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How to handle the holidays with children

>> Thursday, December 20, 2012

Your first holiday as a family with children can be quite a bit different than your childless holidays.  From family gatherings to your typical traditions, your experiences may be very different with an infant or toddler.  Here are some general guidelines that may help you and your family through your first holiday season together.

- You may have to skip things, or spend less time at gatherings.  With a new baby, most times you will suffer the consequences of throwing them off their routine for days after the actual event you attend.  If you're willing to accept that fact, then go right on ahead and do everything like you did the year before.  If you're not, then chances are you'll have to plan your holiday get together's around your baby's schedule.  That may mean skipping later parties or only coming and staying for an hour or skipping the sit-down meal.

- Keep extra sets of clothes in your car or diaper bag.  Chances are either you or your babe are going to end up with some sort of explosion on you, whatever kind that may be, and it always ends up happening when you're already dressed for the event.  Keep an extra set of clothes handy for both you and baby!

- Try Santa pictures with your babe, but be prepared for it to not work.  Most parents who celebrate Christmas look forward to their child's first picture with Santa, but it can go from a fun experience to a meltdown in record time.  Plan ahead to have one parent close to your child and one parent taking extra pictures, because you are going to need to double team this one in case of a scary Santa encounter.

- Make your own new holiday traditions.  Sure, it's easy to focus on how different the holidays will be from now on initially, but there are plenty of new traditions you can develop for your own family.  Have a cranky little one?  Try putting them in their car seat for a drive while you and your significant other or spouse looks at holiday lights.  Calming for the baby, fun for mom & dad.

What are some ways your holidays have changed since having a child?


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>> Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The winner of the Milan Maternity Fall/Winter giveaway chosen by random.org is:

Beth R, please email service@milanmaternity.com by December 22 11:59 pm to claim your prize or another winner will be chosen.



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Stand by holiday gifts

>> Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It seems like every holiday season, there is ALWAYS someone who buys you a gift that you hadn't thought to reciprocate.  As a new parent, this is somewhat more difficult, because it isn't always easy just to run out and pick something up, wrap it, and have a nice card prepared.  Here are a few good standby options of gifts to keep just in case:

1.  Soaps.  Everyone uses soap, right?  This is an easy, although somewhat tried method.

2. Movie passes or gift cards.  Having a night out is a fun time for most everyone I know, and getting to do it on someone else's dime makes it even more enjoyable.  I'd certainly not turn down a free movie night out!

3. A movie rental voucher and some popcorn/snacks in a small basket.  Same idea as above, just at home!  Pajamas not included.  :)

4.  A grocery store or gas card.  Because, after the holiday season, everyone could use some free groceries.

These are some great go-to options for a quick card or gift to give to someone you may have omitted from your holiday gift list.  Best thing about ALL of these gifts?  If you don't need to use one or all of them as a back up gift, they are all really functional things that YOU can use, so they won't go to waste!

What are your standby gifts for the holiday season?


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Another review and DON'T FORGET THE GIVEAWAY!!

>> Monday, December 17, 2012

Don't forget to enter the giveaway for one of the new Fall/Winter Milan Maternity tops!  Click here to find out how to enter!  You have until 11:59 tonight!

Now, when it comes to my wardrobe, there are two colors I have a lot of.  Something that I think everyone should have a lot of.  Because they are easy colors, can go with almost anything, and it's simple to pair it with what you need to.  Those two colors are brown and black.

And that is why when the new Milan Maternity Fall/Winter tops came out, I also had to have the Julietta in French Roast.  Brown is a great go-to color.  And this top is great for pregnancy, that transition period after having a baby, AND nursing!  It's comfortable no matter what stage you're in, and it's cute with the ruffle details and buttons and empire waist.

You pretty much can't go wrong with it!  So make sure you enter the giveaway so you can enter to win a new top of your own!


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Fall/Winter Collection Review and GIVEAWAY!!!

>> Monday, December 10, 2012

Hi, everyone!  It's me, aniC, back for a review and giveaway!

 Now that I have a 5 week old baby, I'm reminded about this phase.  The phase when my regular clothes aren't fitting but I want to be done with most maternity clothes and they don't fit right either.  Not to mention needing clothes that are conducive to having a nursing baby.  So I was excited for the new Milan Maternity tops for fall/winter to came out.  I always love the transitional and nursing tops.

I was immediately drawn to the Rosalie top.  Specifically the Rosalie in Liberty Green.  I absolutely loved the color.  I absolutely loved the ruffle detail.  And I absolutely loved the color of the vintage buttons in contrast of the color.  And not only did I love the Rosalie in Liberty Green, but also in Raisin.  I had to have them both!

When I got them, I wasn't disappointed.  The colors really are great.  The material is soft and the fit is great for a postpartum body.  And of course the the inner tank inside that can be lifted to use for discreet nursing is great.  My only complaint:  They didn't come out until after I had the baby.  I would have loved to have worn them as maternity wear!!

Now, wouldn't you love to win the Rosalie, or one of the other awesome new fall/winter tops?!?  You can!

Here's how to enter (remember to leave a separate comment for each thing you do)

1) Go to the Milan Maternity website and tell us which new item you would like if you win.

2) Share this giveaway with one of the "share buttons" at the bottom of this post. It's super easy to share on Facebook, twitter, your blog, or e-mail! (One entry for each way shared, and for each day shared, leave a separate comment for each)

3)Follow Milan Maternity on Facebook , follow this blog, follow Milan Maternity on Twitter , post one of our buttons on your blog and leave the link (leave a separate comment for each )

4)Pin your favorite top on Pinterest with "I want to win this in the Milan Maternity giveaway.  You can enter, too: http://milanmaternity.blogspot.com/2012/12/fallwinter-collection-review-and.html"   Leave a link showing your pin.

