Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Potty Training

It's Tuesday and it's time for...

Here's what you do:
1. Write a post about ANYTHING baby {or pregnancy} related.
2. Add my button to your post.
3. Link your post with the link-up tool found at the end of all of my posts.

As of today we will officially be potty training. 

Lord help me. 

The past few weeks Kenley has become very interested in her private parts, has been going WAY longer in between wet diapers and will go either into the bathroom or to her changing table if you ask her if she's gone potty - so it just seems like the right time. 

I've heard all kinds of different methods of potty training but it seems as though the most popular is the 3-day no pants method. I know this has worked for some of our friends and I totally get how it could be effective {and fast} but I don't know if I have the patience to sit at home for three straight days with a crazy toddler in no pants. That's just me. 

So our plan of attack is to take this nice and slow and stress free. We're in no rush but want to get the ball moving {the thought of no more diapers makes me giddy!} so we're going to get a potty chair and let Kenley explore it, practice sitting on it and somehow start equating it with her dirty diapers. 

Kenley and I are going to go buy her chair today and I'm leaning towards this one...
But of course I can't possibly start this major process without asking my beloved blog friends who have already been in my shoes for ideas, tips & advice! My buddy Andrea sent me an AWESOME email with what worked for her and her daughter Avrie...but now I want to know...WHAT DID YOU DO? How did you potty train your little? What potty did you use? How long did it take? How much wine did you drink?

Let's have it....

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Customizable Chicken Tortilla Soup

A while back, I attempted Chicken Tortilla Soup for the first time. I started out with this recipe for a Paleo version and quickly found that I wanted to make it my own. 

The base of this recipe is really simple and really delicious and could easily be customized to fit your likes or dietary restrictions. Paleo, Yeast Free, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Low Carb, Low Fat, Vegetarian, or None of the Above are all option as you will see below. 

No matter how you plan to customize this recipe, here is what you will need:
Obviously, if you're a vegetarian omit the chicken. If you are yeast free or paleo you're ready to rock. If you want to mix it up a little, do as I did and add 1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt and reduced fat shredded cheese to your grocery list. I also added sliced tortilla to Jason's because he needs the extra calories to fill him up. 

Here's what you do:
Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Lightly coat the bottom of the pot with olive oil and add your onion and garlic to let simmer. Once the onions are soft and lightly browned add the vegetable stock and vegetables and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, slice your chicken into 1/2 inch strips. Add the chicken, seasoning and tomato paste. Cook on low for 2 hours or until the veggies are soft. 

Once the chicken is cooked, it should shred pretty easily. I removed all the chicken slices, threw them on a plate and shredded with two forks then returned the chicken to the soup. At this point taste test the soup and add salt and pepper to your liking. 

If you so choose, stir in the Greek yogurt right before serving, adding a somewhat creamy texture to your soup. 

Finally, garnish as you wish, some ideas would be....
-Flour or Corn Tortilla
-Shredded Cheese
-Sour Cream

I simply used half an avocado, a tbsp of shredded cheese and a little extra cilantro.

Yum! Yum! Yum!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Maternity Leave

I'm far from a feminist, in fact I'd like to get my hands on the chick that decided it was a good idea to burn her bra and get everyone all riled up....doesn't she realize she had a good thing going? 
staying at home...cooking...cleaning...having babies....

I'm kidding. Kind of

I'm glad the women of our past blazed trails and gave the career driven chicas out there the opportunity to work hard and do what they love.It sucks for those of us whose dream job is being a full-time mama and wife but whatever...can't win em all. 

Along those lines, I don't like talking about politics. Political rants drive me crazy. I think everyone has a right to an opinion and while I have pretty strong political views I prefer to keep my mouth shut...not because I'm ignorant, not because I don't care but because everyone has an opinion and me disagreeing and getting all fired up isn't going to change that opinion.


There is one issue that really gets me going {well, there are several but this one I won't keep my mouth shut on}....MATERNITY LEAVE. 

Did you know that the United States is the ONLY industrialized country in the entire world that doesn't offer paid maternity leave?
Because of some bull $h*t that went down at my former place of employment, I was only on maternity leave for six weeks. SIX WEEKS. Yup, I returned to my desk just six weeks after giving birth. I was no where near the mental state to be functioning at a job - I was still recovering, I was exhausted, I was hormonal, I was emotional to the extreme. I had JUST gotten breastfeeding established and it was finally going great, just in time for me to return to work and be away from my baby for 8 hours a day which needless to say damaged my breastfeeding relationship and supply. The stress and anxiety of childcare and leaving my baby with someone else was overwhelming and nearly paralyzing - and I was lucky enough to leave my daughter with our parents. The days leading up to that first day back were some of my all time worst. I know that returning to work is hard for a mama whether it's after six weeks or six months, but six weeks is too soon! While there was no permanent damage done to me or to Kenley {that I know of} it was an unnecessary stress six weeks in to my child's life and frankly is was unfair.

