Highlights from France

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Hey all!  If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve been seeing some fun updates from our recent trip to France!  Now, before you wonder what sort of hateful person I’ve become, jet-setting off to Europe like a carefree DINK instead of wiping multiple poopy butts like I’m supposed to be doing, let me explain.

Luke’s dad’s company (where Luke works) is a travel agency for performance groups, so every other year, his dad puts together tours to some fun, historical and cultural locale (usually Europe) and invites friends and family to come along.  This may or may not have a little something to do with the timing of our children’s births (i.e. in the summer, on the off years).  Heh heh.

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We hit up Normandy and Omaha beach first…very moving being in the American cemetery there and a stop I highly recommend !

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We also got a day and a half in Paris to see the usual stuff including the Louvre.  Definitely not enough time for Paris but we’d been there before and so I was OK with just a little refresher of that amazing city!

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Once we hit the southern coast, the real fun began!  None of us in the group (there were 35 of us) had ever been there before and we all loved it!  We showed up in Nice just 2 days after the terrorist attack on Bastille Day which was just awful.

We were, of course, so grateful that we hadn’t showed up just a few days earlier, but seeing the aftermath was heartbreaking.  Policemen and big guns everywhere, news trucks and memorials placed up and down the promenade (the boardwalk right along the beach and 2 blocks from our hotel).

While staying in Nice, we also drove up the coast towards Monaco and saw some incredible sights, including villas and yachts of the uber wealthy.  I’m not talking celebrity-wealth, I’m talking ridiculously stupid, rule-the-world wealth.  The most expensive house (can it be called that?) in the world is located along this coast, and last sold for 500 MILLION dollars.  Doh.

All in all it was an amazing trip!  Leaving the babes for 10 days is always hard, (especially the coming back adjustment!  Why are my children so LOUD??) but I think trips away help me appreciate them more.

I’ve got LOTS more pictures which hopefully I’ll get around to posting soon!

Easiest Swimsuit Cover-Up

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I’ve got a super easy tutorial for you guys today! This super cute and simple swimsuit coverup is my new favorite project.  If you’ve got a yard of fabric and 20 minutes, you’re well on your way!

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I found this cute open weave fabric at my local discount fabric shop but any lace would work just as well.

First, I folded my fabric piece in half widthwise and cut along the fold.  Then I cut out a neckline along the side I just cut (I made mine a little wide so I can wear it off the shoulders if I want), and sewed the pieces back together along both shoulders.  Then I hemmed the neckline with a baby hem so that it looked a little neater.

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At this point I tried it on to see if I liked the length…mine ended up being a little long so I trimmed it to about mid-thigh.

Lastly, I stitched the front and back pieces together underneath my arms on both sides: I began sewing about 9 inches below the shoulder seams, (and about 5″ in from the side raw edge) and sewed all the way to the bottom hem.  This seam can really be placed wherever you like, but these are the measurements that worked for me.

Because my fabric didn’t have a distinct right and wrong side, I didn’t worry about my pieces being right sides together, but if it does matter on your fabric, then sew the shoulder seams right sides together, and the side seams wrong sides together.

Essentially you end up with s big rectangle caftan with a neck cut out and two quick side seams.  That’s it!

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I left my side and bottom edges raw because this fabric doesn’t unravel and I’m lazy!  Easy peasy and a great payoff.

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I hope you liked this tutorial…check out some other simple projects under my Tutorials menu!

Ultimate Pool Bag Tutorial

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Hey guys!  I’ve got a really fun and easy tutorial for you today to help make you summer adventures easier.  If you’re here visiting from Nap Time Creations, then welcome!  I hope you love it.

Does anyone else find themselves playing the part of sherpa when it’s time to hit the pool or beach?  It seems even my big kids become completely incapable of carrying their own towel, goggles, pool toys, etc. and I’m walking around with my arms piled high with SHTUFF (and pool stuff x 7 kids = a big headache).  So I dreamed up this bag that would hold all our pool necessities without any extra effort on my part!  The best part is that it’s a backpack so that I can hold hands/babies while we walk down the street to our community pool.

