Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What I Learned from NOT Being Able to Breastfeed

Hi there! I originally wrote this as a guest post for a friends blog, but she has since deleted her blog and started a new photography venture (yay Jenna!). When Jenna first asked me to share my breastfeeding experience, I thought “She remembers my experience was terrible right?” I wanted to share this here because I was recently talking about my hopes for my next breastfeeding experience (no, I’m not pregnant) with my friend whose been able to successfully breastfeed her daughter for going on a year now and as I was talking to her, I felt defeated and scared about breastfeeding; I wanted to remind myself what I wrote here. I wish I had something like this to read before Logan’s arrival, so I hope whatever your experience may be.. if you’re pregnant or a new mom or even not a parent but are thinking about starting a family somewhere down the line, I hope my experience can open your eyes to that fact that breastfeeding does not come easy to everyone.

Before pregnancy, the thought of breastfeeding really terrified me. I was uncomfortable with the thought of someone other than my husband being near my breasts. In hindsight, it’s silly to have felt that way, but I think its human nature to be scared of something we know nothing about. All I knew of breastfeeding before and even during pregnancy was that my sister did it, people in commercials did it, ladies I saw breastfeeding in public did it; I was exposed to one side of a woman’s breastfeeding experience;  the positive one. I figured it was something women just do. You have a baby, you breastfeed, right? It makes total sense because that’s what your boobs are there for anyway!

During my pregnancy, my eyes and heart opened up to breastfeeding my daughter. I read about the benefits and reassured myself it wouldn’t be weird once I was doing it. I sewed myself a nursing cover, I bought a few more covers, I bought the nursing tanks and the breast pads; I was totally prepared to breastfeed my daughter and I was happy that I had ultimately made that decision. It would be beneficial to my daughter’s health, it would help my postpartum body, it was cost effective, and I was ready.
I wasn’t ready for what actually happened.

My delivery was great.. it was quick. I pushed for twenty eight minutes and there she was, my gorgeous girl. As the hours went by I started to feel what had happened during my pushing and I was miserable to say the least. The tearing wasn’t too bad, but the hemorrhoids I managed to give myself in my intense warrior mama pushing were a sight to be seen (sorry for the graphics). I wasn’t able to sit up which made breastfeeding very difficult as I am a AA bra size, the smallest they come.  So I could not breastfeed on my side; not enough boob! I also was in a lot of pain and on lots of painkillers that I didn’t think to wake Logan up and feed her every ninety minutes and unfortunately neither did any of the nurses on staff. I did call a nurse at one point to help me; Logan latched on fine and I thought we were good to go.

Once we got home, the pain got worse, and the latching got worse. There was a lot of crying, from me and Logan. We took Logan to the doctor for a wellness check at three days old and because she had already lost a little more than a pound, her doctor wanted to supplement  some of her feedings with formula. He reassured me that my milk would come in and not to worry.. just breastfeed than bottle feed. It sounded very simple.  As the days went on, Logan started to refuse the breast. I got a nipple shield, saw a lactation consultant, went to breastfeeding support groups, started pumping after each feeding with a hospital grade pump, supplemented at the breast (that’s having your baby latch on to your breast like she’s breastfeeding, but a tube has been inserted in her mouth that has a syringe full of formula at the end.. just in case you didn’t know), took Mother Milk Plus pills, massaged, took warm baths, you name it.. I did it.

At five weeks old, Logan was hospitalized and diagnosed with Gastroesophageal Reflux. I was relieved at the diagnosis because we had been told repeatedly that she was colicky (though her symptoms did not fit that particular diagnosis). I realized that every time I was laying her down to feed, she was having reflux and was in pain. I realized that because of the stress of my recovery, I was not producing enough milk and she was starving (hence the weight loss and the nonstop crying). I tried breastfeeding, supplementing at the breast, and pumping for a week after Logan’s diagnosis and one night as I was looking at the eighth of an ounce I pumped (both breasts combined), I decided to stop killing myself and just allow Logan to be bottle and formula fed.

Logan was taking an antacid at the time that was easy to administer through bottle feeding, she ate like a champ with a bottle, and she was finally doing well after five formula changes and six bottle changes. I needed to let her thrive and unfortunately, it just wasn’t by breastfeeding. I felt guilty for a long time, until recently really. I’d look at Logan and not be able to see how healthy and wonderful and charismatic she is; I’d see my failure. Each time she got sick, I wondered if it was my fault for not being able to produce the nourishment she needed.  I was heartsick every time I saw another woman breastfeeding her child; I even cried at the Luv’s commercial where a mother is breastfeeding her second child at a restaurant table. I was sick over it for a long time.

