Bucket List Blonde

I come from blonde roots. My Mom is a blonde, my sister is, and all the nieces and nephews are little toe heads. I’ve always been dark haired. I would have been named Robin had I followed in all the blonde footsteps before me, but I came out with gorilla levels of nearly black hair, and so my sister got her way and I was named Autumn.

As long as I can remember I’ve wondered what it’s like to be blonde, could I pull it off? Would it be too weird? And… would it be more fun?

This past month has been a weird one, full of joy and fun but also transitions and tiredness, settling into our home and trying to find the groove we fit into. And in all that tumult and the dust settling around huge life changes I felt that itch. The one for a Big Change. It was this or a tattoo, so I figured it was time to scratch one off the list and just go for it.

I am so glad I did.

10420102_10100933083530180_1554885585341085984_nBefore…

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After!

I still feel a little like I am wearing a disguise but the strangest side effect is that I feel about 100X more confident and like such a girl! I’m getting dressed, grinning from ear to ear, and kinda feel like I’m walking on air. Being Blonde will be a short season for me, but one I can already tell I am going to adore. Cue the CHORUS: ” I ennnnnjoy being a girrrrl!”

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How to nurse in a dress!

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for ages! I’ve only come across a few dresses I can’t nurse in, but generally I’ve found there are tricks and ways to nurse in virtually any dress.
Here are my tricks when looking at dresses during shopping trips, and a few cheap items you can add to your wardrobe to make the dresses you already have work!
Photo on 12-5-13 at 4.06 PM #7
{how most of this post was written; while nursing, in a dress.}
Number ONE tip: TRY IT OUT. Don’t look at a dress and think “I could never nurse in that.”  When you are in the dressing room and you try on a dress, any dress! Give popping your boob out the top a go. It sounds weird, because it kind of is, but you would be surprised! Pull the dress neckline gently forward as far as you can, hike it up short short in the back, (it won’t matter, you’ll be sitting when you nurse!) and try to nurse. I guarantee you will be shocked! You would be surprised how much ‘give’ there is to this material if you just give nursing in it a shot, I’ve been shocked many, many times by what is ‘nursable’ even though it isn’t a traditionally stretchy feeling material. For example…
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{however, this dress is also a nice one to wear with leggings or jeggings to nurse. Because of the nipped in elastic waist it can almost act as a cover/tent feeling when I nurse by pulling it up, no need for any tank to cover my stomach. Like here!}
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The dress doesn’t have much stretch to it at all, but when I pull the dress forward a bit around my neckline before I sit down it raises it up (short!) in the back (but who cares?! I’m sitting!) and gives me enough space to be able to pop my boob out the top and easily nurse in it. Sames goes for this dress;
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And this one too;
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And here I am nursing in that dress;
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Or this dress, below, it is jean material! But if I pull the neckline down and bend over a bit then I can get my boob out and easily nurse (and discreetly with a scarf or in the sling) even though there is almost no give to the high’ish neckline.
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Brings me to another tip; SCARVES. Nursing is a time to invest in many, many (like, you can’t have too many and I need ten more), light weight infinity scarves. I was gifted (thanks Mom!) one I adore and it was under $20 and from Brass Plum at Nordstroms (pictured above) and I use that one, and a few others to act as a nursing cover for me when I nurse in a dress. If you are going over the top and are well endowed you will be showing a lot of skin, and if that’s not your thing then using a scarf to help bring a little coverage is easy and still stylish. I like the infinity scarves best because I don’t have to take them off/rearrange it at all I just pull it over and down a bit, not over babies head, just over my exposed skin (like above!). (here is a link to the winter version of my springy one!)
As you can see, I wear scarves with my dresses a Lot;
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And, nursing in the dress pictured above;
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If high necked and shortish; then add a stretchy little mini skirt underneath to make it easy to lift your dress up as you would any shirt. This skirt cost me $3 on clearance and they always have them in stock and it works really well to add a thick/cozy and non slippy layer to make nursing more discreet and easy!
382775_899499094700_433472_nHere it is making nursing easy and giving a little extra length to my (suddenly short!) dress with my little 17 weeks bump!
And, finally, the obvious tips;
JERSEY. My sister is rolling her eyes right now, but really! There are lots of cute jersey dresses out there and they make nursing so.easy. and when you wash and dry they lose any sort of neck slack you created. Here are some of my easy to nurse in dresses. I look for a nice mid thigh length (I wear leggings under often and then can just lift up, or I use my skirt trick), a fitted silhouette, and not too low of a neckline.
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And, also, button down dresses (lots of vintage dresses with that style!) or wrap dresses will forever be nursing friendly. Especially if paired with a light scarf.
Any other tips you seasoned nursers have? I’m wrapping this up more quickly than I planned I have to get back to nursing my around-the-clock-hungry baby!
Here’s my shopping list!
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1: Ikat (with black black tights and high high heels this would be an easy way to make a jersey dress holiday party ready!
00065139-012. Poetic Shift- This with jeggings and heels, or yellow tights and a mini underneath (this would be a drop the belt and lift the dress kinda nurser) would also be great for a fun friends holiday party or a date day!
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3. Darling Stripes - this one looks perfect because it gives the little waist but without a side zip! So again this with a mini underneath, or with leggings would be another great holiday look!
00073721-044. Lace Fit and Flare - I’m just kidding. I don’t think I could nurse in this, though I’m up for the challenge. I just want it so bad to wear on a date!
{no affiliate links or compensation, I really do just troll F21 and Nordies too much}

