apps every mom needs!

Oh how I love technology! Sure, it keeps us connected and plugged in and more busy, but it also allows us to keep life organized. So I thought I’d share some of my favorite apps with you and I hope you find them helpful in making your life easier and more organized.

 

GoogleKeep. FREE. Someone introduced me to it 2 years ago and since I became a mom I really appreciate having it. Mom brain is a real thing and I can’t wait to get my “sharp” edge back, all you moms know. So this app is awesome for helping me keep up with life, to do lists and everything that needs to be done on a daily basis.

Sworkit. A really cool way to work out with a trainer, with a plan. It’s free (also an upgrade option available for a price, well worth it in my opinion!) I like how its easy and very user friendly with reminders to be able to be keep up your motivation. The app allows you to pick your work out and 7 day free trial to check it out to make sure you love it. After 7 days you have the option to pay $9.99 a month or $4.99 a month if you choose to pay for the full year all at once, which is an amazing option to have access to so many work outs on your phone for only $59.99 a year.

Amazon. FREE. I had to add this one to the list! If you’re a mom you know how long it takes to go to the store and pick up just some of the essentials, and amazon prime comes in so handy it’s unreal! I will admit, I use amazon for reviews on products, ideas for gifts, shopping and price comparisons.

Sweat. I know so many women who use this app and love Kayla’s training system. The work outs are great and one of my favorite things is the video where it shows you how to do the work out if you’re more of a visual person and pictures aren’t enough. I like the clock going during your work out and showing you how much time you have (suggested) to finish your work out. This app comes with resources for food and more education – definitely a lot to read up on, and is worth the money, as it’s a little more cost then the first app I mention, at $19.99 a month.

p.s. If you follow other blogger moms, you probably heard of Kayla Itsines and her BBG 12 week program. This app is super in helping you follow the plan.

Expensify. FREE. If you’re a mompreneur, you need this. An easy way to track your milage, copy of receipts and everything business expenses related when you travel + work from home + hate keeping up with papers and receipts. It has an option to email the spreadsheets at the end of the year to make it easier for taxes.

TheWonderWeeks. FREE. An absolute must have for first time mamas with infants. I feel more educated on the stages of development my baby is going through and follow along with his stages and new skills. I wish I downloaded this app sooner and knew when to expect the stage of sleep regression or tantrums.. So definitely get it into your phone now!

Poshmark. FREE. A perfect spot to sell clothes, shoes and accessories for you and your kids. It takes a little time to navigate it, but you find things to buy quickly! I was able to make some money selling items from my closet that no longer fit (hello postpartum body) and get some shoes and purses for myself. I haven’t bought any baby items yet but I have seen a lot of them on there. The biggest thing about this app is understanding the way it works and making sure that the quality of the product you receive as the purchaser is the way it was described.

Quora. FREE. I just recently discovered this website and app. It seems like the best spot for forums, questions to ask and give advice. I love how easy it is and how many questions you’re asked at the beginning when you’re setting up your profile. The app allows you to add topics of your interests so what you see are topics you’re an expert on or interested in learning about. A new mom or a mom who is going through something new with her kids (teenagers or potty training..) would love this website! It’s definitely better then all the Facebook mom groups because there are more opinions and more people to gain from.

Photofy. I like this one for all the editing on photos. We are in the world of Instagram obsessed moms and this app helps! It’s easy to use to edit photos and overlay with words (for those weekly updates). AND then some! If you work from home and need an app for backgrounds for your quotes, Facebook posts, etc., you’ll love it! This app will give you a lot and allow you to choose what you need and how much you’d choose to pay for the services.

Pinterest. FREE. Every woman’s best friend for ideas, because how else will you spend your nights feeding the baby? Enough said.

VoxerFREE. Perfect for the organizer mom. This app will make a walkie-talkie out of your phone. When you’re constantly on the go and still need to keep up with your tribe, get them all on the app and it will allow you to send quick voice messages with ease. SO much faster then texting even! It also allows you to create groups so that more then one person can hear you. I have used it to communicate for my business so far (my business mentor made me get it but now I love it) but I see a lot of value in it for moms when you need to be hands free and get a message out to a group of moms quickly. There is also an upgrade option available depending on your needs.

