Post Partum Shape Up: Month 1

This month was full of some ups and does in my weight loss journey, which is pretty typical of the first month of any new health plan.  Overall I’m fairly pleased with the progress I saw (-2 pounds and -2.5 inches) but honestly, I’m just grateful for any kind of improvement!  I can’t see much of a difference in pictures from last month, but when I wore this dress from Alice’s blessing again this Sunday, it did feel a little bit looser. Woot!

I lost just 2 pounds this month but I feel so much stronger than when I started. My exercise routine is by no means exceptional or even very regular but I make an attempt most days to do something.  And I’ve gotta say, the first 2 weeks of starting regular exercise are always SO hard!  It’s not until I start feeling muscles under my flab again that working out becomes even a little bit enjoyable.  So if you’re new to a workout regimen and hating it, you are TOTALLY normal. I actually might be a little suspicious if you liked it.  🙂

May 19, 2017: 12 weeks postpartum

Current weight: 160
Goal weight: 140-ish

Current measurements: (last month’s in parentheses)
Bust 39.5″ (40.5″)  –  Waist 32″ (32.5″) –  Hip: 41″ (42″)
Goal measurements:
Bust 37″  –  Waist 29″  –  Hip: 39″

Successes: I had some really good days which sometimes included a trip to the gym where I’d run for 15-20 minutes and do another 20-30 minutes of strength training. But then again, some days all I did was 15 minutes of Blogilates Youtube videos while locked in my bathroom before showering. Those days felt particularly successful because they were the crazy ones where I had all but given up on any exercise.

My biggest success this month was starting back up on the My Fitness Pal app (a super popular calorie counting app).  I started out aiming for 1800 calories (the app recommended 1200 for my goal weight but I added 600 for breastfeeding) but most days get around 2000. Even that is often hard to hit without going over; I bet I easily consume 3000+ calories when I’m not paying attention! Pretty eye opening for sure.

Setbacks: I went out of town twice this month which always equals no exercise and lots of restaurant food. No bueno!! I also had some not-so-good days at home: no exercise, eating mindlessly (for example: pancakes for breakfast, ham sandwich for lunch, pasta for dinner) with little produce and too much refined flour &/or meat.

 

This month’s goals: continue to write down (or track in the app) what I eat most days so I’m eating consciously. I also need to write down when I’m exercising because it doesn’t happen as often as I think! I’m sticking with a goal of 4x weight training and 2-3x cardio each week.

I also failed miserably at my 1 weekly treat goal, so instead I’m following a friend’s advice and cutting down sugar to 10 days a month. That’s still plenty of treats but it will get me used to saying “no”!

Ok, now your turn!! What goals did you hit this last month? Are you changing anything this next time around? I wanna hear!

Thanks so much for following along.  I thought of this post often when I was tempted to eat ice cream!  Ha!

DIY Ruffle Sleeve Top

This super simple ruffle sleeve top is sure to be a new favorite and is totally on trend!  Check out the full tutorial…

I haven’t done too much sewing for myself in the last year or so; pregnancy and birth makes for an ever changing body that’s tricky to fit!

But I’m SO glad I started again and gave this top a try because it is currently my very favorite shirt out of my whole closet. It skims over my belly bulge without being too boxy, it’s got a cute sleeve detail and anything black and white striped is just classic.  I was inspired by a similar top from J. Crew a few months ago and I can’t imagine I’d love the original any more than this one!

It’s super duper easy to recreate, I just encourage you to find the best quality knit fabric you can find.  A sturdy knit (like a cotton/spandex blend) will make all the difference in drape and durability.  I’ve also included a link to an illustration with cutting instructions and all the measurements I used; my shirt fits like a size medium/large.

Ready? Let’s get making!

Supplies:

1-1.5 yards high quality stretch knit
Coordinating thread
Get the illustration with all my measurements here

1. Grab a T-shirt with a great fit to use as a template.  Fold your fabric in half (with the stretch running perpendicular to the fold) and your ready-to-wear (RTW) tee in half lengthwise (from neckline to hem). Lay your RTW tee on your fabric, with folds aligned, and cut out your front bodice by following the lines of your tee.  Be sure to leave a seam allowance  along the shoulder, armhole and side seams (I usually eyeball about 1/2″) and a hem allowance along the bottom (about 1″).

