Grace is 3… and what an incredible three years it has been.
I could not be more grateful to be her mother. She is kind, sensitive, and endlessly curious. She is full of spirit and compassion.
She loves trucks, farms, creatures, stickers, rocks, art projects, gymnastics, grocery shopping and adventures. She speaks up for others (often suggesting that Clark needs some “peace and quiet from our noisy fun”). She is observant and remembers everything. She captures the smallest details and delights in things I might completely miss if it weren’t for her wonderful declarations about birds nests and police cars and seagulls.
Without fail on our morning drives to school, she tells me she will “be a good friend, a good listener… and not take a nap.” She recently told me she couldn’t eat beans because she “is a human bean!”
She favors rules, routines and order. She loves her brother and wishes he wouldn’t do “tricky, dangerous things” like climbing on the table.
Grace wears a size XXS leotard, but her heart is so big it fills the whole house.
She is the best motivation for speaking kindly, clearly and honestly. She is the best motivation for seeing good + God in all things, and in all people. She is the best motivation for doing what I can, when I can to make this world worthy of her, her brother and all children.
Happy Birthday, Grace! I love you beyond measure.
Also On Tap for Today:
Celebrating with a “unicorns doin’ gymnastics” party
Getting my act together (hopefully) for the week ahead
If I see or hear one more back to school commercial… Lord, help me. Because of all that snow, the last day of school in Boston this year was June 29th, which was basically five minutes ago. So, please… let’s keep those school supplies out of sight for at least another month.
[Also, this is the first time since I was in kindergarten that my life doesn’t essentially revolve around an academic calendar. So that’s kind of weird. After graduating, my work was largely tied to school partnerships and while I never had a summer break, things always really ramped up in September. Now that I’m home, I think Grace, Clark and I will spend September at the beach. Or, like… doing laundry.]
This isn’t a post about graphing calculators (do kids still use those?), though… right? Right.
Like it’s 95 degrees and I am pregnant (because it is, and I am)
Excited about our upcoming vacation
Like life has changed so much in the past two months. “Clean out the pantry” has been on my to do list since June, I sometimes forget to shower, and I caught myself having a semi-serious (albeit one-sided) conversation with my dog yesterday. But I don’t think I could be happier being home with Grace.
As much fresh produce as I can get my hands on– tomatoes and berries, especially. I loved our trips to the farmers market (here and here) this month.
900 popsicles a day
“On the Way to School,” a beautiful documentary about several children and the challenges the overcome (in most cases, daily) to get to school. It’s surprisingly uplifting. And I want everyone to watch it. (It’s available on Netflix.)
File these next two under much less enlightened: Candidly Nicole on Hulu+ (fellow Simple Life fans, rejoice!) and Naked and Afraid XL on Discovery. Both make me laugh, like, a lot.
Some fun little sketches and paintings in my new sketchbook (details here). I got out of the habit of painting daily this month, but have started to get back on track this week.
Playlists galore. We’ve been in the car a lot (going from one fun thing to the next), and making good use of that Spotify subscription.
A plan for the second half of the summer and a list of everything I’d love to do, see, and enjoy
Lots of Chatbooks (they’re 20% through today with the code HOLDON) — I am officially obsessed after making a little book of photos from our 4th of July on the Cape.
Lots of great workouts. I absolutely love the outdoor bootcamp (yes, even in the blazing heat) I’ve been attending and have started working in prenatal yoga videos a couple times a week.
Swimming as much as possible. We’ve been in the water a lot this month, from swimming class with Grace to pool days at my parents’ house and dips in the ocean in Southie and on the Cape.
An unusual (but welcomed) desire to make plans. No one would mistake me for a social butterfly, but maaaaan, I love spending time with our friends and family.
Also On Tap for Today:
I love this Zen Habits article and I think you will, too: How to Breathe
So, I decided to crack open a new sketchbook this week. I was running out of pages in my old one, and everything that I loved about it (namely, the scraps and things spilling over the pages and spiral binding) was sort of driving me mental. The binding was making it difficult to create full page spreads, so I went after something that would lay flat.
