Balancing Blogging + a Baby

A month or so ago, I put out feelers on Instagram, requesting questions for a Q+A video, and you guys asked excellent ones. I attempted making the video blog, but I was having the most difficult time condensing my answers. I mean really, who wants to watch me talk for 10 minutes? No one. 

(Also, recording a video while home alone with an infant who doesn’t nap is a skill I have yet to master.)

So, I thought I’d do the next best thing and put some of my longer-winded responses into separate blog posts.

balance

photo credit

Julie asked this question, and at first I was like “Great question! I have NO idea!” Balancing blogging with a new baby is no easy task, and it’s one I’ve yet to completely master; but because I feel entirely hit-or-miss these days, I can absolutely say I’ve learned a thing or two in the past few months.

1. Take a maternity leave I don’t care if your blog is your full time job or simply your side hobby, but this is the #1 thing I would have done differently. When you bring home a new baby, your sole focus is that baby. Although this blog was easily sent directly to the bottom of the totem pole when Jack was born, I admit that I still felt a nagging pressure to create new material and post on a semi-regular basis. I was recovering from a c-section, was home alone with a new baby within 4 days of coming home, and oh yeah – I had a new baby… 

2. Set Realistic Expectations …Which brings me to this point. If I had set realistic expectations and told you guys, ‘I’ll be on maternity leave from the blog for X weeks,’ I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. Also, I’d suggest setting realistic expectation in regards to the type of and/or frequency of which you’ll post. If you’re used to posting 3 new recipes each week, or posting twice a day, keep in mind that might not be realistic when you have a new baby unless you do a hell of a lot of leg work before you give birth.

3. Don’t be afraid of change …Which brings me to this point (see how this would have been too long of a video?) I had major trepidations about writing “mommy things” on the blog because I was scared I’d lose all of you. I know I did lose some readers, but I’ve actually gained a whole new audience by allowing myself to evolve and write about what’s relevant in my life — which just so happens to be “mommy things.”

4. Avoid campaigns/sponsored posts for the first 6-8 weeks I take pride in my sponsored posts and ad campaigns, but for the first 6-8 weeks, I didn’t feel like I was on top of my game and I feared creating subpar material that someone else was paying me to produce.

5. Frequent reality checks Will your audience disappear if you don’t post this week, even though you didn’t give them a head’s up? No. Will you never work with another brand again because you’ve passed up three opportunities this month? No. Will you ever write material with actual substance ever again? Yes. 

Give yourself some grace, girlfriend. You literally just created a life.

 

Summertime Adult Beverage Bucket List

Happy Friday, you beautiful people. I wanted to pop in real quick to share one of my newest projects that I’m working on with Mode, and since it deals with adult beverages, I figured Friday would be the best day of the week to do so! Now, listen, you guys know I love a good drink. If you have a favorite summer cocktail, please share the recipe! I’d love to try it out : )

Cheers, friends! Have a great weekend!

 

Check out Summertime Adult Beverage Bucket List

by Colleen Whitney Nichols at Mode

Easy Lactation Cookies

Hey, guys! Yesterday’s post ran a little on the long side, so I didn’t feel like adding a recipe. For those of you who expressed interest, here’s the recipe for the lactation cookies. When I made them, they weren’t as tasty as when my friend, Meaghan, made them, so I’m still experimenting. I think Meaghan’s were sweeter, so I’m going to add more cinnamon sugar next time. But here are Meaghan’s exact directions!

cookies

 

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons flax seed meal
  • 2 tablespoons fenugreek
  • 4 tablespoons of Brewer’s yeast
  • Betty Crocker oatmeal cookie mix (it comes in a bag)
  • 1 stick of softened butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • splash of vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar (+ some for sprinkling on top of cookies)

Directions 

  • Pre-heat oven to 350
  • Combine all ingredients
  • Mix for 10 minutes (this is where having a Kitchen Aid is helpful!)
  • Bake for 8 minutes
  • When they come out of the oven, let them sit on the cookie sheet for 30 minutes, then let them sit on the countertop for an additional 30 minutes
  • Enjoy!

My comments

– I bought the flax seed meal, fenugreek, and Brewer’s yeast off Amazon Prime (because we’re obsessed with Amazon Prime in this house.)

– When you roll the cookies into balls, flatten them with the heel of your palm, or the bottom of a glass, before putting them in the oven.

