New Year, New You!

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It’s January again. Christmas has come and gone. New Year’s Day is over. This is about the time we all forget those oh-so-important New Year’s resolutions we made 28 days ago. It’s the same thing, different year. Why is it that we make such a big deal about the promises we make ourselves, yet have no follow through? How is it that year after year, we promise to do better, to be better and somehow we end up at the beginning of another year unchanged? Simple: WE ARE LAZY!

I know, that was hard to swallow. I am the first one to admit my laziness. To be honest, the first 3 months I was home with my newborn, I did nothing but sit on the couch and binge-watch How I Met Your Mother and Desperate Housewives, while stuffing my face with Pringles and Coke. I had been so motivated when I was big and pregnant. I couldn’t wait to start exercising again and getting back into my clothes…back to myself. Yet, here we are, almost 11 months post-baby and I am not back to myself. However, I have finally decided to take control of my life and change. I am now stay-at-home mom to a fully mobile child, with a household to take care of. No more lazy days. I have responsibilities now.

In my efforts to become a better person, (**insert Master of Disguise voice**) I have decided to share a few of the tools that are helping me to be accountable to my New Year’s resolutions. Hopefully, we can stick together on this and encourage and motivate one another.

First, if you are not following Clean Mama on Facebook and Pinterest, DO IT! She is incredible. She has tons of printable lists and helpful hits to keep your household clean and together. I got a bunch of free printables from her website.

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If you don’t get anything else, print this! It gives you a big chore to do every day of the week, that way you don’t get overwhelmed and you can stay on top of cleaning. 

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Spring Cleaning Checklist. This will be very important here in a few months when spring gets here!

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I admit it. I HATE water! But again in an effort to be more fit, I am doing my best to drink 4 bottles of water a day (equivalent to 8 glasses). I do, however, use Kool-Aid water-enhancing drops to hide the actual water taste (bleh!) but good news, it really has nothing in it! This is a great way to keep track. 

On top of being lazy, I am terrible with money. However, now that I’m not working, I’m in charge of the checkbook (funny, huh?). Got a little one, so it’s time to save some money. We try every year to save money but somehow end the year with a massive credit card bill. This year, I’m resolving to try to get ahead of the game. I found this on Pinterest but I’d heard about it on Facebook the last few years.

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It starts small but if you can stick with it, you can save $1378 by the end of the year. Even if you can’t stick with it the whole year, you can still save a good chunk of money. This week is Week 4, so it’s definitely not to late to get started. 

As far as fitness goes, this is a never-ending battle with an infant. Seems like I can never find time to exercise. Unfortunately, this has led to getting up earlier than I ever cared to but after working out in the morning, my entire day is more energized and I really get motivated to get things done.

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I discovered Tone It Up 2 years ago and I am absolutely hooked! In addition to their website, they have tons of free YouTube videos and even an app. The great thing is the workouts are geared towards women and how we exercise. Just check it out, try a video and see for yourself. I love it! 

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I know not everyone is a runner or even likes to run. However, we all know that cardio is the key to weight loss and overall fitness. This is the chart I used to prepare for my first 5K a few years ago. Since my pregnancy, I’ve had to start over but it is a great way to get yourself acclimated to running. Plus, it’s great for the treadmill, which is what I use. I also downloaded the app GymBoss, which is a running timer to keep track of your walking and running intervals.  

Lastly, we can’t forget about our spiritual fitness. This is a major struggle in my life – devotions. Again, it all boils down to time. The thing is, if there is anything we need to make time for, it is God. I recently watched Courageous (from the makers of Fireproof) – two great movies that you definitely need to see, both of which have books to go along with the movies. I have started reading Resolutions For Women by Priscilla Shirer (here’s the link). It is inspirational, encouraging and motivating. A must read. Also, to touch on Fireproof’s book, The Love Dare by Alex & Stephen Kendrick (here’s the link), I absolutely recommend it to every single married couple in the world. There are no words to describe what is can do for your relationship with your spouse. Give it a chance. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Here’s to a new year with new possibilities. Here’s to trying to better ourselves and be happier. Not only will I try to curb my lazy ways, I will strive to get fit, healthy and most importantly, to cherish every moment. Life goes by so fast, we can miss it. I have learned this hard lesson from the last year of being a parent. So, Carpe Diem! Let’s take over our lives and have an amazing year!

