Archive for the ‘Style’ Category

  • Pregnancy Survival Kit

    Date: 2015.01.21 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Me, Pregnancy, Style | Response: 5

    This is my third pregnancy, which means I may finally be starting to fall into that “experienced” category. This time with twins has been a little different though. 18 solid weeks of morning sickness made me think I’d never happily eat food again, but for once in my life I was encouraged to eat anything I thought I could keep down. After fighting NOT to gain too much weight with Norah, I’ve been amazed that everything I eat this time seems to go straight to the babies – though it also probably helps that, for the most part, I’ve been eating much healthier this time (please ignore that Ben & Jerry’s Greek frozen yogurt that stays in stock in my freezer).

    I’ve also been getting much bigger much, much faster this time around (duh).

    I’m going to say something that may make you want to punch me. I don’t show my pregnancies quickly and I don’t usually get very big. I’m tall and there is a lot of room for those babies to expand before they push outward. With Sarah I was extremely disappointed that I didn’t actually look pregnant until I was 8 months along. With Norah it happened much faster and I got much rounder, but I never got gigantic. Even with the twins, I was about 22 weeks before I had a bump that made people start to wonder. But then, for Christmas this year, I got a real, live, round baby bump – and I was really excited about it.

    But, as these things generally go, with two babies I’ve started expanding very quickly. It’s a good thing! After all it means they are both big and healthy and growing like they should. They are weighing in at nearly two pounds a piece now and tightly snuggled up together, lovingly kicking each other in the heads.

    What I didn’t realize was what this would mean for me. My skin started to hurt! I would get home in the evenings and alternate between wanting to scratch it off and wanting to put ice packs on it. My pelvis felt heavy and walking around for more than 15 minutes slowly started to become uncomfortable. Old scar tissue from past surgeries suddenly started to burn. My sciatic nerve started to rage, leg and foot cramps set in every night and, worst of all, being on my feet for more than 30 minutes started to mean dizziness and near black outs.  I had three close scrapes with nearly passing out after grocery trips followed by sessions of standing and cooking.

    I had some of those problems with my past pregnancies, but never until the third trimester. When I mentioned this to the high-risk doctor, he told me the combined weight of the twins was equivalent to a third trimester pregnancy of a single baby. So it made sense, but that didn’t make it any easier.

    So, what to do? Well, after talking to several friends and doing some research, I found some things that have helped me tremendously.

    1. My friend Kate makes and sells body butter locally. Coven is made from all natural products, including the all-important coconut oil. Plus, it smells like heaven. I started putting it on my belly every night after my shower, paying special attention to the spots where my skin really hurt. And wouldn’t you know it, within two days most of the stretching pain was gone. It also smells like blood oranges, one of my husband’s and my favorite scents. He loves it when I put it on and climb in bed. ($18 You can buy it locally in Shreveport at Agora Borealis, or it’s available by emailing Kate at zombeecandle@gmail.com)
    2. Leg and foot cramps have been especially rough this time. I hear they make oral medication to help with this, and in the past I’ve even gotten on oral magnesium supplements to help ease the pain. Recently though, my friend Cassie introduced me to magnesium spray that you apply to the cramping area and rub into your skin. My only complaint is that it stings a little when you first apply it, but when it gets into the muscle, all cramping stops. Say hello to a night of sleep uninterrupted by leg cramps (now if only something like that would work on my bladder…) (Dr. Barbara Hendel’s Magnesium Oil From the Ancient Zechstein Sea 8 fl oz $12.79 available at amazon.com).
    3. Support. Why am I always so stubborn about wearing this? They make what is essentially a bra for your belly and back and it relieves almost all of my pelvic and sciatic pain. I take it off to eat so I can expand comfortably, then put that sucker back on. It’s amazing. ($38.99 at motherhood.com)
    4. Shoes. I’ve taken to wearing what I affectionately dub as my “old lady shoes” almost every day. I have had these things forever and they have the most comfortable, thick soles on the planet. I have them in black so I can wear them to work and my pants mostly cover them up so they don’t stick out like sore thumbs. These combined with the belly support have made being on my feet with the kids constantly much better. (Saucony Originals  Jazz Sneaker $40 at amazon.com) I’ll take a pair in every color, please.