6 Tips for Increasing Your Breast Milk Supply

I’ve been on the fence in regards to writing about breastfeeding, because for some reason people are so passionate about it. And with passion normally comes a great deal of heated comments. I am not passionate about breastfeeding, it’s just something I’m doing, so let me say a few things before I get into it.

  • I’m exclusively breastfeeding. EBF for all you internet moms. (I literally texted my cousin and asked her what EBF meant when I first saw it in a Facebook group because I had no idea.)
  • I am exclusively breastfeeding because it’s come easily for me. I have a great milk supply. I know this is not the case for many women. If it was a struggle, if I was in pain, or if it just wasn’t working, I’d switch to formula in a heartbeat.
  • I’ve heard “breast is best” a million times, and while I understand the idea behind that, I’m of the firm belief that “healthy, happy, sane mommy” is best. Do what you gotta do!
  • This post is simply meant to discuss what’s worked for me. I am not a medical professional, so take absolutely everything I write with a grain of salt.

Okay, so breastfeeding.

My days revolve around Jack and my breasts. (Or my breasts and my breast pump.) BREASTS ALL DAY!

pump

When I posted this picture of my freezer stash, I got a few comments and emails about it. Some saying “WOW! That’s a lot of milk!” (I had no idea) and some people asking me about what’s worked well for me in the EBF department. So, without further adieu…

6 Tips for Increasing Your Breast Milk Supply

1. Don’t stress out. It’s either going to work for you, or it’s not. I had zero expectations for breastfeeding. I figured since pregnancy sucked so much, breastfeeding probably would, too. I think that actually helped me, because when Jack immediately latched and it worked, I was shocked as shit. Listen, your body is gonna do what it’s gonna do. Your baby will grow and be fed, no matter what! Stress effects every aspect of your body, and that includes your milk supply.

2. Don’t quit too soon. I told myself (pending any major difficulties) I’d breastfeed for six weeks before making the decision if I was going to stick with it or not. I know tons of people quit before they leave the hospital because it hurts, or the baby doesn’t latch well, etc. Like all new things, it takes time and practice! If you want to breastfeed, give it some time before making a decision.

3. EAT ALL THE FOOD. Talk about a mindfuck to the nth degree. You have this baby, so you figure a) the cravings will be gone and b) you’ll want to lose weight by counting your calories. No can do, breastfeeding mama. I was shocked when my OB told me that you actually need more calories when you’re breastfeeding than when you’re pregnant. (Breastfeeding hunger is child’s play compared to pregnancy hunger!) But it makes sense: you’ve got to eat fuel to make fuel. And yes, sometimes fuel does mean Baskin-Robins.

4. Drink, drink, drink. I drink so much water it’s insane. I’ll also tell you that GATORADE makes a huge difference in my supply. I’ve read it has something to do with the electrolytes? Regardless, I have a significantly increased supply when I drink Gatorade. It could be a total fluke, but it works for me.

gatorade

5. Supply and demand. I pump once in the morning after I feed Jack and once after his last feeding of the day. I’ll pump more if I’m in pain, but those two pumping sessions are normally all I’ll do. Experiment and see what works for you!

6. Lactation cookies. I thought they sounded totally weird when my friend (who is a nurse) made them for me when I first came home from the hospital, but I swear, they work. This post is getting too long, so I’ll post the recipe tomorrow morning for anyone who might be interested! LC

Billy Joel Concert

Good morning and happy Monday, friends! This weekend was such a fun one, despite the fact that I slept for a combined 7 hours. Total. I wish I was kidding. I’m still trying to find the balance of having a social life with the fact that I have an infant who doesn’t sleep very well.

Friday was ladies night in my neighborhood which was a blast, Sunday was a baby shower for a friend, but Saturday was the main event: BILLY JOEL. Cory and I drove down to Virginia Beach on Saturday afternoon and met up with my brother and his girlfriend, Erin.

group

My mom was kind enough to babysit Jack while we were gone, which was both stressful and liberating. I haven’t been away from Jack for more than 3 hours since he was born, so being gone from 2pm – 1:30am felt like an eternity. (Mainly because I was trying to time my day around my boobs, but whatever.)

milk

The show started at 8pm, and we got to the Farm Bureau amphitheater about an hour beforehand. We had lawn seats, and while I didn’t expect finding space to be super easy, I was shocked with how packed it was. You could hardly find a piece of grass to save your life.

lawn

Thankfully we were able to convince some people to scoot over, and the four of us sardined our chairs together on a tiny piece of grass. It ended up not being a problem, though, because once Billy came out everyone stood up, which opened things up a bit.

