MOTHERHOOD: LIFE AS A STAY AT HOME MOM

For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to be a stay at home mom. Sure I have/had dreams of a career and I’m really dang proud of the career I had up until this point. But something deep down always longed to be at home with my babies some day. I truly feel so lucky that the time for me to be able to stay home is now.


Growing up, my mom was a SAHM. I can honestly say I had a charmed childhood. My parents gave us the greatest gift of having one parent home and both parents always involved. Having my mom home with us meant everything and I think it’s the reason I always wanted to be a SAHM. And my mom made it look so easy and glamorous.


My experience so far though is not what I expected. Now that I’m in the thick of it myself, it is the hardest job and the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. What a blessing to be able to spend all day with my babies, watching them grow and learn and become independent little humans. As much as I love it though, the days are long and sometimes lonely. I have no idea how my mom had so much patience and energy and how she made it look so easy. And she did it with FIVE kids!!


The first couple of weeks were really hard for me. I cried a lot and questioned my decision every day. Most of my days consisted of managing one meltdown after another as the kids alternated between wanting my undivided attention. I just couldn’t figure out how to juggle two kids, their schedules and finding time for Rob, let alone myself. And many days I still struggle with this, but slowly but surely I am learning patience and learning how to manage feeling frazzled.


I think it’s important that I share the good parts and the challenging parts of being a SAHM. Being a mom is HARD. Society expects a lot out of moms and there is very little appreciation for the work we do. (This really is true for parents in general). Below I’m sharing the parts I love and the parts that have really challenged me as a person and as a mom. And I’m teaming up with fellow SAHM (who has become a dear friend) Taylor from Living Taylored who is sharing her experience being a SAHM. Check out her experience here.


WHAT I LOVE

My favorite and most obvious reason for loving being a SAHM is the opportunity to be home with my babies. What a blessing to be able to spend all day at home with them, playing, laughing, and watching them grow. I truly feel so blessed to be Lilly and Teddy’s mom and I feel even more blessed to be in a position where one parent can stay home. I’m hoping that as we continue to grow and get ourselves into a routine I can be better at planning out fun activities for us. I have always envisioned taking my kids to parks, the zoo, the art museum, Lake Erie and the islands, visiting daddy at work – all the normal things we used to do before Covid. Now I just have to be more creative with activities that keep us busy and get us out of the house (we do a lot of driving around town, visiting the river and picking up curbside orders).


I love that by being home, I can focus my attention on my kids. When I was working it was exceptionally difficult to disconnect from parenting while at work and from working while at home. I constantly felt guilty that I wasn’t present at my job or as a parent. Being a SAHM means I can focus one hundred percent on the needs of my babies and not have to worry about extra responsibilities.


Another aspect that I enjoy about being at home full time is being able to take care of the house. For as long as I can remember I have loved cleaning and organizing. It gives me great satisfaction to be able to play house all day. Although, I will say it requires extra effort to keep things tidy with two kiddos in tow. I saw something on Instagram that said cleaning with kids is like raking leaves during a tornado and boy that is the truth! But, I’m beginning to let go of the mess and allow for it. It’s messy because my kids are young and they are exploring and learning. As a colleague said to Rob: our house right now is a home that is lived in and really, what more should you want for your home?!

With all that is going on in the world with COVID, being able to stay at home and not be in a position that requires our kids to be in daycare or school gives me great peace of mind. I know 90% of parents don’t have this option so I can only imagine the mental and emotional worry parents are going through right now. I know myself and I know that worry would weigh heavy on me. So I’m thankful I can keep my babies close for a little while longer before Lilly has to go to school.

BIGGEST CHALLENGES

Being a SAHM comes with so many challenges that I never expected. Whether it’s feeling lonely, feeling exhausted, feeling the weight and responsibility of raising two littles, or sticking to a strict budget, there are so many aspects of this role that surprised me. I’m thankful for my mom, my sister and the many moms I’ve come to know on Instagram who have listened, supported and encouraged me. These women have most certainly gotten me through some difficult moments and now more than ever I think it’s important to have a community of moms who you can lean on for support.


The biggest challenge so far for me is finding time for self care. Some days I feel like I have zero time for myself. And just to be clear, a five minute shower does not count as self care or time alone. I thought staying home would give me so much more time to work on my blog and grow my brand, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m lucky if I get five minutes a day to spend taking pictures and styling outfits. Usually it happens with a lot of bribery and an upset child or two (which really isn’t that fun then).
Another hard part about being a SAHM is thinking you have so much time to get things done but you don’t. Most days you barely have time to eat, shower and use the bathroom. You do whatever you need to do to keep the kids engaged and happy and that means you go from one activity to the next, many times at a very rapid pace. I’ve had to really lower my expectations of what I want to get done (I’m talking blogging, decorating, working out, cleaning the dishes, laundry, vacuuming the floors, organizing the kids clothes, rearranging the playroom, etc). I make a list of what I HAVE to get done for the week and try to do one thing on that list each day. I remind myself daily that my kids are only this little for a fleeting moment and all the chores can wait.