2. Do the same thing for your back bodice and sleeves.  Be sure that the stretch of your fabric is running around the circumference of your sleeve (from underarm seam to fold).  Cut out 2 sleeve ruffles measuring 35″ x 5″ (the direction of stretch doesn’t matter on the ruffles). Be sure to save a long scrap for your neckband!

3.  With right sides together (RST), sew your front to back along shoulder seams and side seams.  Finishing the seam (with a zig zag or serger) is optional with knit fabrics.

4. Sew your first sleeve into a tube by folding it in half lengthwise, RST, and stitching along the straight edge. Repeat with the second sleeve.

5. Create your ruffles by first sewing the strips into tubes: fold them in half widthwise RST and stitch along the short ends.  Next, gather them along one opening: I like to sew a basting stitch about 1/4″ away from the raw edge, then another basting stitch about 1/4″ from the first line of stitching.  Pull the bobbin thread taut from each line of stitching while pulling the fabric into gathers.

6. With sleeve RIGHT side out and ruffle WRONG side out, slip the bottom of the ruffle over the bottom edge of the sleeve.  Match up gathered edge of ruffle to bottom edge of sleeve and pin, adjusting gathers to fit.  Stitch in place; remove any basting stitch that shows on the right side, if necessary.

7. With bodice WRONG side out and sleeve RIGHT side out, insert bottom of sleeve into bodice armhole until top of sleeve and bodice armhole are flush; pin raw edges together, matching seams and stretching to fit, if necessary.

8. For the neckline: measure around the opening of your neckline and subtract 2″ (give or take 1-2″ depending on the stretchiness of your fabric. This is kind of a trial and error thing!). Cut out a neckband measuring this number x 2″. For example, if your neckline measures 21″, then your neckband would need to be 19″ x 2″.  Stitch neckband into a tube by sewing together along short sides, RST. Fold tube in half lengthwise (wrong sides together) and press.

9. Pin neckband to neckline RST by matching raw edges, with neckband seam in center of bodice back, and by inserting pins evenly in 4 places: at shoulder seams and at center front and center back. BASTE neckband to bodice, stretching to fit.  At this point, try on your shirt to determine if the neckband is the proper length.  It should lie flat without any puckering or flopping over.  If so, you’re ready to stitch it on securely, if not, take the band off and either cut it slightly shorter or cut a new longer one!

10.  Once you’ve stitched neckband in place, finish the seam with a zig zag stitch or serger.  Press seam allowance towards bodice, then topstitch close to seam on bodice side using a double needle.  It’s very important that you NOT stretch the fabric while topstitching so that the neckline doesn’t end up wavy and stretched out.

11.  Hem sleeves and bottom of shirt by topstitching with a double needle.

And you’re done!  Try it on and admire your handiwork…doesn’t it look amazing??

Photos by Let Me See You Sparkle

Making Marriage Work

Marriage can and should be a life partnership with your best friend, but sometimes our spouse can drive us crazy! I’m sharing my 2 favorite tips for handling those moments and loving the other through the imperfection.

Hey all!  So, Luke and I celebrated 13 years of marriage this Monday.  That’s right THIRTEEN YEARS.  I feel as old as dirt just saying that.  Every time I look at Liam (almost 12) I have a mild coronary attack thinking that only old people have preteenage kids.  How did we get here??!

If there’s anything I’m proud of doing for well over a decade, it’s being married to this guy.  We both got pretty dang lucky when it comes to choosing a spouse (if I do say so myself!) but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been work involved.  Some people spend their youth dreaming about finding a perfect companion and staying together forever and some people never imagine themselves married.  I honestly never thought much about it, except I wanted to get married eventually and have him be tall enough so that I could still wear 4″ heels, (success!).

I realize that most of the stuff we worry about before marriage (having similar interests, backgrounds, personality, etc) doesn’t really end up mattering at all.  The really important stuff, when it comes to living with someone in harmony for a long time, are things like common morals and those really important values your mom and dad tried to teach you.  It’s pretty crucial that both parties try to be decent humans, have similar life goals and, most importantly, are willing to forgive and move on.

