31 days ago I committed to meditating daily. In July I spent 253 minutes meditating. I missed one day, (day 12). 253 minutes of breathing in the moment right in front of me. Over four hours of awareness brought to my thoughts.
Somedays I found my thoughts in my parked car before work, other days sitting in the grass in our yard. Somedays it was difficult to be still for even 5 minutes, I would spend the entire meditation pushing away distractions. Other days the mindfulness came easy and I would be a world away in 8 minutes.
Here’s what I have discovered after 30 days. Meditation like most things becomes easier the more you do it. And 30 consecutive days is a long time to practice something. I love that every time I meditated it was different. Meditation doesn’t require you to be in shape. It doesn’t cost any money. There’s no equipment. You can practice anywhere & for any length of time. And about half way through the month I started to really crave and look forward to these moments of mindfulness. Our worlds are so saturated with notifications, pings and pulls for our attention constantly. And there is something magical about being still & being thoughtful, it’s this superpower. The ability to rule your own mind. And you can access this power whenever. One morning this month Will and I had a rough start to the day, patience, and tempers were short. When I got Johnathan down for his morning nap, I let Will watch his beloved Mickey Mouse & I snuck into my room and did a 5 minute meditation. And it completely changed the tone for the whole day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not on here trying to say if you meditate your kids won’t have tantrums. BUT! You might find you have a lot easier time responding to toddlers disproportionate range of emotions & not meeting their chaos with more chaos. You might discover a new ability to pause when you’re first confronted with chaos. And that concept of being able to meet chaos with calm carries over in every aspect of life. Suddenly bumps in daily routines, difficult patients, traffic, personal conflict, things that constantly throw us into reactionary modes are met with more thoughtfulness and patience and in turn cause us less strife.
I know I’ve only just dipped my toe into the benefits of meditating and after a full month all I can say is I don’t want to stop. I love the way it makes me feel I love the calmness and sense of intermission mediation brings. It wakes you up to the moments right in front of you. With kids it is so easy to get bogged down in the day to day. Just crossing days off a calendar. Meditation has made me look at every day with thoughtfulness.
I used the Insight Timer App for my meditation – I used the totally free version. They have over 100k meditations that are free, you can search A-Z category wise, you can filter by length of time or theme. I also love that it keeps track of consecutive days meditating as well as total minutes meditated and provides a space for quick check ins.
This month we celebrated Jman with a Wild One themed birthday party! He is our sweetest surprise & our pandemic baby. Born in July, his birth month flower is a lotus. Which grows in mud, retreating each night back into the mud only to bloom clean the next day. Lotus flowers symbolize spiritual awakening and rebirth. My eyes filled with tears when I read the description of this. Johnathan was our sweetest surprise, little did we know he would enter our lives when we needed him most, in the thick of the pandemic he would be the brightest light. His birth would remind us of the circle of life as we went on to lose my aunt a few days after his birth. I couldn’t think of a more beautiful symbol for his birth month.
We had family and a few friends come celebrate with us. I got this “wild one” birthday kit off amazon for $30 and was impressed with how great it turned out. The day of the party ended up being well over 100 degrees, luckily we had a small pool from target set up & the kids loved splashing in it. It was wonderful to celebrate our happy guy and watch him demolish his smash cake! He decided to take his first steps right before turning one and he held out on getting any teeth his first year!
We celebrated Will’s 3rd birthday with a Three Rex theme. This birthday felt so emotional, he just seems so big all of the sudden. He’s going to preschool in the fall, he’s taking swim lessons, he tells funny little stories & is constantly asking “wanna know…” Ex: wanna know what that sound was, wanna know what’s in mama’s mouth, wanna know what Johnathan’s doing and on and on. Will turned two a month into the pandemic. While the world shut down in 2020 Wills world expanded beyond measure. We moved, he became a big brother, he learned to ride his scooter, he got stitches (see previous), he cooked with me a TON and asked Santa for knives. It’s SO fun to watch him become his own person & every birthday is just a little reminder of how quickly time goes! It was so wonderful to have a small party to celebrate our guy and Johnathan got to meet some family he had never met yet so that was extra special.
Party decor was primarily from target. His cake I can proudly say I baked & decorated! It’s a Ghiradelli box cake mix & Betty Crocker chocolate frosting & funfetti vanilla frosting that i just added green food coloring to, for the dirt – crushed up Oreos. I took inspo from a picture on pinterest & I was so happy with how it turned out! My biggest tip is to freeze your cake for 20-30 min before trying to frost it. It seriously makes a HUGE difference!