How My Dogs Prepared Me For Motherhood

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These are my Velociraptors, as my mother so thoughtfully nicknamed them.

 My husband and I hadn’t been married a year when we adopted Casey,  my now 4 year old Blue Heeler. I fell in love with her the first time I saw her at the animal hospital where I worked. She had been bought for an older lady by her daughters who thought their mother needed a companion. If you know anything about Blue Heelers, this is not the dog for just anyone! (This speaks a lot to breed research before you adopt, but that’s an entirely different subject.) A few weeks after her first appointment, she was brought in to be surrendered by this dear lady. As luck would have it, I was the one who helped her that day. The rest is history.

As for Shelby, well…she was a necessary addition to our family. As I said, Blue Heelers are a special breed and poor Casey was driving us nuts being an only child. So, we went on a hunt and found a little black and tan shepherd mix on PetFinder.com at a local animal shelter. Funny thing was, when we made the 1 1/2 hour trip, we were actually planning on adopting Shelby’s sister. We brought Casey along to make sure they got along. Unfortunately, Casey and Shelby’s evil twin did not get along. Shelby, however, sat quietly on my lap and watched her sister run laps around the front desk of the shelter. It was meant to be.

Anyone who has met my dogs knows how nuts they are. They’re misbehaved, too hyper and when talked to in a high enough pitch, will pee all over your shoes. They escape from the yard, they chase the mailman and eat the strangest things. But they are like my children and I love them. I’ve always told my mom that my dogs were preparing me for having children. However, until I had a child, I didn’t realize how right I was.

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For the last several months, I had become acclimated to rocking my little baby to sleep, ensuring plenty of tummy-time to strengthen his muscles and rejoicing when he discovered he could roll over. We had waiting for a long time to see him crawl for the first time and tried to help as much as we could. Unfortunately, I was unaware of what these milestones were leading us to. My epiphany came as I walked into the bathroom this afternoon, following the trail of Puffs and spilled sippy cup, and discovered my son standing up at the toilet…PLAYING IN THE WATER! I immediately thought of my  dogs. I had scolded them numerous times about drinking from the toilet. “Get your head out of the toilet!” had now turned into “Get your hand out of the toilet!” Same problem, different species. I then began thinking of all the ways my dogs had been conditioning me for motherhood.

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1) Sleep Deprivation. I was a first time doggy mom and had never raised a puppy on my own. (I didn’t quite realize how much my parents had been helping me.) Casey was less than 3 months old when I brought her home. The first few weeks were filled with sleepless nights and midnight walks that eventually led to her sleeping in our bed. Sounds familiar, huh? Yep. Honestly, I think I had better sleep with my newborn than a new puppy. And no matter how bad it got, my son has never slept in the bed with us.

2) Cleaning up. Dogs are naturally messy. I’ve cleaned up more dog pee, poop and vomit than I care to admit. I’ve disposed of dead squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits after they met their unfortunate end in my back yard. I’ve scrubbed butts, brushed squirrel-breath teeth and spent hours picking burrs out of the fur of a dog who insists on exploring. NONE of that, however, could have prepared me for baby messes. Humans are supposed to be cleaner than dogs, right? Well…apparently, not in the beginning. Our first week home with little man, he peed on my Grandmother, my bed, the dog and his own head. Not to mention the spit up (thanks to our few weeks of supplementing formula). And there have  been a few times (explosion, rather) that required an immediate bath (clothes and all) and then a GOOD bleach-scrubbing to the bathtub.

3) Discipline. Two things that apparently fascinate both boy and dog are dishwashers and toilets. The first spanking my son got was because he continued crawling onto the dishwasher and pulling things from the utensil holder. My dogs also are constantly in trouble for trying to clean my dishes as I put them in the dishwasher. Same thing for the toilet. I guess to both hem, water is water. You would think I’d have learned how to prevent this behaving by now…

4) Food. Sadly, my dogs have failed me in this department. From squirrels to insulation, my dogs never meet an object they don’t at least consider trying. Whereas my son is a challenging eater. I’ve already blogged about our disastrous nursing experience but his food aversions don’t stop there. He refuses to drink formula unless it’s warm (almost hot). If it gets the least bit cool, he won’t touch it. He does not like slimy things (i.e. sliced apples in juice, packaged deli meat) or oddly enough, potatoes (mashed or baked). He has discovered how to make his food disappear when he doesn’t want it. And I wondered why the dogs were getting fat!

