Austin Fall Activity Schedule (Babies age 6 – 12 months)

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Not sure about all you other new mamas out there, but taking baby out for little activities is our day-to-day bread & butter.  These little trips outside the home seem to be so good for my little one and let’s be honest:  they keep me SANE! ;) Even when she was first born, I’d joke that I’d have something booked on her schedule every day of the week if I could.  Little strolls around the neighborhood & reading books in our soft recliner are nice but my observant little one loves to get out & about, see new things, and interact with other kiddos.  Now that she’s past the newborn stage, there are so many options on the table and we want to get out there and take advantage of them!  This summer, the thought crossed my mind to post our daily schedule and I never got around to it…I wish I had because our weekly routine will be so different for this upcoming season!  The thing is, I work really hard to research field trips, classes, storytimes, and more that are age-appropriate, fit within her nap schedule, are truly enriching, etc.  Now that Fall is upon us, I wanted to share with friends & family what we’ll be up to for the rest of the year.  Additionally, maybe this will help other new moms with some ideas for getting out of the house with baby in tow — it can be daunting & frustrating at times but it’s been so very worth it for us.

MONDAYS:  Preschool!  Well, it’s really more of a Mother’s Day Out, but they’re calling it “Preschool.”  Most programs don’t take the littles until they are 12-18 months, but I found a church in my area that will admit them at 6 months.  I’ve taken a Mom-to-Mom Bible study class and attended Sunday worship services there, so I’m familiar with the leaders & feel that the facilities are top-notch.  I’m confident this time apart from me will be beneficial for baby’s socialization & enrichment, too.  Gotta admit:  I’m looking forward to having a half-day to myself to take care of personal stuff, ya know?  Babies aren’t exactly welcome at the dentist’s office.  Mostly, I’m pumped to start taking group fitness classes again!  It’s funny:  once you’re a mom, even a run to Target alone can feel so oddly exhilarating!

Indoor playground playdate held at the church where her preschool will be!

Indoor playground playdate held at the church where her preschool will be!

TUESDAYS:  Have you heard of MOPS before?  It stands for Mothers of Preschoolers and is a ministry out to serve that exact demographic.  After serving with MOPS in childcare at my old church in Kansas City, I’m thankful to finally get to participate in this program as a mom myself.  They serve brunch, talk motherhood, marriage, & more — all with a Christian focus.  Childcare is provided so baby girl will get to play in another ‘Sunday school’ for a couple hours.  I’ll be doing the program at a different church than her preschool, but this one’s close to our home as well.  It runs every other Tuesday, so I’ll be on the lookout for something fun for those alternate weeks.  If nothing regular pops up, a morning at The Thinkery or Little Land Play Gym are both excellent go-tos for high-quality engagement.

Baby in the ball pit! We love to play at Little Land Pay Gym -- all of their equipment is strong enough to hold babies and mamas (so I can swing too!)

Baby in the ball pit! We love to romp around at Little Land Play Gym — all of their equipment is strong enough to hold babies AND parents (so I can swing too!)

WEDNESDAYS:  Preschool, day 2.

THURSDAYS:  Waterbabies swim class at Emler Swim School.  Yeah, they hook you in with a super-cute Bathtime Babies class that’s free for ages 2 – 6 months.  That was one of our first classes to take together and it was a great bonding experience so the hubs & I ponied up for the next round of courses this summer.  But let me tell ya:  it’s so worth it!  My 7.5 month-old can have water splashed in her eyes & down her face without tears, is calm as can be ‘floating’ on her back with ears submerged, and can even ‘swim’ underwater with 6-second breath control.  You’ll notice my use of half-quotes because these activities are kind-of assisted, obviously, but still she amazes me in each class with her independence & improvement.  Plus, our community is sandwiched between Lakes Austin & Travis (not to mention, lots of neighbors have backyard pools) so it’s a high priority for our daughter to know how to be safe and feel comfortable in the water.

Bathtime Babies is the coolest class in all of Austin for babies under 6 months. Moments like this planted the seed for our love of swim school!

Bathtime Babies is the coolest class in all of Austin for babies under 6 months. Moments like this planted the seed for our love of swim school.

FRIDAYS:  Two options:  Storytime with Mr. Rudy at Cups & Cones or Mr. Will in concert at Brilliant Sky Toys & Books.  Storytime with Mr. Rudy is an easy casual choice because it’s right down the street and I’ll get to pow-wow with other neighborhood moms.  Plus, Cups & Cones is a darling family owned small business…always good to support people like that!  As for our other option, Mr. Will is our favorite local children’s music artist and now that our schedule won’t allow us to see him play Mondays at Whole Foods Market – Hill Country Galleria, we’re happy to drive over to a Westlake toy store for his upcoming Friday gigs.