Ready??  Let’s do it!

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What you’ll need:

1 yard sturdy canvas-type fabric (any outdoor home decor fabric would work well, bonus if it’s water-resistant!  I re-purposed a heavy duty curtain from Target)
Extra long zipper (mine was 65″ – you probably won’t find this at your local craft store; I bought mine at an upholstery shop where they sell them by the yard.)
Heavy duty coordinating fabric for pockets (optional: clear vinyl or other waterproof fabric to make one pocket a wet bag!)
2 yards 1″ elastic for towel loops
1 yard 1/4″ elastic for pockets
Twill webbing for straps (about 1.5 yards)

  1.  First, I cut my fabric into 4 rectangles, each measuring 17″ x 21″ (2 pieces will be the outer portion of the bag and the other 2 will be the lining).  Then I used a cup (or other circular object) to trace around the corners and round them off.

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  2. Sew on your towel loops!  Take one of your rounded rectangles and sew strips of elastic onto the right side (my strips were about 13″ long);  I placed my strips of elastic in pairs, so that they’re running parallel to the long side of the fabric (see picture).  Sew down both raw edges to form a loop (using a zig zag stitch to reinforce each edge well!) It’s totally up to you how many loops you sew and the spacing, but I ended up with 6 loops, to hold 3 towels, since our towels are pretty bulky.  If needed, I could also stick just one towel in each loop so I could schlep twice as many!
  3. Next, you need to sew on your pockets.  I cut my smaller pockets measuring 6″ x 7″ and my larger pockets were 13″ x 8″.  Take two of the other rectangles of bag fabric, and begin by arranging your pockets as desired on the right side of the fabric.  I chose to put the two small pockets on top of one side (for sunscreen and little toys) and the large elasticized pockets everywhere else.

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  4. To sew on the small pockets, finish the raw edges (I used a serger but you can also just zigzag them), fold them under 1/4″ and topstitch along the top of your pocket.  Then stitch the sides and bottom right to your bag lining (leaving the top open!).
  5. For the bigger pockets, finish your raw edges and press under the bottom and sides 1/4″.  For the top of these pockets, you’ll press under 1/2″ and sew right along the raw edge, forming a casing.  Thread your 1/4″ elastic through the casing and gather the fabric as much as you’d like, pulling the elastic taut.  Stitch the elastic to the fabric on both open sides of the casing to keep it in place.  Then topstitch the sides and bottom of your pockets to your lining just as with the smaller pockets.  Don’t stretch your elastic to sew the sides…just let it pull the top of the pocket inwards so that the elastic will keep your stuff inside!
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  6. Next, sew your straps to your last rectangle of fabric.  I didn’t make mine adjustable since I’ll be the only one wearing it, but that’s an option as well!  I simply topstitched one raw end of the straps to the edge of my fabric, right at the top (see picture) and then tried it on, measured where I wanted it to hit under my arms, trimmed the webbing and sewed the other ends to the sides of my fabric.
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  7. Now, you’ll be sewing your lining to your bag exteriors.  Match up one exterior piece (i.e. with the elastic loops) to one lining (i.e. with pockets), right sides together.  Begin sewing together just a few inches from the center of the bottom short end, all the way around (one long side, the top short side and the other long side) to a few inches from the center on the other side of the bottom.  Leave 5-6 inches open to turn.  Repeat with other two fabric pieces.  REMEMBER to make sure your pockets are facing UP!
  8. Turn both pieces of your bag right sides out and press the edges well.  Fold under the raw edges of the part you left open, and stitch the two pieces of the bag together, along this opening (this will be the bottom of the bag that keeps the pieces connected, even when the zipper is unzipped.

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  9. Finally, stitch your zipper to you bag but sewing one zipper tape to one side of the bag, beginning right where you sewed the two halves together.  You’ll stitch the zipper tape to the bag ALL the way around, and then do the same with the other zipper tape and other side of the bag.