5) Picking Up After Myself. I have had dogs all my life and one thing you learn quickly is to never leave something valuable in a dog’s reach. One of my dogs loves to eat socks, another underwear. Trash is always up for grabs if available and unless there is a force field around me, there is no personal space when I’m eating. As my son has now become mobile, I find myself finding more things everyday that need to be moved out of his reach. Remotes and phones are his favorite but if there is a cord in sight, he is all over it. Another difficulty is his fascination with the dog bowls. Now, my dogs are pretty good about their food. Shelby has actually let him get food out of her bowl while she is eating without complaint. This leads to chewing on the dog bowls (gross, I know!) and what had become an almost weekly occurrence…dumping the water bowl. Still learning here!

6) Mommy guilt. That’s right. I feel so horrible when my dogs get in trouble, which is probably part of the reason they are such a mess. This has, however, taught me to be consistent with punishment. But there is no greater guilt than punishing your child for doing something dangerous and making him cry. I now understand the phrase “This is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you.”

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As my son grows and I continue to learn how this mommy thing works, I’m sure I will find more lessons I’ve been taught by my dogs to handle my son. And when I have another, I will know how to handle sibling quarreling. You can break up a fight with the broom, right? Unfortunately, I do realize I will not be able to make them sleep outside!

Makeup Review: Covergirl Full Lash Bloom

Before I give my review of this product, I would like to say a quick word about Influenster. After going over my blog posts, I realized I have never written about them. Influenster is a different kind of social media platform, where you have the chance to be part of a community of fellow reviewers sharing their opinions on all kinds of products from baby items to favorite cereals and the newest tech and gadgets. On top of that, you can be selected to review boxes in the mail full of new products waiting to be tested and reviewed. It’s absolutely free and the more you participate, the better your chances for getting selected to receive a box. You must give it a try!

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That being said, thanks to Influenster for sending me a new product from Covergirl: Full Lash Bloom Mascara. Now, I am very picky when it comes to mascara. I have short, stubby eyelashes, that tend to be uncooperative and fall out at the worst times! As luck (and genetics) would have it, my brother has the most beautiful eyelashes you have ever seen. Go figure! Anyway, when I found out I was getting the Covergirl #gobloom Voxbox, I wasn’t very excited. I don’t have a lot of luck with mascara in the first place and for a mascara that boast to be light and weightless – forget it! Might as well call this one a bust. But, since I had been slacking in my online participation, I hadn’t gotten a box in a while, so I decided to give it a try. Plus, it was so cute and pink, I just had to open it!

Now, when reviewing for Influenster, you are not required to praise the product you’ve been given or even give it a good review. What good would this service be if we weren’t entirely honest. Having said that, I LOVE this mascara!!! I goes on smooth, no clumping, and barely feels like it’s there. On top of that, it comes off super easy, so you don’t have to worry about losing eyelashes every night when you’re taking your makeup off. Also, Covergirl’s website states “Full Lash Bloom Mascara is also safe for contact lens wearers and is ophthalmologically tested” which is great for a contact wearer like myself.

In summary, Covergirl Full Lash Bloom Mascara gets an A+ from me! Don’t forget to check out Influenster.com!

I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

You’re going to breastfeed, right?

I recently read an article entitled “This Blog Is Going To Embarrass My Husband”, a great article about loving your body. (Check it out here.) And while the subject matter is somewhat different, I can say the same for this blog. By now, I have rewritten this blog about 10 times. Why? Because I know there are struggling breastfeeding mom’s out there who may need it and I am amazed at the lack of information and support for this subject. Yes, there is an over-abundance of material available for the breastfeeding mom and advice from activists about the important of breastfeeding. By the time you have your child, you have decided one way or another on this matter. However, just because you made up your mind doesn’t make it so.

