Pivot

It’s a term companies use right when they’re about to go under and are grasping for a chance to stay alive. They hope that by changing their process, market or focus they’ll find that missing link that was keeping them from success. Well, my friends, I’m at that crossroad. After clocking in at my day job, I come home to start my second shift – feeding the kids and getting them to bed. Usually, the kids are down by 9 at which point round three starts – trying to get MomCom going. With only 24 hours in the day, I don’t have as much time as I’d like to spend on MomCom. And those few precious hours are cut even shorter to maintain this blog. Thus, the impasse. As much as I’ve enjoyed writing these blog posts, I have to remember the bigger picture and that is MomCom. So I’m putting a hold on the blog indefinitely. I’ll write from time to time and will keep you in the loop on MomCom’s progress but it’ll be periodic, not consistent. Hopefully something awesome will happen soon so I’ll have some news to report back. So don’t forget about me completely and check back once in a while. And thanks so much for sticking with me this far – I promise I’ll be back.

 

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“What’s for dinner?” (Meal Planning 101)

If you are like me, I absolutely hate the question, “What’s for dinner?” and I usually try to ask it to my husband before he can ask me.  As a mommy of 3 littles, I have tried so many different ways to deal with this question. Here are a few recommendations for services and apps to help with your dreaded meal planning for the week:

Meal Subscription Services: Recipes and Ingredients will be sent to you on a weekly basis

  • PLATED: A bit more pricey than some of the other options but they also provide more options.  For example, if you pick the 3 meal per week version, you will be able to pick the three recipes /  meals from 9 options.  For 2 people 3x per week you will pay $74.  If you prefer 4 meals per week it is $96. Many subscribers noted that this is a good choice for a couple, not a family.
  • BLUE APRON: Seems to be the winner among these types of subscription services because the price is a bit more palatable and the recipes are yummy and interesting but not super difficult.  For 2 people, BLUE APRON will run you $59.94 per week for 3 meals.  For a family option, you will pay $69.92 for 2 meals a week and $139.84 for 4 meals per week.
  • HELLO FRESH: The comments in regards to this subscription is that the recipes and ingredients are very basic but still very fresh. This may be a better option for people or families who want very healthy meals.  For 2 person meals 3 times per week, it will cost $69.  For 3 meals a week for a family of 4, it is $129.
As you can see, these are not cheap / inexpensive services and will cost more than if you were to do your own meal planning and shopping list and shopping but let’s be honest, you are paying for convenience and the comfort of not having to think about what is for dinner a few nights a week.
Another option that I have tried is Fresh 20 which sends the customer a list of 5 recipes per week and the shopping list.  The idea is that you only have to purchase 20 fresh food items from the grocery store in order to make all of the recipes.  Initially, I liked this concept because it helped me not waste food and I felt like the recipes were pretty healthy.  I have friends that really love this option but I haven’t been able to keep up with it.  I live overseas though and some of the items just aren’t available to me. This is an inexpensive choice with an annual price of $65, 3 months for $24, and 1 month for $10.
If meal subscription services aren’t your thing and you are a meal planning pro, you may still find these well loved apps helpful:
  • Cook Smarts:  This is similar to Fresh 20 where they will send you recipes and shopping lists for the week. Their aim is to help people improve their cooking skills while making meal planning easier. This will cost you $6 per month
  • Pepperplate:  This is a free app where you are able to import recipes and the app will help you organize them.
  • Ziplist: This is a free app with a shopping tool and organizer
  • Plan To Eat: Helps to organize recipes by incorporating your calendar and a shopping list generator.
  • Paprika:  Another recipe manager with list generator.
As you can see, there are various tools available to help you with your meal planning… now it is a matter of what suits you and your family.  We would love if you comment with your thoughts / ideas on meal planning and what works well for you!

