Beauty: Why you should care about what you put on your body!

Back in March I was able to attend a wonderful event at the Whole Foods in Lynnfield for the Hello Beauty Week! The event featured three experts with local brands to talk about the importance of clean beauty products and how their brand commits to that. Let me start by saying that anyone could attend the event and it was free, you just had to register in advance.

Slowly, I have been trying to switch over to a more natural skin care/hygiene regimen. I make it a priority to eat clean, make sure I buy the dirty dozen organic, and make sure I know as much about my food as possible. The one message that all three experts said was that, what goes on your body is just as important as what goes in your body.

shamanuti

The first brand discussed was Shamanuti. The company was started because of the owners love and respect for nature. She also shared that most common (and cheap) products do more harm than good. Most products strip the skin, dry it out, and then replace the natural oils. It makes you feel like your need more of that product to keep your skin healthy.

Just like with food, understanding what’s in the product should be high on your priority list. If alcohol is one of the first 3 ingredients, it will strip your skin, like I mentioned above. The difference between food and beauty products is that beauty products tend to use the latin terms for the plants that are used in the product, so you may not be able to pronounce the word, it could still be good for you.

When asked what is the #1 product she would suggest using every day, it would be charcoal. Charcoal products have recently started becoming very popular, what they do is bring your skin to a pH neutral balance.

laughingtree

The second company that spoke to us was Laughing Tree Organics. They have only been in business for about a year, but they already have a lot of products available and a great following. The products are 100% plant-based and have no artificial ingredients. They are trying to offer cost-effective, plant-based products with a sustainable approach. So many of these products we use, not only is the product made of chemicals, but the packaging and some of the product ending up in our landfills, water supplies, etc…

The owner talked about how it takes only 26 seconds for chemicals to enter the blood stream and the average person puts on seven products a day! Seven, that is a lot of chemicals! She talked about how some beauty & hygiene products have a role in issues with fertility, birth defects, early puberty in offspring, etc… While I haven’t done a ton of research in that area, it is definitely something that I plan on delving deep into and making my self extremely informed.

The products are created through a cold press process with no fillers so that a little of the product goes a long way! I was able to try their Natural Organic Lip Balms (coconut is my favorite) and I have to say it made my lips, which tend to try out easily, nice and soft, and I didn’t feel the need to put on lip balm 75 times a day.

thesis

These are hand-made artisanal skin care products. As with most, the owner started with switching to organic food and slowly moved to switching to skin care.

While researching beauty products she couldn’t find anything chemical or preservative free, and she also couldn’t find organic brands that were affordable. So she developed her own brand after a full year of research.

They also use a cold press process to make their products, no synthetics used at all. Part of the reason this company was started was to make products that pregnant women could use and feel comfortable with. While she suggested switching to a natural skin care routine prior to getting pregnant, you can start any time.

This company was the only one that kept its products in glass. Dark brown glass keeps the product fresher for longer, but it is more expensive. The bath products however, use recycled plastic.

Samples

After the talk, we were each given a swag bag with tons of samples and some of the brands above gave out extra samples to attendees. I have tried most of the brands you see above, and still have plenty of samples, so if you’d like to try something you see, don’t hesitate to ask me!

Weleda

I was also gifted this basked of Weleda products to test out. My absolute favorite is the Sea Buckthorn Creamy Body Wash. My skin doesn’t feel dried out and I love the way it smells! I’ve gone back and purchased this product for me to keep using.

MyChelle

I was also given the opportunity to try a few full size items. After talking to the Whole Beauty expert, I picked these three products for myself. My face was always feeling dried out. So I picked the MyChelle Honeydew Cleanser which is unscented and for sensitive skin. I wash my face twice a day and the product lasts forever. You don’t need a ton of product, trust me, I learned the hard way! I started using these products in the winter when my skin, especially my face, would flake like crazy. Ever since I started using this regimen, my face has felt moisturized and healthy.

