7.18.2014

friday link love



It's a big weekend for this new mom - my friend & roommate from college Jesi is getting married, and it's bachelorette party time!  So this will definitely be the longest I've ever spent away from Claire.  It will be so so good to get some time with girlfriends to just be silly - although admittedly, I am skipping out on the sleepover portion of the night to go home to my baby girl.  Just not ready for an overnight yet!  

And then....Jack White on Sunday!  I don't know how I got lucky enough to have a father who is so into taking my husband and I to amazing rock concerts, but I definitely won in the dad department.  And Claire won in the Nana/Aunt department, because I've never seen two women so thrilled to babysit in my life.  I think my mom & sister are more excited for us to go to the concert than we are.  

One last thing - I start back to work next week, so in an effort to not overload myself and get stressed out I'm going to take next week off from the blog.  I'll be back week after next hopefully feeling confident in my ability to balance (ish) work & baby.  

Here are my favorite links from this week! 

I made this pasta last weekend, and it was incredible.  Like bagel pasta - which to me is essentially the holy grail of food.  


Do we choose our friends because they share our genes?  

This Weird Al remake of "Blurred Lines" is hilarious and adorable.  

Life, animated: how Disney helped an autistic boy to communicate with his family.  I had read an article about this before, but the live interview with his father is really fantastic.  


Love Humans of New York?  Well someone has started a "Humans of St. Louis," and for a copycat it's pretty great.  

Basically my mom-iform.  


Blogger Tricks

7.17.2014

date night: ruth's chris downtown st louis

Last week, I mentioned how Darrell & I had our first night out since having Claire.  We went to see one of our favorite local musicians play at Beale on Broadway downtown, and although it was a great evening, it was perhaps a little ambitious.  Staying up until 1 am when you have a newborn?  Kind of difficult.  More difficult?  Waking up with said newborn only an hour after going to sleep.  For our next outing, we needed something more our current speed, so when Alive Magazine invited us to attend a dinner showcasing Ruth's Chris new menu we jumped at the chance.  

I wore heels for the first time in what felt like forever, and carried a purse that doesn't have stroller straps!   


(dress by sonnet james, here)

Despite our excitement, I was a teeny bit apprehensive about going to a steakhouse.  I'm a pescatarian, and I kind of figured that we'd end up making a run through Chipotle after dinner so that I could get a real meal.  Though after one of the complimentary cocktails I had when we arrived, I had pretty much forgotten about food altogether.  


Just kidding, but that drink was really delicious.  (Get the blood orange sunrise!)  They had a ridiculous spread of appetizers for us, and I really should've tried harder to get more of this ahi tuna.  One piece was not enough, I could just eat this for my meal the next time we go, and I probably will.  




I needn't have ever worried about not having enough to eat, the food was AMAZING.  This was Darrell's salad, but they brought me one without the bacon.  I certainly didn't miss it, I'm a total sucker for a classic wedge salad.  


The dining room's view really can't be beat.  I never get tired of looking at the Arch!  


One mention of my dietary preferences, and they brought me a special dish.  This was pasta with an olive oil sauce, broccoli, and peppers, and it was beyond yummy.  


I was pretty motivated to save room for dessert, and thank goodness I did because this was unreal.  I would like to drink a glass of that Creme Anglaise every single day.  


Perhaps the biggest accomplishment of the night?  We didn't call our sitters (Darrell's brother & his girlfriend) for updates a single time, trusting that the baby was in good hands.  We had a perfect & romantic evening, even staying for one last drink at the bar before we left, and Claire had slightly more relaxed and happy parents to show for it.  

I can't say that I would have previously considered Ruth's Chris as a downtown St. Louis destination, but we'll definitely be back for pre-dinner or concert drinks sometime soon, especially to take advantage of their awesome Happy Hour prices.  

Need a date night of your own?  Ruth's Chris is giving away a Prix Fixe dinner for 4 through Alive Magazine here, to celebrate their downtown location's 5 year birthday!  

*This post is sponsored by Ruth's Chris, but as always the story and opinions are my own!  Thank you for supporting the companies that make this blog possible.  


7.16.2014

essentials for the first month: mama + baby


*All items listed are mostly pictured left to right, top to bottom.  

1 - A good collection of nursing bras.  This is probably the number one thing any nursing mother will need - but here's the real tip: you don't actually have to buy nursing bras.  I have a few, and I wear them (this Le Mystere is my very favorite) but did you know that Nordstrom will convert any bra you already own into a nursing bra?  They do an amazing job, you cannot tell that it wasn't originally a nursing bra, and it's only $15. I had been wearing this bra until the end of my pregnancy, and I've had three of them converted so far.  