Confessions of a Temper Tantrum Survivor

Hello Readers! Our good friend, Pamela, is sharing her experiences dealing with the terrible twos as a stay-at-home mom of two kids – Aubrey, 2 1/2, and Evan, 9 months. The terrible twos – that dreaded stage where tantrums can hit without any warnings, test your every nerve, patience and sanity and leave behind a trail of destruction. No shelter can shield it, no parent is immune to it, no discipline/punishment/method/medicine/bribe can prevent it. You just have to buckle down and weather the storm as best as you can. To Pamela and all the parents of toddlers – godspeed.

I think it is safe to say we are in full fledge tantrum hell.  Our little soon to be threeanger is a completely different creature than the sweet baby girl who graced our lives these past 2 ½ years.  Don’t get me wrong – she is still my best friend and the sweetest girl that I have ever met (of course I say that because she’s deliciously mine). However, this sweet baby girl has an attitude of a teenager girl and no fear of public shame.

I think my all-time low came in the parking lot of Home Depot.  It was a beautiful day, one of the first warm days of 2016, Aubrey (my soon threeanger) and I were out pretty much all day.  It was as perfect as it can be.  With a 9 month old baby boy, it’s rare to get any alone time so I really relished this girls day for us.  We picked out some flowers then walked a few doors down to get some pizza together.  On the way back to the car, I needed to change her soiled pull-up.  As I removed her pants and diapers, she decided she didn’t want to be clothed from the waist down.  She threw a tantrum in the middle of the parking lot.  With safety and sanitary means in mind I couldn’t just leave her to throw her tantrum.  It was nearly impossible to physically hold her up so I gave her a warning then a spanking.  At this point, she really didn’t care about being spanked or the punishment.  She was going to have her tantrum.

Strangers stared as I struggled to physically hold this demon possessed child in my arms, trying not to restrain her too hard so she doesn’t get hurt.  Finally I managed to get her pull-up on and into her carseat.  A mere seconds later she was cheerful, happy and snacking on her gold fish crackers.  I looked back while driving home and gave her a smile all the while thinking in my head, my child is certifiable.

Sounds familiar?  Well, it’s our life right now.  A tantrum of some sort or intensity occurs at least once a day.  I used to be confused and try to reason or discipline her during these outbursts…bribery, coercion, yelling, threats, etc.  What I realized is that my emotions only added to the steam and made me regret my own behavior later on.  I’ve learned what works for us for now, is for me to pray in silence for patience and God’s grace.  Then I wait for the tantrum to run its course.

I often feel defeated and a failure as a parent.  However, Aubrey and I are starting to discuss her misbehavior after a fit.  She and I agree that she was not listening and obeying.  Sometimes she will even imitate her own hysterical behavior. We’ll laugh and then I set forth the privileges she’s lost due to the tantrum.  At best, we have found a way to cope with these dismays.  At worst, I dread the imminent coming of the next tantrum.  I try to stay positive and think about the countless parents who have endured and survived.  My husband and I encourage each other to look forward to the end of this phase.  After all, God’s promise is that “this too shall pass”, right?  In the meantime, I find myself anywhere between laughing or crying at the thought of my daughter’s terrible tantrums.

Transitions: This one is for the mommies

You know the age old “mommy wars” – outside of home working mom versus stay at home (also working) mom??  Yeah, I’m pretty sure most moms do not even see this as a real point of contention. Let’s face it, we all know that raising kids (regardless of what else you are doing) is way harder than any other thing we could possibly do… that is why God created wine :).  I have had the pleasure of experiencing both scenarios and love things about staying home while I also really love things about working outside of the home.  I am literally writing this on the eve of transitioning back to working full time after staying home with my three littles for the past year and a half.  The emotions are endless and way more exhausting than I thought they would be.  Let’s face it, I worked full time up until we picked up our little family of 5 and moved to Seoul, Korea a year and a half ago. At that point, I had to quit my full time job in order to move across the world, but hey, there was a new adventure brewing. I spent the next year and a half working as a taxi driver (not paid, of course, because my kids only make 1 dollar a week for allowance). I loved almost every minute of it. There was laughter and tears and a lot of candy bribes. Overall, I consider myself lucky to have the chance to experience that with my kids.