Meal times are exceptionally stressful for me, with lunch being the hardest. Trying to make lunch for Lilly and me and keep Teddy occupied and keep the dog from eating everyone’s food is enough to send me over the edge some days. And usually by this point in the day I’m exhausted, which just adds to the stress and chaos. Sometimes I feel guilty that I watch the clock like a hawk waiting for nap time to arrive.


Despite some of these challenges, I’m learning so much about myself and how to be a better person and a better mom. I’m learning so much about patience and grace and letting things go. I’m learning that in order to take care of my kids, I first have to take care of myself. Sometimes that doesn’t always happen, but when days allow for me to slow down and take a break, I take them.

I’m learning that the days are not perfect. But they consist of perfect moments. I love watching my kids play and learn and use their imagination. I love watching them figure out a new skill or understand a new concept. I love taking them on walks and exploring our cute downtown. I love that they feel safe with me and come to me for comfort.


Time is going so fast, yet the days are so long, the nights sometimes longer and some days just really seem hard. But at the end of the day, there is no where else I would rather be than at home with my kids. I don’t want to miss a moment with them and I know I’m incredibly blessed and fortunate to have this opportunity.

And yes I wrote this blog post over several weeks during naptime while Teddy slept on me. And honestly I wouldn’t change any of it.


Sláinte,

Shannon

MOTHERHOOD: OUR FEEDING JOURNEY

I can’t believe my precious baby boy is 5.5 months old! The newborn stage with Teddy has flown by SO much faster than it did with Lilly. I feel like I blinked and now here we are, halfway to one year. 

Teddy is the sweetest boy who is so generous with his smiles and his cuddles. He adores his big sister and watches her with fascination all day long. And now that he’s rolling, standing and pulling himself up, I suspect he’ll be trying to match her energy from here on out. We have loved loved loved watching this precious boy develop into the (big) tiny human that he is.

But anyone with kids knows that the newborn years can be tough. One of my biggest emotional challenges with Teddy has been our feeding journey. He has been an excellent and voracious eater. But it hasn’t gone as planned. After hanging on for as long as I could, I sadly gave up breastfeeding at five months and Teddy is now on all formula. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster for me knowing that this is our last baby. I wanted to nurse him as long as possible for many reasons, one of the biggest being Covid and providing him with my immunity. But, we’ve had some challenges over the past few months that made keeping up with nursing really hard and I had to take into account my mental health and the mental and emotional health of my family. And, I truly believe that the FED IS BEST method is the only way to feed your baby.

Breastfeeding in general is HARD. Not only do you experience physical discomfort, but you worry if your baby is getting enough, you carry the responsibility of being the only one who can feed your baby, and most of your day is spent nursing or pumping. There is a lot of pressure on moms to breastfeed. And I understand why to a point. Breastfeeding is so good for the baby and for the mom. It provides extra immunity to the baby, it promotes a healthy bond between mom and baby, it decreases the chance of SIDS, you can feed the baby anywhere at anytime and not have to worry about milk temperature or milk spoiling – the list goes on. I am one hundred an advocate for breastfeeding but I’m also an advocate that you do what’s best for you and your baby. At the end of the day, FED IS BEST.

Breastfeeding with Lilly was REALLY hard. I had to fight tooth and nail to nurse her until she was six months. I did everything I possibly could to keep the milk supply up.  I ate oatmeal multiple times a day, drank a ridiculous amount of mothers milk tea, ate lactation bars, drank water, etc. And I still had to supplement with formula.  And I’m really dang proud I got her to six months. 

Teddy started out really strong and we had an easy go the first three months. He ate every 1.5-2 hours and was always so happy and content after nursing. However, the stress and strain of life since October (going back to work and then quitting my job (really leaving behind a career), covid, sick kids, and surgery for Rob just to name a few) had taken a toll on me and my milk supply significantly dropped over the course of a few weeks. I went from producing 4-7 ounces of milk to 2-3 and then to less than one. As this was happening Teddy went from eating 2-3 ounces to 5-7 and my body couldn’t keep up. I started supplementing with formula, which led to a preference in bottles over nursing for him. At some point we switched to all bottles that were half breast and half formula, but pumping around the clock with a three year old and a baby and being the only parent home during the day is really dang hard. I started missing pumping sessions because I just didn’t have time and this signaled to my body that it didn’t need to produce as much. 