Logan is seventeen months now. I see her thriving, I see how smart she is, I appreciate her health (because it could always be worse), and I am happy. I feel like I have learned a lot from my breastfeeding experience; not only that I shouldn’t beat myself up over not being able to do it, but I am prepared for next time. I plan on having a C-section for my next child to avoid the trauma I went through with my vaginal delivery. I am hoping that by eliminating that major factor, I will be able to successfully breastfeed my next child (and the next and the next). I also am prepared for not being able to breastfeed next time. One lactation consultant I spoke to suggested that my “lactation hormones just aren’t present”. She did tell me that was odd because I got pregnant so quickly, but we’ll see next time around. I really do feel like the physical trauma and the stress of the pain and not knowing about Logan’s reflux for weeks played the most significant role in my lack of milk production. I’ve learned that all I can do is appreciate the fact that I tried my hardest and I stopped when I felt like it wasn’t emotionally healthy for me, for my daughter or for my husband.

All anyone can ever do with any experience is learn from it, and move on. I spent a lot of time dwelling on my “failure” and there was so much to be appreciative of. I am happy I am able to see the positive in it now and to be able to have grown from it. If breastfeeding doesn’t come easy for you, stop. Don’t let a doctor, lactation consultant, family member, friend or even yourself push you into continuing to try something that just doesn’t work with your body. Same goes with someone who tries their hardest to have a vaginal birth but needs an emergency C-section; not being able to do something natural doesn’t make you any less of a woman or a mother. It took me a while to realize that so I hope by reading this, you can save yourself the emotional turmoil and just be strong and move on. If your child is healthy and happy, you’re doing a great job!

xo
-Ali

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Currently

Thinking about: destressing; April took a lot out of me. I feel like I've been running on auto-pilot all month long, trying not to dwell on all of the negative that happened and trying not to have an emotional break down. I took on a lot of work (which is great financially.. every bit helps!), Logan was sick for most of the month, teething, was in the emergency room, urgent care, and the allergist (hey, we're going again tomorrow!). I am the type of person who takes on a lot and then is overwhelmed if it's not done in a timely fashion. May is a new month for new perspectives and a new way of living each day. I am hoping to be able to set things aside, without having them looming in my mind so I can be fully present in other aspects of my life.

Listening: I've been on a Beatles kick the last couple of days. There's nothing like vegging out at home on the weekends with the Beatles playing in the background. When I'm in the car, I've been skipping around a lot through different artists because I can't make up my mind on who I want to listen to. I've gone through 311, Fleetwood Mac, The Slackers, Jack Johnson, and Kings of Leon in the last several days... indecision much?

Watching: We're caught up on our Hulu queue again. I'm always excited to see a new "Mindy Project" and "Shark Tank"! Seriously, during every ad break in "Shark Tank" Rory and I are scheming about an idea to make us rich. Still working on that!

Trying: To get motivated again. Since this month has been a rough one, I got out of my exercise routine which rolled over in to the not eating so well routine. Yesterday I started with the Wii again and I somehow forced myself to do it again today (I have been awake since 3am with a headache) ::little pat on the back:: I have all of my meals planned for the week as well, so here's to beginning again!

Loving: the flowers! I am a Fall/Winter sort of a gal, but Simi Valley is so gorgeous in the Spring. The jacaranda and magnolia trees are looking gorgeous and the mountain sides are filled with mustard plants. We live in a chaparral that is always pretty gorgeous, but with all of the poppies, mustard, and lilacs springing up on the side of the roads, it makes it more stunning. I'm also loving little miss Logan's painted orange toes, her insanely huge vocabulary, and her sweet nature. Without a doubt, the last month has been full of cognitive growth more so than any other. I wrote down all of her words last week and I had 55! The next day she started saying a few more, she uses "up and down" "off and on" and "in and out" in the right context, her face looks older, her hair is full of curls, she's very clearly a toddler now and it's been really exciting to watch her grow. My favorite thing she's doing lately is singing; she's singing along with us to all of her favorite songs and it's pretty darn cute.

