Category Archives: Stuff for Mom

Are you a Fit Foodie?

For all of my readers in the DC metro area, here’s your chance to get in some exercise while indulging your inner foodie. The Fit Foodie 5K is coming to the Mosaic District June 20-22!

The Fit Foodie 5K Race Weekend is jam-packed with celebrity chef tastings, cooking and fitness demonstrations, a yoga session with celebrity trainer Kristin McGee, and a Power Systems fitness obstacle course and bootcamp, led by celebrity trainer Patrick Goudeau. Also expect to rub elbows with editors and contributors from Cooking Light and Health magazines who will be on hand to share tips and tricks for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Additionally, 10% of the sale of each ticket for the 2014 series will benefit City of Hope, a leading treatment and research center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases.

Tickets range from $35-$60 per event, or $155 for the whole weekend. But if you use the discount code MOMMACHINE, you can get a 10% off advance online ticket sales! To purchase tickets, go to: www.fitfoodierun.com.

Be sure to follow The Fit Foodie Race Weekend on Facebook or on Twitter at @FitFoodieRun for the latest news, contests, and promotions!


Review: Belly Bandit’s Upsie Belly

There’s an old wives’ tale that says if you’re carrying your baby low and all out in front, you’re expecting a boy. Well either that’s completely opposite for me, or the doctors have been way off for the past 8 months. Let’s hope it’s not the latter because there’s a lot of pink going on in our house.

While carrying all out in front has its benefits, it also puts tremendous strain on your lower back. Every time I get up (or bend down, or roll over, or walk …) I get shooting pains through my sciatic nerve and have to hobble around like my 90-year-old grandmother. Still, I scoffed when my doctor suggested I start wearing a maternity support belt. She described it as “this harness that goes over your shoulders and under your belly,” and all I could picture was a Pepsi delivery guy. Ummm, no.

Photo via Bellybandit.com

But a couple of months ago, the pain got the better of me and I caved. I tried on several different versions at the maternity store and settled on the Belly Bandit® Upsie Belly. It was by far the most expensive one there ($70 as compared to $25-40 for the others), but I chose it for several reasons:

1. It was the most comfortable one I tried on- and when you’re hugely pregnant and uncomfortable enough as it is, this is incredibly important.

2. Of all the different types, this one was the least obvious under my clothes.

3. The design was simple- going around the back and securing under the belly- in a way that didn’t make me feel like I needed an engineering degree to put it on everyday.

The best compliment I can possibly give the Upsie Belly is that I wish I hadn’t waited so long to get it. It has been a lifesaver these past couple of months! As soon as I put it on, I feel instant relief in my back and support for my belly.

Is it invisible? No, of course not. I don’t usually wear it with dresses (it’s much easier to hide with pants and a top), and there are some shirts where it’s more obvious than others. But for the most part, it’s discreet enough that people don’t even realize I’m wearing it. It’s definitely more hidden than the stark white over- and under-the-belly contraption I tried on while shopping, that’s for sure.

I don’t normally wear the Upsie Belly to work because I sit at a computer all day. When sitting for long periods, the belt puts added pressure on my lower belly, which is both uncomfortable and makes me have to pee even more than I already do. But when I know I’m going to be on my feet, I never go without it. Not only does it help to alleviate my sciatic pain, but it lifts my belly up just enough to give me some relief from the pelvic pain and pressure that I’ve been experiencing.

If your doctor has recommended that you invest in a support belt, I would highly suggest at least trying on the Upsie Belly. Yes, it’s more expensive than most, but for me, it has been worth every penny. I think if I had opted to save the money and get one of the other ones (which were more uncomfortable and more obvious), I wouldn’t wear it as much as I do the Upsie Belly.


Josh & Caity’s Coed Bridal Shower

My stepmom, sister, and I recently threw my brother and his fiancée a coed bridal shower. We decided to do a fun backyard shin-dig to take advantage of the pool in the hot summer weather.

Unfortunately, mother nature decided to throw some serious thunderstorms our way 15 minutes before the shower started (and then a couple more times during the party), but we still managed to end up with good food, good company, and a good time!

We went with a red, white, and turquoise country theme and carried it throughout the entire event, from the blue mason jars to the gingham ribbon.

For favors, we baked s’mores brownies right into small jars and tied on a thank you tag, which was perfect considering it was National S’mores Day.

To make the favors, mix together melted butter and graham cracker crumbs; press the mixture into the bottom of each jar. Mix together a box of brownie mix and pour evenly into each jar. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, according to the oven temperature listed on the box of brownie mix. Top each brownie jar with 8-10 mini marshmallows and bake another 3-4 minutes or until the marshmallows are melted and slightly browned on the top. Allow to cool before topping each jar with a lid.

