sense of family planning and financially.) Being a millennial mom is not for the weak.

Millennial moms are an entirely new breed of women. Many of us don’t have the option to stay home to care for children, because financially some of us are monetary equals or more. We juggle caring for a house, children, our spouses, personal finances, all while maintaining an external career from the home (I say external career from the home, because I firmly believe that being a stay at home mother is also a career, and a demanding one.) Even then, women that stay home are often multi-tasking, couponing machines just to be able to afford the basics. And, unless you’re upper-middle class or better, it’s unlikely you can afford full-time child care at a decent organization.

But having a job outside of the home comes with some serious implications. I get my child ready, get myself ready, somehow manage to look professional enough, and put myself into business mode. Do you know how difficult it is to go from focusing on giving your child puffs and their sippy cup, or changing the diaper of a flailing infant, to managing the finances of a company? These things are night and day, and almost require me to be two totally different people.

I’m tired of hearing how lazy millennials are. If there’s a lazy bone in my body, it only exists when my child finally falls asleep for that brief hour I have before I head to bed. Even then, that hour is usually spent cleaning up from the chaos of the day, managing my side businesses (2,) paying bills… and occasionally spent watching Mad Men on Netflix.

I may not speak for everyone, but I know I speak for the majority. I am not entitled, and I have worked for everything I have. If anything, we have a new generation of men and women that are striving to be equally employed, responsible for children and finances, and work collectively to get things done. As women we fight the glass ceiling and stigmas pushed upon us to create something better for our own children, but at the same time… we are still expected to take care of our homes and families. Don’t get me wrong– I think MANY men are stepping up to the plate to help with these tasks, but certainly not all and not always to the extent they should. Being a woman now means doing everything that men do, plus more. I’m not here on my soapbox to complain about how hard I work, but I am here to say CUT IT OUT with the “lazy millennial” crap.

*Steps down from soapbox.*

-Katie

 

Parenting Advice: Guilty?

8cbae746b97a743e4ea5dd0d19b52680I’m a first-time parent, and if I wasn’t already sure of that before, having received parenting advice from virtually every individual I know with a child, I am definitely sure of it now.

The first few months after having a baby, especially your first baby, are overwhelming. My husband and I were together nearly 10 years before welcoming our son into the world. Though a very wanted, and awaited change to our lives, we found ourselves treading water. My thoughts were a jumbled mess, which were due to a nice combination of fatigue, hormones, and flat out doubt of my parenting-abilities.

I spent many nights reading, Googling endlessly for ways to do things. Was I swaddling correctly? Should my baby be drinking this much? Drinking this little? Why is he crying so much? Should he be making these wheezing noises? When does cradle cap end? If I could have a running list of things I typed into Google, it would certainly span the lengths of encyclopedias. And more likely than not, I’d laugh at some of those questions now as a more experienced, more comfortable new parent.

So let me tell all of you new parents: It gets easier. It’s hard to believe now, and I definitely rolled my eyes at a few forum posts similar to this one when I was in those first few “survival months”… which we will refer to as the “dark ages.”

So, being a new parent I wasn’t prepared for all of the VERY assertive new-parent-advice that I would receive. Let me explain. There is a difference between saying “oh, this is how I did it as a parent. Maybe try this way!” and saying “no, you’re doing this wrong. You need to do________.” Or, even better, when an individual tells you how they did it, and then gossips behind your back about how wrong you’re doing everything.

So recently I conducted a survey with numerous questions, ranging from birth, to feeding, to weaning, to sleeping, etc. Responses by those that participated were so varied. Some parents used a birth plan, some didn’t. Some had medicated births, some didn’t. (You get the point.) There was NO PATTERN. What worked for each parent was extremely different than what worked for the rest.

My last question on the survey was “Do you often get unwanted parenting advice?” I allowed the answers of “Yes” “No” and “No, it’s always welcomed.” I got a few that responded with the latter two, but the overwhelming majority replied with “Yes.” 

My point? I have several.