My friend Kari, shared this article "Dear America, please tell Congress we want paid maternity leave" and I absolutely love it! The author has some amazing points and information on the issue and I encourage all of you to read it!

Also, those of you who are pregnant or plan to be sometime soon, make sure you understand your company's policies on maternity leave as soon as humanly possible so that you can plan accordingly. If you need to save up money or save up vacation days in preparation for maternity leave, it's better to know that 9 months {or more} before baby comes! I'd also recommend making yourself familiar with the current maternity leave laws just to be sure your company is in line.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Weight Gain/Loss Story

I've made it no secret that I'm trying to lose weight. In fact I've pretty much been trying to lose weight for the past 10 years. My 2014 resolution was to Work B*word in regards to all aspects of my life, but my body definitely tops the list {I know, so cliche}. I have been doing great but for what seems like the 700th time I am stuck at the same stupid number! It's so frustrating and so discouraging. Yesterday, Carolyn introduced me to the blog Mama Laughlin {which is now my new obsession} and I spent more time than I care to admit reading it. One thing she said was putting her story out there and getting feedback and encouragement from blog readers really pushed her - so I thought maybe if I shared my story and got your stories {what has worked and what hasn't} in return...I might find a way to break past this dang number! 
First, I feel the need to say that I've been self conscious about my body for as long as I can remember and am striving to get to a place where I feel confident and am taking really good care of myself. Everyone has a different body and a different body image. While I know that I am no longer overweight, I do know that I have some areas that can use improvement. There is definitely a number I would really love to see on the scale but my main goal is to feel amazing in my own skin.So no need for the super sweet "you don't need to lose weight! you look great!" comments - this isn't a sympathy seeking post it's a help me get out of this rut post!

So let's take a little trip down weight gain and loss road...shall we?!

High School / Freshman Year of College 
Like most women, I was my smallest in high school {and before, obviously} and thanks to living at home and not drinking a drop of alcohol until Spring Break of my Freshman year of college I stayed my high school weight through my first year of college. 

Then I lived on campus...and went to parties {like every day}...and went to Santanas for cheese curds...and lived 2 blocks from McDonalds.  I zoomed right past the college 15 and gained the college 30. I look back at these pictures and am so grossed out, not because of how much I weighed but because of how unhealthy I was! I think of my lifestyle then and cannot believe I didn't gain more than 30 pounds. 

After College
After college, {thanks to some major boy drama} I dropped 20 pounds. BUT, I definitely was not healthy about it. I would go the whole day without eating and then have a massive unhealthy dinner, then go workout at like 11:00pm. I also had the most unhealthy sleep habits - I had major insomnia back in the day. So although I was looking pretty good, I was not at all healthy.

 After Jason
Once Jason and I started dating I put on about 10 pounds of happy weight and have been fluctuating ever since. I'd go up 5 and then down 5 and back up again. At this point I was definitely more conscious of my food decisions and knew what I needed to do to lose weight/be healthy but I was happy and having fun and was more concerned about that than trying to lose weight. 

And then came my precious bun in the oven! I tried to remain healthy during pregnancy which was incredibly difficult when I had really strong aversions to both meat and vegetables. Pasta & Fruit were my best friends during those days {and don't even get me started on the sweets}! I am proud to say that I walked over 250 miles during pregnancy, swam a ton and took several yoga classes to try and stay "in shape". However, I definitely wasn't about to beat myself up about gaining weight, ummm, you're SUPPOSED to gain weight to grow that little one! I stayed within the recommended 25-35 pounds {barely} and gained 34 pounds during my pregnancy.

After Baby 
After Kenley was born I was able to lose about 25 pounds of baby weight with little to no effort. Granted 6 pounds 14 ounces of that was a baby, but I pushed her out so it totally counts!

And then there I sat. Down 25 pounds from my pregnancy weight but still 10 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight and 20 pounds from my goal weight. I breastfed for 6 months, dieted on and off and ultimately yo-yo'ed up and down 5-10 pounds. Once Kenley's first birthday rolled around I came to the harsh realization that this was no longer baby weight....it was just weight.
It was after Christmas that I realized I really needed to make a change. I was the heaviest I had ever been {without a baby in my belly} and I felt terrible. I hated how I looked, how I felt, how my clothes fit, etc. But more than anything, I realized I wasn't healthy. I was eating like crap, not working out and my body was definitely taking an overall toll. So, just before New Years we signed up for the gym again, I purged all the junk from our fridge and cabinets, I made a weekly budget friendly plan to buy and eat healthy foods, vowed to cut back on alcohol and overall lead a healthier lifestyle.

