I’m Breastfeeding a Toddler But It Hasn’t Been Without Struggle

 

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I’ve been nursing for almost two years now. In March, I will have completed my second year of struggles and snuggles. It hasn’t been easy, let me tell you that. But, no matter what I’ve gone through to accomplish what I have, I don’t think of myself as better than anyone who hasn’t made it this far with nursing.

I’m not better. We all go through our own struggles.

For me, it was months of huge semi-digested puddles of milk covering every inch of me. It was going through many sessions with specialists. It was sitting in a disgusting bathroom on the toilet, next to a dirty mop bucket at work while I pumped to keep my supply up before I started working fully at home.  It was going through weight loss and weight gain. It was (and still is) the judgement for going so long. It is constantly being attacked by a thirsty toddler in public. It is wondering when the biting is going to stop. It is wanting to go a whole night without having to get up to nurse. It is not being in control of my own body and giving it to someone else.

But, it’s also amazing. It’s beautiful. I feel blessed to have made it so long.

Every morning, I get to cuddle my little girl and look into her smiling eyes in such a close way. Every nap time and every evening, I get the same. It’s an amazing thing to be able to snuggle my beautiful little girl who is growing ever so quickly.

Sure, I’ve gone through a lot to be where I am with nursing, but I wouldn’t trade a single moment of it. It’s worth every single second I get to spend holding my baby girl in my arms.

I’m not as lucky as some moms who just get snuggles willy nilly. No, I have to work for them. So, maybe I don’t really breastfeed for the nutrition benefits, but instead for the quality time I get with my daughter. And frankly, I don’t feel a bit bad about it.

Makeup Must-Haves For Mom: Top 4 Beauty Products For Moms on the Go

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Let’s admit it. As mothers, finding the time to put on our makeup is rough. In fact, it’s often nearly impossible. I mean, really, sometimes it’s difficult for us moms to find time to put on a sweatshirt and a shirt. We’ve got other things on our minds… Like sleep (what is that again?) and food.

Nonetheless, sometimes it’s nice to feel “dolled up”, or whatever you would like to call it. It’s nice to feel beautiful. Not that naked faces aren’t beautiful. They are. But sometimes it’s nice to go a little above and beyond.

For me, the days I want to get “dolled up” are those when I take my daughter to her gymnastics class or go to the grocery store. I know. Wild, right? Yeah. I don’t get out of the house much. But really, I don’t ever have much time to put myself together between work, caring for a needy toddler, and cleaning. Getting out the door is a miracle. Because of that, my beauty must-haves absolutely have to be quick and easy to apply. I don’t have time to spend an hour getting the perfect pout-y lip or the right tones for contouring. I have to have fast, simple-to-use products.

Here are four of my absolute mommy must-have beauty products. Get your pen and paper ready, ladies. It’s time for some notes!

Stila HUGE Mascara

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Stila is a little on the spendy side when it comes to mascara, but it’s worth every penny. We do deserve to feel good about ourselves and splurge from time to time, right? I’m in love with mascara and that’s not an understatement. Mascara is my thing. Heck, my Instagram profile includes the words “mascara lover” in the little personal information section. I’m a tad bit obsessed. I’ve tried a ton of brands from drug store varieties to the top dogs and the problem I always find is that it takes so many layers to get the length and fullness I desire. With multiple layers comes a lot of time investment, which I just can’t afford. That’s where Stila HUGE comes in. In just one or two coats, I look forward to long, thick lashes.

This was right after two coats of Stila. I don’t have overly long lashes to start with, so this is quite impressive. I was a little more dolled up than most days because it was my anniversary night- I rarely go this far into my look.

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ModelCo Ultra Long-Lasting Stiletto Lipstick

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Every woman needs a good red lipstick. It can be a little daunting, but I’ve found that this brand and color look great with just about any skin tone. Even mine and I’m really, really pale. One simple swipe of this lipstick and you’re good to go. It’s an easy way to get the look of spending hours on yourself without actually having to do so. This shade really pops and lasts for quite a good period of time, even through all of those slobbery baby kisses. Take a chance and try it, ladies. You won’t regret it.

This picture was taken a few months after the last one with the ModelCo Stiletto lipstick before a lunch date with the tot and boyfriend. It’s got a nice, rich tone that makes it look like I spent at least a half hour putting myself together when in reality, it was about seven minutes for the complete picture, including the selfie.

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Baby Lips Pink Punch Lip Balm

 

 

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Another staple in mommy makeup is Baby Lips Pink Punch. It’s a super soft color for those who don’t like the idea of a bold red lip. It’s pretty enough to wear on a date but toned down enough to rub on quickly before a trip to the grocery store with the kiddos. Just slap a layer or two on and you’re good to go for the full day with this long-lasting lip moisturizer.