I’ve been feeling incredibly guilty and disappointed that this is the way our feeding journey has gone. I feel guilty I don’t have time to do all the lactation things I did when I nursed Lilly. I feel guilty that during the time of covid I won’t be able to give him my antibodies much longer. I feel guilty that I’m a little bit relieved to be done nursing because now the responsibility of me being the only one who is able to feed him has lifted. (In the beginning I worried so much that something would happen to me and I wouldn’t be able to feed him). And this guilt feeling leaves me so angry and frustrated. Moms shouldn’t feel this way or have so much worry and anxiety about feeding their babies. It shouldn’t matter how we feed our babies. What matters is that we feed them and that they are healthy and growing.

I admit that this has been a really emotional post for me to write and I cried several times while trying to write it over the last few weeks. I try to remember that every month that I nursed him or pumped gave him an incredible boost, and the first three months of exclusively nursing helped us form a connection that I love and cherish. I also know that breastfeeding is challenging or not even an option for many moms, so I’m thankful that we had as much time as we did.  

I hope that by sharing my journey I can help other moms who are feeling bad or discouraged about breastfeeding. It’s an emotional ride for sure, but let’s all remember we are doing our best and your baby adores you and loves you no matter which feeding method you choose.  I couldn’t have nursed Teddy as long as I did without the support of Rob and my family.  I’m incredibly grateful for their encouragement and support throughout this journey. 

So let’s all choose to support each other and offer encouragement. And remember to give a mom you know a hug, because being a mom is the hardest job and sometimes we just need to know we are seen and appreciated.

And remember, fed is best!! 

Sláinte,

Shannon

WELCOME TO THE WORLD BABY TEDDY!

July 19th. The day that completed our family and brought us the greatest bundle of joy. Although ten days early, we welcomed Theodore “Teddy” Robert Solt with open arms on the morning of the 19th and have been living in newborn bliss ever since.

Teddy’s actual due date was July 29, or the 27th, or the 24th. At one point we had three different due dates so we just told everyone the last week of July. I knew by six months he was going to be early (I literally felt so huge) and that was confirmed at our 34 week appointment when he was already weighing 6 pounds 3 ounces (Lilly was 6 pounds 14 ounces at 39 weeks!!). We actually thought he would be a week earlier than the 19th, but T wasn’t ready yet.

I had been experiencing Braxton Hicks for weeks (probably since the middle of the second trimester). For a few days leading up the 19th I knew they were starting to change, but I also knew they weren’t quite labor contractions yet. I woke up around 2:00 a.m. on the 19th with what I thought were pretty significant Braxton Hicks. By 4:00 a.m. the contractions were becoming slightly more intense and lasting 15-20 minutes apart. I woke up Rob around 4:15 and told him what was going on. Within an hour my contractions were pretty severe and coming every 5-10 minutes.

The plan once we went into active labor was to have my parents (who luckily live a mile from us) come pick up Lilly.  For about two weeks prior to this my parents had been sleeping with their phones on in the event we went in the middle of the night.  Well, in the wee hours on the morning of the 19th when we knew it was go time, we called my parents 15 times with no answer.  Rob had to drive over and bang on their bedroom window to wake them up! We laugh about it now, but when my contractions were coming five minutes apart, I was not so amused!

Rob was gone a total of 15 minutes getting my parents but I knew once he got back we would need to jet out the door. Apparently Gryff, our 90 pound labradoodle, felt the frenetic energy and as Rob and I were leaving, bounded out the door and right into the front seat of the Jeep. Again, not so amused while having significant contractions, but we had a great laugh about it after T was born.

Thankfully there wasn’t any traffic on the road since it was still early and we rolled into the Toledo Hospital around 6:00 a.m.  We parked in the wrong parking garage (in our defense it was the parking garage where we parked when we had Lilly, but the hospital had changed the parking garage to employee parking only).  Luckily a very nice healthcare worker was entering the hospital at the entrance (of which you needed an employee pass in order to enter) at the same time and took pity on us (I was in A LOT of discomfort by this point) and helped us to labor and delivery. 

By this point my contractions were lasting about a minute and coming every two-five minutes.  We checked in at triage and I barely made it through all the questions and check up.  And at this point I was already 7 centimeters dilated and 90% effaced (I had actually been 3-4 cm dilated for about two weeks prior to this).  Rob on the other hand, in all the excitement of the morning, became rather queasy watching them insert the IV in me (which took them about 15 times) and he decided to take an unplanned nap!  Good thing that they keep juice and crackers at the ready!

We were in triage for about an hour to an hour and a half and it was the longest moments of my life.  I was begging for the epidural at this point.  My labor did not progress this fast with Lilly so I don’t recall the intensity of the contractions with her.  This is definitely something I never want to experience again! 

Once they finally got us back to our labor and delivery room the epidural arrived and I was much more comfortable, although I could still feel the contractions pretty significantly since we were so far along.  I tested positive for Strep B so the plan was to wait as long as possible so the antibiotic could get in my system.  After about an hour or two the doctor came in and said it was go time, there wasn’t any more waiting!  He broke my water (it still hadn’t broken) and within an hour I was actively pushing and five contractions later Teddy was born! The doctor laughed as he was delivering him and said, “Wow! This is a big baby!”  I knew Teddy would be bigger than Lilly, guessing him to be about 7.5 pounds, but I never imagined I would birth a 9 pound baby!! I am still so amused by it. 

