Life With My Littles
Hi! If you are coming from, don't be alarmed! This is my new site! You can find all of my old posts here, as well as new ones more focused on pregnancy and babies. If you are looking for something in particular, you can use the search box under my picture. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Little A's Birth Story

Okay, so Little A was born almost 8 weeks ago (ah!) and I still haven't shared her birth story! Since my blog is mainly about pregnancy and raising kids, duh, I had to share it! So here it is! Both in text and photos!

I know everyone knows that I have said this before, but I don't really enjoy being pregnant. It is a blessing that I am able to get pregnant, but those last few weeks are the worst. I hate not knowing when baby is going to be born because even though I can get everything ready, it is awful just sitting and waiting. Especially when you are having lots of braxton hicks contractions and they keep coming and going and making you crazy.

I had been having braxton hicks contractions starting around 31 weeks. I didn't feel any with Little J, so it was different and a little scary because we had a lot of traveling to do in July and the beginning of August. So once all the traveling was over at 35 weeks, I was ready for our little girl to be born.

We found out at 37 weeks that I was strep B positive, and because I delivered Little J so fast, the doctors said that I could probably be induced at 39 weeks just to make sure that I was able to get antibiotics in time and so that our baby would be okay. I was having so many braxton hicks and it was really frustrating when they would be 5 minutes apart and then just stop, so I said yes, please!

We scheduled my induction date at my 38 week appointment for September 3rd, and then we pushed it back to the 4th so that the Mister could come and be at the hospital the whole time (darn medical school rotations). On Tuesday, Little J and I went to the zoo, and on Wednesday, we tried to do every last thing we could together before we added a new little to our family. On Thursday morning, six days before my due date, we got a call at 6:15am that the hospital had a room for us and to be there at 7:30am. We got dressed, had some breakfast, and headed to the hospital.

After we were all checked in and everything was ready to go at 8:30am, I was started on a dose of Pitocin. They kept increasing my dosage because while I was having contractions, they weren't painful. Around 12:30pm, they stopped increasing the dosage because they started getting painful. They still weren't bad, but the dosage must've been a good amount because they kept getting worse. At 2:05pm my doctor came in and broke my water (a very weird feeling). My contractions were getting more and more painful, but not nearly as painful as when I was in labor with Little J. At 3:35pm I asked the nurse for my epidural and the anesthesiologist came in and gave it to me. I was never in too much pain, and the epidural worked perfectly. However, I wasn't dilating very quickly so they turned up my dosage of Pitocin again. They turned it down again after a while because my contractions were getting too close together and I wasn't dilated enough. My mom was in town to watch our son, so she and Little J came to the hospital around 7pm (I was at 5cm at this point). We couldn't go a whole day without seeing our little boy! After they were there for a while, the nurse turned up my dosage again, and after about 20-30 minutes I felt a very strong pressure. The nurse came in and told me I was at a 10 and ready to push! My mom and Little J went out into the lobby, the doctor came in, I pushed through a few contractions, and Little A was born at 8:10pm!

The Mister and I were both surprised by how much dark hair she had! We were both imagining a blonde little girl since Little J is so blonde, but nope! I got to hold her right after she was born, which I didn't get to do with Little J so I really liked that.

After we were both all cleaned up, my mom brought Little J in around 8:40 and he got to meet his new baby sister. The first thing he did, without us even telling him to, was to lean over and kiss her, and then pat her. He is the sweetest.

It was a really great experience, and we love our new little girl so much. She is almost two months old now, and she has brought so much joy to our family. Little J is really sweet and kind to her, and he loves to lay next to her and to play with her hair. He is such a good big brother!

We feel really blessed to have this sweet baby in our lives, and are enjoying every minute of it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mommy Moments #3: The Best of You

The first weekend of every October our church holds a semiannual General Conference. I love sitting down to watch with my notebook and pen after thinking and praying all week about the questions I want answered. Something I was praying to know this time was how I can be a better wife and mother to my family. I got my answer in the Saturday afternoon session of conference in a talk by Tad R. Callister called "Parents: The Prime Gospel Teachers of Their Children." 

There was one line in particular that really stuck out to me and made me have a "mommy moment," so much so that I wanted to share it with you today.

Regardless of whether you go to church or have a job, I think this applies to everyone. Really ask yourself if your family is getting your best, or if they are just getting your leftovers. Are you giving them your full attention, or are you giving them half of your attention while your other half is focused on things that don't matter as much?

I think we can all do better, and when I heard this during conference I knew it was exactly what I needed. Our families are our number one most important thing, and we should be giving them our best, not our leftovers.