What are you up to lately?

xo
-Ali

All the pictures are from my phone this past month; you can follow along with me on Instagram if you like because really, who doesn't want to see cute babies in their feed?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Eating Well

As a person who has struggled with my weight and emotional eating issues, I believe I may have finally found the answer I was looking for all along in following the Paleo "diet". I will be completely honest with you and tell you I was completely strict when I first began last July and since September of last year I have been off and on the Paleo train. I am always really good about eating a Paleo breakfast and dinner.. it's the lunch that I struggle with; sometimes I just want a burger! Mostly my hard days are because I'm not feeling well or Logan is having a hard day, so I just give up and say "I need a grilled cheese". Really, I don't need one and that's where I am having to grow and learn that eating better makes me feel better.. so I just need to stick to it and be proud that I am.

Growing up eating meat and potatoes practically every day of my life doesn't make the Paleo lifestyle hard to follow really. Once you learn what ingredients to stock your fridge and pantry with, the rest is up to you to make it happen and to not succumb to the In 'N Out cravings (mmmmm).
I wanted to share some of my favorite recipes here with you so that if you're new to Paleo, trying to stay on it, or are just looking for some yummy food to eat, then you'll have this to start with!

source

Roasted Italian Sausage with Sweet Potatoes - I follow this recipe to a T, but do not include the brussels sprouts or the  fennel (Rory and I do not like either). Last time I made it, I added red peppers (chopped) for the last 15 minutes in place of the other veggies. It turned out super delicious and we were able to have left overs for another two days.

Beef Brisket - this was pretty delicious; the perfect fall apart brisket. Instead of avocado oil, I used EVOO and roasted it at 325 for 5 hours (my crockpot is a piece of junk and does not cook anything properly).

Roasted Broccoli with Bacon - The tastiest way to eat broccoli. I cheat on this one too by laying out the fresh broccoli on a tin foil lined cookie sheet and I just scatter the chopped bacon pieces on top of some of the broccoli and around the pan.

Paleo Shake and Bake - In this recipe she uses chicken, but I use it for pork chops. I follow the cooking directions that you'd find on the back of a Shake 'n Bake box in the grocery store. Rory and I ate a lot of Shake 'n Bake pork chops before I started Paleo, so this is a really delicious alternative.

Adobo Peppered Steak - This recipe is really only an ingredients guideline for me. I follow the directions up to step 5. I add the chopped peppers in step 5 and let everything simmer for an hour or two. I prefer the cooked peppers to the raw and I feel like the flavors have a better chance to develop when simmering for so long.

Paleo Chilli - seriously amazing. I made this a lot in the Winter. I did attempt to make some Paleo cornless cornbread with it once, but I was not a fan. I also use 3lbs of ground beef because we like our chilli meaty!

This is my favorite "breading" for chicken. These are my favorite pancakes to make (I've tried a lot of Paleo pancake recipes). And I am still looking for a good Paleo brownie recipe.. I've tried this one, and this one.


If you have any Paleo recipes to recommend, I'd love to see! I am always trying to make something new for dinner... I don't like being in a food rut. You can also follow along with my Paleo Pinterest board for more ideas.


xo
-Ali

17/52

A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2014.

 She is 17 months old today!
Yesterday she finally started looking like she's on the road to recovery from her cold.. fingers crossed.

xo
-Ali

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Snapshots



We were pretty close to not partaking in any Easter festivities this year because Logan has had a cold for a few days. We decided we would just take it one hour at a time and see if we were able to get us all happily out the door to Rory's aunts house; obviously we went! Logan was a little unlike herself, but was all around pretty happy and enjoyed being everyone's entertainment (of course).

I can't help but (already) think of next years Easter. Next year, I hope she'll be able to ride Aunt Kerry's horses and hunt for Easter eggs! I brought some eggs for her to find that were filled with Annie's bunny crackers, but she was too interested in her hula girl necklace to really care that everyone else was playing with candy filled Easter eggs. She did find one egg but just wanted to open and close it instead of bother with the little chocolate bunny that was inside.. not a problem with me!

Also, if you're wondering.. Logan's basket was filled with a new bucket of sidewalk chalk, heart shaped sunglasses, cracker filled plastic chicks and carrots, and "I Can Fly".

How was your Easter?

xo
-Ali

Friday, April 18, 2014

16/52


A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2014.