MY NUMBER ONE Must have app for newborns!

Baby TrackerFREE. This app SAVED me in the beginning! One of my mom friends introduced me to it and I am so thankful! For the first few months after my baby was born it was hard to keep track of anything let alone keep up with his feeding schedule, poop diapers, sleep and everything else! This app allows you to keep track of EVERYTHING baby related, add pictures, and even keep track of how much breastmilk you have in your storage. You have to have this one with a newborn! I especially loved it when traveling, because then everything kind of blended together and it was very helpful to have a tracker of my baby’s activities to make sure I didn’t miss something. I used the app religiously until about month 7/8. My baby got on a regular schedule then with diapers and with naps, so one day I decided to stop and we have been on a good routine that’s easy to keep track of since.

 

I hope you found some of these apps helpful and they can make your busy life easier! If you already use some of these or if you download it and think its amazing, please come back and tell me, I’d love to know your thoughts!

Maybe you thought of your mom friend who needs one of these – do her a favor and share this on her Facebook wall, she will thank you!

xx

L.

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30 Tips for traveling with a baby

Traveling with a baby soon?

That’s awesome!

We have taken our baby on more weekend trips then I can count and we love having him with us wherever we go! I am certainly no expert, but I do feel like I’ve collected some tips that works for us and maybe they will be helpful to you!

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This is focusing on traveling via car, short distance that takes less then a day and hotel life vs. apartment renting.

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Hotel 

Use a map when booking. I always check expedia.com first for the locations of nearby hotels; all the options show up and you can view the map with the little pin drops for hotels to pick your location. Sometimes looking at it on a map makes all the difference because you can stay at a hotel next to the water, or on the water, next to a golf course or a museum; it all depends on what you like to do at your destination.

Book via the hotel’s website. Like I mentioned earlier, I always check expedia.com first to compare prices and find the location on the map where we want to stay. After having to pay for a room and not being able to cancel our reservation I learned to always book the hotel using their website. The price is usually the same on the website as it is on sites like Expedia, if there is a difference I would recommend calling the hotel directly (call front desk not the reservations number if they give you a hard time) 99% of the time they will match the price you see online if its a different then what their website is. Domestically we prefer to use Holiday Inn vs Hilton because of better accommodations and Holiday Inn always had breakfast included where we have stayed so far, so its a bonus and a cost saver!

Walking distance. If I can find it, I will always try to book a hotel or Homeaway or Air BnB with walking distance to sites and venues we plan to visit. It doesn’t always work out, but when it’s a city big enough it’s worth paying the extra $50-100 a night to be able to walk to dinner, shopping, diaper run, pharmacy (I needed it one time when we were in a different state), and groceries (especially if you have a kitchen where you are staying). Having accommodations with the ability to walk almost anywhere is how we booked all of our stays since having the baby. We take the car if we are not flying or the trip is shorter distance, but even then, it’s just easier to get essentials and be able to transport a stroller at all times. This comes in handy when your baby is still small and naps several times a day.

Hotel room cancelations. If you book with the hotel directly, they may offer a generous cancelation policy, but when you book via expedia.com, trivago.com or priceline.com you will most likely have to pay extra for “flexibility.” Flexibility is the state of mind for parents of infants and toddlers. Because you just never know!!! What if you have to cancel your entire trip, which has happened to us, and what if you make a reservation for the wrong day by accident? (also happened to us). Being able to call the hotel directly to sort it out is much easier to make changes than dealing with Expedia, trust me!

Upgrade to a bigger room for free. Yes, for FREE! What I learned from staying at many different hotels, is that each hotel has 2-3 (or depending on the size of the hotel sometimes more) handicap-accessible rooms. These rooms have extra space, bigger bathrooms, and often a walk in closet, and a couch or a separate seating area. It’s so much easier to have space for a crib and not sit in the dark after the baby is tucked in for the night, because the room is so small that you cannot turn any lights on!  Rather than booking these rooms with all the others, hotels keep some of them reserved in case someone comes in who needs those accommodations. These will typically be the last rooms they assign on a given night. My tip is: when you check in (not when you book) ask for a handicap accessible room. They will decide if they can let you have the room or if they should keep it for individuals who will actually need it. What do you have to lose?

