Our Tips for Traveling with a Toddler and an Infant.

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We are not routine travelers by any means. Our honeymoon was a complete disaster filled with food poisoning and hurricanes. We took one trip when McCoy was eight months old and left him with my in-laws. That vacation was relaxing but I spent most of my time missing my baby and making trips up to the hotel room to pump, ha! I was so nervous for this trip. Now having completing this and surviving it haha, I would definitely do it again. Below are the tips Nick and I came up with when it comes to traveling with littles, or even just one. If you have anymore to add, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Keep their Night time Routine and Essentials Consistent to Home: Both of our kids slept amazing on our vacation. In part it was because we had very busy days and McCoy didn’t nap for most of them. But I think another reason why they slept so well is because we kept their night time routine similar to what it is at home. No matter what time it was when we got back to the house from the parks, we gave them both baths and had a little time to wind down.  We packed our Dockatot for Riggins since this is what he is used to sleeping in at home and for the most part he was making it all the way through each night. 

Keep Toys and Snacks Simple: I packed a large Ziplock baggie filled with McCoy’s Tot Fruit Pouches, animal crackers, yogurt melts, and some Lara Bars for myself and Nick. I probably had too much to be honest with you. I also had water bottles for us but since we were so busy from the time we reached the air port and completing check in and security and potty breaks and several blowouts from Riggins, I didn’t even fill them. We just bought bottled water when we reached our terminal. So I would probably do without the water bottles next time. I also had two small travel size containers of my Thieves hand sanitizers and Thieves wipes for wiping down hands and the plane seats. Paci wipes were also in my carry on and they came in handy. 

Bring your own Car Seats and Stroller: We were really debating on this but I am so glad we decided to bring our own.  First of all, having the stroller to use at the airport really helped free our hands for other luggage and carry on bags.  Secondly, we looked into renting car seats that would come with our rental car and it was an extra $35 PER CAR SEAT/ PER DAY. That would have costed us an extra $560 compared to just being able to check everything for free.  We checked the car seats at check in with our luggage bags and we checked the stroller right before we stepped on the plane at the gate. They gave us our own tags and everything - it was really convenient.

Have Patience with your Spouse: We spent eight days in house with 9 people. There were times that were stressful and I prepared myself for this before even leaving for the trip. To be honest, just leaving our house to get to the airport to head out for vacation was stressful. But each day became a little easier and we got into the swing of things. Nick and I realized that we had to communicate with one another. He made sure I was stopping for water and snacks as much as we needed. I always had the bags and snacks packed for the parks and ready to go the night before. He held the blanket up until I was situated breastfeeding and he always offered to take Riggins’ to be changed. We figured out what worked well and just kept communicating. I will say we did a lot of on the fly diaper changes (on our laps in the plane, on hidden park benches, and even on the floor of the air port). You do what you have to do and move on. It’s all good.

Clip the Important Things Together: Before leaving for the airport, we had our boarding passes printed.  We clipped these together with both of our licenses and the kid’s birth certificates so when it came time to check in, everything was together. We had so much stuff and so many bags and car seats, so I just wanted the important things together for smooth transition through the air port. We left at 4 AM so when we arrived McCoy was sleepy and needed me to hold him basically all the way through security and it was so nice to be able to just have everything we needed clipped and ready for handling.

Be Flexible with their Routine: I wouldn’t say I’m a strict routine follower while being at home with my kids on a daily basis, but we do get on a weekly rhythm. McCoy is still an amazing napper for me in the afternoons and Riggins is just starting to start a nap schedule when we’re home as well. We let all of this go while vacationing. McCoy really only napped one of the eight days unless we happened to be in the car around that time. And Riggins just sort of slept when he could or would while in the stroller or in my carrier. I just remained flexible and in the end, we had some really crabby toddler meltdowns, but it all worked out - and like I said before, our kids slept great at night and until at least 8:30 in the mornings. 

 

Our Adventure to Disney World

We are coming to the end of our first ever family vacation. Nick and his family have experienced Florida and all of the Disney World parks many times, but it was my first time, and of course McCoy’s and Riggins’ also. After a little recap of our trip, I’d like to offer my best tips on traveling with a toddler and an infant in another post. I am not an expert - I rarely travel, but now having done this [and survived it], I think it will become something we do more often!