I love the minimalist cover (I added the E for good measure) and the page size is perfect. Buuut…. as you’ll see, the paper’s not holding up well with all the paint and ink. I’m tempted to try making my own with loose watercolor paper. Trial and error, my friends.
Speaking of trial and error, I accidentally used a “u” stamp instead of an “n” stamp for my first spread. And I’m strangely okay with that (Look! I’m becoming a reformed perfectionist!).
Materials used: Bubble wrap used as a stamp, with ink and watercolor paint (applied with a brayer); letter stamps from Studio Calico with black StazOn archival ink; Sakura white gel pen; black fine point Sharpie pen; Sakura watercolors
One of the Get Messy prompts this week involved our biggest or greatest or most adventurous (I can’t remember the specific wording) adventure. I listed a few that immediately came to mind in the bubble wrap circles. Some adventures would revisit in a heartbeat. I loved swimming to the back of a dark, sort of creepy, fish-(and who knows what else) filled cave off Cooper’s Island in the British Virgin Islands. I would marry Nick and become Grace’s mother again in a heartbeat. I’d even climb a bunch of waterfalls wearing gold leather sandals.
The whole skydiving thing? I’d probably skip that. The more I thought about that absurd day, though, the funnier it became to me. Like, to the point that I was in tears laughing. And so, I feel like that one’s worth sharing. If you’ve already been skydiving, we likely watched the same terrifying training video, wore the same hideous leather helmet thing, and possibly experienced the same life-changing, harness-induced discomfort. Seriously. I could barely enjoy the view, because all I could think was, “I survived free fall, and will come back to Earth only to die of the world’s worst wedgie.”
I decided I needed to make a conscious decision just to relax (this would be a once in a lifetime experience, after all) and enjoy the ride, but apparently I relaxed so much that the instructor I jumped tandem with thought I had passed out, and he started sort of slapping me on the cheek. So that was weird.
Also, I went on this whole “adventure” with an ex-boyfriend (it was all very fresh… like… I think he dumped me a few days before we went). That seems like an important detail. After the slapping thing happened, the instructor tried to make small talk while we circled back toward the ground.
It went something like this:
Instructor: So, what do you do?
Elizabeth: I am in college. Um… what do you do?
Instructor: I am a skydiving instructor.
Elizabeth: Right. (Duh.)
Instructor: Is that your boyfriend (pointing to parachute a bit ahead of us)?
Instructor: Whoaaaa, skydivin’ with your ex-boyfriend! That’s a new one. You must really trust him.
Elizabeth: Yeah. No. Not really.
Add 20 minutes of awkward silence between me and the person tethered to my back. And then cut to the part where I forgot the most important segment of the training video (pull your legs up at landing) and tripped us both, causing me to be flattened like a pancake into the ground.
After that little trip down memory lane, I’ve decided that my greatest adventure is yet to come.
Materials used: Magazine clipping (how gorgeous is that matte black place setting?); turquoise ink; Sakura watercolor paint (black and grey); Sakura white gel pen
As for adventures (hopefully) never to come, the list looks something like this:
I will never be an adventurous eater.
I will never get my nipples pierced (this is probably an overshare, but really… it only takes being bitten once while breastfeeding to know that even if I had an overwhelming desire to get pierced… this ain’t gonna happen) and I probably won’t get a face tattoo.
I will never go bungee jumping.
I will never get a cat.
Materials used: Magazine page; washi tape; glue stick; black Micron pens; Sakura watercolors; white acrylic paint
I didn’t have much in the way of “craft trash” to use for this week’s art prompt, but I did have this lovely tear-out from the most recent issue of Domino. I painted in what was missing and added a quote (often mis-attributed to Audrey Hepburn).