Good luck!  Giveaway ends Monday December 17, 11:59 pm.


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Child-proofing your holiday decorations

Imagine your holiday home for a moment.

A fire crackling in the fireplace, a tree trimmed with sparkling lights and bright ornaments, wrapped gifts sitting underneath the tree, and a glass of egg nog in your hands.

Then open your eyes, and remember that you have a toddler.  And that whole scenario is one big pit of danger.  But, it doesn't have to be one scary toddler death trap after another, and here's how:

- Learn where to scale back.  Don't put packages or presents near or under the tree until Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.  Otherwise, you risk your toddler not only damaging the gifts or the packaging, but also moving them around the room to use as stools to get up on other furniture.  Keep candles out of reach or completely away for a few years until your little one gets a bit bigger.

- Baby gates are your friend.  While it may not look beautiful, putting a play yard around your tree will help to keep your child away from your tree for a few Christmas seasons when fun and new shiny things go into their little hands and mouths.  Not to mention if the tree is off limits completely, your little one can't climb on it or pull it down.

- If you do opt for decorations, try safer alternatives.  Plastic ornaments and ribbons are excellent alternatives to traditional ornaments and decorations.  Adding larger bells onto your tree or around your home on your decor can alert you to when your child is getting into something, if your eyes are not always able to be on them.  Stuffed holiday toys like reindeer and elves can provide a safer look of the holidays in your home.

- Keep child-safe rooms.  If you want your holiday decor to remain somewhat similar to before having children, make sure that you have designated play rooms where your child can't get into your decor.

What are you doing to keep your holidays child-safe?


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How to pack your hospital bag

>> Tuesday, December 4, 2012

As your pregnancy nears toward the third trimester, a lot of mothers begin to think about packing their hospital bag.  While this is an extremely personal task to complete, there are several guidelines that help to cut down on some of the confusion or constant questioning in packing your bag.

1.  Check with your hospital's guidelines before you begin to pack.  Depending on your hospital, there may be some restrictions as to what items you may bring with you.  While it seems like a silly thought, it's better to be safe than sorry if they have restrictions!

2. Plan well!  Many women tend to be over-packers.  Give yourself an estimate of 3-5 days and think about the bare minimal things you will need for those days.  2-3 pairs of pajamas, an outfit for you to go home in, an outfit for baby to go home in, the car seat, toiletries, etc.  Begin with only the basics, and make sure you're not over packing those!

3. Talk to other mothers who've delivered at the same hospital.  Many/most hospitals provide you with items like underwear, feminine hygiene items, diapers for baby, etc.  Speaking with another mother who has recently delivered at the same hospital can help you know what items won't be necessary to pack.

4. Pack questionable items in a second bag that stays in the car.  Some items, while may be helpful, are not necessary.  We packed a breastfeeding pillow, but ended up leaving it in the car.  I brought a straightener and blow dryer for my hair, and didn't use either.  For my second birth, those items will be packed, but stay in a separate bag left in the car to save space in the hospital room.

5. Know yourself.  If you always wear at least a little makeup, bring a small makeup bag with the essentials. Unless you have visitors 24/7- you'll have time, even if you don't have energy.  If you aren't a TV watcher, but stay connected to the Internet, then make sure you bring your laptop or some movies.  But if at home your TV and smart phone are enough, chances are they will be enough to occupy your free time at the hospital as well.  No need to bring your laptop, a personal DVD player, your smart phone, and 10 DVDs.  There is a very small likelihood you'll use ALL of that.

6. Plan ahead on someone who can pick something up for you.  If you have a person with access to your home in advance, you'll likely pack lighter and not stress so much over packing your hospital bag.  Most times, a family member or good friend can always make a quick run to pick up something you've forgotten or didn't realize you'd need!

What are some items you plan to pack in your hospital bag?


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Four friends every mother should have

>> Thursday, November 29, 2012

Image by photl.com

Every new mother needs a support group.  Often times friends are a large part of your support, as family tends to be more scattered across the country than it used to be.

Here are a few mom-friends it would be helpful to have:

1. The Helper.  This friend is always willing to lend a hand, whether that be holding your new baby while you shower, throwing in a load of laundry, or bringing you a warm meal.  While these things seem simple and before your child you probably would not ever ask for help in completion of these tasks, after your baby is born having these tasks completed by a willing friend is so beneficial.

2. The Night Owl.  Having a friend who is known to stay up late can be extremely helpful in the first few months of being a parent.  Just knowing that there is a listening ear one text message away at 2 a.m. can be comforting, even if you don't often need to send the message.

3. The been-there-done-that mom.  Everything is extremely new and confusing as a first time parent.  Having a friend who has been through many of the same situations you're encountering can be a blessing.  Being able to use your friend as a sounding board and having someone informal to whom you may ask questions can ease your nerves quite a bit.

4. The friend who doesn't have children.  Many a new mother will tell you, while they LOVE their children and family, there is a good feeling about being able to step out to a dinner or movie just yourself and a close friend.  With your friend who doesn't have children, the conversation won't revolve around your child unless you choose it to do so.  Having a few hours of "me" time can bring you back refreshed and better for your family.

Do you have any friends who were extremely helpful after the birth of your child?


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Cyber Deals-- 30-60% off! Don't Miss!

>> Sunday, November 25, 2012

We've got something exciting lined up for Cyber Monday!  In addition to the 25% off you can save with code "BLKFRI25", and $3 flat rate shipping, we'll be featuring some of our pieces in our "CYBER DEALS" section at 30-60% off!  We'll have at least one maternity/transitional piece and one maternity/nursing piece listed every two hours starting at 8am MST, and ending at 10pm on Cyber Monday.  Here's a sample of some of the pieces you'll see tomorrow, starting at just $13!  Keep a close eye on our FACEBOOK page and don't miss out; we'll post the deals as they change there!

