Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wonderful Bambino Cloth Diaper Review

Two of my favorite things:

"Fluffy mail" (aka: cloth diapers that come in the mail)
Bamboo cloth diapers

We recently got to test out Wonderful Bambino fitted cloth diapers and I knew it'd be a hit simply because of the wonderful bamboo!  I had the opportunity to try these on our toddler, Penny, who is about 23 lbs and 25 months old. Yea, she's a little lady. But we love her that way :)

I'm a little new with fitted diapers; typically I like pockets or AI2s. But my love for bamboo material in cloth diapers over ruled my preference for the other styles. A fitted diaper looks a lot like a disposable diaper (in shape) and can be made with a variety of materials. It always requires a diaper cover because it has no waterproof material. They are a nice addition to any stash because they hold a lot of liquid but also wash/dry quickly.

Wonderful Bambino diapers are made of 100% bamboo material and are so absorbent. I've really developed a love for bamboo once Penny reached toddlerhood and although she wets diapers less often I found that the microfiber diapers that we had were leaking. After removing determining that the diapers didn't need to be stripped and that the fit was correct, I found that instead of the constant gentle trickle of pee that comes from babes, she pees less frequently but with more..force. Kind of like an adult. So the nature of microfiber just couldn't keep up with it, I guess. Bamboo has been our saving grace!

The Wonderful Bambino fitted diaper is rated for 12-40 lbs. Penny is currently 23 lbs and I find that it's a great fit on her. In addition to having nice stretchy elastic around the legs and across the back for a snug fit, the Wonderful Bambino diaper features 4 rows of rise snaps (most other one size diapers only have 3!). Ruby is about 11.5 lbs at 7 weeks, and although I know I can adjust the snaps to fit her, I would hesitate putting her into it just yet because of the amount of super fluff we'd have on our hands. Wonderful Bambino also has additional 4 layer bamboo inserts that you can lay down into the diaper for extra absorbency...I am SO happy that I don't have that much of a heavy wetter!

If you're new to bamboo, prepping bamboo diapers is different than synthetic fibers. Bamboo needs to be washed multiple times to help clear out the natural oils present in the material. The more you wash it, the softer and more absorbent it is. When prepping bamboo, I run it through a hot wash and dry cycle at a minimum of 5 times. This can take a while if you only do it with cloth diaper laundry, but I use the same cloth diaper safe detergent on our clothes so that helps cut down my prep time.

We have tried several covers with this diaper and have found that most one-size covers fit it just fine. We have had great success with Buttons diaper covers and Flips.

Disclosure: I received product in exchange for my honest review. The Pierogie Mama is not responsible for prize fulfillment. This post contains affiliate links.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Penny and her hens

I've mentioned it a few times but I haven't given a complete update about our other new additions to the family - chickens!!

It's been a goal of mine for the last couple years to start keeping chickens. Why? Eggs are the obvious answer. We love our eggs in this family; during pregnancy and breastfeeding I can easily go through a dozen per week by myself. Add in Penny, who shares a love of scrambled eggs or omelletes with me, and then Adam typically gets an egg in his lunch most days and joins in on the egg fun on the weekends too. Not to mention that all that extra protein wouldn't hurt to help Penny grow some hair... I'll have to put together an awesome collage of her hair over the last 2 years.

However, I'm not crazy enough to get baby chicks when I have a newborn to care for too. After a few weeks of patiently searching craigslist I found someone looking to sell his 5 hens that were about a year old. It was the perfect age because they were already laying eggs and I didn't have to take special care of them like you do for babies. It was pretty much lock-n-key; pick up chickens, put them in the pen, feed them - get eggs. In fact I got my first egg within 2 hours of bringing them home and the guy said that they hadn't laid all winter...so their new home must have been very agreeable to them!

But I was pleasantly surprised with Penny's reaction to the chickens. I was expecting her to either be ambivalent or scared of them. Imagine my surprise when I see her run up to the coop with excitement and just gazing in awe of these truly weird and funny creatures. I expected ornery, crabby birds who took a while to warm up and begrudgingly gave me eggs. I was going to be ok with it, because really what I wanted was eggs. Of course we always planned on being responsible chicken owners and care for them, but I didn't anticipate enjoying them on a personal level.

Buff Orpington (yellow) // 2 Black Stars (black) // 2 Rhode Island Reds (brown)
All of these ladies are docile and easy going, with the exception of one. Even after almost 3 months of ownership we have only named one of them...and that's because she's a different color from the rest ;) Because of her different color Penny deemed the blonde Buff Orpington as the "baby," and thus the name stuck. But I quickly learned that Baby is anything but the wee one in the flock - she is very clearly The Queen, the ruler of the roost. She's the least submissive and the hardest to catch. I've only been able to catch her a handful of times to pet her, which is sad because Baby is the one that Penny wants to pet the most! But we're able to compromise and I taught Penny that the black ones are easier to pet, so she runs after them saying "Peps! {pets} Black!"

On average we get 4-5 eggs per day, which has been awesome! I can go through them almost as fast as the girls can lay. I've also started an "egg-stra" notice list for when I have more eggs than I can handle to either give away or sell. 

Some curious chickens checking out Penny's finger painting
I'm surprised at how easy keeping chickens can be but it's also not always smooth sailing. Within the first month one of the girls was cracking the eggs and eating them (a sign of calcium deficiency, which I fixed quickly!), then a couple "rubber eggs" (which were just plain weird!) and finally Baby went through a 4 day bought of broodiness. A broody hen is only good when you are trying to hatch babies, which I am not. Broodiness means that a hen is in the mode where she sits on her eggs and waits for them to hatch (which is about 21 days). Because I don't have a rooster, none of those eggs were fertilized and never going to hatch. A broody hen doesn't lay eggs when she's trying to hatch and they also eat and drink less. So it was a little bit of a process to "break" her of her broody spell and get her back out with her sisters. 

Overall it's been a fun little project to expose Penny to and I daresay I'm 'egg-cited' to introduce the care of the chickens as age appropriate chores as she and Ruby grow up. For now she just gets to run around in the yard and play with them, or feed them from her hand. The next step would be collecting the eggs.

Do you keep backyard chickens? What breed are your ladies?  How have your children reacted to them?

Monday, April 21, 2014

How to rock the sibling addition (Guest post from Bits of Sweetness)

Making the decision to add to your family is a big one! We didn't take it lightly but once the pregnancy was fully underway and I began to think about what I needed to do to help prepare Penny become an older sister.. Yikes! Least to say I went through stages of complete elation and utter overwhelm. That's why it's wonderful to rely on other mamas who have been there before me and listen to their wise words - so check out Laura from Bits of Sweetness and her awesome tips on aiding the transition of sibling addition :)

Hey guys! I'm Laura.