“People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone.” – Sam Levenson
Materials used: Black Pitt pens; mirrored geometric patterned paper from Studio Calico; Faber Castel gelatos; Sakura watercolor paint; bright pink ink; white acrylic paint; glue stick
And for my final page, I got a bit personal (because wedgies are so impersonal…). I came across the expression “Your vibe attracts your tribe” at like, 4 in the morning earlier this week. Grace was up and I was mentally willing her to go back to sleep, while simultaneously busying myself on the Instagram.
It struck a chord (mostly because everything strikes a chord when you’re overtired) because I feel a little bit tribe-less lately. Being home with Grace has been such a wonderful change, but I’m finding myself really needing to make an effort to build new connections and fight my introverted desires to keep to myself all day. We’ve got a few things lined up that I am looking forward to, and that I think will be a step in the right direction.
In the meantime, I am not totally sure what my vibe is… because our current tribe consists almost entirely of old men wearing Red Sox hats, enjoying the beautiful weather at Castle Island. Bonus points if they’re walking dogs (Grace’s vibe is 900% “Bring me your puppy!”). Making friends is an adventure.
Welp, that’s it for this week. To check out what the rest of the Get Messy Thursdays crew is up to, you can find their links here.
This post is sponsored by Ziploc® brand. I received product and compensation, but as always, the opinions shared here are my own. I truly appreciate your support of the brands that, you know, support On Tap for Today.
While I couldn’t be more happy and proud to be a mom, motherhood can be tough. Fortunately, I’m surrounded by tough mothers who serve as role models, advisors and middle-of-the-night “Is anyone else awake?” text-mates. I would be lost without the close-knit community of mothers we’ve formed since Grace was born.
We benefit from the fact that we’ve grown up differently, have our own parenting styles, and our little ones are at various stages of walking, running, climbing, talking and, yes… biting. One mom’s tough day might be someone else’s proverbial walk in the park, but we’re all in this together. In that spirit, I’ve partnered with Ziploc® brand to share a few lessons I’ve learned over the past 16 months (some from friends, others from trial and error…there’s been a lot of that).
Whenever possible, plan ahead
It only takes running out of diapers on the road once before over-planning and over-packing becomes second nature for even the most disorganized crew. Though it takes a bit of energy (which can be tough to find at the end of the day), I swear by this rule: Clean out, re-pack and re-stock before going to bed. This works wonders for a diaper bag, but it can be applied to your gym bag or handbag (Side bar: Is it true that fanny packs are making a comeback?).
Ziploc® brand Freezer Bags Quart with Easy Open Tabs are the perfect size to hold 3-4 of Grace’s tiny diapers and a few wipes. I can quickly stash this bag in any handbag or tote to run errands or take a quick trip. The new Easy Open Tabs make Ziploc® brand bags really easy to grip and open, which helps because so much of parenthood is spent with one hand full.
Available in freezer, storage, sandwich and snack varieties (in a number of sizes), the new Ziploc® brand bags with Easy Open Tabs can store food, art supplies and other household items. These are great for keeping an extra change of clothes (one for me, one for the baby) and keeping dirty laundry separate in the event of spill, spit-up or other excitement. All Ziploc® brand bags can be recycled at your local grocery store.
At 33, not only did I just discover the merits of our freezer, I’ve also (finally) started putting some real effort into meal planning. Nothing beats waking up to a pre-prepped breakfast, or coming home to an effortless dinner. Tossing ingredients for fresh juice in a Ziploc® brand bag with Easy Open Tabs at night makes sticking with a juicing routine so much easier. The same goes for chopped vegetables for a salad or for roasting, soup that can be frozen and reheated, and a cool summer treat.
Lately, if you tell me something (especially if I am in the midst of multi-tasking), there’s a chance I may forget it. But, what if I write that same thing down (or see it written down)? It’s trapped in my brain forever. With multiple schedules and social security numbers to memorize (seriously, I still can’t remember my child’s number… is that normal?), I think we could all use a break. Figure out your learning style (you likely know this already, you’re a grown-up after all), and do what works for you. For visual learners like myself, we’ve got to take notes.
Other times to take notes:
At the pediatrician’s office: Both before and during visits. Our doctor encourages us to come with a list of questions.
