Tuesday, December 31, 2013

NYE Giveaway!


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.

I'm mixing up today's Baby Talk with a fun little giveaway!

Another year has come and gone in the blink of an eye. I think New Years is sort of a bittersweet holiday, it's sad saying goodbye to a year filled with memories but is also exciting welcoming a new year filled with so much promise. Overall, 2013 was a great year! We went to weddings, welcomed babies, went on a couple of vacations, had tons of fun and experienced lots of big milestones with our daughter. 2013 also came with it's fair share of challenges and I'm anxious to use what I've learned in 2013 to make 2014 the best year yet!

One highlight of 2013 for me was the revamp of this blog. It was no secret that I was completely uninspired, wasn't loving to blog and was about ready to just throw in the towel. I am so happy that I got through my funk, got a spark of inspiration, and am back to absolutely LOVING this blog again.

My favorite thing about blogging is connecting with people. Especially now that I'm a mom, I absolutely love to get all of your ideas and opinions and read your stories. It's such an amazing community of support and I am grateful to be a part of it.

I wanted to do something special for my readers, since you're the reason I'm still here and still loving this blog. SO, to say farewell to 2013 and welcome in 2014, I am giving away a little gift box of my favorite things as a thank you! Thank you for reading, thank you for following, thank you for commenting and thank you for inspiring me to continue to do something I really love!

So, here's what one of you lucky ladies {or gentleman} will win....
*Smashbox Makeup Bag perfect for your purse!
*Smashbox "Try It" Kit which includes samples of Photo Finish Foundation Primer, Photo Finish Lid Primer, Lip Enhancing Gloss in Illume, Full Exposure Mascara, Limitless Eye Liner in Onyx}
*$5 Starbucks gift card, enjoy your favorite drink on me!
*Comfy pink socks, which I pretty much live in all winter long
*Yes to Cucumbers face wipes, perfect for lazy girls like me who don't like to wash their face
*A pack of 5 gum, the best gum there is
*Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Minis, have you tried these?! So frickin good!
*Aromi Lipstick in Merlot, I'm obsessed with this lipstick! 

All you need to do is use this fancy little tool below to enter & I will announce a winner on Friday! 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Our Holiday Season {2013}

Happy Post-Holiday Monday my friends. I am back at it after a nice long 10 day holiday vacation and let me tell you, the time off was wonderful! Wonderful to have time away from work, to spend time with my family and my friends, to celebrate the birth of Jesus and thank God for our abundance of blessings, to eat amazing food, drink amazing drinks, and then to have a couple days to recover from it all as well. 

These past few weeks have been jam packed with festivities like getting our first real Christmas tree, celebrating my 29th birthday, going to my 10 year High School reunion, meeting Santa, celebrating a friend's engagement, spending time with our families, opening presents, cheering for the Gophers in the Texas Bowl {which we lost, boo!} and spending an afternoon at the ranch! 

The past few weeks have been some of our busiest ever, and while it was all fantastic I am really excited to kick off the new year in a low key fashion and am really looking forward to a January with close to NO plans...hallelujah! If you need me, I'll be on the couch...for the entire month. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Happy Monday my friends! I am taking this week off from work and blogging to enjoy this special holiday with my family! No matter what your religious beliefs, I hope all of you enjoy the upcoming week and find yourself surrounded by love and faith.

Best wishes from my family to yours.
card designed & printed by Paper Event // photos by Sara Jayne Photography

Friday, December 20, 2013

Red Velvet Candy Cane Cupcakes

I am typically not a big baker, but something about the holidays flips a switch in me and I become Betty frickin Crocker and have the urge to "whip up" festive treats pretty much constantly. My first batch of goodies were meant for our dear friends who just had a baby and they turned out pretty stinkin' good, which means I must share, right?