Post-cleanser I use one of two products. If I am spending a ton of time outside or it is going to be a hot and sunny day I opt for the Mineral Fusion Mineral SPF 40 Face Moisturizer. Due to being a tad bit Irish, I burn easily, but the worst is always my face. For me it is vital to have a moisturizer that also doubles as a sunscreen because I just don’t have time for 65 beauty products in the morning.  If I wasn’t really going out, which happened a lot due to modified bed rest, exhaustion, etc…. or I was washing my face before bed I used the MyChelle Deep Repair Cream. This cream is wonderful, I never feel like my  face is dried out and the product is not oily which I love. My only con about these two products is that they have a light scent. It doesn’t stay with you for more than a few minutes, but it is something to bare in mind.

The Whole Beauty Expert was so helpful in picking out the three products above that I also asked her about baby and kid products. Unfortunately, B1 has my dry and sensitive skin. The expert showed me some bath wash, shampoo, bubble bath, etc… that would be great for infants and toddlers, the prices were even cheaper at Whole Foods than at Target.

emily

I also took home a sample for Emily’s Baby & Adult Skin Soother. This is a very local product that is similar to vaseline in consistency. It is great for dry patches, whenever B1 has a dry patch of skin, I put a tiny dab on the area before he goes to bed and 90% of the time the dry patch is better after 2 days of application. It has been a life saver not just for B1, but also for me. I get extremely dry knuckles in the winter and this has helped me not to only stop the cracking and bleeding, but also to stop the skin from drying out at all.

I am still in the process of looking for natural makeup, so if you have suggestions send them my way!

Do you use natural body products? If so, what are your favorites?

Lactation Support Groups & a Giveaway

If there is one piece of advice that I could give any mom is that nothing ever goes as planned, ever. If it did, I would’ve already had B2, I fully anticipated she would be a June baby based on my conversations with my OB, but June came and went and she is still in utero. With B1 the plan was always to breastfeed, but with some medical complications post birth and the fact that after 2 weeks of trying my milk still hadn’t come in, I ended up not breastfeeding. It was such a hard decision, mixed with the post-partum hormones, and the guilt that I felt for not feeling good enough to provide for my baby, I hibernated. The only lactation consultant I saw basically told me to give up, it was an extremely difficult decision for me but at the end of the day, I needed to provide nutrients for my baby and if I couldn’t do that then I was going to find an alternate solution.

Third Trimester

More than ready for baby girl :)

With B2 I plan on trying the breastfeeding route again, I will be more willing to see a (different) lactation consultant immediately for help and pray that my milk comes in this time. Fortunately for me I was contacted by the team at Acelleron in North Andover, MA. Not only can you order medical products (like breast pumps, etc…) through them, they also offer many pre and post-partum services for moms. Things like fitness classes, doula services, new mom support groups, and lactation support groups. Since I didn’t go to one when B1 was born, I sent Megan at Acelleron a list of questions that I had about lactation support groups. I know I personally am very intimidated to go to any type of new class whether it be fitness, education, or something like lactation, my type A personality doesn’t like the unknown.

For the benefit of you and I, I posted our Q&A session below, and at the bottom is the info to enter the giveaway that Acelleron and I are having!

1. What is the benefit from attending a lactation support group?

There are so many great benefits! First, it is a great time to connect with other new moms! You get to see that your relationship and struggles are very common and you are not the only one going through them at 3 am. Second, you get professional advice and opinions by someone who is trained and educated in the field of lactation support. There are so many myths and bad advice out there surrounding breastfeeding. This is a great time to come in and get your questions answered by someone with professional and personal expertise.

2. When should mom start attending a lactation support group?

As soon as they can get out of the house! They can even come to a group while they are pregnant. I have had moms come with 3 day olds and moms come in with 12 month olds. It’s never too late or too early to join us.

3. How long should I attend the lactation support group for? How long does the average mom stay in the support group?

It totally depends of the kind of support mom is looking for. Moms are welcome to drop in once to get their questions answered, or come every week for their whole maternity leave. It is great when moms come for a few weeks and really build a bond with other moms. We are all about community and supporting each other, so it is great to watch that happen. On average, people stay in the group for 3-4 months.

4. Do moms actively breastfeed during the support group?

Yes. There are moms nursing throughout the meeting. It also gives me a chance to check positioning and latch.