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    Thanks for reading!  I hope this tutorial helps lighten your summer load!

    Be sure to head over to the Nap Time Creations blog to see more posts in the Summer Fun Series!

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The Gift of a Body

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Hey all!  I’ve had some deep thoughts swirling the last few days that I really want to share with you all.  I’ve been ruminating on our miraculous bodies and how we act, think and speak about them.

If you’re a woman, then chances are REALLY good you’ve experienced some body angst.  Our world is just too obsessed with physical perfection for any of us to grow up in it without feeling a little (or a LOT of) insecurity surrounding our looks.  Deep down we all know that it isn’t right to feel this way, but most of us aren’t really sure how to overcome it.  I’ve been blessed with a few years of experience and gotten a fair amount of use out of my body (bearing 7 kids is a fair amount, right??) that I feel blessed to have overcome some struggles in this regard.  I want to share with you a few steps I think we can all embrace when it comes to how we view our bodies.

The first thing I want to really emphasize is this: you are NOT your body.  I believe that everyone has a physical body that houses a spiritual soul and that our bodies are only a portion of who we are.  In fact, it’s a portion that we have little control over.  We can’t choose how tall we are, or our hair or eye color (even though we may try!) or the basic shape of our bodies.  We can’t choose whether or not we tan or get freckles, or whether or not we need glasses or braces.  And yet, all too often, the world judges us as if these physical features DEFINE us.  They most certainly do not!  It can be hard to let go of past trauma regarding our bodies; abuse, taunting, snide comments or insecurities can be deep seated and very damaging.  But it’s important to remember that these things are not who we are.  We are more than our bodies!!

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Secondly, we can influence the world’s obsession with bodies for good.  I am sad and ashamed to admit that a person’t body shape used to be the very first thing I noticed about someone.  I didn’t mean to do this, and I have worked hard to stop this habit, but it was an automatic reaction I acquired after years of being obsessed with my own outward appearance.  I think our greatest influence in this area begins with our daughters and sons.  Did you know that what you say about your OWN body can influence your children just as much as what you say about THEIRS?  None of us would even consider insulting our daughters’ bodies and yet we often think nothing of ridiculing our own bodies in front of our kids.  If we want them to respect their own bodies and those of others, we have to model respect for our own.  Luke and I have talked a lot about this and have decided on some basic rules for our house: we obviously don’t call anyone “fat” but we also avoid the word “skinny”, and instead we focus on words like “strong” and “healthy”.  We want our kids to focus on how they feel, instead of how they look.

On that note, I’ll share with you that I’ve made a personal decision that I won’t alter my body surgically.  This is obviously not a very popular decision in some circles and I have lots of friends and family that have made other decisions in this regard…this is in no way meant to shame or judge anyone for their decisions!  But, I personally would only choose this route for purely selfish reasons, and so I’ve decided that it’s not the path for me.  I love the idea of embracing every stage of life, no matter what it looks like (and trust me, my abs don’t look like much anymore!) and not fighting the inevitable aging and sagging process.  It’s just a losing game, after all.  Again, I am not aiming to make anyone else feel badly about choosing plastic surgery and I completely understand reconstructive surgeries…I just don’t plan on any myself.

View More: http://redpoppyphoto.pass.us/wiscombe-family

The next step is to truly, TRULY appreciate our bodies.  This is so hard, I get it!  You just want to lose 15 pounds or really tone up your rear end.  Or stop having people ask you if you’re pregnant when your baby is 4!!  But here’s the thing…our bodies will never measure up to the world’s standard of perfection; it’s ever-changing and it’s just too impossible to reach.  But our bodies are so incredible! It is truly a divine miracle that two miniscule cells can combine to create the jaw-dropping complexity of the human body.  When something does go wrong with our bodies, we often marvel at how many minutes, days, and decades our bodies function normally without our even giving it a second thought.  Now, I am speaking as someone who has not had to endure any serious bodily trials  (except for one not-so-fun altercation with an open flame in my youth…yikes!); my body is whole and for that I am forever grateful.  But perhaps those with serious scars, lost limbs, death-defying illnesses and other broken bodies can attest even more intently how wonderful it is to have a body that can do what we need it to do.