I blog over at Bits of Sweetness about being a mama to two awesome crazy energetic boys (6&1), wife to my as fun-sized-as me hubby(we're both under 5'5"!), and life in the PNW.  I started getting more into blogging because honestly, the first baby book isn't even done yet so, here we go! 

I am stoked to write a post for Bianca. She's a favorite local blogger and it's fun to share that and get new inspiration and ideas from her! I can't wait until her newest little bundle is here! Until then, I thought I'd entertain you sweet readers with a little post of my own. 

The picture above is our oldest, Andrew, who happens to be six. He was so much fun (or: a challenging and   creative handful ;-) ), we waited almost five years to have another one! When we found out we were expecting our second, so many conflicting thoughts were swirling around in my mind. I was incredibly excited, no doubt! But how would Andrew adjust to having a sibling?! Five years isn't long in big people years, but to these munchkins, that is like five hundred thousand episodes of Curious George and Super Why! Five years is kindof an eternity in kid speak to be the only one getting attention and running the show. Fast forward two years and another one on the way, and this time I am thankful for all the great tips and tricks we found to rock the whole sibling addition thing! I feel like maybe, just maybe we got this thing (Aside from all the sleepless nights and general chaos that accompanies a newborn!) Here are our favorites:

1. Involve them in the process (age-appropriately).
Because it was our second, we let Andrew break the "special news" to everyone. It made not only their day but his too! For months after that, he would tell anyone and everyone he could about his special news! We let him announce the gender with some colored balloons too. I took him along to a couple of the doctor appointments and let him hear the heartbeat. I found a great pregnancy app and he begged me daily to see how big the baby was. He giggled at seeing the comparison from sesame seed to grape to pear to watermelon! Also, books. Books are pretty amazing. God Gave us Two is our favorite for older kids with a sweet polar bear family. Hello Baby is a great one for toddlers and preschoolers.

2. Take them to pick out a gift for their new sibling. Andrew fell in love with this darling little elephant from Target and decided his brother must have it. 

3. Get them a gift from the new little one! And, another idea is write a letter to go along with it! 
Andrew was more than a little elated at getting this gift that combined his love of Hot Wheels and Trio blocks!
We actually saved the gift for after Adrian's arrival so that on one of the days when Andrew had just had enough, he could have something fun and exciting and special from the baby. It totally worked too!

4. Don't worry about packing as much time with them in as you can. Yes, I said "don't." The reason? You won't be able to do that after the baby comes so why shoot yourself in the foot now? We did do some extra special things with him but didn't go overboard because we knew he would have an even harder time adjusting. You'll want to save some of those special times for after too when they are needing an extra dose of loving!

5. Don't underestimate the power of your excitement! They are SUCH little sponges! We would tell Andrew, "You are going to love being a big brother!" and "Adrian already loves you so much! He can't wait to meet you!" We never talked to Andrew about him getting less attention or how it might be hard to have a little sibling around now. He hadn't thought of those things yet, so why give him those ideas?! We didn't go overboard either with expecting him to absolutely love all the newborn crying and changes that inevitably come, but we simply took his cues and gave him lots of extra love and breaks when he needed them instead. He still has yet to say anything about wishing he didn't have a brother or not liking having Adrian around. There are sure moments they don't get along, but for the most part, they sure love each other! I didn't get this idea done last time, but this adorable "big sibling kit" from Ducks in a Row is something I want to do this time! 

6. Give yourself permission to do things low key and whatever you need to survive the first few months now that you have a big and little one (or more)! It's been said that the first three months are the fourth trimester because it takes the baby (and you!) about that long to adjust to life outside their cozy little world. I totally agree heading into it the third time around! Realize that it's ok to have the kinds of days where the older sibling's favorite shows are on all day(or their favorite movie on repeat!) and their diet consists of goldfish crackers and chicken nuggets. There will be days when they are wearing their pajamas. For the second day in a row. That's ok too! Their room might be a little messier than you like but the memories being made and time together is priceless!

7. Practice with a baby doll and use it as a chance to talk about the baby! Even older kids get this one, but it seems to be even more fun for little ones. This idea has been a fantastic one with our 17-month old! He just adores babies and is actually getting the hang of it. We're just working on not dragging the poor baby by its ears!

8. Kids love to help, so let them! One of Andrew's fondest memories is being able to soothe newborn Adrian by putting his finger in his mouth as a pacifier. It calmed Adrian down in an instant. The germ nut side of me was freaked out a little at where in the world he had had those fingers but immunity rocks ;-)  And, you can't put a price tag on sweet memories. It's surprising what kids will love doing, but there are so many ways to make them feel important. Don't forget to tell them thank you! It makes their day, even if it's just bringing you things to change them. Also? Brag on them! Everyone could use a little praise but it sure seems to work wonders with kids.  

I am so excited for you Bianca!! Penny is going to be an amazing big sister! Thank you so much for letting me guest post! And thank you readers for tagging along today! And turning around and asking- what tips do you have for going from two to three?! We are now outnumbered!! Should be some fun times for sure!

You can find me on Bloglovin Pinterest FacebookTwitter! I'd love to get to know you so stop by and say hello! 
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Roasted Chicken in a Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Oh Pioneer Woman, thou art a dictionary of recipes!

Whenever I feel that I need some inspiration or guidelines on a recipe I want to try out for the first time I almost always land on a Pioneer Woman recipe first. Why? Because she rocks!

A few weeks ago I was at the grocery store and the meat department lady walked up to me and was like "hey - just throwing it out there - we have a TON of fryer chickens that I need to unload ASAP. They were $0.92/lb yesterday and today they are down to $0.78! You should pick one up." Well, I had actually only cooked a whole chicken ONCE before and it was a horribly failed beer can chicken attempt. I was a little skeptical, but she gave me her rundown of how she prepares her chickens and I was inspired. And who can beat the price of a home cooked dinner for literally just a couple bucks?! So I picked up a few extra veggies and came home to research how in the heck was I going to cook this thing with the ingredients that I have on hand. And I knew I wanted to cook this chicken in my cast iron dutch oven. So off to google-land I went, and landed upon this recipe that I took some hints from.

So here's what I did.

