It’s October! Top Fall Family Events in AZ

At last! October in AZ has arrived!!  Time for outdoor living, zoo trips, park play dates and, of course, HALLOWEEN!

Over at MOMnation, we know it can be tough to narrow down the fun, so we put it all in one place. Below you’ll find all the info you need for a family and fun-filled fall season.

Events

MOMnationMarket and Halloween party is happening at HQ on October 28th.  MacPea Photography will be there with a cute little Halloween set-up and will be offering photo minis! All market vendors will have candy for the kiddo’s and Liz with Pop’n Art will be face painting.

For more info and to RSVP, click here.

Queen Creek Trunk or Treat  is happening on October 21st from 5p to 9p. Children trick-or-treat by going from car trunk to car trunk on “Trunk or Treat Street” to get their bag filled with goodies. Admission is free.

For more info, click here.

The SpOoOoKieST Trick or Treating Locations

Our MOMs love these neighborhoods for the best trick or treating and the spookiest decorations.

Gilbert:

Power Ranch

San Tan Ranch

The Gardens*

Circle G Ranch

Coronado Ranch

Gilbert also has The Halloween House!

Mesa:

Dobson Ranch

Evergreen Historic District

Las Sendas

Boulder Creek

San Tan Valley:

Ironwood Crossing

Circle Cross Ranch

Phoenix:

Desert Ridge Aviano

Ahwatukee:

Equestrian Trail in Ahwatukee

 

🎃 Pumpkin Patches 🎃

MacDonald’s Ranch, Scottsdale, AZ

Take a horse or mule drawn hayride over to the pumpkin patch and pick your favorite pumpkin!  Come for the pumpkins and stay for the petting zoo, hay maze, pony rides, gem mine, cowboy golf, carnival rides, face painting, and sand creations. Visit their website to learn more.

Mother Nature’s Farm, Gilbert, AZ

Tons of pumpkins to choose from and a cute little “farmhouse” shop with local goodies.  You can also enjoy hayrides, an adventure maze, a straw bounce and farmyard animals. Learn more at their website: http://mothernaturesfarm.com

Tolmachoff Farms – Glendale, AZ

There’s a six acre corn maze, a petting zoo, train rides (weekends), corn box, pedal carts and a jumping pillow. Not done yet? Tolmachoff Farms also hosts the AZ Field of Screams and of course, a pumpkin patch!

 

👻 If Haunted Houses are your thing:

AZ Field of Screams – Glendale, AZ

Haunted House and Hayride – Phoenix, AZ

Jack and Jill’s Haunted Hill – Phoenix, AZ

13th Floor – Phoenix, AZ

Fear Farm – Phoenix, AZ

Sanctum of Horror – Mesa, AZ

The Crypt Haunted Attractions – Mesa, AZ

The House on Camino – Mesa, AZ

Dark Scares – Mesa, AZ

Golfland Fright Nights – Mesa, AZ

Scarizona – Scottsdale, AZ

 

Did we miss something that you love?  Please comment below and share!  

Happy Halloween!  

 

This awesome home in The Gardens in Gilbert, AZ is available for sale!  Check it out!

The Gardens in Gilbert, AZ

Energy Bill Savings Tips for Arizona MOMs

As MOMs in AZ, there’s lots we have to think about and energy efficiency certainly is at the top of the list.  It’s not only important for a comfortable home environment for the fam, but it’s also beneficial to the household budget. 

