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The Final Stretch

Sharing the mental and physical growing pains of the final stages of pregnancy. This post is sponsored by Palmer’s but all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help support this site.

When I look back at this past summer, where I spent my days outside in the hot and humid Connecticut sun, watching the kids run around in the yard jumping in and out of the kiddie pool it seems like forever ago. They’ve grown several inches now, grown shaggy hair and are already thinking about their summer plans. I think having a new baby and starting over overwhelms you with nostalgia of the younger days and brings a certain sadness of days past and an uncertain future. The kids are growing up and seem so old now. I miss their baby stage- when they needed me for survival and friendship. The emotional hormones are obviously overtaking this post as I reminisce about my babies no longer being babies. As I write this I’m seeing the literal growing pains that come with having a new little person enter into the family.

39 weeks. 39 weeks of several nightly bathroom visits, daily naps, swollen feet and ankles, back aches and stretching skin. At least half of those weeks were plagued with all day “morning sickness.” As I look down at my body and see how so much has changed the last 39 weeks I am both astonished at how quickly, yet how slowly time has passed. Does that make any sense to you? I found out I was pregnant pretty early on so it has really seemed that I have been pregnant forever. What started out as a little pooch that seemed like I just ate a little too much is now a full blown beach ball sticking out from under my shirt. It is the perfect size for my kids to reach out and caress their new baby sibling. It is the perfect height for my littles one to run up to me and kiss my belly button- where baby is “sweeping” (or sleeping) according to her.

I look down at my still changing body and see that this body has grown 5 little humans. This skin has been stretched to its capacity 5 different times and made room for little babies to grow. This body for the past 10 years has protected and nourished 5 little humans. It is a miracle. Plain and simple. And while my bones have proven themselves weaker, my skin has received extra elasticity: when my skin starts to itch from being stretched to its limit, I rub some of Palmer’s Massage Cream for Stretch Marks to improve my skin’s elasticity. Baby responds to the touch: a moving body part that unnaturally protrudes for a few seconds. It’s how we connect. And my kids get in on it as well as Palmer’s Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks provide an opportunity for them to connect with and feel the baby move.

It may be tomorrow or it might be 3 weeks from now, but the changes continue. We’ve been stretched both physically and emotionally as more responsibilities have fallen on my husband and children as I’ve dealt with many physical ailments brought on by pregnancy. We’ve been stretched emotionally as we’ve dealt with fears of the change in family dynamics and the logistics of adding another child to our family. We’ve been stretched and have seen the marks of our struggles. But, since we’ve done our stretching together, we’ve also learned how to embrace the marks of growth and learned to minimize unnecessary worries and patch them with solutions everyone is happy with. I hope my next post will be announcing the birth of our new baby (like tomorrow! Haha!).

For mamas that are currently pregnant and looking for a product to help you feel more confident in your changing body, I recommend Palmer’s. For over forty years, Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula has been the trusted brand for fighting stretch marks, smoothing skin and helping pregnant women feel more confident and beautiful with their changing bodies. I look at my belly and see that it is smooth and beautiful. And yes, large and uncomfortable, but beautiful and miraculous. I love that it is not greasy- trust me- I hate putting lotion on and usually apply it with my forearms. But this affordable cream is not greasy and leaves your belly feeling elastic (not tight like its ripping apart and itches like crazy) and moisturized. Not only do I use it on my belly, because let’s be honest, that isn’t the only place that is growing. I use it on my chest, inner thighs and lower back. I love using Massage Cream for Stretch Marks and Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks. The smell of the Tummy Butter is perfect to relax you at bedtime. Better yet, get your partner to help you relax by using these products while he rubs your back. It’s the least he can do, right?

Make sure to check out Palmer’s on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest and Instagram!

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How to Find and Build Your Dream Community

Make your own “dream” community wherever you are with these tips. This post is sponsored by Tehaleh by Newland Communities but all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help support this site.