Viviana - Cyber Deal $15
Mia - Cyber Deal $18

Luciana - Cyber Deal $19
Julietta - Cyber Deal $23


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Black Friday/Cyber Monday Milan Maternity Promo

>> Saturday, November 24, 2012

We hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving and a not-to-crazy Black Friday!  Don't forget- some of the best shopping is online!  Through Monday, save 25% off all MM purchases with code "BLKFRI25", and take advantage of our $3 flat rate shipping!  Plus, as a little bonus, we're throwing in a pair of super cute vintage style earrings on all orders over $50!  Here's a little sample of some of the deals you can snag with this code:

Adriana Maternity/Nursing top in Bordeaux
Regular Price: $39
Sale Price: $29.25
Rosella Maternity/Transtional top in Heather Gray
Regular Price: $34
Sale Price: $14.25

Rosalie Maternity/Nursing top in Liberty Green
Regular Price: $39
Sale Price: $29.25
Elisabetta Maternity/Transitional top in Black
Regular Price: $39
Sale Price: $22.50

Luciana Maternity/Nursing top in White Dot
Regular Price: $39
Sale Price: $21.75

Julietta Maternity/Nursing top in French Roast
Regular Price: $36
Sale Price: $27

All orders over $50 get a FREE
pair of vintage style earrings to match their MM purchase!



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How to stay style savvy postpartum

>> Monday, November 19, 2012

Let's be honest.  Postpartum style is hard to achieve.  Not only does your body look like you are still pregnant, but you're barely sleeping, only intermittently eating, and your body is recuperating from your delivery.

Then you add into that scenario the fact that friends and family want to visit, you need to take the baby to doctor's appointments, and need to attend your own doctor's appointments.  In the thick of all of that, you are just trying to look like you hadn't been run over by a mack truck of baby.  :)

However, there are some simple things you can do to look your best:

1.  Ask your significant other (or a support person if available) to give you a half hour each day to shower, brush your teeth, put on a little make-up if you feel so inclined.  Not only will you be more presentable if unannounced guests do arrive, but actually having that shower every day can help you feel like a real human being again for a few minutes.  It is highly worth your time!

2.   Wear clothing that isn't extremely form-fitting.  For MOST women, your body will still look significantly pregnant for some time after you have your baby.  Wearing loose knit tops, sweaters, and blouses can give you a little coverage and modesty- and help you feel more self-confident in entertaining guests.

3.  Style your hair.  I'm not talking about hours with your stylist or curling iron, but you can do something with your hair.  Often a low, messy bun or a quick braid here or there can keep you looking put-together when it's all you can do to get your teeth brushed some days.

4.   Always pack an extra outfit for YOU (and the baby) to keep stored in the car.  If you're on the way to the doctor's office and the baby spits up on you as you leave your car, throwing a quick sweater over your soiled top can fix your situation!

What are some ways you plan to (or have) kept your style postpartum?


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How to find mommy friends

>> Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Image by photl.com

If you happen to be a new mother without any other "mommy friends", the thought of now developing new friendships at this stage of your life can be intimidating.  Here are some options to find other women in your same situation:

1. Join free classes.  Most local libraries offer free classes for mothers and their children.  Becoming involved in these classes opens you and your child up to meeting other mothers and children you'd never have interacted with otherwise.

2. Join support groups.  Some local hospitals run support groups for new parents, new mothers, new fathers, breastfeeding mothers, formula feeding mothers, etc.  A quick call to your hospital can lead you to a group of new friends.  Some communities also offer groups called MOPS, or mothers of preschoolers.  These groups also foster relationships between new mothers in your community.

3. Get out of the house!  Whether it includes walking through your neighborhood, going to a local park, or spending time at a local coffee shop or bookstore with your new babe in tow, you'll always have more opportunity to meet people when you're away from your pajamas and couch!

4. Use the internet.  Babycenter.com, TheBump.com, and several other sites exist with sections of "Mommy Message Boards"- where you are able to message with and connect with other mothers either in your area or across the country for information, friendship, and some support as well.

5. Use your connections.  Don't know any other new mothers, but your friends do?  Ask them to set up a lunch date between you/your babe, your friend, and their friend/their babe.  Blind dating still happens after you have babies!  If things go well, you can always ask to meet up for a play date or park get together!

What are some ways you've met new friends after becoming a mother?


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A review of the Marianna top

>> Tuesday, October 9, 2012

If you don't own the Marianna maternity/nursing top from Milan Maternity, you seriously need to grab this soon for your closet!  I was able to snag the Marianna top in both white and blue, and I just LOVE these shirts.  Check them out below, and then let me tell you why :)

Let's start with the logistics of the top.  Per the Milan Maternity shop, it is a "henley maternity top with pintuck detail and mandarin collar. 3/4 length button cuff sleeves. Unbutton to desired length and lift up the inner tank sheath for modest and discreet nursing."  It is really nicely fitted in the chest and arms but does allow some room with their again awesomely stretchy material around the waist to accommodate your growing babe.  

This shirt hits all of the top marks for me:  It is REALLY easy to nurse in, it is form fitting while still being modest and appropriate, and it makes my flabby mama arms look amazing!  The best part about this shirt though?  You can practically pair it with almost anything.  I've worn this top on cooler summer days with a pair of shorts or a pair of capri pants, as well as I'm now wearing it in the fall temperatures with jeans or khakis.  I definitely forsee it being something I'll add a scarf or a light jacket to in the fall and wear throughout that season as well.  The fabric is light and airy, but clings to your skin so it does provide some warmth when in cooler temperatures.  I am so glad I decided on getting both colors of this top, I could wear this all week!
Hint, hint Milan Maternity!  Make more colors of this top! :)

What do you like most about the Marianna top?


