“a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013″
dear connor, you’ve finally shared your “i love you’s” with me. penelope isn’t the only one on the receiving end of those sweet words now. in this first picture we were taking a snack break at the aquarium. you have a whole new love for the aquarium now that you’ve grown older. the sharks, of course, were your favorite. a loud, squeal would erupt from your mouth every time one passed by you in the big tank. pure love. xoxo
dear penelope, i can’t believe you are almost 7 months old. we’ve just started baby led weaning. you love sitting up at the table to eat with us. connor and i have been teaching you sign language. you wave hi now and we’re working on “eat” and “more.”xoxo
as always, joining jodi from che and fidel for project 52.
it’s SUMMER TIME! living a couple miles away from the beach means our summers are full of the sun and the sand. we promised ourselves we would continue to take advantage of our proximity to the ocean even when we had kids so although it’s taken some thought and coordination at first, we’re in the groove now, knowing exactly what we really need, what we can live without and most importantly the easiest way to lug it all out there with 2 kids in tow.
we use a nice, big over sized bag to throw the essentials in. i usually keep it packed on a regular basis so i don’t have to repack every week.
- sunscreen – we love alba sunscreens. natural ingredients and kid friendly. apply it before you leave. your child is not going to want to stand there while you apply it on the beach. they want to go play! plus, this gives it time to soak in.
- baby powder – this is great at helping sand off your skin. just rub on hands, legs, etc and the sand will fall off much easier leaving your skin much softer.
- hats – if they aren’t already wearing them as we head out they get tossed in the bag.
- 2 towels – you don’t need a towel for every single person, do you? share them. they take up so much room and it’s really not necessary. if anything pack a smaller kid sized towel if you feel like you need more.
- beach toys - don’t go overboard. a bucket, a shovel or 2, maybe a favorite little truck or animal, a net. every kid i see on the beach is more than happy to be splashing and kicking in the water. their play is not focused around the toys.
- extra set of dry clothes/beach robe – my kids are stripped down and put into their hooded beach robe for the ride home or sometimes not at all!
- wet/dry bag – we have one like this. in the front “dry” pocket i keep an extra diaper and wipes and in the main “wet” pocket i throw anything wet from cloth diapers to wet bathing suits. throwing your cell phones and keys in the dry pocket is also a good choice knowing their sealed away from any wetness and sand. these bags are great for any outing, not just the beach. you can order them online or find them anywhere cloth diapers are sold. target may even be carrying them now in their charlie banana line. i’ll have to double check!
- go early – take advantage of your little early birds and get out there early! we beat the traffic and snag a great parking spot by leaving around 9am.
- jogger – if you have a jogger, bring it! this is essential. not only does it carry the kids, it’s full of extra spots to load things up on the walk out. (plastic bag for trash, pacis, blankets, sunglasses, etc) we hang our tent and cooler over the handle and keep our beach tapestry in the bottom storage pocket. connor even brings with special blanket and i kept it in the jogger so it won’t get all sandy. joggers are also key if you want to spend an extended time out on the beach with kids. both connor and penelope will get in and we’ll take a walk to help them zonk out for a while.
- tent – get this one. i did a ridiculous amount of tent research before buying this one a few summers ago and i has not let us down. it’s lightweight, SUPER easy to install (one person can do it in about a minute) it’s covered on 2 sides and open on the other 2 sides, has a lining on the bottom acting as a floor and can fit at least 3 people. we have had multiple people come up and ask us where we bought it because they were amazed after seeing us set it up so quickly.
- bring 1 backpack chair – depending on how many people you have but if it’s just kyle and me with the kids we certainly don’t need 2 chairs plus a kid chair. there’s really not as much sitting back and relaxing on the beach when you have young kids… we also usually keep the beach toys in the back of the backpack chair so that one less thing in the bag.
- tapestry – bring a lightweight tapestry or blanket to lay down. big bulky beach blankets take up too much room and bringing a bunch of towels is too. we use an old, big tapestry to lay down in the tent that can be easily rolled up into a small bundle and thrown under the jogger when its time to pack up.
the only other thing we bring is a cooler full of fruit, sandwiches, nuts, water, etc to nibble on. we just just keep this in one of the corners of the tent with the beach bag in another. cooler tip – don’t go crazy with ice. we’ve found just throwing a couple hard ice packs works just as well and it so much less heavy and messy to deal with.
the walk out and back is a breeze. kyle has the chair on his back and pushes the jogger and i carry the beach bag. we’ve laughed several times that it almost seems easier to get out to the beach these days compared to our kid free days. practice makes perfect…
i was recently asked to do a little review on conscious box and share my thoughts with you guys so if you haven’t already heard of conscious box let me give you the low down…
what is conscious box?
conscious box is a monthly subscription box full of healthy, natural products created by ethical, sustainable companies. anything from natural beauty to health food and non-toxic home goods will be in the box. one of the great options about this particular subscription box is that you can customize yours to be either classic, vegan or gluten-free.