You will need:
1 white / sweet onion
1 apple
4 carrots
4 medium brown potatoes
1 chicken
2-3 T of Penzey's Italian Seasoning
1 T of Penzey's Rosemary
Kosher Salt
Olive Oil
1/2 stick of butter

You will do:
1. Wash your chicken, remove the organs and then thoroughly dry it off, inside and out. I typically boil the organs in water and then feed it to the dog. Everyone will get a little bit of this chicken today.
2. Chop 1/4 of the onion into large pieces, peel the apple and do the same. Stuff it all inside the chicken.
3. Combine 2-3 T of italian seasoning, 1 T of rosemary, about 1 T of kosher salt and about 3 T of olive oil. Rub it all over the outside of the chicken. Lay her on a pan in the fridge until you are ready to cook her. And keep an eye on that dog.
4. Peel and chop your carrots and potatoes, coarsely chop the onion and toss in a bowl with additional olive oil and salt. Set those aside as well.
5. Place your cast iron dutch oven inside your oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees (with the cast iron inside). Heat the cast iron for about 20 minutes before you are ready to cook. You never want to cook food in a cold cast iron dish. Bring out the chicken and veggies during this time to allow them to get brought up to temperature a little bit (my husband would freak out about the temperature danger zone but I personally am more ok with it as long as you are going to cook it ASAP).
6. When you're ready to go, place the chicken in the cast iron (breast side up) and surround her with the
veggies. Scatter bits of butter on top of the whole mix, cover, bake and leave it alone for about an hour to an hour and a half. Remove the lid for the last 10-15 minutes to help develop that crispy skin that we all secretly love.
7. Once fully cooked, remove from the oven and allow it to rest for about 10-15 minutes before cutting into it. I removed the dutch oven lid but draped a cotton (not microfiber or synthetic) dish towel over the top.
8. Serve with some warm sourdough bread. YUM.

Some additional thoughts...
SAVE THEM BONES, veggie scraps from preparation and any junk from the chicken that you wouldn't eat. Why? Bone broth in a crock pot, baby.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Boba 4G carrier with a newborn

Oh, it's been a month of craziness up in this house for sure.. Miss Penny turning 2 and seriously blossoming into this adventerous, talkative, sassy girl, and then there's the new addition - little Ruby!

Having 2 kids within 2 years means that a lot of our methods have stayed the same (such as bed sharing, cloth diapering, daily routines) but quite a few things have changed. Namely our babywearing techniques.

Babywearing was sort of a novel idea to me when Penny was a newborn - I was perfectly happy to sit and snuggle all day. It wasn't until she was 4 months old and summer hit when we pulled out our soft carrier (the Ergo) and took her along on hikes and other outdoor excursions.

This time around - babywearing is a necessity. Can I say it again? Babywearing is a necessity with 2 under 2. 

I have been experimenting with different methods depending on what our activity is, but my favorite carrier for our daily family walks or when I'm getting work done around the house is the Boba 4G carrier. I struggled with our Ergo for the newborn stage (and the newborn insert was just plain silly and useless) so I was very interested to see how the Boba held up.

From the first time that I put Ruby into our Boba (around 2 weeks old) I felt like it was a great fit. She was about 9lbs and 21 inches and fit into the carrier well. I didn't feel like she was too small and would flop around like Penny did in our other soft carrier. Her little bottom slid perfectly onto the integrated infant insert.

Another favorite feature of the Boba 4g carrier is just how adjustable it is. It has 5 ways to adjust the fit to you - across the hips, across the chest, adjusting the height of the chest strap, and 2 shoulder adjustments. The extra shoulder adjustment is a big seller for me because my husband has a really wide chest so he's able to bring the fit closer to him.

Our carrier is made from their optional organic cotton. It is free of chemicals or dyes. The fabric is must softer and more pliable than our other carrier, which is perfect for against especially a newborn's skin.

This carrier is rated from 7 - 45 lbs. There's a lot of carriers out there who claim that, but I feel like the Boba 4g can honestly meet that claim. As I mentioned before, Ruby was probably between 8 1/2 - 9 lbs when I first started wearing her in it and it was a comfortable fit from the get-go. In comparison it wasn't until Penny was closer to 11-12 lbs (even with the infant insert) that I was able to somewhat comfortably carry her around and not feel like she was sloshing around in the other carrier. I've also worn Penny, now 25 months old and 23 lbs (Yep, she's a petite lady), in the Boba 4g carrier and absolutely love her in it as well because the panel rises up several inches higher and I can tell that she is much more comfortable in it because she's not craning to get out or look around. My favorite part about the back carry for this carrier is that the chest strap can be slid up and down (in addition to being tightened or loosened).

The Boba 4G is definitely a new favorite around these parts and I can whole heatedly recommend it to anyone!

Enter for your chance to win a Boba Baby Carrier, a Boba Wrap or a Boba Air! All products can be seen at www.boba.com. With Boba products it is easier than ever to enjoy Freedom Together as a family and Boba wants YOU to get a chance to use their products. To enter to win, follow the Rafflecopter instructions.
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Penny's 2nd Birthday & Meet Baby Ruby Party!

What phrase did I hear come out of my daughter's mouth the most often during the months of March and April?

"Happy Birthday, Penny!!"

Penny's 2nd birthday was on March 3rd. But her almost 2 month long birthday celebration started the weekend before. We were preparing for the birth of Ruby (as I was positive that I'd give birth at 39 weeks, that didn't happen!) and my parents were visiting. We decided to celebrate Penny's birthday so that Adam and I would get to celebrate her special day without the possible craziness of a newborn. That came and went and the day of her birthday, Adam's parents came down for dinner and cake. Fast forward to a week later and Ruby was born! That started off a train of visitors who came to help during my tricky post partum recovery for the next month. Every few days a new family member would come to visit so we'd have another opportunity of a quick celebration of Penny's birthday and Ruby's birth.

Needless to say, my silly bubbly two year old quickly made the association that when we have visitors there will most likely be presents to open!

This Sunday we rounded out this 5 week adventure of learning how to be a family of 4 with a combination of birthday / meet the baby party with our friends and family. We were so blessed with amazing (I daresay a hint of a wonderful summer?) weather of about 70 degrees, cloudless skies and a gentle breeze. The party was at our block park, which has a decent play structure, and it was the perfect setting for letting kids run around and have fun while adults mingled.

One of Penny's favorite daily chores has been collecting the eggs from our 5 chickens that we got two months ago, so in honor of that (and the proximity of Easter) we held an egg hunt as well. It was so cute seeing the dozen toddlers / older kids run around and hastily snatch up the obvious eggs. As the party went on, sometimes a missed egg was unearthed and the victor pranced around with their egg. It was so cute.