Last month we went on our first trip in exactly one year! We went on a road trip & visited Yosemite. A few months leading up to this trip Will started enquiring about seeing snow. We landed on visiting Yosemite, because as much as I wanted Will to see snow, the idea of three days with a toddler & infant with snow as the main / only attraction did not seem like my idea of fun. So we landed on going to Yosemite & it was the perfect getaway! I thought I would share what hikes, trails we went on that were kid friendly, info about snow play areas etc in case you find yourself in a snowy yosemite with a toddler & 6 month old!
Cooks Meadow – Located on the valley floor, this trail has incredible view of half dome & Yosemite Falls & you are surrounded by beautiful meadows. There are boardwalks that make pushing a stroller easy. We were able to pull off the trail and have our lunch in a meadow with Yosemite Falls in the background. So serene.
Lower Yosemite Falls – This is a 1 mile loop that is paved, easily manageable with a stroller or a toddler. (although when did this hike it was day 3 & will was exhausted so he opted to ride in the stroller, but on any given day he could easily have walked this trail!)
Badger Pass Ski / Snow Play Area – did you know Yosemite had a ski resort?? I did not, until researching for this trip. At the time the actual ski resort was closed & lifts were not running. however the snow play area was open to visitors. William had a great time sledding. We took our monkey mat and put it down in the snow & Johnathan got to watch. We also packed tons of food for this portion – I premade a batch of chili for our trip, heated it in the morning & stored in a XL Thermos. When we got done playing in the snow we had a picnic in the back of the car with warm chili! I would say be sure to pack lots of food because to & from badger pass there is very little / no food options & I did not want to risk and hungry toddler or husband after playing in the snow for two hours!
Tunnel View – If you’ve been to Yosemite you’ve probably stopped at Tunnel View – there’s not much to do, it’s purely a vista, but I love stopping there & taking it all in! (I just popped out of the car to grab a few photos, no pulling toddlers out of carseats for this stop.
Things to consider
If you are planning a trip to Yosemite be sure to check which entrances are open, because many roads are closed during the winter months.
Be sure to check if reservations are required to enter the park as of Feb 2021 they were.
Depending on accommodations, at the time we booked our trip the Awahnee was still closed for overnight guests, however we booked an airbnb about 30 minutes from the gate. Something to consider is the driving factor – although we were only 30 minutes to the gate, often our actual destination was an hour or so away. So it made for LOTS of time in the car.
We loved our airbnb, it had stunning mountain views, a hot tub that you could enjoy the sunset from & was SUPER kid friendly, including a play structure, miniature horses & everything from highchairs to pack n plays! This is the airbnb link in case you are looking for a place to stay!
Have you ever visited Yosemite in the winter?? I would love to hear about your experience or your experience taking young kids to national parks! After this trip Chris & I are really making an effort to take the boys to more parks around us! Leave me your favorite parks in the comments below!
Can’t believe it’s been a whole month with this guy and in true second child fashion this post is going up 2 weeks after these photos were taken. This first month has been wonderful, Johnathan got to meet both sets of grandparents & William has fully embraced big brother duties. Johnathan also moved out of our room & into his own, but he’s still snoozing in his bassinet. Per usual time is flyyyying by, but we’re over the moon with our littlest man.
Postpartum can be a roller coaster & anything you can do to make life a little easier or comfier is a no brainer. Below are 10 of my postpartum must haves this time around!
After Ease drops – this tincture helps with afterbirth contractions that typically become more painful with each consecutive pregnancy. I added a few drops to my water before breastfeeding & I noticed a big difference when I used it versus when I forgot.
Frida Mom Ice Maxi Pads – These are AWESOME. I know at the hospital they give you ice packs but i found these to work SO much better, colder, lasted longer – highly recommend.
Cute Button Down Pajamas – It’s easy to feel really frumpy & gross postpartum, none of your clothes fit, you want to wear something comfy & easy to breastfeed in. Treat Yo Self & get yourself some cute soft pajamas, you won’t regret it.
Heating Pad – I tucked this into my hospital bag. Depending on your labor you can definitely feel like you got hit by a train. Although my labor was significantly quicker & less dramatic this time around, once my epidural wore off my back was SO sore. I don’t know if it was from the epidural itself, or if it was from a way I was laying, either way a heating pad can offer relief if the advil just isn’t cutting it!