I looked out from the tiny window plane and saw the mountains I had become very fond of shrinking as we flew further away. I wept silently for the life I had created there and for the fear and anxiety I felt having to start my life over. As an introvert it took me a long time to really make connections with people and to build a community of friends that supported each other. Having to start over felt exhausting. I knew the kind of “community” I was moving into and I already felt defeated as the physical attributes of this “community” was working against me: corner of a busy road, bottom of the hill, hidden side entrance, etc.
My dream community would be a cul-de-sac with neighbors close – but not close enough to hear or see what goes on in the house, kids playing on the street, block parties, neighbors looking out for neighbors, kids roaming freely to and from each other’s homes or to the park, flat streets so they can ride their bikes and scooters…. Am I dreaming? I’m sure this exists. While we have been searching for this “dream community” I found out about the Tehaleh community in Bonney Lake, Washington. Parks and trails, flat streets, beautiful homes, lots of kids and family friendly, neighborly, community activities, on-site elementary school, etc. This kind of community exists!

photo: courtesy of Tehaleh

Tehaleh invited my family to visit the community and see what they offered. We joined in on Reading Circle, which they hold weekly, and then they did a craft for Presidents’ Day. The kids had a great time and met some other children there while the parents chatted – some good old adult time. The Post, the Visitor HQ and Caffé D’arte café, is where these activities are held and offer some great time to relax and get some delicious food. I’m sure we would be regulars there and while the kids played, the parents could get to know each other. One thing I’ve learned from all of our moving around (6 times in 12 years) is that while a community can already exist, it will do nothing for you (or you for them) if you aren’t involved. It’s like a gym pass. Will you automatically be in shape if you join a gym and not go

photo: courtesy of Tehaleh 

photo: courtesy of Tehaleh

Most of my kids are pretty proactive and will often go up to children and ask them to play. They’ve made many friends this way. I think we could take a lesson in that: be proactive. If you want to be a part of a community then you actually have to be an active part. When we first moved to our home in Saratoga Springs (we lived there for 5 years) it took me about 2 years to feel like I was a part of that community. It probably didn’t help that I had just had a baby and moved in around the same time. On the other hand, when we moved to Provo (we lived there for a year) I felt like I was a part of that community within months. I studied the differences and this is what I found: I didn’t have a newborn, I had older kids that made friends with neighbors and I was asked to serve in a position where I had to know everyone. Yes, my introverted-self screamed with fear as I had to put my shyness aside and actually go up to people and be their friend. In other words, I had to be proactive. It helped me grow in so many ways and the “community” I have always longed for became a reality. But I had to be a part of it.
For those of you that want to find a community or build that kind of community (disregard the physical aspect of it) here are some ways to be an active part and create it. Note that a community doesn’t necessarily mean your neighborhood but could mean your school, church, street, sports team, etc.

 

  1. Service: I have met so many people through this mean. Bringing a meal or shoveling their driveway can go so far. There is a tie that is made that can only be strengthened. If you see someone that has their hands full while trying to get their kids in the car, offer to help carry something. It shows that you are watching and that you care.
  2. Introduce yourself to neighbors: I know, I know. It can be so awkward. I’ve found the best way to break the ice is just to bring something: flowers, treats, plants, a card with your phone number on it. Again, it shows that you SEE them in a non-creepy way.
  3. Organize something: A small get together, mother’s group, kids’ party, educational class, etc. You’ll meet many people and the parents will appreciate something to do with their kiddos. It also helps you know what people are interested in and in turn they can learn a little about you.
  4. Set up playdates: I’ve found that this has helped my kids and my social life, A LOT. Not only do the kids know me and feel comfortable asking me for help at school, their parents have gained trust in me. Trust is a big deal with parents. It doesn’t have to be a big production, the kids honestly just love playing with toys, eating snacks and running around outside. Plus, it helps the kids develop a closer relationship than what they just get at school.
  5. Pick-up kids from school. Even on occasion: This one is a hard one for me now. 36 weeks pregnant during the rainiest and cold season really didn’t make me want to step outside. My kids take the bus so it’s been easy for me this year. BUT, when they went to a different school I dropped and picked them up every day. This is where I made my friends. I would see them daily after school at the park and we would talk about everything while the kids ran around. It did take a few months of seeing each other, then smiling at each other, and then finally chatting but it happened naturally and we are still friends.
  6. Volunteer at school: You’ll get to meet people and develop relationships with them. I know it’s hard to volunteer when you have little ones but some teachers didn’t mind that I brought my little one with me. I got to know my kids’ teachers really well and were able to talk freely about concerns and life in general. The kids saw me around a lot so that also helped with the community building.
  7. Be friendly and approachable: This means that sometimes you have to put down the phone. Sometimes I use it as a crutch so I don’t have to talk to anyone. And that’s fine but don’t do it all the time. Look around. You may see someone that also needs a friend. Being aware of your surroundings and not placing a wall in front of you can offer many opportunities to become a friend to someone. Sometimes I would sit at the bench next to someone and want to say hello but it looked like they were busy. An old friend also told me that he felt so annoyed with me for a while because I would always have my headphones on when I was walking to class that it never gave him a chance to talk to me. Eventually we did when I forgot my iPod in my dorm room. Give people a chance to talk to you!
  8. Be consistent: Don’t do something and disappear for weeks/months. People have to know you are reliable. Of course, sometimes there are circumstances like mental or health issues but being a consistent friend, even if it is just texts, can create stability.
  9. Don’t be overbearing/too eager: Some people like to keep to themselves but will open up at their own time. Recognize cues. I can sometimes be a little eager to make friends and maybe that scares people off? So just be normal and things will form naturally.
  10. Welcome people to your home: There is a certain level of intimacy and trust when going in to someone’s home. We’ve found that we could be acquaintances with someone for a while, then will have them over for dinner and suddenly we crossed into friend zone and not acquaintances. This also doesn’t have to be a production. We’ve had people over for just dessert, games, pizza and a movie, etc.