10 Days Done

Yesterday morning I finished my ten day yoga challenge. I asked Nolie if she would take my final pictures for me. She happily obliged and proceeded to take about 70 pictures of me bending and moving, the walls, Evie, her feet, and various home landscape pictures. But that afternoon as I went through the myriad of photos I was struck with how incredibly perfect her shots were. And what a pleasure it was to see me through her lens.

I look strong. Confident. And flexible. I learned and felt quite a lot during these ten days. I felt frustrated and unmotivated, annoyed at my lack of ability, inability to control my breath, and how out of breath I got even though I wasn’t jumping around. But as that started to dissipate I felt stronger. Less frantic. More calm. And I could feel the changes in my body. I am going to keep going with yoga, and try to do at least a little every day.

Here are the pictures that Nolie snagged on day ten.

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Easily my favorite time to do my routine was first thing in the morning, without the little ladies. But that isn’t really possible with any kind of reliability. And i really started to like doing it with the girls around too. Nolie got pretty into it and was actually kind of incredible at it! It is really important to Charlie and I that we are modeling an active life style and encouraging her to move! and run! and dance! And empowering her to do things that are outside of her comfort zone (as she wants to).

I have always thought that I was too big to do yoga, that it was for tiny bendy girls and I would look too lumpy or feel gross. But I was so wrong! Yoga has won me over. It has made me feel less lethargic, so much stronger, and more content in my body. It was incredible how obvious the changes were in my flexibility even in just a few days. collageyg

I used the Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown DVD each day, its kind of half yoga and half body weight training. It was a great way for me to get into yoga and still get nice and sweaty. The unexpected place I found a LOT of awesome yoga inspiration was Instagram. I started following some yoga mamas, and #yogainspace IG’ers and tried out the poses from their daily challenges. It was a fun way to find poses, see them done well, and now with the new video feature I can even see how they get into some of the crazier ones! My goal is to be able to do a handstand one day (soon?ish?). That would be so awesome and so satisfying.

I am still trying to figure out what my next challenge will be. Possibly something running centered, but I also really liked the idea (from the comments on my last post!) of a strength training program. I’ll keep you updated! Anyone want to join in? Have any other ideas?

Expect more #yogaformama posts on my instagram! I am wanting to keep this up.

Yoga(kinda)

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I challenged myself to a Ten Day Yoga Challenge. Ten days of yoga, thirty minutes. Day five and I have fallen in love. I’m not doing any sort of “real” or super strenuous yoga, just an at home DVD deal in my yoga pants that often times double as my ‘grocery store’ pants or my ‘play-date pants’. I picked up this DVD ages ago for $7 and am really enjoying this slow intro to some yoga-like moves. By day three I was feeling sore but hooked and started following some Yoga Inspiring people on Instagram (having those pictures pop up on my phone is great motivation for me to look up poses and try them out! Check out the #yogaeveryday #yogaeverydamnday to find some really inspiring pictures and find people to follow who fit your style. I found a few Yoga Mamas to follow and feel really boosted by their pictures.

I am feeling sore, stretched, and tired by this. But also feeling new, invigorated, and different. I am dripping sweat by the end but didn’t jump around a bunch. I feel either face my day with more calm (morning yoga! favorite!) or fall asleep more easily, so far this challenge has been nothing but aching muscles and happiness. Finding the time has been the biggest struggle, but having the accountability of posting to my instagram and facebook about each day has been the best in keeping me going. And, honestly, I can always find 30min. Even if it means doing yoga with a toddler helper and a baby crawling all over me (extra resistance?), or waiting till they are in bed and making this my ‘break’ time. Either way, I am making time for it. And feeling better physically and mentally for doing so.