Rockin' out to Mondays with Mr. Will at Whole Foods Market -- his Texas Country spin on children's music is the best.

Rockin’ out to Mondays with Mr. Will at Whole Foods Market — his Texas Country spin on children’s music is the best!

 

Fashion Trends for Fall ’15: my favorite looks

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Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting front-row for The Fall ’15 Trend Event at Neiman Marcus, Austin.  The evening centered around an intimate & comprehensive runway presentation where upcoming seasonal-appropriate looks were shown in addition outlining little details like earrings, tights, and even lipstick.  The main event was accentuated with sorbet cocktails by Frost 321 (think boozy ice cream!) and chic light bites.  Neiman Marcus has a way of not only cutting through the clutter by perfectly predicting next season’s big trends but also showing us ways to wear them.  Really, Fall is such a big season for both fashion in general as well as building a personal wardrobe so I always pay close attention to their annual fall forecast and plan ahead.  Here are shots of my favorite looks from their list of Fall 2015 fashion must-haves:

  • Folklorica:  A global array of embroidery, patchwork, lace, and fringeNeiman Marcus Fall '15 Trends: Folklorica
  • The Last Layer:  Dusters, ponchos, and capesNeiman Marcus Trends for Fall '15:  The Last Layer
  • Full-bodied Reds:  Crimson, carmine, claret (and for lips, too)Neiman Marcus Fall '15 Trends: Full-bodied Reds
  • White Out:  We’re forecasting a wintry mixNeiman Marcus Trends for Fall '15:  White Out (winter whites)
  • The Return of the Flare:  Jeans and pants with a leg-flattering kickNaiman Marcus Trends for Fall '15:  flare legs

 

Life[style]: August

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Sharing some late-summer beauty finds!

  1.  Japonesque:Japonesque Pro Performance Lipstick, Color Correcting Crayon, and Radiance PrimerI was recently sent a sampling of Japonesque’s latest products, including the Pro Performance Lipstick, Radiance Primer and Color Correcting Crayon (my favorite!)  I’ve tried drugstore-brand color-correcting concealers before & of course they’ve never worked so I figured that type of cover-up wasn’t for me.  As in, when it comes to covering my spots, I’ve never looked at color correcting concealers twice.  Even after splurging on the pricey but effective Cle de Peau Concealer, I am still frustrated when my super dark red spots aren’t concealed.  After using the Japonesque Color Correcting Crayon with success, I’ve discovered my problem was that I was trying to cover the pigmentation when I should’ve been trying to correct it.  Using their pale green stick after foundation but before concealer has really been so surprisingly effective!  I chalk it up to the precision of the crayon tip and the exceptional product formulation.  Thank you Japonesque for re-introducing me to the art of color correction!

2.  Purifying line from derma e:Purifying Oil-free moisturizer by derma e

This is my new favorite moisturizer, no joke.  The idea behind it is that it’s a silky, lightweight, rehydrating formula that detoxifies skin, replenishes nutrients and defends against micropollutants.  Now, its black color was surprising & caused me to wonder if it would show up dark on the skin, but not in the slightest.  That hue comes from the Activated Charcoal & Marine Algae and both are deeply detoxifying!  Plus, the lightweight formula absorbs quite quickly — a plus for me because I have no patience these days for the lengthy application of products…it’s basically gotta be one swipe & go.  In the past I’ve had problems with lesser quality moisturizers just sitting on top of the skin, clogging pores & looking all greasy.  This formula doesn’t feel heavy on my face at all or look the least bit shiny once applied — PERFECT for my oily skin this summer!

3.  SeabuckWonders Ultimate Hair, Skin & Nails supplement:Seabuck Wonders Ultimate Hair, Skin & Nails supplementAfter being kinda shocked by postpartum hair shedding (which I found out is totally normal), it’s time for this little mama to begin thinking about a quality Biotin supplement.  As hormones balance back out to prepregnancy levels, I’ve been searching for ways to support the health of my hair, skin & nails.  Apparently, this new formula from SeaBuck Wonders is the only one on the market to combine Biotin with rare Omega-7.  The Omega-7 comes from Sea Buckthorn (a super fruit from the Tibetan Himalayas) which helps promote skin hydration, elasticity and regeneration.  I mean, I’ll never regain that amazing pregnancy glow but I suppose every little bit helps.  ;)