Is this not the most previous fairy you've ever seen??

It will probably be very convenient to celebrate both of the girls' birthdays at the same time for most years, but I know that eventually they will ask for their own special days as well. Or maybe they will love sharing, who knows?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Under Construction: new garage doors and yard work

Don't want to miss out on any of our renovation shenanagins? 
Click here for a full list of my posts on it!

Well, the renovation was on a partial hold for the last couple months for the end of my pregnancy and the birth of Ruby, but the last 2 weeks have brought us absolutely gorgeous weather and my energy has returned so we've been getting quite a few projects done around the house.

Sometimes I just have to stand back and laugh at the way that we go about our renovation. Home improvement projects are very daunting to most people and may require weeks (months?) of preparation. Some researching on how to do it, sourcing the materials and him-hawing over options. Us? Nah. Adam woke up this past Saturday morning and said "today I'm going to put in our garage doors."

Ok, let me back up a few days.

The Suburban "Duraburb" project is done and Adam started parking it into the (in my opinion) very skinny garage. Our house was originally had a 2 car garage (2 single doors) but the previous owners converted one of the stalls into a room for their daycare. We value garage space over weird/extremely cold rooms so the plan has always been to convert it back into garage space in the next year or so. I've been driving the Duraburb around for a couple weeks and am pretty comfortable with driving it and parking it in easy spots but the garage was another story. One morning I was getting ready to go to my local MOPS group and all I had to do was pull the Duraburb out of the garage. It was a tight fit but simply driving it out of the garage shouldn't be a big deal, right? Even after loading up both of the girls (who were NOT happy) I felt that I had succeeded in my attempt and started pulling out of the garage. Well...*somehow* the garage door had slid down just a teeny tiny bit and it was enough to catch the back roof rack as I pulled out. Thankfully a neighbor was walking by and I had already slowed down to let him cross, so I was literally creeping along but it was enough to bend the roof rack a little bit. This was the fire under Adam's ass to fix our garage situation.

So this past Saturday morning he went to Lowe's just to check their prices on garage doors and found that coincidentally they are having a super-sale and picked up 2 garage doors for cheap! We tend to have a lot of luck with getting super good random deals at Lowe's. So he came home and literally started cutting a hole in the side of the house.

If you know me personally or have been following the blog for a while, you know that although Adam doesn't have any professional experience in house renovations / improvements he just has a knack for these things. His engineering background gives him the basis for a lot of the projects that he tackles and where ever there are hole in his knowledge he picks up pointers from the internet or friends/family who have already done it. In the 1 1/2 house renovations that we've done he's actually got a pretty good record of success. Sometimes it's a windy road with a few detours, but I have to say that I'm very proud of him for always completing a project.

Ok enough blubbering about my handy husband, back to filling you in on what we've done.

The way that we tend to start our projects is by the seat of our pants. We decide a few days before or the morning of (as was the case here) that we want to get something done and pretty much do it. Yes, we have a list of house projects that need to be done. Yes, they are organized by priority. But sometimes that list is set aside and we just do what we want to do that weekend.

Case in point: he cut a hole in the house and installed one garage door in a day.

Sunday morning he moved on to the garage stall that already had a garage door (the one I had pulled out of). The original width was 8 ft and both new doors are 9 ft. This is plenty of room for me to comfortably park the Duraburb in the garage. Whew! He managed to finish this project in time for Penny's 2nd birthday / meet the baby party that we had planned that afternoon too.

Over the last few weeks we've been working on the yard as well. The side yard leading from our driveway to the shop was in dire need of drainage so Adam and my step-dad worked for a couple weekends to lay down drainage pipes and dig trenches. Last week a couple of our neighbors literally volunteered to throw almost 10 tons of gravel over that driveway that Adam outlined while he was at work. We have been seriously blessed with great neighbors who have welcomed us to the neighborhood and are a constant support!

Meanwhile, my parents have been visiting almost every weekend and my step-dad is a machine when it comes to whipping a yard into shape. For both of our renovations that has been his area of expertise and the man is tireless. Normally I'm not much of a yard person but he inspired me a bit and I've been working on a couple small projects throughout the yard (as nap time allows).

My first project was to weed our raised bed. Penny and the chickens became my helpers (as helpful as a toddler and five chickens can be) by dumping the weeds into a bucket or eating bugs that I unearthed - respectively. I need to fill the garden with some topsoil and then Penny and I can plant our first veggies together! I'm thinking snow peas, radishes, cucumbers, sunflowers and setting aside some room for a couple pumpkins.

I started walking around the yard and found a few areas where there had been paving stones laid out but had been overgrown for several years.

My yard projects are usually limited by which child I have with me at the time. If it's just Penny then I'm pretty free to do mostly whatever I want to do and she's become a good helper. If Penny is down for a nap but Ruby is awake then I wear her in our Boba and I'm limited to tasks that keep me standing (such as clipping branches or raking). It's not too often that I'll tackle yard work when I've got both of the kids - but we still go outside and play :)

This run of great weather has been a great motivator in getting the outside of our house looking more presentable and I've been enjoying taking the girls on walks during the day and when Adam gets home we typically take another walk after dinner. It's not too often that we get weather like this in Washington this early in the year so we take advantage of it while we can!

When Sister Meets Sibling (Guest post from That Mama Gretchen)

It's no secret around here how much I adore Gretchen from That Mama Gretchen. We've been friends for gosh, over 10 years, and our journeys in motherhood have brought us close together. Thank you, G, for such inspiring words and I can't wait for our littles to grow up together and become best buds!

There's another sweet pierogie in the Northwest and I couldn't be happier for Bianca and her brand new family of four ... WELCOME MISS RUBY! While The Pierogie Mama snuggles up her two little ones, I'm excited to pop over from my blog, That Mama Gretchen, and share about my own transition from one to two children.

Bianca and I have had stairs step pregnancies - my Jemma was born in 2010, Penny came in 2012, my Max arrived in 2012 and now Ruby in 2014. So, needless to say, much of our talk has been focused on motherhood. A far cry from our high school conversations! Yep, we've been friends for a long time! From birth stories to breastfeeding tips, we've talked about it all, but one thing we've only lightly touched on is the transition our eldest daughters make when becoming siblings for the first time.

With my second pregnancy I had a handful of worries, one of the biggest being how I would adapt to loving two children and how Jemma would welcome (or not welcome) a baby. She was only 22 months when her brother was born so although we talked and read about new babies often, she didn't seem to fully grasp that mama's growing bump would soon rock her world. Thankfully, she transitioned well.