First of all, whatever is you’re hearing about Disney World, it’s true. It is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been too. I am 29 years old and I can truthfully say that I enjoyed it just as much as my toddler. The weather was beautiful and such a nice change from Minnesota. And the parks were incredible. The detail in each park, the food and drinks, the rides, and the fact that it is so smoothly set up to get in to and out of the park made it nice when we were traveling in a group of seven plus two littles. 

After a full day of traveling, we began our trip at Island’s of Adventure and Universal Studios — Ahhh-mazing for both little kids and adults. The roller coasters weren’t like any I have ever experienced in my life! This is where it came in handy to have a large group as my in-laws were so willing to stay with the babes when my hubby, myself, and my sister and brother inlaws went on rides [as long as Riggins was fed ha! - more on breastfeeding in a park later]. The next park we visited was Sea World. Riggins, 99% of the time is the most laid back little baby in the world. This day was a struggle for us and him. McCoy loved this park though! So much sea life, rides, shows, and again, amazing coasters for us adults. With Riggs having a hard day at Sea World, we decided to rest the following day and spend our time at the pool. Then we did back to back weekend days at Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom which were definitely McCoy’s favorites! If you have littles and are going to Disney World, these would be the parks I would recommend most to go to! The food and drinks at Animal Kingdom were so fresh and good also - especially since I am still on a strictly dairy free diet for breastfeeding Riggins. On Monday we rested in the morning and hung by our pool again and then spent the evening at Disney Springs doing some shopping. It’s a boardwalk style of stores with several restaurants and coffee shops. We have really had awesome weather this entire trip, most park days were low 70’s and mostly sunny with some scattered clouds which I was really thankful for. Our last day was high 70’s and pure sun, so we spent it at the pool while we just relaxed and packed for our flight home the next day. I loved every park, and this whole experience for me was so amazing. I have always wanted to come here and I’m so glad I finally did and I’m so happy that I was able to experience it with my littles and my family. We will for sure be coming back as our boys continue to grow - and I’ll be so thankful I’m not breastfeeding!

Speaking of that - here’s how it went, ha! Truthfully, I’m grateful Riggins was not on solid food quite yet as I think that would have made things a lot more complicated. He basically just needed me and that’s all which was good but also hard at times. He seemed to need to eat more often as being out of his routine and environment made him need a little more comfort.  I always made sure to wake up early enough so that I could feed him and then let him lay and kick for an hour or so before we left for the day. I didn’t do this on the Sea World day and it threw him off. He needs that play time and flexibility with his little legs before being in a wrap or stroller seat all day. Then when we got to the parks I would take him out of his car seat and feed him again in the car so he was good to go before we even entered the park. And then from there he was happy literally the majority of the time - he’s really my go with the flow baby and I’m so thankful for his calm personality. Every couple hours or so he would eat and I would just find a spot in the shade and we would all take a little rest or someone would take McCoy on a ride. It really worked out well. I’m not saying it was easy by any means. There were times where it was so hot for him and me while he ate haha (hormones), and times where I would have to nurse him while standing in a line for a ride that we were going on as a family - I’ve become pretty good at walking and breastfeeding! I always had extra hands to help hold a blanket, etc. etc. And each time he ate, he’d be happy for a few hours and just hang out in the ergo carrier or in the stroller, like magic!

We are currently about 36,000 feet in the air heading back to Minnesota. To be completely honest, our most stressful part of the trip was getting to and through the Orlando airport to our terminal. We sat in an hour of traffic, had to return and unload our car, and wait over an hour to check in and then again to get through security all with two car seats, two luggage bags, a double stroller, and four carry ons. Everything sort of seems like a complete blur, but we made it. Thank the Lord we made it. This trip was amazing. I sort of feel like I now need a vacation from this vacation haha but it truly was so wonderful to spend time with family and experience this with our babies. 

I’ll be sharing my top tips for traveling with littles in another post to come soon. For now, Riggins is asleep on my hubby’s lap, McCoy is watching Paw Patrol, and I’m going to celebrate the end to a sweet adventure with the Starbucks soy latte sitting on my lap. 

Your Photography Wedding Questions Answered

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I receive a lot of the same questions from couples inquiring about wedding photography so I've compiled some common ones to share with you here! Let me know if any others come to mind.

What is your photography style? I always say that if I can capture a person’s personality, I have done my job well. My photography style is seeing the natural and raw moments that a couple or family shares with each other. I’m a lover of candids, warm hues, and being able to share your story through my photos, from the very beginning of the session until the end. 