A little disclaimer at this point: I obviously take time on my appearance; I wear makeup, sometimes color my hair and really enjoy dressing fashionably.  Some might argue that this is vain and that I shouldn’t need these things if I truly appreciate my body as is.  And they may have a point!  But doing these things actually does help me appreciate my body, and I really try hard to strike a balance between working on the exterior and on the interior.  On this note, showing gratitude for our bodies begins with treating it right.  If we don’t love how we feel, we can make changes!  We can eat better, we can exercise, we can get more sleep.  These things will help us to maximize our bodies’ potential and realize all the good they can do for us.  We have so many resources available to us in the form of good foods, holistic remedies and medications; we should all fight for good health!

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Lastly, if you still struggle with hard feelings towards your body, find something that it can do for you!  Make a goal to run a race, participate in a competition, or just go outside and jump on the trampoline with your kids.  While for me, pregnancy and birth have been the turning points in how I view and appreciate my body, many women are terrified of motherhood simply because of what it means for their appearance.  I can think of nothing more tragic than a woman missing out being a mom, only because she fell prey to the world’s definition of beauty.  Flabby skin, stretch marks and extra pounds are nothing in comparison with the ability to conceive, carry, deliver and breastfeed a perfect tiny human; and while not everyone gets the chance to have these experiences, they have forever changed how I perceive my body!

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Summer Maxi Dress & Giveaway!

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GIVEAWAY CLOSED: Erin J. is our winner!  Thanks for entering, guys!! 🙂

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen me mention that our Phoenix temps have hit their highs already this year…we’ve even seen 120 degrees!  A couple readers have asked how we dress for temps this ludicrous and so today I’ve got a fun and breezy summer look to share!

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When I first moved to Arizona, I shied away from pants and maxi dresses in the summer, thinking that more fabric = hotter.  Until I learned the magic of loose, flowy pants and long dresses!  When the fabric is lightweight and loose, these silhouettes are great to wear, even on the hottest of days.  They offer protection from seemingly sub-zero indoor AC temperatures, but keep you cool outdoors as well.  And the best part??  You can hike them up as high as you want in the car.

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I am absolutely in LOVE with this flowy faux-wrap dress from Pink Blush, a trendy Women’s Online Boutique.  They specialize in flattering clothing for women that easily transition to maternity and nursing wear – how genius is that??  The wrap-front on this dress would be perfect for breastfeeding and is stretchy enough to wear through an entire pregnancy as well.  You know, just in case. 🙂

Plus, it’s the only wrap dress I’ve ever worn that gives enough coverage up top without an undershirt!  Cause there ain’t no way I’m wearing layers when it’s 120 out.

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I also can’t get enough of these bold, tropical floral prints that are popping up everywhere.  The perfect summer floral!  Be sure to check out this dress HERE and all the other amazing dresses and cute styles they have over at Pink Blush!

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*Post created in partnership with PinkBlush, all opinions are my own.

Healthy Kid-Friendly Kitchen Swaps

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Do you guys struggle with feeding your kids healthy as much as I do??  With each new addition to our family, the stress level at mealtime increases and my desire to make a big elaborate meal (that 87% of my children won’t eat) DEcreases.  So instead, I stock my house full of healthy-ish packaged staples so that we always have something easy to fall back on.

I want to feed my kids healthy, whole foods but I also want to stay sane!!  And cooking everything from scratch is just not always an option.

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Below are a few of my favorite family-friendly healthy kitchen products and a few other tips to get whole foods on the table quickly.  I hope they help your mealtime rush!