Placenta Capsules – this is by far my top postpartum must have! I encapsulated my placenta my first pregnancy & did it again this time around. Although still not widely practiced here in the US, placenta encapsulation is extremely popular in Eastern Medicine – benefits include: replenishing Iron stores in your body, decreased postpartum depression, decreased anxiety, increased energy, increased milk supply. Last pregnancy I wasn’t certain that the pills helped, I felt good but I didn’t know if the pills were part of that. This time it was our second day home & I remember this feeling coming over me of just wanting to bawl. And I hadn’t taken any of my pills yet, Chris suggested I take one & see. Within two hours I felt SO much better. I felt like myself. Now I take 2-3 daily. I notice a boost in energy & mood when I take them. If you’re interested in encapsulating your placenta but don’t know where to start, I have found that often times doulas will offer encapsulation services!
Nursing Tanks – I like these from H&M they come in a lot of colors / prints & are fairly affordable.
A good water bottle – I personally couldn’t live without my hydroflask, I love ICE cold water so this bad boy serves me well. I’m never without it. When I’m breastfeeding I’m incredibly thirsty & it’s one of the best ways to keep your milk supply up.
Nipple Cream – I used this nipple cream when I was breastfed William. A little 1oz jar will last you for so long.
Hakka Pump – Breast pumps can be SO pricey – this little silicone pump from amazon is a great snag. It’ll run you under $15 & just put it on the opposite breast while feeding & it’ll catch the let down. However it’s not great if you have an oversupply of milk as it can cause your oversupply to be worse.
Tap Light – this little light is one of my absolute favorites. In fact I often gift it to new mamas. It is super light weight, cordless, and can be dimmed & changed from warm to cool lighting. I packed it in my hospital bag this time & I loved having instead of having to turn on the aggressive hospital lighting. Once we’re home I keep it on my bedside table for middle of the night feeds & in fact we still use the one we got for William two years ago!
Yesterday my bestfriend came over & we shot Johnathan’s newborn photos. We did this when William was a newborn too. Newborn photography can be costly & intimidating but they don’t have to be! These photos took about an hour all in all to shoot. Ideally you want to take photos in the first week or two when babies are the squishiest & easiest to pose & they tend to stay asleep through different positions. Below I’ll share tips for taking your own photos & the set up we used.
The Set Up
Heating Pad – Be VERY careful with a heating pad. I placed it under a thick plush blanket & set it on the lowest setting, checking frequently to make sure it wasn’t too hot, I ended up turning it off completely.
Plush Blanket – something with texture is nice
Somewhere near a window with lots of light!
I put the heating pad over the boppy pillow, followed by the plush blanket I wanted to use. This blanket is extra special because my late aunt sent it to us shortly before she lost her battle to cancer one day after our son was born.
I positioned the boppy / blanket set up on our bed near a window that got plenty of afternoon light. But when I took William’s newborn photos the set up was on his rocking chair, near a window. The key is finding an area of your home that gets good natural light.
The heating pad helps keep baby nice & cozy & asleep. I use it when I’m taking photos when baby isn’t wearing anything but a diaper. As I mentioned previously, exercise extreme caution when use the heating pad, don’t use it above the first setting and check frequently the temperature!
Next up: Angles! I go by one simple rule: if you can see up the baby’s nostrils it’s not the best angle. You want to shoot the opposite way. Granted you’ll notice not all of the photos live by that rule but it’s a good thing to keep in mind while you’re taking photos.
Editing: Most photo editing apps have a lot of free features you can adjust. For newborn photos I usually follow these basic steps: Straighten the photo, increase exposure, decrease shadows, decrease texture & clarity. I use light room to edit all my photos so I’m also able to fiddle if I want to decrease any hues of certain colors. You’d be amazed at how much better a photo can look just by simply straightening it & adjusting the exposure.
If you’re on a budget, don’t want strangers in your home taking photos during a pandemic or are like me and can’t stomach paying hundreds of dollars for photos you can take yourself try out these tips!
I decided to compile a list of some of the things I’ve been loving this pregnancy – I would say this second time around I’m way more relaxed & honestly have barely bought or started planning anything (and I’m nearly 30 weeks!). By 30 weeks with Will we already had 80% of the nursery done, I’d had my babyshower & was elbows deep in organizing baby gear. I think this is a rather common phenomenon with non first children!