But let’s not forget about Rob! The nurses gave him some water and peanut butter with crackers after he felt faint in triage so he was doing much better and doing a good job keeping me comfortable with a wet washcloth (my face was on fire right before and during the active labor). During labor, he was “overcome with joy” and had to sit down again. He has been a steady rock since then and I can’t imagine the last four weeks without his support.

Teddy was born at 10:20 a.m. on July 19, weighing in at 9 pounds 2 ounces.  Only four hours had passed from the time we got to the hospital until the time we had him, and less than an hour had passed once my water had broken! My fear throughout this entire pregnancy was that he would come very quickly and we wouldn’t have enough time to get to the hospital (my family has a history of having babies quickly!).  But thankfully everything worked out beautifully and I wouldn’t have wanted to labor any longer than I did!

If you made it this far, I thank you! We had quite the exciting birth story to share.  I’m so glad we are home and settling into a routine.  Now we just need to get T to sleep and feed longer than every two hours! 

Slainte,

Shannon

MOTHERHOOD: SECOND TRIMESTER RECAP

Now that I’m well into the third trimester, I thought I’d share a quick recap of the second trimester.  Overall, this trimester was much better than the first trimester.  The second trimester is typically referred to as the honeymoon period, and although it was easier than the first, it still had its challenges!  

My energy did make a comeback during the second trimester and I found myself being able to successfully stay busy, check things off our to-do list, chase after Lilly, and in general move my bump more (big fan of yoga!).  But the second trimester wasn’t without its challenges.  I’m sharing some of the highlights and struggles below! 

Highlights 

Some of the highlights from this trimester included:

  • Deciding on a baby name! (We won’t be sharing publicly until baby boy is born!)
  • Feeling baby boy move and kick.  This one is definitely a swimmer and will literally swim across my belly.  It’s so wild and amazing to watch and feel.
  • The return of my appetite (yay!).  I had such a hard time with food the first trimester and it was so refreshing to be able to eat food again and to actually have cravings. My biggest cravings this pregnancy have been strawberries and fruit in general.  For weeks now I’ve been eating a pint of strawberries every day or two.  I can’t get enough!! Lemonade was also a popular drink of choice during the second trimester.  I would all of a sudden crave it and need to drink some immediately (so strange!). 
  • My energy made a comeback. I took advantage of the return of my energy to check things off our to-do list.  We cleaned out the attic, planted flowers, started a flower garden, cleaned out the guest room to transform it into Lilly’s big girl room, cleaned out Lilly’s clothes to make room for baby boy’s clothes, and the list goes on.  

Struggles

Some of the struggles from this trimester include: 

  • Experiencing the physical challenges that accompany a growing bump.  I’m incredibly thankful my body is strong enough to grow this baby.  I truly am so grateful.  Being pregnant is challenging for me, but I do realize how lucky I am to be able to grow this baby.  With that being said, a growing belly does come with some physical challenges.  Those being extreme lower back pain, charley horses/cramps in my legs, shortness of breath, etc. 
  • Accepting (or not accepting) the rapid weight gain.  This pregnancy overall has seen much more rapid weight gain than my first pregnancy and that has been mentally difficult to accept, especially when I know I’m not eating my best and not getting that much exercise. 
  • Feeling like all my clothes are uncomfortable.  For some reason this pregnancy I’m having a hard time with clothes.  I can’t stand wearing pants (I actually stopped wearing them in March) and only want to wear dresses. But even some of the dresses I have proved to be uncomfortable.  Basically I want to live in nightgowns and that’s it. 
  • Adjusting to the emotional rollercoaster of being pregnant during COVID-19.  The vaccine became available to pregnant women during the second trimester and deciding whether or not to get the vaccine was the most difficult decision for us to make (it was truly so stressful for me).  We had extensive talks with our doctor, we did our own research and weighed the pros and cons, we talked to other trusted medical professionals and we trusted our gut.  In the end, we decided it was safer for me to get the vaccine than to get COVID, as the side effects of COVID are incredibly severe in pregnant women. 

So overall the second trimester was easier and we had some beautiful moments, but it wasn’t without its challenges.  

As I enter into week 32 of this pregnancy, I am getting more and more excited to meet baby boy! We are in the home stretch, and I may be feeling exhausted and heavy, but I am so ecstatic about what’s to come in just a few short weeks.

Slainte,

Shannon

MOTHERHOOD: THREE THINGS I’VE DONE FOR MY MENTAL HEALTH WHILE PREGNANT DURING COVID

This isn’t a typical post for me to write.  Typically I keep my blog writing to classic style, home decor projects, and fun activities with L.  But this topic has been heavy on my heart and I feel called to share my experience.