I grew up with Billy Joel, and it was such a blast being able to see him in concert. I cannot even tell you how impressed I was with how good he sounded. Like he mentioned at one point, he’s been doing this job for 50 years. What?! That’s insane to me. I love how music spans generations like that. It was so neat being a 20-something enjoying the same music with 6o-somethings.

Billy played for over two hours and it.was.awesome. It was absolutely a Bucket List item to see him, so it was well worth the long drive and the sleepless night!

Who is the best person you’ve seen in concert, or is someone you’d love to see? 

In a dream world, I’d see The Beatles and Michael Jackson ;) 

A Day in The Life

1:40am – Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my day starts at 1:40 in the morning. I hear Jack start to fuss, but choose to lay in bed for a few minutes to see if he’ll lull himself back to sleep.

1:50am – Nope, no lulling took place. I get Jack out of his bassinet and walk him down to his nursery. I used to feed him in my bed, but he’s getting bigger and it’s just more comfortable to feed him in the glider.

room

1:51am – Unswaddle Jack, change his diaper, and feel a deep sense of resentment over the fact that men can’t breastfeed.  I sit down in the glider, in a zombie trance, and pray Jack stays awake long enough to make this nursing session worth it.

2:15am – Jack has fallen asleep whilst eating, something I’ve only done once, when I was severely intoxicated. I put him back in his bassinet and whisper in his tiny baby ear, Please give mommy a few more hours. Please. I crawl back in bed.

4:45am – Ah, the familiar cries of a baby with shit in his pants.

4:45 – 5:15am – Change and attempt to nurse Jack (he’s not interested), crawl back into bed.

5:20am – Cory’s ALARM goes off, Jack cries, and I want to shoot someone.

5:20 – 6:20am – Cory goes on his morning run, I lay in bed with Jack, dozing on and off, but don’t actually let myself fall asleep because I have a fear of rolling over and suffocating my baby. (I’m crazy.)

6:20am – Cory is super invigorated after his morning run, while I wonder out loud: When will I not feel exhausted?! 

6:23 – Roll out of bed, looking like a straight up QUEEN, per the usual. Quite concerned my breasts may explode, hashtag *~breastfeeding probz~*.

queen

6:23 – 7:15am – Cory and I both get ready for the day. He looks handsome. I put on yoga pants.

7:15 – 7:45am – Nurse Jack, burp Jack, milk myself. Become frustrated by the lack of updates on Facebook and Instagram between 4:45 and 7:15am.

7:50am – Consider Cory’s request for the purchase of a “breast milk freezer.”

 milk

I know, I know – it needs to be organized. It’ll happen. 

8:00 – 8:30am – Eat breakfast, respond to emails, entertain Jack by turning on the ceiling fan  #MotherOfTheYear

8:30 – noon – I set up shop on the couch with my baby and all my electronic devices (phone, laptop, remotes) within arm’s reach, just in case Jack should fall asleep on me. Nothing’s worse than a baby falling asleep on you and having your iPhone out of reach. Nothing. 

(*No, I don’t sit on the couch for 4 hours straight, but I do spend a lot of time holding Jack, nursing him, responding to business emails, eating snacks and watching FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, etc.) 

Noon – 1:30pm – Business phone calls. Lunch for me is PB&J, lunch for Jack is The Right Side.

2pm – Snack. Wonder how in the HELL it’s only 2pm. Tummy time for Jack. I lay on the floor with him and fight sleep with every fiber of my being. I consider folding laundry, but hastily decide against it.

snack

2:30pm – Google: why doesn’t my baby take naps? 

2:30 – 3something – Honestly? I just look and coo at Jack and almost happy cry because I feel beyond blessed. He’s mastering the social smile, and my heart nearly explodes each time he look straight at me and smiles. At the risk of sounding lame and cliche, there’s nothing better.

4:15 – 4:45pm – Nurse. Again. Watch more Friday Night Lights/fall in love with Kyle Chandler.

