Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Exploratory Garden

One of my goals for our yard this year was to make an exploratory garden for the girls.
I've seen the idea in several different forms floating all over Pinterest and decided to make
it our own.  It was a very inexpensive and simple project that the girls are LOVING.
Here's what we did:
Step 1:  I picked this shady, unused flowerbed for a couple of different reasons.  I wanted
the garden to be in the shade because Louisiana summers are brutally hot and this play
area will give the girls respite from the heat.  It's also right next to our back patio and
Brees' outdoor kitchen, making it easier for us to keep an eye on them.

Step 2: I raked up all the mulch, moved the existing stones to create a barrier from the rest
of the flowerbed, and then tilled the soil.


Step 3: I added a hefty amount of dirt to the now barricaded play area, enough for the girls
to do lots of digging and burying and sorting.  I planted a few shade loving plants to add
texture and so that the girls would have living things to water and nurture.  In reality,
these little plants will most likely get trampled and/or picked apart by Brees so I made sure
to find plants that are pretty hardy and inexpensive.

Step 4: I added lots of fun little do-dads, some things that we already had around the yard
and a couple of new items that I picked up in the dollar section of the supermarket. 

Pretty rocks leftover from Isabelle's fish aquarium, perfect for sorting into patterns, burying, and building watering holes.


Jungle animals, dinosaurs, and plenty of shovels and trowels.

008 022
Sand sifters for finding buried treasure.

Pretty pinwheels for decoration and a best friend to oversee all the creativity.

I barely had enough time to get everything in and ready before the girls pushed me aside
and got to work making the space their own.  I gave them buckets of water and a couple of
lawn chairs, made myself a cup of tea, sat back and watched them go.  They played for a
little over an hour, a lifetime in kids's time, and I never heard a single argument, complaint,
or demand.  I hope that this little play area will encourage their imaginations, stimulate
their senses, allow for plenty of role play, and serve as an excellent source of learning
about plants and insects and all things green.  Happy exploring, my little gardeners!!