What you need: 
-1 box of Red Velvet Cake Mix & whatever the mix requires (this particular box was just water, vegetable oil & eggs)
-Bag of Hersey Candy Cane Kisses
-2 Candy Canes (chopped)
-8oz of Cream Cheese (room temperature)
-1 stick of butter (room temperature)
-3 cups of Powder Sugar
-1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

What you do:
-Start by mixing the cupcakes according to the box
-Fill cupcake liners about halfway full then drop a Hersey Kiss in the middle
-Bake according to the box
-Allow cupcakes to COMPLETELY cool (I actually boxed them up overnight)
-Mix room temperature Cream Cheese and Butter on medium speed until fluffy (about 2 minutes)
-Add in Vanilla
-Slowly mix in Powdered Sugar (after adding the 3 cups check the consistency & taste - add more sugar if needed)
-Frost the cupcakes then top with chopped Candy Cane

Yeilds 24 cupcakes

Also, CONGRATULATIONS to Allison who has won the Aromi Beauty Giveaway!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Body Hates Me

My favorite topic in the world is pregnancy/childbirth. I could seriously talk about it all day - my pregnancy, other people's pregnancies, it doesn't matter. I am SO fascinated by what our bodies are able to do and how different an experience it can be for everyone. 

Did you know...

...the uterus will increase by TWENTY times it's original weight and ONE THOUSAND times it's original capacity?

...your blood volume will increase 25-50%?

...your bones soften? 

...your womb can hold 1 liter of water in addition to the full-sized baby in there?

Not to mention about a million other strange things. 

It's no wonder we experience a little wear and tear throughout and after the whole process of mothering a child. I know I for one have a gripe or two. I've been experiencing neck & back pain since 8th grade. It wasn't the result of an accident or an injury or anything, in fact, my theory is that my big boobs and those massive text books I had to carry around started the problem. The pain was always more of a nuisance until I got pregnant. I had back pain almost immediately and it proceeded to increase as I got bigger and bigger. I also had awful back labor. 

Since having Kenley, I've noticed a few other weird little quirks like restless leg syndrome when I'm in bed, tingling and cramping in my hands AND of course there was my 6 week stint with bells palsy right after Kenley was born. 

It's been over a year since Kenley was born and it feels like my ailments are just getting worse. It was a pretty bad fall on Thanksgiving and a severe pinched nerve in my neck a week later that finally put me over the edge. I knew I needed to do SOMETHING to get some relief. My dad suggested I try a Health & Wellness Chiropractor that him and my aunt visit. And so I did. 

Turns out I have an inverted neck curve. A normal person's neck should look like this:
see how it kind of makes that reversed "C" shape?

Well here's my neck:
definitely the opposite of what it's supposed to look like. 

While I can't blame the structure of my neck on motherhood, the chiropractor did say that the extra weight, hormones and general wear my body has gone through in the last 20 months most likely have made this problem worse. It's also probable that it's the cause of the bells palsy as well as the hand numbness and restless legs. 

Needless to say I am thrilled that I finally bit the bullet and went in to get some help. I am sick and tired of being in constant pain and am definitely over wincing every time I pick up my daughter. 

With the help of the chiropractor I have come up with a plan to reverse this problem and eliminate this darn pain. With some corrective stretching {ie Yoga}, stabilizing/strengthening exercises and regular chiropractic visits/massages I am hoping to be good as new and strong as can be before I go down that pregnancy road again {if I should be so lucky.}

Do any of you see a chiropractor? I have been so skeptical for so many years and am still not completely sold. If it's going to help, by all means I will go, but I don't want to get suckered in to anything I don't need. What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Lyla's Birth Story {08.19.12}

I am so excited about today's birth story! Angela is one of my favorite mama bloggers and her little lady Lyla is just too stinkin' cute. I admire Angela so much for the incredible natural birth that she had! As you all know I wanted a natural birth so bad and when it came down it, I just couldn't do it. So, I have MAD respect for the mamas, like Angela, out there are who are able to do it naturally. 



Lyla's Birth Story: A Natural Perspective

Ok. I have to warn you right now. The following post, written by someone else at one time would have been quite revolting to me. However, our birth story is just too important to me not to share.