How important is having a second shooter? I very very rarely do weddings without second shooter. I often have clients inquiring for weddings and requesting no second shooter to save them some money. I get it, I really do. But you will not regret having one. They are my backbone, they catch things that I often miss because I am focused so much on the bride and groom. And when it comes to weddings, I truly believe it is all in the details. For example, seeing your grandpa or mama shed tears as you walk down the aisle is just as fun to see as they expression your groom gives.

Do I need to have both a photographer and a videographer? I have shot many weddings for couples who have also hired videographers. My advice is this: If you like seeing your wedding day through still photos that enable you to make prints or share with friends and family, photography should be your first choice. If you prefer a video of your day (often to music), then that should be your number one. A lot of brides choose both and I think they are equally beautiful, just in different ways.

How many hours should I hire you for? I suggest 8 hours if you are looking to get photos of you getting ready all the way through the first dance. 

What is it like being the one that photographs a wedding? Being behind a camera on your wedding day is truly my dream job. It is everything to me. I don’t do the best in front of a camera, but for some reason God has given me a gift to capture people in a beautiful and natural way. I hate awkward poses. My sessions are free flowing, and I allow my creativity to take over in whatever atmosphere I’m in. I get completely lost and fulfilled in your day. I love details. I love people. I love pets and babies and decor. And I Love, love. I am reminded at every single wedding how thankful I am for my family and my babies.

How many photos do I get? Typically you’ll receive between 600-1000 edited photos, depending on how many hours you’ve hired me for. I create a gallery that gives you and your family members access too. You can download, upload to social media, and purchase prints if you choose all through the system and it makes viewing your photos extremely easy!

Do you have any tips when designing the timeline for my day? I am so flexible when it comes to the layout of your wedding day. I always tell my clients to do whatever they’d like and I work around that. From a photographer’s standpoint, however, I will say that It is easiest for us to schedule and ensure time for everything if the first look is done prior to the ceremony. I understand couples wanting to wait to see each other as well but for photos and making sure we get everything, it is easiest to do them beforehand. Your wedding party is much more likely to want to take photos as well during this time. After the ceremony, they are pretty much ready to party ha!

What inspired you to become a photographer? From the time I took my very first desk job (8-4:30), I knew in my heart that wasn’t for me. My heart is full of emotion - creative emotion, that I like to get out anyway that I can. My husband bought me my first camera when we first married and I wasn’t sure if it was the route I wanted to take career wise. I shot my first wedding in 2014 and I honestly have never looked back. It’s a job that I can be home with my kids, but also have an outlet to release my creative energy that gets locked inside.

What if we are camera shy? It’s Okay! I hate being in front of the camera. Honestly most of the photos my hubby takes of me and my kids and I just store on my computer knowing that someday they will want to see them. So coming form me, I totally understand if you do not like being in front of the camera. I promise, I ensure that my sessions are laid back. I don’t make you do awkward poses or anything you’re not comfortable with. Mostly, I just as that you interact with each other like you regularly would - I find it creates the most natural images. And from there, I just guide you on where to look at any certain time. EASY PEASY - I swear!

Is photography worth the investment? I am not here to take your money. I truly believe that having a photographer capture your wedding day is something you will not regret. Not only do I capture the two of you, but I get friends, family, co-workers, and all of the details of your day that will be so fun to look back on many years from now. You spend all of this time planning a wedding, I think it’s so important that it’s remembered! I set my prices based on what I think is comparable to what you’re receiving. I am so willing to be flexible with my clients and create a package and price that they are comfortable with!

Fitness After a C-Section

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On Tuesday, I ran my first 5K since giving birth to Riggins. It was a slow and steady run but it felt amazing. When we first came home from the hospital, I had no exercise or body expectations, but I had a goal of running a 5K when he reached 12 weeks of age. That day was exactly on Tuesday.  I had some mama’s reach out to me mentioning that they are too recovering from cesarians and asked about my transition back into the world of fitness and running while trying to heal, raise two babies, and breastfeed. I really hadn’t thought about it that much until I was asked questions like what are you eating? when did you begin exercising? how did you transition back into running?