Navigating pregnancy can be challenging for any mama, but throw in a global pandemic and a cold, gray winter and you have a recipe for an exceptionally difficult transition! Any woman who is newly pregnant probably experiences numerous types of anxiety and uncertainty.  Not only is your body changing, but your hormones are raging, you are exhausted, possibly nauseous, and on top of all that you are preparing to welcome a sweet new baby! It’s quite a whirlwind for nine months (and beyond – don’t forget the fourth trimester!).

I thought it would be easy being pregnant my second time around because I knew what to expect.  What I didn’t experience in my first pregnancy that I experienced in the first trimester of this pregnancy were mental and emotional challenges.   They say every pregnancy is different and that 100% holds true.  I really struggled those first 12-14 weeks.  Not only did I physically feel awful (nauseous, exhausted, so many food aversions), but I also felt mentally drained, uninspired, sad, grumpy, anxious, and just overall not myself.  Some days were very challenging and it took everything in me just to make it to bedtime.  I often would ask Rob if I would ever feel like myself again (spoiler alert: I do!). 

I do believe that raging hormones, physical discomfort, and the stress of being in the middle of a global pandemic (plus the stress of trying to decide if and how I should get vaccinated) really took its toll.  I’m so thankful everyday that I have such a supportive hubby and family.

I’m sure many other women experience these feelings at one time or another during their pregnancy.  I had to dig deep within myself to find ways to fight through this difficult time.  I’m hoping that by talking about the mental and emotional challenges that some women face during pregnancy and offering some ideas on how to cope will help other mamas feeling the same.  Before I share the things that worked for me, I want to remind anyone experiencing emotional or mental pain, to please reach out to your doctor or a trusted source for help.  

Below are three things I would try to do to center myself and find the joy in being pregnant. 

  1. Yoga – Yoga is so healing for your mind, body, and soul.  Whenever I need to re-center myself, I grab my yoga mat and just breathe.  I subscribe to the Yoga with Adrienne App and she offers some great prenatal workouts that are safe for mama and baby. 
  1. Communicate – Talk it out.  I can’t stress this enough.  I shared how I was feeling with Rob, my family, friends, my gynecologist – anyone who I felt safe talking to and it made a huge difference.  I am so thankful for a strong support system that listened to me and provided guidance when I was feeling my lowest.
  1. Get Outside – Even though some days it was really hard to get outside, I would try and get some fresh air, even if it was walking to the mailbox and back.  Fresh air can clear your mind and give you a fresh perspective and even if I only went outside for a few minutes, I always came back inside feeling a little more like myself. 

I also recommend that pregnant women rest as much as possible, eat what tastes good, and drink lots of fluids.  Being pregnant with a toddler and working part time is definitely not easy.  I napped whenever Lilly napped and went to bed early every night.  Getting enough sleep and rest during the first trimester really is so important. 

I hope this post helps just one other mama-to-be who needs some extra love and encouragement.  And always remember, you have a beautiful human growing inside of you and your body is amazing to be able to do that! 

Slainte,

Shannon

STYLE: MATERNITY VS. NON-MATERNITY

Back when I was pregnant with Lilly, I shared this blog post about my favorite maternity staples.  It was warm weather season during my second and third trimesters with Lilly so I mostly wore dresses.  The majority of this pregnancy is during the winter, so it’s been interesting to see how differently my style has been.  These days the only types of clothes I feel like wearing are leggings, oversized sweaters, and dresses.  It’s a little difficult to wear dresses in Ohio in January and February, especially when there is 16 inches of snow on the ground, but pants are just not comfortable for me right now!  

In my blog post I wrote back in 2018, I focused on my favorite maternity staples. This blog post focuses on what styles I buy maternity and what styles I buy non-maternity.

Pants/Denim

Once I start showing, I switch to maternity pants. However, I’ve never loved maternity jeans. But I also can’t stand wearing my regular pants once that bump makes its appearance. I’ve tried so many different brands and this time around I finally settled on two pairs of treggings (leggings with pockets that look like jeans) from H&M. They are more comfortable than denim jeans and still appropriate to wear in public. I did find a great pair of white denim jeans on Amazon and so far they are fairly comfortable. My favorite places to buy maternity pants are Gap Maternity, Pink Blush Boutique (they have the best leggings), and H&M.

Dresses 

When I’m shopping for dresses, I usually buy a mix of maternity and non-maternity styles. For maternity styles, I love to shop at Pink Blush. They just fit so perfectly. If I’m looking for a looser fit, I typically shop my normal stores (J.Crew Factory, Gap, Old Navy, Amazon, small businesses) and just go up one size. Once I’m done being pregnant, I plan on getting the non-maternity styles taken in to fit my post baby body.