To help us both, I made sure to give her one on one time each day, even if only for 10 or 15 minutes. For those moments, she had my undivided attention. I encouraged her to be mama's helper and brother's protector and over the last 18 months, she has fully owned these roles. I let her be a baby too. When she starts to get that whiny tone (you know, that one) or is acting out of sorts I do my best to pull her tight and cradle her in my arms. I remind her that she is my sweet baby even though she is growing up. I tell her I am so proud of the choices she makes and the help she gives me. I asked for help from Daddy, grandparents and aunts, and yes, I know it's hard to ask for help, to help me balance caring for two children.

No doubt, going from one on one to being outnumbered is hard. I have shed tears, felt overwhelmed, used harsh words and collapsed at the end of the day with pure exhaustion. But over the last 18 months our daily trio has become the most wonderful thing. All the ups and downs, the "getting into a routine" and forging strong relationships have paid off. So much so that I find myself thinking, "What would it be like with three little ones ...". It's a fleeting thought for now, but life with two has become normal. Dare I say, occasionally easy. So of course I'd go hunting for the next challenge. The three of us have found a beautiful groove where our days are filled with lots of laughter and hugs. Ok, ok ... Max attempts to bite sometimes too, but we're working on that :) Best of all, by far my favorite thing is the relationship between my children. It's priceless. Seeing them together makes all the hard work of mothering two absolutely worth it.

So, my advice to Bianca and other mama's expecting their second - the early months are difficult, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Let yourself own survival mode. Feed your little ones, keep them safe and don't feel guilty when the toddler watches a few movies. It's just a season. Order take-out, don't stress about the cleanliness of your home, pause your Pinterest projects and just be with your kids as you all transition into a new life together. It takes time, but I've witnessed the bond that grows between siblings early on and there is nothing better. I can't wait for the years to come as Jemma and Max grow up together and I know a priceless bond will be solidified between Penny and Ruby too. Congratulations, my friend, you've given your children one of the greatest gifts they could ever receive - the love and partnership only a sibling can bring.

See more of my munchkins over on Instagram! That's where I capture the majority of their sweet and crazy moments :)


Thursday, April 10, 2014

BeautyEncounter April Facebook Contest

This post is sponsored by BeautyEncounter, where you can buy discount beauty products and perfumes.

What is your secret beauty tip?

I'm not a high maintenance kind of gal. On most days you'll find me either in a pony or straightened hair, and the most makeup you'll ever see me wear is eyeliner and perhaps a little bit of eye shadow. I've been blessed with a good complexion and I'm happy with my skin tone so anymore than that is just too much for me. 

As cliche as it sounds, I don't believe that makeup makes a person more beautiful; a woman's confidence and being at peace with yourself shines through stronger than an any makeup can accentuate features or hide 'flaws.'
So my "secret" beauty tip is simply caring for myself in the best way that I can. By eating healthy, staying active and simply being happy with my life. And how can I be anything but when I've got my two beautiful girls, handsome (and handy!) husband and not to be forgotten - that lovable oaf Squirt - by my side?

Of course mamas need pampering every once in a while too. That's when a well deserved, quiet bath with luxurious salts, a glass of wine, and later a soft robe and a snuggle with the husband is what does the trick for me on a weekly basis. And that, my friends, is one of the many ways I attempt to keep myself sane and happy.

But there are tons of occasions that call for a little dressing up and I'm definitely not above that. BeautyEncounter.com is an online shop for beauty products and discount perfumes at great prices. Often times you can find lots of promos, discounts, giveaways, and coupons for top fragrances, makeup, haircare and even "manscaping" products for the dudes in your life.

For the month of April, BeautyEncounter will pick a winner per week to win a $50 egiftcard to the store by sharing your top beauty tip

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by BeautyEncounter.com. Valid entries to the giveaway must be through their website, though I'd love to hear your beauty tips here too :)

Books for Sibling Day (Sister edition)

Happy International Siblings Day!

Who can't just fall in love with this? Check out Joanna Monger Photography on facebook and
I will be posting more from our recent family photo shoot soon!

Reading books is a big thing around here. For Penny's first birthday we asked our guests to opt for bringing their favorite childhood books as gifts in lieu of a card. Since then we've been amassing tons of books about a variety of topics and the arrival of Penny's new baby sister, Ruby, was a great opportunity for teaching her about sibling relationships and preparing her for the big change that we're all going through.

Here's a list of some of the books that we've been loving lately:

Sisters by David McPhail
Two sisters compare how they are very different...but also very alike.

I'm a Big Sister // I'm a Big Brother by Joanna Cole
The new baby experience from the eyes of the big sister.

Babies Don't Eat Pizza: A Big Kids' Book About Baby Brothers and Baby Sisters by Dianne Danzig
Sharing the different ways we take care of the new baby.

Franklin's Baby Sister by Paulette Bourgeois
Beloved Franklin the Turtle shares about his wait for his new baby sister. 

I love Amy Krouse Rosenthal's memory books. I filled out a pregnancy journal for my pregnancy with Penny and found myself referring back to it during my pregnancy with Ruby. A more modern version of a baby book, the Big Sibling Book not only asks more relevant questions but it also lets the older sibling tell the story too! It's rated for ages 2+ and working on it with Penny has been a fun way to help her be a part of Ruby's story too. 

Did you help your older child through the transition
 of becoming a big sister or big brother through books? What were your favorites?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which help fund this blog. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sour Cream Zucchini Bread with Coconut Oil

This is a revamp on my previous recipes of sour cream banana bread and sour cream pumpkin bread. Seriously, what else can I mix into this fantastic recipe that won't be a win?

Yields 2 loaves

You will need:
non-stick cooking spray
1/4 c of sugar with 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 c softened butter (or 1/2 c Tropical Traditions Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil)
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs
2 c shredded zucchini (drain for 30 minutes)
2 c  sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 c flour
*Optional: Toppings such as more cinnamon-sugar, candied pecans or chocolate chips.