My finds from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

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Have y’all checked out the this year’s Nordstrom Anniversary Sale yet?  It’s my favorite sale of the year and we do a lot of our Fall shopping during this time.  My picks this year are just no-fail closet staples:  tees, workout wear, and classic cashmere.  It’s always a win when you can find high-end basics at a reduced price!  Slide1

Clockwise beginning from top left:

1.  Nike ‘Venom Tempo’ Dri-FIT Shorts & ‘Tempo’ Track Shorts:  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to commit to a regular gym routine since my baby was born.  BUT, what we do love are our regular evening walks around the new ‘hood just before her bedtime.  These shorts will serve me well outdoors during our hot Texas summers.  I went with a fun print (hello, hot pink leopard!) and a classic black.

2.  Nike ‘Performance’ No-Show Socks (3-pack):  Quality no-show socks are hard to come by!  I’ve tried several cheaper brands and they usually slip off at the heel or the elastic wears out prematurely.  My other Nike socks are the best I’ve got — slow to wear out and quite breathable.  I don’t ever see them marked down, so this was a solid buy in my book.

3.  Nike ‘Free Flyknit 5.0 TR’ Training Shoe:  Because, new shoes.  And if I’m going to be doing the utilitarian mom look in public, I might as well have fresh clean kicks.  Grocery store runs deserve a dose of cute, too.

4.  Halogen Relaxed Slub Knit U-Neck Tee:  Another great Anniversary Sale staple!  I nabbed this classic white tee because of the nice lightweight cotton fabric and the super-flattering fit.  Trust me, the V-neck tees at Target aren’t cut as well or feel as soft — this one is on sale at a similar pricepoint so definitely check them out!

5.  Halogen Zip Back Cashmere Sweater:  A go-with-anything, dress-up or dress-down topper.  With temps in the 100s later this week, I won’t be able to wear this Fall find for awhile, but the cashmere material stretches it between seasons.  Love the longer length & all the prints & colors.

To my baby girl on her 6-month birthday…a first-time mom’s reflection on making it this far

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Baby A at 6 months

Dearest Alexandra August,

Happy half-birthday, my girl!  I can’t believe we’re already halfway to your one-year birthday.  Today was a big one for you:  first, we gave you ‘real’ food for the first time!  You sure made some funny faces upon tasting that spinach puree and well, we could tell it wasn’t your favorite.  At one point, as Daddy was walking away from your highchair & back up the stairs, you gave him this look of longing, like:  ‘take me with you — this green goop is yucky!’  But, there were no tears and you kept trying out your new food with each spoonful given.  Mother’s milk is still your preferred food and to my surprise, our breastfeeding is still going strong!  Initially, I gave myself permission to stop by this milestone — after half a year of feeding you in this way every two hours, my new goal is to continue for a full year.  However long we make it, I’m very proud to have gotten this far in providing for your nutritional needs in this special way.

Next, we took you to church.  Mama and Dada are in the process of finding a church home and are visiting places of worship near our new home.  Besides looking for a place to worship, learn & grow in Christ myself, I strongly desire for you grow up within a community of brothers & sisters in Christ.  Even though we struggle to reconcile our somewhat liberal social views with select religious-right stances, we are guided to find a church home for reasons more important than politics:  we know you will be blessed in life by the influence of Christian fellowship.  Aside from our personal religious preferences (style of the preaching, type of songs, what particular Protestant-based denomination a church is, etc.), we find ourselves gravitating to whatever place we feel that’s best for YOU.  Mama prays for you everyday and hopes that one day you will reach the age of understanding and desire to follow Jesus!

So, after your interesting baby food brunch, a visit to the church nursery, and being good for us during a little lunch out, you are currently napping peacefully.  You take one nap a day, usually about two (sometimes 3!) hours long.  You sleep through the night and been doing so since you were about 6 weeks old.  ~Mama is soooooo incredibly thankful for that!!!  I wasn’t handling sleep deprivation well and feel so lucky that you began sleeping for longer stretches at such a young stage.  Nowadays, you go to bed at 8:30 p.m. and wake on your own each morning at 7:30.

Physically, you’ve mastered rolling over and are now yearning to crawl…we’ll even catch you in full-on plank position, trying to figure out how to move those little chubby knees up under your belly.  You can sort-of sit up…you definitely can sit upright in my lap but unassisted, you usually topple over after a minute.  I recognize your rapid growth when I examine how big your little hands are getting or when I realize you’re ready for size 3 diapers.  We’re so proud of how you’re thriving but I’m crying right now just thinking about how fast you are changing.  Dada loves to watch your eyes wander inquisitively around a room.  Mama loves when our eyes meet and you immediately respond with a sly smile.  In this action, you remind me to snap out of any kind of cranky or anxious mood I might be in…to smile and choose positivity in each and every moment.