For the food, we made hamburger sliders and bratwurst with gourmet toppings that ranged from onions sautéed in red wine to peperoncini sauce. To go along with the main dish, we served a variety of different salads, including fruit salad, edamame orzo salad, and roasted corn and black bean salad. Because of the heat, we kept the salads on ice in a couple of galvanized tubs—not as cute, but we thought it was best to put food safety first!

To go along with the s’mores brownies, we did individual banana pudding cups for dessert. Unfortunately, I was apparently too busy eating mine to actually take a picture. I blame pregnancy—I cannot be held accountable when there’s sugar around!

Despite the rain, I think the shower turned out really nice, and my brother and his fiancée really appreciated all the effort that went into the party. The kids even made it into the pool for a bit between storms—all in all, a success!


The Great Double Stroller Debate

Mr. Mom Machine and I have been going back and forth over the past several months trying to decide whether or not we should purchase a double stroller. Our daughter will be three years old when #2 makes her appearance, and she doesn’t use her stroller as much as she used to. That being said, there are some key times when she does use it: at Busch Gardens, when she’s tired of walking at the mall, at our county festival, etc.

I’m not going to lie—one of the main reasons I have been considering buying a double stroller is because I’m flippin’ terrified of being on my own with two kids and not having a way to wrangle my three year old into some semblance of submission. But since double strollers don’t come cheap, I decided to do my research and lean on more experienced moms of 2+ for some guidance. I definitely don’t want to drop several hundred dollars on a stroller that we never end up using.

So I did what any unsure mom does: I took to Facebook. Luckily, my friends rose to the occasion with tons of great advice!

Danielle S.: “Love the double jogger!! For times when that set-up isn’t ideal, we just use two separate strollers. Didn’t get any other type of double.”

Amber J: “I had a double stroller. it was a life saver! There’s nothing worse than trying to hold a toddlers hand and control them while pushing an infant or having to carry a toddler while pushing an infant. It comes with experience though. It does get a little tricky trying to maneuver around department store aisles and stuff.”

Marci E.: “I would suggest waiting until baby arrives and see how using a carrier works first (if you don’t mind wearing baby). You may find that Olivia grows out of using the stroller by the time you are ready to use it.”

Tracey S.: “I resisted the double until after baby was born, and then went with the Sit and Stand Joovy Ultralight (bought on Craigslist). I am happy with that choice for shopping, outings, etc. We already had a bike trailer that converts to a stroller so that’s what I use when I run/walk with both- I’d love to have a double jogger but couldn’t justify the price.”

Shannon M.: “Depends on the double and what you do with your kiddos! I had a double umbrella and found it useless! I got a used Sit and Stand for the first year (Craigslist) and it was awesome for those 12 months, but definitely not worth buying new. I’ve loved my double In-Step jogger because the seats are really roomy and its useful for a lot of things (when I travel alone, running, etc) so I think that was worth the money new.”

Katie H.: “Mine were all 24 mos or less apart so yes I do [think it’s worth having a double stroller]. Phil and Teds are awesome if you don’t think you will need a double all the time or for very long.”

Charity F.: “I never bought one and only regretted once in almost two years! I bought the Ergo baby carrier and carried one and pushed one in the stroller. We’ve been to Disney twice and just take two nice umbrella type strollers. To me the double strollers were to big and bulky to be worth it. Good luck!”

 

In the end, we decided to try the Baby Jogger glider (which we found for around $65 on Amazon and fits right on the back of our current City Mini). If, when the time comes, we find ourselves smacking ourselves for not getting the double stroller … well, we’re only about 15 minutes from our nearest Buy Buy Baby.

 

What about you, did you use a double stroller? Do you regret your choice?


Easy {Light} Red Sangria

I could really go for some cold sangria to help me get through this sweltering summer. Unfortunately, I won’t be having any for another three and a half months. So for all of you non-preggo folks out there, here’s a great recipe for a light version of red sangria that doesn’t require a special trip to the liquor store. Be sure to drink a glass for me!

I made this sangria while we were at the beach, and it was a huge hit! I took bits and pieces from several different recipes to come up with my own easier, lower calorie recipe. This recipe doesn’t call for any additional liquor (so you don’t have to buy an entire bottle of Triple Sec just for 1/4 cup), and it’s lower in sugar than your average sangria. I doubled the recipe since we had so many people, and it was still gone in a flash!

