Leggings: A Maternity Essential

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Similar Tunic || Leggings: BP || Similar Loafers || Hat: Similar and love this one! || Watch: Michael Kors ||Earrings: Nickel & Suede

It’s now officially cool here in Arizona…and it’s about freaking time!  Now that I want to wear pants all the time, leggings are definitely on major rotation.   As in, like, every day.

I posted a few tips about wearing leggings responsibly (haha!  I love that term) last year here, so check that post out if you have hesitations about wearing stretchy pants in public.  After swapping out my tunic and loafers for longs sweaters and booties, I plan on wearing this for look for the forseeable future!

*Note: I actually forgot about the pictures from this shoot for a couple months…don’t worry, the current 30 week baby bump is MUCH bigger!  And so is baby Mimi…why do they have to grow so fast??

The Induction: Making an Informed Decision

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Hey all!  I’ve got another birth post for you today!  Being pregnant means I’ve obviously often got babies on the brain and since birth is the culmination (and finale!) of 9 months of growing a sweet baby, it’s probably what I think about the most often.

Today I want to talk inductions: the what, the why and the how!  Just like all the other birth interventions I’ve previously written about, inducing labor comes with benefits as well as some risks.   Hopefully this helps you, or someone you know, be as prepared as possible to choose (or refuse) an induction.

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DIY Diaper Caddy: Simplify Motherhood

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SuperAbsorbent #CollectiveBias

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Hey mamas!  Today’s post is all about simplifying life as a busy, crazy insane mom….specifically, diaper time!  Plus a super easy sewing tutorial!  Click read more below!

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You’re Not a Good Mom…You’re a GREAT One

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I’ve got a deep(ish) motherhood post for you today, because so much mom-stuff has been on my mind lately.  These posts can get really wordy though, and so I’m excited to be working on some brand spanking new videos for the blog!  I can’t wait to share more mom-musings and DIY tutorials via video because they’re just so much fun! (But also so, SO much work…yikes!).  Here’s hoping they’ll be ready soon!

Before our France trip last month, I’d found myself turning into a pretty mean mom: there was lots of yelling, impatience, frustration and I was really slow to appreciate my kids.  We all get this way sometimes, and for me as a full-time SAHM (especially one who doesn’t send her kids to school…believe me, there are days I WISH I did – haha!) it can be really difficult to pull myself out of that funk.  Summers are especially hard on us here in Phoenix cause it’s so darn HOT and everyone’s cranky and miserable and stuck inside with too much screen time; i. e. recipe for disaster.

Then Luke and I took a 10 day trip away from everyone and I came back with a fresh perspective.  Life didn’t get any easier (coming back to real life is always an adjustment, especially after a selfish vacay where you only take care of yourself!), but I noticed that my mindset had shifted, just the tiniest bit.

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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.

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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 on 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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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.

Infinite A-line Hack: Ruffled Top

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Is everyone ready for another Infinite A-line pattern hack?  I really do use this pattern as a base for any and all woven tops and dresses for my girls.  It makes things so easy!

This little ruffled number came about after I goofed up a romper I was working on, but I think I like how this turned out even better.

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First, I cut out the ruffled bodice (View D), sleeve ruffles and bodice lining.  I went with size 12 mo and even though this one fits pretty well, next time I’ll go up to 18 mo so that it’s a little easier to get on.

I sewed the bodice all together, following the instructions for View D through step 14 on page 14 (ending with the bodice roll technique).  I also added the keyhole opening as instructed on page 16.  Then I basted the raw edges of the bodice hem together and set it aside.

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Next, I measured the circumference of the bodice opening (mine was about 22″). For the waistband, I cut out a strip of contrasting fabric measuring the number I just measured (22″ for me) + 3/4″ for seam allowances x about 3″ wide.  So mine was 3″ x about 23″.  I stitched the short ends of the band together to create a big loop, pressed and finished the seam allowance, then stitched it to the bottom of the bodice, all the way around.

I finished up by creating the ruffle.  My ruffle piece was 4.5″ wide x about 50″ long.  If you cut your ruffle about double the length of your waistband, then that’ll give you a nice gather.  I sewed the short ends together again to form a loop, and then hemmed one long end.

The fabric I used was a slippery rayon, so I folded the raw edge under 1/8″ and stitched it down.  Then I folded it under another 1/8″ and stitched it down again.  This keeps unwieldy fabrics in place better than just pressing a double hem and trying to stitch it all in one go.

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Lastly, I gathered the top raw edge of the ruffle until it fit the circumference of the waistband, pinned it in place and basted it to the band.  Once I made sure all the gathers looked nice, I stitched the two together and serged the raw edges and one billion random threads coming out everywhere.  (WORST part of gathering, amiright?)

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And that’s it!  A super quick and simple hack.  Did I mention Mimi loves it?  She kept playing with the ruffle all day!  And her chubby little unsteady walk gives me all the heart eyes.  New walkers are the cutest when they’re off exploring their little world!

If you still don’t have a copy of the Infinite A-line Pattern, you can get it HERE. And if you want to see all the hacks I’ve created with it so far, click HERE!

(This floral fabric I bought from Indiesew ages ago, as well as the flowy coral from Joann Fabrics.  Making headway on that stash!)

 

Welcome little gem!

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One of my most wonderful long-time friends just had a baby…her 5th girl!  Her next youngest is 8 and this baby is the first for her current marriage so we decided little baby Angélie needed a shower to welcome her into the world.  And, since brand new babies are WAY more fun to see than pregnant women, we waited until after she was born to shower the little “gem”.

I’ve been seeing gem-themed decor everywhere so I knew I wanted to head in that trendy direction. What do you guys think??

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Click Read More for all the pics!

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Bare Basics for Baby (plus 12 minute blanket tutorial)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NurseryMusts #CollectiveBias

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It seems like every mom-blogger has created an “essentials for baby” list and most of them are SO different!  The thing is, nothing but experience can tell any new mom what products and gadgets will be the most helpful as their baby grows.  Keeping 7 babies alive (so far, so good!) has taught me that there are really only a few true necessities for a newborn. You ready for them?

Here they are:

*a blanket
*outfits
*stuff for feeding baby
*stuff for handling the poop.

That’s it.

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Last week I ran to Target (because…TARGET) to grab some gift basket stuff for my little sister’s brand new baby (isn’t Crosby so cute?? MY OVARIES!) and I just kept it to the basics this time.  She had all the big stuff already from her first son and besides, she’s a minimalist. Click read more below for all the deets on each necessity and what I love about them!

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

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I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas jam packed with family, traditions, cozy pjs and hopefully an excited child (or 7) since they make Christmas so much more fun!  I’ve been dying to show you all our family pictures we took on Thanksgiving and now that our Christmas cards are out, here they are!  

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