Here’s what Baby Lips Pink Punch looks like on:

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Maybelline Color Show Nail Lacquer Gilded Rose

 

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This one is a little bit of a stretch and totally not makeup, but it is a beauty product and a must-have at that. I never have time to put on nail polish, but if I have a fancy event to go to (which is almost never) I like to look like I put in as much effort into myself as possible. Now, looking and doing are very different things in my world, which is where this product comes in. Most nail polishes take a few coats, but this one is different. Because it’s meant to be shear, it’s easy to apply one coat and go out the door. It dries super fast, so it’s pretty perfect for a tight mommy schedule, especially when you have a million things to grab with your freshly-painted hands. It’s also nice because if you do end up have a little extra time, you can apply a few more coats to make it less shear but I personally prefer the shear look because it’s simple and elegant, plus it’s hard to tell when it chips, making the look last a good week or so.

What are some of your favorite on-the-go mommy beauty products? I’m always looking to grow my list!

 

 

Want a Happy Life? Slow Down and Drink Some Tea

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I don’t drink coffee. I don’t like the taste and it doesn’t have an effect on me, so I just don’t do it. Call me crazy, but there’s not much I can do about it. Oh, and don’t even try to tell me to attempt various flavors and add-ons. I worked at a coffee shop for a year and tried everything I possibly could. Nothing tastes good to me. Not white chocolate, nor caramel, nor banana, nor raspberry, nor anything else I tried. Not white coffee. Not short shots. Not toddy. Nothing.

So, how have I survived my practically sleepless life as a mother these last few years? Tea. I used to hate tea with a passion. A literal passion. I thought there was never going to be a kind I was going to like.

That was until I started experimenting at my coffee shop job. I was getting up at 3 a.m. after getting only a few hours of sleep interrupted several times by a crying baby, and since coffee tastes gross to me and has no effects on my body, I tried tea and lots of it. Finally, I found out that I don’t actually hate it. I LOVE it. A lot. And it does wake me up, unlike the dark drink most of America consumes every morning.

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I found a few selections that gave me enough buzz to get going. Chai was one of them. The caffeinated one, of course. I found that I love every single type of Chai. I’m not brand particular, but I do love one with an extra punch of spice. I always add a bit of honey to the mix, and then I found the miracle add-in. Peppermint essential oil. I personally use Young Living’s version because it’s the only quality I trust to actually ingest. It tastes SO good. Like heaven in a hot cup.

Loose leaf peppermint tea itself is one of my favorites too. I add honey to that too, and usually add a drop of the essential oil in as well because I like it strong tasting. I’m not a big fan of weak tea. This one’s always a big perk-me-up one for early mornings.

Green tea is another great one. There’s a lot of variations with this one, but it’s great with lemon and honey. I particularly enjoy almond green tea. When I’m feeling a little off, I like to make a nice, warm cup of this tea and it usually throws me together.

I almost forgot about Bigelow’s Orange and Spice tea. This is the one tea I enjoy without any sort of sweetener in it. It has just the right amount of sweetness already, with a slight bite of spice that’s totally delectable. It’s got that soft, sweet orange twist that throws everything together and it really should be in every household.

So, there you have it. Tea is what holds my coffee-less toddler-run life. If you don’t like the dark drink I so despise either, you should give tea a shot. It certainly changed my life as a mother, though I thought it never would.

Oh, and on the downside, when I want to wind down, I’ve got a favorite for that too. Stash’s Apple Cinnamon Chamomile tea. Holy freaking cow. Any time I drink a cup, I’m out in a half hour. It’s like a miracle in a cup for my mind that never seems to wind down. My boyfriend calls it my M-99. Sometimes I sneak a watered down version to my daughter too, but don’t tell her that.

 

Glitter, the Story of My Toddler Run Life

 

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Glitter is literally the definition of my whole life with a toddler. It’s everywhere and while I wish I could say that was an exaggeration, it’s totally not. My life is consumed with tiny flecks of sparkly pieces.

My house looks like a strip club with less poles and more trikes. I’m constantly covered in the devilish crafting tool, as is my boyfriend, and our daughter. Along with ourselves, so is our furniture, bedding, and all of the toys in our house.

There’s no escaping it.

So instead, I’ve embraced it. When someone mentions I’ve got a fleck above my lip, I just say I was trying out the new stylish sparkle eye shadow and some of it must have gotten into my face.