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Avoiding unwanted pregnancy advice

>> Thursday, October 4, 2012

Let's face it.  Pregnancy brings about so many wonderful, amazing things, but it also brings out SO much unwanted advice from friends, relatives, medical personnel, and heck, even strangers get in on the action!  No matter where you stand on any issue of parenting, child-raising, or even how you approach your pregnancy, there is always going to be someone who did things differently than you did or will, and they surely just have to tell you about it.  Here are some tips and tricks I've used during both of my pregnancies to avoid unwanted advice.

For whatever reason, a lot of the pregnancy advice I was given both times around was from strangers.  I don't know if I had a sign on my forehead that prompted people to come up to me and discuss my bump, but it happened a lot.  My main go-to in this situation was to pretend I didn't hear them or was too engrossed in what I was doing.  Mainly, I could tell by their first remark if it was going to be a good or bad conversation, for example, when an elderly woman recently pointed at my belly and said to me, "I know what you've been doing!"  Um, yep.  When I start to hear those remarks straight out of the gate, I get really interested in what I was doing and pretend either I didn't hear them, or didn't know they were talking to me.  It seriously works like a charm for people you don't know, I promise!

I've also found during my second pregnancy, that so many less people attempt to give me advice when I am either with my toddler or when I tell them I have a toddler at home already.  I wish I would have known this the first time around, because it if would have avoided some of those awkward conversations with strangers, I may have just fibbed a little and said I already had a child at home.

For people who know me, however, it is a little tougher.

Over the phone?  My husband happens to be on the other line sometimes, or all of a sudden, "Oh, shoot, little man is getting into XYZ, gotta go!" both seem to be really excellent ways to politely end the conversation.

In person?  Well, if you really know them (like well-intended family member advice), there is always the I have to use the ladies' room for the 50th time this hour excuse.

If push comes to shove though, and you find yourself being given advice that is either completely unwanted or totally opposite of how you plan on doing things, you may have to just grin and bear it.  I've found that just nodding and smiling works wonders to end the conversation sooner, because if you disagree, most of the advisers are going to try and tell you why you're wrong, which is always fun.  And, being polite and nodding through a few short conversations isn't going to hurt anyone sometimes.

What is some of the worst advice you've been given while pregnant?


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Make-up Tips During Pregnancy

>> Monday, October 1, 2012

Anyone who has been pregnant can tell you- it's not all glow and beauty.  Pregnancy is an amazing, beautiful thing, but to be honest, you may not always feel the most beautiful during certain parts.  Along the way during pregnancy, there are several tips and techniques that make looking great just a little bit easier, especially when it comes to make-up.

1.  Keep it light!  Especially during the first trimester, it is really tempting to layer on the make-up to cover up how tired or sick you may feel.  But adding on extra layers of concealer, foundation, powder, etc. can just lead to looking cakey and overdone.  As you get into the end of the third trimester, many women experience swelling, and your face is not immune to this.  A swollen face caked with make-up is not the look you're going for!

2. Watch your products!  In my first trimester during my second pregnancy, I broke out with more acne than I had ever had in my life.  However, most face washes, scrubs, or treatments were very harsh and drying to my skin.  Your skin can react completely differently to the same exact products you previously used prior to your pregnancy, so be careful that your lotions, washes, and scrubs aren't making the problem worse!

3. Waterproof is key for your eye make-up.  I'll just leave it at a few key words to explain: morning sickness, hormones, and happiness.  Enough said. :)

4. Highlight, highlight, highlight!  A good highlighting cream or powder when applied sparingly to the right places can completely wake up your face in a fresh and glowing way.  Putting a few dabs or sweeps on your upper cheekbones, right below the crook of your eyebrow, and close to your tear duct on the inside of your eye, when done lightly, can really give you back that glow, even when you don't feel so glowing!

5. Find a safe sunscreen and use it.  During pregnancy, as we mentioned before, your skin changes and reacts differently to your products, your make-up, and the environment.  While your face may not have suffered a sunburn before, it may now.  Keep your skin healthy by protecting it!

What are some tips and tricks you use in your make-up routine while pregnant?


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A review of the Lauretta top

>> Thursday, September 20, 2012

While browsing through the Milan Maternity store, the first shirt that jumped out to me was the Lauretta top. How cute are those buttons on the sleeves?  I knew I had to have it.  So, naturally, it was the first top I ordered from the Milan Maternity site, and I'd love to share here just why I love it so much more now that I own it.

I've compiled a list of important features in maternity/nursingwear and organized my review with those guidelines in mind below:

- Style:  This section is an obvious win just by looking at the Lauretta top above.  Just because you are trying to fit a pregnant body doesn't mean you need to wear a tent.  And the Lauretta top oozes with trendy fall fashion to me.  I picture it with a pair of cute jeans, a pair of boots, a printed scarf, and a cup of hot chocolate on a crisp fall day.  Perfection.

- Comfort: I border on being size medium or large in different brands, so it is always a gamble on where I'll fall in a new brand.  I ordered this top in a medium, and was second guessing my choice when I saw how small it looked in the box.  However, once I put the top on, it was completely stretchy and oh-so-comfortable.  I wore this through a full day of work, chasing after my toddler, errands and grocery shopping, and even giving my dogs a bath, and it still felt comfortably stretchy without becoming loose or baggy, like so many other maternity shirts of different brands.  When I read in the item description for the top that you can wear this AFTER you have the baby, I was questioning just how nice the shirt would look at that point.  But I can tell you right now after wearing it, this is 100% a shirt I can and will wear after I deliver my child.  It has enough stretch to make it look like a normal, ruched shirt, even at the end of the day.