Care Of Vitamins – you might have seen these being promoted by celebs on Instagram, but I tried them & love them. When you’re pregnant you’re taking your vitamins daily & I love that they come in individual packs which are perfect for travelling. And I like that you can change up what comes in the pack every month. When I had really bad morning sickness I was adding B12’s, and now with all the crazy pandemic stuff I’ve added immune support like elderberry & probiotics. I love that I don’t have bottles of vitamins on my counters or cluttering up my cabinets. & the little packs they come in are compostable!!
THESE Old Navy lounge pants. This pregnancy I’m having a hard time finding things I find to be comfortable. I’ll be wearing leggings & or maternity jeans & out of nowhere I’ll be annoyed with how tight around my belly it is. But these bad boys are SO comfortable & so soft. I honestly wear them 5 nights a week! In fact I have a second pair in an online shopping cart.
My Hydroflask! Something I use every.single.day! I’m so thirsty when I’m pregnant or breastfeeding & I crave ICE cold water. I love the hydroflask because it doesn’t sweat, it keeps water cold for hours on end. I usually fill it up with pebble ice from work before I leave and the ice is still solid when I wake up in the morning! I have a narrow bottle which I prefer because it fits in cup holders. Right off the bat it might seem pricey but it’s literally the only water bottle I use & I take it pretty much everywhere I go!
Belly Band – I never wore one during my first pregnancy, but this time around by lower back kills me by the end of the day. I ended up getting one off of amazon that said it was good for back pain, & oh my goodness does it make a difference! I wear it whenever I’m working out (except yoga) & when I’m doing a lot of walking or standing. I usually end up wearing it in the afternoon when I’m running around chasing Will, & standing to cook dinner. At less than $25 it’s worth it if you’re struggling with lower back pain & still have months till delivery!
Thred Up – this online second hand retailer is awesome in general but it’s for sure a favorite when pregnant. I hate shelling out full price stuff for maternity jeans, shorts, dresses etc. Usually maternity stuff is lightly used & less than half priced – WIN WIN! I also use thred up to clean out my closet. You can order a clean out bag for fee & they’ll send you a bag that’s already had a shipping label on it & you fill it up with your items & ship it back – they’ll pay you for any items they choose to list & donate whatever they don’t want! Talk about easy!
This one you don’t have to be pregnant to enjoy, I recently ordered DAE hair shampoo & conditioner & have been LOVING it. It’s a little on the pricier side but it’s a super clean product – free of sulfates, parabens, formaldehyde, less than 1% synthetic fragrance. I’ve dabbled in pricier hair stuff before & always been left a little unimpressed, but this stuff seriously makes my hair SO soft & way less frizzy when air dries!
On Sunday we celebrated William’s 2nd birthday in quarantine style. Since we couldn’t celebrate in person with all our family & friends we tried to still make it feel very much like a birthday party! I stuck with my original theme Two The Moon theme. William helped bake his cake the night before, he was so into it. I’ve fallen in love with King Arthur Flour Co! I used their gluten free, soy free chocolate cake mix, it was delicious. And then I attempted my first balloon arch, it was kind of a pain to hang it up on the wall but overall it was fairly easy & I think it turned out SUPER cute! We had a zoom family call in the morning where Will got to open his presents & everyone sang & we ate cake! We got Will a scooter, our upstairs neighbor’s daughter has one & he has been eyeing it for months – he got a chance to ride it over Easter & took to it right away so it was a no brainer. I don’t know if it’s the fact that there’s a pandemic happening, or the fact that I’m very pregnant but this birthday felt so emotional compared to turning one! Do other mamas feel this way??
Here’s the link to the scooter we got William – I’m impressed with the quality.
A few weeks ago we went to Scottsdale to celebrate my 30th birthday. It was such a fun long weekend. My best friend & my parents joined us & it was so low key & relaxing. We stayed at the Scottsdale Mccormick Ranch which has an awesome pool, that you can walk into. Will LOVED it. He was so brave and would just walk right in, which had us realizing he needs swim lessons ASAP because he has no concept of what to do when he gets too deep (literally). We also went and saw a Giants preseason game, which is always fun. All in all it was a great weekend with great food & even better company & it definitely felt like a special way to ring in 30. (which I still can’t believe I am!)