When these questions came up, I really had to think back to when I was six weeks postpartum and what I actually have done to bring fitness back into my life.  Exercise has always been a huge part of my life. It hasn’t always been a positive part of it, unfortunately.  I was an athlete in high school and my degree is in Exercise Science. To this day, I still am not sure why I chose to study it, but at the time, I believe it was because I so badly wanted fitness to always be associated with who I was. I was teaching cycling classes, training for half marathons, working out in my apartment complex twice daily, and I never really enjoyed any of it. To this day I still have not run one half marathon - but for some reason back then labeling myself as ‘training’ for one made me feel significant. Quite honestly, I did not enjoy running when I was 23 years old. Not at all. 

I realize now that my exercise back then was completely motivated by fear. Fear of weight gain, fear of losing the fitness label I had worked so hard at earning, and really, I was completely insecure about my body and who I was as a person and for some reason if I exercised constantly, they became insecurities that I never had to face. 

For as much as I exercised, l really wouldn’t have described me as fit. A better description of the way I looked and felt was tired, overworked, sad, lonely, and afraid of who I was and who I was becoming. I was never overweight by any means, and I definitely had the motivation mentally to run 9 miles and teach a cycle class all in one morning, but I was not happy. I was 155 pounds and the only thing I had to show for a long and strenuous workout was a torn IT band and sadness written all over my face. I became really good at pretending to love it, pretending to be happy, but inside I was really confused. 

When I met my husband, I was a complete wreck. We were married after a year of dating and to this day, I have him to thank for pulling me out of a really dark hole. God puts people in our lives to make us better, and I have so much gratitude in my heart for his patience in helping me heal.  He helped me on this path of believing that I am wonderfully and beautifully made, and that there is a world beyond health and fitness that I had yet to discover.  Almost five years and two babies later, I have a completely different outlook on fitness, and a completely different perception of the way that I view myself and ultimately everyone around me. I became a photographer because I have a very strong creative side to my heart. But I also became it because I love to capture the beauty in people - their body language, their smiles, their personalities. It is always my goal to capture who that person is, who the couple is, so that they may embrace their shape, their color, and who they are on the inside as well. If I am able to photograph and share who someone is on the inside through an exterior photo, I know that I have done my job well. 

Through all of this, I can actually say I have a complete and profound love for health and fitness again. I do nothing with my degree and I don’t teach exercise classes but I am so over the moon thankful for my body and what it’s able to accomplish every single day, whether it’s exercised or not.  I have an appreciation for pregnancy, childbirth, surgeries, long workouts, short workouts, fast walks, slow walks, five days in a row of moving and eating right and five days in a row of resting and indulging in amazing foods.  The exact moment I started resting and eating more and giving myself grace and no longer fearing who I was if I didn’t workout, was the moment my mind and my body began to change. I have a passion for running now. I love yoga. I love food. I am 140 pounds and I feel so incredibly healthy. Sometimes I weigh a little more than that and sometimes a little less. But there is absolutely zero stress about that number or who I am if a don’t exercise. I move because it feels good and I eat because it tastes good and I don’t judge anybody’s journey in health or wellness, I only cheer for them. Always. 

All of that being said, I had no intention of losing my baby weight fast. I still have a few pounds to go and am in no rush to get there. But I do still give myself goals - and one of those was to run that 5K on Tuesday. And for those of you who asked or who are interested in how I healed and transitioned back into the world of fitness post-baby, see below :)

  1. Do absolutely nothing for 6 weeks. Truly, I didn’t do anything besides hang with my littles.
  2. I went for my first walk/run around 6 1/2 weeks. It was a total of 20 minutes and I was freezing and tired.
  3. I started incorporating a lot of stretching into each day whenever I had the chance. It helped my muscles remember what it felt like to work a little bit.
  4. I try to run 2 to 3 times a week. Each time I try to go a little further than the last. 
  5. Don’t focus on your speed. Before Riggins I was running 8 minute miles. Right now I’m running 10 minute miles. It’s all good.
  6. I am so not a lover of strength training but I do believe this has helped me heal and earn some strength back. Once a week, I try to do squats with my kettlebell and body planks and arm work with my resistance bands.
  7. I eat very often. I cannot have dairy currently which makes my diet pretty bland, but I do eat fairly often and I think this has helped my metabolism, energy for exercising, and to maintain my milk supply.
  8. Exercise when you can.  It doesn’t need to be first thing in the morning. Most days we aren’t even fully fed and functioning around here until after 9. Give yourself grace on your workout schedule. It will be interrupted when you have littles running around. I accepted this right away so that when it does happen, I’m not flustered or irritated.
  9. Give someone else a compliment.  We are all on this health and wellness journey together. Rather than comparing yourself and your body to others, cheer them on. Whoever they are and wherever they’re at in this journey, be kind. The best thing you can share with others is kindness.
  10. Have fun. If you are at a place in your life like I was at five years ago, please reach out. I have two really great ears that would love to listen and hear your story. I promise you that exercise and health and putting an end to shaming your body and fearing it is possible. 