  1.   Know what ingredients to watch out for.  It’s amazing what kind of preservatives and garbage you’ll find in packaged foods: from pancake and cake mixes to processed meats and cheeses.  It’d be impossible for me to list all the bad stuff out there but I generally go by the rule of trying to only purchase items with 5 ingredients or fewer.  We do our best to avoid hydrogenated fats and oils of any kind (did you know this is in Cool Whip??), High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), monosodium glutamate (MSG…shockingly still in lots of stuff!), nitrites and nitrates (in bacon and lunch meats) and added sugar.  
  2. Pick 3-4 favorite from-scratch recipes for each meal and store them in a book.  Always keep your kitchen stocked with ingredients for these favorites.  Some of our breakfast favorites include this waffle recipethis GF muffin recipe and this granola recipe.  Cereal has been hard for us to kick (and we still sometimes splurge) but it’s really just processed wheat and sugar for breakfast and I know I feel like crap when I eat it!  Yes, it takes a little extra time to make meals from scratch.  Yes, sometimes I just wanna dump milk in a mix or pop in some frozen burritos…but with a little planning ahead, it’s easy to whip these out and store them for future meals (homemade pancakes, waffles, burritos and muffins all freeze wonderfully!).  And I rest easy at night knowing exactly what I’m putting in my little ones’ bodies.  

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3.  Stock your kitchen with whole-food staples like the ones in the picture above!  This post is not sponsored in any way, these are just some of my favorites:  

*pure maple syrup from Costco: yes it’s expensive, but I’ve taught my kids to only use a small amount and it’s better than the HFCS-laden big brand syrups
*unsweetened Greek yogurt: I realize that kids love yogurt but the stereotypical kid yogurts are chock full of dyes and sugars…some have more than 20 grams!!  We prefer to buy unsweetened and then add some berries or honey.
*natural peanut butter: most pb’s have hydrogenated oils added, simply so you don’t have to stir them.  No thanks!  It took us some experimenting to find a brand we love but this “Adams” brand from WinCo comes in creamy and crunchy and is delicious!
*whole wheat bread with no sugar: I buy ours at the Alpine Valley factory near our house but they sell this bread at our local Costco as well.  Once I tried to buy bread at our local big grocery store, and I couldn’t find a SINGLE loaf without added sugar in it plus a billion other ingredients.  Alpine Valley uses honey and only about 5 ingredients.  And it’s super good!
*Natural applesauce: my kids eat this stuff like candy!  We like this Motts variety with no added sugar.

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4.  Cut out most prepackaged snacks.  I feel a little bad for our babysitters when they peek in our pantry looking for a treat cause we ain’t got nothing: no chips, no cookies, no crackers, nada.  We weren’t always this way but over the years, I’ve figured out 2 things:
1.  my kids don’t eat real food if snacks are available.  Having fishy crackers or granola bars available is a surefire way to make sure my kids won’t eat lunch.
2.  When packaged snacks aren’t available, my kids will snack on fruits and veggies.  Seriously!  I always keep a bowl of fruit out on the counter and when they’re hungry between meals, that’s where I send them.  My kids also love carrots and cucumbers and sometimes baby bell peppers with hummus.

**If you gradually make it a goal to stop buying these, you’ll be surprised how quickly you don’t miss them!  And I’m always happy when my kids are hungry at mealtime.  If you have snacks that you yourself can’t live without, hide them!  Maybe you’ll break some bad habits too!

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5.  Take a little extra time at the store one day and find 4 or 5 prepackaged meals (or easy to prepare ideas) that fit the tips above.  I love to have a couple frozen options that I know are relatively healthy and will rescue me on nights when there’s no time for real dinner.   Some of my favorites are:

*frozen bean & cheese burritos from Costco with no preservatives (sorry, I can’t remember the brand!)
*using frozen pita bread to make quick pizzas with bottled sauce and mozzarella cheese
*leftover frozen waffles (just stick them in the toaster!)
*rotisserie chicken with yummy french bread and good cheeses
*blending up a quick soup with roasted veggies (butternut squash & cauliflower are favorites)
*whipping up some tacos with leftover meat and veggies.

It takes a little preparation and ingenuity but eating whole, unprocessed foods tastes so much better, it’s totally worth it!