    Unfortunately there’s not a whole lot I can do for that lightheaded business except chug water and sit down every so often. I’m lucky I can mostly sit at work, but chasing two kids at home makes that whole sitting thing tough. My husband has been a great help, switching laundry loads out (after all, I’ve lost my ability to bend at the middle), cooking dinner, carrying kiddos and generally being a great reminder to sit down and rest already – after all, I don’t want to get landed on bed rest.

    We still have about 11 or so weeks to go (hopefully!) with lots more belly expansion on the way, but we can do it!

  • The Renovation

    Date: 2014.04.01 | Category: Family, Home, Mark, Style | Response: 10

    We bought our house about five years ago. It was originally built in the 1970’s, and has been “updated” by the various tenants who lived in it over the years. The people we bought it from had five children (in a three bedroom house) and had almost no sense of interior decoration. The master bedroom was neon purple. And while they had replaced some of the floors, they chose a cheap floating laminate that was SO LOUD when the dogs ran across it.

    We’ve been slowly working on small improvements since we bought it. We immediately re-painted the neon purple bedroom (with four coats of paint), took down the borders and the stapled-to-the-wall Winnie the Pooh balloon in the other two rooms and painted them, and painted the office. Before Sarah was born, we tore up the original blue carpet from the two other rooms and replaced it.

    The living room though, has always been a bit of an eye sore. While it has awesome vaulted ceilings and plenty of room, it was so drab. It had dated white carpet that I think was original, white walls, white ceilings and brown beams. We kept intending to update it, so we never hung pictures. It was just this awful room of blah.

    I didn’t take any great “before” pictures, but I found some on my phone featuring Sarah. You can see the living room and the hallway in these photos.

    When Cassie came to visit, she insisted we paint it – and we did! It’s much warmer and more inviting now.

    The carpet, however, became a problem. We have two dogs, one who liked to pee in the same spot by the back door. We had juice stains and dog hair and everything else you can possibly imagine to irritate allergies. We had enough and decided to replace it. While we were at it, I insisted we replace the loud laminate in the hallways too to keep the dog toenails from waking up the kids.

    After doing a lot of research and pricing, we ultimately decided to buy the floors through a distributor in Georgia and install it ourselves, saving us somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,500.

    Mark ripped up all the old floors and it’s amazing how much better the house smelled!

    Well, like most home projects, other tangent projects started popping up. Mark wanted to replace our front and back doors before the new floors went in so the thresholds would meet the new floor without looking weird – so he and his dad did that. And then he wanted  to cut down our extremely long to-the-wall fireplace hearth off to give us more room – so he did. And then we needed to prime and paint our hallway, which was a ridiculous and ugly seafoam green, so we did that too. On and on and on. We kept working at it, but still the floors weren’t going down.

    I began to worry because we both wanted it all done before Sarah’s fast approaching birthday party. And while Mark and I are happily married and have been together nearly 11 years, it turns out we have very different philosophies on home improvement projects that result in a lot of arguing. (For example, I’d rather tape and paint quickly, so we can finish a room and move on to the next project, while he was concerned about the direction of brush strokes and meticulously painting around the painters tape “just in case it bled through).

    Needless to say, the thought of taking on the floors ourselves while under the time crunch would have been a very bad idea for a number of reasons.

    Good thing Mark’s parents knew a good floor man. He came and scoped it out and gave us a fantastic price. Plus he has the experience and all the tools to put the floor down. Oh, and he and his brother can do it in one day. What we are paying them is more than enough to save our sanity and the potential arguments that come with home renovations.

    So, as of today, we are the proud owners of new floors, new doors, and a newly painted hallway.

    Oh, and we also paid someone to build us a new gate into our back yard to accommodate Mark’s giant new-to-us lawnmower.