I started 2014 with a vengeance and lost 10 pounds in January and was on a killer streak of eating great, working out and feeling awesome. After my trip to Vegas, the stress of leaving my job and then my trip to Arizona, I majorly lost my way and gained back 6 of those 10 hard lost pounds. Upon my return, I decided it was once again time to get on track and make a change for good. I came up with a little system reboot that would get me back on track in a serious way. And it did! I started with a One-Day Zula Juice Cleanse and followed that with mostly clean eating, calorie counting on MyFitnessPal {let's be friends!} and crazy FitBit {let's be friends!} stalking. I lost 7.5 pounds in a week and was back down to the weight I had worked so hard for in January. 

And now, today, I am back to this dreaded number I have been at a million times before...I am ounces away from my pre-baby weight and ounces away from a number I haven't seen in 2.5 years!

As far as the overall goal goes, here's where I stand:
Weight loss goal: 42 pounds
Total weight loss: 34 pounds
Pounds to go: 13 pounds

to read the rest of my baby weight posts, click HERE!
So now it's your turn. Tell me what has worked for you! 
What did you do to break past your plateau number?

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

{Guest Mama} Helmet Baby


Here's what you do:
1. Write a post about ANYTHING baby {or pregnancy} related.
2. Add my button to your post.
3. Link your post with the link-up tool found at the end of all of my posts.

A couple of months ago I shared the birth story of little Cruz, the adorable little man to Katie from Yellow Mango Life. Katie is back today to share her story about life with a helmet baby. We've all seen babies wearing helmets but I know that until I read Cruz's story, I didn't understand exactly why they were wearing them. Katie had such a great outlook and shares some great tips - so please read on!


Yellow Mango Life


Yes. I was a helmet baby mom.
My helmet baby
I had been getting questions from other mamas about our experience with Cruz wearing a helmet, so I thought it best to jot down our story and my thoughts in one fancy, little post.

If you haven't dealt with this personally or know someone who has, chances are you don't know much about those babies you see with helmets on their noggins. The misconception is that kiddos have to wear them because their parents never pick them up and/or because they've been on their back too much, so they have a flat spot that needs fixing.

Could that be true in some situations? Absolutely. And prior to being forced into learning more about it, I thought the same thing (shame on me).

Was that true in our situation? No.

Our story. When Cruz was born, we noticed a slight indentation in his left jawline. Our doctor said this would correct itself in a few days and was nothing serious, but that was when he was on the inside, the left side of his face was shoved up against my pelvis bone. Little did we know that this also caused his head to be pushed facing right for a good majority of the last trimester (we think). But we weren't led to believe anything was wrong.

We recognized early on in Cruz's life that he preferred to lay with his head to the right - whether he was sleeping, on his floor mat, you name it. Or with his head resting on his left shoulder.
Normal sleeping position, head leaning on his left shoulder
Head resting on the back right side of his head (eventually causing a flat spot)
We also started noticing a slight flat spot at the back/right of his head. At his two month check-up, we mentioned this to our pediatrician and after checking his head, she referred us to Omaha Physical Therapy to meet with a PT and get some exercises to do at home to work on his neck's range of motion. We did these a full two months before we were told that while they were working, he would still need a helmet to fully repair the flatness.

Cruz had Torticollis (tightness in the muscle that connects breastbone & collarbone to the skull), which caused severe Plagiocephaly (which is essentially flat head syndrome). Because of that tightness he suffered from Torticollis in his left side of his neck, he didn't have full range of motion in his neck and whenever he was on his back he would only rest on the back right of his head which caused a flat spot. For children with full range of motion, they rotate from sleeping/laying on the left, right or center, which reduces flatness in one specific area.
PT recommended making him sleep with his head to the left.
You can see its uncomfortable for him & not full range of motion.
He couldn't turn completely to the left because of  his Torticollis.

Lots of tummy time - head to the left only to stretch out his tight neck muscle.
The mirror helped to keep him occupied.

Had to prop his head to the center in his car seat, otherwise always fell to his left shoulder.