5. When would a mom need a private session instead of being part of the group?

Moms would need a private session for a few different reason. If a baby is not gaining weight appropriately, lots of pain or bleeding on mom’s nipple, mom needs help creating a plan for going back to work. I always suggest starting out with the support group and then deciding from there, unless it is a more emergent situation.

6. What would you say to a mom that could not breast feed her first child but wants to try to breastfeed a second child?

Every pregnancy is different and every child is different! The best thing to do is educate yourself. Learn from what happened the first time around, and find a support system that will help you get breastfeeding started early on.

7. Are there foods or a diet that boosts breast milk supply?

Some moms will report a boost in their supply when they eat things like oatmeal, lactation cookies, coconut water and Gatorade. It is all really anecdotal as there is no research that proves any foods can increase supply.

8. What can a mom do to encourage better milk production or for her milk to come in?

The best advice is to breastfeed the baby early and often! As the baby suckles it tells your body to make more milk. It is all about supply and demand. The more the baby nurses, the more milk your body will make. In those first few days the baby does not need a lot of milk to fill up their tiny tummy. They need to be at the breast at least 8-12 times in 24 hours. This will help encourage your supply.

9. What would you tell a mom who’s milk has not come in more than one week post-partum?

If your milk has not come in after more than one week post-partum mom should be working directly with a lactation professional. Milk usually comes in around day 3 for a vaginal birth and can take up to 5 days to come in for a c-section.

10. For moms that don’t want to exclusively breast feed, when is it best to introduce a bottle?

The best time to introduce a bottle is around 3-4 weeks. If you wait much longer it might be harder. If you do it too soon it could have some negative effects. When deciding to introduce a bottle make sure to do some research on Paced Bottle Feeding. You can find some great video’s on YouTube. This method helps simulate a breastfeeding type experience and will help the baby easily transition between bottle and breast.

Megan O’Neill is the Director of Lactation Support at Acelleron Maternal Health & Wellness in North Andover, MA, which provides the resources and supportive community parents need to become empowered in the process of growing their family. Megan has over three years of breastfeeding experience with her two little boys and holds her Certification in Lactation Counseling and is also certified by the Academy of Lactation Policy and Procedure. She holds a weekly free drop-in breastfeeding support group on Wednesdays from 11:30-12:30pm: http://acelleron.com/maternal/support/lactation-lounge/ or you can email her at: moneill@acelleron.com. More info about Acelleron Maternal Health & Wellness can be found at: http://acelleron.com/maternal/, Facebook or Twitter.

 

Acelleron is offering to giveaway a Simple Wishes hands free bra to one lucky reader. This giveaway ends Friday, July 10, 2015 at 11:59 pm EST

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Did you attend a lactation support group? What was the best thing about it?

Third Trimester Updates

It’s hard to believe I am already part way through the third trimester, but at the same time I feel like once I got to the third trimester time just stood still.

Third Trimester

33+ Weeks on the left, 25+ Weeks on the right. 

This non-maternity Stitch Fix (affiliate link) t-shirt has been one of the most comfortable things for me to wear this pregnancy.

These last few weeks haven’t been great, if I am being honest. I’ve said it before, I haven’t had “easy” pregnancies. With this pregnancy, the second trimester really was the only time I felt okay, and even that had its issues.

I haven’t felt dizzy or faint in a while, but to avoid any disasters Nick and B1 come and do the grocery shopping with me on Sundays. I hate doing grocery shopping on the weekends, but it has to be done then, and we make a fun game of whether or not Nick & B1 can find items in the store faster than it takes me at the meat & deli counters. Spoiler: they usually win!

Nursery

Baby Girl’s room

My MIL came and painted the nursery, she is a pro and doesn’t even need the painters tape and it looks amazing! The crib and changing table are set up, and most of the big items we needed are purchased. There is still a lot of organizing to do, but I can’t do a lot of it so I have to wait when I have help on the weekends. I am trying to not go nesting crazy, but I don’t think it is working.

B1

B1 is super excited! I showed him how to swaddle Mickey, and he put him down for a nap. Precious!