We were feeling out of sorts on Thursday (when this picture was taken) so we stayed home all day and vegged. It seemed to help because today is much better so far!

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend!


xo
-Ali

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Helicopter Parenting


I was waiting in line at the pharmacy with Logan the other day and an elderly woman got in line behind us. She asked how old Logan was.. "16 months", I replied. She went on to ask if Logan had any grandparents here.. I said, "yes, my mom lives close to us and my husbands family lives at the other end of town". She asked if I left Logan with her grandparents often.. I told her "no. I'm lucky enough to be at home with her so she doesn't need to be left with anyone."; man, if looks could kill. The woman proceeded to tell me I was a "new age helicopter parent" and I "needed to leave my daughter with her grandparents often". She said "it would be good for my marriage".
::enter screeching halt here::
Alright, one: Rory and I have a better marriage than most married people. two: we want to be home with Logan. I joked with my cousin the other day about not having many friends anymore and Rory and I are hermits.. really, we like it that way. I make plans with the friends I want to see.. we make time for Logan to see family members, but each moment we have together, just the three of us, we want and cherish.

Unsolicited advice has been one of my biggest struggles since motherhood and I always am shocked at what people think they are allowed to say to another human being. I spent my entire life waiting to be a mom and I am grateful to have been given the gift of motherhood. I have been fortunate enough to be able to stay home with Logan and have at home work to do and be able to bring income to my family... why would I leave my daughter with anyone when I am here? I don't need to go anywhere to do things for myself or for my marriage; where we are is where we want to be. Yes, recently I talked about taking a little me time in the evenings to exercise, but honestly I have not kept up with that because I'd rather hang out with Rory and Logan.

I believe this generation of mothers is finally doing things the right way. We are with our children.. we are caring for them as nature intended.. we are not dumping them off on family and friends just because we need a pedicure or something. I have said this before, but children are not dogs to be carried around to where you want to go and what you want to do and they are certainly not dog-like enough to just leave them with another caretaker because you feel like you need a break. If you can't care for your own child while being a stay at home mom.. don't have a child. There's a whole other factor of working moms and I know in my heart that working moms are busting their butts at work and are counting down the hours and minutes until they can go get their babies from daycare.

I don't know what it is about this complex I've seen in grandmothers; this is actually the second grandparent stranger to tell me I am not doing the right thing with my own daughter by being with her all of the time. Times have changed.. parents are doing a better job these days. Just because things are not the same as our grandparents or parents generations doesn't mean we are doing things wrong. My husbands grandma told me she was given pills to dry up her breast milk after having children. My grandma smoked and drank throughout all of her pregnancies.. it's the "Mad Men" era where no one knew any better and now we do.

So...
Dear Grandparents, Parents, and all Strangers for that matter,
My daughter has more words and more knowledge than most children her age because I am doing an incredible job. I am teaching her and raising her because she is my daughter, not yours. I love my daughter more than I can ever express, therefore, I want to be with her. I enjoy her, I miss her when she's sleeping, I wake up each morning and cannot wait to start the day with her... she is everything to me and she is mine. She is mine and my husbands.. so respect that and keep your judgements about my "new age helicopter" parenting to yourself.

xo
-Ali

Monday, April 14, 2014

My Mama Must Haves

When I was a few weeks pregnant with Logan, someone told me not to worry about buying maternity clothes because all I needed to do was buy size XL clothing and that would work throughout my pregnancy; boy, were they wrong! I think that trick only applies to women who are stick thin and that is definitely not me. I, of course, grew quickly out of my normal clothes and wore maternity wear throughout my entire pregnancy.. what I didn't expect was having to buy a new wardrobe for after pregnancy as well. My body is just not the same; I weigh less, am drowning in some of my old clothes and am just not comfortable in them anymore. All of my old tops are too short and I pretty much refuse to wear jeans these days. I have needed to buy some new essential pieces that I feel comfortable in, are easily washed, and hide all of that post baby belly fluff that won't go away. Along with some new comfy clothing, I've realized I need very little these days (only essential things) so I thought it'd be fun to share my every day items with you!

 belly band This is an every day wear for me. Not only does it lengthen the look of my shirts (long torso problems), I feel like it keeps me sucked in a bit. I can look in the mirror and see I weigh less than before pregnancy, but I am still very self conscious about my stomach area. There's not much I can do about my stretched out belly without a million dollars for a personal trainer so this is the next best thing!