  1. We’re all in this boat together. Sometimes this boat is a sinking ship. Sometimes we have to emit an SOS. Sometimes, we repair the leaks in our boat and keep on cruising. Don’t be critical of other moms just because your way isn’t their way.
  2. If you give advice: 1. Be kind. 2. Be understanding. 3. Don’t assume your way is best for all. 4. If someone is dropping hints that they don’t want advice, then stop.
  3. If you want advice: make sure you’re talking to individuals that won’t condemn you for your choices. Look for mothers that have had children recently. The hardest part of receiving advice from our own mothers and grandmothers is that it’s sometimes very outdated advice. (Some of it is great advice, don’t get me wrong– but some advice isn’t safe or medically advised.)
  4. If you’re a mom looking for solutions: there are other moms out there looking for the same solutions. Utilize forums and get a range of advice, it will help you to pick out the bad advice from the good. I’ve found Facebook groups to be particularly useful.
  5. If you’re a stranger, and you see a new parent out: generally, advice is not wanted. Instead offer encouragement. Being out in public with small children is already stressful enough, so try to be kind and understanding.

You’re doing great, parents. Google will be your best friend for a short time, but in a few months you’ll have this parenting thing mastered (it only took me 10 months, and I’m still learning every day.)

-Katie

 

Bio Oil {Review for the Mommas!}

I got through 38 weeks of pregnancy without a single stretch mark. Oh man was I proud of it. Like hey, look… no stretch marks! My skin is so awesome and hydrated. I thought my skin just had supernatural powers. Until, one morning I woke up with an entire little colony of stretch marks. Just BAM. Went to bed without them, and overnight those little jerks just colonized my lower stomach and sides. 

I had a meltdown.

Full on, tantrum style.

Then I remembered: I’M MAKING A PERSON! I decided to give myself 24 hours to mope about it, and then I was going to shut up and deal with it. There were bigger things happening in the universe.

So that’s what I did. I pouted for a full 24 hours, and then stopped. After the birth of my tiny human I couldn’t possibly care less about my stretch marks (because let’s be honest here ladies, there are vastly worse things happening post-partum…)

I decided I would do some research and at least try to reclaim the territory that was once my flat-stomach. After entirely too many hours of Google searching and reading through forums, I ordered Bio Oil. I ordered the 2 ounce bottle for right around $9. 2 ounces doesn’t sound like much, but I applied it pretty graciously for 3 months before it ran out.

bio-oil-2oz

Bio oil is dense. The smell isn’t very fragrant, but that isn’t really the purpose. It sticks to your skin, and that’s the important point. Buying an oil to eradicate stretch marks is only helpful if the oil stays on your skin.

I applied twice a day. The first few weeks I didn’t notice a huge change, but over the course of a few months the changes to my skin were almost unbelievable. I felt like some kind of unrealistic TV commercial where they show off results that have actually been photoshopped and aren’t true to life.

My stretch marks largely disappeared. The ones on my sides vanished more than the ones on my stomach. You can tell that they’re still there if you look closely, but really… this stuff impressed me more than I ever expected. (As a side note, I had tried most other oils and lotions that you can easily purchase in the store, and none of them did much of anything for me.)

In reality, I know that my stretch marks will always be there to some extent. While they may not be nearly as visible as they once were, I wear them as a badge of honor. I’m so blessed to have been able to carry a child. It’s not something I take for granted. This exterior was the home for my child for 9 months. It nurtured him and kept him warm. For that reason alone, I can’t hate my body.

-Katie

I FEEL ALIVE

37285-Take-Care-Of-YourselfI feel alive! Says no new mom ever after having a baby.

I was so used to a standard of living, that revolved around ME. Coffee was optional, eyeliner mandatory, and anything short of a 15 minute shower was a sin especially if it didn’t include some great smelling exfoliate and my Clarisonic.)

Once that tiny human entered into the world? Game. Over. I seriously looked like I’d lived on the streets of Chicago for the past 5 years. No sleep. No time. Endless worrying. And the visitors. Ohhhhh the visitors.

I found myself scrambling to get my house clean and look presentable before people came over (and honestly, this hasn’t changed. Sure, my 9 month old is more independent now, but not so much that I really have “me” time. Showers are still 5 minutes long, and getting ready includes some quick makeup and taking a curling iron to my usually still-wet hair (don’t yell at me hair stylist friends! I know, this is bad.)

So, I figured I’d compile a list of items that made me feel ready for the day as a new mom.