I am back on a modified bed rest of sorts, I can do a few things, but I’m advised not to stress out my body, and to keep my feet up as possible. There are a few reasons for that, baby girl is measuring about 2 lbs bigger than is normal for this gestational age. She is also in a weird position, her elbow and shoulder are digging into my pelvic area, which causes so much pain for that area and also for the lower part of my body. We are trying to avoid stressing out my body and the baby. So, that means no long drives, exercising, lifting heavy objects, etc…

I’ve been monitored a bit more than normal, but mom and baby are healthy and that’s what matters. I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed, my weight gain jumped a lot the last few weeks, and a large part of it is definitely due to the fact that her weight gain jumped a lot. I have been trying to eat as healthy as possible, but I know that I have been eating more carbs than I usually do. I am also feeling like my stomach is extremely heavy, so I invested in a belly band at the request of my doctor and that helps a little bit, but I do notice after walking around for a bit my stomach and pelvis are really sore, and my feet start to swell.

This means I have been sitting a lot,not ideal, but again, you can’t predict how your pregnancy will go. The end goal is a healthy baby and mom, so I am trying to mentally let myself be okay with that. One of my other goals is to make sure I get in at least 120 oz of water a day. With the heat coming and natural swelling, I need to make sure I am well hydrated.

I still feel like I have one hundred things to do, including making a bunch of freezer meals since we just got a new upright freezer for the garage. If you have any suggestions send them my way!

The Mapmaker’s Children: Small Town Living

This post was inspired by The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy, a novel about two women are connected by an Underground Railroad doll. Join From Left to Write on May 19th as we discuss The Mapmaker’s Children. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

TheMapmakersChildren

There are very few books that I’ve read for the book club that I haven’t liked, but this book stands out as one of my favorites! I love how the book weaves bits and pieces of history with two fictional storylines, it makes you believe that the whole novel could have happened.

I also feel like I could have taken this non-traditional review in a myriad of directions, but I feel like I’ve talked about a few of them a lot (miscarriage) or recently (teaching history).  It would be easy for me to take one of those topics, so let’s go with something that I haven’t really talked about. Small Town Living vs. Suburban Life.

I grew up in a very small town, so small that my high school was made up of at least eight different towns and our graduating class was still in the 200’s.

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Hello Vermont

As soon as I graduated high school I went to a small private college in northern Vermont, it wasn’t what I was looking for. I ended up at a college in Worcester, MA, maybe not the best city, but it was certainly more entertaining than anywhere in Vermont. After graduation Nick and I ended up in Somerville, MA, just outside Boston. Even though we moved around a bit in that area, we eventually ended up in a suburb 15 minutes north of the city.

I don’t have any qualms with small town living, there are tons of perks. I never needed to lock my car doors, I didn’t think twice about working third shift at a convenience store (although maybe that was a bit naive), and I was pretty trusting of the majority of people. BUT everyone knew your shit, and I mean everyone. Nothing was a private matter, and people would gossip endlessly.

Obviously, suburban or city life can be a bit more intimidating. The closer you are to an urban area the more likely there is for dangerous things to happen near your home or town. I believe you can find pockets of  communities that mimic small town life. Neighborhoods with lots of kids, school communities, etc… I also find that people aren’t always poking in your private business and spreading that gossip around, at least that’s been my experience.

I don’t hate small town life, it molded me into part of the person I am, I do know that I could never go back to that type of living.

Are you a small town lifer or do you prefer to be near an urban center?

For Two Fitness Mother’s Day Giveaway!

 I am thrilled to partner with For Two Fitness for an amazing post-Mother’s Day giveaway. I have been wearing For Two Fitness apparel throughout my pregnancy with B2 and they quickly have become some of my favorite maternity fitness pieces. For Two Fitness is running a phenomenal giveaway for the new mom or mom-to-be. Read the details below and make sure to follow on social media! 