Tees/Tops

For t-shirts, I tend to go for fitted, maternity styles.  I love to shop Target, Gap Maternity, and Old Navy.  For flowy blouses and tops, I do a mix of maternity and non-maternity.  Again, I just size up if I’m wearing non-maternity.

Lounge wear/Pajamas

It feels like I’ve been living in lounge wear and pajamas.  For these styles I do a mix of maternity and non-maternity.  Things like sweatshirts and sweatpants, I just size up one size in non-maternity styles.  But for items like nightgowns and pajama sets, I tend to purchase maternity.  Many maternity styles can transition to nursing and that is a huge plus.  I love to get my maternity nightgowns and pajama sets from Lake Pajamas or Pink Blush. 

I’ve broken styles down into a list to better help you in your decision making and shopping.

Maternity

Brands: Gap Maternity, H&M Maternity, Old Navy, Pink Blush, and Target 

Styles:

  • Leggings
  • Dress Pants
  • Denim Jeans
  • Shorts
  • Fitted Dresses
  • Fitted Tees
  • Loungewear/Nightgowns
  • Undergarments (bras and panties)

Non-Maternity

Brands: J.Crew Factory, Old Navy, Amazon, Target, Small Boutiques

Styles:

  • Dresses
  • Loungewear/Nightgowns 
  • Oversized tunics
  • Oversized blouses 

Some other maternity brands to check out:

I know this isn’t a crazy detailed list, but hopefully it provides some general direction if you are pregnant and not sure what and where to buy. 

Slainte,

Shannon

Baby #2 Arriving in July!

For those of you who follow me on social media and already know the news, thank you for your kind words and excitement! For those of you who follow me here, surprise! We are having another baby! Rob, Lilly, and I could not be more excited to welcome baby boy Solt in July!

First off, we are absolutely elated!  I love hearing about other moms-to-be experiences during their pregnancies so I thought I would share a little bit about how things have been the past 16 weeks.  

We opted to do the 10 week genetic testing with this baby, something we were adamantly opposed to when we were pregnant with Lilly. I don’t know why we decided to do it this time and why we were so much more open to it this time around, but we felt we wanted to make sure everything was okay with baby. We also wanted to find out the gender, which is how we know so early that baby is a boy! We were convinced the baby would be a girl. But about a week or two before we found out, I kept having this feeling that the baby would be a boy. And it turns it out, he is!

First Trimester Recap: I am not going to write about at length how challenging the first trimester was for me, but I do want to be real. I experienced a very tough couple of weeks. The biggest reason I took a step back from blogging and Instagram over the holidays was because I didn’t have the energy or creativity. Not only did I have extreme exhaustion (sleeping 8-10 hours a night, taking an hour nap in the morning, and a 2.5 hour nap in the afternoon almost every day I wasn’t working), but I also had pretty terrible morning sickness. I never actually was physically ill, but I was nauseated from the moment I woke up until after dinner every day. I’m incredibly thankful that I’ve been able to work from home during this time. That has been a lifesaver in allowing me to rest.

Mentally I also struggled.  My mood swings have been so much more extreme with this pregnancy than with Lilly.  I think the combination of winter, COVID, not being able to see people or really leave the house, and keeping it a secret for so long all contributed to these feelings of loneliness, grumpiness, and all around just not feeling myself.

Cravings and Aversions: I always find women’s cravings and food aversions so fascinating. For me, I’ve been craving all things citrus, pasta, and dairy. I cannot get enough oranges, red apples, mac and cheese, orange juice, pizza, and egg sandwiches. Early on the only thing that would help my nausea was Costco’s Kettle Cooked potato chips – so I ate a LOT of those. In terms of aversions, almost everything else was revolting to me haha. Poor Rob had a challenging time finding food for me to eat. I think the worst aversions have been the smell of coffee, alcohol, vegetables of any kind, and meat.

All that aside, I’m feeling 10x better. I’m slowly beginning to feel like my normal energized self again. I now have “bad moments” instead of bad days. I’m feeling excited and motivated to start on all the baby projects. I think most of all though, I’m grateful to be spending quality time with Lilly again. I think the hardest part of all of this has been the fact that I haven’t been able to give my all to my family. They’ve been wonderful through all this and incredibly supportive and I’m so grateful for my saint of a hubby and my sweet baby girl.

If you are thinking of getting pregnant or are a new mom-to-be or just loving talking pregnancy and babies, please feel free to reach out! I love to share experiences of motherhood and pregnancy.

And before I sign off, I want to give a huge THANK YOU to my friend Kelly from Photography by Kelly and Kelly for braving the cold winter weather to capture these beautiful photos of my family. Not only do they photograph portraits and family photos, but they also specialize in fine art photography. I personally adore their captures of Lake Erie and Marblehead Lighthouse! Much of their work can be purchased on their website, so be sure to check them out and follow them on social media (Facebook, Instagram)!

