What Motherhood Has Taught Me {guest post}

You may have noticed Erin's banner at the bottom of my posts this month.  She write a darling blog, and her daughter is so stinkin' cute, I can't stand it!  You can follow Erin {here} (please do!)

And now, please read this wonderful guest post she wrote just for the According to L readers!

I am so excited to be guest posting for Liz while she and her adorable family are off enjoying the sun in Turks and Caicos!  Not going to lie, I am a tad bit jealous.  I will most definitely be living vicariously through all her photos upon her return!

I have been a mama for a little over 3 months now. What amazes me is just how much life has changed in that short period of time. When I was still pregnant, I tried to picture the day we would bring our daughter home from the hospital. It was so hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that someday, in the very near future, Pete and I would enter the hospital as a family of two and leave as a family of three. Life as we knew it would be forever changed.  That I knew.

 photo 100_6448_zps01706021.jpg
Me at 39 weeks...the last belly picture before welcoming our Josephine. As I sit here, three months in, I find myself thinking back to that pregnant me. Thinking how she really had no idea how much life would change the moment that baby was born. Three months ago, I thought I was prepared for all that this new adventure would bring. But, in the past three months, I have been taught so much. Some lessons more serious than others. But each just as important as the next...

/1/  You can make a plan, but there's no guarantee that everything will happen according to your plan. 
Oh, I could write a book on this one! And that book would start with the birth of our little peanut. Although I didn't have a formal birth plan, I had a list in my head of things that I knew I wanted. I knew I wanted an epidural. I knew I wanted to immediately hold my daughter, to get that immediate skin-to-skin that is so important. I knew I wanted to exclusively breastfeed.  And there was no doubt in my mind that all of those things would happen. Well, fast forward to an early morning scare that landed me in the hospital two days before my due date, preparing to have my daughter delivered via c-section. Had there been a written birth plan, I can assure you, the one thing you wouldn't have found was "have a c-section." The c-section made it impossible for me to get that immediate skin-to-skin time that I had planned for. It also made breastfeeding very difficult. It has taken time for me to push the what-ifs out of my head. I can't help but think had I not had a c-section, they could have put that baby on my chest and she would have immediately taken to nursing. Then, she wouldn't have lost so much weight after birth. We wouldn't have had to supplement with formula. Breastfeeding wouldn't still be a constant struggle.  But, everything happened how it happened. And we have a beautiful, healthy baby girl...and that was part of the plan.

/2/ You will question everything you do. Is she eating enough? Am I holding her enough? Am I holding her too much? Why is she crying? Is she tired? Is it gas? Is she too warm? Is she cold? Is her swaddle too tight? When should I stop swaddling her? Is she sleeping enough? Are we doing enough tummy time? The list goes on and on...

/3/Google is both a blessing and a curse.
If you could only see my Google search history. Almost everything starts with Is it normal... Is it normal for my newborn to have explosive poops? Is it normal for my breastfed baby's poop to smell? Is it normal for my baby's umbilical cord to bleed? Is it normal for my baby's soft spot to bulge? I love having the internet to quell a lot of my new mom paranoia, but sometimes it only adds to my anxiety. For instance, the other day I pretty much convinced myself that Josephine had encephalitis or meningitis. Her soft spot was slightly raised, so I of course turned to Dr. Google. Bad idea. She was otherwise healthy. No fever. No vomiting. But after reading all the message boards, I was sure she was deathly ill.

/4/ Priorities change...and that's a good thing! Before having Josephine, I would get anxiety if I couldn't get the house cleaned at least once a week. Now, I'm lucky if we get to clean twice a month. And you know what? I am a-okay with that. I've learned to accept that a clean house does not make me any better of a mother or a wife. And, there are new, more important things to do. Like cuddling and dancing and singing and rocking...

/5/ Just when you think you have everything figured out, you don't. I can't tell you how many times Pete and I have thought that we finally crossed some milestone off the list only to be utterly, and completely wrong. Case in point, Josephine slept for 8 hours one night. We did a happy dance and thought Finally, we can get a proper night's sleep! Hooray! The next night comes, and we put her down, looking forward to another evening of more than 2 consecutive hours of sleep. Well, the joke was on us. The girl woke up to eat every 2 hours on. the. dot. That's when you just have to laugh. Parenthood is a sneaky little thing. Those long stretches of sleep still happen every now and again. And I still get that giddy feeling when it does. But we'll wait until it happens two nights in a row to do any celebrating.  