Oh, and if you're pregnant and reading this. YOU ARE AMAZING. YOUR BODY IS AMAZING. Give your belly a rub and be thankful for your body’s ability to do what it is doing. Creating a home for a baby is an incredible task and I pray that we can all find complete beauty in it. 

Breastfeeding a Baby with Food Allergens

Riggins is 11 weeks old today! I can’t even believe he’s been with us for almost three months. If you follow me on Instagram you know that we went through a rough patch with him right around week five. We weren’t sure if he was developing colic, getting sick, or just transitioning from being the most calm and laid back baby in the world to the complete opposite of that.  After tears, complete meltdowns, and a lot of research, it basically came down to this:

My baby has a food allergy and I had to do something about it.

I am terrible at dieting. I went through a time in my life where I had distorted eating and exercise habits and it was terrible. Then, thanks to my hubby, I discovered food - REAL food, and how feeding my body made me feel so good.  And since then, I just kept on intuitively eating and have never looked back. Fast forward 4 years and all of a sudden I was 5 weeks postpartum, my infant wouldn’t latch when it came to breastfeeding, and when he finally did, he’d scream for hours and hours between feedings and wouldn’t let up. I was completely at a loss.  Do I keep nursing my baby if I’m hurting him? Do I really spend 15 minutes trying to get him to latch every single time he needs to eat?  I was so exhausted and my toddler kept telling me to make the baby be quiet please.  ‘I know honey, I’m trying,’ I would say. I talked myself out of the dairy free thing for a few days.  I told myself that it couldn’t possibly be the reason for his behavior, his pain. 

But this diet?  The one I’ve been following for six weeks now - let me tell you, I will never look back.  At least until I’m done breastfeeding that is. I started sharing about this a little bit on my Instagram feed and I’ve actually had quite a bit of interest from other mom’s regarding this topic.  Even those who aren’t mom’s have been messaging me questions and even offering tips and advice as I’ve seen a lot of people following the Whole 30 diet, which limits a lot of things, including dairy. 

Long story short, if you have been considering switching to an allergy free/dairy free diet - this post is for you. Below are the things that have helped me during the challenging times as well as some of my favorite substitutions and basically what I eat in a day to survive this switch.  

I will be honest and tell you that it.is.HARD.  Reading labels and cooking has been challenging, which is why I eat a lot of the same things over and over right now.  But I will tell you that the day after I changed to this diet, Riggins changed.  And over time it’s just gotten better. Within a week he was better, like almost completely. He stopped fussing, spitting up, and his baby acne cleared up so fast. He even started sleeping better.  And now that it’s been six weeks, I refuse to look back and feel so thankful to have my happy baby back.

So this is for you mama’s:

Remember Why: During the challenging times (like the times where you’re so sick of wandering the grocery store with two little one’s reading labels), just remember WHY you are making this transition. For me, I am willing to keep up with this lifestyle because I just can’t imagine seeing my baby scream like he was ever again.  It was heartbreaking and I felt horrible knowing that every single time he ate he would be in pain. 

Focus on what you CAN eat:  Since a lot of things contain dairy, soy, and eggs (those are the things I am avoiding), I really just try to focus on the things that I can eat every day.  Basically a lot of carbs and healthy fats.  I am not a huge fan of meat but I have had to increase my meat intake to ensure I get at least some protein every day - especially since I can’t have eggs.  The hardest thing for me has been giving up half and half in my coffee.  I am a coffee addict. One cup in the morning, iced coffee in the afternoon - daily.  Since I’m a huge fan of cream in my coffee, I’ve had probably 15 emotional meltdowns that I can’t.  I’ve opted for Almond Milk creamer which is definitely not the same, but my mindset is:  you can STILL have coffee.  It’s not the same but you can still have it.  So that is what I focus on.  I can’t have yogurt, but I can have fruit.  I can’t have eggs, but I can have turkey meatballs. I can’t have chocolate, but I can have Dairy Free Halo Top (which is amazing by the way). Focus on the things you can eat.