In fact, your influence on my life has been nothing short of monumental.  It has even altered my concept of time.  The saying about motherhood is so true:  ‘The days are long but the years are short.’  As a stay-at-home-mom, it’s like I have all of the time but none of the time (if that makes any sense).  I’m fortunate to get to experience baby swim school, music class, and more with you but on the other hand, I now grapple with what feels like zero personal time.  I’ve given up even part-time professional pursuits, put my charitable committees on the back burner, my goodness…I even struggle to fit in a shower for the day.  However, despite sometimes wondering where a shred of my old life is, I thank God literally every day for my new life as your mother.  (You know you were an answer to three years of fervent prayer for a child, right?)  When I feel overwhelmed, I remember what I hear time & again from random people who see us out & about:  “it goes by so fast — in the blink of an eye, she’ll be 18.”

Yes, I hate that I sometimes pine for the next step –maybe I’ll be changing a diaper and wish for the day you’re potty trained or I’ll be carrying you up the stairs for the 20th time and hope for when you can climb up them yourself– so I’m training my mind to focus on the ‘now.’  Admittedly, it’s been quite an exercise in strength & patience, but since having you I’ve never appreciated the present moment more.  I witness in awe how my journey here on Earth will forevermore be navigated by your gravitational pull.  You truly are the light of my life.

I love you,

Mama

How to: festival style with a sophisticated spin

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Living in Austin, a.k.a. the Live Music Capital of the World, concerts are a regular part of life.  Besides hosting widely acclaimed mega-festivals such as ACL Fest and SXSW, there are more live music venues per capita here than any other place on Earth.  You can even stumble upon free shows (GOOD ones, too!) at the local grocery store.  Safe to say, us Austin gals know our festival style.

Let me preface:  I’m not hipster or boho or rocker-chic or whatever-enough to pull of those badass outdoor festival looks a la Coachella.  I never go costume-y; I just dress like a more eclectic artsy version of myself.  Also, now that I’m in my 30s and have a tiny breastfeeding babe at home, gone are the days of raging for a 2-day outdoor live music scene. –That ish requires a more utilitarian/camper-girl uniform aimed at enduring the heat & other smelly sweaty conditions in order to survive until the headliner each night.  Nowadays, I beeline for a tent to stand under, map out exact stage times for my fave bands, and only stay for a set or two.

At the last couple of fashionable festival events I attended, I had the honor of my ‘street-style’ being captured by photographers from some of fashion’s most fabulous retailers.  First, let’s talk the biggest media/music gathering around and one of the first big festivals of the year, SX:  CUSP by Neiman Marcus was on the scene for #NMMakeSomeNoise and their stylists shared their top ensembles to forecast looks for the rest of festival season 2015.  –I was thrilled to find I was included in their list!

nmv3

Next, came the R29 Style Festival hosted this past weekend weekend at The Domain.  It was super innovative and quite interactive:  they had a DIY band tee styling station, braid bar, flash tats, and pop-up shops from indie designers.  All the fun was capped off by an intimate show by the band MAGIC!  If you live in any of the cities remaining on the tour –Miami, Philly, Boston-area, or D.C.– I highly recommend you make it out to this free event.  It was pretty cool to see that Simon Malls reposted my Insta from this fest on their web site:

Simon Mall

simon mobile

Photo credit: Lauren Cevallos, Director of Photography, Luxe Apothetique

So, if you’re wanting to create a more sophisticated festival style look, I would steer clear of the overdone booty jorts, cut-off tees & combat boots.  I tend to gravitate to trousers in a lightweight fabric with a tank & vintage hat or a breezy printed dress topped off by milkmaid braids & sunnies.  Other stylish yet fest-functional pieces I love are:

  • Kimonos:  packs a beautiful sartorial punch & keeps those shoulders from burning
  • Booties: keeps those toes grass & mud-free; bonus if they’re faux (because shoes get stained & stepped on at these things)
  • Cross-body handbags:  Holds essentials so you can throw those hands up in the air
    • Recommended packing list:  driver’s license, medical insurance card, cash, lip balm, sunblock stick, and Ban Total Refresh Cooling Body Cloths (because you have no idea how handy wipes can be out there!  These are awesome & come lightly scented with a powder finish.)