2 - A diaper bag you can share with your husband.  Maybe it's the feminist in me, but there should be more unisex diaper bags, right?  I mean, my husband does have to diaper this baby sometimes, and I'm not always the one carrying her things.  This is his very favorite.  

3 - A Sakura Bloom sling.  I can't speak to the quality of any other types of baby carriers, but we have only used the Sakura Bloom sling so far, and I adore it.  Claire will almost instantly fall asleep in it, I can use both my hands when wearing her, and when she just doesn't want to be put down it is the only way I can get anything done.  We bought their least expensive version, but I've got my eye on this one because we really need a second, especially for when one is in the wash.  

4 - Safe to Sleep mat.  This is definitely one of the pricier items on my list, but we have really loved it.  It takes the place of a baby monitor.  The baby sleeps on the mat, and its very sensitive sensors monitor baby's breathing.  No running into the nursery over and over to make sure that baby is breathing (which I would totally do if we didn't have this).  There's a remote that you keep with you, and it sets off an alarm if the breathing is too fast or slow, or if the baby leaves the mat.  It also works as an audio monitor, but here's the best part: the audio only comes on if the baby's cries get above a certain decibel.  So we aren't awoken by every grunt or coo, only by actual crying.  You can also talk to baby through the remote to soothe them. The one downside?  The app that you can supposedly connect to the mat doesn't work very well at all - we could never get it to function properly, and Darrell is pretty tech savvy!   

5 - The Miracle Blanket.  Claire is a baby houdini, and she completely destroys a regular swaddle within minutes. The thing is, she WANTS to be swaddled.  This is the only thing that has keep her wrapped up so far.  

6 - Target Basics Nursing Tank.  For the first few days after Claire was born this nursing tank with yoga pants was all I wore.  I layered it under loose dresses and tees in place of a bra until my milk came in, and I wouldn't know what size nursing bra to buy.  Now I wear it as a layering piece any time I wear a top and jeans, because then I don't need the top to have a nursing friendly neckline.  At the ballgame the other night, I just pulled up my t-shirt, undid the clasp on my nursing tank & bra, and was able to feed Claire discreetly between the folds of fabric.  

7 - 4moms Mamaroo & Breeze.  Claire has recently entered the rather difficult phase of "never ever ever put me down!!"  Most of the time I just wear her, but for times I can't (showers, anyone?) the Mamaroo will usually buy me 20 minutes or so.  The Breeze has a bassinet top, and that's what Claire slept in for the first three weeks - she was so small that I wasn't comfortable having her far away from us in the nursery, and I think being near her helped us foster a good nursing relationship.  Now she sleeps in her crib, but we'll be using the Breeze when we travel.  

8 - Sonnet James dresses.  I have lived in these dresses since I got them, both pregnant and postpartum.  They stretched well to accommodate the bump, are comfortable and flattering now, and the necklines stretch and bounce right back for nursing on the go.  Darrell never fails to compliment me when I'm wearing one.  You can still preorder for the summer shipment in a few weeks!  

9 - Breastfeeding Kit - nursing pillow, Kindle loaded up with books, a new Netflix series, a cup with a straw, handheld food.  Nursing in the first few weeks is amazing, such a great bonding experience......and sometimes boring.  You are going to spend a lot (A LOT!) of time parked on the couch with your nursing pillow, oftentimes using one hand to eat, drink, and entertain yourself.  I watched Netflix during the day, but at night I don't like how the noise wakes up Darrell, so I read on my Kindle app.  Say what you want about moms being alone on night duty, but he can't breastfeed and a rested husband is worth a lot more to me than someone as equally exhausted as I am.  I also get incredibly thirsty when nursing, so I like to have a cup with a straw - like the one they give you at the hospital - and some granola bars or bagels handy.  I like the boppy pillow, and definitely get a second cover.  Breastmilk gets on everything.  Pottery Barn has had the softest covers I've found.  

10 - Burp cloths and baskets for burp cloths.  Did I mention that breastmilk will be on everything you own?  Have a stash of burp cloths in every room.  The Gerber cloth diapers make fantastic burp cloths, trust me.  