There are several ways to keep the house comfier and the wallet happy during the summer months.  Here are our great suggestions from our MOMs:

  1. Get sunscreens, especially on the windows in direct sunlight.  Sunscreens come in many different sizes ranging from 60-90% sun coverage. They not only help block the heat but also provide some privacy.  Sunscreens can make a really big difference in the overall comfort of your home, and also offer major relief on your energy bill.  
  2. Sunshades are a must and we LOVE the automatic version.  There are many options and colors of shades that are programmable.  Once the sun hits a certain level, the shades come down.  It’s great!  Manual versions are also available and are a bit more cost effective while still offering the savings on the monthly energy bill.  Check out one of our favorite, and very popular, manual sunshades here.
  3. Nest Thermometer! This programmable thermostat learns your habits and saves approximately 15% on your cooling bill. The coolest part is that it can be controlled by your smart phone.
  4. Check out energy rebates and usage programs from SRP, APS and SW gas.
  5. Check your insulation levels.  Having the correct amount of insulation is super important, and at least 90% of AZ households do not have sufficient insulation.  Speak to a professional to determine the appropriate amount of insulation and appropriate R-value. Here’s some more info.
  6. Energy efficient windows are a great investment and will definitely help reduce the energy bill.  When selecting new windows, consider their energy performance ratings with respect to climate and home design.  You can expect at least a 20% savings on your energy bill if not more.
  7. Make sure your “extra” fridge in the garage is up for the challenge.  Higher temperatures can stress it by forcing the motor to run constantly, especially if your garage exceeds 110 degrees.  The energy bill will spike and you run the risk of the machine failing and risking food spoilage.
  8. Service your AC unit ASAP if it has not been regularly maintained.  You’d be surprised how much more efficient a regularly maintained AC unit is and you might even find that it makes sense to upgrade and replace the unit with a higher SEER rating for maximum efficiency.  Be sure to change your AC filters regularly; it may seem small but this helps keep the unit running efficiently.
  9. Speaking of AC units, don’t forget about your ductwork.  This is nearly as important as the unit itself.  Look for sections that should be joined but have separated, and for obvious holes. Don’t want to do the work yourself? Consult a pro.  Ignoring this could mean a 25% to 30% energy loss.
  10. Seal energy leaks around doors, windows, etc.  If you can see the light of day, you are losing energy.  Caulk and/or apply weatherstrip to doors and windows. Caulk to seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring comes through walls, floors, ceilings, and soffits over cabinets. You can even install foam gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on walls.
  11. Moving air is cooler that turning on your air conditioning because it creates quick evaporation of moisture from the skin.  Ceiling fans are found in almost all homes in the Phoenix, AZ area and help create a more comfortable environment by moving air.  Don’t think there’s a fan for you? Ceiling fans come in many styles and colors to fit any design scheme!
  12. Go solar! Solar power popularity is on the rise and you can now either purchase or lease the systems.  There are still several options and incentives available for installing solar panels on top of the already big savings on energy bills.
  13. Upgrade to energy star appliances, and don’t forget the water heater.  These appliances save a ton on energy but they don’t slack on performance.  Upgrade your dishwasher, freezer, refrigerator, washer, dryer and water heater.
  14. Keep the fireplace damper completely closed while not in use!  Consider adding glass doors and keep them closed to increase energy efficiency.  
  15. Planting the appropriate trees in strategic places around your home conserves energy and reduces your energy bills.  Be sure to consult a professional as planting an inappropriate type of tree or placing it in the wrong area can be damaging to some major systems of your home including the roof, foundation and plumbing.
  16. Purchase black out shades or blinds and place on all windows affected by the sun.
  17. Consider purchasing a home with North / South exposure.  This is the most optimal orientation in the Phoenix AZ area.  Search Phoenix area homes for sale here.  

Contact me to discuss your energy efficiency level.  I have great referrals for professionals to help with any of these suggestions and love to get to know MOMs!

 

This house just SOLD! Want to see properties just like it? Click the image or visit: http://bit.ly/2tJVI7v

Katie Halle Lambert
Associate Broker
Team Evolution at 
Revelation Real Estate
480-250-0023
www.EvoAZ.com

4 Simple Tips for Organizing Your Playroom (and Life)

Hi Moms! This is fellow Mom and resident MOMnationAZ professional organizer Katy Krupnik of The Tidy Cottage. I love my kids, I love the way they enjoy their toys, but man toys can be a literal pain in the butt (or feet in the middle of the night).