Our first question, of course, what would happen if we didn't get the helmet? The answer: he could have problems with his jawline & being able to eat properly, his face could be slightly deformed because the flat spot essentially pushes everything forward so the right side of his face was not in line with the left. It could result in issues with his sinus cavity and issues with his eyesight.  Well, we weren't going to risk any of that if it was in any way preventable.

Based on this, we were referred to Trust Orthotics to learn more and get fitted for his cranial remolding helmet. On April 12th, we got out helmet. To be honest, it sucked. The first day was especially hard, but the first week was rough. That's the transitioning period from getting used to wearing it for a couple hours a day (the first day) to wearing it 23 hours a day by the end of the first week.

Check-ups. Throughout the four months little man donned his helmet, we had regular check-ups at Trust. Mainly to perform his scans and check progress, but also when we noticed the helmet was getting tight in some areas and needed adjusting.

Cruz started at 12 1/2mm variance which fell into the "severe" category and the goal was to get him to 3mm or less.  He had great progress early on, seeing 5mm improvement after the first month! But then as our Orthotist said, there would be good months and bad in terms of improvement. The month he only had 1mm improvement was rough.
He's not too sure about this. (Getting a scan at Trust Orthotics)

First scan (left pic) - check out the flat spot on the back of his head (bottom right of pic). April 2, 2012
Mid-point scan (right pic) - flat spot already rounding out. June 25, 2012

Little man was officially helmet free four months after first getting it. This was August 2012.

A couple of things about this helmet business:

Have fun with it. Or as I like to say: when life gives you lemons, make lemon drops...with lots of vodka. Something like that.

I made some fun onesies for little man to wear during his helmet days. If anything they were super cute and showed that we were having fun with this little situation we were in. And you know me, I love a smart ass message on a t-shirt.

"Just fixin' my melon. Not quite ripe."
"You should see the other guy"

Accessorizing his head gear. Personally, I had known from early on that I wanted to do something with little man's helmet to make it unique. I had found shops that had stickers and appliques, but they weren't really what I was looking for. I stumbled across the Wrap Buddies organization in Dallas, who voluntarily help create custom wraps for cranial remolding helmets and prosthetics. By day they are a graphic design company and by night they help make this situation a bit easier to handle for families who have a child with a helmet...and for free. The cost of a helmet is quite expensive and most often insurance doesn't cover it because they consider it "cosmetic", so Wrap Buddies is an awesome organization that recognized this and wanted to do their part to make it easier on families and the children. They partnered with other companies across the US and we were able to find Sign + Graphics in Sioux Falls, SD to help us with Cruz's helmet.
Bad ass baseball design they created.
Posing with our stylin' little dude
My tips:
  • Yes it sucks. And it's inconvenient and uncomfortable. But it's not that bad & definitely not the end of the world!  Put it into perspective. Some mamas and babies have to endure much more serious diseases and illness. It's a small blip in your kiddo's life and they won't even remember it. Heck, I barely remember it these days.
  • The helmet will SMELL. Really bad. Wash it thoroughly every night (during the hour they are allowed to take it off each day). I never thought my cute, little guy could smell so bad, but it was something like a teenage boy's sock would smell after two-a-day football practice in the 100 degree heat. And the sweat, poor little man would sweat so bad in that thing. Just the nature of the beast unfortunately. Especially since he wore his in the hottest months of summer.
  • You're not the only one - more and more babies are having to get helmets for many different reasons.  I found comfort in approaching other mamas who had a baby with a helmet for advice and just to chat. I also have made sure that when I see them now, I stop them and comment on just how cute their helmet is and tell them we went through it. I remember a woman doing that to me in Target and reassuring me that it will go quickly, that really helped at the time. I also found a Plagiocephaly group on Facebook and took comfort in relating our stories with theirs.
  • People will stare. And they will ask rude questions. And make their own assumptions. Just don't let it bother you and be prepared with a smart ass remark (oh, wait, that's stooping to their level, you say?). Ok. Never mind about that last part. I can remember a punk kid at the mall asking me what was wrong with my kid's head. It caught me off guard and I wish I was prepared to kick his ass, err I mean, with a good comeback.

I hope this helps. Whether your little has to get a helmet or you just never realized why kids have to wear them. I know that I'm much more educated as a result and it has definitely helped me have such a different level of compassion for mamas who have to go through anything that's "not the norm" with their children.

Read more about our helmet journey below...but let me warn you, there was a lot of 'woe is me' going on back then. Don't judge. Evidently I thought it was the end of the world. =)

Physical therapy - 1 / 2
Leading up to the helmet - 1 / 2
Getting used to the helmet - 1 / 2 / 3
Accessorizing our helmet - 1 / 2
Progress - here / here 


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