  1. Dry Shampoo: I’m the type of person that showers daily. I just have naturally oily skin and need to shower to feel clean all the time. But, I swear by dry shampoo (again, as a person with oily skin.) My favorite? Dove.
  2. 300Yoga Pants: Not just any yoga pants, the good kind that sucks in the post-baby pouch.
  3. Facial Wipes: I paired Burt’s Bee’s with some Garnier moisture rescue. k2-_c5c724b7-2a9d-4f21-b5d1-8993f714444f.v2
  4. Coffee. Coffee coffee coffee. Just have it. A lot of it. Always. 
  5. A few cute, comfortable shirts that are larger than what you’d normally wear. I paired a ton of baggy shirts with yoga pants until I felt comfortable in my jeans again. And if you’ve had a c-section, you’ll really be thanking yourself for buying some comfy clothing.
  6. 14414958Elf Eyeliner, and Estee Lauder lipstick. Not everyone loves makeup, but I do. I worked for Dior for a while, and my family is basically composed of various makeup-artist types. So, I needed a few things that would last through the day. Elf cream eyeliner, and an Estee Lauder lipstick always survived the chaos.
  7. As always, take care of yourself. Vitamins, healthy eating, small workouts, and napping if you get the chance. All of this is easier said than done, but it makes a difference. (And to anyone dealing with some post-partum baby blues or depression, exercise and keeping yourself healthy will only aid you in getting back to your normal mentality.)

-Katie

I’m watching Kelly & Michael (and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.)

kelly-ripa-michael-strahanI’m sitting here on my day off. Baby coaxed to sleep by a vibrating, humming elephant that is actually kind of creepy. Coffee in hand. Pajamas still on. And Kelly & Micheal on my TV, which is usually playing cartoons. There are so many things I could be doing…

…editing photos from the many photo shoots we’ve had this fall season (my husband and I are photographers on the side.)

…sweeping my house.

…laundry (always the laundry.)

…putting on makeup?

It’s one of those mornings where it’s just not happening. You can’t guilt me.

My tiny human has been sleeping like he’s a newborn again, up every few hours or more. Teething like crazy, whining and flailing around trying to grow some tiny bones from his face. I’m not discrediting that it hurts to grow teeth, but as parents our exhaustion level is intense.

I didn’t even want to write this blog. Hashtag honesty?

I want to sit mindlessly and watch Kelly & Michael. I’ve always been jealous of people that can just watch Kelly & Michael (or Kathy Lee and Regis, Regis and Kelly, Kelly/Michael with random hosts.) I’ve always worked full-time, so by the time the show is on I’m laboring over a keyboard staring at a bright computer screen. After having a baby and going part-time, my days became filled with cartoons.

I’m a total busybody (and everybody knows it.) My brain is almost incapable of letting me just do nothing, even for a few minutes.

Sometimes I need the reminder of how much I’m actually doing. Raising a baby in itself is hard work, and all the other work on top of it? Sometimes I’m not sure how I do it. I need to cut myself a break and not feel guilty.

So today I’m going to sit, even if it’s just for 10 minutes to watch Michael and Kelly. It’s happening. You should make it happen, too. 

-Katie

If you see me out…

Congratulations. You’ve had a baby. The hospital has sent you home VERY quickly with your new, needy, adorable infant. You’re lucky if you’ve had a shower by this point, and your hair is probably already up in the “mom bun” that will become its new home for the next 6 months or more (you know what I’m talking about, ladies.) You take your car ride home, and once you get there… you think “what now?!”

article-2221909-1589FD09000005DC-659_634x728Parents are exhausted for a long time after having a baby. When I say a long time… I mean, I don’t even know when the end is in sight yet (my LO is just now 8 months, and I’m still pulling some pretty intense all-nighters.) Do I ever get to sleep in again? Will I ever have time to do cat-eye liner again? Take a shower longer than 5 minutes? Read a book for a WHOLE entire chapter?

So let me just tell you– those 8 weeks of maternity leave I looked liked I’d just survived a few weeks of zombie apocalypse. Yoga pants. Dry shampoo. No makeup. And yeah, I totally forgot to brush my teeth and eat a meal more than once. Infants require 24/7 attention, and if I looked crazy, it’s because my postpartum hormones and lack of sleep had totally taken over. Don’t get me wrong, I put everything I had into nurturing my tiny, amazing human, but WOW did I look rough.

