Monday, July 28, 2014

On Going Back to Work


I return to work next Monday. The wave of emotions that sweep through my heart are so bittersweet. The subject of staying at home versus returning to work has been deeply discussed countless times throughout my maternity leave and as my first day back to work quickly approaches it seems to occupy my thoughts all day. We've reviewed our finances, weighed our personal reasons, considered our career goals and more. At this time in our lives we think it makes the most sense for me to keep  working.
 
Our daycare doesn't start until September so both Grandmas are coming to stay with us for two weeks each to watch Caroline for the month of August (we are so lucky and grateful)! Hopefully this eases my transition going back to work a bit better.
 
Most of you probably don't know what I even do. Heck, there are days I still don't know what I do. My official title is "Business Development Coordinator" for the second largest law firm in Charlotte and is actually the second title I've owned since starting at my firm exactly two years ago today (happy anniversary to me). Before accepting this position I knew it would be temporary as my dream of staying at home with all my babies would outweigh any reason to stay in the corporate world. However, once we actually started planning our family my thoughts and attitude toward being a working mom began to change. I love my job more than I ever thought I would which is not something most people can say. My co-workers have become close friends, my boss is someone I love and admire, my daily activities stretch and challenge me to think, I am thankful for my salary which we depend on, my schedule is fairly flexible and I enjoy working with the attorneys I support. To give all of this up, all that I've worked so hard for would be a sacrifice in itself. I love my baby just as much as any other mother and choosing to go back to work is no easy decision. 
 
There will be many sacrifices I will have to make as I return to work. I know that 8 hours of emails, conference calls and meetings will follow sleepless nights, lunches out with friends will likely be replaced by eating at my desk so I can leave on time for daycare pick up, my “second shift” will begin at 5 pm and I will have very little leftover time to exercise, blog or soak in the tub (unless I get up even earlier). And although we love our amazing daycare, I know I will still worry over how Caroline is being cared for and sometimes feel guilty about not being with her all the time or even missing out on some of her "firsts."
 
However, I hope to set a wonderful example to Caroline and show her that her mom can have a fulfilling career, contribute in some way outside the home and still be a loving mother. I want to show her that her mommy was created with spiritual gifts, passions and talents that include and extend beyond being a mother. I want to show her at an early age that there are rewards for hard work. I want her to see Matt and I as equally involved in her life. Most of all, I want to exemplify strength, endurance, dedication and tenacity, all with joy and love for her.
 
I'll be signing of from the blog this week to soak in these last days at home with Caroline and will also be taking a short break as I get settled back into work. Unfortunately, when my cup is too full the blog is the first thing in my life to get cut out and this happens to be one of those seasons for me. I promise not to stay away too long!
I'll miss this baby-wrecked living room.
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lavender Linen Spray

I recently made some lavender spray for our bed linens and towels. I loved the clean, calming scent so much that I decided to use it for much more than just linens. I got spray-happy started freshening up our furniture, the nursery, bathrooms, closet, my rugs and more!

Lavender spray also makes for a great gift for friends. Studies suggest the aroma of lavender promotes relaxation and help you sleep better. How's that for a gift? Sleep deprived mommy? Yes, please!
The spray is very inexpensive to make. All you need is a spray bottle (I picked one up at Target for 99 cents), a mini bottle of vodka, lavender oil and distilled water.
Lavender Spray
2 cups distilled water
1 oz. (2 tablespoons) vodka or rubbing alcohol
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon lavender oil (depending on how strong you like your spray)

Add each of these to a spray bottle and shake gently to mix. Spritz and enjoy!
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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

2014 Summer Vacation {Bald Head Island}

It's taken me longer than usual to write my vacation recap...probably because I am still feeling the effects of our relaxing trip. Matt and I joined his family for almost a week in Bald Head Island. It was nothing short of amazing and we truly felt recharged by the end of vacation. From the moment we arrived we hopped on a 25 minute ferry ride across the water to the coolest little Island where there are no cars allowed, only golf carts.
Golf Cart Selfies
 I actually stepped away from my camera quite a bit and put down my phone for long periods of time so I didn't take as many pictures as I normally do. It was definitely a much needed change in pace.
We spent our mornings at the beach while Grandmom and Grandad watched Caroline. Then after lunch we'd switch off and let them have their time in the sand. It was so perfect and Caroline enjoyed spending lots of quality time with her grandparents and Matt and I enjoyed our first day dates alone!
 Our little nugget on the other end of the walkie talkie.
For the first time in over a year I even read 609 pages of something non pregnancy or mommy related. And I cannot recommend this book enough. I was hooked from the first page!
 More selfies from our walk along the marsh trails. We are dorks.
 Old Baldy lighthouse. Built in 1817 and still stands today!
 Should also mention that the island has several amazing restaurants and we ate out a lot for lunch and dinner.
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Monday, July 21, 2014

Roasted Chickpea & Avocado Salsa Taco Boats

I decided to throw all of my favorite ingredients into to one recipe and came up with Roasted Chickpea & Avocado Salsa Taco Boats. I am obsessed with these new stand n' stuff soft taco shells from Old El Paso. We've been using them a lot lately to make mini taco salads and they are so yummy.
And this meal is super quick and easy to throw together. All I did was sprinkle some olive oil and homemade taco seasoning on a can of drained chickpeas and baked them at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. In a "taco boat," add lettuce, chick peas and top with avocado salsa (recipe below) and enjoy!
Avocado-Corn-Tomato Salad