017 016 014 015 018 025 

Follow on Bloglovin

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

Monday, April 29, 2013

On Body Image: We're All In This Together

Pregnancy: a magical and inspiring time in a woman's life where she is blessed to witness
the human body perform one of nature's most amazing feats, growing a baby.  During this
epic 9 month long journey, she will witness her body evolve in ways she never
thought possible, using its every resource to nourish and protect the little miracle
inside.  Ligaments will stretch, vital organs will shift, and hormones will rage.  She will,
at times, feel as though her body has taken on a life of its own.  And that's because it has.
The further I get into my pregnancy, the more often I hear the question, "Are you sure
you're not having twins?".  It has been the same through all three of my pregnancies:
strangers and acquaintances alike, marveling over the size of my growing belly.  Because
when I'm pregnant, I am PREGNANT.  My boobs spill out of the 36 DD bras I had to run
out and buy, my chin becomes a double, my face fills out, and my thighs rub together.
Those women you hear referred to as "all belly", the ones who don't even look pregnant
until they turn around and you see their tiny little bump, that ain't me.  When you see
my growing body, every inch of it in full pregnancy form, there is no doubting that I am
with child.  And people are quick to comment on it.  "There's no way you'll make it to
August!", "Are you sure you're only 22 weeks along?", "There has got to be more than
one baby in there!".
I know that people mean no harm by these comments, they say them with love and
affection and genuine excitement.  Some people just lose all ability to censor themselves
when they are around pregnant women.  They forget that underneath the glowing skin
and baby adoration we are still people with feelings and a dwindling self esteem.  They
don't realize that I actually spent about 10 minutes crying on the floor of my closet
this morning when I couldn't find a single pair of pants to wear that didn't make me feel like
a sausage link.  They have no clue that my belly is in fact NOT their personal property
to fondle and caress at any time they see fit.  They can't for the life of them understand
why their comments, which at any other time in life would equate to, "Damn, girl, you
are BIG!", are completely rude and inappropriate.  And I, quite frankly, do not have the
time or energy to even come up with anything witty to say back.  And so I just smile and
say, "Yes, the baby and I are growing and we are healthy.  Thank you for noticing".
But, I wonder, is society completely to blame?  Or should we, as women, take a look
at ourselves and our own unrealistic expectations for our growing bodies? The women who
are genetically blessed to be "all belly", to maintain their stick thin arms and size 2
bottoms: they are the exception, not the rule.  In truth, most of us gain 25-40 pounds
during pregnancy.  Most of us hold on to about 5 pounds of that after we have our
babies, putting us at a higher starting point with the next baby.  How many fashion
posts and/or articles have you read from women who swear off maternity clothes,
warding them off like the plague?  As if wearing maternity clothes is the ultimate throwing in
of the towel.  I once read a post from a very popular blogger where she advised her readers
to pack bottles for their babies when leaving the house rather than nursing in public.
That way, they never have to compromise their sense of self or their taste in fashion for
the sake of breastfeeding.  Because that would be downright shameful.  Another
blogger humble bragged about wearing her pre-pregnancy jeans only weeks after giving
birth to her child, assuring her readers that they too could achieve such miracle results if
they simply followed her strict vegan diet.  Totally legit.
Those posts had about 100 comments each of women singing their praises: "You
look amazing", "I hope to look as good as you as soon as I pop my little one out", "I only
gained 18 pounds with my pregnancy, too!".  Cue the eye rolling.  You'll never read a post
like that here.  Why?  Because that is not my reality. I'm not that girl.  I'm the girl who
eats healthy, exercises throughout my pregnancy, and makes my physical and mental
health the number one priority during these precious nine months but still manages to gain
35-40 pounds.  I'm the girl who doesn't feel guilty about enjoying the occasional
doughnut.  I'm the girl who stumbles into my yoga pants the first chance I get,
enjoying comfort over fashion any old day. I'm not going to spend this amazing time in my
life worrying about when I'll be able to wear my pre-pregnancy jeans again.  I'm not going
to feel guilty for wearing full panel maternity leggings and full coverage nursing bras.  I'm
not going to compare myself to Giselle and her ability to wear a bikini while
simultaneously holding her 2 month old baby.  I'm not going to expect my body to fall into
line with society and/or other women's perceptions of what I should look like.  This is me,
this is my pregnancy, and I am proud of it.  I am thankful for the fact that I gave birth to
two babies, over 9 pounds each, with no complications or surgeries needed.  And I have
my thick thighs and full cheeks to thank for it.
You see, we can't just blame society and/or the media for these negative perceptions of
what the pregnant body should look like.  We have to take responsibility for ourselves and
our need to hang on to some unattainable level of perfection.  Pregnancies come in all
shapes and sizes, a wide variety of symptoms and changes that make our own
personal journeys unique.  Let's celebrate the women that we are and the
amazing transformation our bodies endure rather than obsess over how we hope to look by
the end of it all.  Because at the end of this journey, it's not your thighs or your hips that
you'll be focused on.  It's the precious little life the doctor places into your arms, the
person your body created during all of that stretching and weight gain, that's the only
thing that really matters.
So, if you see me on the street and you think that I look a little bit bigger than the
average woman at 22 weeks pregnant should look, give me a high five and a few words
of encouragement.  You never know, I could be growing the future Hall of Fame
middle linebacker for the New Orleans Saints in this big belly of mine.

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Laughing at: things my patients say.  I hear some pretty comical things throughout my
day while taking care of these sweet/sometimes crazy patients.  They can make you laugh, 
cry, grateful, and pissed all in the same visit.  Here are a few conversations I've had so far 
this week at work:
1.  "Damn, you are getting fat!!  What is your problem?!  You're turning into a real fat ass
with that big gut of yours!