 wistful weekender I use this as my diaper bag and though I am not carrying much for Logan or myself lately, I love how comfortable it is on my shoulder and I can pack all sorts of things in there if I need to.

 pony tail holders Every day I will straighten my hair.. give it a brush, but I am always wearing a pony tail holder on my wrist. No matter how fancy my hair looks, it never fails to end up in a ponytail or some messy knot on the top of my head.

 rosebud salve I love love love this stuff! I have been using it as my "chap stick" for years. It keeps my lips soft, I can smear some on my fingers to keep them from getting chapped in the dry weather, I can put it on Logan if needed.. it's the greatest and it lasts forever!

 champion workout leggings I'll be honest here... I hate jeans. I've always hated jeans. They stick to you in the heat, they're not as stretchy as I would like.. I have given up on real pants. I wear these workout leggings every day (I have four pairs) and they are so comfortable. My after baby body really likes how they keep all my bulge in control. I wear them to exercise and out and about with long tees.

Anthropologie shirts: darcy swing tee & tail stripe tee I live in these shirts. I have two of the swing tees for cooler weather and wear the tail stripe tee on warmer days. I have been trying to buy better quality clothes that I know will last longer instead of buying cheap clothing that I'll have to constantly replace.These shirts are longer (a perfect wear with leggings), loose, and super comfortable; perfect!

travel water bottle I try not to leave the house without a bottle of water. Sometimes I have those days where Logan is napping and I realize I haven't eaten or had any water yet.. which is really terrible. Drinking water helps boost your metabolism and I am all for that! These travel bottles help with reminding me to drink all the water I need to in a day and they're easy to throw in my diaper bag.

What are some of your mama must haves?

xo
-Ali

Friday, April 11, 2014

Keeping My Mom Face On & 15/52

 
A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2014. 

She sported her first pigtails this week.

I think one of the most challenging things about motherhood is living up to the expectations you have for yourself. When you're a child, you look up to your parents and see them only as your protectors; the ones who shield you from all the bad in the world.. they are always strong and composed. Being a parent, I now know how hard it is to keep yourself from breaking down when everyone is having a hard day.. having to keep your "game face" on so your child(ren) feel(s) safe and secure.

I have always been easily overwhelmed and let my emotions get the best of me, but since Logan has come along and grown up to a point where she understands the emotions I am exuding, I have to keep my emotions in check to be able to care for her the way she deserves.
Wednesday, Logan had an allergist appointment that we had been waiting for since December; it was overwhelming to say the least. I didn't think it was an appointment that Rory needed to take time off of work for; I wish he had come with us. We were there for two hours, answering two hours worth of questions, waiting for the assistant and the allergist to write a novel about Logan's history in to the computer.. Logan was restless, throwing things around the room, tearing the paper on the "bed"; I don't blame her though.. I was itching to get out of that room as well. The allergist ordered a lot of blood work and we needed to get to the lab on the other side of town at some point. I had an empty pantry and refrigerator looming in my mind, Logan needed to eat lunch and nap, and she was already looking like she was going to fall asleep in the car. After a quick Trader Joe's run, I finally got her home and fed.. I layed her down and it took her almost twenty five minutes to fall asleep. Thirty five minutes later, she was awake and I had realized I hadn't eaten or taken one sip of water the whole day... oh well, the show must go on. I decided to just get her to the lab so I could get all of the dramatics with the blood work done and over with. I was feeling anxious and overwhelmed and confessed to the lab tech that I could possibly cry the moment Logan started crying from being poked with a needle.. she giggled and said it was okay. I didn't feel okay. Logan sat as best as she could, I hugged her tightly and kissed her head as tears were welling up in my eyes.. for her, for me. After four viles of blood were drawn, she was very pleased with all of her stickers and walked out of the office saying "bye" to all of her new fans and blew kisses. I got my smiling, happy, unfazed baby in to the car and I felt like I could sit in there and cry for a while, but didn't; I needed to be smiling and let her know what a great job she did and needed to reassure her that we were going home to play outside. 