Lest this post makes you all think we’re perfect over here…right now we’ve got Lucky Charms, nutrigrain bars and fruit snacks hanging around (what happens when dad does the shopping) but we try to make that kind of junk an occasional treat.  I use my best judgement when buying packaged foods for my family and just do the best that I can.  I think that we moms often get freaked about all the stuff we’re not doing right, that we forget about how far we’ve come!  The trick is just to improve, a little at a time.  Good luck, mamas!

 

Easy Date Night Look

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Does anyone else do regular date nights and look forward to them all week??  Homeschooling means that the the kids and I are all together, ALL THE TIME…which is both awesome and overwhelming sometimes.  A couple hours away with Luke doing something fun and adult-y is the BEST.

And getting dressed for date night is one of my favorite parts!  For me, a tried and true look is nicer jeans, heels or wedges and a fancy top.  It’s just dressy enough to go to a nice restaurant but casual enough to see a movie or go bowling, etc.

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Black jeans are always a good choice and I’m loving this ruffled top I found on sale!  It’s a silky polyester and I’m a huge fan of any feminine take on an animal print.  Other great options for this combo would be a peplum top, lace blouse or silky button down.  Pretty much any top & shoes I’d wear to church, paired with denim instead of a skirt.  Easy!

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Last of all, I almost always bring a purse too small to fit diapers – ha!  After all, I certainly can’t use a cute clutch with 7 children in tow…this white one is the perfect summer choice!

Do you have any other favorite date night outfit ideas??

Top (mine no longer available), other super cute dressy tops HERE and HERE

Black denim (or this premium denim with a great fit!)

Wedges

Clutch (mine not available online, Similar and HERE)

5 Minute Shower Workout

 

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In a perfect world, I’m up at 5am to go for a 12 mile run, after which I shower, do a full face of makeup, put on a super stylish outfit, read scriptures and pray and meditate and am ready and waiting in the kitchen at 7am with a freshly baked batch of healthy muffins for the kids and hubs.

In reality, most days my soggy-bottomed babes are in my bed at 8:30am, climbing all over my sleep-deprived face and prying my eyelids open asking if they can have leftover ice cream for breakfast.  I’m really hoping this scenario sounds familiar to at least some of you!

Because of this, I’ve taken to doing a couple quick exercises in the bathroom before I shower.  Sometimes it’s just a few push-ups on the floor and sometimes it’s a whole routine…but it makes me sweat and helps me feel a tiny bit better for staying up too late with Netflix and the sewing machine.  I hope this quick workout helps you get moving on those sorts of days!

**Note: Obviously these could be dangerous if done in a wet and slippery shower…make sure the floor is dry and do them before turning on the water! Can you imagine a worse nightmare than having a firetruck full of hot paramedics come rescue you naked in the shower because you slipped doing squats??  Ha!

Download and print the printable HERE!  Laminate it and stick it right in your shower to make things easy.

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Ladder Sit:  I love doing this exercise over my shower seat (I stop just short of sitting down completely) but you can do it even if your shower doesn’t have a seat…just try to get your quads almost at a 90 degree angle.  I aim for 8-10 reps.

  1.  Squat a few inches down from standing and hold for 3 seconds (1)
  2. Lower yourself another few inches and hold for 5 seconds (2)
  3. Lower your bottom again and hold for 7 seconds (3)
  4. Squat a bit more until you’re almost sitting on your seat and count to 9 seconds (4)
  5. Now repeat going back up!  Raise your bum back to step (3) and hold for 7 seconds, step (2) and hold for 5, then step (1) and hold for 3.

Stand up completely and repeat!

vertical-pushups-instructionsVertical Push-Ups:  The trick to making these work is the angle of your body compared to the wall.  You want to stand far enough back that gravity offers some resistance, but the first few reps should be fairly easy.  I stay on the balls of my feet, and hold my hands pressed together on the wall with my thumbs and index fingers forming a diamond shape. Aim for 10-15 reps.