Slainte,

Shannon

MOTHERHOOD: INDOOR TODDLER ACTIVITIES

Winter in Ohio usually means lots of time indoors. And with COVID still running rampant, we have been spending an unusual amount of time indoors. I’m not going to lie that it’s been tricky keeping Lilly engaged and occupied. Some days we do great, finding creative ways to have fun, and other days it seems like all we want to do is lay on the couch and watch Moana.

In an effort to help other mamas who might need some new and fun creative activities, I’ve put together some ideas, as well as resources I use time and again when I need a new idea.

Indoor Toddler Activity Ideas

  • Baking: We’ve been doing this a LOT lately, but Lilly loves it and it’s great for developing fine and gross motor skills.
  • Playdough: Lilly likes me to make “pizza” with the playdough and then she has her puppets eat it. It turns into a game and she loves it.
  • Set up an indoor picnic: We dump all of our play kitchen food on a blanket, get out all of the stuffed animals and have a big picnic.
  • Painting (everything and anything!)
  • Stickers
  • Art easel: Lilly was gifted one for Christmas that has a dry erase board and a chalkboard. She loves it!
  • Hide and Seek
  • Build a fort with blankets and pillows
  • Kinetic Sand (I could play with this for hours)
  • Construction Paper: You can do soooo many arts and crafts with construction paper and glue. We just made mosaic paper hearts for Valentine’s Day and hung them on the window.
  • Indoor gym class
  • Puzzles
  • Alphabet games
  • Board games
  • Legos
  • Books
  • Sensory bins: We made one for Lilly with rice. It’s messy, but she loves it.
  • Drawing: We practice tracing our alphabet letters and numbers.
  • Cleaning: Yes this might be self-serving, but Lilly has her own set of brooms and mops and she loves to help me sweep the floors.
  • Doing the dishes: Again, maybe self-serving, but the girl loves to wash dishes and play in the sink.
  • Clean their toys
  • Meal Prep: Every day I have Lilly help me prep her lunch and dinner. Kids love to help in the kitchen.

There are so many different ways to keep your toddler engaged. Some days it may not seem like there is anything to do because a toddler’s attention span is about two minutes, but keep this list handy for days when the creativity is lacking and you’ll never run out of things to do. And if you need more ideas, check out the resources below!

Sweet and Simple Toddler Crafts:  A great resource for incredibly fun arts and crafts! 

Pinterest: Always a great resource.  Just search “toddler crafts” or follow me for ideas! 

Lottie & Lizzie Play:  I love this Instagram page and Etsy shop! If you are looking to help your toddler learn their alphabet, these letters are so fun and pretty! 

Samantha Lynch CCC-SLP: My friend Sam is a Pediatric SLP and she shares amazing content on her Instagram for engaging your child and helping them with their speech and communication skills. 

Busy Toddler: This Instagram page is amazing for toddler and kid inspired activities. 

Michaels and Target also have fun craft kits that are really inexpensive.  

I always find following and connecting with other mamas helps me find new ideas to try.  If you have some ideas I didn’t list, please share them in the comments below!

Slainte,

Shannon

MOTHERHOOD: SIMPLE AND JOYFUL HOLIDAY SEASON

The holidays.  A magical time full of so much joy and merriment.  It’s usually a time for friends and family to come together and celebrate the many blessings in their lives.  It’s full of delicious homemade food, twinkling lights, laughter, Hallmark movies, carols, and more.  Many people look forward to this time of year because of its simple magic.   

But it’s also busy, chaotic, and overwhelming.  For some, the holidays are a harsh reminder of loved ones they’ve lost.  This year is going to look very different for most people.  My family in particular will probably not be celebrating in person (my immediate family alone is 16 people!).  As someone who has always celebrated the holidays with several parties and tons of people around, this year has the potential to feel very isolating.  

But despite the challenges we are facing this year, there is always room for joy. I’m excited to be teaming up with my friend Whitney Caves to offer some tips to keep things simple this holiday season. We each identified three ways that we will be keeping things simple and organized. And, if you pop over to our Instagram’s, you will find a really great Emily Ley inspired giveaway!

TIPS FOR A STRESS FREE HOLIDAY SEASON

Get Organized 

Organization is my favorite way to combat stress. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, like my head is spinning out of control, I sit down, get out the old pen and paper and make lists. This time of year I have lists galore – Christmas present lists, food prep lists, holiday activity lists, etc. etc. Writing everything down and crossing off items as they get done takes so much pressure off. I highly recommend doing this if you don’t already.

Celebrate the Joy

Now more than ever it’s important we celebrate all the things that bring us joy. Whether it’s a distraction free meal with your family, a drive around town to look at Christmas lights, decorating the tree while listening to your favorite Christmas songs, celebrating each and every one of these moments is a great way to embrace the season.