Monday, October 20, 2014

How to Have a Successful First Thanksgiving On Your Own

Growing up, the only involvement my sister and I had in making Thanksgiving dinner was to make the mashed potatoes and wash the dishes afterwards. I never helped with the stuffing, the turkey, the gravy, or any of the other traditional foods that come with Thanksgiving. Last year we didn't have enough time with the Mister's school schedule to travel to see either of our families for Thanksgiving, so we got to have our first big holiday on our own. I was a little nervous because Thanksgiving tradition calls for a lot of amazing and delicious food, and I had never cooked that much food for one meal before. Like I said, I was pretty much only good for mashed potatoes. But I studied up, did my best, and with some help from FaceTime and my mom, we had a pretty successful first Thanksgiving on our own! So now as we are looking to our second Thanksgiving on our own (now with two kids!), I want to share some tips on how to make sure that you are successful when you are in charge of cooking and preparing your first Thanksgiving on your own.

1. Clean out your fridge and your freezer. Okay I know that sounds like a weird first tip, but you are going to be buying a lot of food at the store and then you are going to have a lot of food leftover that you need to store. So go through your fridge and your freezer and get rid of things that have been in there too long and things you aren't going to eat, and then wipe down the inside. Not only will you feel better, but you will have a good start to your Thanksgiving preparations!

2. Make a menu and gather recipes. The first thing you really need to do before shopping is to make your menu. Do you want a salad, mashed potatoes, stuffing, turkey, pies, cranberry sauce, rolls, or anything else? You need to decide for sure which items you want to make first. Then, gather the recipes you are going to use. You can use Pinterest, your mom and grandma, your friends, or even Martha Stewart. I don't care. It's preferred that you use recipes that you can trust that people you know have actually made, or from somewhere that you can ask whoever made them questions if you have any, but it's not a huge deal. This part of planning can actually take the longest, and is one of the most important, so take your time.

3. Read recipes thoroughly. You want to make sure you understand the recipe and can actually handle doing what it says before you get the Thanksgiving day and have a problem. You want to make sure you know what all the tools you need are, how to do different techniques (like basting), and that there isn't some extra bottom portion to the recipe that you missed the first time reading through it. Why recipes do that sometimes, I don't know. But make sure you read them all the way through and you understand them before you get to cooking and realize you are completely in trouble.

4. Double-check your grocery list. Before you leave to do your big grocery shopping trip, double-check that everything is written on there. You don't want to have to send your husband to the store on Thanksgiving day because you forgot something. Make sure you have everything written down that you need, including supplies. Large foil, special utensils, and a turkey pan are included here. Double-check your grocery list!

5. Shop the week before. Since everyone and their mom will probably be buying really similar things for their Thanksgiving dinner as you will be, try going grocery shopping the week before Thanksgiving. You can get a better turkey that way, you can be assured that things won't be sold out that you need, and you can beat the crowds a little. There may be some things you can't buy a week in ahead (like fresh produce), but try and get as much as you can the week before Thanksgiving. It really helps eliminate stress!

6. Read about turkey tips. Everywhere and anywhere. I looked on several different websites about different ways to cook turkeys, and I took the best tips from each one. It helped because I could read comments people had made on different sites and get tips from a lot of different turkey pros. Since I had never cooked a turkey before last year, I needed all the help I could get!

7. Take the turkey out of the freezer 3 days before, not 2. It is recommended that you take your turkey out of the freezer 2-3 days before cooking it. I can't think of anything worse on Thanksgiving day than having a turkey that is still frozen. So to ensure that you give it the maximum time to thaw, take it out of the freezer and put it in your fridge 3 days before you are going to cook it on Thanksgiving.

8. Test your oven temperature. Just because your oven beeps and says it is at 350 degrees does not mean that it actually is. Invest in an oven thermometer so that you know what temperature your oven actually is so you avoid under- and over-cooking food. You definitely don't want to have your turkey in an under-heated oven and then have to compensate by cooking it for 3 hours longer than you thought. That is a good way to ruin your dinner and make your family a little bitter. So just quickly test your oven and make sure that you know what temperature it really is at. Because that oven has a big job to do!

9. Cook for 2 days instead of 1. This was really really helpful for me because by spreading the cooking over 2 days, I wasn't stressing on Thanksgiving day with the huge amount of food I had to make. The day before Thanksgiving I spent cooking pies and rolls, aka the things that could sit for a day and still be fine. Then on Thanksgiving day I cooked everything else. This is especially important if you are the only one who is going to be cooking and if you don't have a big fancy kitchen with two ovens. This is definitely a big, big helpful tip. Trust me.

10. Time when other foods should be ready based off when your turkey should be done. Since the grand masterpiece of Thanksgiving dinner is the turkey, and since that takes the longest, time cooking other foods based off what time the turkey will be done. If the turkey will be done at 4pm, and it takes 2 hours to prepare your macaroni and cheese (my family tradition), then start cooking your macaroni at 2pm. You don't want cold food by the time the turkey is done, and you don't want a cold turkey by the time the rest of the food is done.

11. Make it special. It's a big deal planning and having your first Thanksgiving on your own, so make it really special! Use a new tablecloth and cloth napkins, drink sparkling cider out of fancy glasses, decorate the table with a cute printable or some mini pumpkins. Make it different than other meals that you have. I had a lot of fun picking out a new tablecloth and setting the table fancier than I normally do for dinner. And it makes it nice for your family, too, because it's something special. You can do whatever you want on your first Thanksgiving because it's your own!