Read on for tips to create a tidy toy room so those pesky toys stay out from under your feet!

1. Pair Down the Duplicates

We don’t even realize that our kids are playing with a lot of the same toys. Our kids don’t need three types of pretend laptops or four different types of train tracks. In fact, if our kids have only one or two options for each style or type of toy it will be less overwhelming to choose what to play with.

For example, this last year we bought my son a train table and it came with a bunch of little knick-knack wooden trees and signs, some tracks that built a bridge and around a mountain. Then my husband bought a box of different train tracks from a garage sale so they would have plenty to play with. So cool right!? Except it was a pain! My kids would get really frustrated and upset every time that bridge fell apart and they would fight over the wooden knick-knacks, and then the different track pieces would overwhelm them. It was such a frustration for all of us! I did not want to hear them running over complaining about it one more time so I took all of the bridge pieces and knick-knacks and non-wooden tracks away one evening, just to see if they would mention it or miss it. And life went on…with less arguing and running to mom complaining about something breaking or someone stealing a little piece, it was awesome!

Pairing down toys to just their favorites and what they enjoy the most is helpful, it eliminates the clutter and focuses in on what your children want to play with – which brings more peace into the home.

2. Purge the Broken and Worn Down Toys


If the puzzle has missing pieces or the wheels are off the car, it’s time to toss the toy. These are only cluttering the playroom or area and add frustration when played with.

Group “like with like” toys. Similar toys should be kept together. All cars together, all little people toys, music toys together, doctor kits together…etc. This will help your kids to be able to play with one type of toy at a time and make it an easy reset for the whole family. Everyone will know where cars go because they will all be together. It will be very obvious if a toy is misplaced, the car will look very funny next to all of the play food.

3. Clear Containers

If your kids tend to throw everything into baskets or bins, store toys in separate clear containers with lids. Kids can see what they want to play with, take it out and then put it back after they are done. They can’t go back to the habit of tossing toys together.

4. Take the Puzzles Out of The Box.
Take puzzles and memory games out of their boxes and put them in clear pencil pouches or ziplock bags with the cover of the puzzle or memory game cut out and placed in the bag. Then you can put the puzzles and memory games in one basket instead of taking up a whole shelf or area in your home!

I hope these tips help you on your journey to tidy the toy rooms in your life, we as Moms deserve to enjoy the wine at the end of the day without sitting on those pesky toys!

Katy Krupnik
Owner of The Tidy Cottage
www.thetidycottage.com

Want to see more organization and home design inspiration? Follow along @thetidycottage on Facebook and Instagram

The Secret Life of Demoted Fur-babies

Since having kids, especially since having our second baby in January, my interactions with our pets have gone something like this:

“Jack, move. Jack, get out from under my feet!”

“Jack, OMG your farts are gross.”

“Did anyone feed Jack today?” (Jack has had either no dinner or two or three dinners because we couldn’t remember if we had fed him or not, due to “new baby” zombie status).

“Jack. JACK. JAAAAAAAAAAAACK!!!”

“The damn cats stole the baby’s bottle nipples again!!”

“Ugh, the damn cat is stuck in the nursery!!” (after we juuuuuuust got the baby to sleep)

*crash*

*random baby toy starts lighting up and signing in the middle of the night*

“DAMN CATS!!!”

Jack is our Boston Terrier, and honestly, he is the most amazing dog ever. I know that every pet owner thinks that about their pets, but seriously… everyone loves Jack. I mean, look at this face! Jack is almost 13. He is old, he is arthritic, he’s going deaf, and he’s generally running out of craps. He is my toddler’s best friend, and he has tolerated a lot of abuse from her as we try to teach her “gentle!” And boy, does he love her come meal time (and I’m happy that I don’t really have to clean my floors).