- Modesty:  (Yes, this is a feature I look for!)  Most maternity tops I have from my first pregnancy were not designed with increased chest size in mind.  I constantly felt like I was either showing too much or looking like a nun, with no in between.  The Lauretta top does a wonderful job of keeping everything in the right place and being modest while still looking young.  A+ in this category!

- Nursing:  Since I am still nursing my toddler, the nursing access feature was one I was able to try immediately, instead of having to wait until I give birth to baby #2.  I also own a few nursing tops from my first child, and let me tell you- this top is WAY easier and more convenient than anything I have!  The cowl neckline lifts up and the lower seam of the neckline folds down (you can see the seam in the picture above) in order to give you discreet nursing coverage.  My main problem with most nursing tops is that the panels/openings try to be so discreet that there is too much fabric, and it interferes with baby's nursing.  None of that problem here, as the stretchy fabric moved away where I wanted it to, and stayed put without me constantly having to mess with it while my son was nursing.  Excellent!

Overall, the Lauretta top is high on my list of maternity/nursing shirts, and probably the number one shirt in my closet that I am reaching for now that the weather is getting a bit cooler around here.  My only complaint?  Make it in more colors!!! :)


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Dressing Your Pregnant Body

>> Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Being pregnant is a blessed time in your life whether you're sick and tired all the time or not, that little love is growing inside of you giving you that pregnant mommy glow. However being pregnant doesn't always make you feel like a glowing mommy to be, especially when it comes to fashion and dressing your body. The more woman I talk to the more I realize that a lot of woman don't feel fashionable or gorgeous during pregnancy and they definitely should. I think part of this reason is that we don't know how to dress ourselves, many hide behind over-sized t-shirts that don't fit or show off that bump, making them feel bigger than they really are.

Let me just say before I say anymore.. I'm not one of those pregnant ladies that don't gain any weight during their pregnancy, I start out fairly small and immediately gain a lot of water weight only to gain 50+ pounds each and every single one of my pregnancies before it's all over with. Let me share a little something with you that I've learned now that I'm on my fourth pregnancy. No matter what your size you can dress and look good. How you ask? Let me tell you.. forget everything you looked good in before pregnancy (this may not be for all) especially if your body is warping into something new. Just because everyone else looks good in it, doesn't mean it's for you. Find the appropriate size, try on as many pieces as you need too and if it doesn't look good and that's the trend, don't wear/buy it. Don't be afraid to show off your bump.. after all it's a baby in there!

Here's a few apparel tips that might help you no matter what your size.

Ruched sided shirts look really great on many woman, accentuating the bump and helps hide any rolls that may start on the side. You don't have to buy tons of different sizes because a lot of times ruched sided shirts will grow with you. This is a life-saver for me because I go from a small to a large x-large and who wants to buy all those sizes?

Under the belly waisted shirts, you know they get tight around the bottom. I like these especially as I get bigger. You don't look like your shirt is just going out and then straight down. Shows off the bump which I love! 

Don't be afraid to wear panties that slim you, but are made for pregnant woman and will stretch with your body. There is no reason you can't keep things slim and looking smooth. Throw on a camisole under your clothing just to slim things out, doesn't show as many rolls (I love this whether your pregnant or not), camisoles are a must!

Pants/Jeans - so many.. find the correct fit. If you want to wear skinny jeans make sure they aren't too tight and if you have bigger thighs pair them with flat boots to balance them out. My thighs get big during pregnancy so I find skinny jeans can be touchy. A nice boot cut is classic and can really make you feel good, go with a darker wash. Find pants that are going to stay up and yes this can take some work. High panels, low panels, no panels, find something that's going to stay up and feel comfortable and you'll look great!

Accessorize - it's hard to buy tons when pregnant when your body is changing a lot but jazz it up with a scarf, necklaces, earrings, bracelet and it can change up your entire look. Enjoy being pregnant and don't feel like you have to wear over-sized baggy men's t-shirts. You're beautiful and you should feel great too!


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Road Trips with Children

>> Thursday, September 13, 2012

My husband and I both love road trips. We love the time in the car to do nothing but chat. We love how much the landscape can change over the course of one day on the road. And we love ending up in a place that is so different than daily life. This passion is something that we wanted to pass on to our kids. We’ve gone on a couple of road trips now with children and I’ve learned a few things along the way…some of them being invaluable to us. I wanted to share, because I can’t imagine road tripping without these tips!

Our most recent road trip we took was just last month, and we drove Banff, Alberta. It was a 17 hour car ride (one way) from where we live in the Portland Metro area.

Image via Yours Truly!

·         Research and Preparation- Preparing to go on a road trip well before you pack up the car is crucial to having a flawless journey. Because we wouldn’t have the use of our cell phones (including GPS, the ability to look up restaurants, etc) once we crossed the Canadian border, I made sure that I printed off directions to and from all of our destinations. I researched what was allowed to cross the Border, the money conversion rate and the best place to get it converted, and possible places to stop along the way in case we needed a break. I wrote down any and all numbers and important information that I might need (hotel confirmation number, phone numbers of family members we were visiting, etc) and put these in a manila envelope along with passports and birth certificates. I also included in the envelope a writing pad to keep notes on anything I wanted to remember, like funny quotes from my children, cool things we saw, and even how crazy slow the speed limit seemed.

*Did you know? That as long as you are travelling as a family, children under 16 do not need passports to crossinto Canada, only birth certificates. Again, this is only if they are travelling with both parents.

·         Rent a car- This is something that we choose to do when we travel because not only does it save our old minivan from hundreds of miles, but I don’t have to detail it before and after we leave. We drive a 2000 minivan, and the one we rented was (by chance) a 2012 with only 8,000 miles on it. If we were going to drive our van, we’d have to do an oil change, a tire change (which we should probably do soon anyway) as well as a maintenance job on it. All of this adds up rather quickly. I did a LOT of research and deal hunting and got a minivan for about a third of the going rate. With the money saved because of better gas mileage, and the extra room with stow-and-go seating, we were very happy with our decision!