So, stop reading now if you do not want the gory details of birth. ;)

It's a long one. (And I've even shortened it as my"personal" birth story was 8 pages typed. YIKES.)

I went into this pregnancy hoping for a natural childbirth. Which for me meant that I wanted to deliver drug-free and with the least amount of interventions possible (e.g. being induced, c-section, etc.) At first, it was something I wanted but was okay if it didn't happen. Then, we took a 12 week course called The Bradley Method, and I became fully committed half-way through the class. I was motivated and determined to make this happen. And both Gabe and I were VERY educated and VERY prepared by the time I went into labor.

As of Tuesday {08.14.13}, I had been checked at the doctor. Although I was dilated to 1 1/2-2 cm and 70% effaced, my doctor told me, "You are definitely not having your baby this week." I was still carrying way too high.

Friday, after completing my first week back to school, I lost my mucus plug. And people kept commenting on how I must have dropped overnight. Didn't think much of it.

Saturday morning (38 1/2 weeks pregnant), I woke up to my alarm around 7:00 a.m. Gabe was just getting off the night shift and going to bed. I went to my favorite exercise swim class. During swim, I had two pretty significant contractions. I'd been having Braxton Hicks contractions the entire last half of my pregnancy, but these two were completely different. I had to stop what I was doing and sort of focus on them. Still didn't think much of it.

Felt pretty crampy and sick all morning, sort of flu-like. This made me a little concerned because in class we had learned how one major sign of early labor is feeling like you had the flu. But I ate breakfast. Got a phone call from one of my best friends in Atlanta. Had 3 contractions during this conversation. Laughed about it and told her, "How crazy if I go into labor today...but that's obviously not going to happen because I KNOW I'm having this baby late".

Things continued to be sporadic like this all early afternoon. A contraction here and a contraction there. Then 2:00 p.m. hit. Things started to get a bit more intense. Contractions were coming on stronger, and it finally crossed my mind that this really could be it. I remembered from class to continue on like any normal day during early labor. So, I decided to let Gabe sleep...because if I was in labor I was going to need him bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. We had work to do.

So, to pass the time, I went to my parents. Within an hour, I'd had 5 contractions. Strong, intense, and I couldn't talk through them. But I could walk through them.

At this point, I was still in denial. I truly thought I was experiencing "false labor". I think I was freaked out because I'd had several friends who went to the hospital too early due to false labor. But my mom thought otherwise. She encouraged me to start timing contractions.

So although I began labor early Saturday morning, I consider around 3:00 to be when things got real. Labor was in full force. The contractions were painful, intense, and were following a pattern. I had one every 20 minutes. Then by 5:00, I decided to head home to wake my husband because I was at 10 minutes apart.

I woke Gabe up by saying, "Well, I'm pretty sure you're going to meet your daughter tonight." He groggily looked at me...and I'm not so sure he took me seriously. Contractions kept getting stronger and closer together. We had a birthday party that night, and I still got ready to go. I mean, if I was going to be in labor for a super long time, I figured I should have fun, right?


I decided last-minute we should just go get pizza. Like a last meal, just the two of us. But we made it about 1/2 block down the neighborhood street and I yelled at Gabe to STOP THE CAR. I contracted. Then, I looked at him and told him there was no way we were going to get pizza. So he dropped me back of at home and went and picked one up. I scarfed down 3 pieces in between contractions.

By 7:00 p.m., I hit the "serious" emotional signpost (Bradley Method term meaning you are heading into active labor). My contractions were now anywhere from 3-5 minutes apart. Very painful. Some absolutely intolerable. I was rating them between a 6 and a 9 on the pain scale. But Gabe helped me relax through them. We spent about an hour in our living room. Right on a chair with pillows. He was timing with his iphone and recording in a little black notebook. I asked him if he thought I was having false labor, and he just looked at me and said, "Well, you're not due for another week and a half, so let's just wait this out." Thanks for the support, babe.

I told him if this was false labor, then I wasn't doing "real labor".  Just wouldn't happen.