The BEST piece of advice I was ever given regarding marriage??  To ask myself this question whenever a disagreement arose between Luke and me:

“Would you rather be right or be married?”

Whoa.  #truthbomb  I can’t remember who said it or where I heard it, but I remember thinking back to countless times when I’d witnessed myself or others put their desire to be “right” ahead of a relationship.  All those moments of “I told you so” and driving a point home at the expense of the other person’s feelings suddenly seemed toxic and just so pointless.

I’m happy to say that Luke and I are both mostly successful in putting each other first in an argument.  Now if anyone has tips for how to do the same with my kids (who never listen, obviously)….I’m all ears!

The second best advice I ever got was this: when you see something that really annoys you in the other person, work on that thing yourself!  In other words, if your sweet husband has a (ridiculously annoying) habit of never picking up his (disgustingly smelly, filthy) socks at the end of the day (completely hypothetical, of course), instead of nagging him, you can go above and beyond in your own laundry duties. Or if he tends to get short with the kids at bedtime, you can be extra kind and patient with them.  Not only will your spouse mostly likely want to follow your lead, but it will make you feel so much better than whining and complaining about it.

Nothing will ever bring us greater happiness (or greater sadness) than our relationships with our family, be they good or bad.  Families teach us humility, grace, tenacity, patience and best of all, love.

(Photos by Let Me See You Sparkle)

DIY Finger Print Table Runner

This easy, kid-friendly DIY for mom (or any special woman in your family’s life) is part of the #HallmarkForMom shop compensated by  #CollectiveBias and its advertiser.  All opinions are my own.  

May is a big month here at our house: my birthday, Mother’s Day this Sunday the 14th and today is our 13th anniversary!  We also have several other birthdays and occasions so I’m often planning gifts weeks ahead of time to lessen the chaos factor.

I’m loving this fun table runner that the kids and I came up with for my mom this Mother’s Day.  It would also be a great birthday gift for any mom or Grandma.  I find myself cursing my kids’ dirty little fingerprints that I find all over my house but this project takes those cute little fingerprints and turns them into something adorable!  This was a fun, short little afternoon project for the kids and me and they all loved it.

We also picked up some Hallmark Signature cards at Walmart to go along with our gifts because my mom always told me that reading the card was the best part of getting a gift.  As a kid, I never really believed that (how can a card be better than a PRESENT??) but now I feel exactly the same way. There’s nothing I love more than reading a sweet note from one of my kids.  It makes cleaning all those sticky fingerprints more than worth it!  I also really relish the chance to sit down once a year to put my feelings for my own mom into writing.

Walmart has an awesome selection of Hallmark cards (they’re offering an entire line of new Mother’s Day cards), from hilarious birthday cards for kids (we also grabbed one for a birthday party we were headed to) to seasonal cards and more.  Is anyone else guilty of just sitting in the card aisle and reading funny cards for a half hour?? Grab coupons and find tons of creative gift giving ideas for mom here!

You guys ready for the DIY?  It’s SO easy!

Supplies:
4-5 colors of fabric paint
2-4 yards of woven fabric (depending on the size of the table)
5-7 yards of decorative trim or bias tape

  1.  First determine the desired length and width of your table runner.  I made mine 20″ wide and 120″ long (10 feet).  Also decide where you want your decorative flowers to be.  I had to piece my table runner together from 2 pieces of fabric, so I covered the seams with some leftover bias tape and decided to have the kids make the flowers in between these two strips of bias tape.
  2. Squirt a little fabric paint on a paper plate and show the kids how to make the flowers.  Simpy press a finger pad into the paint, tap off any excess and then press your fingerprint on the fabric.  One fingerprint makes the center of the flower, and 5-6 surrounding prints make the petals!  Easy peasy.  The kids really got a kick out of making rainbow colored flowers and even mixing some paint colors.  Just watch the littlest ones to make sure they don’t wipe their fingers on the fabric to clean off excess paint (thanks, Vivian).
  3. Once the flowers are all done, let the fabric dry completely and then you’ll need to set the paint with an iron. Just lay a scrap piece of fabric or an old towel over the paint and press with a hot iron for 5-10 seconds.  Voila!  Paint is set and your table runner is now washable.
  4. Add your decorative trim or bias tape to the edges.  I used double fold bias tape here (just sandwich the raw edge of the table runner with the bias tape and stitch close to the folded edge of the tape) but I also love the idea of using ric rac, pom-poms or tassels!  Just be sure to finish the raw edge of your fabric first if you won’t be enclosing it inside bias tape.  A zig-zag stitch works fine for this.Now package it up in a cute gift bag and grab a Hallmark card from Walmart to tell your sweet mom how much you appreciate her putting up with your crap over the years. And don’t forget to add a little chocolate.
    Chocolate always wins!