Also, current trends that I think translate well onto the music festival scene are fringe (on boots, bags & more) and tassels (on long necklaces & at the ends of boho sleeves). Whatever festival look you’re going for, don’t leave home without a hat, sunscreen, and closed-toe shoes.  Drink lots of water and rock on, ladies!

Liberty Kitchen now open in Austin!

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Houston-based F.E.E.D. TX Restaurant Group is expanding its culinary reach to Austin, bringing its much-loved Liberty Kitchen to the capitol city. Liberty Kitchen (LKATX) will be open seven days a week, serving lunch, dinner and brunch on the weekends. The menu includes specially-created items just for the Austin restaurant, and the interior blends authentic Texas images with the playful design elements the group is known for.Liberty Kitchen dining room Austin

For their first venture outside of Houston, partners Lee Elis and Carl Eaves created a 3,800 square feet space at 507 Pressler, Suite 700 (entrance is on 5th Street) in the thriving Clarksville neighborhood. The 140-seat restaurant includes a full bar a private dining/multimedia room for up to 24 people, and a patio for outdoor dining. The Texas-centric details for the decor include coastal and West Texas photographs and printed yard sticks that spells out “The Stars at Night are Big and Bright,” for the ultimate ode to the Lone Star State.

The menu exemplifies Gulf Coast dining with a F.E.E.D. TX twist. Liberty Kitchen serves rotisserie meats and seafood, fresh oysters, plus new favorites such as the Georges Bank Haddie Chowder, Point Judith Squid & Sausage Stuffing, Vegetable Tagine, and the Deviled Egg Trial, an alluring combination of smoked salmon, fried oyster and bacon, Babi Guling, and pimento cheese and crab.Liberty Kitchen Mac-n-cheese

Liberty Kitchen’s culinary director and partner, Lance Fegen created the menu to appeal to the area, offering exciting but unpretentious choices. “All of our menus are different and cater to the neighborhood place we strive to be” Fegen said. “We are a neighborhood restaurant.”Oysters at Liberty Kitchen

Liberty Kitchen features a full bar with 29 beer taps specializing in Texas craft beer and two liquor taps with small batch bourbons or a classic cocktail. The classic cocktail menu was developed by Morgan Weber, Revival Market & Coltivare and soon to be 8-Row Flint Icehouse and Tacos, all in Houston.Liberty Kitchen Dining Room

For more information and full menu and hours visit http://www.libertykitchenatx.com or follow @lkatx on Twitter. You can also receive updates by liking Austin Liberty Kitchen on Facebook.

Gym Bag Beauty Essentials

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Summer is fast approaching and it has suddenly hit me that bikini season is around the corner.  Although we all know we feel better after a gym session, let’s face it – finding time to work out is HARD.  That being said, a great starting point is to prep your gym bag with all the essentials.  Keep your gym bag stocked and ready to go with the below necessities:

gym bag beauty essentials

1.       Ban Total Refresh Cooling Body Cloths in Energize: Keep up with your active lifestyle with ease. Try Ban® Total Refresh® Cooling Body Cloths to instantly cool the back of your neck and décolleté or use for an all-over refresh during any transitional moment day or night.

2.       David Kirsch Wellness Kirschbar: Created by fitness expert David Kirsch, the KIRSCHBAR is the only meal-replacement bar gives you all the nutrition you need for a completely satisfying meal or post-workout snack: it’s 100% natural, gluten-free and is made from 20 grams of high quality, easily digestible protein and 6 grams of fiber.

3.       KMS California HAIRPLAY makeover spray: Dry cleansing and instant style renewal. Split-second style refresher. Absorbs oil and builds bulk to refresh limp or day-old styles. Great for quick style touch-ups and in-between shampoos.

4.       Lavanila Laboratories The Healthy Mini Deodorant: The perfect deodorant to throw in your gym bag! This all-natural, freshly scented deodorant provides superior, long-lasting odor protection. Soothing essential oils blend with powerful anti-oxidants and beta glucan technology for daily defense and nourishment.

5.       Rimmel London Wonder’lash Mascara with Argan Oil in Waterproof: You can now get the Moroccan Argan oil your hair loves in a Rimmel mascara with new Wonder’lash Mascara with Argan Oil. Condition lashes and break through clumps for full, smooth volume. The unique brush’s super-soft bristles hug and coat each lash, perfectly separating them from root to tip. Even small corner lashes are dramatically transformed for an effortlessly eye-catching look. Lashes are left smoother, sleeker, and more defined than ever.