An hour passed. Now, I was contracting anywhere from 1-3 minutes apart. We moved throughout the house. We tried to go for a walk, but couldn't make it out the door. We spent much of this time "dancing" (where we both stand and I lean on Gabe to contract). I got on the exercise ball. I got on my hands and knees on our bed and on the floor. Nothing felt good at this point.

Another hour passed. Some of my contractions were right on top of each other - no break in between. We debated whether to go to the hospital. You are typically supposed to go if you've contracted for an hour straight every 3-5 minutes. This had been going on over 2 hours now.

Gabe decided to call Wendy, our Bradley instructor, just to pick her brain. She coached me through 2 consecutive contractions. She told Gabe this was definitely NOT false labor. This was it! She advised us to try the bathtub, but if this pattern continued for another 30 minutes, we needed to head to the hospital asap.

I got in the tub. It felt amazing in between contractions. But that was only 1 minute reprieve at this point. Actual contractions were unbearable. So, we decided to go to the hospital. Gabe ran around the house like a mad man...because he hadn't packed his hospital bag like I'd been telling him to do for weeks. But he had to stop what he was doing about every minute to come and help me contract. I'm sure it was quite the sight to see.

As he loaded stuff in the car, I contracted on my hands and knees...in the front seat. He ran back inside to grab a few more things. Later, we would find out, in the chaos of everything, he left my purse on the front porch. All.night.long.

I contracted 7 times in the car on the 12 minute car ride. Not fun at all. Then, while waiting to be checked in (even though I had filled out the pre-admission paperwork), I contracted 4 or 5 times. I even went to the hospital bathroom to just keep moving. I ended up contracting on my hands and knees...on a public bathroom floor. Ugh.

We got to our room. Right in the middle of the nurse change-over. This was the biggest blessing ever because we ended up with Nettie. Most amazing nurse of all time. She was so supportive all night. It was about 10:15 p.m. She checked me. She yelled, "You're a 6, Girl!" We fully believe that at this moment, the hospital staff knew I meant business and completely respected our wishes for a natural birth.

My mom arrived and was the best little delivery/support person ever. She provided water and ice chips for me. She would rub my leg from time to time and tell me "you're almost there", but I would ask her not to talk or touch me. Sorry mom! :( And I know, even though Gabe was doing the coaching, my mom was standing there praying her heart out for her own baby who was in desperate pain.

After about one hour, I felt like I was starting to lose my mind. But I was dilated to a 7, which meant I was progressing.  I really believe I was progressing because I was able to "relax" through contractions. It's amazing what the whole relaxation technique can do. Nettie the nurse told me that even during my strongest contractions, my blood pressure was lower than she'd seen and sometimes she couldn't even tell I was in pain...even though the monitor was jumping off the scale. I assured her I was absolutely in pain, just trying to relax through it.

It's funny. We brought our "bag of tricks" to help us get through labor: rolling pin, tennis balls, towels, for massages, etc. and we never used one. At one point, I asked Gabe to turn on some music, he did. And I immediately told him to turn it off. We stuck to two positions pretty much all night: me sitting on the edge of the bed with my hands on Gabe's thighs (who sat directly across from me), and then switching places with him to be in a chair and he on the edge of the bed. The thought of lying on my back (which is how most people labor) made me want to die. The only times I had to lie on my back is when they had to check me. And it was by far the most excruciating part of labor. I would get up immediately when they were done. I HATED being on my back.

Then the resident came in to check me. Still a dang 7. And my bag of waters was "bulging" and completely intact. My heart sank. I grabbed Gabe's face and told him I wanted an epidural. Yep. I said it. More than once. But he and my mom reminded me that is not what I wanted and that I was almost there. So, I pushed through it. And an hour later, I was an 8!!!