/6/ Showering everyday is overrated. So is getting dressed and putting on makeup. While showering and changing out of last night's pjs would probably make me feel more like a human and less like a walking burp cloth, there just isn't the time most days. And, like cleaning, this is something that has been pushed to the bottom of the priorities list. When Josephine finally goes down for a nap, sometimes I would rather just sit in front of the television, turn on BRAVO! and eat something while I have both my hands free. Don't get me wrong, though. I do hope that my days of unwashed hair and sweats are numbered. And, although he would never say it, I am sure my husband does, too...

/7/ You will never feel a love like you do for your child. Never. Sometimes I feel like my heart might explode right out of my chest. Especially when she gives me that smile. The one that says, 'I know you are my mama.' And it kills me. Every time.

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Packing for Kids

If you read along at all, you'd know that TOMORROW we leave for Turks & Caicos!  A whole week of sun and sand and all-inclusive drinks!  Mama worked hard for this.  Or rather, Mama worked hard to buy some new cute clothes for this.

And I thought you might like to keep this one in your back pocket for those Spring Break trips!

Every year I get a little better about packing, and a little worse.  The first year we went, Liv was about eight months old and I feel like I packed the entire house, minus the actual crib to go up for the weekend.  Keep in mind, the cabin is about 60 minutes from our home and relatively close to civilization should we forget any necessities.  Never you mind, I was a new mom.  I try really hard to downsize the amount of crap we cart up there because I know my family has a tendency to SPRAWL where ever we go (but we really are nice people, I promise).  Sunglasses get left on this table, books on the floor over there, and here's a random zippy cup on the floor that nearly kills an innocent by-standard.

So, thanks to Pinterest, I have found a new way to be a better guest at the Lodge this year.  Or, what's more, a better, calmer mom so Liv and I don't argue about clothing and whether or not the beloved pink butterfly nightgown is for daytime wear or not.

I took the idea and embellished a bit, to make it a little more fun.  Liv is so excited that it's CABIN DAY, she could bounce out of her skin.  I want to keep that fun alive because this weekend (or rather, Wednesday-Friday this July) is one of our family's best all year.

Simply take giant food storage baggies and place your preselected clothing options.  Child can pick one a day, and everything will match and stay together.  No more digging and dumping the contents of your suitcase to get to that favorite pink butterfly nightgown.  I drew the pictures so she'll know what's for day, night and campfires (read: long pants, to prevent being eaten alive by bugs!)

And despite my best efforts, this pile of things for the kiddos, alone, looks like this.  For 48 hours.
But we all use the swim bag.

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Travel with Minimal Whining (and wine)

Granted I have not yet survived my week abroad with 5 other adults and 5 children, I have a few ideas on how to stay sane (thanks to tips and tricks from other travelers).  Again, these are only goals.  I'm not too proud to admit that I may not be strong enough to follow my own advice, or flag down the flight attendant at 9 AM for my in-flight "beverage."

However you can survive - we make no judgements.

Stay calm.
Kid are unpredictable and traveling only exacerbates that.  There will be tantrums, meltdowns and screaming fits.  And that's only between you and your partner.  The kids will bring it to a whole new level.  Expect the worse, you can only be pleased with your ability to predict your child's behavior, or pleasantly surprised if things go better than the shit-fit you were expecting.

Over plan.
Put thought into it.  I know we're all busier beyond our maximum capacity, but a little planning can go a long way.  I made a color-coded Excel document for our trip.  Things we would need on the plane, in our checked luggage... it never hurts to be over-prepared.  With my luck, there will be things where I'll go "Gah!  I wanted to get/pack/bring more of" but hey, the list knocks out at least half of those exclamations!

Dress for the occasion.
Search Pinterest for "travel outfits" and you'll find there's a theme for women:  slip-on shoes, comfy jeans or leggings, long sleeve shirt layered with a tank or tee, and a cute scarf and/or sunnies.  I couldn't agree more.  Dressing cute will help with your mood, not to mention everything mentioned is 100% practical.  Slip-on shoes for the TSA checkpoint; comfy pants because duh; layers for temperature fluctuations in the air and on the ground at your destination; cute scarf to act as blanket, pick-a-boo tent, cover for snoozing child and sunnies because, again, if you feel cute, you'll feel BETTER.