Tomorrow, I will return to work full time at the US embassy and I am excited as ever.  A new challenge awaits, new things to learn and people to meet.  However, tears will flow tonight. I will doubt myself and wonder if I am doing the right thing. I will worry about my kids endlessly.  Will they miss me in the afternoons after school? Will they resent that they cannot do all of the fun extra-curricular activities they used to do?  Will they feel a bit abandoned by me?  The likely answer is yes to all of these, at some point. But that is okay!  As Mothers we will constantly second guess ourselves and how we are doing.  We will sometimes wonder if we made the wrong choice or if our kids could be happier.  We will sometimes worry and stress.  Knowing that, I’m ready. I’m ready to show my kids that their mommy can pursue her interests and still be an amazing parent to them.  I say all of this to get it off my chest but to also say that I have been on both sides of this so called, “mommy war” and it doesn’t exist.  We are all just doing what we need to for our families and ourselves. Support each other because we all need someone to say that we are doing a great job once in a while.  Great job mommies!!! Now, I’m off to prep lunches, school clothes and dust off my work clothes… wish me luck

The In-Between: Post Partum Fashion

When I gave birth to my first daughter in 2008, I’m sure I was the joke of the day for the nursing staff.  I literally gave birth and then pulled out my carefully packed hospital bag and asked the nurse how I was supposed to wear my (pre-preggo) jeans and thong underwear with all of the other stuff that you have to wear after birth.  I seriously had no clue.  And it didn’t end there…. I returned home to some maternity leave and then returned to work a few months later with no clue what to wear for months on end.  I find that post partum wardrobes are discussed but only in regards to the immediate post partum time frame. What about women like me, who happen to not return to their pre-pregnancy weight / size for quite a while, if not ever?

I came to the realization that I quickly became too small for my maternity clothing and too big for my pre-mommy clothes but that really left me with nothing to wear other than pajamas and spandex (not the hottest thing to wear when you aren’t feeling superhot to begin with).  Pajamas, sweats and the like were all fine and good until I wanted to go out somewhere in the real world.  Returning to work also proved difficult.  Not only did I have to tear myself away from my little one but I felt like I either looked like I was swimming in my clothes or I had squeezed myself into a skirt suit that was way too small.  Not to mention, any nursing mothers will know that as the hours pass, anything that seemed to fit well before you left the house, now is obscenely small in the chest area… the epitome of “Not Safe for Work”!

The tough thing here is that, not only do we not have time to shop as new moms but we also don’t necessarily want to spend a lot of money on clothes that we will possibly not be wearing for that long.  By the way, why hasn’t someone started a post partum clothing line??? Perhaps there is one and I just haven’t found it but, BRILLIANT!

Here are a few tips that will help you feel great and still allow you enough money to buy toys, food and all that other expensive baby stuff:

Wear a tank top under your shirt.  This will allow you to nurse easily if nursing and will help you feel a bit more secure about your tummy area. I was a nursing mommy for all three of my littles so I wore tanks that I could easily pull down from the top to nurse – this allowed me to pull up my top shirt without exposing my midsection to everyone and freezing to death in the winter months. I also am a fan of the slimming (tight fitting) tanks / camisoles to wear under things because it feels like everything is being held in.

Awesome accessories:  I totally believe in accessorizing paired with solid basics.  You can wear slimming, sophisticated colors like black but it will look so much cooler paired with a gorgeous long necklace. You may have to forego huge statement pieces but a long, eye catching necklace will help direct someone’s eye and just make you feel good. Bracelets are great but sometimes bulky and can just plain get in the way when dealing with a baby so feel free to ditch or if you are going out for the night, sport a gorgeous bangle. No need for too much but it will make you feel like you put some effort in.