Future plans: I keep a running list of books I want to read, movies I want to watch, and museums I want to check out (the Eric Carle Museum is at the top of the list for a summer visit). I also take notes for paintings or art projects while I am out on the go (because this is when inspiration most often strikes… not when I am actually sitting down with a blank page).
The daily routine: Sure, it’s routine for us, but having notes on your little one’s “schedule” (whatever that means, these days) is really helpful if you need someone to step in for the day. It’s also pretty amazing to look back and see how this routine has changed. I have an iPhone note from when Grace was 3 or 4 months old that details every waking and feeding…we’ve come a long way, baby.
In the spirit of staying organized, I attempted to pack light for a recent work trip and realized I could keep my flight info and plane-friendly toiletries (I had electronic boarding passes and wanted to be covered just in case I lost my phone or whatever other imaginary scenario I had dreamed up) stored in a Ziploc® brand bag with Easy Open Tabs. I thought I was a genius.
Take care of yourself
I think it’s possible to balance both the importance of self-care, and the realities of life. I couldn’t tell you the last time I got a massage or manicure. My “me” time often consists of a quick trip to the grocery store. And that’s okay. But it’s important to do something for yourself. It’s important to make time for the things that you love to do. And it’s important, above all, to take care of yourself.
For me, that means having a little sketchbook on hand, traveling with little luxuries like cuticle oil (it’s easy to apply in the car before you start a trip and so good for your nails) and light, natural roll-on fragrance in a Ziploc® brand Snack bag with Easy Open Tabs, always having a great playlist ready to go, and keeping a stash of magazines to enjoy during Grace’s nap time.
The best way I can think of to take care of yourself, though, is by asking for help when you need it. Lean on your family, friends and fellow tough mothers for support. We need each other, and that’s a good thing.
“Team Tough Mother” at Tough Mudder events
To celebrate the launch of their new bags, Ziploc® brand is partnering with one of the most challenging events around, Tough Mudder, in celebration of moms who are taking on a whole new level of strength. They’re creating Ziploc® Team Tough Mother to compete at Tough Mudder events across the country to honor tough mothers everywhere. By the way, I love this Ziploc® Tough Mother YouTube video created to mimic real-life motherhood; some days I really do feel like I am completing an obstacle course!
New England friends: It’s not too late to sign up for this year’s Tough Mudder on June 6-7 at Mount Snow. You’ll find Ziploc® brand bags with Easy Open Tabs at bag drops to store your gear during and after the event.
You can find more inspiration from Ziploc® brand and other Tough Mothers by visiting www.Ziploc.com.
To win your own set of Ziploc® brand bags with Easy Open Tabs, please leave a comment below. This giveaway is open to US residents and will close on Friday, June 12th.
Yesterday morning, I ran around our condo trying to remember what one wears for a December 5k in New England. I haven’t run much at all since starting physical therapy in September, and haven’t run in the cold since last November. Totally off my game. I couldn’t find a hat nor gloves, but did locate pants and shoes– and those seem like the critical elements. Fortunately, Grace was better prepared and better trained (she’s been sitting for, like, months).
We got to my brother and sister-in-law’s house five minutes before we needed to head to the starting line, and we reached the starting line two minutes before the race started. Just typing that sentence made me anxious. Yesterday, though, there was nothing to be anxious about. My expectations for any sort of quality athletic performance were nil. I hoped to run as much as I could (and pain-free, at that) but ultimately, girls just wanna have fun I just wanted to enjoy my first 5k with Grace and our family.
Smiling is my favorite.
My parents took that photo of me about half-way through the race and as you can see, I’m all smiles. I took a short walking break after Mile 1 and again at each hill, but was able to run most of the course. Being able to skip the water stop because I had a bottle in my handy stroller console thing sort of offset the challenge of actually, you know, pushing the stroller. Sort of. Being able to see Grace and how much she was enjoying herself made up for the rest.