I had hit a rut with running, fallen out of practice, and needed a restart. This is getting my muscles going again and I can’t wait to see how adding yoga in will affect my body and my running.

Here are days 1-5! You can follow along on my Facebook or instagram (buttons for both at the top of my blog) with the #yogaformama #goodbyecomfortzone

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I do really well having the accountability of a “challenge” and a set number of days, uh… a number of days that are way less than a month. So I want to do another ten day challenge after this one, any ideas? Any fun and cheap workouts you are loving these days? Help a Mama out!

Gorgeous- Mama does boudoir

I walked into the studio and felt the sweat begin to bead on my forehead. I had watched girls disrobe and grin all day long. Gorgeous bodies that had carried babies, given birth at home or in a hospital, vaginally or surgically, bodies that had been forever changed. And bodies that were being celebrated not as mothers now, but as sexy women.

The photographer began to snap and I didn’t feel that calm that I watched wash over so many others. I didn’t feel that relaxed confidence that I had seen them all embrace. I felt more awkward, more fat, more sweaty. Then she stopped. Looked me square in the eye and said “don’t change a thing.” 

Tiffany turned the camera around and I saw this.

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 And tears sprung to my eyes. Because I don’t want to change a thing. For the first time I can remember.

I have felt like not only would it be incorrect to think I am beautiful but that it would be wrong and prideful. That doing something that the soul purpose was to celebrate my body would be somehow selfish/gross. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

After receiving my photos I walk taller. Feel more love for my husband. And can own my womanhood free of motherhood with a wielding power that feels incredible. My body was forever changed by birth, and my eyes hold experiences and intense love that I never knew possible, my girls have changed me forever. But they haven’t ruined me. They have empowered me to realize how important it is to think I am gorgeous.

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I regularly tell others that they are beautiful and I mean it. I daily tell my girls how beautiful, smart, strong, well made, and awesome they are; and I mean it. But to myself? I toss on whatever is on the floor, reject all the compliments Charlie lavish’s on me, and cast off confidence like it’s a prideful rag I can’t stand to put on.

Since this shoot I have been picking up confidence and robing myself in it. Taking True words about myself and allowing them to hang on me beautifully. I have been looking in the mirror and seeing what Charlie sees, what I should see, and not staring into the flaws with intensity. Because I was not designed with that in mind.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

(from Psalm 139)

I had these photos taken for a few reasons.

The biggest reasons was to have something beautiful to show my girls when they have a low moment about their body. The short legs they inherited from me, the small waist and ample hips, the tiny curvy feet, the cheeks that apple up with every smile. There is a photo of my Mom on a swing set in a mini skirt with big blond hair, little waist, and wide smile. It is sexy, gorgeous, and affirming. I look at it and see her but I also look at it and can see me and my sister, I can see where we came from and appreciate the pieces of me that I inherited and have been less than loving to. I want my girls to find themselves in these photos and be able to have that same recognition of inherited beauty that I get when I see my Mom’s sparkling eyes, little whoo nose, and short strong legs.

I left with a gift as big and bigger. I left with the ability to see myself through someone else’s eyes. To see a person who is wonderfully made. Who is strong. Confident. Gorgeous.

Because, guess what? It is more than okay to think you are gorgeous. It isn’t socially acceptable, women are taught to speak lame words about themselves, to not appreciate their bodies, to cut themselves and other women down for any perceived flaw. But the truth is different. The truth is that healthy and strong is sexy. That every woman has so much beauty in them. That stepping back from the mirror, stepping away from where your eyes are drawn (the purple stretch marks and loose belly, the wide hips or fat thighs, the arms that wag, or the back with rolls) and see that all of that, all of you, all of me, it’s pretty damn remarkable. Not just for it’s accomplishments, but just because. Because it’s more than good and more than right to look at yourself and think and say “yes, I just look gorgeous. All of me.” Because you do.

It isn’t a size or number. It isn’t “real women have curves.” because we are all real women and beautiful in exactly the skin we have on today. I know that boudoir photography isn’t for everyone. But if you even think for one moment that you would glean something from it, get off the fence and do it (but only with a GREAT photographer). I can’t tell you enough how incredibly altering, beautiful, affirming, and marriage improving this was. I’m sharing a couple of photos, but saving the rest for Charlie (and a few for my little girls when they are bigger girls). I wasn’t planning on blogging about this, because really? Who wants to see pictures of some random Mom in a corset? But the experience was so much more than wearing lingerie for a picture.

I walked into that shoot with a despicable beast on my back whispering “Your body is ruined. You aren’t worth this. These will be so gross. Why would Charlie ever want to see this?” and I walked out free of that voice, that shame, and those words. And it’s been three weeks and I am still walking free of that horrible little voice.