You will do:
1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
2. Spray 2 bread pans with your non stick spray.
3. In a small bowl mix the 1/4 cup of sugar with the 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon. Dust onto the greased pans.
4. In a stand mixer cream butter and remaining sugar together. Add eggs, zucchini, sour cream, vanilla, and cinnamon. Mix until well blended.
5. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Slowly incorporate into the zucchini mixture.
6. Divide batter between your pans.
7. Top with cinnamon-sugar, candied pecans or chocolate chips.
8. Bake for about an hour (but check at 45 minutes), or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

To freeze extra loaves for later:
  • Allow the bread to cool off completely
  • Wrap tightly in plastic wrap
  • Bag in a large freezer bag
  • Freeze
  • Use within 3 months

Monday, April 7, 2014

Blogger Spotlight: Cherry Valley Macaroni Kid

As I've mentioned before, getting in touch with my local mamas has been a huge drive for me in 2014 and Erin from Cherry Valley Macaroni Kid has been a huge help in that area! I'll let her give you the details, but she is an awesome resource for my little part of the world in finding family friendly activities and sharing fun articles weekly. You can also find me sharing our local experiences in her newsletter now and again too! If you are a Seattle based parent and haven't signed up for a Macaroni Kid Newsletter yet, read on and see what the hype is about!

Hello, everyone! I am excited to be invited by Bianca to guest post on The Pierogie Mama. My name is Erin Chamberlain, and I am a 35 year old mama of a soon-to-be 2 year old daughter, Ada. I am also a City Council member in the small town of Carnation, Washington, a SAHM, self-proclaimed Radical Homemaker and the Publisher of Cherry Valley Macaroni Kid! And way busier than I ever was pre-kids, but loving it.

My husband, Brian and I have lived in the Snoqualmie Valley for nearly 12 years and landed here by way of Missouri, where we both grew up. We met in college and both attended The Missouri University of Science & Technology, a small engineering school. Brian and I enjoy hiking and camping, visiting local breweries and brewing a bit ourselves when we can find the time. We’ve been enjoying introducing Ada to the Northwest outdoors – everything from our backyard vegetable garden to camping in eastern Washington. One day there will be a road trip to Alaska…

Cherry Valley Macaroni Kid has become my “wobby” since starting the site last June – a mix of work and hobby, and has been a great outlet for me after becoming a mom. Cherry Valley Macaroni Kid is your best source for the scoop on all kid activities and family fun in northeast King County and south Snohomish County. I am here for Carnation, Duvall, Redmond Ridge, Cottage Lake, Monroe and Sultan area moms and dads, grandparents and caretakers too, who love finding fun, local things to do with their kids!

Every Thursday morning, I send my 500+ email subscribers a FREE newsletter jam-packed with activities, local information, articles, recipes, crafts, and great giveaways. Make sure you subscribe to get your fresh copy delivered right to your inbox each week! As a local mom who lives in this community, it is important to me to connect with other local parents and bring you the best resources our area has to offer. Each month I feature other local parent experts offering amazing organization tips, parenting advice, movie reviews and more!

Cherry Valley Macaroni Kid also features a Business Directory, which is a wonderful resource for finding great local businesses to meet the needs of your family. From Preschools, Summer Camps, Enrichment Activities & Classes, Family Services, or Birthday Party Ideas - it's got that and much more!

Be sure to follow Macaroni Kid Cherry Valley on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for all the in-between newsletter news. Macaroni Kid also has 15 sister sites throughout Washington more than 600 all across the world! Check out nearby sites for Snoqualmie Valley - Issaquah, The Eastside, Marysville-Lake Stevens-Everett-Snohomish, South Puget Sound, NW Seattle, North Sound, and find others by using the drop down box on the left side of our National Macaroni Kid page. It’s great for exploring nearby towns, or if you’re headed on vacation to a new spot – check to see if there is a Macaroni Kid for your destination!

I really hope you enjoy Macaroni Kid and that it becomes your go-to resource for family fun in our http://cherryvalley.macaronikid.com/ and get the scoop on upcoming events right to your inbox. Think you might know someone who could use some Macaroni in their life? Be sure to tell them about us too! Questions, comments, just want to say hello or have a fun idea you would like to share? Contact me via email at erinch@macaronikid.com.
community. As a mom, I know how hard and time-consuming it can be to find things to do as a family. So let me do the work for you! Sign up for the weekly e-newsletter at Cherry Valley Macaroni Kid.

Peace. Love. Macaroni!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

JBF Everett: Get your shop on at the Spring sale!

Seattle area families, you know how much I love JBF (Just Between Friends) sales. Not sure exactly what that is? JBF is a nation wide consignment sale that happens 2-3 times per year and has tons of locations. Chances are that there is one right by you! The Seattle area alone has 4 different locations!

I am one lucky duck because the JBF Everett sale is held at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds; which is literally a 2 minute drive from my house. I've partnered with Eunice, the owner, a few times to share about this awesome sale and this past week we partnered with several other Seattle local bloggers to give away 2 prime-time passes and 2 pre-sale passes for the Spring event! I'm loving all this local exposure for the JBF Everett business as well as local writers!

Last week I took both of my girls (Penny - 2 years old and Ruby - 2 weeks old) out for our first excursion without any additional support to the Lynnwood sale. I'm very proud to say that we made it through the experience with little fuss and only a small meltdown at the end when Penny had to temporarily give up her new wooden balance bike for the ride home. Btw - we scored that balance bike for $40 and they normally retail for over $75!  Yipee! This time around I opted to have Penny stay at home with her daddy and I wore Ruby for this sale.

So on the eve of the public sale, here's a recap of what I snagged at the Just Between Friends of Everett Spring Sale!

PS: I bought that same balance bike at a different JBF sale last week for $40... $25 is an awesome deal!

Don't despair - maybe you didn't get a chance to make it to the pre-sale, but that's ok. There's tons of treasures to be unearthed throughout the rest of the weekend. Inventory is constantly being cycled, items are being put into the hold area and later passed on, or a really unique toy is tucked under another one in a bin. In my opinion a large part of the great fun of JBF sales is the search!

If you're in the Monroe area this weekend be sure to check it out. The hours are:
Friday April 4th: 10a-8p
Saturday April 5th: 10a-4p
Sunday April 6th: 8a-1p (most items 50% off)

If you went to the sale, leave me a comment with your favorite find!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by JBF Everett.

NuRoo Pocket: Not Just a Babywearing Shirt

I introduced the NuRoo line and the benefits of kangaroo care a few weeks ago prior to Ruby's birth. I had learned about the NuRoo pocket when I saw another mom wearing her little one in it and just had to ask her about it. Since then I've had the chance to wear and snuggle my little Ruby while wearing the NuRoo pocket and I wanted to share my experience with you!

The NuRoo pocket comes across as a typical baby wearing shirt that helps mom keep her hands free; that's what appealed to me at first sight. I was going to be a 2nd time mom with a 2 year old running around my knees and needed all the help I can get! However I did a little bit of research and spoke with one of the creators, Hope Parish, about the science behind the design of the NuRoo pocket and learned there was just so much more to it than just being hands free.