1.  With arms held straight, gradually bend your elbows directly out to the side of you and lower your face to the wall.
2.  Get your face as close to the wall as you can, then push yourself back into an incline with your elbows straight.  Be sure to tighten your core and bum during this exercise.  You should feel it in your chest and triceps!

plie-releve-instructionsPlié Relevé: (pronounced pl-ee-ay rele-vay) This is one of my favorite fitness hacks from my ballet days.  Be sure to keep your toes pointed out to the sides, your bum tucked under and your spine tall and straight.  Aim for 15 reps.

1.  Standing with your feet about 10 inches apart, raise yourself up onto the balls of your feet, tightening all your leg and butt muscles.
2.  Squat down, with your heels still raised, as low as you can go.  I like to keep one hand on the shower door, but the less you can hold onto, the better the workout!
3.  Lower your heels (still in the squat position), and raise back up to a stand.
**You can actually perform this exercise in any order.  Sometimes I go right to step 3 from step 1 or do the plié before the relevé.  Your choice!

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Tricep Dips: This a pretty standard exercise that you’ve probably seen before.  My only caution is, you might want to skip it if you have weak wrists.  This can also be done on a (closed!) toilet.  Try to do 8-10 reps.

1.  With your back facing the shower seat, rest the palms of your hands on the edge of the seat and extend your legs out in front of you.  Be sure to keep your legs straight so that they don’t take up the slack when your arms get tired!
2.  Slowly lower your bottom down towards the floor, bending your elbows straight out behind you.  Try to get your triceps to form a 90 degree angle with your forearms.  Slowly lift yourself back up and repeat.
** If you haven’t done these in a while, they can be pretty difficult when first starting out!  But keep it up and you’ll get better really quickly!

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Leg Extensions: Another ballet-inspired move!  Keep your standing leg really firm and tight and your hips square, facing the wall.  Aim for 10-12 reps each leg.

1.  Facing the wall, and holding onto it for support, lift yourself onto the balls of your feet and extend one leg behind you, with your bum and hamstring flexed and your knee bent.
2.  Extend your bent leg farther back behind you until your knee is straight; hold for 3-5 seconds.
3.  Bring your leg back towards the wall in front of you, with the knee bent and facing forward.
4.  Repeat!  Don’t forget to switch to the other leg when you’re done.

That’s it!  If this was easy for you, then repeat it from the beginning and try to do the entire circuit 3 or 4 times.  Depending on how many children are banging down your bathroom door at this point, you may or may not make it.

Lastly, have a little fun and GET DOWN.  (Don’t forget to get the cheat sheet here!)

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Patriotic Tripoli Trousers (New Pattern!)

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Hey all!  I’m finally releasing my first women’s pattern to the public today! The Tripoli Trousers had previously only been available through the Sew What Club but today you can get your own copy!  Hurray!

I seriously love these pants sooooo much.  They are figure-hugging but flattering and best of all, they are seriously a breeze to make.  If you’ve never sewn pants before, don’t be afraid!  The trick is to make a muslin beforehand…if you can sew a facing and install buttonholes, you can make these!

I kept dreaming about a red pair after making my denim ones so when I found this lightweight stretch denim at Joann’s, it was like a match made in heaven.  Enjoy these billions of pictures of my butt, and get your copy of the pattern HERE!  It’ll be on sale for just $8 through Sunday night!

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All the sizing charts, materials list and other details are over on my craftsy page.  I hope you love this pattern as much as I do!

The VBAC: Making An Informed Decision

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Hey all!  I’m excited to be back with another post in my series on birth!  I’ve previously written about epidurals and c-sections and today, we’re talking about VBACS.

The term “VBAC” stands for “Vaginal Birth After Cesarean” and as the rate of c-sections continues to climb in many countries, so does talk of VBACS.  Moms everywhere are asking things like, “Is a VBAC safe?”  “Is it necessary or desirable?”  “Am I eligible to have a vaginal birth after a c-section?” and “What are the risks?”

I hope this post can answer some of those questions and inspire anyone with a history of a cesarean to become more informed and ready to face future births!

