Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Most Recommended Amazon Clothing Finds by More Than 14,000 Women

Today I'm sharing the results of one of the most commented on threads I've seen in a Facebook group of over 14,000 women: everybody's favorite Amazon clothing find.  Amazon clothing is notoriously hit or miss, so getting a recommendation or a seal of approval before ordering is always helpful. I summarized the MOST discussed or submitted items, below, and also included some honorable mentions later on. So many good finds--if only I wasn't 8 months pregnant! Adding to cart and saving for later, ladidaa.

Quarter Zip Hoodie: the kind of thing I live in

High Waisted Yoga Pants: SO many votes for these, which also come in lots of fun colors. They’re supposed to be a dupe for the super pricey Lululemon Align leggings.

Long Sleeved Belted Dress: Great for a dressier occasion. Stretchy and low maintenance, with no ironing or dry cleaning required.

Lace Dress: So pretty for weddings, baptisms, showers, etc. 

Twist Knot Front Tunic: SO many votes for this one, too!

Jeans: Person submitting these as a favorite said, “I’m obsessed with these and they come in almost any color/style imaginable.”

Fedora: cute, warm, and adjustable in size.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

How I Knew We Needed a Third Baby

The question that gets brought up to me most these days: “How did you make the decision to have a 3rd baby?”. Or, said another way by those not as subtle (most recently by my hair dresser), “Was this baby an accident?” Lovely phrasing aside, I’m here to tell you how we know that three is our number, and why not less, and why not more.

I think the biggest misconception is that we’re totally killing the parenting game and decided to add one more since we’re on auto pilot over here. This is definitely not the case, and our days hold plenty of parenting and work/life balance challenges. The boys fight just as much as they get along, and there is a lot of patience, grace, and love that is required to navigate the uncharted waters of parenting our 5 and 3 year old boys. Our lives have also always included international travel, which sometimes feels like an insurmountable feat with two—let alone three--littles. Matt and I have been able to divide and conquer (or something very minimally resembling it) with two kids until now, and thinking ahead to how we’ll be able to travel with three kids, and all that that entails (cost, car seats, sleeping arrangements, rental cars) is enough to completely overwhelm me. So what the heck are we doing?

The shortest and easiest answer is simply this:  I just didn’t feel like we were done. The thought of completely moving on from this phase of life, as intense as it is, with the baby years in the rear view mirror, got to me more and more as we continued to celebrate birthdays for the boys. For a little while, I thought that maybe I was just one of those people that would never want to stop, always craving a newborn in her arms as a way to try to freeze time. It’s really hard to grow up. It’s painful to have to move on to the next chapter. It’s hard to stop dreaming and buying pregnancy tests, hard to give up that exciting and nervous high that makes your stomach flip-flop, hard to stop imagining the future with little people that you’ve never met yet. As it turns out, the moment I first saw this baby on an ultrasound was also the one where I knew that this would be the last time. I knew that our future was now going to be spent taking care of these three babies that we had been given, and I felt an overwhelming sense of completion. I feel like we anxiously gambled and ended up with healthy pregnancies and babies, three for three (my miscarriages aside). I knew that this baby was the missing piece to our family, and now that we had her, it was all I ever wanted. I just couldn’t ever fathom asking the universe to give us even more.

Another reason why we decided to have a third baby is for our boys. The gift of a sibling, a best friend, trumped any back-of-the-mind concerns on how we would afford college tuition for three kids. Oskar, especially, had been asking for a baby for a long time, and seeing his excitement bubble over with every pregnancy milestone and doctor’s appointment he’s tagged along to validates our decision tenfold.  The classic, “How do you want your Thanksgiving table to look in 20 years?” question also resonated with me, and the choice to give our boys another person to love was honestly made with my heart instead of my head in many ways. 

Finally, I never went into August’s pregnancy thinking it was my final time to experience it. Parenting a 21 month old and a newborn, I learned, allows for little time to slow down and relish in the “lasts”…my last newborn, last time nursing, last first words, last first holidays. To be honest, I existed in survival mode for well over a year after August came along, and never got to really hold on to it, enjoy it, then let it go. I ached to be able to do that, just one more time, and am so grateful that I now have that chance.

The same way I intuitively knew we needed just one more baby is likely the same way I know that this will be our last. I know that this is the perfect number for us, for our finances, for the way we want to live our lives, for our mental well being…for my patience, sanity, and amount that I’m able to extend myself. I want to work, we want to travel. I think, and hope, we can still swing it with just one more addition to our family. 

I know lots of people struggle with this very same question—are we done having babies? Finality is a tricky thing. My best advice is this: if you don’t know, do nothing. I think the answer will make its way to you in time. For us, three is it. Both my head AND heart know it this time, which is just about the happiest you can feel.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Hospital Packing Checklist and What you Really Need

Hello my friends! For those of you currently pregnant, I put together my tried and true hospital packing checklist and what to make sure to take with you when you're having a baby. Since this is my third go-around, I feel like I have this list nailed down pat, as well as pared WAY down to what my must-haves really are. Example: no need to bring a novel to read, cus #nobodygottimeforthat. I also made a printable version, here, so you can stick this to your fridge and check things off as you get closer and closer to go-time. Or, the image is pin-able, so if you want to save it and reference back that way, that works as well. The hospital really does have all of your basics, including diapers, wipes, baby bath essentials, onesies, hats, swaddles, perineal spray/peri bottles, nipple cream, pads, etc. Nearly all of what I list, below, truly are either comfort items or what I've found to be personal preference, so know that if you show up without something, you'll still be just fine. I like to have my bag fully packed by 36 weeks (except for last minute items to grab, like phone chargers and wallets, of course), and prefer something that wheels to make it that much easier to haul since triage feels like miles away when you're in active labor. Always such an exciting and surreal feeling to start gathering everything together--one step closer to meeting your baby and becoming a mama (for some of you, again). There's nothing like it. I hope this is helpful, and if there's something that YOU find to be a must-have that isn't included, let me know!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Our Christmas and 2020 Resolutions