As I talked with residents at The Post in the Tehaleh community, many shared similar experiences like the ones above. Neighbors introduced themselves, mom’s fitness and other groups were started, block parties were held and so much more. Having a physical community that enables these kinds of activities really does help but it isn’t all of it. Luckily, the residents in Tehaleh seem to have both the spirit and body of a community. And it doesn’t hurt to have some of the most beautiful and open homes I’ve seen here in Washington. You can see for yourself by following Tehaleh on Instagram and on Facebook!

What is your favorite thing about your community? What could you do differently? Please share in the comments!

 

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The Best Time to Be a Kid with Gymboree

This post is sponsored by Gymboree. All thoughts and opinions are solely my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog.

Gymboree Holiday Girl Boy Toddler Style

As I put the plaid jacket on my baby I got all the fuzzy feelings a new mother gets. This was his first time meeting Santa. Of course he won’t remember it, but a mother doesn’t usually forget these “firsts.” And while it probably wasn’t magical for him that first time, I know it was magical for us as parents. And I know that once he got older, along with his siblings, meeting Santa was a surreal moment. That was the start of our holiday traditions. Well we didn’t really think of them as traditions at first but it was something we did as a family. Looking back, these were the early days of our traditions as a family of 3 and now we are a family of 6, soon to be 7.Gymboree Holiday Girl Boy Toddler Style

Now, as a family, we have a lot of things we love to do for the holiday: skiing, driving to see the Christmas lights on homes, sipping Peruvian hot chocolate with Panettone, handing out gifts to the homeless downtown. Whatever it is that we are doing, we love doing it together.  And we love being outside. Well, the kids love being outside. I prefer to stay warm but since it is family time I sacrifice- haha!Gymboree Holiday Girl Boy Toddler StyleMadeleine: bird long sleeve | puffy jacket  (she’s pretty petite but the 2T fit her a little too snug- maybe size up?) | pink knee socks | duck boots | cupcake purse | bunny hat (not pictured)

One of our favorite holiday traditions is going to Breakfast with Santa. We’ve done it every year since we had a tiny baby and wherever we’ve lived we’ve visited with Santa while eating delicious food (can you tell I love food?) We like to walk around afterwards because…well…all the food we’ve eaten. Our kids love meeting Santa. We’ve only had a couple of meltdowns due to “stranger danger” but for the most part my kids are so excited to tell Santa what they’d like for Christmas. I like to tell my kids that they may ask for things for themselves but they should also think about what others may like and request it on their behalf (like in this printable letter to Santa). We love to see their little faces light up as they see Santa and he tells them about his North Pole friends. Even though we just witnessed the whole thing, they then love to tell us all about their experience, through their innocent and wondrous eyes. How magical is it to be a kid? And aren’t the holidays the best time to be a kid?Gymboree Holiday Girl Boy Toddler Style Gymboree Holiday Girl Boy Toddler Style

While our oldest is getting to the age where he will soon find out about Santa, we are trying to keep the magic and the spirit of Santa alive: the love, generosity, goodwill, miracles, service and selflessness. So when our kids think of Christmas and the holidays, I hope they think of these times we spent as a family and the bonds they’ve created with each other. They they remember the magic they felt as kids and pass those on to their own children. I remember the magic my parents created for us. And believe me it is even more magical to create these memories for our kids. It adds the flurries to my heart and I can’t help but feel this genuine love for them that is sometimes clouded by busy schedules and the chaos of parenthood.Gymboree Holiday Girl Boy Toddler Style

Included in the chaos of parenthood: finding clothes for 4 kids…..a daunting task. I turn to good quality stores like Gymboree that offer sturdy and fashionable clothes for all my kids. It’s a one stop shop that I can visit from the comfort of my own home at my own time. Because I really would rather be shopping late at night while my kids are sleeping than take time away during the holiday season. A bonus is that they have nice clothes (win for me) and fun designs like sharks, dinosaurs, unicorns, etc. (win for the kids) done in a non-kitschy manner (win for humanity).