Light Sangria

1 bottle red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon)
1/2 cup light orange juice, such as Trop50
8 packets of Splenda (or 1/3 cup if using Splenda Granulated)
1/2 lime, sliced
1/2 orange, sliced
1/2 lemon, sliced
1 small red apple, diced
2 cups diet ginger ale

Combine wine, orange juice, and sugar and stir. Add the fruit and refrigerate 1-2 hours. Just before serving, add the ginger ale and stir well.


Things I am Loving Right Now

Here are a few things I am loving right now!

 

I recently won a giveaway from Very Busy Mamá (yay!) for a lovely piece of Ruth Barzel jewelry. I chose this long pearl necklace, which is so versatile and delicate—I simply love it!

I recently picked up this little hippo bathing suit for Olivia from Target. Little girls’ swimsuits are just the cutest! They also have this design in a two piece with a little rash guard. And for only $13, I just couldn’t resist!

This thermal protectant from Sebastian has been amazing for my fine hair. My stylist talked me into getting it last time I was in for a cut, and I’m so glad. I tend to get split ends and heat damage really easily, and I feel like this has helped keep my hair healthy and increased my time between cuts.

We are in the process of turning our guest room into Olivia’s big girl room. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on new furniture, so we got picked out an unfinished dresser from Ikea and painted it. We decided to do the drawers in pink ombre, and I found these adorable hand painted knobs from Etsy shop 3ButtonsN2Bows. I ended up buying several types (owls, birds, and trees) in different colors to complete her dresser and nightstand. I think these will give a cute custom feel to the not-custom-priced furniture!

Not sure if it’s the fact that I’m pregnant or just that it’s delicious, but I am obsessed with Ben & Jerry’s Late Night Snack ice cream.  I think it’s my favorite ice cream, which is saying something because I’m pretty equal opportunity when it comes to sweets. There’s something about the mix of salty caramel and potato chips and sweet chocolate and ice cream that just does it for me. Mmmm, now I’m hungry.


Breastfeeding: Second Time’s a Charm?

I saw this article on Babble today, 9 Reason I am Dreading Breastfeeding. (Again.), and had such a visceral reaction that I was compelled to comment for maybe the fourth time ever. Then, as I thought about what I wanted to say, I realized it was way too much for one tiny little comment box. What I needed was a post purge.

While I was lucky enough to not have to deal with reflux and I did eventually make it to a point where I actually enjoyed nursing, I might have written every other word of this article. Just reading it brought back so much emotion and, now that I am expecting my second baby, some serious anxiety. I too am more than a little bit terrified of how my next breastfeeding experience will compare with my first.

When Olivia was born, the nurses at the hospital exclaimed over how easily she took to nursing, how strong she was, how well I was doing … for two glorious days I thought I was nailing this mama thing. And then we went home and it all went to shit. She went on a feeding strike for 24 hours, leaving me an exhausted, panicky, blubbering mess sitting in the pediatrician’s office and Olivia labeled a “failure to thrive.”

What followed was a litany of good times: plugged ducts, nipple shields, tongue tie, over supply, bleeding, thrush. My daily routine read like the troubleshooting section of a breastfeeding book.

Then there was the pain. Oh, the pain. I had friends who were also nursing at the time who reported some discomfort and soreness. If only. Picture someone putting your nipple in a vise and then slowly driving a dozen tiny nails into it. Yep, that was more my reality. I dreaded each feeding and cringed in pain, tears running down my cheeks, every single time.

Things got so bad that everyone I knew was trying to convince me that it was okay to give up. My husband, my parents, our pediatrician, my OB, my lactation consultant, everyone. Many of these people saw my struggles firsthand and I think, especially for my husband, they just hated to see me in so much near-constant pain. But I was determined.

And then something amazing happened—it just … got better. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment or even the cause, but sometime between months four and five I finally got what everyone was going on about. I continued nursing my daughter until she was 13 months old and was genuinely sad when she decided to give it up.

I am praying that things are easier this time around. But if they aren’t, I like to think that I’m a little older, a little wiser, and I have more than a few tricks up my sleeve—like popping soy lecithin supplements the minute this little girl is born to help combat the plugged ducts!

At least this second time around, I have something that I definitely didn’t have with my first: some perspective. To know what to expect. To give myself a break. To know that I can make it through it and that, when I do, the reward is being able to stare down into my baby girl’s eyes without a care in the world.