I love this necklace from Coco Hill:

necklace

When in doubt and you don’t want to use a necklace, I would add some small gold or silver earrings that baby can’t tug on but will gain you points on the sophistication scale and make you feel more polished.

Jeggings and leggings – The obvious way to look pretty chic but also feel comfortable. The great thing about leggings is that they go perfectly with something loose on top. I like to pair them with something a little longer that covers my rear such as tunics, long shirts, or cardigans. I love Zella leggings because they are thick, not see through and they hold their color. Ingrid and Isabel make some great black maternity leggings and you can fold down the top after baby for continued use!

Tunics, blouses, and cardigans / Shawls. I’m just going to come out and say it: tunics are awesome. They are long enough to cover the booty but short enough to still be categorized as a shirt so you can wear leggings underneath and not worry about shaving your legs. Tunics + leggings are an easy and fantastic combo for weekends or work at home mommas. For a casual look, a bright colored shirt may work well for you and make you feel like you are sporting something other than black. If you have to go into an office, I would opt for a blazer or a cute longer cardigan to feel comfortable but still look stylish. Long cardigans are a must actually if you want to hide any lumps or bumps. Anthropologie has a great assortment of cardigans and shawls.

cardigan

If you google this topic, you will see a lot of people mention wearing comfortable flats. I would disagree unless the outfit calls for flats. I love me some heels and, let’s face it, you have probably been in flats for months while you were pregnant so I say glam it up with some gorgeous heels. Wedges or shoes with a thicker heel can help the transition be a little easier. It will make you feel sexy, fun and will even make your work outfit feel more polished and professional.

Dresses:  If you have a baby near the summer months, consider yourself lucky. You can throw on some maxi dresses and slip out the door looking cute as can be!  Flowy skirts and dresses are every woman’s best friend when it is warm and sunny outside.  I personally prefer solid or block colors as opposed to prints when I feel like I need something flattering. Something along these lines would be beautiful:

skirt

I also love blouses but I personally always need a camisole of some sort underneath or my belly feels a little too “out there”… if you know what I mean.

Office Look:  For the office, invest in some nice black pants that fit well and make you feel good. These are a good investment… even if you end up losing baby weight, you can have them tailored and still wear them.  If you are going to spend some money, spend it on nice black pants.  Black for work is very slimming, makes you feel great and works well.  You can pair this look with a few accessories and look and feel fantastic!

Now, let’s be honest… your outfit can be amazing but if your hair and makeup are a mess, it’s all for not.  The problem here is time… moms just don’t have it! So let’s go over some great hair and makeup hacks, tricks and ideas to help you look and feel your best:

If you can, splurge on a trip to the salon within the first three months of having your baby!  It will make you feel great.  If you don’t want a cut or color, you can always make your way to a blowdry bar and pamper yourself a bit.  Dry shampoo will seriously be your BFF… don’t leave home without it. A favorite is Kevin Murphy Doo Over – it smells great and it’s a combination dry shampoo and setting spray. If you don’t have a great dry shampoo on hand, you can also use translucent face powder on your roots!

Now on to make-up!  I was never great at makeup and to be honest, my “day” and “night” makeup looked exactly the same. That, added to having three kids and no time, makeup took a backseat.  I treated myself to a skype one on one makeup course with Behrens Artistry which has helped me in so many ways.  Let’s make this simple and quick because most women just don’t have time in the morning… kids or not.  Start with some concealer like a BB or CC cream (there are so many great brands but I love SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense Sunscreen SPF 50 or BeautyCounter’s Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer).  Throw on some blush or you can even use lipstick as blush if you don’t have any with you, some mascara and lipgloss and you are out the door!  I also have been known to use a little oil (like BeautyCounter’s Lustro Oil) as a hightlighter (dab some down the bridge of your nose and under your eyes / on your cheekbones).

Let us know your post-partum fashion thoughts!! This is a beautiful time in life and you should feel beautiful too!