Before our first human baby, Jack was our fur baby. He went everywhere with us; hiking, visiting friends, shopping, long walks to the park. He was photographed with us in a Santa suit for our family Christmas cards. Every eight weeks he would go to an organic doggy spa and get a blueberry facial, to give you a sense of the lifestyle that Jack was accustomed to.

And then, our first daughter was born. Jack had to learn his new place. Instead of blueberry facials, he was lucky to eat dropped blueberries off the kitchen floor.

Then my husband got the bright idea to “surprise” me with two kittens. He felt compelled to rescue these kittens because they were the same age as our daughter, and because I talked about MAYBE SOMEDAY having two kittens… not necessarily when I was like, completely overwhelmed with being a first-time mother. We are HUGE “Fixer Upper” fans and I always loved how Chip would surprise his family with animals, and perfect Joanna Gaines is all like “Oh, Chip!” and then they’d laugh and teehee… but the reality is, we’re not millionaire farmers with hired help to tend to the animals. We live in a cookie-cutter development with not a lot of land, and I was pissed that I had to rearrange my newly organized laundry room to accommodate this giant, stinking litter box. I shook my first in the air and declared they were my husband’s cats, not mine. I had enough bodies to keep alive!

So naturally, the cats love me and don’t really care too much for my husband.

Jack was sick over the weekend and it was one of those icky situations where I was following him around the house with the carpet cleaner and paper towels in hand, trying to scrub his yellow bile vomit out of our cream-colored rugs (clearly the previous owners didn’t have kids or pets). And when I looked into his sad, aging eyes, I realized… he was our first baby. He needs me right now. And those damn cats, they need some attention too besides my scowling and yelling at them to return the baby’s bottle parts to the kitchen sink.

It was long overdue, but today I decided to use the very limited and precious free time that I had to devote to our pets. After scrubbing the pukey carpets, I made parboiled chicken and white rice for Jack to help his stomach. I also took a few minutes to get down on the floor by him, and really look into his eyes, and scratch his head and neck and just pet him and talk to him.

howtoreconnectwithyourpets

When my longhaired cat, Sesame, jumped on my lap I decided to seize the moment and groom her. It hadn’t been done since my baby was born in January so it was way past due. In these 100-degree temps, she’s been so uncomfortable trying to find the coolest spot in the house to lounge. I brushed what looks like ten pounds of fur off of her, and not only do I live to write about it – she seemed to enjoy it!

The other cat, Nip – well, she’s the unruly one. She killed a moth that was in our house last night so I made it a point to praise her and scratch her neck.

Our home has two girls under two, a dog, and two cats. We are our own circus. And despite my yelling or complaints at our animals, they give us so much love (at least Jack does, the cats do on their own terms… as cats do!). My toddler plays with Jack every day and says goodnight to him every night by leaning down and gently placing her head on his body. And you should hear her giggle when she chases the cats around the house. The baby is just starting to focus her attention on Jack and her face lights up with a smile when he licks her feet. Puke-stained carpets and “DAMN CATS!!!” aside – I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Just don’t tell my husband that.

Tips for Reconnecting with Pets After Baby:

  1. Take a few minutes a day to devote to your first babies. Whether it be an early morning snuggle sesh or a late night rub, a few minutes go a long way!
  2. Remember to not feel guilty – your pets love you just as they always have. There is always an adjustment period!
  3. Have your little ones help with your pet’s maintenance. Include them when brushing and feeding your pets;  this will help your child learn responsibility and will help to form a bond between baby #1 and baby #2.

MOMlife by Courtney Spiak

The Postpartum Style Struggle #2

Hey there Mamas!

Okay, so now you’re holding your sweet little bundle of joy, the birth is over, you’re sitting there in your hospital bed, probably still in your gown and now sporting hospital panties and a pad the size of a crib mattress. You’ve never felt more glamorous! Am I right? 😉 Well, now may not be the time for glamour, but it can be the time for comfort and confidence! 