Reach out: Instagram has been a lifesaver for me. I used to be so timid about posting things on my story in regards to my personal life other than my kids.  But as soon as I started speaking into the phone and seeking advice from others like how do i make vegan bullet proof coffee?  or hey can someone give me their thoughts on dairy free creamers, I got immediate responses. And it’s been so wonderful and helpful and led me to other blogs and resources as I make my way in this journey.  Instagram is a platform that I truly believe is amazing for sharing our real lives.  It’s a great tool to connect with people, learn, and just overall be yourself on. My biggest advice is to never be scared to reach out! There are so many people out there going through similar things, or their own thing, and you just never know how the connections with others will shape your future. 

Take this time to learn: I am fairly knowledgable when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. But the Dairy, Soy, and Egg thing? It took me a couple of weeks to get a handle on it. These three ingredients are in a lot of foods and had this never happened to me, I probably wouldn't have ever taken the time to learn about this topic. A lot of foods like breads, chocolates, sauces, all contain dairy and egg! I found myself picking up a lot of things I thought would be okay to eat and immediately putting them back. Use this as an opportunity to learn about nutrition and foods and what they contain. And when it comes to the ingredient list, less is more!

It’s Hard, Mama.  I know.  But take it from someone who has made it over the hump.  It’s doable and so completely worth it. For me, the best motivation in the world has been having a healthy and happy baby.  Take it one step at a time, you both deserve this. 

Below is what I typically eat in a day!

Breakfast:

Lunch:

  • Turkey Meatballs w/ Sweet Potato
  • Avocado Toast with Fruit
  • Turkey Sandwich with lots of veggies

Dinner:

  • We eat a lot of Chipotle because it gives me calories and my hubby loves it
  • Grilled Chicken, Steak, Salmon with steamed veggies
  • Turkey Tacos
  • Chicken stir fry with vegetables 

For snacks I eat a lot of Energy Balls, Costco tortilla chips with salsa and guac, apples, trail mix, and Lactation Cookies made with coconut oil and dairy free chocolate chips (this recipe I'll share soon!) And I try to drink 100 oz of water a day so that I can maintain my milk supply.

How about you?  Are you or have you been on an allergy-free diet?  What tips can you share with your fellow feeders?

Good Bye January and Energy Bites

Hello friends! 

Since January 3rd, one person in my household has been sick with something, primarily Influenza. We are actually really healthy people and rarely get sick, but the start of 2017 has been tough on us - Happy New Year. February is close and I am staying positive in that it will be a much better month. I ended up spiking another fever on Monday evening and was down for good all of Tuesday. I'm slowing getting back into the swing of life today but resting in bed is the name of the game right now. I should also mention that having Influenza and running a temp of 102 degrees for 6 days while breastfeeding is probably one of the hardest things I've ever done. Then it came back and it was even harder. Wow. Once I was feeling better the first time, I sort of went right back into my everyday grind (playing, cooking, bathing, running, and even a few strength training sessions.) Then I got sick again.  So this go round I'm going to listen to my body a bit more and take it easy. The fitness stuff will happen when I know my body is truly ready.  But for now, the nursing and lack of sleep is reducing my immune system enough and I don't think exercising on top of that will do me any good. Also, I truly exercise because it makes me feel good (most of the time hah). I run because I enjoy it. I am not in any hurry to get my pre-baby body back - I just really enjoy having time that is my own and that makes me feel good - when I'm not sick. So please never think that workouts control my life.  I've been there and done that and it was awful. More on that later!

I have had many requests on my Instagram feed regarding my Energy Bites so I wanted to share that recipe here in this post. It's super easy and these are staples I have on hand for an afternoon pick up when I realize I haven't eaten yet (mama of two problems). Since going dairy free, the only adjustment I've made with these is buying Enjoy Life brand chocolate chips, which you can find at Target or any grocery story really. I will be posting soon on the transition I've gone through in going Dairy and Egg free. I struggled at first. I would cry because my coffee didn't taste the same and I absolutely loved having eggs for breakfast and/or lunch. Since I'm not much of a meat eater, maintaining protein in my diet has been a challenge with this transition, and I think in part why I've felt so tired.  But we are getting there. I'm finding options and substitutions and my baby is happy and really, thats all that matters to me at this point. I have a husband who is fully supportive and helps me meal plan and prep which has been so so wonderful. What I'm also finding is that there is so much information out there in regards to intuitive eating and food allergens. So many blogs have been so helpful and I love it, and will share within the posts I write. Anyways, more to come with that soon!