6.       Orico London Coco Spritz: An all day coco boost! With just one spritz, your skin will be cleansed, nourished and protected. The main ingredient, Coconut Water, is an excellent humectant and intensely hydrated and locks in moisture to encourage a healthy radiant complexion – especially after perspiring. The nutrients in each bottle provide anti-bacterial and antioxidant benefits to reduce the appearance of blemishes or redness, too.

7.       Scunci Everyday & Active™ 3x Stronger Braided Hair Ties: A No Damage braided weave creates a hold three times stronger than regular no metal elastics to keep hair out of sight and out of mind.

8.       NYC New York Color Smooth Skin BB Crème Instant Matte: Refine your skin instantly with this long-wearing crème with an effortlessly matte finish. Smoothing and hydrating, this crème leaves skin looking healthy and silky-smooth without even a hint of shine.

9.       Burt’s Bees Brightening Daily Facial Cleanser: Clinically proven to help improve the appearance of surface dullness, this cleanser, infused with Daisy extract, helps reveal a more even skin tone in as few as 4 weeks*. Formulated with a multifruit complex, our cleanser effectively removes dirt oil and makeup. Make it part of your daily regimen for a brighter and more even complexion, naturally.

Welcome to Miami: Sun-Protection Tips & Coolibar review

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Our new little family of three went on our very first vacation together over Easter weekend.  Mama was craving some beach time & Dada had never been to Miami, so we booked a direct flight to spend a few days on South Beach!  Since we’d be traveling with a three-month-old, I was nervous about how the baby would take it…I was worried about her ears on the plane ride, about what baby gear to tote around, how she’d sleep in an unfamiliar hotel room, etc.  Aside from all these factors, another point of concern was sun protection.  According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles after five or more sunburns, making skin protection a priority for families preparing to hit sunny destinations this spring & summer.  It can be overwhelming getting everyone packed and ready, and bringing along sun protection is often overlooked.  Along with our organic baby-safe sunscreen, we were fully protected in Coolibar, makers of sun-protective clothing for the whole family that looks good, wears well and lasts a lifetime.

Here are some tips to make sure your family’s skin is protected and your vacation isn’t spent tending to painful sunburns:

  • Make sure to wear lightweight clothing that is tightly woven (t-shirts do NOT block UV rays!), and contains a UV protection factor of 50. At Coolibar, all clothing has a UPF of at least 50 and is guaranteed to never wash out or fade. Sun-protective clothing is the BEST way to ensure skin is protected from UV when out in the sun.

    Coolibar womens sun tunic dress

    Sun protective clothing can be really cute, too! Feeling great in this flattering tunic from Coolibar, perfect for anything from brunch to beach.

  • Pack your own sunscreen whenever possible to ensure it will be readily available, and to save some money. Popular vacation destinations often double or triple the price of sunscreen on-site.
  • Make sure to reapply sunscreen to areas not covered with clothing EVERY two hours, when done swimming, and after lots of sweating. You can minimize the amount of sunscreen needed (and avoid the chasing and tears when applying) by covering kids as much as possible with sun-protective clothing.
  • Make sun protection fun! Choose clothing that kids get excited about so they will love wearing it.  We chose this bright pink sun hat for our little one.

    Baby A is modeling the Baby Girl's Splashy All Sport Hat:  http://www.coolibar.com/product/Baby/Sun-Hats-Accessories/Baby-Girls-Splashy-All-Sport-Hat/pc/2379/c/0/sc/2395/155855.uts

    Baby A is modeling the Baby Girl’s Splashy All Sport Hat!

  • Adults need protection too, and more coverage is better. Pack long-sleeve sun-protective shirts and wraps for long days in the sun, or for when it’s a chilly day.
  • Make sure the kids take regular breaks from the sun especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when UV rays are strongest, and make sure they are drinking lots of water. Set your phone’s alarm for reminders to get your family in the shade, reapply sunscreen and get some water.  –One thing we did after taking our dip in the ocean was wrap baby up in this.

    Made in the shade!  Relaxing post-swim in Coolibar's sun-protective baby blanket -- what a cool concept!

    Made in the shade! Relaxing post-swim in Coolibar’s sun-protective baby blanket — what a cool concept!

  • Hats are a huge defense against UV exposure! Longer brims add protection to the neck, shoulders and torso, as well as the face and top of the head. For every inch of brim, you reduce your lifetime risk of skin cancer by 10%.

    This lightweight & breathable Coolibar sun hat is PERFECT for traveling... completely packable, stylish sun-protection.