The NuRoo pocket is made to be worn by mom and baby without anything between them (except for baby's diaper).  This promotes easy access for breastfeeding but also taps into the amazing, dare I say almost magical, powers of skin-to-skin care. Research shows that "Kangaroo Mother Care" (KMC) is beneficial for both mother and baby; by increasing the bonding effect between the pair and regulating breathing, heart rate and body temperature ("Kangaroo mother care" was in fact 'developed' initially to help hypothermic babies in Colombia). The extensive research of KMC has been adopted through many NICU units through out the world and is becoming the standard care in many hospitals, as opposed to separating the mother and child after birth.

These benefits have been shown to create miracles for preterm babies (most of us have heard a version of the story about a newborn who not given a great chance of survival, only to be revived after an hour on its mother's chest with her singing to it!) but it's a normal, everyday biological reaction that all children and their mothers can benefit from. It's also an instinctive response that many mothers feel with their children, but sometimes reasons beyond the mother's control force early separation (such as hospital policy or simply a doctor's recommendation and the mother's lack of education on the topic).

Many parents can personally attest to the healing powers of skin to skin care by the simple act of holding your child close, giving her kisses or stroking her back when she is sick, scared or hurt. I can't tell you how many times we've had a bump or a startled awake from a nap and just a plain old hug makes it all better. 

So that's a little science lesson for you today. Now on to how much we love our NuRoo Pocket :)
The NuRoo Pocket is designed to allow the mother and child to easily practice KMC. It's super easy to put on and focuses on the safety of the infant as well, as it features an interior pocket to support their legs and a belt to support their bottom and your back.

The shirt comes in fitted sizes but also leaves wiggle room to either tighten it up a little bit as you lose pregnancy weight or loosen it up as baby gets bigger. I would describe the material itself as very high quality, thick "UnderArmor" style fabric. It keeps me warm but also is very breathable. I love that in addition to this shirt being extremely functional it's also pretty fashionable. I've seen some babywearing shirts that look just plain ridiculous and this does not fall into that category.

When worn at home we practice the bare skin to skin contact, but in the event that I've gone out and wanted to wear Ruby close I just put on a nursing bra or tank underneath (this way my nursing pads can stay in place too).
The shirt comes with a support belt that you strap in under the baby's bottom. This helps raise the little one higher up onto your chest. Safe babywearing practice means keeping baby's head "close enough to kiss" and their face turned to the side for good breathing airways.

As far as sizing goes I'm wearing a medium shirt. I'm fairly average build and the pregnancy weight has been melting off quickly in the two weeks since Ruby's birth. The positioning of the velcro within the NuRoo pocket has worked out well in adjusting to my and Ruby's changing bodies. Ruby feels so close and snuggly to me and I prefer to wear her in it when I'm doing a lot of standing, grocery shopping or on a easy walk around the neighborhood.

The NuRoo pocket is now an essential item to my newborn phase with our babies. I wholeheartedly recommend this for any expecting mama or for someone who is looking for a baby shower gift.

You can find the whole line of NuRoo products 
direct from their website, on Amazon, or through their retailers

Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for my review of the NuRoo Nursing Scarf and Swaddler!

Disclosure: I received product in exchange for my honest review. I truly love our NuRoo pocket and I hope that my review helps another mama out! This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Embracing your Postpartrum Body (Found Frolicking)

Earlier I introduced Lalia from Found Frolicking via my blogger spotlight during my maternity leave. Lalia shares a part of mamahood that many of us can relate to - weight issues and fear. It's so beautiful to see that it took her spouse embracing her postpartum body for her to see just how superficial "the standard" really is. I hope you can find inspiration from her story!

Icon Small photo Icon_Small_zps06194e15.jpg

One of my biggest fears of pregnancy was that I would get fat and that there would be nothing I could do about it. I don't mean "fat" as in the baby belly, either. I mean fat everywhere else. The kind of fat that lingers long after baby is no longer camped out in the womb. This really did scare me. I can't express why without delving into the deep-seeded root for it.

At the age of about 12, I hit puberty, and gained a lot of weight. With all of the stress in our family, food became my comfort. Everyone in my own family, except for my mother, teased me about it. I don't blame my younger siblings for it at all, they were following suit without really thinking about it. I'm sure they thought I didn't care. But at the time, I was still very attached to my biological father, and he would go out of his way to tell me on a daily basis that I was fat. Then, there was my grandfather. I loved my grandpa, who passed away a few years ago, dearly. Goodness knows he was the responsible, traditional, proper man that Chinese culture taught him to be. Keyword here being: traditional. A couple times a week, if he saw me eating more than I really needed, he'd tell me in his limited English vocabulary, "Lalia, you eat too much. Fat, no good. Should look nice, so when you grow up, you find nice husband." My grandpa was just being my grandpa. It honestly didn't sting too much when he talked like that, since he was being honest, and truly trying to be helpful in the only way he knew how. The irony, however, was not lost on me, when my grandpa would also tell me not to exercise if he saw me exercising. Exercising is for gaining muscle, didn't you know? And girls shouldn't exercise. They should be thin and delicate. Apparently diet alone was the answer to my problems! Who knew?

No, that certainly isn't what bothered me. In fact, sometimes my grandfather's comments, especially about exercising, made me chuckle. He was traditional through and through. I couldn't expect him to be any other way, as a man in his 80's who knew no other way of life. What stung was being called a "fat cow" over and over, by my own biological father.

After about a year, I had had enough. I was sick of it. My solution was extreme dieting, coupled with extreme exercise. Some days I consumed 500 calories. As I am sure you realize, that's not healthy for a growing child. Especially coupled with two trips of 1 hour exercise routines at the gym, daily. My mom knew something was wrong when I started refusing dinner, saying that I wasn't hungry. I could tell she was hurt, and concerned. So I started accepting meals again, and I would eat the vegetables while skipping the carbs and protein, and then sneak the food back into the cooking pots when I knew she wasn't looking. This went on for a few months. But at around that time, I had my first boyfriend. He helped to build up my self esteem that had completely emptied out, and I started to feel better about myself. Thank goodness, I started eating three full meals again, and decreased my exercise regimen to one 1 1/2 hour trip a day. Slowly, I did thin out. I went from a bulky 190 pounds, wearing a size 12 in women's jeans, to a trim and toned 160 pounds, wearing a size 6. I realized I was at a good place, my body really isn't meant to be any smaller. I couldn't picture myself ever fitting into a size 2. My grandfather's comments stopped. In fact, his concerned comments turned into warm compliments. He'd randomly start chuckling, and I'd start chuckling just because he was. I'd ask, "What's so funny?" And he'd answer, "You so beautiful!" I didn't even know how to answer. I had become so conditioned to the insults, I didn't know how to respond to a compliment. To this day, I still don't.