For now, enjoy these energy bites!

  • 1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
  • 2/3 Cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 1/2 Cup Jif Natural Peanut Butter (this is just what I find tastes the best!)
  • 1/2 Cup Flaxseed Meal
  • 1/2 Cup Dairy/Soy Free Chocolate Chips (Enjoy Life Brand)
  • 1/3 Cup Raw Organic Honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine everything in a large bowl (I use my hands). Then I wash my hands again because they get super gooey, and then roll into 1 inch balls.  Store in covered tupperware or plastic bag in the fridge. So easy, so good!

You can make this recipe to your liking with using your favorite PB, honey, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, etc. and I believe there are recipes out there that include actual protein powder, but Riggins isn't liking that either these days haha. This is just what we like!

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Transition

I’ve had this post unfinished on my desktop for a few weeks now. Nick just came home from work and took McCoy to shovel snow and Riggins is asleep in my lap. The house is quiet and candles are lit and taking a few minutes to write seemed fitting.

I was so terrified to bring a second baby into our life. Some people are just so natural at being mama’s. My sister in-law could do it blind folded and the way my own mom mothers - well she makes it look so simple. I knew nothing about motherhood when I had McCoy. I know lots of first time mama’s obviously don’t know much about ‘motherhood’ because they’ve never done it before, but I literally knew nothing. I had never even babysat an infant or changed a diaper. Two and half years later I’m juggling my toddler and potty training and meal times all while walking around my house breastfeeding my 8 week old. Multitasking is the name of the game when it comes to two. The real reason for this post was to offer some suggestions to other new mama’s and new mama’s of two. I’m not a professional mom by any means, and most of the time I’m just trying to get through each day by keeping everyone fed, alive, and happy. But the following are things that seem to work well for me and our boys.  

The most important thing for me to accept was that the housework can wait. People said it over and over and over. ‘Let the house stuff go.’ I spent the first few weeks being able to manage it all and keep things under control, however, now that Riggins is much more alert, the house has become low on my priority list. If it ever works out that both boys nap at the same time, I power clean.  I actually power clean, power laundry, power dishes, and power brush my teeth whenever that happens. Other than that, just let.it.go.

We aren’t huge on screen time over here, but I do find it necessary for my toddler. He is extremely busy and active (alllll boy). He is always climbing, wrestling, jumping, dancing, running, building, and doing anything else that requires lots and lots of movement. So giving him the iPad is good downtime for him and it allows me to breastfeed and deal with Riggins without feeling like I’m leaving McCoy out. If you believe in screen time at all for your little’s, I highly recommend using it when that second babe comes - at least until you get into the swing of things.

My favorite products have been the Dockatot Deluxe (Riggs is giving us 7 hour stretches at night already), the Boppy pillow, Nature Sutton Pacifiers, Max and Moose swaddles, Miracle Blanket swaddle for sleeping, and the baby shusher. These have all been lifesavers for me.

Make time for you. This is a big one. When it was just McCoy, it was easy for me to use his nap times to either work, write, walk on the treadmill, or read. I felt like I had a portion of my day every day that was mine. Add a second baby to the mix and that all goes away. After 6 weeks of trying to just get by and tell myself I’ll have time for me eventually, I finally became brave and realized that it is okay to ask for help. And taking time for yourself isn’t selfish. My mama comes over once a day and just lets me go for a long walk or run. I come back feeling so good and so strong and just knowing that I have that time makes me a better mom. The days she isn’t able to come, my husband always makes sure that I get that time when he gets home from work. Those nights he goes downstairs with the boys and I either exercise, stretch, read, or shower. Honestly, I usually just take a long shower and shave my legs because, well, priorities. 