This year, we are celebrating Mother’s Day all week! We are so thankful to YOU — our community, customers, friends, moms and moms-to-be. To express our thanks, we are hosting a huge giveaway this week in partnership with some amazing brands and our ambassadors. The Grand Prize is valued at more than $1000.  We have phenomenal prizes, from Joovy, Garmin, Feetures, Sara Haley and us, For Two Fitness – all facets of your fit mom lifestyle are in this prize pack!

joovy

Prizes are brought to you by our wonderful brand partners, sponsoring ambassadors and of course, us here at For Two Fitness. Here are more details about the grand prize – everything you see below:

 garmin

 

Grand Prize Giveaway items:

 

 Feetures sarahealey

 This contest runs from Monday, May 11th through midnight on Friday, May 15th.  Please follow all of our contest co-hosts on Instagram:

 

 ForTwoFitness

 

Thanks for celebrating Mother’s Week with us!  Good Luck!!

 

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Spinster: Women Supporting Women

This post was inspired by Spinster by Kate Bolick, who explores singledom with famous women who fashioned life on their own terms. Join From Left to Write on May 5th as we discuss Spinster. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Spinster

From Left to Write is one of the best things I have ever found via blogging. It has opened many a door (erm or maybe a book) for me, but I have to fully admit with the end of B1’s first year in school, a pregnancy that has been rougher on me than I expected, and a tight turn around on three books for the book club, I just haven’t been able to finish the last one or this one. I know my posting has been sporadic at best, and I have no expectation that it will get better once B2 is here, but I am going to make an effort to write quality content when I can, thank you for sticking with me.

Now, back to the book post!

I’ll be the first to admit that I can’t really relate to the “spinster” title. Nick and I have been together since we were 20 and we’ve been married for most of that time. What I can relate to with this book is that women are expected to do certain “life moments” in a particular order, and they get questioned all the time, while men don’t.

Over time the mentality of society has changed, you don’t necessarily need to get married right out of college, and then have kids after that. There is much more acceptance for the woman who wants to travel and not settle down. Or the women who wants to focus on her career instead of having a family. While you will probably still have that relative that will ask you at the family get-together what you are doing with your life and when you are going to get married or have babies, etc… the general acceptance in society is there.

I have found however, at least in the north-east, that the woman who decides that she does in fact want to get married young and have babies young is judged. It’s as if she (or I) is being judged for not helping other women break ground in changing the ways society view women and what their roles should or shouldn’t be.

For me, I have friends that have married young, have had babies young, friends that never want to get married, friends that don’t want to have children, friends that want to travel the world before the settle down, friends that want to travel with their partner, friends that want to travel with their kids, etc…

This life would be pretty boring if we were all the same, I hope that someday women can just find it in their hearts to support the woman standing next to them, whether or not their lifestyle is one they would want.

Under Magnolia: Home Is What You Make It

This post was inspired by Under Magnolia by Frances Mayes, a memoir of her return to her roots in the South. Join From Left to Write on April 30th as we discuss Under Magnolia. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

undermagnolia

If I am being honest, I am having a hard time getting through this book, and I haven’t finished it yet. I haven’t read anything else she has written, but I love reading memoirs so I had high hopes.

I think one of the themes that I kept circling back to when I was thinking about what I was going to write about was the idea of “Home”.

I’ve only lived in a few places, but for many years, I never felt like I was “home”. Life was chaotic to say the least, then of course came college. I don’t know that anyone feels at home when they are in college. Moving from dorms, to a sorority house, to apartments, I never really felt settled in one place.

Back Camera

After graduation, Nick was in a lease, and I ended up squeezing in his apartment for one extremely cramped and again chaotic month. Finally, Nick and I had our own place, but it wasn’t really ours, we were renters. Finally, we bought our condo. Along came B1, and we very quickly outgrew that space, and now we have been in our house for almost 3 years. Which is perfect for us and will be perfect when B2 comes along.

I’ve started to realize though, it’s not the physical home that makes it a home. It’s the people. That apartment that I crammed in with Nick and his 3 roommates? Not the ideal living space, but it has made for some of the most hilarious memories with some great friends.

Getting ready in that sorority house with my best girlfriends, having talks about life long into the night with those girls have made for lifelong friends.

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That roommate in a college dorm, is someone I will always treasure, and will also be a lifelong friend.

My husband and children, who have made me incredibly happy and proud, the best things to ever happen to me.

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B2 is in this picture too ;)

It’s not the building that makes the home, it’s the people in it.