Let’s get practical (and cute!) 

If you’re anything like me, those hospital panties don’t even come close to staying up on their own. Like not even close. So definitely let’s do the pants thing. Stay away from dresses for now, you’ll want everything down there to feel secure and in place. Pants can help. My recommendation for your first “mama outfit” would be leggings and a tunic. Get some soft, stretchy leggings preferably black, (just in case your pad betrays you) and wiggle your jiggle into those. They pull everything together and just hold it there. Now, you look like a toddler in a diaper under your clothes, so make sure the tunic you choose, covers your behind all the way. That way, there’s no lumpy bumps hanging out in the back. 

Oversized tunics are pretty forgiving and hide a lot, so if you’re feeling super self-conscious about your postpartum pancake belly, join the club and throw on something that’s fitted in the bust and flows over the stomach. You can even find tunics that have been engineered to come apart around the boobs for easy access if you’re breastfeeding! Nifty! 

Here’s the nitty-gritty about why this look works:

When you look at the model above, where do your eyes go first? Her boobs? Probably. Let’s face it mamas, if we’re going to try to flaunt our assets (one of which is covered in an adult diaper at the moment), we may as well go for boobs. That’s why we want the tunic to be a bit fitted at the bust. Dressing yourself strategically is all about drawing the eye away from where you don’t want it to go. Don’t want people staring at your belly? Get a tunic fitted in the bust, throw on some cute chunky earrings and if you’re heading out for grocery run, or just out to Target to try to stay sane, some cute flashy flats will also help keep the attention in a long line from head to toe. A tunic with a large print will also minimize your belly. The general rule is: large print= area appears smaller, small print= area appears larger. 

Bottom line here, mama friends, don’t stress about it! This outfit is all about no stress and comfort, which is where you want to be right now. Now go snuggle that sweet squishy little newborn and smell his head for the rest of us. My kids’ heads just smell like dirt and maple syrup now. 

Hugs Mama Friends,

Ashley 

Stylist/Owner 

Metro Image Consulting L.L.C.

www.metroimageconsulting.com

Want me to come help you “Shop Your Closet” and learn to style yourself? Contact me on my website or text: STYLE to 480-296-4851. Be sure to mention MOMnation for a special discount! 

Special thanks to Sarayah Blackburn with Blackburn Photography

How our MOMs Survive on the Surface of the Sun 🌞

It’s getting hot in the Valley of the Sun!!  Our MOMs have great tips, tricks and advice for surviving these next 5 months of heat with kiddos!

At Home:

Most of our Mama’s keep the AC set to 78.  Infants are usually comfortable in thin material pajamas with long pants and sleeves especially those that are too young for bedding.

Drink water!  Keep sipping water all day even if you don’t feel thirsty.  It’s very easy for anyone to get dehydrated during the summer months in the Phoenix area.

Beware of the water that comes out of the faucet.  Both sides will be hot and could be too hot for little hands.  The same goes for the water in the garden hose.  DO NOT let your child use the garden hose without running the water until it’s cool first.  The water that comes out initially will be scalding.

Little feet should have shoes or sandals on at all times.  Even the “kool” decking around the pool is scorching hot in the midday sun.  Wear shoes while walking outside at night as well, even in the back yard.  Scorpions can be found in many areas at night.

Stay away from the bees.  Summertime is bee season in Phoenix and bees could be harmful to people and animals.

For the house, sunscreens for windows and covered patios make a difference in energy efficiency and comfort.

 

In the Car:

Get a car seat cooler.  Popular styles have pockets in the material for four or five ice packs that you place in the seat when it’s not in use.  This usually keeps the car seat cool even if you are parked for several hours.

Use a sun screen in the front window.  It will help keep the car a bit cooler as well as the steering wheel.  If the sun isn’t beating down inside the car, usually the seatbelt buckles aren’t quite so hot.  Do be sure to cover those buckles or keep them in the shade somehow.  They can be branding irons for little kiddos if touched after sitting in the sun.