What didn't stop, were the insults from my biological father. He didn't ever acknowledge any of my weight loss, and continued to call me a fat cow, with a nasty tone in his voice. There's no doubt it was intentionally meant to be hurtful. It was at that time, one morning, when a light bulb went off in my head. He was a miserable, unhappy person. And he was trying to make me miserable to feel better about himself. I would never be thin enough, I would never be smart enough, I would never be good enough. My relationship with him completely fell apart. I went from being the little girl who thought he was the center of the universe, to barely every acknowledging his existence again.

Before anyone jumps to any conclusions about my behavior towards him being too extreme... I will mention he was physically and emotionally abusive to my mother for 20 years. As well as to myself and my siblings, without my mother's knowledge while she was hard at work during the day. I will not get into that in depth until sometime in the future, however. That is another tale for another time.

This history is what made me worry so much about weight gain that would be inevitable to pregnancy. I could not allow myself to be in a position where that part of my life could repeat itself. Internally, I worried that if I got fat, my husband wouldn't love me anymore. It's horrible, and untrue, but subconsciously, I started to feel that if I didn't look great, people couldn't, and wouldn't love me. So, as I briefly mentioned in my very first post about how my husband and I found ourselves beginning our adventure in parenthood, I decided I did not want children.

For the first few years of our marriage, my husband would mention things from time to time that told me how much he wanted to be a father. But I insisted we would not have any. However, quietly, in my head, I kept thinking about it. I mulled over all of the things that I was worried about, and, on the flip side, all the things my husband and I could gain through parenthood. And all that we could give to a child, including the type of love we both had lacking in certain aspects of our own childhoods. Finally, after we had been married for 2 1/2 years, I had hit a wall. I couldn't think about it anymore and come to a decision without discussing it with my husband. I voiced my concerns, and he reassured me that he wouldn't love me any less, even if I did gain weight.

During my pregnancy, it was both textbook and not. I never had much in the way of morning sickness, and the extent of my cravings were a two week period when I was 8 weeks along. I took my prenatal vitamins religiously, and did my best to eat healthy. What I did not do, was eat for two. Unfortunately, I think this common saying has contributed to a lot of grief for a lot of expectant mothers, since you are not eating for two (which projects the image that you're eating for two of yourself). You're eating for yourself, and a growing baby, who starts out smaller than a poppyseed, and eventually grows to the size of a small watermelon. While the baby has a lot of nutritional needs, the caloric demands that require you to eat more are not very great. It is advised to eat more meals, but in smaller potions throughout the day. At the end of the day, I'd find myself eating barely more than I would on a regular day. I was also getting mild exercise, and seemed to be in better shape than anyone I knew, pregnant or not. I went to the Canada Day fireworks, by which time I was 7 months pregnant, with three other people, and I beat all of them up the flight of about 40 stairs to get out of the park. I also climbed the grouse grind of Grouse Mountain while 6 months pregnant. It took me a grueling two hours and 1 1/2 water bottles to do it (my husband took maybe two sips from his by the way---this is why I joke he's a lizard), but, I did it. While the limits of each person are unique to that individual, I knew when I did each of these things, I was not exceeding mine.

To my surprise, at the end of it all, when I went to my postpartum check-up with my OB/GYN, I had lost 12 lbs. throughout my pregnancy. I had started at 190 lbs, wearing a size 6 in jeans. I had surely thought I had gained weight, since I was wearing a size 12 immediately post-baby and am now wearing a size 10. But I had gone down to 178 lbs! My hips had simply gotten larger enough that I had been bumped up two pant sizes. Prior to Baby E being born, I was also greatly concerned about how else my body might change. I seriously considered purchasing one of the products available on the market to shrink hips back down to pre-baby size after baby arrives. In the end, I decided against it. I told myself my body would change, and while I may not love it, I would learn to live with it.

What I hadn't expected, is that my husband would love my post-baby body. He informed me just the other night, that with my larger hips, I now have a barbie or supermodel figure (excuse me while I laugh really at that a little). While that could be perceived as good or bad, he went on to say that it was funny that my post-baby body was a better shape. And it's true, I seem to be an even hourglass over my more apple-shaped prior figure, and I still weigh 12 lbs. less now than I did before even getting pregnant. I certainly had never expected my post baby body to be an improvement!

Goodness knows we can all be our own worst critics. While, of course, the superficial things are not the most important, they are our first impression, which is probably why we place so much value in it. Post baby or not, we'll pick ourselves apart or compare ourselves to others, and feel inadequate. But it's important to remember that at the end of the day, attention goes to those who embrace those very "inadequacies." Whether it's Barbra Streisand with her nose, or Forest Whitaker with his "lazy eye" (from eye ptosis): these individuals aren't talked about as if their uniqueness is holding them back, instead, they are recognized and appreciated for it. We live in a society obsessed with perfection (or the appearance of it), getting so wrapped up in it, we forget that if everyone were to be successful at attaining perfection, we'd be a cloud of identical individuals. We would be boring, and surely we'd all feel as if we haven't reached perfect after all, because perfect is supposed to be something we're not. Like the holy grail, it is just another unattainable concept and idea we torment ourselves with.

It's now been 10 months since Baby E was born. And when I think of it, I haven't just come to live with my post baby body. Call me "the glass is half full," but while I could really do without the display of stretch marks along my belly and on my sides, I have learned to love the new curves it has given me. Heck, even the stretch marks play their part, in a way. Those stretch marks have significance, from a time when Baby E's knowledge of the world, was the world that exists within me. So what I thought would never happen, has happened. The impossible has become possible. I have embraced my post baby body. I am a lion, hear me roar.

If you haven't had your baby yet, are you worried about your body changing? What makes you feel the way that you do about your body? If you already have children... How has your body changed since having children? What do you feel has been a positive change?

Lalia is the blogger of Found Frolicking: A Thoughtful Crunchy Mama Blog. She was born and raised in the San Francisco bay area of California. She was taught to love all kinds of foods, and always had a natural inclination towards animals, nature, and the environment. Lalia now shares what she knows and opens up conversation on the topics of natural living for the whole family.

You can find her on her Facebook page, follow her on Twitter, find her on her YouTube channel, follow on her Pinterest boards, follow her on Google+, and follow her on Instagram. You can also subscribe to her blog by following her on Bloglovin', and email subscribe to it through FeedBurner.


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