(as of June 2013)
$19.95 / month
$56.85 / 3 months
$107.70 / 6 months
$203.40 / yearly
all boxes include free shipping plus you are able to collect bonus points every month and cancel at anytime.
as much as i 100% support any company that is empowering people to live a more healthy, sustainable, green lifestyle i decided not to continue to receive conscious box but that doesn’t mean i wouldn’t suggest it to others.
i received the vegan box which was full of mostly sample packs of different products with a few full-sized snacks as well (the snacks were eaten 2.5 seconds after this picture was taken) so it’s great for anyone who is unfamiliar, sceptical or embarking on a journey to live a more “green” healthful lifestyle because now you are armed with a few products to help convince and/or guide you toward how to take the next steps. for example, you don’t think a vegan, gluten-free pumpkin would be good, you will 100% change your mind once eating that cookie pictured above. or those chips? heck yeah, they were good and are a much healthier choice over, say, doritos. you get the picture…
but for me, i’m already there. i have all my homemade, natural cleaners ready to go, my whole, unprocessed real foods in my kitchen. i just don’t feel like i need a bunch of sample packs floating around my house. another factor? i’m just not sure spending nearly $20 a month on sample packs is a smart financial choice.
in conclusion, i love the idea of the box. i love that you are given the vegan and gluten free options. i do truly love the concept and i encourage any of my readers who do want to take steps toward a chemical free, organic, sustainable lifestyle to try the box out! remember, you can always cancel anytime!
find out more about conscious box:
after my struggles breastfeeding connor (check this post out if you haven’t already) all i wished for when i was pregnant with penelope was a successful nursing relationship (and a healthy baby of course) but i was in for some challenges…
after giving birth to penelope i swept her into my arms and held her close, skin to skin and attempted breastfeeding. she started sucking with what seemed to be a good latch immediately! connor had never successfully latched even with ample skin to skin post birth so i felt hopeful but after that she never latched well. the only way i could get her to nurse was with the use of a nipple shield. yet again, the nipple shield just like with connor. i can’t express to you the hatred i have for that nipple shield.
despite it all i was determined to succeed. there were many, many frustrating, overwhelming, all out tear filled breakdowns from this girl throughout the process but we did it so i want to share our success with you so you can hopefully find the confidence to push through it too.
how we weaned from the nipple shield:
- continue communication with a lactation consultant: if you’ve given birth in a hospital they are always available and do come in and check how things are going but it takes more than one consultation to solve latching problems. make a point to get a phone number where you can call them once you get home for any and all questions.
- find a breastfeeding support group: our hospital offers a free breastfeeding support group ever tuesday for an hour. so penelope and i went every week for some time. there is a great turn out of mothers in the same situation you are in. how it went was like this: you come in weigh your baby, find a seat, nurse and weigh again after nursing to make sure your babe is in fact effectively sucking a decent amount of milk. all the while there is a lactation consultant or 2 making the rounds checking latches, answering your questions, etc. i found the support of the fellow mothers a huge help! i was able to get out of the house and converse with other women with children just weeks old like mine. this step, i believe was HUGE factor in keeping my confidence up. even if you are not struggling too much with nursing, consider going for the social aspect alone. since i had connor at home as well, kyle would come home for his lunch every tuesday and hang with him while i went.
- get educated. read some books: i have read and reread Baby-Led Breastfeeding over and over again. it shares so many helpful tips.
- accept the help of the nipple shield: ugh. you know it pains me to say that but it’s true. when it comes down to it your baby needs to eat. if the only way she’s eating is with the help of a shield, just use it. the consultants weren’t able to get penelope to latch either. they all told me some babies just need some time and a little help. they promised me that as the weeks passed she would start getting the hang of it and latch on her own. in fact, they told me 98% of mothers who have to use the shields in the beginning have completely weaned from them by 2-3 months!