Spring 2013 Nail Color Trends

I’m not one to spend the time giving myself a crazy manicure à la Zooey Deschanel. I think they’re awesome—I just don’t have that kind of time on my hands. But I do like to try out the newest color trends. I’ve been scouring the web looking for the hottest nail color trends for spring. Here are my fav five:

Lime Green

L’Oreal Colour Riche Nail New Money, $5.99


Shiny Metallics

OPI The World Is Not Enough, $8


Lavender

Butter London Molly Coddled, $15


Aqua

Essie Go Overboard, $8


Milky White

NARS Versailles Champagne Gold, $19


10 Time-Saving Apps for Busy Moms

When you’re a busy mom, every second counts. Here are some time-saving apps to help you shortcut your way through life.

RetailMeNot (Free)
My stepmom turned me on to this app over the holidays, and I am obsessed! When you’re out shopping, just type in the name of a store to find all of the coupon codes available. When you go to checkout, they just scan the barcode on your phone.  With 24 different categories, you can find coupons for nearly every major retailer.

Evernote (Free)
Evernote’s slogan is “Remember Everything,” which is fitting for this accessible repository for notes, articles, links, photos, whatever you want to keep track of. What I love about Evernote is that I have it on my iPhone, iPad, work laptop, and home computer, so no matter what device I’m on, if I come across something I want to remember or go back to later, I can easily save it. I also love the voice note feature, which lets you dictate a message to yourself and save it as a note. I use this all the time when I think of a great blog post idea while I’m on the go!

Mint.com (Free)
This app lets you view all of your accounts in one place—bank accounts, investments, credit cards, mortgage—to give you a bird’s eye view of your finances. It even tracks and categorizes your transactions so you can see how much you’re spending each month on groceries versus gas. The Mint.com app will also give you financial advice based on your accounts and your spending habits.

Wunderlist (Free)
The ultimate list app, Wunderlist keeps track of your to-do list, your grocery list, your packing list for your upcoming trip, pretty much anything. It syncs across all your devices, and it allows you to share your lists, which comes in really handy when your hubby offers to go to the grocery store for you.

Grocery IQ (Free)
If you’re looking for a dedicated grocery list app, look no further. Build your grocery list using text, voice, or barcode scan, and then organize your items by aisle to help you get in and get out as quickly as possible. You can even search for relevant coupons based on what’s on your list and share your list across multiple devices.

IFTTT (Free)
IFTTT stands for If This Then That. Okay, so this isn’t an app, strictly speaking, but it DOES help your apps work harder for you. With IFTTT, you can set up “recipes” to help you automate just about anything. Some of my favorite recipes: when I star a blog post in my Google Reader, it automatically creates a note in Evernote; I get a text message to let me know it’s going to rain; and anytime I change my Facebook profile picture, my Twitter picture automatically updates as well. Sure, these aren’t necessities, but they do save me a step or two.

RedLaser (Free)
Never waste time bargain hunting again! This app lets you scan an item and instantly see the best online and local prices. You can also find top deals and search for stores nearby. Best of all? You can scan all of your loyalty cards right into the app so you never have to worry about keeping track of them all.

Find My iPhone (Free)
Things will go missing when there are kids around. It’s almost a rule of physics. At least with this app, you won’t spend an hour trying to figure out where your two year old stashed your phone. You have to set up this app BEFORE you lose your phone, but it definitely comes in handy when you need it to spring into action.

How to Cook Everything ($4.99)
Mark Bittman’s bestselling cookbook, How to Cook Everything, is now an easy-to-use app! Search reference information and recipes, complete with shopping lists and built-in timers. You can also easily print out your recipes and shopping lists. I love that this app doesn’t require a network connection to work, so even when I have no signal at the grocery store, I can still pull it up.

Total Baby ($4.99)
I so wish I had had this app when I was nursing my daughter. It keeps track of which side you nurse from and when, as well as a gazillion other things that new moms need to keep straight. Log vaccines, track sleep patterns, time pumping sessions, you name it, this app does it all.

Do you have a go-to app to help keep your life organized or to save you time? Share it!


Emi Jay’s New Spring Colors

I may have been late to the whole Emi Jay craze, but I am now officially a fan! When I bought some of these hair ties for my sister for Christmas, I picked up a pack for myself as well. I am so happy I did!

Before I discovered these hair ties, if I wore my hair up, I would have to keep it up all day because it would get the dreaded kink. I absolutely LOVE that I can wear my fine hair in a ponytail for an hour or all day and it still doesn’t have a dent!

Right now, I am loving the new color and ombre packs for spring. At $10.99 for a pack of five, they’re not the cheapest hair ties in the world, but they’re worth it!

Sorbet 5-Pack

Pink Ombre 5-Pack

Seabreeze 5-Pack

Green Ombre 5-Pack