My First Maternity Stitch Fix: April 2015

I still owe you all a Stitch Fix (<–referral link) review from October, but I cannot find the paper with the clothing information on it anywhere. Maybe once I finish cleaning my desk I will be able to get that out to you all.  After that last fix I found out I was pregnant and so I decided to put my fixes on hold. I wish I hadn’t since plenty of people received maternity items before it was made public that they were carrying those items. Oh well, you live and learn.

Because I was pregnant with B1 around the same time as B2 I thought that I would be fine with the clothes that I already owned, maybe buy a few tanks and t-shirts, but not much.  I was so wrong. I lost a lot of weight when I was pregnant with B1, and could wear workout clothes comfortably until week 30, and by that time I could wear maxi dresses and skirts, I bought one pair of maternity jeans, and maternity shorts, and of course tanks and t-shirts.

I was definitely a bit delusional thinking it would be the same, with B2 I didn’t lose as much weight, thankfully, and I am carrying her much lower than I carried him making even some workout clothes uncomfortable. I ended up purchasing some leggings (capri & ankle length) from Motherhood Maternity because they are cheap and comfortable. I also bought some t-shirts, tanks, and long-sleeved shirts at various places like Kohls & Target.

As soon as Stitch Fix mentioned they were carrying maternity & petite clothes I decided to give it try. I told the stylist exactly how far along I would be when the fix arrived. I said that I wanted layering pieces as we are transitioning into warmer weather, and I also mentioned that I have bridal and baby showers coming up and I wanted something to wear to those events. I mentioned no heavy winter types of items like jackets or heavy cardigans. So how’d we do?

First, I am very frustrated that I scheduled my fix for the earliest possible date (April 2nd) and as I checked the website it wasn’t even being put together as of April 1st. This is the second time this has happened to me, and considering the fact that the last time was 6-7 months ago is ridiculous. If they are having problems with fulfilling orders then they shouldn’t be accepting as many orders. I emailed customer service and received a rude email in response, telling me that the date a customer picks is the ideal date, but that they have 7 days to get the fix to the consumer. I combed through all the information online and I couldn’t find that specific information anywhere, not exactly the best customer service.

Now, on to the fix. When I read the card from the stylist the first thing I noticed was that they had zero options to send me in regards to my request for dresses and skirts. I don’t really understand that since they are everywhere during this time of year in the stores in MA. I do think that the stylist nailed my style in terms of colors and types of clothes though.

MaternityStichFix1

Seriously love the packaging!

Romolo Connor Hammered Oval Link Necklace – $38

Romolo Connor Hammered Oval Link Necklace

I need to take necklaces off my okay to send list. I have only received one that I liked, but also this necklace is extremely heavy, and I think it is silly to send a long necklace to someone who will have an infant in a few months. If someone is breastfeeding, that necklace will only get in the way. Status: Returned

Rune Kile Maternity Ankle Zip Leggings – $58

Rune Kile Maternity Ankle Zip Leggings

When I pulled these out of the box, I was like crap, I wasn’t planning on buying any more pants, but I LOVE the look, and the fabric was super comfortable. Unfortunately they were too long. When I updated my style profile I also added myself to the petite selections, because I am very short. I pulled the maternity band of these pants all the way underneath my chest and they still bunched around my knee. Status: Returned

Loveappella Maternity Plumeria Mixed Material Maternity Top – $48

Loveappella Plumeria Mixed Material Maternity Top

knew as soon as I saw Leslie’s Maternity Fix this morning that this shirt was going to end up in my fix, mostly because I didn’t want it too. It reminded me of a shirt I got in my 6th Fix (that I didn’t end up purchasing), but in Leslie’s photo it looked extremely long in the back…

Loveappella Plumeria Mixed Material Maternity Top

Not the best photos, but I feel like it also looks long on me. I know this is a maternity shirt, but I want the items I keep to be able to transition well in to postpartum wear and maybe even long-term wear. It doesn’t look like a typical maternity shirt, so I think it could transition well, and it was extremely comfortable. My reservations are with the back of the shirt. Is it too long? Does it look stupid with my lack of height? Status: Undecided

Pink Martini Morset Textured Cardigan – $68

Pink Martini Morset Textured Cardigan

When I first pulled this cardigan out, I was like what am I? 65? This is an old lady cardigan.