Get an extension hose/tube for the front AC vent so that the AC can be directed easily and more effectively from the front to the back of the car.  If your car doesn’t have designated AC vents in the back, it could get very hot for your small child / baby.

Always have lots of water!  The new aluminum or stainless steel water bottles keep the water cool even when left in hot cars for hours.

Keep a light jacket or sweater in the car for both Mom and baby.  It can be very cold in stores, restaurants and grocery stores during the summer months.  This can also be used to cover up leather seats when parking in sunny areas.  Leather seats can be very uncomfortable in the heat especially with shorts on!

Never, never ever leave a baby, child or animal in a hot car even for a minute.  The temperatures are extreme and can be very dangerous.

 

Is your AZ home as efficient as it can be?  CONTACT US and ask for a free copy of the “Efficiency Cheat Sheet” for tips on energy efficiency and tricks to maximize the comfort of your home and minimize your energy bill.

It WILL get Better! Living with Colic

It’s 7:30pm and both babies are down for the night. Or at least, for now. With a 19-month-old transitioning into a twin sized bed (yep, we screwed this one up real good) and a 3 month old who faithfully eats every 3 hours (maaaaaybe 4 hours at night), my night is young. But right now it’s supposed to be that blissfully peaceful time, watching both babies on their respective monitors. Each fast asleep in their starfish positions, pacifiers on the verge of falling out.

Only I am not relishing in the peace.

I am vibrating. My nerves are raw, I can hardly collect my thoughts, yet I wanted to write this immediately while I was fresh in the aftermath. I keep checking the monitor because I swear I hear screaming, but no – there’s my peacefully sleeping starfish. A little angel.

My youngest has colic and this weekend was a bad “colic” weekend.

She was born in January, and around mid-February is when the colic started. At first I thought she was just going through the typical baby “evening witching hours,” but the intensity, frequency, and duration seemed more than that to me. Some quick internet searches confirmed that she’s the textbook definition of a colicky baby. February and March are complete blurs to me. I really don’t remember many details of these two months at all. Thank goodness, she is now 3 and a half months old and she’s starting to turn the corner. She actually had a relaxed couple of weeks, until this past weekend… so it took me back a bit.

We were at a friend’s birthday party on Saturday. I knew my baby had a fussier morning than usual, but I figured the car ride to the party would calm her down. I thought I’d nest her away in a quiet corner in her carrier, and she’d sleep while people ooo’d and aaaahhhh’d over her cherubic sleeping face. As soon as we walked inside, her eyes sprang open. And it didn’t take long for her to start crying. As the cries got louder my heart sank.

Then she was screaming.

I tucked us away upstairs, away from the noise and most of the people, and took over the host’s nursery as I tried to feed, soothe, walk, rock, everything. I left my toddler playing in the playroom, with a good friend watching her, and eventually my husband followed the noise of the screaming baby and diligently took over toddler watching duties. My husband, and friends, came to the door multiple times to ask if I needed anything… but when you’re in the throes of trying to calm a baby in the middle of a colic episode, there’s really not much that can be done and certainly not by anyone other than Mama.

And so with my baby on my shoulder and screaming in my ear, I moved quickly past the pitying eyes of the party guests and took her out for a drive. Usually the motion of the stroller, or the car, puts her to sleep. It worked, but only briefly. Having missed most of the party, we packed up and left.