By the time the finish line was in sight, Grace was sound asleep (strollin’ ain’t easy), but I was still smiling from ear to ear. As I ran from the finish line back to meet my family I couldn’t help but think, I’m baaaaaaaaack.
This has been an incredible and wonderful year, but it hasn’t been an easy year. From sheer exhaustion and an overflowing of emotion, to broken toes and back pain, to managing work life and home life… there have been stretches during this first year of motherhood where I’ve felt like I’m doing the best I can, but simultaneously waiting for the next mini-crisis to crop up. It’s easy to get a little lost in all of that.
And so something like finishing a race– something that used to seem so easy and insignificant– feels like a huge win. One that I really needed. One that I really appreciate.
We haven’t seen the end of sleepless nights or foggy brains. There will likely be more broken toes (if there is a toy on the floor, I will trip over it — I think there is a reason my parents did not name me Grace), lost keys, forgotten appointments and wonky back pain. There is no such thing as work/life balance (sorry, but there’s just not), but it’s still worth trying. And I may never be as thin or fast or fit as I used to be. And that’s okay.
It took me nearly 40 minutes to reach the finish line, but I felt like I had won the whole thing (for the record, I am fairly certain Grace did come in first in her age group). Having our beautiful girl with me made this victory all the more worth celebrating.
We’re in this together, baby. You’re stuck with me.
Sort of obvious disclaimer: This post is about breastfeeding. If Google brought you here because you searched for “breasts” and now you’re sorely disappointed and regret clicking through, that’s okay. You do you, boo… no judgement.
Slightly less obvious disclaimer: I am not, like, a breastfeeding specialist. I am grateful to be able to breastfeed my daughter. It is what I hoped for, and it is what works for our family. With that said, it is not the only way people care for and feed their children. And I feel like that’s important to acknowledge. Something I think all parents need to hear more of: You are doing a good job. You are making good choices. In other words: You do you, boo… no judgement.
Real talk of the day: Being a parent means being on a permanent learning curve. (I guess that’s true for all humans, though, right? Life is one long learning curve.) Now that we’re past the newborn phase, I figured I’m semi-qualified to share a bit about what I’ve learned along the curve.
I was very fortunate to have access to great lactation consultants when Grace was born. Expectant mother friends, if you have access to lactation consultants while you’re in the hospital, I think it’s totally worth meeting with them. I was hesitant, I thought it would be weird, and I kind of just wanted to stay in my Craftmatic adjustable hospital bed. It wasn’t weird. It was actually quite, well, normal. They taught me very helpful things like how to hold my tiny baby like a football (but first, I needed to learn how to hold a football), how to tell if she was actually eating, and what hunger cues might look or sound like.
Someone’s ready for their 22nd meal of the day.
It didn’t long for us to establish a BF relationship (in this case, I like to think BF stands for both breastfeeding and best friends… but I guess that last part is sort of up to Grace). Because Grace was born with jaundice (I initially thought she was just super Portuguese…) and lost weight rather quickly, our pediatrician encouraged us to feed Grace at least every 2 hours during those first weeks. Needless to say, by the time she was a month old, I felt like a seasoned BF pro. I also felt like my bum was permanently attached to the rocker in Grace’s nursery, but hey.
I rarely had time to pump when I was on maternity leave, so when I went back to work, I felt acutely aware of being on that learning curve again. I stared at the woman on the package of my pumping bra and wondered, Who the H looks that casual and yet perfectly put together while pumping? Why is there no spit up in her hair? Why does she look so well rested? When did she have time to get a manicure? And those were just my questions about a bra. You can only imagine the inner monologue about the actual pumping process.
If this is what it looks like to pump “in style,” I can only imagine what the pumping while frumpy version looks like. Also: Thank you, Obamacare.
Eventually, I figured out how often I needed to pump in order to have enough milk for Grace while she is at daycare. I (mostly) learned how to avoid spilling milk all over myself five minutes before a meeting. I even managed to pump in an airport bathroom while a work colleague tried to engage in conversation (I have a strict no talking in the ladies’ room policy).