The same wardrobe rule applies for the kiddies.  Crocs are wonderful because they can be worn with or without socks.  A zip-up hoodie layered with a tee-shirt and a favorite blanket is a great thing to pack in their carry-on.  Plan for cold and hot air-travel, and things that can double as a pillow or light-shade for those naps you will pray for.

I guess you could also plan to dress your husband, but lord - if he can't dress himself at this point, you're all sunk!

Bring snacks junk food.  And lots of them.
I would prefer plan fruit, granola and water all day, but that's not always the best way to win over your audience.  Hit up the boxed movie candy at Target, or the grab bags at the dollar store and stock up.  Pack a giant ziplock full of sugar and have it ready and waiting to offer at the hint of trouble.  There's no shame in offering junk in trade for quiet.  

Involve the kids in the packing.
When it comes to the carry-on, you'll have your own tricks.  But allow your kids to bring some items of their own.  If it was picked by their own hands, there's a better chance they'll enjoy them.  Plus these little critters are eager to help and be a part of things.  Give them this task, even when it's small and closely monitored.  They don't need to know that.

Stuff the carry-on with new things.
A new app, game or movie can go a long way on a trip.  If it's something they've seen 100 times, a child may quickly lose interest.  Something new and fresh has a better chance of holding their interest.  Plan for multiples - again, the trip home will also be an ordeal.
We have a Mac and the $25 for Mac DVD RipperPro will pay for itself.  I'm not stealing movies - I'm taking those that I own and putting them into a format (i.e. compatible with the iPad, iPod, our own computer so we're not bringing 15 DVDs) so that we can enjoy them elsewhere.  You can try 5 "rips" and see how you like it before you buy it, but after the 1st I was sold.  Plus, it's not a bad idea to back things up as it is.

New things can include
* window clings for window seat fun
* Dollar Store coloring books (skip the crayons, they stink to high heaven)
* washable markers
* square/flat crayons
* a new DVD, game or app (or several)
* a booklet of coloring sheets and other activities {like these}
* magnetic tic tac toe games

Bring disposable cups.
Take-and-toss cups are great for so many reasons.  Avery is too little to drink from an open cup, and while Liv can, I would prefer to keep her as clean and dry as I possible.  These are perfect to stack, bring empty through the TSA check-point and then fill with whatever you can.  Even if they only make the trip there, you can always stash a fresh set in your checked luggage for the way home.

And a garbage bag.
A gallon ziplock bag can serve many purposes on a trip - garbage bag, barf bag, bag for messy clothes, bag for random crap you're trying to collect as the plane lands.  You can get 10 for a buck at the dollar store.  Well worth it.

Long Wait?  Layover?  Let 'em Run
Let's be honest; if it were social acceptable for adults to run, climb, cry and get the wiggles out while traveling, we would all indulge ourselves.  It may not be for us, but for our kids, let them have it.  Take a few laps through the terminal before boarding.  Allow a few extra loud shouts and wild wiggles.  Sure, it will be hard to fight back the "shhh" that creeps up inside you, but even the crabbiest of people would rather you let your kid run on the ground than in the air.  And if if you do get crabby looks - screw 'em.  You can't please everyone, and right now, your focus is your tiny brood.

Prepare for the Return Flight
ALWAY prepare for the way home.  Don't blow your entire arsenal on the 1st leg.  The trip home always promises to be worse.  This means stashing a few new books and games in your checked luggage for the trip home.  If you buy smart, abandoning a few dollar coloring books is a small price to pay to keep things fresh, fun and engaging.  And the same goes for snacks.  A box of granola bars so you don't need to spend $37 on snacks at the airport never hurts (though I do not shame anyone who indulges on vacation!)

Don't expect to relax
Perhaps the best advice I can give and one I hope to practice with the utmost grace.

You may have a new book that you're itching to dive in to.  Don't.  You're on duty, as much as that sucks to hear, but for now, you've got to get everyone to point A to point B.  The book will be there where you land.  If you go in with the expectation that all your plans will afford you 3 hours of quiet to enjoy a good read, you'll only be disappointed.  Children can sense when they're not being catered to.  It is then when the rebellion will rise.  Stay sharp, stay ahead of their plots.  You can beat them this.

Some people travel with the greatest of ease and grace, like George Clooney's character on Up in the Air, whipping off their shoes, loading the x-ray totes and marching the terminals with the greatest of ease. 