    This lightweight & breathable Coolibar sun hat is PERFECT for traveling… completely packable, stylish sun-protection.

  • Choose sun-protective clothing that folds easily and dries quickly, so you take up less room in your suitcase! Moisture-wicking clothing allows for a quick rinse at the end of the day and will often be dry and ready to wear the next morning.

 

Introducing Alexandra August Wiese

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Here we are, six-weeks postpartum and I’ve finally emerged from the haze of newborn survival-mode.  The first month was quite a doozy, let me tell ya!  I’ve never been so anxious, sleep-deprived and overwhelmed in my life.  It’s an understatement to say that life will never be the same.  Even though it’s been tough, we are now settled into our new family home and baby girl is even sleeping through the night!  A couple other special milestones were reached today, too:  Although we’ve seen her smile during her sleep (happy baby dreams!), she gave us her first real smile today.  She was just finished with her morning feeding and I asked her if she wanted to go to church today…she replied with a wide-awake smile and we both just ate it up and took it as confirmation that it was finally time.  Because she hasn’t had her first round of vaccinations yet, Ryan’s been hesitant to take her out in large crowds but I just couldn’t wait any longer.  Thus, this morning was her first visit to the Lord’s house and going together this Sunday morning as a family made my heart so full.

babys first church visit to Grace Covenant Church

Baby’s first church visit

Several weeks ago, I began a blog post sharing Alexandra’s birth story…our time in the hospital was so memorable that I wanted to capture everything that happened.  The aforementioned newborn “survival-mode” quickly took over my time & energy and I never got around to posting it.  So, now that I finally have a minute to collect my thoughts & properly organize a sentence, here is my recount of our daughter’s entry into the world:

Our precious baby girl decided to come early!  Saturday, January 10th was her actual due date but my water broke at home at 5:30 a.m. on Monday the 5th.  I’ve never really placed much stake in the effect of the tides, moon, storms, etc. on our lives, but I believe my “spontaneous rupture” as they called it, was surely brought on by the first full moon of 2015.  Shining brightly into the floor-to-ceiling windows of our downtown condo, the moon was at the height of its fullness right around the exact time my water broke.  In fact, that day the hospital’s maternity ward was at full capacity and the nurse said although it sounds a little crazy, a full moon will usually do that.

During my chat with the doctor on-call, we were told that since it was my first pregnancy we had a couple of hours to gather our things, eat, and make it in to the hospital without rush.  It was so nice to shower up, do some final cleaning, take a couple of pictures, and apply a little makeup before heading out the door.

One huge benefit of choosing the OBGYN practice we did is that their office is located directly across the street from the hospital in which we elected to deliver, Seton Main.  We were already scheduled for a regular weekly appointment with that day, so we just called-in & headed there first to confirm that today was the day.  After testing the amniotic fluid, they determined my water had indeed broken but I still had not begun to dilate.  My doctor advised starting with a single dose of a drug called Cytotec, which is like a step before Pitocin and has an off-label use of initiating dilation/induction.  Since it’s administered at the hospital, we headed on over to get all checked-in.  We arrived at the Labor & Delivery floor around 9:30 a.m. and took one last belly bump pic before everything changed forever!

One last bump pic before delivery

The baby bump’s last hurrah!

Luckily, the Cytotec began to work after just one dose (they were willing to try up to three doses throughout the day) and without having to use Pitocin, my contractions started within about 3 hours.  During this period before contractions began, we had ample time to get acclimated to our room, meet the nursing staff, ask all our questions, chat with my doctor again, and begin to call & alert family that yes, it was actually GO TIME!

The next five hours of contractions were no joke.  Going through labor pains is seriously the most intense experience, but I’m grateful I got the chance to go through it.  The waves of pain rolled in lightly at first but naturally, intensified significantly over time.  I used breathing techniques, the exercise ball, a heating pad, and my husband’s support to get through each wave of pain.  Ryan was such a trooper for me during this part of the process and I especially appreciated him applying counter pressure with his thumbs to the small of my back when I asked for it.  I didn’t expect to feel it so bad in that area, but the severe lower back pain might’ve been the worst part of each contraction.  I got to where they were coming in a minute & a half apart and was dilated to a 4 when I decided to go ahead and take an epidural.  Because you have to be able to sit still for five minutes straight in order to receive the shot into your back, I got nervous that if I waited any longer I wouldn’t be able to hold still!  The intensifying contractions required me to move to get through them and I knew that if I waited any longer, they would prevent me from sitting still & holding that hunched over position for the required amount of time.  Luckily the epidural wasn’t painful or scary at all, and it was successful at providing relief for the next part of the process.