This is when things got really dark and grim for me. (However, this is a sign that you're almost there!) I began to completely lose control of my body. I was shaking uncontrollably, and I felt the desperate urge to push and/or go to the bathroom. Nettie wouldn't even let me go to the bathroom on the toilet for fear I would push out a baby. The problem? I still had 2 cm to go, and she kept telling me, "Angela, you CANNOT push". Little did I know I was in the transition phase of labor (by FAR the worst, most awful part for me). I swore I would not yell or make weird noises while laboring. HA! I had absolutely no control. Some contractions forced me to scream, push (against Nettie's and the resident's orders), and groan so loudly. One time, I contracted so hard, I fell out of the chair onto the floor. During contractions, I can remember apologizing to everyone in the room for "being so dramatic." The residents all kept saying, "Are you kidding me? We NEVER see this. You are doing amazing." But I still felt so embarrassed for all my noise.

This continued for what seemed like an eternity (3 hours in reality). And I later found out that this is unusual as an average transition time is 1 to 1 1/2 hours. My body kept pushing, and the doctors did everything they could to make me not push. Sorry. No control there. After what seemed like days later, the resident came in to check me. I heard him say something about being "AC" - Almost Complete. This means that I was a 9 1/2. One half cm to go...are you kidding me? I told him to just stretch my cervix to get to a 10. He smiled and said he couldn't do that.

I think at this point I told everyone I was done. I just wasn't doing this anymore, and I'm leaving! But Gabe and mom cheered me on and reminded me the baby was almost here. Everyone said I was doing such a good job, but I kept telling them I wasn't doing a good job. At the time, I felt like everyone was just saying I was almost there just to make me feel better. But I really was almost there.

I somehow made it through transition. And I was finally a 10. Ready to ACTUALLY push. I did this with my mom and Gabe holding my legs up to my chest during contractions while I pushed. I pushed HARD for an hour. I have to admit. I thought this would be the "I'm in the clear" part. I had focused so much on the first part of labor, I was totally not prepared for how hard pushing was.

At one point, the resident said, "She has a FULL head of hair". I got so excited - "So, you can see the head?" He told me yes. I told him he was lying. He told me to feel it. I got scared to feel anything. But he encouraged me to, and I felt my baby's head. And that's all I needed. I pushed with all my might. And my water FINALLY broke.

But the look on the doctor's faces told me this wasn't a good thing. My baby had a bowel movement. This can be very dangerous. So, they told me I would not be able to do skin-to-skin immediately (this was my #1 on my birth plan). I began to cry. Gabe and mom encouraged me this was the best thing. To make sure baby was safe. So, I kept pushing.

After an hour, the doctor told Gabe that baby's head was too big and I was about to have a really bad tear. So, I got an episiotomy. Something I did not want to do. However, now, I am SO happy with that decision.

After the episiotomy and a few intense pushes that made me feel like I was going to explode, there she was. Our baby. Our sweet little angel.

To be honest, I was so exhausted. So relieved. I had given every ounce of myself. And I just remember being amazed the baby was out. And that we created her. But then they took her away. And I just watched from my bed. Exhausted and emotional. I didn't even realize (which turned out to be a good thing), that the umbilical chord was wrapped around baby. Another reason why they had to take her from me.

After about 2 minutes of checking her out, they brought her to me. And we did skin-to-skin for one hour. She immediately crawled (literally) to my breast to nurse. It was amazing. I was in awe of her. And I never wanted to let her go. So I didn't. This hour was so peaceful and calm and intimate. I truly felt like I was in a dream. And then they transferred us to my recovery room. Baby girl didn't sleep for 12 hours. She was so alert, so with it. She couldn't wait to explore the new world around her.

I will probably never, ever experience something as mentally, physically, and emotionally trying as natural childbirth. Ever. So, now that it has been 5 days, and I've had time to process...would I do it all over again? Absolutely. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. And yes, I will try to do it with Baby # 2. It was a beautiful experience, and I am SO happy I did it. And what I experienced with Gabe is something unexplainable. The teamwork, determination, and encouragement bonded us in a way that can never be broken. And now we have a perfectly healthy and beautiful baby girl that is part of US. And I'm not gonna lie. I feel like a champion. 

You can follow Angela at Ruby Red Slippers.

to submit your birth story, email me at mamaandmou@gmail.com