So my first trip leaving the house: I went to Target (the mecca of all for meccas for moms.) While standing in the card aisle I witnessed another new mom with her toddler and also new-ish baby waltz by. But let me tell you– she was not me. This woman looked like a celebrity. Skinny. Hair done. Makeup done. Babies calm. I had a total meltdown, right there in the card aisle of Target. I justified her glamour by saying she must be their aunt, or have a night nanny, or have her mother living with her. Or maybe it was a total mirage and I was hallucinating from the lack of sleep.

Who knows.

Now I wonder sometimes if I’m that mom, because when I go out these days I feel like I really have it together. I can shower, do makeup, curl my hair, make some coffee easily in 20 minutes. I take my LO out of his drool-covered onesie and throw some cute clothes on him. He’s almost always content on trips, and spends most of his time flirting with the ladies. I’ve built up some serious arm muscle and can handle carrying both my LO, and an infinite amount of groceries (seriously, I’d rather dislocate both of my arms than take more than one trip out to the car to unload.)

So, I feel like I’ve got it together.

The point? I want new moms to know that the zombie-apocalypse phase doesn’t necessarily go away, but you get good at it. I’m talking Michonne from the Walking Dead good. Those first few weeks home with a newborn you are in total survival mode: feed the baby, change the baby, Google all the things you don’t know how to do with the baby, cry in the bathroom, maybe remember deodorant. But soon after, those parenting-instincts kick in and you acclimate to the situation. You develop routines, learn how to best take advantage of naps and play times, memorize the peak Target rush hours so you can avoid crowds, and continue to take pointers from other moms who have recently survived the battlefield. So if you see me out, I wasn’t always able to feel “put together” for the day. And if you need more time in your yoga pants, I won’t judge you.comparison-is-the-thief-of-

Here are some of the tips that helped me:

  1. Start establishing a routine as soon as possible. It may take weeks to work, but eventually it will.
  2. Take care of yourself. Sometimes this means taking help from others. Get a shower, and make a cup of tea for yourself. You can’t be healthy to take care of your baby if you aren’t taking care of your mental and physical needs for yourself.
  3. If you have a partner helping you with the baby, be straight-forward. Letting him/her know your needs will help both of you to avoid frustration when those 2AM crying wake-up calls come.
  4. Don’t stay up late. I know we all just want some time to ourselves after our LO falls asleep, but if your LO is a poor sleeper, try to go to bed around the time that they do. (I was never a person that could sleep when the baby did during the day, but when I put my LO down at 8:00 every night, I promptly hopped into bed.)
  5. Find ways to simplify your routines. Set clothes out the night before, set your coffee to brew, find simple hairstyles and makeup tips to make yourself feel human.
  6. Stick to the routine. I can’t say it enough– when we started sleep-training our LO, everyone invited us to come over to their houses for late parties. As much as you might want to keep your LO up so that you can go have fun, don’t. Routines are hard to establish, and easy to break. If you want to go out, hire a babysitter that is comfortable with putting your LO to bed.
  7. Take a shower without the baby monitor (or the baby,) in the room. When my LO was super tiny and wouldn’t sleep, he sat in his rock n’ play while I showered. But, nothing is as relaxing as a shower alone while someone else watches the baby for a few minutes.
  8. Have as many things shipped to you as possible. SAMS club ships baby items free, and my Amazon Prime membership has been thoroughly used. Quick trips to the store are no longer quick… and sometimes it’s just easier to order what you need online, and then push all of the boxes quickly in through your front door before your neighbor sees them when they’re delivered.
  9. Don’t set yourself up for failure. You won’t be able to do everything you could before. Want to watch an entire season of Parks and Recreation in one sitting? HA. Forget about it. Stick to a half an hour episode, and count yourself lucky if you only have to pause it twice.
  10. Don’t compare. Every mom handles having a baby differently. Every mom has struggles (whether they’re external or not.)

Just remember that each phase of infancy is just that, a phase. Soon your tiny baby will be a grown adult that doesn’t need your constant care;treasure the moments while they’re still little.

-Katie