Just kidding. No one ever tells me I have glitter on my face. I just wear it around like a fool because no one ever tells mothers they have anything anywhere on them.

Maybe it’s because the rest of the public knows that’s just what happens when you have children and there’s no helping it. Or, maybe it’s because no one wants to tell a sleep-deprived woman she has something on her face for fear of being verbally attacked. Both are likely possibilities.

Cleaning: A Lifelong Skill Worth Teaching Every Child

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Our daughter loves to clean. I don’t know if most children do or if we just got lucky. She loves to help me with the laundry and all sorts of other tasks. Though it takes about three times as long to do it with her help throwing the load in piece by piece, I let her do it with patience because I know it’s an important skill and if she loves it from a young age, her adult life will be 100x easier.

She also loves to sweep and mop with me. At first, we let her use our adult-sized broom, but it was obviously really hard for her. Nonetheless, she loved using it so we just let her go.

Then one day, a thought popped into my head. They must make some sort of a kids’ broom. Really, why wouldn’t they? I know my kid isn’t the only one who likes to clean.

And I was RIGHT.

Through a quick Google search, I founpTRU1-18939586dt.jpgd out Melissa and Doug has an awesome kids’ cleaning set that includes not only a tiny tot broom, but also a mop, dust pan, duster, and broom brush. I knew we had to have it for our daughter.

Fast forward a little bit and we finally got it into our house. Ashlyn’s great-grandma got it for her for Christmas, as per our request.

It was love at first sight. The high quality of the wooden pieces was astonishing to us. Most toys are made completely of cheap plastic, so I was more than impressed with the quality of these toys, especially for the price.

My daughter fell in love right away and started sweeping and mopping her room as soon as she got it through the door. She plays with it daily and loves to make sure everything is off her floors. Now, she’s not even two, so I’d like to say that’s impressive.

The company carries a variety of other kids’ cleaning supplies, too. I haven’t looked much into them, but from the pictures, they look pretty darn cool.

Teaching children how to clean is so important. Not only does it teach them what to do when they’re older, it also gives them a sense of purpose. Not that cleaning is life, but when a child has a task they know is helping their parents, they feel good about themselves.

An important part of teaching your children how to clean is to make it fun. For most adults, cleaning is particularly boring, but when you add music and dance around doing it, it suddenly becomes enjoyable. So that’s right. Crank some tunes and get to dancing around your kitchens with your children, people. You’ve got messes to clean and memories to make!

Start small. For children under one up to about the age of two and a half, start by having them throw pieces of laundry into the washer with you. Then, have them help switch them to the dryer. If you’re up to it, let them hand you each piece to fold. It’s easy enough for them to do, and if you make it fun, it will be fun. When they start to walk, hand them a broom and see what happens. Give them a rag and let them wipe things down. That’s another favorite thing to do in our household. Just let it flow from there. The possibilities are endless. Seriously.

Sure, it’ll take a little longer to clean your house, but just think of the things you’re instilling in your child.

 

Dance Your Way to a Happier Body With Your Toddler

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We all have that ideal mommy body, don’t we? I had mine, about six months ago. After I had my daughter, I weighed between 180-190 pounds. After breastfeeding the first two or three months, I dropped down to 130-140 pounds. It wasn’t because I worked out or ate super well. It’s simply because I either didn’t have time to eat or because breastfeeding burns a ton of calories. It could have been both. Either way, in the end, I gained the weight back.

While I had stretch marks and saggy skin, I had the body I wanted just six months ago.

Then things changed. My daughter started nursing less around the time she turned a year and a half. I kept eating the same. I wasn’t working out. It all hit really hard when I quit my busy stand-up job to work at home, on my butt all day.

In the first three months after quitting my job to work at home, I gained 30 pounds. That’s not an exaggeration either. I wish it was, but it’s totally not.

I felt like crap. Complete crap. I mean, it wasn’t even that my body looked that bad. I just felt lethargic and my clothes didn’t fit anymore. I wasn’t happy with myself.

So I did something about it. In the middle of my busy schedule, I decided to throw in some exercise. I wasn’t sure how to do it. I already spend all day working, cleaning, cooking, and playing with my toddler. How could I possibly fit in the half hour a day I needed to get where I wanted?

Then it hit me.

I could work out with my toddler during our playtime.

I started searching ways to do so and came across dancing. My daughter loves to move. She absolutely loves it so I knew this would be the exercise for us. I knew it would help teach her how to stay active, help me get the body I wanted back, and create a bonding time between the two of us.

We’ve been doing it for about a week now and I feel great! I am losing weight already and I can see it in my body that things are changing. Plus, my daughter is taking longer naps and is genuinely happier. It’s beautiful, really.