And then there are the rest of us.  Realizing that it's just one day, a few hours, and that anything can be fixed with fruit snacks, ice cream or a glass of wine, you'll do just fine.  Take a deep breath, allow for some messes and meltdowns.  With a cute pair of slip-ons and a little prayer for in-flight naps you'll do fine.


So What Wednesday

Hump Day.
So close to vacation I can almost feel the sun.
And the crying from the airplane, but whatever.

So What Wednesday

  • It was a rough week.  The hubs and I quarreled, and that's putting it gracefully.  There's something to be said about the the power of truth and family.
  • We leave for Turks & Caicos in 3 days.  Started to pack on Sunday, and I can't tell if I'm more excited or anxious for it all.  
  • I am very excited to go on vacation.  Like "kid before the first day of school" giddy.
  • I wasn't exactly nervous about other passengers during our travel until I heard about {this} story. A toddler slapped by another passenger.  And then I learned it was the son of my husband's high school friends.  Oh hell to the no.  I can tolerate a lot of stupid people, but this is absolutely... no good words.  Trying to keep a PG-13 blog here.
  • Watched Trouble with the Curve, and aside from the grizzly voice, felt a great deal of connection between the daughter and father characters in my own life.  It's never too late to come home.
  • I'd planned on letting Liv pierce her ears after vacation, but after some research and consideration, we did it.  "Pulled the trigger" so to speak.  She's so cute and grown up.
  • I absolutely love Elementary.  My CBS shows are usually limited to The Amazing Race and Survivor, but ever since Hackers, Johnny Lee Miller has a sexy, smart, witty sense.  Hard to pass up. 
  • I passed on Wild hockey tickets with the hubs so I could spend a quiet night at home.  It consisted of wine, DVR crap, chicken and waffle Lays potato chips and starting this post.   I think you'll agree, time well spent!

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Smokey Chipotle Peach Wings

Super Bowl Sunday is long over, but that does not mean that you don't need a good wing recipe to throw into your rotation for parties!  The smokey, heat of the chipotle, paired with sweetness of peach preserves - you can't go wrong!  A flavor for every pallet!

This sauce is super easy to whip together, and tastes amazing on either fried, roasted or grilled wings.  The photos you'll see are of the wings I roasted.

To roast the wings, line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray a rack WELL with cooking spray.  I use my cooling racks, but you can use what you have on hand.  Evenly spread the wing pieces out.  Depending on how many pounds you have, you may need multiple sheets.  I used a 3 lb family pack, so I split mine between two sheets and also swapped racks halfway through roasting.

Roast the wings at 425 for about 40-45 minutes, until they're cooked through and good and crispy.  You may want to turn them a the half-way point to get even crispness on those little guys.

For the sauce, gather up:
  • 1/2 c peach preserves
  • 1.5 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/5 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp smoked ground chipotle
Wisk ingredients together and once your wings are cooked, spin them together in a large bowl (trust me on the size, you won't want wings or sauce flying around the kitchen!)


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Games for Traveling with Kids

Pinterest has been amazing to help me get things ready to travel to Turks & Caicos with my kiddos, especially when it comes to keeping them busy (read: keeping them QUIET) on the plane.

Here are some of my favorites that I will soon be utilizing:

Source: ladybirdln.com via Liz on Pinterest



{via} - I'm using sheets of paper instead of the toilet paper roll



See you all again when I'm super tan!

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NEW STUFF {sale}

I'm so excited to share some of my newest designs for sale in my {Etsy shop}

And what's even better is you can shop for these styles and MORE at a huge discount!  Now through February 17th, you can save 40% on everything in my shop!

{pink and purple tutu}

{lavender floral duo}

{red shabbies with gold veiling}

{navy lace bow}
{navy silver & yellow trio}

{vintage navy & teal shabbies}

So now that you're excited, wanna know the code to shop??

Click {here}
fill your cart
select your sizes (or alligator clips for bigger girls if you so choose}
enter in:  NEWLOOK
see you savings add up

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So What Wednesday

Weekly brag/rant/vent/over-share session with my gal Shannon - cute as can be in her purple maternity skinnies from The Gap.  Why weren't those around 2 years ago!?

So What Wednesday

This week, I'm saying SO WHAT...