5ish – 6ish – Jack falls asleep (!!) on me, so I continue to watch FNL/scroll through Instagram and wait for Cory to get home so we can EAT.

6:00 – 8:30pm – Make tacos, drink Bold Rock. This is the time of day I can get blog work done, and Cory hogs Jack. Another cliche alert: Watching Cory with Jack is another thing that makes my heart explode. He is so good with him.

9:00 – 9:45pm – Nurse Jack, get him to sleep, pump, clean pump, crawl in bed and pray to God that Jack gives me at least a four hour stretch.

9:46pm – Passed out. 

Totally Truthful Thursday

// My post was published on Scary Mommy yesterday (!!!), and it made me really excited. I’m starting to put more energy into freelance writing and getting my work on other sites, and I was over the moon when SM accepted a republication of this post. 

sm2

// Cory and I had an event to go to last week, and although it was nothing spectacular, I had been looking forward to getting dressed up and out of the house for days. Even the depressing task of finding something to wear made me excited. I put on make up. Wore my contacts. Shaved my legs. FELT LIKE A LADY. Only to notice halfway through the event that I had poop on my knee. (I just wanted to clarify it was Jack’s poop.)

// Two weeks ago I put out a call on Instagram for a new round questions, with the intention of making a new Random Questions video blog (since it’s been a YEAR since my last one.) Um, making a video with an infant at home is like…

I may just have to take your questions and do a regular blog post, because they were really great!

// If my postpartum body has taught me anything, it’s that the number on the scale is absolutely pointless.

// Note to self: It’s a bad idea to keep a large bag of M&Ms in the pantry, especially when you’re at home all day. I’m a weak woman.

// I send an obnoxious amount of pictures like this to Cory throughout the day.

mornings

// Oh my GOD. Jack had his two month check up on Tuesday, and him getting his shots was basically the most stressful thing I’ve experienced since giving birth. MY HEART HURT.

 // Can we talk about how absolutely time consuming breastfeeding is?! I don’t want to complain because breastfeeding has been extremely easy for me (I consider it my consolation prize for having such a shitty pregnancy) but I do want to complain because I feel like I can’t LIVE MY LIFE.

// I’m still so tired and definitely go to bed before 9pm almost every.single.night.

——–

PS – The winner of the Swanky J Boutique  giveaway is Missy! Missy, please email your address to lunchboxdiaries[at]email[dot]com. Everyone else, don’t forget, you can use my coupon code  swankylunchboxdiaries10 with each and every purchase!

winner

Same Words, New Meanings

If you’re new to this blog, you need to know that I’m a new mom. (Two months is still new, right? Please tell me that’s still new.) If you’re not new here, sorry that’s all I’m writing about these days, it’s literally my entire life at the moment.

When I had Jack, I had “big picture” ideas of how my life would change: I’d be exhausted, I’d be hormonal, I’d love my husband in a whole new way, etc. Little did I know, even the definitions of simplest words would change as well…

Shots

BC (Before Children): The tipping point of pure debauchery from this is fun! to I regret everything. 

Now: The most gut wrenching trip to the pediatrician you could ever imagine. I’m still recovering. Jack? Oh, he’s fine.

Sleep

BC: A commodity easily come by and frequently enjoyed.

Now: A true gift from God, a miracle in its own right.

Purse contents 

BC: 17 lip glosses, a wallet (with money), gum, hair spray, chapstick (not to be confused with lip gloss), iPhone

Now: 17 diapers, a wallet (seemingly without money), wipes, spit up rags, back-up outfits for baby in the event of a monumental blowout, a bottle, a pacifier, tissues, hand sanitizer, 1 chapstick, iPhone

Going out to dinner

BC: Sounds like a great idea! Where do you want to go?

Now: Sounds like a great idea! When do you want to go – sometime this month? Can we find a babysitter? Do I fit into any of my real clothes yet? When should I feed Jack? Should I pump right before we leave? How much wine can I order and still be able to breastfeed when we get home? Can we skip bath time tonight? If he’s asleep when we get home, should we wake him up to feed him, or just let him sleep? Did you feed the dog? Should we just stay home?

Bras

BC: Optional.

Now: Always.

Swanky J Boutique Partnership (+ Giveaway!)

Hey, guys! Happy Memorial Day! I’m popping in real quick on this holiday Monday to tell you guys about my new partnership with Swanky J Boutique!