Pink Martini Morset Textured Cardigan

Then I put it on. It was so soft and so comfortable. I am not sure how I feel about the 3/4 length sleeves. I have plenty of shirts with them, so I don’t hate them, but I don’t have more than one or two cardigans/sweaters with them. It is also not a maternity specific piece, so I can obviously wear this postpartum, especially paired with a maternity tank and jeans or leggings, I will look more put together than I probably will feel ha. I just don’t know if it is worth the price tag. Status: Undecided

Loveappella Maternity Gonna Key Hole Detail Maternity Top – $48

Loveappella Maternity Gonna Key Hole Detail Maternity Top

As soon as I pulled this top out of the box I was in love. The deep cobalt color. The faux leather trim, the key hole. I definitely thought it was a keeper.

Loveappella Maternity Gonna Key Hole Detail Maternity Top

When I put it on, I loved how it felt and looked, but I am not sure of the length. I have a decent belly to fill out the front and pull the length up, but I am worried that post-partum it will be more of a sexy dress than a nice fitted tank. Thoughts? Status: Undecided

I have no idea what to keep. If I keep all three items that I am on the fence about it would be silly to not keep everything as it would only be $10 more.

 

What Should I Keep?

 
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Why I Hate Blogging

Maybe hate is an excessive term, but I think a lot of bloggers can relate!

I have been blogging for over 4 years, it started as a hobby, at some point I started making a small amount of money and receiving products in exchange for reviews. I liked it, I felt like I gave real reviews, I shared when I wasn’t 100% happy with a race, product, or company, but I also shared when a company had an outstanding product, race, or customer service. As I got more involved with that part of the blogging world it seemed to be a lot to try to keep up with the blogging world, especially the fitness and healthy living blogs. I started taking less on, I basically stopped blogging regularly after my miscarriage, and really started taking inventory on the products I LOVE.

I find that a lot of bloggers, big or small, don’t have any company loyalty, they will blog for this apparel company one month and a month or two later rave about how another company has the best apparel…how am I supposed to believe either review. I’ve definitely reviewed different gyms, studios, shoes, etc… so I am not innocent of this either, but I do cast a side eye when I see the same blogger review multiple brands shoes over the course of a few months.

Those are of course the companies that I will continue to work with or will try to showcase on here. I don’t regret any of the reviews that I’ve done in the past, but I don’t want to feel any pressure to come up with these pinterest perfect images and to compete with someone who does this for a living. I don’t want to get burnt out again. I am finally back at a place where I am loving the posts I am putting out there, and I don’t want to move away from that.

I think another large part of why I got so burnt out on blogging is because of the expectation of how a HLB (healthy living blogger) acts or eats or works out. Maybe part of this is because of pregnancy hormones, ask Nick they are real right about now, but I think I would feel this way regardless. When I first started reading blogs (5-6 years ago) bloggers wrote real posts, ever link wasn’t an affiliate link, it didn’t seem to be nearly as shady, but maybe I was just naive.

When you are a HLB there is an expectation that you will be BEAST MODE all the time. You see the phrases “the family that sweats together, stays together”, #fitpregnancy, #noexcuses, I could go on.  I won’t lie, I love working out, it is a stress reliever for me, but when I read these blog posts about how so and so went a whole month without a rest day or an excuse, I kind of just roll my eyes, and then I think, is this such a great thing? Why is no one else questioning these types of behaviors?

Not all families or significant others can work out together. Their might be babysitting logistics, disabilities, you just might hate the same type of work out. I am 99% positive I could never get Nick to a barre or yoga class. We’ve done two races together, and have had a lot of family walks, but all of these things were for fun! I LOVE the alone time or girl time that I get when I go to class!

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I feel a lot of anger towards the posts that are all about how the best thing you can do when you are pregnant is to work out. I am not arguing that working out is bad, I have been working out regularly since I was cleared to do so, but that is not the only thing that is best for your body or baby. Eating a balanced diet, taking vitamins, seeing a medical professional that will monitor your progress, getting your home safe and ready to being your baby home, etc… those things are all just as important.