12. Ask for help. Don't feel like just because you are doing this on your own for your first time, you need to be able to do it completely on your own. I called my mom a few times when I was first starting the turkey to ask her which way was the front (yes, I know). And I was super proud of myself for getting out the neck and icky parts, but I had to have FaceTime guidance from my mom to do it. There is no shame in that! You have to learn somehow, and it's nice to ask people who have done it before. So ask for help when you need it, and definitely don't be afraid to ask for help.

13. Go big or go home. If you can't decide what kind of pie to make, make three. Even if it is just you and your husband and your 8-month-old baby. If you want to make salad, rolls, mashed potatoes, gravy, macaroni and cheese, and your turkey, do it. Don't be afraid of making too much food because you are going to have leftovers no matter what and it's totally fine. Make what you want and don't worry about it. Thanksgiving is about two things: being thankful and eating a ton with your family. So do your part and make sure you can eat a ton of delicious foods! Go big or go home!

I definitely learned a lot preparing my first Thanksgiving for my family, and it wasn't scary, it wasn't too hard, and it was really fun.  Sometimes you just have to man up and go for it, and making your first Thanksgiving dinner on your own is one of those times! So good luck, have fun, and enjoy all your delicious foods. You won't ever have another first Thanksgiving, so make this one successful and yummy!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pretty Mama #3: Looking Good During and After Pregnancy with Pink Blush Maternity

This post is sponsored by Pink Blush Maternity. I received free product in exchange for this post, however all opinions are true and 100% my own!

When I was pregnant with Little J, I did not love my maternity clothes. I had one shirt that I liked more than the rest, but all of the other ones I had either fit weird or weren't very cute. So when I was pregnant with Little A, I decided that I was going to find cute maternity clothes so that I could look good during my pregnancy. It can be hard to feel positive about your pregnant body, so it really helps to have something cute to put on it! Right before entering my third trimester, I discovered Pink Blush Maternity. And guess what? I found out how easy it is to look good during your pregnancy! And now that Little A is a month old, I have also discovered that you can look good right after pregnancy, too!

photo taken by Kandice Stewart Photography

I know some people dread the day that they can't fit into their regular clothes anymore. For me, it's the pants that get too small first, and then the shirts get too small about a month or two later. Luckily, I discovered the best website for maternity clothes to make you feel cute and feminine and not cost a lot of money. I first shared Pink Blush Maternity with you a few months ago as one of the best (and my favorite) places to buy maternity clothes. A few months ago they contacted me and asked if I wanted to do a collaboration on a post. I will be honest and tell you I was super duper excited. Yeah, super duper. I had a really hard time choosing just a few pieces, but ended up with two gorgeous tops, one comfortable sweater, and one stylish maxi dress.

When they came in the mail I immediately tried them on and sent pictures to my mom and sister. They were perfect! All of the Pink Blush Maternity clothes I have are really soft, comfortable, and breathable, which is really important to a pregnant woman! Something else I loved is that the shirts were all long enough that even at 38 weeks pregnant, they completely covered my belly. I have found that some of the shirts I got earlier on in my pregnancy from other stores don't quite cover my belly anymore and I have to wear shirts under them, which in the summer in Iowa is not something I recommend. Pink Blush Maternity helped me to really look and feel good during pregnancy.

Something I really struggled with after Little J was born was finding clothes that fit but didn't make me look like I had just had a baby. For most women, it takes a at least few months to get back to your pre-pregnancy size, and during that time, you can get feeling down about still not being able to wear your regular clothes. It's sort of just an awkward stage, and it can be hard to feel good about your body.

After Little A was born, I loved being able to wear my Pink Blush Maternity clothes because they weren't super tight, they hid that little pooch, and the patterns also helped to disguise that extra flabby skin from pregnancy. I felt feminine because of the styles of the clothes, but I also felt good about myself because I had clothes that fit well that I wasn't having to squeeze into until my regular clothes fit again. Pink Blush Maternity also helped me to look and feel good after pregnancy!

So now I am sure you are wondering how you can get yourself some gorgeous maternity clothes from Pink Blush Maternity. Well guess what! They are offering 15% off for Life With My Littles readers using coupon code LIFEWITHMYLITTLES from today until October 21st! I highly recommend you try out at least one thing from there (good luck picking just one!) because you will fall in love with their clothes like I have!

Pink Blush Maternity really made me feel good about how I looked both during and after pregnancy. Their clothes are really versatile and other people would never guess that they were maternity clothes when you wear them after your baby is born. And if you are wondering how you can get the clothes I was sent, you can click the links under each set of pictures:

And remember the gorgeous mint lace dress I wore for my maternity pictures and my sister's wedding? Oh yeah, that's from Pink Blush Maternity, too!

And if you aren't pregnant right now and aren't planning on becoming pregnant any time soon, don't forget that Pink Blush also sells women's clothing that is just as cute and will make you look amazing!

Thanks again to Pink Blush Maternity for contacting me! And thanks to my good friend Alli for taking these pictures! You should all check out her adorable Etsy store to say thanks!