  • I skipped yoga this week.  I have no reasons other than I just did other things.  I'm totally regretting it, but at the same time, I spent some good time with the girls instead.  50/50 win there.
  • Really could not relate the the mom on Dr. Phil this week who wanted to have 100 babies.  No one spec.
  • Letting Avery sporadically use the big girl potty.  We are NOT potty training.  But far be it from me to tell her "no" when she asks.  And hell yes, I reward every little tinkle with a marshmallow!  She's young, but not stupid.
  • It has taken a LOT of strength on my part to not watch back-episodes for Downton Abbey without Nate.
  • Argo-f*** yourself.  Great movie (if you see it, you'll know why I said that)  Happy to see Ben Affleck doing something than being a blind superhero.  Really great flick.  Worth the movie ticket.
  • Read some of my guest "posters" for when I'm gone.  You all are going to get some great reading (not to say that my stuff isn't already amazing!)

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Cauliflower Garlic Bread

If you're trying to avoid the regular pizza and beer on Friday nights (like I am) I'm sure you've stumbled upon recipes where you used grated cauliflower as crust, instead of your usual, carb-filled dough.  The recipes I've seen still allow for cheese to be used, so I thought I'd give it a try.

The batch I made, I used:

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (mine were little, so I used two)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup grated cheese (I used an Italian blend with parmesan and mozzarella) - divided, leave about 1/4 cup or so for the top
  • 1 egg white
I foolishly thought that I would cook my cauliflower in the microwave for about 7 minutes or so (don't add water) and press it through my potato ricer.  This vegetable is WAY too fibrous to "rice."  Duh, Liz.

With my intense fear of cheese graters taking off my knuckles, I took out the food processor and gave it a quick blend.  You don't want to puree it, leave it a little coarse.  Next time, I may need to grate the cauliflower and nuke it a bit to soften it.  Maybe.  Still don't like the grater.

Mix in the remaining ingredients (leaving a bit of cheese out to melt when it's almost all cooked).  Turn the mix out onto a coated baking sheet and use your hands to press into an even layer, about 1/4 inch thick (give or take.)

Bake at 450 degree for about 15-20 minutes, adding your extra cheese for the last few minutes to melt a little extra tastiness.

Let cool slightly before trying to move and cut.  

Here's my review of it all:
  • Love that it's healthier than the bread version
  • It's NOT the bread version, the taste is similar, but not exact
  • The moisture from the vegetable does add a chewy quality (I'm more of a crunchy fan, myself)
  • Probably not something that will make a regular rotation, but certainly something to try in order to sneak a few extra vegetable servings during the course of the day

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This Weekend I...

Love this link up, obviously because I get to talk about me!  Duh!

This weekend I...

...made lemon cheesecake/custard cookies.  The slash comes because I'm debating on what to actually classify them as for you all.  They were meant to be cheesecake, but taste and feel more like custard.  In any case, there were 12 on Friday, and by Sunday night there were... well, much less than 12 cookies leftover.

...finally caught up on Downton Abbey so that we can watch the Season 3 episodes that our DVR actually taped.  Conversely, I am now obsessed with having Hulu Plus on my iPad and being able to watch current (read: non-Netflix movies and shows) while I work on things in my office (which happens to be about the only room in the house without a TV)

...ran errand with Little Miss Diva who wore her sunglasses for about 75% of the time we were shopping.  She was perfect and happy and with a face like that, got a lot of smiles from other patrons which made Mama a little more proud than I maybe should have been!

...hired a babysitter for only the THIRD time since Liv was born.  We have been incredibly spoiled with having family so close, that the need rarely presented itself.  We ate dinner at the bar (where we never could with the kids because the highchairs would never reach) and saw a Argo (which is not animated, so not appropriate for kiddos)  And then came home, sent the babysitter home and watched crappy DVR.  And then Nate went to bed and I wrote this post!  Ha!

How was your weekend??

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This Girl

This girl
...turns most hugs into a long, cuddle-with-a-back-strach session
...wears slippers to bed
...puts her own snow boots on, always on the wrong feet
...thinks hardest with her tongue hanging out of her mouth

...loves to do everything her big sister does
...throws the funniest tantrums - she's just as mad as she can be, and it's just adorable
...is perfectly content to read the same book 47 times in a row

...giggles from her soul
...thinks every baby she sees is her cousin, Peyton
...says to every baby she sees is "so cute, tiny toes"
...prefers stickers on her back, thanks to where they put her name tag at the gym
...exhausts me to no end
...teaches me patience, love and tolerance
...loves me,

but not as much as I love her.

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