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As discussed in my C-section post, we know that cesareans are an unnatural birth outcome and present risks to both baby and mother.  That being said, just because you’ve had a c-section before (or even multiple!) does NOT mean you necessarily have to have a repeat surgery in the future.  I remember grieving after Liam’s birth because I knew I wanted a large family, yet I couldn’t envision putting my body through 4 or more cesareans.  Luckily, I found some great resources regarding VBACS and have been able to find supportive providers who allowed me to try for the births I had hoped for.  I’ve since delivered 6 babies vaginally after that initial cesarean with no complications.

If it is a safe option for you, there’s a good chance you can have one!

While my cesarean was unexpected, emergent and traumatic, I understand that not all c-sections end up that way.  Some are planned, peaceful and wonderful experiences.  If you were lucky enough to have one of these, you might be wondering why anyone would choose a vaginal birth over a planned cesarean.  Barring any life-threatening need for a cesarean , vaginal births are desirable for a number of reasons:

  1.  No surgical risks such as blood loss, side effects from anesthesia, adhesions (cases where the scar tissue attaches itself to other organs), blood clots, extended recovery time, etc.
  2. Less traumatic on mother and baby: c-section babies often have fluid in their lungs, trouble breathing and other complications.
  3. If labor is allowed to begin naturally at the end of pregnancy, there’s no risk of accidentally delivering a pre-term baby.  The bodies of both mother and baby work in tandem to signal when baby is ready to be born; it’s not usually wise to forcefully extract a baby before labor begins.
  4. Lower medical costs and shorter hospital stay!IMG_4069

On the flip-side, some of you with previously negative c-section experiences might be wondering why anyone would WANT to undergo another surgery.  Your doctor might choose to surgically deliver your baby if your first cesarean was due to (or your current pregnancy includes):

  1. Eclampsia
  2. Serious medical problems with mother or baby
  3. Poorly positioned placenta or unusual bleeding
  4. Any other life-threatening emergency

As discussed in the c-section post, some less clear-cut reasons for an additional surgery include a baby estimated to be larger than usual, a breech baby or a mother with a small pelvis.  These DO NOT always necessitate an automatic cesarean.  Do some research, get a second (or third!) opinion, pray/meditate, and follow your gut to make the best decision for you and your baby.

There can be risks associate with a VBAC as well.  The most dangerous (and one you’ll probably hear about most often) is the risk of uterine rupture.  The strain on a uterine scar during labor can sometimes cause it to reopen, and this usually has very serious results for mom and/or baby.  Luckily however, uterine rupture is very rare and occurs in right around .5% of laboring women who have had a previous cesearean (check out this great article for more details).

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There are TONS of amazing resources online regarding VBACS and how to decide whether one is right for you.  The VBAC Education Project is a great place to start.  The International Cesearean Awareness Network (ICAN) is another great place to learn more.  It’s difficult to even scratch the surface of all the great information these websites hold – be sure to check them out!

Lastly, I wanted to touch on the subject of homebirths and VBACS.  While there are still restrictions in many states regarding the ability to give birth at home after a cesarean, other states have now lifted bans and allow certified, licensed midwives to assist women attempting a VBAC in their home.  Three of my births occurred at home (all 3 technically considered VBACS) and I’m so grateful for these experiences!  I researched and prayed and listened and we decided that this choice would be the safest and the most peaceful for me and each of these babies.

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I believe that each woman is the most qualified to make these crucial decisions regarding the birth of her baby.  Regardless of what your birthing choices look like, it’s important to remember that you HAVE choices!  It can be both scary and empowering to face such important decisions, but they are the first of many you’ll need to make for your baby throughout his or her life.

You can do it!!

If you have any other questions about VBACS or want to hear more about my experiences, feel free to email me!  (whiskem {at} gmail {dot} com) I love talking birth and encouraging women to make informed decisions.

 

**Note: As I am not a medical professional, nothing in this post should be considered medical advice.  Please consult a qualified OB or midwife for more information about VBACS and to decide if it is the right option for you.