    All we have left to do before the big birthday party is paint and install some new trim… and put together the birthday girl’s new trampoline.

  • Pregnancy and Body Image

    Date: 2013.10.03 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Life, Me, Norah, Pregnancy, Sarah, Style | Response: 33

    I have never been mistaken for being thin, and most of my life I’ve fought long, hard, guilty battles about my weight and body image – a battle I still continue to face today. The difference is, at one point I finally realized that I am who I am and I have to love the person I am now as much as the person I want to be.

    Pregnancy plays into all those insecurities about weight gain. I think almost all pregnant women are insecure about gaining weight, but being overweight to begin with makes it doubly hard. When I was pregnant with my first baby, I had visions of my belly transforming into a perfectly round little bump that shouted, “I’m going to have a baby!” Instead, it got kind of big, oblong and never round. It screamed, “I’ve had too many donuts!” It wasn’t until I was about eight months pregnant that I looked pregnant and not just overindulgent.

    To that end, when Kelly offered to do maternity photos as a gift to me when I was pregnant with Sarah, I turned her down. I hated how I looked and felt like I wasn’t the beautiful, glowing pregnant woman I had imagined myself to be. My boobs were huge, my belly was huge and misshapen and I just felt like I looked gross.

    Plus, when you’re pregnant, people love to comment on your size and touch your stomach. For someone who has always tried to hide both my size and my stomach, I did not take well to those things the first time around.

    After I gave birth to Sarah, I immediately tried to start dieting hard core. No one told me that doing this would mean my milk supply would virtually dry up to nothing. A couple of days of decreased milk supply and Google research later, I learned that I had to embrace eating to create plenty of milk and provide for the health of my own baby. And while all I wanted to do was “get the weight off right now” at the time, I continued to eat until I was full and tried to mostly stay away from bad foods (though, oh man, ice cream!)

    With time and patience and a year’s worth of breastfeeding, the weight came off on its own accord and I ended up weighing five pounds less than my starting pregnancy weight.

    When I found out I was pregnant the second time, I was determined to keep my established exercise routine up and not gain as much weight as I did during my first pregnancy. This hope was quickly dashed when I started having heart skips. That meant any exercising outside of walking was off the table. Still though, I persisted in walking for a while. Then my ligaments and my nerves started causing severe pain and it hurt to be on my feet for more than 5 – 10 minutes. I wasn’t put on bed rest, but there was no more walking around the neighborhood either. At first I let it get me down, but then, just as before, I realized I had to embrace the gain for the health of my baby. I chugged along and didn’t let it bother me (except for that one time at the OB’s office).

    In the end, I ended up gaining about three more pounds than I did the first time around. But it’s ok, because I know, just like last time, that I can and will get it off again.

    I regretted not having any maternity pictures with Sarah, even with my low self image at the time. So this time, I asked Kelly if she would snap a few of me with Sarah. These were taken SIX DAYS before I gave birth to Norah bean. Yes, I’m huge like the sun, but I love that I have these moments captured with Sarah who loved to kiss sister in my belly. I bravely posed for these photos and wanted to show Sarah that it’s great to be happy no matter your size and shape (especially when there is a little sister as the outcome). And Sarah responded in kind with love and hugs for mommy and Sister. Having photos to remember those moments by are way more important than trying to pretend like I wasn’t nine months pregnant and hiding from the camera.

    Here I sit now 12 days post partum. I finally got the courage to step on the scale. (Note to new moms: Do NOT step on the scale the same day you give birth, you will be horrified to see that your body does not immediately drop a ton of weight, or even the full weight of the baby. It’s depressing. Don’t do it. Trust me on this one.)

    At any rate, I stepped on the scale. I am officially down 18 pounds. And while that is a huge relief to see, that means the easy part is over. It’s those remaining 20 pounds that love to cling to my hips, my boobs and my belly. But this time, I’m not scared. I’m going to breastfeed, and as soon as I’m released to resume “normal activity” again post c-section, I’m going to put that stroller to the test and work up to getting back on the spin bike at the gym.