    1-2 ripe avocados, diced
    1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
    1 corn cob, kernels removed
    1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
    handful cilantro, finely chopped
    1/2 jalapeno, minced
    1 lime, juiced
    salt & pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together, toss and enjoy!
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Monday, July 14, 2014

10 Tips for Roadtripping with a Little One

  After traveling 19+ hours in a car with a 7 week old baby to Florida and back, I thought I'd share some lessons learned from our road trip. We planned for the worst and hoped for the best and overall I thought we had a pretty successful trip down (the ride back up was a whole different story). So to help those new parents out there who are terrified for your first road trip with baby (like I was), I've compiled a list of survival tips for traveling with a little one. And if you have any other tips, I'd love to hear because we are packing for our next road trip today!
 
Also, a huge thanks to JJ Cole Collections for providing me with some supplies a few weeks ago that I was able to take on the trip with me which definitely helped. All of the reviews and opinions of the items are my own. So here we go...
 
- ONE - Pack Everything in a Large Bag. My Kate Spade diaper bag rocks, but I definitely needed something a bit bigger for a long trip to fit bottles, formula, diapers, wipes, change of clothes, butt cream, thermometer, snot bulb sucky thing, baby Tylenol, gas drops, lovey, toys, etc. Now, I know I probably didn't need all of that but it's better to over pack and be safe than sorry, right? In comes my JJ Cole Collections Tote.
 This roomy tote allows for three carrying options: two tote straps, a removable padded shoulder strap, or stroller attachments for a no-slip grip to your stroller or shopping cart handle. A wipeable changing pad is also included.
 - TWO - Prepare Bottles Beforehand and Store in Cooler. The morning of our trip I prepared my bottles so I wouldn't have to fuss with mixing formula or pouring pumped milk into other containers while on the road. To keep them cool I stored them in my JJ Cole Collections Bottle Cooler which conveniently holds two extra-large wide neck bottles (or 3 regular bottles) at the ideal temperature for hours. It also has an exterior pocket (who doesn't love an extra pocket). This cooler is also going to be perfect for me to bring to the office when I return to work to store my pumped milk!
 The GumDrop Wide Neck Bottles with GentleVent are the prettiest bottles we own for sure. And since we had no way to warm Caroline's bottles as we traveled I decided to use them for the trip. However, the bottoms of these bottles unscrew for easy cleaning which actually happens to be a problem when warming the milk in my bottle steamer. The few times I used these in my steamer the bottom of the bottles trapped the steam which leaked super hot water out as I was feeding Caroline.

- THREE - Prep the Car Seat for Explosions. Before placing the baby in the car seat, lay a burp cloth in the seat first in case there are any poop explosions along the way. It's easier to change out a burp cloth than it is to scrub out the fabric in a car seat (learned from experience). Bring several extra burp cloths too.

- FOUR - Toys, Pacifiers and Books. Speaking of distractions, I packed every color, every size and every brand pacifier we own, a JJ Cole Collections pacifier clip, several books and some small toys for Caroline. Anything that can capture her attention for a few seconds is worth a few less seconds of a screaming melt down, right? Right now her favorite toy is the Purring Percival. She loves to hit it and laugh.

- FIVE - Pumping. If you plan to pump on the road, make sure to bring a car adapter for your pump if it's electric. It's important to purchase the correct voltage designed specifically for your pump so make sure to do your research. Also, bring extra membranes. If one tears or you lose one and don't have any backups, well, you aren't going to be pumping. 

- SIX - Sit in the Back with the Baby. Poor Matt had to chauffeur us to Florida while the three of us (Charlie, Caroline and me) sat in the back. Although it wasn't ideal, I was able to run some quality control with Caroline during her awake hours. It was nice to be able to offer her a pacifier when she was fussy and distract her with books and toys. Once she'd fall asleep I'd crawl into the front seat for a bit. 

- SEVEN - Soothing Music. We tried our best to keep Caroline on her nap and feeding schedule. During her designated nap times we played soothing lullabies which seemed to help keep her asleep for most of her naps.
- EIGHT - Wear baby during rest stops. I love baby-wearing and JJ Cole Collections Agility Stretch Infant Carrier is definitely my favorite wrap these days. Not only can you wear baby forward or backwards, the wrap slips on like a t-shirt!!! It is so much easier to throw on and position Caroline than my K'Tan wrap.
- NINE - Changing Diapers. Since I am terrified of gas station bathroom changing tables, I changed all of Caroline's diapers in the car when we'd stop for gas.This wouldn't have been nearly as successful without my JJ Cole Collections Changing Clutch. This is by far my favorite item for travel. The slim clutch unfolds into a large padded wipeable changing area and also includes a pocket to hold a wipes case and multiple diapers.
- TEN - Grace and Patience. I definitely said a few prayers along the way, especially while we were stuck in traffic for hours on the drive back home. 

I'm obviously not a traveling expert so tell me what other tips you mama's have! I'm sure it's a learning experience with each trip!
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