11 - White onesies and long sleeved pajamas.  As much as I love all the beautiful clothes I have for Claire, there are only so many diaper blowouts I'm willing to go through before I declare it a white onesie day.  These are cheap, you don't care if they get so stained they're ruined, and I still think there isn't anything cuter than a baby in a white onesie.  As for the long sleeved pajamas, well the fabric friction between sleeves and swaddle keeps Claire from breaking free.  

12 - Spanx & Belly Bandit.  There's nothing like Spanx to smooth everything out underneath your clothes, they make a huge difference.  As for the Belly Bandit, I'm not sure I can attest to it flattening out my stomach any faster - breastfeeding does that on its own - but it made for wonderful support under my clothes in the first couple of weeks when everything just felt really, unfortunately loose.  

13 - Lululemon Wunder UndersForever 21 tees & jeans.  Wunder Unders are a year round must have for me - I wear them running, to yoga, and just about everywhere.  They're the thickest and most slimming leggings I've ever found, and they do wonders for the post baby body.  Until jeans will fit (no really, they just won't for the first few weeks.  Your waist and legs will be just TOOOOOO far apart in sizing) leggings are the best option.  But leggings as pants?  Not always so great.  These are the only ones that will work.  Wear them with the thin & cheap $4 Forever 21 tees, and then switch to Forever 21 jeans for transition.  They look great and almost always cost less than $20.  

14 - Breast Pump.  I didn't start using this until my 2nd week, but having a stockpile of extra milk is pretty much the greatest thing ever.  You don't want to depend on bottles too much - your supply will go down the more feedings you skip - but being able to run errands and leave the baby with Darrell knowing that she won't go hungry and cry the entire time I'm gone is pretty great.  Mine was completely free through my insurance, so definitely look into that!  

15 - Honest diapers, nipple balm, lotion.  It's no secret that I love the Honest Company, and we're using them for basically everything baby.  Their diapers are the best at holding in major messes so far, I found the nipple cream (I know, maybe TMI, but you need it) really effective, and the lotion has all but cleared up Claire's cradle cap.  I use a lot more of their products....okay, almost all of them, but these are probably my top three.  

16 - Puj tub.  We have a teeny apartment, with a matching teeny sink, and this tub is easily stored, folded, and very soft for Claire to sit in.    

17 - Soothies Pacifiers.  Claire + the carseat = not such a great equation.  Claire + the carseat + one of these pacifiers = a long nap.  

18 - Wine & coffee.  Sometimes, you just need them.  Wine for the nights when it seems the baby has just nursed endlessly (you can have a glass and still breastfeed, one is fine!) and you're so exhausted and stressed out you think you might lose it.  No one can help you with breastfeeding but you, and that shit is HARD.  Wonderful, but hard.  Coffee.....well, obviously, coffee.  Coffee some mornings (or let's be honest, all day) makes the difference between my being an okay mother and a good mother. 

19 - Some money set aside for unexpected expenses.  Every baby is different, so every baby will have different favorites.  When Claire was born, we only had one Miracle Blanket, but quickly realized that with her wearing them all day long we'd need a few more.  We also needed extra covers for the nursing pillow, different sizes of baby clothes than the ones we had, and I purchased nursing tanks & bras that I didn't want to buy until I knew what size I would need.  

20 - Britax B-Safe Carseat, Base, & Stroller.  This set is really fantastic.  The carseat feels very sturdy, clicks in and out of the base easily, and the stroller can be popped open and closed with one hand.  It steers well with one hand as well, and has a good amount of storage.  We got it for a fantastic price by buying the bundle of all three at Target.  It's not pictured because......I'm not a photoshop wizard and I ran out of room, but seriously, check it out.  

Okay that's it!  I wanted this list to be the end-all, be-all, because these kind of lists made life easier for me once Claire arrived.  I discovered almost nothing on this list myself - they were almost all recommendations from other blogs I read.  Which is why I have to ask - am I missing anything?  What were your essentials for the first month?  She's only 5 weeks old this week, anything I should have on hand for the next few?  



7.15.2014

awkward and awesome tuesday


Awkward: 

Selfies.  Almost ALL the photos I have of my daughter & I are selfies.  My husband, for all his excellence in baby care, cooking, etc, is truly terrible at photographing the two of us.  I however can't seem to put my phone down, so I have a million pictures of the two of them.  When she's older, she'll either think her Dad liked her more or that I'm impossibly vain.  Potentially both.  