Shoving my emotions as far down as I can over and over again leaves me drained. I felt exhausted from not being able to just express what I needed to, but what can you do in a situation like that? I don't want Logan to see me upset and then make herself upset. Kids feed on your emotions and I wanted her to be proud of herself and enjoy the rest of her day. Before becoming a parent, I had heard all of the "it's painful to watch your child go through this and that", "I don't want to let my child down".. seriously. She had a very hard and draining day as well, so even though I felt broken from watching her have to go through it all, she was unfazed at the end of the day (probably because she doesn't have the brain capacity to remember all that she had gone through, but nonetheless she taught me a lesson: to keep smiling).

Whether it's because she couldn't remember or because she really has an incredible personality and can bounce back quickly from any hardship, she makes me want to be better at controlling my emotions; not just with her, but in general. I don't want to let someones words or rudeness let me feel down. I don't want things that pop up in my mind about my past ruin my day. I don't want to let a hard situation or a rough day bring me down to a point where I feel exhausted and ready to give up.
Keeping Logan safe and happy keeps me going and seeing her smile after a traumatic situation is all I need to keep my mom face on.

 xo 
-Ali

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Daily Challenge

photo credit: Ressull Salvi Photography
I imagine that leaving the house is not a production for most people. Yes, it is sometimes a production with children and sometimes you may need to go back in to the house because you have forgotten something; for me, leaving the house was almost impossible for a long time. Not because I was forgetful or had children holding me back.. not at the time; I was crippled by OCD and some severe body issues.

I can look back on myself as a child and remember needing the seam of my socks to be perfectly lined across the top of my toes, I needed my shoelaces to be tied in a perfect bow.. and when my mother tried to use velcro to cut some "get Ali out the door time", I needed the velcro to be perfectly aligned. I went through this faze in elementary school where I did not want to be seen if I had fly aways (you know the term ladies.. when you have some hair sticking up over there and a bit back there). I would plaster.. no joke.. plaster my head with hairspray so my ponytail was sleek and perfect. I don't know why I thought I looked better walking around with a cement hairspray helmet on my head, but at the time, I did.

I almost failed out of high school because I couldn't get myself to school on time because of imperfections in my hair, my face, my body... I picked myself apart each morning and sometimes I chose to go back to bed. There were some days I felt like I couldn't face the world. I used to purposefully get to class early so I could sit in the desk against the wall so I could write with my right hand and cover my belly with my hoodie and rest my head on my left hand so I could "hide my double chin".

Every night I'd get in to bed and push little light up toys I had stuck on to my foot board.. and nights I tried to talk myself out of it, I'd lay awake and think about it until I did it. I felt horrible about my body but couldn't exercise in public for fear of being judged by strangers. When I finally did start walking, I waited until dark and wore the biggest baggiest hoodie I could find. Hoodies... I wore them every day to hide myself; even in 100+ degree weather.

photo credit: Dallas Sterling
I still have hard mornings where I do not feel comfortable in anything I try on; I am walking back and forth from the mirror to the closet, making a mess while Rory and Logan wait patiently for me. I straighten my hand towels in the bathroom after each guest uses them. Everything in my home is symmetrical and in its place; if it's not, I am filled with anxiety.

I have let go a little over the years, I've had to. An old friend asked me when I was newly pregnant how I was going to embrace the kid messes and not be obsessive about my home being clean. I wasn't really sure how it'd go. All I could compare it to was my experience as a preschool teacher; I loved the mess because I knew the kids were learning and having fun. I am happy to say that applies with Logan; she is in the dirt, and full of paint and chalk.. but outdoors. We clean up before we come inside.. I bet all mom's do that. Does anyone really let their kids run a muck with art supplies around their house? Maybe you do if you're not a renter and you have wood or tile floors.

Being married and being a mother has helped me to not be so caught up in tidiness and perfection. If I look like a mess and feel frumpy, I have two people who love me unconditionally and could care less how many fly aways I have or if I have a huge red mark on my forehead because I've burned myself with the straightener again or if my shirt doesn't hide my mama belly as much as I would like it to; they love me and are just ready to get out the door to spend time with me. It's such a hard thing to set aside compulsions when you have OCD, but you have to. I am not a fan of medical intervention with mild mental illnesses so having to talk myself out of cleaning every day or talk myself out of the bathroom because I need to make sure I look "ok" is what works for me. Spending time with my family trumps all those obsessive feelings about needing to clean and to check my face in the mirror a million times.. it sounds ridiculous, but it's who I am and who I always have been.