I'm pregnant, Mr. ____.  My belly is getting big because I'm having a baby.
Oh, well, shit!  That baby of yours must be a fat ass, too!"
2.  "I haven't had a bowel movement in 4 days, I need you to try and dig it out of me.
That's probably not necessary.  Let's try getting you a laxative, drinking more fluids,
and eating more fiber first.
No, I'd really rather you dig it out.  I can't explain it, but I really like the feeling of
someone doing that."
3.  "I'm so glad you are here.  My last home health dropped me and I've been on my
I'm sorry to hear that.  We will try to help you in any way that we can.
Ok, cool.  Just make sure you come and see me in the morning.  I start drinking around
noon and get pretty drunk by mid-afternoon.  I'm kind of a mean drunk, too.  The last
home health didn't take too kindly to that sorta stuff."
Listening to...
"From Nowhere" by Dan Croll
"Miracle Mile" by Cold War Kids
"Sweater Weather" by The Neighborhood
"Stay" by Rihanna
"Entertainment" by Phoenix
Excited about...our new piano!!  Shawn's been dying to get a piano into our house for
years but, seriously, who can afford such a thing?  Last week, our close family friends
decided to get rid of their family heirloom piano and offered it to us at an amazingly low
price.  Shawn jumped at the opportunity and had the piano delivered before I could even
have time to say YES.  We put it right in the big open space in front of our staircase and it
looks like it was always supposed to be there.  I've been making calls to get Isabelle
started with lessons and laughing at Brees who can't walk by without banging on the keys
while singing at the top of her lungs.  I am so excited that we were able to purchase such
a beautiful piece from a family we love so much.  The memories they created on the piano
in their home will now continue in ours.

Reading...I just finished "Bringing Up Bebe" by Pamela Drukerman.  This book was a
good read but it was, in no way, earth shattering.  The methods of child rearing practiced
by the French as observed by the writer are not necessarily a "method" but more
common sense. It reminded me of the conversations I have with my mother and aunts
about the differences in mothers of my generation and the mothers in their generation.
My mother was not all up in my business when I was growing up.  She didn't worry
about engaging me, boosting my self esteem, or providing the perfect organic/paleo/
gluten free diet.  She believed in raising strong, independent children who could think
for themselves rather than have an adult rush in to solve each and every one of
their dilemmas.  If she felt like playing with us, she did.  If she didn't, then we played on
our own.  And we didn't dare walk into an adult conversation and interrupt.  There was
a saying in our family: "Children should be seen and not heard".  Meaning: do not speak
unless spoken to unless your pants are on fire or an adult has given you permission to do
so.  We were expected to eat whatever was served for dinner whether we liked it or
not.  Snacks were a treat, not an all day, everyday occurrence.  In public, we were expected
to sit quietly, mind our manners, and follow the rules.  If we misbehaved, we were
taken outside and disciplined accordingly. My mom didn't sit at the kitchen table with us
every night assisting with homework.  We went to school all day, not her.  We should
know how to complete our own homework because we should have been paying attention
in class.  My mom and aunts and their friends didn't curate our playdates.  They let us
loose outside and told us to have fun and be back before dinner.  Our imaginations were
the curators.  We had chores, our household was run on a schedule, and we knew
what consequences we would face should we not comply with the rules.  And guess what?
I grew up to be a healthy, happy, well rounded adult who, for the most part, has my
shit together.  Her "method" or lack thereof worked!  And now she just sits back and laughs
at me when I tell her about the newest trends and fads lighting up my Pinterest board.
Truth be told, my mom is French.  My whole family is, actually.  Maybe that's why they are
so ahead of the game on this "Bringing Up Bebe" hype.  Or maybe it's just that we, as
modern day American moms, just eat stuff like this up with our overpriced, Etsy
purchased wooden spoons.  We are the information generation, the moms who
constantly want to better ourselves and give our kids a childhood to write home about.
Maybe we're not so different from our moms or the moms in France than we think.  We
just like our parenting to include labels and books and studies and child psychologists
backing us up.  We like to feel as put together and purposeful as the car organizers we
just purchased on Zuilily.  I think that I fall somewhere in between my mom and
today's modern mom: I'm not quite as hardcore strict as my mom was but I'm also not
a hipster.  I try to find a happy medium, a good balance, a simple and loving way to boost
my kids to their full potential without hovering over them 24/7.  And, hopefully, we
won't screw them up too bad.  That's all any of us can ever hope for, right?