·         Dollar Tree Toys- Before we left, I took a trip to the Dollar Store and loaded up on cheap toys and games to keep the kids entertained when they needed it. I was actually surprised at how much I didn’t use these, but I was so grateful I had them when they were starting to get on each other’s nerves!

·         Bagged Snacks- I loaded up on snacks because what is a road trip without them? Before we left I divvyed them out and bagged them in little snack size bags. Whenever the kids wanted a snack, I would let them pick which snack they wanted, then passed it back to them.

·         Pick-Up Gripper- This thing was a life-saver. This trip was the first time ever using it and now I cannot imagine not having it in the car with me, always. I used it to pass back snack bags, grab a snack bag that was empty or needed to be opened, pick up dropped water bottle lids, etc. It made it so I didn’t have to go spread eagle across the mountain of luggage we had in our van to meet the needs of the kids.

Image via HERE
·         Books on CD – My kids love to read. We decided that for this trip, instead of watching DVD’s in the car, we would listen to books on CD. We went to the library and picked out about 15 different books that they could pick from. We listened to Charlotte’s Web, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Henry and the Paper Route, Magic Treehouse series, and Adventures in Odyssey. The instant one book was done, the kids would beg for the next book to start. I love that they got zero screen time while on vacation, but even more so, I love that this fed their love of reading.

·         Map of the journey- I printed off a Google Map illustrating our drive for each day. Where we’d start, where we were to end, and any planned stops along the way. I highlighted the course, laminated them, and stuck them on a binder ring. This way, when the kids asked “Are we there yet?” or “When are we going to get there?” I could show them on their map. They would put X’s where we were so they could see how far we’d come, and how much further we had to go.  With how young they are I didn’t have high hopes for this. It worked shockingly well.
Image via HERE

·         Bingo- I found some free printables online for road trip bingo. I printed off and laminated them, and stuck them on the binder ring a well, for them to mark with a dry erase to their heart’s content. The kids had so much fun looking out the window for silos, trucks pulling trailers, horses, and trains. Again, this one kept them more entertained than I thought they would.

Because of all of the prep work and research that happened before our trip, the entire vacation was really relaxed and low key. I didn’t have to stress over my van making it, bored children, or being lost without Navigation. We were able to be flexible, but had a plan, which ultimately all led to the best road trip we’ve ever taken with children!


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Quick Tips for Morning Sickness During Pregnancy

>> Monday, September 10, 2012

Morning sickness.  Ugh.  Just hearing the words brings back flashbacks.  While morning sickness can be somewhat reassuring if you've had any early complications in your pregnancy, it is never fun, and- for some women- can be downright miserable.  Here are some quick tips to help you get through:

- Try everything.  Every woman and every pregnancy is going to be different.  Things I tried my first pregnancy didn't work the second time, as well as things that hadn't worked the first time, did sometimes help the second pregnancy.  Things like ginger gum, ginger ale, sea bands, ginger tea/drinks, crackers on the bedside table, eating something small first and something bigger second, trying preggie pops/drops and many more recommendations were all things I tried at some point in either pregnancy.

- Try to rest as much as you can.  If this is your first pregnancy, do your best to get to sleep earlier at night.  If you already have children, don't be afraid to ask for help.  A spouse/partner, friend, or family member may be able to give you a hand with your older child in order for you to get some rest.

- Drink as much water as possible.  Decreasing dehydration can help you to avoid nausea.  Pregnant ladies who are dehydrated may experience more nausea than pregnant ladies who are well hydrated.

- Learn your own body.  There were days during my first and my current pregnancy where I was physically unable to accomplish anything.  There were days where I did call off of work, put on a cartoon for my son at home so I could lay down, or take some time at work to stop and get a snack or rest my head on a desk for a few minutes.  Your body is telling you something when you feel that sick.  While our culture sadly rewards those who 'push through the pain', this is not one of those cases.  Take care of yourself and your body/baby!

- Don't be afraid to ask for help.  There are some medications your doctor can give you for morning sickness if it becomes excessive.  There is no shame in admitting you need help to continue to do your daily tasks.  

- Take comfort in the fact that, in most cases, morning sickness doesn't last forever, and you will get through this.  I promise, the end result is far more rewarding than the path to get there!


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Gardening with Children

>> Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Even though we live in a townhouse, we are fortunate enough to have a garden. We have friends behind us that don’t use their back field, and they've allowed us to use it to plant a garden. I cannot even begin to explain how grateful I am that we have this opportunity to teach our children to work hard and see the benefits of their efforts.

We all work together planting, watering, weeding, harvesting, and composting. The kids get to help pick what vegetables we will plant each year, and they get to help pick what we use the produce for. We have yellow and green zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, artichoke, asparagus, corn, rhubarb, raspberries, blue berries, strawberries, blackberries, and plums.  Most of the time, our kids wouldn't want to try some of these foods. But since it came from our garden, and the kids helped care for it, they dive in at eating it!

My all time favorite dessert that uses produce from our garden is my Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp recipe:

Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp

4 cups brown sugar
4 cups flour
3 cups oats
1 3/4 cup melted margarine
2 Tbsp cinnamon
5-6 cups rhubarb, raw and diced
1-2 cups raspberries
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla

Mix first 5 ingredients until crumbly. Press half of mixture into greased 9x13 pan. Cover with rhubarb. Cook sugar, cornstarch and water until thick and clear. Remove from heat; add vanilla to syrup and pour over rhubarb. Sprinkle raspberries over the rhubarb, then sprinkle the remaining crumbly mixture over all and pack lightly. Bake at 350° for 45-55 minutes. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream!
(note: the "crisp" part of this recipe is doubled. I prefer it this way. If you half everything,  use 1 cup of butter.)