Because this body? It’s just gorgeous.

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Photography done by Tiffany Burke Photography , her facebook page is here.

Make-up by Love Beauty

and hair, duh, no-heat-curls

Natural Beauty; Food for your face.

I’ve gotten several emails and facebook messages recently asking about my ‘beauty’ routine. This is awesome for a few reason. First, I haven’t been wearing makeup much at all anymore and it is really affirming to feel beautiful anyhow. I like makeup and think it is a lot of fun but I was wearing it more because I felt like I wasn’t “presentable” without it. Uh, what a lie! I am presentable as I am because I am a person and that’s enough. Another awesome reason is that I would love to share what I do and use because it is easy, cheap, and you are likely to have all that you need in your home already. So, here is my beauty recipe list!

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1. I cut out Dairy and Soy (and am significantly limiting gluten). I have had eczema since I was two and it comes in waves and I have thought it was exacerbated by citrus, then peanut butter, then stress, then weather, on and on. And? It very well could be somehow impacted by those things, but I truly believe that the big unknown culprit my life was Dairy. Since cutting it out wholly, my skin is overall nicer/clearer/brighter.

2. I don’t use any products. Nothing with an ingredient list. I use only homemade/natural skin care.

 

For Makeup removing: I use a little coconut oil on a napkin/rag/TP and use that on my lashes and around my eyes. It works great, is gentle, isn’t in a scary childproof container (because, uh, what is in that??) and leaves my lashes feeling great and clean and I smell good!

Face Wash: I dissolve a Tbs. of Baking Soda in warm water (about a 1/4 cup)

Quick Mask/Tightening Mask: I half a juicy lemon and drizzle it with a little honey and rub that on any problem areas on my face. Leave it for several minutes and wash it off. Bonus! It tastes great if you get a little drip.

Black Head Remover: I mix about a Tbs of baking soda with 1/4Cup milk (the base and alkaline mix works wonders!) and I rub this on my face (mainly nose!) and then rinse and repeat once if I need to.

Toner: This one feels SO GOOD, I use cold Apple Cider Vinegar on a tissue all over skin after it’s dry. The smell dissapates fast and it works great!

Moisturizer: Coconut oil, this one is harder. A little goes a long way here and I only use it on the driest parts of my face and it works SO well.

Tooth Whitening: I use a Tbs of baking soda and the juice of half a lemon, mixed into a paste and then applied to my teeth for about 30-45 seconds and then rinse.  Not more than once a week, that stuff’s strong!

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postpartum weight loss- a holiday break

I fell off the wagon for a bit and got pretty heartily down on myself. So, instead of berating myself I am going a (new, blah) better and different route.

I cut myself some slack. Made some attainable goals. Took a short break. And am now getting back into the swing. Starting tomorrow I will do A Mile a Day till New Years Day. In short, I’ll run a mile each day. I need to dust off my shoes and get back into it and having a small goal (just till Jan.1!) is a great way for me to get motivated again. I am tracking what I eat on myfitnesspal.com but I am not being too militant about it. For now (December) I am tracking on most days but forgoing keeping close tabs on days where we have holiday parties. Instead of killing myself trying to figure out how many calories are in the three.five random crackers, some dip that someone else made, and a half a slice of chocolate pie… I am just being smart, not over doing it, and stopping when I feel full- oh, and LOADING up on water.

I don’t expect to lose during the holidays. My goal is to hold strong through till Jan.1 and then get back into fighting mode and start working on strength and distance again.

I am currently sitting at 7mo PP and somewhere between 4-9 pounds from my prepregancy weight. Not too shabby.

Also, I am finally getting the hang  of dressing this new body, and it feels good.

Postpartum Bellies

Just a couple more pounds. Just till the stretch marks fade a bit. Just till I look a little bit less gross. Six months came and went. And I waited. I have had these pictures ready to share for nearly 9months, but I was too scared to take my own to add to the pack.

But then I read this post tonight, and you should too. And I realized. There is no time like right now to start telling my girls that I am beautiful, and more than that, I need to mean it.

Beautiful isn’t fitting back into my jeans. It isn’t looking like I did before I had children. It isn’t even looking like I did before I had Nolie. It is so much bigger than any of that.

It is how Nolie traces my stretch marks and talks to me about how she hopes to have them one day.

It is how Charlie’s arm fits perfectly around my waist, right now. At this place and this size.

It is at 6am when I have nursed Ever all night long and Nolie climbs into bed and latches on, and the milk comes in.