    To show you how brave I’m feeling right now, here is a photo of me tonight, 12 days post partum. Yes, there is a lot of toning that needs to happen. But most women don’t snap back like rubber bands after having a baby. I’m here to tell you that’s ok. It takes time. And, after all, look at that sweet little baby I have as my reward.

  • Painting Stars

    Date: 2013.08.20 | Category: Family, Home, Life, Sarah, Style, Toddler Time | Response: 10

    We’ve really been trying to soak up time with Sarah over these past few months. Obviously she’s not going anywhere, but I know our “play time” away from inside the house will be limited soon. Plus, we’ve had a relatively mild summer (the coolest I can ever remember), and so we’ve been able to travel around and spend time outside. It’s crazy to me how much Sarah picks up and how quickly she does it. She’s interested in everything and wants to watch and help with it all.

    One of my favorite summer activities we did was working on a piece of wall art for Sarah’s room to match the bedding on her big girl bed. A big fan of both stars and purple, we found some really cute bedding at Target that fit the bill. The problem was finding the right thing to go with it in her room.

    I finally decided that we would make our own decor, and then got even more excited about the possibility of Sarah helping me put it all together.

    I came up with the idea to buy a large canvas, utilize one of the many rolls of painter’s tape that we already owned, and buy some paint in the colors of Sarah’s bedding.

    Step 1 was just me,  the painter’s tape, and a little bit of time. (Please ignore all the junk that can be found on our living room floor at any given time).

    For Step 2 we moved outside for obvious reasons. This was Sarah’s part in the artwork.

    She started out timidly with the paint brush…

    And then moved on to hands because they were much more efficient.

    And then finally on to feet, because why not?

    See Bonnie sitting back there? We realized when it was finished that in addition to foot and hand prints,  there were also paw prints mixed in on the canvas. But with how things are at our house, I think it only adds to its charm.

    Needless to say Sarah enjoyed her part of the artwork.

    And she did a great job covering it all. (Please also ignore all the junk that can be found on our back porch at any given time).

    Once it dried I finished Step 3 and peeled away all the tape.

    Ta da!

    I have to say, we were both really pleased with the final product. It is now hanging proudly over her bed where she often points to it and tells me about her stars.

    What about you? Any great ideas for projects with two-year-olds?

  • The Party

    Date: 2013.04.16 | Category: Birthday, Family, Food, Friends, Home, Life, OMG YAY!, Sarah, Style | Response: 11

    So the birthday party went really well this past weekend.

    Though when Sarah woke up with fever Friday morning, I had a minor freak out and briefly thought we were going to have to cancel the whole party and all the work I put into it. But, I took her to see the doctor where she was quickly diagnosed with double ear infections. She started an antibiotic and we were back on track for the second birthday party extravaganza the following day.

    I went just a little overboard (or, if you ask my husband, WAY overboard) planning her party because I was so excited about it and because I can be a bit obsessive about what goes into food.

    We themed it a “Mad Tea Party,” partly because Sarah girl loves to play tea party, partly because she’s mesmerized by Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, and partly because I have the cutest Alice dress for her – and went from there.

    I took photos to put on the invitations and I was really pleased with how they came out.

    See?

    I also ordered her this shirt for the actual party because I knew she’d be hitting the dirt running and a dress isn’t always the most practical outfit for that.

    I also made a banner and cupcake toppers, and purchased some tea party decorations and “mad” party favors from Oriental Trading Company.

    Isabella models some of the “mad” party favors.

    For the big day we had a jump house, a big long table and lots of balloons.

    My awesome sister-in-law volunteered to help me the night before, and we put together most of the food, which included carrot cupcakes, strawberry and cream cupcakes, three kinds of sandwiches, corn dip and fruit salad. My mom and sister also brought a couple of food items for me. It was all dye free and safe for kiddos!