It’s the same sad story. You hear it everyday, especially when you’re pregnant. A veteran mom explaining her breastfeeding woes and how she had to resort to infant formula. She assures you everything will be fine and it will not be a disaster if you aren’t able to breastfeed. Well, I don’t know about you but in the back of my mind, I could not understand why it would be so difficult? Oh, little naive first-time mommy! My son, for reasons unknown, would not nurse. He wouldn’t latch properly, he would scream when I tried to position him and he wasn’t getting enough milk for sufficient weight-gain. I was so afraid of putting him on formula because I wanted the best for him. I felt like a total failure for not being able to do what is so natural for many women. That’s when I found Kelly Mom: a breastfeeding/parenting site. Here is the link where I finally found some answers. I saved my life…and my sanity.

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Kelly Mom (whoever this wonderful person is) introduced me to the world of Exclusive Pumping – an alternative to traditional breastfeeding.  My advice is to start there if you are considering giving up breastfeeding. She explains how it is entirely possible and can be very successful to pump milk for your newborn, without having to nurse or switch to formula. Now, don’t get me wrong. This is hard. And it may not be for everyone. It takes a lot of dedication and determination, which normally, I do not have! And what works for me may not work for you. However, it is definitely worth it and looking back, I would do it all over again.

I hope to write more blogs going into depth on this subject at a later time but for know, we will skim the surface and hopefully, provide some helpful information. (Lots of my info is taken from Kelly Mom’s blog and websites like it. I will post my resources as we come to them.)

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The most important thing is to have a good breast pump. For me, I borrowed a Medela Pump in Style Advanced. It’s a double electric pump that came in a backpack, which made if very convenient and discreet to carry it with me.

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Another lifesaver if you are exclusively pumping is the Medela Hands-Free Pumping Bra. I know it looks silly and you will feel like a milking cow every time you put it on but believe me, it is a lifesaver. You can put this on and start your pump, and have your hands free to feed your baby at the same time (which is important to keeping your pumping schedule). I will also admit that when I was slammed for time, I wore this while I was driving (with a cover, of course!). And remember, you will be following your baby’s feeding schedule with your pumping schedule and after 48 straight hours of pumping every 3 hours, your arms will be tired from holding your pump. So invest!!

Those are the 2 main items that you will need to get started but there are some other thing that are just as important and some that just make things easier.

  • Storage bags. Chances are, you will eventually be pumping more than your little one eats at one feeding. These are great to freeze for later use, when you finish breastfeeding or for when you return to work. (Fact: Frozen breastmilk can be stored for up to 6 months.) Now, these can get somewhat expense when you are exclusively pumping and are constantly storing new milk in the fridge. Amazon has a great price on the large boxes here. I also found that you can purchase cheap bottles at the Dollar Store, take the nipples out and use those as your fridge storage. (These, of course, will not work for the freezer.)
  • Sanitizing bags. Medela has Quick-Clean Micro-Steam bags that can be put in the microwave to sterilize your pumping accessories as well as bottles. Here is the link to them on Babies ‘R Us.
  • Brushes. You are going to be washing your pump parts and bottles a lot at first, so stock up on bottle brushes!
  • Nursing cover. Udder Covers offers a free nursing cover to all new mommies. Chances are, you probably got emails about this when you were pregnant but you can always find this deal online. All you have to pay for is shipping. Great deal! Click here to check them out!

These are some simple rules I learned while I was pumping:

1) DO NOT SHAKE BREASTMILK. Be sure to swirl it in the bottle and NO microwaving.

2) Drink lots of water. I hate water and I absolutely cannot drink it without some kind of flavoring in it. When it comes to breastfeeding, you will find out quickly that if you don’t stay hydrated, you are in big trouble. I kept a bottle of water with me at all times – in my purse, in the diaper bag. I even carried my bottle of flavoring with me. It doesn’t matter how you get it down, make sure you are constantly drinking water or it will affect your milk supply.

3) Stress is the #1 milk supply killer. Make sure you are relaxed and stress-free when you’re pumping. Read a book, watch a movie or talk to your baby to keep your mind distracted.

4) Keep a strict schedule until you establish your milk supply. This is VERY important when exclusively pumping! This blog explains how milk production works and will better help you understand why you need a schedule.

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Head spinning yet? It’s a lot to take in and a big thing to take on, so do your research before committing to it. You don’t want to jump head first only to discover this is not for you. The most important thing is to be happy with your decision and to get the most time with your new little one while you can. Before long, they will be all grown up and you will long to have those days back. Happy pumping!

Also, check out these great blogs while your searching for answers!

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