I stumbled upon Swanky J Boutique on Instagram, and was so excited because a) the stuff is super cute, b) it’s actually affordable and c) Jacqui, the owner, is also a Longwood graduate!

jacqui

The main reason behind this new partnership is simple: I’m on a mission to lift up and support small businesses run by women. You guys know I’m obsessed with, and am so proud of, my friend Lauren’s business – so you can blame her for my new Girl Boss Campaign ;)

The concept of Swanky J all started with a conversation between Jacqui and her husband while they were lying in bed one night, just shooting some ideas around about Jacqui liking her current job, but not filling totally fulfilled. The idea of combining her passion for fashion with her years of sales experience seemed like a no-brainer, and from there, Swanky J Boutique was born.

Collage

I’m so impressed with Jacqui because she is Swanky J Boutique. She handpicks every single item, receives and fills every single order, runs the social media accounts, and responds to all customer calls and emails herself. It’s Jacqui’s number one priority is that the customer is satisfied, and she takes that very seriously.

And you know what? I think that’s all pretty damn impressive.

Collage2

 

The cool thing about this partnership is that all my readers get a 10% discount every single time they shop at Swanky J Boutique with the coupon code swankylunchboxdiaries10. 

Jacqui was also kind enough to kick off this partnership with a giveaway that handpicked! Maybe it’s because I’m lugging around a diaper bag these days, but I am in love with this pink James Dean Day Dream clutch.

james dean

 

I’ll give you a few ways to enter to win:

  1. Leave a comment telling me what your favorite item from the shop is (I’m in love with this tank)
  2. Leave a comment telling me you’ve followed Swanky J on Instagram 
  3. Leave a comment telling me you’ve followed Swanky J on Facebook (she does FB giveaways every Monday!)

I’ll pick a winner on Thursday, May 28th! 

 

Penny’s Adjustment to the New Baby

One of the most common questions I’ve been getting is: how is Penny adjusting to the baby?! That is tied with, have you bought Jack a saddle for her yet!? (Enter side eye emoji here.)

I never had major concerns about Penny and the baby. If you follow me on Instagram, you’d know my concerns were more about Penny and the baby gear. She’s literally afraid of everything.

swing

We read articles about how to ‘bring home baby’ and many of them mentioned bringing a baby blanket home from the hospital so Penny could smell the baby’s scent. So many people said Oh, we just brought the blanket home and then there was this instantaneous baby/dog bond. That’s either bull shit, or we pulled the short straw, because Penny wanted absolutely nothing to do with it.

Yes, she was scared of the blanket.

When we brought Jack home, she totally freaked out. Not in a bad, aggressive way – but she ran upstairs to her “happy place” on the couch to look out the window. She ignored us, and that was fine. We left her alone for a bit, and eventually made our way into the room and sat as far away from her as possible. One of us held the baby while the other went to pet Penny, then we’d switch. After a while, she slowly made her way over to sniff the new ‘puppy’ we’d brought home, and we gave her positive reinforcement.

After a few days, the interest grew, but she still kept her distance.

penny1

I know there are do’s and don’ts for introducing a dog to a new baby, but I also think every dog is different, so you kinda sorta have to go with your gut and work off your dog’s specific personality. For us, we wanted to spook Penny as little as possible, so we went about our regular routines, except there was a baby present.

Surprisingly, she’s come around, and rather quickly. She’s gentle around Jack, like she knows he’s fragile. I mean, she’s a dog, but she definitely senses it. More than anything, she’s become super interested. She literally sits and watches him, and wanted to sniff him all.the.time.

penny2

Making sure she gets enough exercise is crucial. On the days we don’t walk her, she’s the most annoying animal on the planet, and it’s hard not to lose my patience. Thankfully, Great Danes need minimal exercise and they sleep up to 18 hours a day, so in theory it’s not that hard to meet her daily activity needs. But some days, it really is that hard. 

penny3

But with patience and a little dedication on our end, it’s been working out quite well. I also contribute it to the training we did with 2SpeakDog before I even got pregnant. Investing in dog training was worth every penny (see what I did there?)

And hey, she’s even coming around to the baby gear. What’s next? Realizing the vacuum isn’t a deathly predator out to murder everyone? (Let’s not get crazy…)

penny4