Gymboree Holiday Girl Boy Toddler StyleAdelle: flamingo long sleeve | jeweled jeans | knit cardigan | pink knee socks | duck boots | puffy polka dot jacket | underwear | unicorn headband (not pictured) | bunny gloves (meant for toddler but fit Adelle!) Gymboree Holiday Girl Boy Toddler Style

Oliver: navy puffer vest | brown high topsbriefsshark socksolive lined pantswaffle teedino pull over | striped beanie Gymboree Holiday Girl Boy Toddler Style

Ashton: fuzzy camo vest | geo bear pullover | striped waffle tee | olive lined pants | octopus socksbrown high topscamo beanie | briefs

Do you have a favorite Christmas/Holiday Tradition you did with your family growing up or have one now with your own children? Make sure whatever you do, whether it’s taking a stroll outside to making cookies and watching holiday movies, to check out Gymboree’s holiday collection where they have cool and casual outfits or darling dress up outfits like this so you can jump on the bed…Gymboree Holiday Girl Boy Toddler Styleor look nice for a holiday picture!  Gymboree Holiday Girl Boy Toddler Style

rose print dress

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Snacking On-the-Go with goodnessKNOWS

This post is sponsored by goodnessKNOWS. As always these opinions are all my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog.

“Go, go go! Grab your shoes. Do you have your water bottle?”

“Grab your book, please! Do you have your bag?”

“Make sure you have your ballet shoes! Do you have your sweater?”

Managing a household with 4 kids each with their own activities can be a lot to handle. To be honest, it isn’t that they have a lot of activities it is just that there are a lot of kids! As a work at home mom I also have to make sure that I am managing my own schedule and deadlines. It can be easy to put the kids’ needs and my clients’ needs first. Sometimes so much so that I’d grab a handful of whatever my kids didn’t eat or something that just wasn’t a suitable meal replacement. And if you’ve followed this blog long enough you’ll know how much I love my food. I knew that something had to change and I would have to have something that was actually good for me handy in my diaper bag. goodnessKNOWS squares are full of good ingredients and made without artificial flavors, sweeteners and colors. Sounds like a good snack to have available for those moments where I need to walk the kids into their activities with a few minutes to spare…or a few minutes late. Still working on that getting places on time thing. 

As we speak (umm…read?) I am munching on these delicious squares. With six different flavors these squares will provide a variety to your weekly snack rotation. There are four squares of deliciousness and for those that count your calories, only 150 calories in the whole pack – about 40 per square. Even with that, they are still satiating with the crunchiness of nuts and for those with a sweet tooth, dark chocolate. Which one is my favorite? That’s a hard choice but start with the peach, cherry & almond or strawberry & peanut. They really all are so good. Keep one in the car for emergency snacking, as well as your bag… and anywhere else. goodnessKNOWS squares are available here or on Amazon. Make sure to use this coupon if you buy on Amazon. Make sure to follow goodnessKNOWS on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.

For my local Seattle friends, you can sample goodnessKNOWS squares around the city:

  • Where’s Waldo Run, Cowan Park, October 28
  • Northwest Chocolate Festival, November 11-12 (9am – 5pm)
  • Seattle Marathon, November 26

 

Trust me, you’ll want to try these. They aren’t dry but still has that satisfying crunch.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of goodnessKNOWS. The opinions and text are all mine.

 

 

 

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Caring for Your Skin with Neutrogena

This post was sponsored by Neutrogena and contains affiliate links. All opinions are solely my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!

photo by christina judd

As I was walking down the hall, I could hear my mom humming in the bathroom. The door was open so I peeked in and saw Madeleine sitting on the counter swinging her legs hitting the cabinets under her. She had a makeup brush in her hand and brushed it along her face haphazardly. She looked up at my mom and imitated my mom as she brushed her hair. My mother nostalgically shared that I used to do the same thing when I was Madeleine’s age. It was such a beautiful moment witnessing granddaughter and grandmother. The funny thing is that my mom doesn’t look like a grandmother.