Embrace the Simple

Keep it simple this year.  Lower your expectations.  Be flexible.  Learn to say no when you aren’t comfortable with a situation.  This year in particular is very strange and very stressful.  Know that it’s perfectly okay to say no to all social engagements.  It’s okay to stay home more and watch all the Christmas movies.  It’s okay to put that to-do list aside and spend the day baking cookies.  Just simplify in any way that feels right to you. 

Hopefully these ideas help you enjoy this holiday season!  Stay safe and healthy.  And don’t forget to check out Whitney’s post and our Instagram’s to win some organizational goodies! 

Slainte,

Shannon

MOTHERHOOD: FAVORITE BOOKS FOR TODDLERS

“And what book are you reading?” Anyone who knows my Bobo (grandma) will know that this was always the first question she would ask you upon arrival to her house. Reading was very important to her, and although I may have laughed at the question as a young tween, I so appreciate her passion for reading as an adult. Every year for our birthdays she would give us a book, usually a classic, that was related to our passions and I’m grateful I have such a robust library because of her.

My parents and Rob’s family also love reading and it’s important to us that we share this gift with Lilly. From a very young age we started reading to Lilly. We used to read to her when she was just a wee infant, doing tummy time on her caterpillar. And I’m so happy that Lilly finds so much joy in reading. Some days we just sit in her playroom and read every book on her shelves and that makes my mama heart so full.

I truly believe you are never too young to start reading and appreciate the power of a good story. There are a few books that have been favorites for us recently and I’m so excited to be sharing them with you all. All of these books have a purpose, as well as a magical story. I hope at least one of these stories will resonate with one of you mamas (or dads) and your little one. And if you need more options, be sure to check out two of my friend’s blogs – Sarah at Cozy Little Joys and Stephanie at Linen and Littles. Both of these ladies have babies around Lilly’s age and there is nothing better than a bond forged by motherhood and books.

ABC’s What Can She Be

This is a relatively new book for us but we LOVE it.  This book has everything a toddler loves.    It teaches the alphabet in a bright and colorful way with eye-catching illustrations.  It encourages a little girl that she can be anything she wants to be – whether it’s a mechanic, zoologist, neurologist, or interior designer – there are so many options and possibilities.  But I think my favorite part about this book is the fact that all girls are represented.  This book celebrates color, shape, size, and ability.  It’s truly a wonderful book about diversity and encouraging girls to follow their dreams.  

You can shop this book for $12 here.

Baby Feminists

A timeless edition to any toddler book collection, Baby Feminists is probably our favorite book. Lilly LOVES this book. She loves it so much that we bought Baby Feminists II. This book offers such an inspiring message that anyone can grow up to make the world a better place for everyone. This is an interactive book that not only teaches you about famous women who have made a difference, but also shows them as a baby – which toddlers love. And to be honest, this series has taught me about important women who have shaped history, some of which I’m embarrassed to admit I knew very little about! This book is definitely a must have for anyone who wants to teach their children about inspirational individuals.

You can shop this book for $6 here.

My First Baby Signs

Since babies don’t begin communicating with words until around 18 months or later, it was important for me to teach Lilly sign language. My mom bought this book for us and it’s been amazing! I swear Lilly learned how to communicate “more,” “all done,” and “eat” from this book. Toddlers and babies love interactive books and this one has pull tabs that illustrates each important sign. We have read this book so many times that all the pull tabs have been ripped out (eeek!). It’s one of our most well worn and most well loved books.

You can shop this book for $17 here.

The Rainbow Fish

Such a classic children’s book. And really is there a more beautiful book to teach about the power of friendship and sharing? We love this book, but it’s been a relatively recent love. The past couple of months Lilly has really shown interest in the glitter pictures and the story. And now we read it every night before bed. This international best seller is a must for toddlers to start learning about how to be a friend and how to share.

You can shop this book for $8 here.

The Gift That I Can Give

My sister (who is Lilly’s godmother) gifted her this book for her Baptism and it’s so special. The beautifully written and illustrated story shares such an important message. It teaches that all children can make a difference and make a positive impact on others. Not only does this book celebrate your child’s gift – whether it’s the gift of song, dance, or sports – but it also encourages and celebrates empathy, kindness, gratitude, and encouragement. It’s a lovely read and one that all families should consider adding to their collection.

You can shop this book for $8 here.

Goodnight Ohio

And last not but not least, is a bonus book that is specific to our beloved state of Ohio! Goodnight Ohio celebreates the many wonderful sights and attractions that make up Ohio. From the Ohio State Buckeyes, to the Toledo Museum of Art, Lake Erie, Cedar Point, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this is a classic toddler book that any native Ohioan should have in their library.

Shop this book for $7 here.

I hope these suggestions spark your interest, whatever they may be! Don’t forget the power that reading and sharing stories with your children has on developing their language skills, helping their mind grow, and their ability to listen. And as they get older, don’t forget to ask them, “And what book are you reading?”

Slainte,

Shannon