We've found some creative ways and new favorite recipes to incorporate our garden produce into all of our daily routine

Parmesan Crusted Zucchini

Olive Oil
Bread Crumbs
Parmesan Cheese

Coin zucchini. Dip it in olive oil, then bread crumbs, then parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, or until Golden Brown.  Another variation is, instead of using olive oil, use a beaten egg. Also delicious!

Zucchini Lasagna
Recipe from HERE

3 pounds large zucchini, scrubbed
1 quart spaghetti sauce or thick tomato sauce
1 cup bread crumbs
1 pound ricotta cheese (more, if you like - the original recipe calls for 2 pounds)
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon each dried oregano, basil
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1 pound mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated

Slice zucchini into long, semi-thin slices. Cook in boiling water just until limp, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. (If you cut your zucchini really thin, don't boil for as long, or even at all. You can do this if you don't have enough zucchini, or if you want the zucchini flavor to be less prominent.)

Combine ricotta, eggs, parsley, seasoning and half of the parmesan cheese and half of the bread crumbs in a bowl. Set aside.

In a 9x13 pan, spoon a thin layer of tomato sauce. Sprinkle with a quarter of the bread crumbs. Arrange layer of zucchini over this. Spoon half of the reserved ricotta mixture on top of the zucchini. Sprinkle with half the mozzarella cheese. Arrange the rest of the zucchini over this, layer more tomato sauce and the rest of the bread crumbs and top with remaining ricotta mixture. Top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 1 hour or until top is brown. Let stand 20 minutes before cutting. 

If you try these recipes, I'd love to hear how they turn out for you. And, I'm always looking for new recipes to try, that allow us to use our produce. If you have any recipes that you swear by, send them my way!


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Breastfeeding... While Pregnant.

>> Friday, August 31, 2012

So I never quite expected I'd be here.  But here I am.

18 weeks pregnant and yet still nursing my first, who is a year and a half old.  (*I'm of the camp that believes a good mother is a mother who feeds her baby in a way that meets her needs and the baby's needs. If that be formula, great!  If that be breastfeeding, great!  To me, happy mamas = happy babies, so this is what I'm personally doing, and not a reflection or indication of what anyone else would or should do, as you make decisions based on what is best for your family in your eyes, just like I do, and that is perfectly fine!)

Breastfeeding was something I started to do because I'd read it was a good option to try for myself and little man, and it was cheap, to be perfectly honest.  It wasn't always easy, in fact, sometimes, it was downright miserable and hard.  However, I don't like to quit, at anything really, and this was no exception.  (Did I mention also that I'm cheap?  I mean, um, thrifty, right!)  So we kept going.

As time went by, things became much easier.  Breastfeeding my older babe was pretty easy.  We began to try to get pregnant again, and after a few months of trying, luckily I was able to get pregnant while still nursing.

So then, there I was, pregnant, and still breastfeeding.

At that point, while I knew I wanted to continue, because it just worked for us, there were those thoughts of doubt in the back of my head.  Should we still be doing this?

Some days, I do think to myself, the old me- the pre children me- would have been utterly confused and possibly somewhat unwilling to accept what I'm doing now.  It makes sense to me that it doesn't work for everyone.

But it works for us.  We both still enjoy those quiet moments together- that time during the day when we just get to relax, put our feet up, and exchange a few smiles back and forth as he snuggles up to me.  If you have a toddler, I'm sure you realize how lovely those moments are when you have a child who no longer wants to sit for an instant in fear of missing something really fun going on in the other part of the room :)

You can share closeness in a million other ways with your child.  There are probably more ways than I can name, and everyone has their own different ways of doing it.  This is part of ours, and- while the former me would be somewhat shocked- the mama me is just thankful that we're both able to share something we enjoy together.


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Eating Well (or trying to!) During Pregnancy

>> Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Good nutrition is important at every stage of life, but something about pregnancy drives many women to take extra care of themselves, including how they eat.  Whether it is realizing you are no longer just taking care of yourself or wanting to keep your body in the healthiest shape for your eventual labor and delivery, many a pregnant woman takes a second look at what she eats.

However, as a second time mama, sometimes it isn't as easy to keep focused on your nutrition as well as you do your first child's!  Here are some quick tips to help you eat healthy during your pregnancy, whether this is your first, or one of many children:

- Drink tons of water!  Water intake for pregnancy recommendations vary based on your source, but drinking somewhere from 64 to 80+ ounces per day seems to be a common finding.  Water intake decreases dehydration related contractions and aids in your blood volume and baby's amniotic fluids, even if it does keep you running to the ladies' room!!!

- Take your prenatal vitamins.  This may seem like a no-brainer for some women, but for others, it can be hard to remember, especially if you take no other medications, or if you have other children at home on which you are focused.  I've found personally that setting a smart phone alarm with the label of "Take your Vitamin!" tends to work well for me :)

- Vary your colors.  Watching the colors of your food intake can, in many cases, help you to increase the vitamins and minerals you are obtaining.  When you eat a meal, you want to try and eat a variety of colors of fruits and vegetables to gain more of your nutrients from your food than from relying on vitamins and supplements.

- Think about the overall picture.  When my son began to eat solid foods, we were given the advice to judge his intake over a week's time, instead of a day.  This helped my husband and I to not obsess over every meal he ate.  Overall, by the end of each week, his intake is widely varied and covering all categories.  This can be a helpful outlook to have while eating for your pregnancy as well.

What are some things you do to eat well during pregnancy?