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

22 Weeks

I entered full blown nesting mode this week.  As I looked around the house, all I could think
of was, "There's a baby coming and we have no place for any of his things!".  Which
is ridiculous and untrue but try telling my pregnancy hormones that.  I started cleaning
each room of the house from top to bottom: washing curtains and bedding, wiping
down baseboards, dusting ceiling fans and windowsills.  I then made my way to the
closets, cursing all the way home as I filled up one bag after another and placed them in
the donation pile.  Maybe it's just spring fever, maybe I've really just gone crazy, who
knows?  Either way, the house is looking immaculate and we are a few steps closer to
being ready for our little one.  My mission for this weekend is to rearrange the closets in
the girls' bedrooms to make room for a little brother.  Girls sharing their coveted
wardrobe space for a boy?  It should be interesting.
Besides the cleaning frenzy, I have felt really good this week.  My energy level has been up,
my weight gain slowed down, and all that cleaning and climbing and bending over seems
to have helped my aching round ligaments.  I scored a few nursing bras and washable
nursing pads from Zuilily and was happy to check a few things off my list.  As summer
quickly approaches, I am looking forward to Isabelle being out of school, our schedule
slowing down, and the whole family being able to be home and nest together.  Our last
few months as a family of four.
013-1 021-1 037-1 

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Happy Earth Day

We've been immersed in the outdoors here lately, enjoying every moment of the 
warmer temperatures, the later sunsets, the blooming flowers and growing garden.  I 
race home from work everyday, eager to throw on my favorite pair of cut-offs and sandals 
and sit outside with a cup of tea, the sound of the girls' chatter floating through the backyard 
as they play one game after another.  Brees has made it her own personal mission to water 
all of the plants each afternoon, sometimes knocking them over and/or drowning them in 
the process but feeling important nonetheless.  Isabelle feeds the dogs and entertains her 
little sister's every whim, her patience growing just as quickly as her long legs.  They 
keep themselves entertained in this big, open backyard while Shawn and I put in the 
blood, sweat, and tears it takes to keep these 4 acres of land maintained.  We prune, clip, 
mow, plant, burn, drag, and sow.  It's more than just a hobby, our love for this green 
and prosperous land: it is a passion, a blessing.  To see our girls run wild through 
these gardens, to watch them make memories and expand their imaginations, it is a gift.  

005-1 007 008 011 010 015-1 020-2

When Shawn was in the hospital last year, friends and family offered to help in any way 
they could.  We assigned jobs to whomever was willing to take them: someone to take care 
of our pets, someone to pick up the mail, an aunt who was kind enough to water all of 
my plants each afternoon that I was gone.  A total of 25 afternoons to be exact.  She kept 
them all watered and pruned as best she could while juggling her own responsibilities.  
One afternoon, after a really bad thunderstorm, she found my tiny aloe vera plant, bought on 
a whim while I stood in line at a local nursery, on the ground.  The little terra cotta pot it 
called home was smashed and its dirt was scattered on the patio floor.  She 
quickly transplanted it into one of my large containers nearby, the aloe vera plant now 
sharing a home with a hydrangea.  She didn't know how long it had been on the ground 
or whether or not it would even survive but she knew to put it back in the soil as quickly 
as possible to give it the best chance of survival.  Yesterday, I transplanted that 
aloe vera plant once again, this time into its own container.  Over the last year, it has 
grown and flourished and become stronger.  It has sprouted new roots, strong roots, 
and become something much bigger than I ever expected.  
Sounds like someone else I know.


In honor of Earth Day, Isabelle requested that we eat dinner outside last night, something 
we don't do nearly enough.  I made their favorite tacos and we set the patio table up to 
surprise Daddy when he got home.  It was, of course, not as picturesque as one might 
imagine: food was spilled and dogs were begging and Brees was so distracted that 
she abandoned her dinner after only three bites and set to work making her own meal of 
dirt soup.  But it was a nice change and the weather was beautiful and I didn't have to clean 
the kitchen afterwards.  We watered the garden and all the plants and then carried our 
plates inside, reluctantly leaving the magical backyard behind.  We'll be back tomorrow, 
lilies and vines and azaleas.  We can't wait to see what beauty you will bring us then.