Sure, I had heard of colic before but like anything else with parenting you just have no freaking clue what it’s about until you’ve gone through it. I thank my lucky stars daily that both of my daughters are healthy overall. But dealing with colic has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Listening to a baby not just cry, but SCREAM, for hours, is simply… maddening. There were times I thought I was losing my damn mind! My husband and I would take turns pacing the floor with her. We bought a sound machine and tried every trick we could think of to keep her from waking her sleeping big sister.  We’ve had to let her “cry it out” more times than I care to admit. At those points, we were both just exhausted on every level – physically, mentally, emotionally. I am a very solutions-oriented person. I problem solve for a living. I am resourceful and smart, and know how to fix things – so when I couldn’t/can’t calm my extremely distressed baby, I feel defeated and depleted. We’ve used gas drops and gripe water. I’ve tried cutting dairy from my diet. I ran myself ragged with trying this and that and Google searches. I can’t tell you how many times I called her doctor, asking if “this is normal?” My last phone call to him, at my wits end, I literally said “You HAVE to have some secret trick that I haven’t found on Google for this.” He told me I was already doing everything right, and to keep the gripe water on hand. I wanted to scream right into the phone at that response.

The thing about colic is, in order to get through these episodes you have to dig deep. I mean, REALLY deep. At her worst, I was at my worst. The things I thought, and sometimes even said out loud… were just purely ugly and awful when I gave in to frustration. And when the sleep and calm would suddenly wash over her, aside from relief I was left with ringing ears and an incredible amount of guilt for not being able to keep it together. I was scared to find and confront these really dark corners within myself. In these moments, I understood why they make you watch those “don’t shake your baby” videos at the hospital before you go home.

People who’ve gone through this say that “it will get better.” And while I’m starting to see that, we’re not in the clear yet. I’m impatient. Like any mother, I want my baby to be happy all the time.

I’m writing this for any parent out there who’s in the thick of it. Stay strong. Call your doctor, as many times as you need to. Talk to your partner about anything you were feeling, no matter how bad you think it is. Talking it out really does help you prepare for the next episode. Remember that it’s OK to put your baby down in a safe place and walk away for a few minutes or to let someone else hold/rock/walk your baby so that you can take a few minutes to breathe. Because in these moments (well, more like hours), your baby needs your strength and your patience and you’ve got to try to reserve some of that for yourself as well.

It is true, that it will get better. I am hopeful and anxious to have a glass of victory wine when I know we’re truly on the other side of it!

MOMlife by Courtney Spiak

The Postpartum Style Struggle

So you just had a baby! Congrats! That’s amazing! Your body did an amazing thing, carrying, growing, and then birthing that baby. I don’t know about you, but immediately after I had my babies I was in awe of my body. What I’d just accomplished, it felt like I had just completed the marathon of my life. I remember looking in the mirror after having my last babe and thinking, “Um, what is that?” It never ceases to take me by surprise the shape that your body melts into following birth. I looked just like a busted Pillsbury dough can. And it was easy enough to mold the dough into a shape that could fit into sweatpants, but anything else?

 

Forget about it.

 

I held my baby constantly in public so no one would ask me when I was due. I was frustrated. I had “bounced back” so quickly after my first. But I wasn’t a dewy-eyed 19-year-old new mom anymore. I was a tired, shapeless 4th time mom in my late twenties. It wasn’t my first rodeo and I felt like everyone was staring at my droopy waistline thinking about how far I let myself go. Breastfeeding did nothing to drop the weight. For some women, and some pregnancies, it works like magic. Not so for me. I breastfed almost 2 years and had only lost about 10 of the pounds of the 30 I had gained. 

 

Around the time I was pregnant with my fourth baby, having babies was the thing to do. Beautiful belly bumps graced the red carpets, the covers of magazines, and everywhere I looked, another “glowing” mommy was draped in a couture maternity gown looking better than I did when I wasn’t even pregnant. Sheesh. 

 

Then of course, post baby was a whole other ball game. After all these famous women gave birth, the spotlight went straight from “Aww Congrats!” to “Wow! She got her body back.” In record time, these women were out and about looking (again) better than I did even before pregnancy. One word: Spanx. 

 

But I digress…

 

Without a personal stylist of my own, a hair and makeup team, and access to designers to custom make my clothes, there didn’t seem to be a guide for how to dress myself in this postpartum body. I didn’t want to just keep wearing my maternity clothes after the baby until the weight came off and my waistline returned, but I couldn’t bear one more day clad in sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt. 