Pure Barre Baby

I don’t however like feeling guilty because I choose sleep over a workout, or resting over a workout. In real life, so many people have been supportive of this pregnancy and my workout regime, especially the instructors and staff at Pure Barre. Then I look at social media and I am overwhelmed by all the posts and images of #FitMoms. On top of it all, these women are sharing exactly how much weight they have gained or lost in their pregnancy. I’ve been what some would call “lucky” because with both this pregnancy and when I was pregnant with B, I was so incredibly sick that I ended up losing weight in the first trimester and was able to gain a healthy amount as the pregnancy went on. Some women gain 50 pounds, that doesn’t mean they ate cookies and donuts the whole pregnancy. Again, I feel like it is weird that these women share their weight amounts each week they recap their pregnancy or post-baby recaps. I like reading about how these women get fit after pregnancy, it gives me ideas, but their weight doesn’t help anyone but them, it just doesn’t seem important or relevant.

Now, lets talk about food. Every recipe is a super food or will give you super powers or something like that… Baking beans in brownies will just make me want to eat 5 of them, I’d rather have one really decadent dessert than have a dessert that doesn’t satisfy my craving.

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I know we all talk about the 80/20 rule, but where do those black bean brownies fall? It seems like a grey area to me. It feels like a lot of these people aren’t actually eating 20% indulgently.

It would be easy for anyone to say, well stop reading these blogs, but some of them have content that I actually love, or blogs that I have been reading for years, and so it is hard to just turn that off. In the past year many blogs have definitely been taken off my feedly list, but these posts seem to be popping up even on my favorites.

I’d be remiss to end this post on such a sour note. There are many things I wish I could change about the blogging world, I am sure a lot of people wish they could, but there are also things that I would never change.

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I’ve met some of my closest friends via Twitter or this blog! There is a group of moms who all had babies around the same time and we all met via Twitter/Instagram, none of us live near each other, but we are able to laugh, vent, cry, share all via a private group. It has been so helpful just to say is your toddler doing this exact behavior or is mine just a little crazy lately?

I’ve been able to attend amazing events, and I am incredibly grateful for every single opportunity! Like I said, I will continue blogging, but it’s going to be more about things and items I love and are an important part of my life (with or without this blog). I also want to be able to be more engaging with those that read (and comment). I haven’t responded to comments in far too long, and actually plan on doing that soon. I am hoping removing the HL part of blogging part for myself allows me to be more me and less traditional blogger!

What is your favorite and least favorite part of blogging or reading blogs?

Dead Wake: Teachable Moments

This post was inspired by Dead Wake by Erik Larson, a thrilling account of Lusitania’s last voyage across the Atlantic Ocean and the U-boat that attacked it. Join From Left to Write on March 26th as we discuss Dead Wake. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

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If you aren’t familiar with my From Left to Write book club posts, we don’t write traditional reviews. We read the book and write a review about a topic that the book inspired in us. The third book club selection for March is a historical non-fiction book, I tend to read a lot of these types of books. Prior to B1 coming along I was a history teacher, mostly 8th graders, and I loved it. There is so much to learn and so many ways to make it fun, and this book definitely made me miss it.

I loved this book, Larson was able to weave not just the perspectives of the passengers of The Lusitania, the Captain of The Lusitania, the German U Boat captains, Woodrow Wilson, Room 40, etc… but also heavy historical information and a tragedy that helped bring The United States into World War I without making the book read like a text-book. I will say it wasn’t a short read, but definitely a worthwhile one.

The book was full of moments, where I would shake my head and think this tragedy could have been avoided not just once, but many times. Instead of using these moments and learning from them, the Cunard Line and Winston Churchill tried to blame the The Captain of the Lusitania for the tragedy. They wasted their time trying to pin blame instead of trying to solve the problem that caused the sinking of the Lusitania. Instead of trying to use the information from Room 40 to their advantage the war lasted longer than necessary and many innocent lives were lost.

I don’t want this to turn into a political post, however I feel like the world is still struggling with this. Many problems within countries and country vs. country have happened before and unfortunately could happen again. The teachable moments that we could all learn from, it seems that no one actually learns from.

Do you love learning about history or hate it?