Happy 2020, friends! I hope your year is off to a great start, and that you’re not falling too hard into the typical January post-holiday hangover slump that I find myself fighting every year.  I’ve taken lots of time off from this space to fit in everything else that’s been going on around here, and it’s certainly been a lot, which makes for the weeks afterwards even harder once all of the anticipation and hype is all said and done. January is such a good time to sit back and reflect on the last month of magic that really got kicked into high gear for us on the 19th of December—my first day of vacation, and the first full day with my sister being home. Our time together is limited to only a few times a year, so as soon as it starts, we really make the most of it.

First, we went to Phipps Botanical Gardens to see their winter light show—a stroll through a winter wonderland that we try to squeeze in every year. I love looking back at the pictures of how the boys have grown, and how much more into the whole thing they are now that they’re a little bit older.

The next day, we traveled to Matt’s hometown, sister in tow, for some time with nana & papa and the boys’ aunt, uncle, and cousins, who are 6, 5, 4, and 3 in age. I swear it gets more fun every year to see them all together now that they’re full steam ahead, independent, and imagining up their own games that keeps them busy way past their bedtimes. The grown ups get a chance to eat, drink, and relax with minimal kid chasing these days; that is, of course until March, when baby sister comes along.

We then set home to host Christmas Eve, my most favorite day, at our house, which was kicked off with morning saunas, traditional rice porridge, bloody marys and appetizers as we all waited for Santa. August got his hands on a gift or two ahead of schedule, now that he can read his name (forgot about that), so the boys really spent the whole day slowly opening gifts after their breakfast. Santa came, the boys sang to him, hugged him, and sat on his lap for some pictures (August’s first moments of Santa acceptance), and opened their most wished for toys. Oskar wanted Darth Vadar’s LEGO castle, and August wanted (another set of) Batman walkie talkies, which were delivered to two little boys who were somehow, and apparently, on the nice list this year. We made dinner, ate too much, and watched Christmas movies until the boys fell asleep on the couch. Once they were carried to bed, we played board games as long as I could keep my pregnant eyes open, and finally went to bed ourselves, hearts full.

Christmas Day is always slow, with a few more little things found in stockings, morning mass, and lots and lots of left overs. The boys played with all of their new toys, and we tried our best to manage the explosion in our living room from the day before, while, at the same time, not really caring and letting it all just go.

The days that followed were filled with sister yoga, after Christmas shopping, and a Kennywood lights show on their closing night. We’ve never gone post-Christmas before, but tickets were super discounted, crowds were thinned out, and we lucked out with the best weather ever. We'll be doing it this way from here on out.

We then hosted NYE with the best neighbors and my mom and sister. The kids ran around and played while the adults chatted and made drinks, and once enough of said drinks were had by those of us not pregnant, a huge Nerf Gun battle erupted between the “grown ups” and kids. We’re still finding darts this many weeks later. 

Matt surprised me on New Years Day with a brunch and movie date—really, just a ploy to get me out of the house for my sister and mom to throw a surprise sprinkle shower for me. I came back to a house full of people that I love and got so many beautiful things for our baby girl, who previously had about 2 onesies. We’re going to renovate our upstairs at the end of this month, laying hardwood floors throughout, painting, and installing new white trim and crown molding, and once that’s all done, I’ll be working on her nursery and organizing all of the adorable and teeny tiny clothes that she’ll be wearing in just a few short months. No matter what anyone says, girl clothes are exponentially cuter.

A few days later, we went wedding dress shopping for my sister, who happened to find the perfect one. I still remember the day I got my dress (10 years ago now), and I loved being able to be together to find hers, too. Here’s to wedding season, 2021!

Finally, we hosted one last holiday hurrah—a Secret Santa for my friends and their kiddos, who have grown up along side of our boys since day 1. We’ve grown to 10 (almost 11) kids in 5.5 years, so Secret Santa was the perfect way to have them exchange small gifts between each other. I love a loud, crazy, busy house, and the days we’re all together never fail to disappoint. 

Now, it’s back to work and back to school, decorations are down, the days are gray, and my sister flew home until July. I always find myself getting uninspired, unmotivated, and in a huge funk this time of year. There’s always a big low after the December high, but I’m trying to think ahead and list out some 2020 resolutions. So far, they look like this:

1. Get outside every day, which I hope I can keep up after the baby gets here. Whenever I work from home, I take a lunch time walk that really is so good for me, physically and mentally.

2. I’d love to take the boys and baby on a family trip this summer, even though it will be smaller scale and less time than our usual European adventures.

3. I want to really focus on the present. This will be our last baby, and I’m lucky enough to be able to take a 6 month leave with her and our boys. I was in survival mode for a long time after August was born, and I feel like his first year is a total blur, each day spent simply making it to the next. Newborns are never easy, but doing my best to appreciate all of the milestones is what I'm really trying to focus on, so that I can hold on to those moments for years to come.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2020.  I can't wait to see what these twelve months have in store.


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