 

Statement Earring Roundup

Statement earrings take any boring outfit up a notch; in other words, they’re a lazy mom’s best friend!

1 || 2 || 3 || 4 || 5 || 6

Statement earrings are BIG right now (haha! Get it??) and they’re the best way to dress up a super simple outfit like a graphic T and joggers or an all denim look like this one.  Go big and bold or go home, that’s my motto!  Check out these amazing pairs, some as affordable as $23!

Which are your favorite??

 

 

8 Kids + Disneyland!

We survived taking the whole crew to Disneyland! Here are some of our goofs and a highlight video.

We DID it!  We survived Disneyland with the whole crew!  I’m working on an in-depth post all about how to do Disneyland with, like, a billion children in tow, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy a couple pics and the highlights of our rookie mistakes…

I packed extra underwear and shorts for any and all children who might have an accident…except the baby.  This baby usually poops once every 10 days, no lie.  And yet on this trip she pooped during every. single. feeding.  What the..?! If you look closely in the first pic, you’ll notice that she’s actually naked in that Solly Baby wrap because she blew out all over herself and me just minutes before entering the park on the first day.  Oy vey.  We took this pic and then I found a cute Minnie onesie in a Main Street shop for her to wear the rest of the day.

Getting pooped on at the Most Magical Place on Earth: check!


We’d only managed a couple rides before getting in line for It’s a Small World, a nice, quiet ride that we knew everyone would enjoy and would last long enough for us to catch our breath.  When we got towards the front of the line, the lady putting people on boats hustled us to the front because we had the perfect amount of people to fill the next boat in line.  So we dashed down there, hopped in and sat back to relax.  A few minutes in, I was enjoying myself enough to glance around at all the kids’ faces.  I especially wanted to see Vivian’s reaction…but alas, no Vivian!

Cue high-strung-mom-hyper-panic-mode.  We’re stuck on a boat, in the middle of the LONGEST RIDE EVER and I’m missing a kid.  I start calling all my extended family members (who were in the park with us) to see if anyone is nearby and can come find her.  Vivian had my cell phone number written on her arm so I start wondering why no one is calling me and totally expecting the worst.  I’m poised to leap out of the boat as soon as we spy daylight (with a baby strapped to me, no less) when all of a sudden my phone rings and it’s Disneyland security with a lost little girl.  HALLELUJAH!  We come out of the ride and see her sitting up at the control booth with a nice lady and a Mickey Mouse sticker, completely unconcerned.

Losing a child (and having a heart attack) at the Most Magical Place on Earth: check!


Right as we’re walking in the park on the first day, Liam confesses he’s not feeling very well and proceeds to visit every bathroom we pass for the next 5 hours.  By 2pm, he’s miserable and just needs to rest so we sent him back to the hotel with our sitter.  Poor kid missed out on most of the first day but thankfully was back to normal for day 2!

Having a kid get sick at the Most Magical Place on Earth: check!

Overall I think everyone had a great time and you know nothing will keep me away from the place…  Only next time we’ll probably leave the littlest ones home with grandma.

Check out this highlight video of our favorite parts of the trip!

Tips & Tricks for Breastfeeding Success

Breastfeeding can be wonderfully amazing and super hard, all at the same time.
Most women just need the right knowledge and support to succeed!

One of my very most favorite things about motherhood has been nursing my babies. I figured out the other day that I think I’ve been breastfeeding a baby for about 62 months of my life…that’s over 5 solid years! No wonder the “girls” aren’t as perky as they used to be, he he.