    The day of the party we were scrambling to get everything together, but it came together just in time AND, miracle of miracles, Sarah napped right up until party time. By the time I woke her up, the party was underway and she truly was in Wonderland.

    I’m not sure which the kids enjoyed more – the jump house or the giant pile of leaves we didn’t dispose of before the party.

    Oh and my wild, wonderful, beautiful sister dressed up as Alice for the party. She was a hit, especially with the older kids!

    I was so fortunate to have Kelly there of Powell Photography taking photos. Despite all the DIY projects leading up to the party I invested myself into, I’m battling terrible sciatica and heart skips this pregnancy, which made staying on my feet and taking pictures for 2-3 hours impossible.  Plus I wanted to be able to enjoy the party and Sarah without having to try to make sure I captured it all on camera. That truly was the biggest relief of the party!

    We couldn’t have had better weather or a better turnout. I’m so glad this girl’s second birthday party was a huge success!

  • Beauty in PA

    Date: 2012.10.30 | Category: Food, Friends, Life, Me, Photography, Style, Travel | Response: 17

    I went to Pennsylvania to photograph a wedding, hang out with Cassie and meet Katie. All those things I expected. What I didn’t expect was to fall head over heels in love with autumn in Pennsylvania.

    I’m a hopeless romantic on a good day, so when romanticized views of fall kept popping up all around me, I was a goner. I think Cassie may have gotten tired of my constant “oooo’s and ahhhh’s,” but I couldn’t help myself.

    And there were BARNS everywhere. That’s right, rolling hills of bright fall colors with BARNS. Swoon.

    I don’t think Cassie and Katie quite understood what was up with my barn fascination. But they humored my constant squeals every time we passed one. Katie even indulged me and took a photograph of me in front of a barn, but for some reason her photos are locked away on the other side of Manhattan and she’d have to hire a submarine to navigate through Hurricane Sandy to get to them. So you’ll have to wait to see me with the barn. Oh and there were colonial style homes with white fences and trick-or-treaters, you know, because perfection is Pennsylvania’s middle name.

    Not to be outdone by the fall landscape, Cassie took me to Oakmont Bakery, where this scene greeted me.

    And to repay Cassie’s kindness, I bought every pumpkin flavored thing there, including a gob, a muffin, a macaroon and a cupcake. And the smell of all that pumpkin combined with pregnancy almost made Cassie barf on her own steering wheel.

    Don’t worry though, I ate the gob and hid the rest so she wouldn’t drive us into the side of one of those beautiful barns.

    And last, but certainly not least, the most beautiful site of all (you know, despite the fact that when we finally got a photo of the three of us, none of us were wearing any makeup):

    Sort of amazing that we all met through blogging, huh? And I am thankful to say that our meet up wasn’t awkward in the least (besides that whole nearly barfing over the smell of pumpkin thing).

  • Look Ma, I’m Famous!

    Date: 2012.09.06 | Category: Baby, Family, Friends, Home, Me, Photography, Sarah, Style, Work | Response: 17

    Guess what guys, my mom and Sarah are locally famous, at least for a month. They’re on the cover of a local magazine, The Best of Times, (and in the inside story along with my friend Susan’s baby and dad).

    I had a great time taking photos for this story. Here are a couple outtakes that didn’t make it into print, but made me smile.

    These two little girls did an amazing job during their photoshoots. Though that may have something to do with how often they’re already photographed!

  • Roadtripping with a Toddler

    Date: 2012.08.31 | Category: Baby, Family, Food, Mark, Me, Sarah, Style, Travel | Response: 15

    We’re headed out of town tomorrow to one of my favorite cities, Austin, to visit some friends of ours and meet their new baby.

    After our last ill-fated trip to Texas, I decided to be more proactive with our travel plans this time.

    I spent a lot of money at Amazon stocking our car to keep the toddler entertained for the 6 hour drive there and back. At first Mark balked at spending the money on the in-car dvd player, but then I did an impression of the baby screaming and reminded him that would last for HOURS and he quickly agreed that the dvd player might be worth its weight in gold. Glad that’s settled.