 

Anyone else feel my pain? 

 

So, I’ll be doing a series of blogs on dressing your postpartum body, starting from Day 1! You have enough on your plate with a new baby, stressing about what to wear shouldn’t be one of them. Let’s figure out how to dress for going home, newborn photos, date nights, play dates, and more! I’m going to be your guru of postpartum style. I can’t to share this series with you! Stay tuned!


Hugs Mama Friend,


Ashley 

Stylist/Owner 

Metro Image Consulting L.L.C.

www.metroimageconsulting.com


Want me to come help you “Shop Your Closet” and learn to style yourself? Contact me on my website or text: STYLE to 480-296-4851. Be sure to mention MOMnation for a special discount!

Ready or Not!! Life after Maternity Leave

Almost as soon as my baby was born back in January, I knew the clock had started ticking on my (unpaid) maternity leave. Of course, it’s so distant in the moments of newborn bliss. I have 12 weeks to spend with my baby! I have 12 weeks to figure out how this family of four, with two babies under two years old, will function. I have 12 weeks to finally get around to these projects I’ve been meaning to tackle (Are you laughing at this last statement?? Because I am!!)!!

 

And then…

 

I was supposed to return to work last Monday. Even though I work from home and have invaluable flexibility that most working moms don’t, I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t ready. My baby had become colicky over the last couple of months and I couldn’t get to the bottom of it to find relief for her (and for us). Between my colicky baby and my toddler adjusting to her new room and bed (boy did we screw that one up!!), I wasn’t getting more than 3-4 hours of sleep at a time. I was officially running on fumes, barely able to function. I thought, there’s no way I could handle my job right now when I can hardly formulate a full sentence. It was difficult to do, but I called my boss, maaaaybe stretched the truth a teensy tiny bit and extended my leave another week. I could hear the annoyance in the voices of the co-workers I spoke to, who were covering for me and looking to dump things back on my plate. Sorry… not sorry.

 

And then…

 

When I realized this rare opportunity to take time for myself, which I will most likely not have again for a long time, things began to turn around. I could think a little clearer without the pressure. At my wits end with the colic, we shifted focus and realized that acid reflux could be the cause behind the crying. So the baby started Zantac, and although she’s still colicky it’s not nearly as bad! She has been sleeping more. I have been sleeping more. I treated myself to a manicure and pedicure, I’ve gone shopping by myself, simple acts to make me feel like a human woman again instead of a hot mess “Mombie.” I started to feel a little more ready to claim my professional life back.

 

And so here we are, my first day back to work. As much as I yearned for a break during my baby’s colic episodes, I cried my eyes out when my husband left this morning to bring them to daycare. Today will be the longest day in my new baby’s life, the longest time away from me. And while I know it’s for the best, eventually, it doesn’t make it any easier in the moment.

 

I prepared myself as much as possible last night – shower, outfits for me and the girls laid out, alarm set and morning prep mentally scheduled, coffee pot set for 6:45am – and it made all the difference. My baby even gave me the gift of sleeping through the night before my first day back to work!

 

“Mommy Feelings,” as I call them, can be conflicting and scary and all-consuming. My tears had to be put away quickly this morning because I had to be “on” for my first conference call at 7am. And that is a good thing, because it’s easy to slide down the rabbit hole of guilt. I’ve been slowly moving through my day, making a conscious effort to read each email and determine an action. I’ve been able to take a break to throw in a load of laundry. I pump at my desk so I can still get things done. And even though my mind is mostly on my babies and wondering if I’m ever doing the right thing, I am slowly settling into this new phase of my life. Because ultimately, we’re never “ready” for what needs to be done. We can only prepare so much. But the beautifully anguished act of letting go, and diving in, is what transforms us and builds our person. And that, I am ready for!

MOMlife by Courtney Spiak