relief after epidural

All smiles during delivery following the sweet relief after epidural

The next few hours of labor held a night and day difference from the first half of the experience.  Our parents came into the room & visited with us, I was actually able to hold a conversation with them, and I had time to rest my eyes and attempt to relax before the big moment.  Around 8/8:30 p.m., it was time to get checked again and the doctor proclaimed that it was time to push!  The most amazing part of the whole process is that baby girl was more than completely effaced…even to a +2 (I believe that’s how they put it?) — basically, you could tell for weeks that she had “dropped”…in fact, she was always really low from early on in my pregnancy and now that it was time for her to come out, she had already done most of the work getting there!  With the mirror, I was able to see her little head and touch her hair before I even started pushing.  No episiotomy, either — my doctor just used olive oil to stretch & massage the skin during delivery.  I was told my pushing style was unique — I could quickly tell having other people hold my legs wasn’t cutting it, so I held ’em back myself.  The nurses were cheering me on & said they’ve never seen someone do that but the ‘Happy Baby’ pose from yoga class was working for me:  I only had to push for 30 minutes and she was here!

post delivery new baby picture

Me, just after delivery, holding our new bundle of joy

Hmmmm, how to convey the epic moment you see a little person emerge from out of you?  An actual human being who’s been cooking inside your belly for 39 weeks?  To see their eyes blink open and hear their cry?  –It’s incredible, amazing, miraculous.  I didn’t care that she was covered in goop, I wanted to hold her close and just be in awe of her.  I could tell immediately how much she looked like Ryan and upon seeing her face, we both had confirmation of our top choice of names:  Alexandra August.  I wanted to do “delayed cord clamping” and although I don’t think she agreed with the merits of the practice, our doctor obliged and we kept her cord connected for 5 minutes after birth.  I was nervous he wouldn’t want to or be able to stomach it, but Ryan cut the cord!  Oh, and they asked if I wanted to see my placenta and I said yes — yikes, this mass of afterbirth looks like a huge sack of yuck!  But, next time I will definitely look into saving it for freeze-drying into placenta pills.  (No one warned me about the Baby Blues and I’ve heard the hormones in your placenta can help with that.)  I can’t say enough great things about my OBGYN, Dr. Kung at Women Partners in Health and I can’t sing enough praises for the labor & delivery nurses at Seton Main.  I couldn’t have asked for better partners to see us through the birthing process.

So, on January, 5, 2015 at 9:38 p.m., we welcomed our baby girl Alexandra August Wiese into the world.  She was 6 pounds, 4 ounces and 21 inches long.  Half an inch of that height was from a pretty gnarly cone head, but that evened out within a couple of days — haha!  But seriously, our prayers were answered:  she was totally healthy and I fared the labor & delivery process pretty well, too.  Came out of it with an ‘average tear’ (level 2 laceration) and some numbness in my knees attributed to temporary nerve damage during labor.  Our parents were obviously overjoyed with the news of a successful delivery and they were able to come in and meet their grandchild just in time for her first bath.  I remember being ravenously hungry but feeling & looking pretty good, considering I just had given birth.  –I guess when you only push for half an hour your makeup doesn’t sweat off!  Soon after our visitors had left but before we were put into our recovery room, it was time to try to breastfeed.  We tried cross cradle hold & football hold with no luck, but side-by-side was a success.  She now nurses like a champ — no issues with latch, nipple confusion, or anything!

The first night in the hospital was a sleepy blur…in hindsight, I would’ve utilized the hospital’s nursery (it was full anyway, apparently due to the full moon) but because I was breastfeeding, we were advised not to offer her a bottle or pacifier just yet and keep her in the room with us so she could nurse on-demand.  The second night was sleepless, too…up for hours upon hours rocking her side-to-side, skin-to-skin.  Our post-delivery hospital time was rotation of specialist visits, not-as-bad-as-I-was-warned hospital food, and just plain exasperated exhaustion…when it was time for discharge, we were certainly ready to go home.

Dada's 2nd night in hospital w/ new baby

Our new “Dada” during the second day of our hospital stay

Now, here we are:  out of the hospital, out of our downtown condo, and in our new home, happy & cozy.  Her nursery is coming together, she’s past her one-month fussy stage, and I’m getting the hang of this whole newborn parenting thing.  She’s growing splendidly (is breastfeeding as I type this now, actually) and is just so beautiful.  We are incredibly thankful for our blessing…she’s truly made us into a family.

 

 

 

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