- start the weaning process: i always attempted to get penelope to latch without the shield at the beginning of our nursing sessions. at first she never did. i would then put the shield on and work with her to get a good latch with it on. once she was in the groove, latched and drinking well i’d give her a few minutes and then slip the shield off and attempt to latch her on without it. again, in the beginning she still never latched so i would slip the shield back on and let her finish. i would try this every single time we nursed. slowly, over the course of 6 weeks we would have sessions where she was able to latch when i would slip it off. as she grew stronger with that we were able to start off without it and successfully nurse the whole time. it was a back and forth process and sometimes she would revert back but i stuck with it. sure enough, by 6 or 7 weeks we no longer needed it! it was like it all clicked!
- find a position that works well for both of you. the football hold was the best of us in the early weeks.
- get a great nursing pillow. the breast friend pillow worked best for me. other people love using a boppy or just layering up with pillows. use whatever makes you comfortable. you have to be at ease at the root of it all to be successful.
- take a breath. take a break. stay calm.
- have confidence in yourself and your baby
- surround yourself with like-minded, supportive family and friends. i could not have gotten through with my sanity intact if it weren’t for my husband.
truth is breastfeeding can stink. let’s me honest. it’s not always easy. it’s hard and messy and the first few weeks are the most difficult for a lot of mothers. this was a hard process for me. it was emotionally taxing with feelings of guilt, frustration, sadness and lack of confidence but it’s so worth the effort to make it work. i have the most wonderful nursing relationship with penelope now. it has created a bond that i never knew existed. she’s able to scooch over in the middle of the night, grab on and nurse all on her own now. it’s hilarious and awesome and i unexpectedly feel pure joy watching her do it. <— don’t miss those moments, moms. all the frustration is worth it and you’ll look back with disbelief that such an issue even existed. the time will fly, as always.
“a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013″
dear connor, popcorn break! one of your faves these days. you are constantly telling us that you need a snack lately. so much so that we’re expecting to see you pop up a few inches soon!
dear penelope, you’re 6 months old and 16 pounds big this week! growing like a weed and pulling yourself all over the house. we’ve started a slow transition into baby led weaning this week. i think you’re more excited about sitting in your chair at the table than the bananas and sweet potatoes though. that’s ok. we’re not rushing this eating thing…
as always, joining jodi from che and fidel for project 52.
so, this delish little snack is what my son gets when he asks for a treat…
i call it our warm strawberry cacao quinoa treat. now you guys know we’re not a family that loads up on refined sugars, processed foods, etc but that doesn’t mean we don’t love a good tasty treat now and again.
i won’t sacrifice my health or the health of my kids by buying and consuming sugar filled candies and cookies or even baking up cookies with loads of sugar in them but i do want them to have a sweet treat now and then and experience what REAL, unprocessed chocolate tastes like from an early age without the addictive properties that come with processed, refined sugars.
so, if you’re a health nut like me or just venturing into the world of health foods , this is a really quick and easy treat to start with!
all you need is:
- cooked quinoa
- cacao powder
- strawberries (or any other fruit you may have or desire – pears or bananas would be good!)
how i whipped it up:
- cook quinoa: just cook it up according to package directions. if you don’t use it all on your treat (which you probably won’t) save it for another meal.
- add fruit: cut up your strawberries in small pieces and add to quinoa.
- add cacao and mash: scoop in a small spoonful of cacao and stir and mash up strawberries a bit to get the yummy strawberry juices mixed in as well.
- add stevia: we use the powdered version so i just added a tiny scoop with the provided scooper. start with a little and adjust according to how much you are making or what suits your taste.
i only made a small bowl so just adjust your ingredients to suit how much quinoa you’ve made. make sure it’s nice and warm and enjoy!
a few perks to these ingredients:
cacao | a top source of antioxidants, and it contains an abundance of magnesium and iron. to make cacao powder, the beans are milled at low temperature to protect the nutrients and flavor. this raw powder is a healthy alternative to conventional over-processed “cocoa” used for baking, hot chocolate, desserts and smoothies.
quinoa | a great source of iron and fiber. it has a high-protein content and is naturally low in fat. this is my personal choice of over rice. i buy quinoa pasta and even make quinoa pancakes instead of using unhealthy grains.
stevia | derived from the stevia leaf, it’s a virtually noncaloric, natural food sweetener.
strawberries | packed with vitamins, fiber, and particularly high levels of antioxidants known as polyphenols, strawberries are a sodium-free, fat-free, cholesterol-free, low-calorie food. they are among the top 20 fruits in antioxidant capacity and are a good source of manganese and potassium.