Stroller locks.  Yes I know how to work my own stroller thank you very much, you can stop staring at me trying to get it open now.  I mean, I absolutely had to look up a YouTube video on my phone to figure it out, but I GOT IT OPEN.  

Oh, yoga.  I lost track of how many times I nearly fell down.  Either way, my ego got kicked in the face.  

Our post baby grocery budget.  I didn't even know it was possible to have to spend as much as we did on one Trader Joe's & Target trip.  It's either terrifying or embarrassing, but between the super healthy organic food (it all goes into Claire's milk!) and the wine (seriously, I refuse to sacrifice the wine) I'm going to have to find some ways to improve.   

Awesome: 

Babywearing!  Somebody just really never wants to be put down, EVER.  Even when she's fallen asleep in your arms, don't even think about setting her down.......really, don't do it.  Then you have to start over!  She'll take maybe one nap for a couple hours each day in her crib, and she sleeps there at night, but other than that I'm most often wearing her.  

Sushi, oysters, lox, and wine.  Basically, I'm still making up for lost time and mostly eating only the things I couldn't while I was pregnant.  

Claire is finally fitting into some of her 0-3 month clothes, which is mostly what we have!  She had been wearing a few newborn clothes and white onesies on repeat, because somehow my husband & I have managed to make a child who is so tall she isn't even on the percentile growth charts, so she's like a stringbean.  Fingers crossed she actually got some of the height genes on either side of our families!  

I slept until 11 on Sunday, went to yoga, and then got a few baby-free hours while Darrell & Claire watched the world cup final together.  I think that's the most successful start to a week that ever was, and I'd like to start a petition to add a second Sunday to every week.  

7.14.2014

operation post-baby body: week 1

So even though it PAINS me to break up the never ending baby-focused posts here, I thought it was time I made myself accountable to some plans I have for myself.  The days of late night ice-cream runs & couch living are over, and it's time to start getting back into shape.  If not only for vanity reasons, also because I have NO CLOTHES.  I had to break down and buy some transitional jeans & tops last week at Loft, and even though they're cute and comfortable, it was depressing.  No one wants to spend $$$ on clothes they don't always want to wear, and believe me, I don't always want to wear pants in the size I had to buy.  The tops, however, will probably last for a while because......nursing boobs.  

When I got pregnant, Darrell & I made a pact that we would keep fitness as a priority, even with the baby here.  We promised to let one another go to the gym, a yoga class, on a run, whatever while the other is on baby duty.  I've held up my end of that bargain since she's been born, and when I finally got cleared to exercise this past Thursday Darrell starting holding up his.  I'll admit, I was terrified.  I have a long way to go.  In the year before I got pregnant, I was very into running - I even ran a half marathon:  


and I was deeply into my yoga practice


and although maybe I wasn't stick thin, I was strong and probably in the best shape of my life.  That's not to say that losing some of that wasn't totally worth this: 


because it absolutely, completely was.  And in a way, being pregnant and having Claire was just a whole new physical challenge, and I really loved it.  But I would be completely remiss if I didn't mention that being 8 & 9 months pregnant is REALLY HARD.  Your body can start to feel like a bit of a prison, like it doesn't really belong to you anymore, and that doesn't really improve much after you give birth.  It's important to find a way to reclaim it as your own.  

I had wanted to participate in Alive Magazine's #31DaysofMovement since I heard about it, because I think it's a wonderful initiative for the city of St. Louis, but I still wasn't cleared for exercise other than walking yet.  When my doc said I could start practicing yoga again last week, I figured better late than never and loaded up my schedule with classes!  



Remember how I said my body had felt sort of like a prison after giving birth?  Well, after my first class I felt like I broke free.  Yes, I got totally smacked in the ego after falling out of poses that I could do even while pregnant.  Yes, it was totally exhausting after a day full of taking care of a baby.  But it was the best I had felt physically in months and it only motivated me to keep it up.  

Whether you have a mountain to climb like me, or just want to push yourself a little further on your fitness journey, you can sign up for Alive Magazine's #31DaysofMovement challenge here, and follow updates on their new wellness blog here.  The blog has awesome and fun ideas on how to work out in St. Louis (beer & exercise leagues anyone?) and you can check out the other bloggers participating as well.  

As always I'll be Tweeting, Instagramming, and posting on Facebook about how things are going if you'd like to follow along!  You can also check out my fitness focused Pinterest board here.  

*I teamed up with ALIVE Magazine to bring you this post. As always, the story and opinions are completely my own!  Thank you for supporting the people that make this blog possible.