Living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has taken away countless hours of my life but every day I strive to be a better wife and mother and I don't ever want OCD or body issues to get in the way of being able to lead a happy life.

If you're living with OCD and would like to share your story, you can comment here or email me. I always love hearing from you.

xo
-Ali

Saturday, April 5, 2014

This Years Easter Basket

Happy weekend everyone! I hope you're having a good one so far. We're working on a little project that I hope to share with you soon. Meanwhile, I thought I'd share some cute Easter basket ideas with you while Miss Logan is napping! Easter is two weeks away already; how did that happen?

So, I've talked here before about making new traditions and keeping some old ones; well, an Easter basket is a tradition I plan on keeping in our little family. I remember an Easter basket was always waiting for my sister and I on Easter Sunday; it was filled with little treasures and a few pieces of our favorite candy. I remember a New Kids on the Block Joey McIntyre figurine in mine one year! Score! I think it's really special that I still have those memories and I want Logan to experience that too. I am not opposed to a piece or two of candy, but I don't want it to be the focus of Easter for her; candy is for Halloween. In any gift giving circumstance, I want the items to be beneficial to Logan's development.. not just junky plastic crap so...

A few things I'd like to put in Logan's Easter basket this year:
 
Hape Watering Can // Bashful Bunny by Jellycat // Plan Toys Bunny and Chicken Racers // "I Can Fly" // Plan Toys Mushroom Kaleidoscope

I actually already got her the watering can, but if I throw it in her basket this year she wont think twice about it. I also have this sweet bonnet coming in the mail that I may toss in there too!

Do you give Easter baskets to your kids? What kind of items do you fill them with?

And just because..
Logan with her first Easter basket last year!!! Eeeeep the cuteness!
 

xo
-Ali

PS. I wanted to mention that I am currently trying to figure out how to install Disqus on my blog without having to remove all that I've already done to it. Disqus will allow you to follow along easily with my replies to your comments. Please note that I always reply to your comments here.. you just have to remember to check back. I do believe there's a box you can check to be notified by email with comment updates.. but anyway, I hope to figure out Disqus soon so you can see all of my replies to your comments because I always appreciate them :)

Friday, April 4, 2014

14/52


A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2014. 

Lately, I look at her and can't believe how much she's grown. I get nostalgic and scroll through old pictures of her a lot these days.

xo
-Ali

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Keeping in Touch with Treat

I know everyone says this at the start of each month.. but I really can't believe it's April already! For me, April means May is looming! May has always been a pretty busy time of the year in my family; we have five birthdays as well as Mothers' Day to celebrate. For many years, we'd all get together and celebrate everyone but as the years have gone on, it's gotten harder to see one another. My sister and her family live up in Santa Barbara, my dad and his family live up in Northern California, my grandparent's and aunt live about three hours South of me and there's also my other aunts who live in Hawaii and New York. As much as we all would love to continue getting together to celebrate our loved ones each May, plane tickets and gas have become very expensive and coordinating three toddlers schedules is not always possible. Luckily, we live in an age where family is just a phone call or an email away. 

Recently I received an email from Treat and I was happy to learn about this extension of Shutterfly and all they have to offer. I have been a customer of Shutterfly for a couple of years and have always been very happy with everything I've ordered from them. I've made photobooks for my mother in law and some canvas art prints for my dad.. I love being able to personalize gifts. Treat offers such a convenient service for keeping in touch with your loved ones as well as some cute gifts to personalize, so I was very excited to be able to share that on my blog with you!

Treat is so easy to navigate and I really love all of the design options they have; there's no doubt you'll be able to find the perfect card for someone you love. Another really incredible thing about Treat is that you have the choice to send a digital card or a paper card. The digital card is great for those "thinking of you" moments (I was able to send a personalized card along with photos of Logan to a family member who is going through a hard time right now and it really brightened their day) and the paper cards are great to surprise someone with happy mail in the mail box or even to give with a gift in person.

I know that my family members will be so smitten with their personalized cards I was able to make them this year (c/o Treat) and will see them as keepsakes rather than just another card from the grocery store.

I'd share the cards I made, but I want them to be a surprise for the recipients so instead I am going to share some of my favorite photo and non-photo Easter cards available at Treat:
     


Feel free to leave your favorite Treat finds in the comments below.. I'd love to see what special greetings your family and friends will be getting!

xo
-Ali