    1. Philips PD7012/37 7-Inch LCD Dual Screen Portable DVD Player, Black

    We also stocked up on dvds. We had a few laying around, but there are only so many hours of Veggie Tales Silly Songs I can take before my head explodes, so we bought some of her Disney Junior favorites: Doc McStuffins and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

    2. Doc McStuffins: Friendship Is The Best Medicine (DVD + Digital Copy with GWP Stickers)

    3. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey’s Big Splash

    Bets are, these will pretty much keep her entertained.

    But just in case they don’t, I’ve packed an insane snack bag, guaranteed to keep the three of us alive in case a snow storm hits in August in Texas and we’re stranded. Cheerios? check. Fruit pouches? check. Snack bars? check. Sammies? double check.

    4. Plum Organics Tots Mish Mash-Peach

    5. Earth’s Best Organic Sunny Days Snack Bars, Strawberry

    6. Plum Kids Organic Jammy Sammy, Grape Jelly and Peanut Butter

    Scout will also be joining us, because she can’t get enough of him.

    7. LeapFrog My Pal Scout

    So tell me, what else am I forgetting? We want Mark’s and my sanity to be intact when we arrive in Austin.

    p.s. We’re going shopping at the MEGA Whole Foods in Austin and my head is about to explode in anticipation. There is a chocolate fountain and a buffet!

    p.s.s. This isn’t a sponsored post, it’s just for fun, but I did use Amazon affiliate links.

  • Snips and Snails and Sugar and Spice

    Date: 2012.08.28 | Category: Baby, Family, Food, Friends, Life, Sarah, Style | Response: 11

    My mom, sisters, grandmother and I threw a baby shower for both of my cousins’ wives this past weekend. Catch all that?

    Lauren is due on October 13 and having a little boy.

    Lindsey is due January 5 and having a little girl.

    And I took to my usual party planning ways and had a blast with my family preparing this one.

    Mom and I put together those diaper cakes. There is a bottle of wine in the center of each for when mom makes it through the diapers.

    The spread! Those are pumpkin spice cupcakes and they were amazing.

    That’s me and little bit waiting for the guests to arrive. Every southern woman who attended had a fit over Sarah’s smocked dress. It’s what we do in the south.

    We had the shower in this great big, old house called “The Big House” in Ruston, LA. It belongs to some relatives of my grandfather’s. The house is still completely furnished with antiques and old silver and crystal.  Oh and  also lots of creepy portraits of my deceased relatives.

    The girls got lots of great gifts (including smocked clothing). These Louisiana outfits were some of my favorites.

    For her part, Sarah thought the Elmo dvd was the best present.

    Towards the end of the shower, the dads-to-be showed up and had fun holding Sarah and my nephew. I mean, don’t they look like they’re having fun to you?

    Hostesses.

    And finally: How much mischief do you think these two were planning? I’m pretty sure it involved a run for the rickety stairs or the creepy elevator.

  • Book Baby Shower

    Date: 2012.06.08 | Category: Baby, Books, Food, Friends, Pregnancy, Style | Response: 11

    I love a good baby shower, and I love it even more when I’m helping throw it for my best friend and former roommate.

    My friend Susan is due with her first baby – a little girl – in July. Together with five of her friends, we threw a children’s book themed baby shower.

    However, I got so caught up in writing down gifts and Sarah clinging to my legs that I just got a few detail photos and one group shot. But that’s ok, because the details were amazing.

    Guest sign in! That’s her framed invitation, an adorable embroidery by hostess Kristen and the book Olivia (which is the baby-to-be’s name) that people signed.

    Guess how many swedish fish and win a prize!

    Yes, those are owl cupcakes.

    See!

    Baby’s own personal Giving Tree courtesy of hostess Marie.

    Books and food!

    More food.

    Awesome pineapple punch I put together.

    Oh look, there we are. That’s me on the left, and the tiny mom-to-be third from left. Marie, (4th) made the awesome caterpillar.

    So excited for you Sus!