Speaking of husbands, make time for them.  Parenting is a two person job and even though I am at home full-time with my kids, the minute Nick walks in the door, both of us are handling one or both of our kids until around 9 PM when they go to bed. That being said, we don’t get much time to even have a conversation with each other. We’ve tried to get better at cooking dinner together every night. This gives us at least 20-30 minutes to be together and be present. We also have many talks in the middle of the night when Riggins is feeding.  Since he is usually only up once, it’s typically a longer wake time and we have some time to chat - or maybe I just chat and he lays there with his eyes closed pretending to listen :)

Lastly, mothering two has been the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. It’s also been the most rewarding. I have awesome days and some pretty crappy ones. But in the large picture, adding another person to our family makes me feel so complete. My biggest advice to new mom’s or new mom’s of two is to give yourself infinite grace and remember that marriage and the start of parenting is the absolute best time to develop teamwork. It does get stressful at times and can really test you as couple, but ultimately, this family we’ve made was our choice.

And it’s the most wonderful decision we’ve ever made. 

Welcome Riggins Samuel

 

Our second son was born on November 21, 2017. To recap a little bit about my first born, he was born via emergency C-section.  I actually had labored 13 hours naturally and had dilated to 9 centimeters, but within seconds, everything changed and I was being wheeled away from my husband and had to be completely put under. Nick wasn’t able to be there for the delivery until they knew everything was okay and I wasn’t able to see McCoy until three hours after I had delivered him.  He then was admitted into the NICU and we ended up staying in the hospital for six days until he was cleared to go home. I was extremely hard on myself with the birth of McCoy. I had every intention of delivering him naturally and every intention of going home the following day to begin my life as a new mother. I was tired and hurting and trying to heal, and I was sad. Looking back, I have realized that I learned so much during that time. I relied heavily on my faith during that hospital stay and long afterwards. My husband and I grew very strong as new parents.  And now, I fully embrace that experience and realize how much the human body is truly capable of enduring. 

Fasting forward to the present, I really didn’t know what to expect for the delivery of Riggins. I knew it would be a scheduled C-section and I knew my body had done it all before, but I wasn’t awake for any of it so I was actually quite nervous for the surgery. It didn’t hit me until about three weeks before his birth that I started losing sleep over the fact that I would once again be sliced open and once again be put in a situation where our hospital stay could be much longer than expected. I was doubting having a second child and became really hard on myself that McCoy would no longer be my everything.

I was assured by many, however, that this time around would be much much different (and that McCoy could and would still be my everything).

I was awake from midnight until we had to check in at the hospital at 5:15 the morning of his delivery. We pretty much just laid in bed and talked about how weird it was knowing the exact moment our baby was going to enter our life. I was five days overdue with  McCoy so my pregnancy with him felt extremely long. But with this pregnancy, the date had been on my calendar for months, so the anticipation was sort of killing me by November 20th, even though I was able to deliver him at 39 weeks.  I got out of bed around 4 AM, packed our bags, and showered. I remember looking at my belly one last time  and thinking, ‘this could be it, this could be our last pregnancy.’  All of a sudden the extremely hard moments in pregnancy disappeared andI truly felt beautiful. I realized that this is what my body was made to do. So let’s go have a baby!

We checked in, changed into our gowns, and settled into our room very quickly. The nurses had me prepped extremely fast. They were so casual, like prepping a lady to be cut open was an easy task and like handling needles and little tools was something they could pretty much do blind folded. Nick sat next to me, drinking his Holiday coffee, telling me I was doing great (as if I was in labor). There was music playing on the television sound system and then I was given two new nurses - the one’s who would be there during my delivery.  An emergency C-Section had come in that morning so we received news that we had to wait until she had delivered, so my 7 AM start time was pushed back a bit. I was so at peace with it all I didn’t mind. I also was quite fascinated just watching my nurses. If you are a nurse by the way- you are AMAZING and should be rewarded on a daily basis with coffee and cookies and do NOT get enough credit for the work you do, xo.

Before we knew it, it was time to walk down to the operating room. I held hands with Nick, got on the table, received my spinal, and literally 10 minutes later Riggins was born. It happened so fast, so peaceful, and with such ease, I truly could not believe it.

He was born at 8:54 AM weighing 8 pounds 5 ounces and 20 1/2 inches long. 

Pregnancy is amazing. Giving birth is amazing. No matter what situation you are put in.  Riggins is an extremely content baby and we were sent home a day earlier than expected (on Thanksgiving). We picked up McCoy, had a wonderful time with family, and quickly entered the world of parenting two. 

And it is so so wonderful.

What I’ve learned through all of this is infinite. Childbirth goes deeper than the tiny humans we create. Both deliveries have taught me that God is certain, He has a plan for your future, and he will take you to places in which you would not be able to go on your own, and for Him, I am so grateful.