024-2 023-1 026-1 027-1 038-2 033-1 048-1 041-2 

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Preparing for Baby v.1

  1. Start taking a prenatal vitamin daily.  Women should have 800 mcg of folic acid daily while pregnant (source).  There are also amazing benefits to taking a DHA supplement daily throughout pregnancy.  Read more about DHA here.
  2. Clean up your diet.  The best way to obtain vitamins and minerals is through your food.  Eat fresh, locally grown, in season fruits and veggies daily.  Pregnant women should ingest an extra 300 calories per day during the second and third trimesters. 
  3. Schedule an appointment with your OBGYN/Midwife/doula as soon as possible.  My OBGYN prefers to see me at 8 weeks.  At my first appointment, she performs a pap smear, routine prenatal blood work, a urinalysis, and an ultrasound.  We discuss my obstetrical history and she performs an overall physical exam.  I love how thorough she is during this first exam: it establishes a solid foundation for my prenatal care.
  4. Obtain information about childbirth classes you might be interested in.  Your OB/midwife/doula should have a list of local resources to get you started.
  5. Visit your Human Resources representative at work to obtain information about maternity leave, short term disability, and insurance deductibles.
  6. Start a skin care regimen and stick to it.  I have used this lotion throughout all three of my pregnancies and I have, so far, avoided stretch marks.  Wear sunscreen daily as pregnant skin is much more susceptible to sunburns and the dreaded melasma
  7. Exercise regularly.  Remember not to overexert yourself, stay hydrated, and stretch daily.  If you do not already have an established workout routine, it’s not too late!  Just remember to consult your doctor and start slowly.  Prenatal yoga and brisk walking are a great starting point.
  8. Get plenty of rest.  The first trimester is exhausting for most women so give your body a break and sleep when you can.
  9. Start a journal or scrapbook to record your progress, reflect on your pregnancy journey, and record the precious memories of your pregnancy to share with your little one later. Take weekly photos to capture your growing belly.
  10. Whenever you feel most comfortable, share the big news!!  A baby is cause for celebration!


Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

21 Weeks

This was such a busy week, I don't think I ever stopped moving.  We signed the
final paperwork for the refinancing of our home, finished up our taxes, started
Shawn's application process for his big return to university, made preparations for
Isabelle's school fair next week, took portraits for dance, and enjoyed an awesome weekend
in New Orleans in celebration of Belle's 9th birthday!  It was a whirlwind and I definitely
felt the stress and strain on my growing body.  My energy level is still not what I am used
to and I have to keep reminding myself that I am growing a baby, I need more rest, I have
to slow down.  I try to set small goals each week, keeping lists along the way to help me get it
all done.  If things fall by the wayside, I remind myself to move forward and let it go.  Life
with three kids will most certainly involve unfinished business and dozens of
imperfections.  The days of a picture perfect home and feeling completely put together
are over for me.  Or, at least, on pause.  During this season of my life, I have made it
my mission to embrace the beautiful chaos that is a big family, to see the beauty in the mess.
As we celebrated Isabelle's 9th birthday this week, I couldn't help but find myself reflecting
on my first born, my forever baby.  I remember the excitement and anticipation I
felt throughout my pregnancy with her: devouring every pregnancy book I could get my
hands on, sleeping in every chance I got, reveling in the miracle of my growing body and
the feeling of her kicking and squirming in utero.  We didn't find out her gender until she
was born, wanting to keep our first a mystery and enjoy one of life's greatest surprises.
This pregnancy has been a completely different experience in that there is less time for
rest and reflection, the amazement at each twist and turn has turned into a comfortable
sense of ease and pride in my body doing its job yet again.  I feel sure, confident, and at
peace rather than anxious and nervous as I did the first time around.  But one thing
remains the same: the connection, the bond, and daydreaming about who this baby will
be. That is something that never changes, no matter how many times you experience
this journey.  And to be able to go through it again with my oldest by my side, cheering
me along and celebrating with me: it makes the whole process even more beautiful.
008-1 012-1 017-1 

Click To Vote For Us @ Top Baby Blogs Directory!