Dancing is so much fun. Seriously so much fun. When I got over the fact that I looked terrible doing it, it became such a treat. I’ve been looking forward to it everyday. I can’t help it. It’s just so exciting for both my daughter and I!

Thinking about getting into it? Try out these videos! We usually stick with these ones and repeat them a few times until we get a good workout in, but there are tons of other options out there for you to try. They’re fun for kids and adults alike, plus if you’re doing it right, it’s a great workout! Oh, and remember that it takes a bit to learn the moves. For us it was a few runs. It might be different for you. As long as you’re moving, that’s all that matters.

Fabletics – “Mommy and Me Dance Workout”

We start our warm up with this video. It’s upbeat and the woman running it makes the whole thing a lot of fun. The moves are pretty darn easy too!

Cyborq Reaper Music – “Just Dance Kids 2 The Gummy Bear Song (Wii Rip)”

This is the second video we follow. It’s from the Just Dance Kids video game set. Since we don’t have any gaming devices, we just follow the moves from this video of someone else playing. This song is upbeat, the moves provide an overall body workout, and it’s a great way to get going. Your kids are sure to love this song, even if it drives you up the wall!

Cyborq Reaper Music – “Just Dance Kids 2 Five Little Monkeys”

This song is an all over favorite with kids. My daughter can’t help but wiggle with this one playing. We always have to play this one over and over again because she just can’t get enough. It’s great to dance to! If you really get into it, it’s a great workout.

Galaxy Baby Children’s Songs – “Just Dance 4 – I’m Gonna Catch You Kids Music Video with Lyrics”

This song is an interesting one. We hadn’t heard it before doing these dance workouts, but we’ve come to enjoy it. It’s another favorite of the household. The colorful backgrounds help keep my daughter interested and ready to move and I’m sure it could do the same for your little one.

I came across this video for working out with your toddler and while it isn’t a dancing one, it’s a lot of fun too.

Carly Stylez – “Work Out With Home With Your Baby”

This one is great if you’re wanting a little less cardio and a little more lifting. It teaches you how to work your muscles with just the weight of your toddler. It’s super fun!

So. Are you ready to work out with your child? Are you ready to teach them how important working out is? Are you ready to become happier with your body? Are you ready to have more energy? If not, you should be! Even if you just spend 15 minutes a day doing it. Any time is better than no time!

Rules For Happy Family Dinners

 

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Family mealtime is so important. Even if it’s just once a week or even once a month. I can’t even begin to list all the reasons why. It helps families connect together, gives time to get to know one another a little better, and most of all, it allows for a good chat.

Our family eats dinner together nightly. Sometimes we can’t squeeze it in, but I’d say that we do it about 95% of the time. To us, it’s the one time we can all be together and socialize about anything. We ask each other how our days went and it’s a nice, calm time where nothing in the world matters but being together to eat good food.

We have such busy schedules that we just have to have this quality time together. It can be hard to get a good family dinner, or other meal for that matter, in so I decided to throw out some ground rules for our family and they’ve been working really well.

No Cellphones Or Other Electronics/Distractions

In this day and age, we revolve around cellphones and other electronics. We work on them, play on them, and learn on them, but because I want our family dinnertime to be spent together and not focused on a screen, we leave all of our cellphones in another room so we aren’t distracted by them. We also make sure the television is turned off. The sole purpose is to talk to one another and there doesn’t need to be any electronics for that.

Keep Negativity to a Minimum

When talking about our days, we try to keep talking negatively to a minimum. Of course, we want it to be an open setting but we try to keep everything fairly positive so it isn’t a time for trouble or other forms of downers, but instead a happy place where we can feel good about ourselves and our family.

Include Everyone in the Conversation

We have an almost two-year-old at our dinner table and sometimes it’s easy for us to forget she’s there and has something to say. While she doesn’t quite understand everything, we try to ask her questions about her day and what she did so that she feels important too and isn’t left bored. We’ve noticed she makes less of a mess when she’s involved in conversations, which is awesome.

Everyone Stays Seated Until Dinner is Over

This is a tough one. Our toddler often finishes eating before us and usually wants to get up right away. We always let her know she needs to stay seated until we’re finished, but we forget the rule needs to apply to us as well. We don’t need to pop up to check our e-mail or start dishes until our toddler is done if she ends up taking a little longer than us. It’s important that all set rules apply even to the parents. Your toddler is no less than you and this time is important for everyone. If your toddler is taking a super long time eating, try a timer and let them know they have however many minutes to eat before some sort of punishment is issued. Be fair with the time.

What rules does your family have at dinnertime?