While I love the special closeness and connection that comes from breastfeeding, it hasn’t always been easy or fun. There have been a few times when I’ve wanted to give up, but after finding the necessary support, I’m really glad I didn’t!

Today I’m sharing a few tips I wish I’d known when I first became a mom to better prepare me to nurse my baby successfully.  Once you figure out the hard stuff, I promise you’ll love it.

  1. We all know that breastfeeding is a wonderful feeding opportunity to offer your child with lots of benefits. But if you can’t or choose not to breastfeed, you’re still a great mom. Breastfeeding should never negatively affect your mental or physical health or your relationship with your baby. You do what you think is best and don’t let anyone give you crap about it.
  2. Sometimes breastfeeding hurts; I’m just gonna be right up front about that. But it shouldn’t hurt for long. Your breasts and nipples are often sore for a few weeks after having a new baby, but if you’re ever experiencing sharp pain when baby latches on, see a lactation consultant asap. No reason to suffer needlessly.
  3. Find the right professional help. There are oodles of resources when it comes to getting breastfeeding assistance: nurses and lactation consultants at the hospital or birthing center, La Leche League, private consultants and support groups.  If, after seeing a professional, you’re still having trouble nursing, seek help from someone else. Sometimes it takes a few consultations to figure out exactly what’s going wrong.
  4. It is very rare for a mom to not make enough milk for her baby, but it does happen. Make sure you’re following all your doctor’s instructions for watching to see if baby’s getting enough milk. Your body produces milk on demand, so the best way to increase your supply is to pump after a feeding and/or offer your baby the breast as much as possible. Some diet supplements have also proved helpful to increase supply, but if, after trying everything, you still can’t make enough milk, see number 1!
  5. Let yourself take a break.  My mom used to always say that breastfeeding is God’s way of making sure moms sit down every day and I totally agree.  It’s a chance to sit and cuddle with your baby multiple times a day doing something that no one else can do, so enjoy it!  Learning to nurse while lying down was also a huge bonus for me, once I had other kids who woke up early and demanded a lot of my attention.  There’s nothing quite as wonderful as dozing peacefully while your baby nurses and then falls asleep too.Any other tips or tricks from you experienced mommas?  While there have definitely been struggles in my breastfeeding years (read: never losing all the pregnancy weight until I wean my babies – ugh!) I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

(Photos by Let Me See You Sparkle)

Bright and White

A white denim skirt is a fun fresh take on denim for Spring.  Versatile, easy to wear and super comfy!

White denim skirt – similar under $25! and in a fun blue jean wash || Button-down top – J. Crew on sale || Lace-up flats: solid colors, similar and love these colorful ones! || crossbody bag – cute affordable one and love this higher end version || Earrings – Nickel & Suede || Sunglasses – Amazon || Watch – Michael Kors || Cuff –  similar under $20! and love this one ||My fave lip color combo: liner – L’Oreal Color Riche in Au Naturale, lip color – Jouer in Cassis, Lip gloss – Revlon lip lacquer in Rose Quartz

While balancing out silhouettes in an outfit is always a good idea (blousy on top, streamlined on bottom and vice versa) it’s especially important if you’re dressing strategically after some weight gain.  Since I’m not planning on wearing skinny jeans through an Arizona summer (ugh), I was thrilled to find a stretchy pencil skirt in a fresh white denim to make hot weather dressing bearable and fun!

A pencil skirt is perfect paired with a loose button down like I did here, as well as a boxy pullover top, or a flowy tee or kimono/sweater.  So many options!  And stretch is key when it comes to comfort with pencil skirts.  If you can’t find a stretchy denim skirt, knit pencil skirts are suprisingly versatile as well.  After all, moms need to move!

Throw on some fun jewelry and/or cute shoes and you’ve got a home run of a simple outfit.

(Photos by Let Me See You Sparkle)

Easter Sewing

Check out the full line up of all the girls’ Easter dresses! 


You guys! I can’t believe I pulled it off, but I got dresses made for all my big girls in time for Sunday. It’s an Easter miracle!

Of course I had planned to make a dress for baby Alice as well, and then decided it wasn’t worth the effort for something she’d wear for 3 months. The first two and a half dresses I sewed at a leisurely pace a week ahead of time..and then the last one and a half dresses I finished on Saturday. At 10pm.  Because if you’re not doing things at the last possible minute, you’re not living, am I right??