It is how I feel in my dress and tall boots.

It is the reawakening of muscles I thought were dormant at the end of a long run.

It is my girls. Is it my motherhood. It is this body, today.

Beautiful is loving myself, being vocal about it, and encouraging other women to get out of their self hate ruts and find the beauty in right now.

Beautiful is the boldness in these photos.

Beautiful is birth. One baby, twins, c-sections, and home births. Every birth is represented in these photos and they are beautiful.

Beautiful are these Mamas. Mamas who stay home, Mamas who work, Mamas whose babies are grown and having babies of their own, and Mamas whose babies were taken too soon. Motherhood is beautiful.

Beautiful is taking the leap.

I stood in my room in my bra and pajamas aching to throw this post away. Not wanting to own the words that I know are true because they feel so wrong to adopt- I am beautiful. I am beautiful because Mothers (period.) are. My Mother is striking. Her beauty is evident in her actions, her eyes, her smile, her movements, how she loves, and her body- her body that mine mirrors. Hourglass shape, short strong legs, perfect Whoville nose, and bright green eyes. I am beautiful because my mother is beautiful. I am beautiful because my girls are beautiful. And because of my girls, I am bold. I am strong, empowered, and ready to be full of bravery.

On the left is my belly 7mo PP from Nolie, on the right is me 5.5mo PP from Ever. I was waiting on this post till I looked like “before”. I was waiting on the impossible because I am nothing like I was before. Just like when I had Nolie, I have been reborn again into a new Mother. A Mama of two. And a that is beautiful.

 Tomorrow I will get dressed in clothes that highlight my favorite parts. Tomorrow I will grin instead of smile and I will twirl with Nolie. Tomorrow I will remind my girls that we are one beautiful family.

To see the some full belly collages, go here (3rd trimester) and here (full term). Our bodies are incredible.

Postpartum Body- quickie.

Pardon that my boobs look insane… its a weird angle and they are nourshing two kids so they are a little insane.

In other news, 21 pounds down (from my 6 week appointment). Still trucking with tracking my calories (mostly every day, more for my own accountability than anything else) and attending stroller strides and running at home. The last two weeks I have been sidelined with sick kiddos, but I am hoping that this coming week (and then all the rest!) will be filled with Stroller Strides and running, then I know that the strength will continue to grow and my ability to feel comfortable and fit into my old favorites will keep growing.

In that vein, I got to wear a skirt and jacket (all buttoned up!) that haven’t fit me for a VERY long time. It was fabulous. As was the two hours of alone time writing at my favorite coffee shop.

In.Credible.

jacket: J.Crew (10 years old!)

scarf: little local boutique

skirt: Old Navy

 tights: Nordies

boots: Frye

Postpartum Weight Loss: Still Going

The last time I decided to “get healthy” (meaning, not drink much and work out a lot) I got pregnant, same with the time before, hmmmm what does that say? The better you feel physically the more likely  you are to throw all caution (and birth control, oops) to the wind? Yeah, basically. This time I have the added birth control of a toddler AND a baby, nothing kills the mood faster than crying babies, leaking boobs, extra skin and the idea that this would mean MORE lost sleep.

I started tracking my calories (using myfitnesspal.com) and working out (Stroller Strides!) now I am adding in something new to hopefully keep this momentum going- Muds to Suds Race. I am SO excited. 17 obstacles, walls to scale and crazy mud pits. This will be a serious test of strength and I know Nolie is going to think it is super awesome. I am doing it with a group of other Moms and we are training and getting strong and fit for this. I can’t wait! and. . . I am super terrified.

I am getting there slowly and the weight is still coming off. I am 16 pounds down from my 6 week PP check and about 32 pounds down from my “delivery” weight. I feel like the changes I am making are sustainable, I still each chocolate and indulge in whatever sounds good but I am not doing it every day and not eating SO much of it. Also I am being sure to go to my Stroller workout and if I miss it I go for a run that evening. I just have to remember that putting in the effort, doing this slowly and making it an overall change is WORTH all this mind work. Battling with my desire to have this weight drop off fast and my crutch of “lack of self control” is hard so hard. But I am seeing the results, albeit slowly, they are happening.

These are dated weeks postpartum (check out that belly on number one!)  and I’ll hopefully keep taking them. Each photo was SO hard to take but once I lined them all up I was really thankful I had them. If you are working to get fit and strong again I totally recommend taking progress pictures. I take them, load them and hide them away on the computer and don’t even really look at them until I am ready to use them. Otherwise I get insecure and ashamed, and that is so dumb. I am working and the work is showing, take some pictures and give yourself credit for all the hard work!