She often would get mistaken for my sister and people still don’t believe she has a 32 year old daughter and is a grandmother. Great genes? Definitely. But for as long as I can remember, she always put on face creams. I’m pretty sure she even told me years ago that I should start taking care of my face even before things like wrinkles showed up. She advised me to prevent or diminish things that come with age but of course I was just too lazy to have a skin routine. I barely would wipe my face with the makeup remover wipes. I just felt “too young” to be worrying about my skin, wrinkles and age spots. But now, I kind of want to be just like my mom. Continue reading Caring for Your Skin with Neutrogena

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Recipe: Chili Bean and Quinoa Tacos

This post was sponsored by S&W Beans and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.


You know how some days you think that maybe feeding your family grilled cheese and cereal again probably isn’t a great idea. I get in a making dinner rut, too. I just don’t want to make it. But because I’m the only one that cooks I just have to do it- even if it is something simple. Continue reading Recipe: Chili Bean and Quinoa Tacos

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Party Ideas: Unicorn Inspired Bubble Wands

If a tutorial is really just one step, is it really a tutorial? I guess this tutorial really is indicative of my life right now. I’m taking it easy and enjoying my time with my baby…who’s 2. Ha! The other kids are in school and it is just Madeleine and me. I am working on some big projects so unfortunately the blog has been pushed to the back burner.

Another thing that was pushed back was my other daughter’s birthday party. We were traveling in the summer and with back to school craziness, switching schools but trying to appeal and just life….we are just now throwing her the birthday party she’s been asking for. I will say I am proud that it has only been delayed about 2 months so high five to me for not taking 6 months. I’ll take any win at this point.

She wanted a unicorn birthday party so here is one thing I worked on while watching an episode of The Office. It is a mindless craft but it turned out so cute! It’s the little things, guys! Continue reading Party Ideas: Unicorn Inspired Bubble Wands

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Connecting Through Fashion

This post was sponsored by Reebok through Activate Bloglovin’  
All opinions are all my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!

Is it shallow of me to think that fashion is more than just superficial- but that it can serve as a way to connect? When I see someone wearing a beautiful piece of clothing, I usually tell them. It often starts with a compliment and then leads to a conversation. And then sometimes friendship:
I remember one of the first times meeting my sister in law and she was wearing a hoodie with gorgeous pearl earrings after an evening at a bonfire. My husband, her brother, later told me that she knew we’d get along because we were both wearing the same thing. Silly? Yes. But, it’s true! Continue reading Connecting Through Fashion

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Let’s Talk: Video Baby Monitors

Let’s talk baby monitors. Sure, some people go without and that’s cool. Some people have the audio only monitors while others opt for the video monitors. Some people may be wondering why I even need a baby monitor anymore. My baby is almost 2! Two! I don’t even believe myself when I say that.

This post is sponsored by CocoonCam; however, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog.

The truth is- I have a little anxiety. I get a little nervous when my kids sleep longer than usual and if they are crying whether or not they are actually hurt or just want to get out of their crib. Sometimes I crack the door open to check on my baby and of course it creaks like the mother of all creaks. The baby stirs and jolts up because obviously when she hears the door creak that means it is party time! I don’t know why I do this to myself. My inquisitive mind needs to know she is safe. Plus, I really want to see when she starts climbing out of her crib so I can line the perimeter with pillows….or just get her a toddler bed. Continue reading Let’s Talk: Video Baby Monitors

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DIY Personalized Quiet Time Bag + Toys To Go Inside

This post was sponsored by The Baby Cubby but all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support my blog.

You know how when you are sitting at the doctor’s with your well behaved kids in tow or sitting in the pews at church with your kids with their arms folded and quietly listening to the speaker? If you do, then you are a magical unicorn mom. If not, well, you are in good company.

We were running late to church so we just grabbed our church bag and bolted. As we sat between two families and our kids were much more interested in the fun toys they had. We, of course, were ill prepared since we just ran out the door and it was then that I realized, I have to put together a better “quiet bag.” I’ve been carrying around the same items for the last 2 years and the items had become trite to the kids. While my older kids should be able to sit quietly, my younger ones still struggle. I found some fun quiet time items to keep them from going crazy at church and actually let us listen to the speakers. Just bein’ honest guys. Continue reading DIY Personalized Quiet Time Bag + Toys To Go Inside