I used the Infinite A-line dress pattern and hacked it into a pinafore following the instructions that I posted last week.

My dress is also me made, from a couple years ago (details here).

While I love fresh spring outfits and the opportunity to celebrate with family, around here we try to remember that the real reason for Easter is the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Because of Him we can hope for a future free of pain and suffering. He’s given us hope for a life full of joy with our loved ones and because of Him, we don’t need to fear death!  I can’t think of a single gift more important and life-changing than that.

Hope you had a wonderful Easter!

(P.S. Baby Alice didn’t make it into the pictures cause she was asleep in the carseat and I pretty much never wake a sleeping babe!)

Postpartum Shape Up – Before

Follow along with my post-partum fitness progress (and setbacks). Come share your healthy goals and let’s get in shape together!

The other day, my sister Nancy and I were talking about losing weight and how to hold ourselves accountable while we work on getting in shape.  Nancy had recently posted a “before” pic on Instagram and mentioned how she was working on accepting her body where it is right now, while simultaneously making better food and exercise choices.

She also said how easy it is to post embarrassing “before” pictures of oneself once you’re already looking like the amazingly hot “after” picture. It got me thinking about how hard we women are on ourselves, even while we’re trying our best to make progress. We’re constantly inundated with pictures of perfection: perfect crafts, decor, outfits, hair, parties, makeup, bodies; and when we look in the mirror every day, it can be a struggle to not feel inferior.

So, I decided that I’d invite the whole of the interwebs to follow me on my very imperfect journey of shaping up and losing the baby weight this time around. I’ve gained and lost so much weight over the past 12 years of bearing children, that I’m a lot more at peace with my postpartum body now than I was after the first couple kids.  I know that my body won’t be like this forever and so most of the time I just try my best to implement healthy habits and then not dwell too much on the rest.

But I fully acknowledge that having a healthy mindset about one’s body isn’t easy.  It can be frustrating and exhausting to try to lose weight and see little progress. For example, my body never gets entirely back to normal until after I’m done nursing my babies…which means every time it’s taken close to (if not longer than) a full YEAR to lose all the baby weight!  It’s a slow, sometimes agonizing process but as long as I’m doing my best, I try not to beat myself up.

Today I’m showing you my current “before” status via pictures, weight and body measurements. Once a month after this, I’ll be posting updated pictures and stats, as well as any successes and setbacks.  I hope that any progress I have will be inspiring to other moms trying to make healthy changes, but mostly, I hope to offer some comradery to those of you who struggle with postpartum body image issues or frustrations because you don’t look like your favorite fashion blogger just minutes after giving birth.

Lastly, I wanted to mention that I’m not generally a fan of showing this much skin in public (let alone on the internet!) even when I’m in good shape 🙂 but I felt it was important that other women see what a postpartum body often looks like (and yes, I have stretch marks and loose, flabby skin under those swim bottoms!).  You may be starting a lot closer to your goals than I am or a lot farther away, but the important part is that we accept where we are, make a plan to improve and then just START!

April 17, 2017: 8 weeks postpartum

Current weight: 162
Goal weight: 140-ish

Current measurements:
Bust 40.5″  –  Waist 32.5″  –  Hip: 42″
Goal measurements:
Bust 37″  –  Waist 29″  –  Hip: 39″

Successes: I joined a local gym and had some great workouts there doing mostly body weight strength training.  I also got back into running since having the baby.  I’m not fast, but I did do 2 miles without stopping recently!

Setbacks: Sugar and refined carbs are my kryptonite when nursing a new baby. I did lots of baking this month and ate a lot of garbage.  I’m working on really listening to my body and feeding it fuel when I’m hungry instead of junk.

This month’s goals: Do strength training 4x/week and run or do other cardio 2-3x/week.  Limit sugary treats to once a week.

Now it’s your turn!  Please share any goals, progress or frustrations you’re facing on your fitness journey in the comments.  Let’s support each other in our quest to get healthy!

And if you’re looking for more ideas to help you get in shape, check out the fitness challenge I posted after my last baby.