And so, of course, just as soon as started to feel comfortable pumping, it was time to introduce solids. I think solids warrant a post of their own (Cliffhanger! Just kidding… but seriously… stay tuned.), but I will say this: I was terrified of feeding Grace anything that didn’t, like, come out of my boobs. Everything new is scary. It’s been about two months now, though, and our little lady loves to eat. And we’re having quite a bit of fun with it too. OK. But back to best friends breastfeeding.
I am really happy that I was able to exclusively breastfeed Grace until she started solids at approximately 6 months. (I am still nursing her, but we started supplementing with one bottle of formula a day at 8 months, just a few weeks ago.) I was worried I wouldn’t make it to 3 months, so when we made it 8 months I nearly erected a breast-shaped statue in my own honor. For the most part, I’ve had a very good supply. There have been days, though, where I’ve had to pump at home in the early morning or late evening (when I’d much rather be doing, well… anything) in order to have enough milk to send to day care. Without fail, those have been days when I’ve slacked on water, eaten like a bird, stressed too much, or slept too little.
I am obsessed with Ball jars. Like, I would live in one. If I could fit in there.
Which brings me to this:
How I’ve kept my supply up
Drink water. And then drink some more.: It’s so important to stay hydrated while breastfeeding. Your body needs fluids to, you know, make fluids… plus it needs fluids to perform its normal functions. In other words, you need to drink more. I keep a giant mason jar on my desk (complete with an adorable drinking straw #targetdoesitagain) and refill it every time I pump and every time I get up from my desk. At home, I make sure to drink up after nursing Grace. It’s helped to associate the two (feed the baby, hydrate thyself).
Eat more, not less.: While I’ve felt the same pressure I am sure most new moms have felt to get back to their pre-pregnancy weight, restricting calories seems like a surefire way to decrease milk supply. I’ve tried to focus on eating healthy, quality food, but I am still eating more rather than less. One day, I’ll fit into my skinnies again. But in the meantime, I’m busy taking care of my girl.
Nurse often.: We’re fairly scheduled on week days. We’re like a cellphone plan during nights and weekends, however: unlimited texting and minutes breast milk! It’s the best. Come Monday, I definitely see an increase in how much I am able to pump.
Think positively.: I find that when I focus on Grace and the health benefits we both receive from breastfeeding, that milk flows like water. (Or is it wine? How does that saying go?) When I worry about having enough milk, however, not so much. I’m no scientist, but I don’t think this is a coincidence.
Supplement with herbs.: This may sound a little hippy-dippy, but several people recommended herbal supplements when I first started breastfeeding (the facilitator of our moms’ group swears by fenugreek). I worried that my supply would drop off when I went back to work and stumbled upon Delta Labs Postnatal formula during some late night Instagramming.
In addition to fenugreek, their postnatal formula also contains glucomannan, white kidney bean, and marshmallow extract (herbs proven to help enhance lactation, and in a combination safe for babies and mothers as determined by the FDA’s current Good Manufacturing Practice guidelines). An added bonus: The capsules also contain decaffeinated green tea, CLA, L-Carnitine and vitamin B6 to safely and naturally increase energy and promote weight loss (though it’s not a substitute for a healthy diet and exercise… if only obvi).
I’ve used this product for several months (and was running low when Delta Labs kindly sent me a complimentary bottle) and would definitely recommend it for mothers looking to increase or sustain their supply.
Giveaway: Delta Labs Postnatal formula
Fellow new moms: Would you like to try Delta Labs Postnatal formula for yourself? I’m happy to be hosting a giveaway, thanks to Delta Labs and FitFluential. One winner will receive a bottle of Delta Labs Postnatal formula. This giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry, neighbors to the North). To enter, please leave a comment below ANDLike @DeltaLabsUSA on Instagram. A random winner will be chosen and contacted on October 20th.
Delta Labs Discount Code
Use code FitFluential to save $5 on any item from DeltaLabs(one time discount; no expiration date).