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Breastfeeding Fashion Tips

>> Monday, August 27, 2012

The baby is born, you can't wait to start getting back into your old things and then you realize that all those fashionable pieces you had before aren't going to work. AH! Here's a few tips on how to get the most of your old fashion while breastfeeding and what can help while breastfeeding out in public.

1. You absolutely must have a bra that fits and works correctly. There are many different kinds to choose from, try them on and get the right fit. Make sure it's not too tight or anything.. oh and make sure those girls are where they need to be. Yes all this can be done when you find a good nursing bra. A good bra can make breastfeeding a lot easier.

2. A secret I figured out.. my belly is flabby many months after having a baby and I definitely don't want anyone looking at it. Wear a stretch camisole and pull the top down and your shirt up. Keeps your belly hidden, gives you a slimming look and helps you stay a bit more discreet with a shirt on top and bottom.You can start wearing your old pieces and still be comfortable nursing.

3. Find nursing tops that open right under your breast, you can lift up and pull down allowing for discreet, comfortable nursing.

4. Nursing covers, they're amazing when the baby is small and you're still finding that niche of not revealing too much but still satisfying that little love. However once baby gets older (in my experience) they don't like the cover.. the camisole idea works great at this time.

5. Don't wear super tight shirts that are going to be hard to get over your breasts. Something comfortable but still slimming, cute and what you like. Just like when you're pregnant, you don't have to wear boxy, big huge shirts to breastfeed your baby.

 I hope these tips are helpful too you. Breastfeeding should be a happy time, feel good, look good and nourish your baby!


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The Miracle of Birth Captured Through Child Birth Photography

>> Thursday, August 23, 2012

When my first daughter was born, I fell in love with the miracle that is child birth. I had such a fantastic experience birthing her and I knew that I wanted to be a part of that miracle as often as possible. Of course, having dozens of children myself wasn't exactly what I had in mind so I started pondering the different career paths I could venture into that would allow me to be a part of birth as often as possible. I toyed with the idea of becoming a doula, I thought about going into nursing with the intention of becoming a labour and delivery nurse. I even briefly entertained the idea of going as far as to become a midwife. But then I discovered the world of child birth photography.

My best friend gave birth to her second child in October of 2008 and a mutual friend of ours was in the delivery room and photographed the birth. The pictures moved me to tears and I instantly knew I had found my calling, the way I could be involved in the miracle of birth on a regular basis. I had always been interested in photography and had already toyed with the idea of starting my own photography studio and after seeing the images from KJ's birth, I was sold. I told my husband I was ready to go into business and he supported me 100%.

I often get funny looks when I tell people that I am a photographer who specialize in child birth photography. For a lot of people, their first thought is “ewww! I don't want pictures of that!”, but more often than not, once I share some of the images from my child birth photography sessions, they change their minds, or at least recognize the fact that birth photography isn't necessarily what they think it is.

Birth photography really can be a beautiful thing when done right. It captures all the emotions of a huge day in a family's life. It captures the concentration on mom's face as she puts all her energy into pushing. It captures the concern of dad as he watches his wife work so hard, knowing there is little he can do to truly help bring baby into the world. It captures baby's first breath and mom and dad's reaction to seeing their little one for the very first time. It is highly emotional and I can't think of one birth I have photographed where I haven't shed at least a tear or two at being given the opportunity to witness such a beautiful, miraculous and intimate event.

All that being said, I completely realize that hiring a birth photographer isn't for everyone. For some people, having a photographer capture every moment of something as intimate as child birth just does not appeal. Even my husband has been leery of hiring someone to photograph the births of our children, and I've been working in the field of child birth photography for over three years now! He is only just comfortable with the idea now that we are a few weeks away from having our third child. I am so excited to finally be having my own birth experience photographed.

I am grateful for those who do allow me into such a special moment in their lives. Each birth I attend takes my breath away, regardless of the circumstances... natural birth or c section, home birth or hospital, induction or completely med free, each birth is incredible and I feel so blessed to be apart of them.


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Preparing for Your Second Pregnancy and Baby

>> Tuesday, August 21, 2012

After the initial overwhelming recognition that you are pregnant again, there are often some realizations that a second pregnancy can be very different than your first pregnancy.  No pregnancy is the same, and during your second or third+ pregnancy, there are many factors you didn't have to consider the first time around.

One of the very quick realities many pregnant mothers face is being sick.  Seeing as how my first child is still a toddler, something that I did very quickly was determine a safe place for him to be when I was having morning sickness.  We are lucky enough to have a space near our bathroom that is large enough to store a pack and play, and this was the safe spot I'd put him in when I was sick.  It was already stocked with toys and books to keep him occupied, toys that he only got to play with during those specific times, so he was happy just to sit and play.

A second consideration as the pregnancy progresses is where your first and second child will reside.  Do you have enough space for them to have their own rooms?  Do you co-sleep or roomshare, thus this being a non-issue?  Do you want them to share a room?  Do you re-decorate all over again?  Personally, we designed a unisex nursery the first time around, so we only had to plan/design/implement our son's toddler room.  

If your child is old enough to understand, you also may spend some time addressing the topic of preparing your child mentally and physically for their new brother or sister.  How you choose to approach that topic will vary greatly based on your child and your relationship with your child, as many children learn and process in different ways.

Last but not least, you have to prepare yourself.  Many mothers have fears and trepidations about bringing a (much-wanted!) second child into their lives.  There are few mothers who don't worry about how it will affect their first child, change their current lives, and try their patience or ability as a parent.  After having a few of these fears as a first time mom, however, most second time moms realize that you will get through these fears and get to the other side.  The second time mom realizes that everything is a phase, there is always enough love to go around, and cartoons are amazing on a rough day :)

What is something you are doing to prepare for your pregnancy and baby?


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