Ask for a crib. Every hotel domestically and internationally will provide portable cribs, aka pack and play. Even Airbnb places where we stayed, not all of them, but most will have a crib they can provide. Some will list it as an option on their page so you can know if it’s an option before you make the reservation.

Or bring a crib. If you absolutely love your pack and play or another version of a baby bed at home and invested good money in it, AND if you have space for it in your travels I would say bring it with you! I had to request a different crib once because the first one was so wobbly and I could tell my baby wasn’t comfortable there.

Travel insurance. When applicable, buy it! We had an issue once and sometimes the airline or the hotel will not even talk to you about the issue you have if you don’t have travel insurance, or insurance for your flights. With a baby, again, you just don’t know what to expect and it’s worth it to be prepared to cancel or reschedule the trip if you needed to.

Bring a toy box. What’s amazing to me is how our baby loves to take toys out of a box! If you’re traveling light, bring a folding box and put the toys that you choose to bring with you in it so your baby can take them out and spread out on the floor playing. If you don’t have a box, you can use a plastic shopping bag, like the reusable kind they offer for $1 at most grocery stores, the bag makes crinkly noise and the handles will add extra fun to play with. When you have a crawling or just a very busy baby it helps to entertain them and keep them out of your arms while in the hotel room. When we travel via car I will often bring a reusable shopping bag from Wegmans and keep the toys in there, the bag is easy to clean with baby wipes too!

Save money. When ever possible, stay with friends or family. We found out that if we make a goal to spend only a certain amount the entire weekend and do not go out to shop for anything other then groceries, our trips are much cheaper and we eat healthier because we cook our own food. This is especially the case if you are like us and have to travel to visit family and old friends. Every time we go back to visit we stay with parents or in-laws and that’s a great way to save on lodging alone!

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AirBnB

Booking tips. Similar to when looking for a hotel, use a map to decide where exactly you wish to stay, neighborhood, street, corner. If you are in a big city, you will have a lot of options to choose from! We used airbnb.com in NYC, Dublin, Ireland, Paris, France, and have a couple more places booked where we plan to travel in the next few months.

I will be talking about our experience with Airbnb on the blog tomorrow, so make sure to subscribe and get an email notification when it goes live! I will have full details on what we did well and where we learned from mistakes. I will include pictures from the fabulous apartments we rented in Europe, so make sure to check back in tomorrow!

Traveling by car

Walking naps. Health goals do not need to change when you travel. We started taking our Bob Jogging stroller on short trips that we take by car. It allows us to take a walk together as a family when baby needs a nap. As he got older he was so much more alert of everything (after 7/8 months) it became very difficult to get him down for a nap. Walking or even running while he naps once a day is a great way we are able to stick to our health goals.

Stroller accessories. When you are short on space or simply don’t have the space in your trunk, consider this guy! Scout is a great accessory to keep around when you are traveling and need to have your space in the trunk for luggage. This is an attachment to the back of your car that will allow you to safely and efficiently transport your jogging stroller without taking the extra space inside the vehicle. This carrier works on jogging strollers only.

Sleeping in the car and timing. After more weekend road trips that we can count in the last 9 months with our baby one thing we make sure to do that makes our life SO much easier while on the road! When we choose the time to leave, either to get on the road to our destination or to come back home, we always plan it around baby’s sleep schedule. If the drive is 5 hours or less, we plan our leave at 6:30-7 pm, which is baby’s bed time. It allows us to drive straight to the destination without stopping to take breaks. If it is unavoidable to drive during his night sleep, we still plan it around nap time and usually he will sleep the entire way or at least most of it in the car seat. We’ve had some trips when poor baby was not happy in the car ride, had 2 blow outs in a row and cried for an hour before falling asleep. I recommend a routine for baby to make sure that they sleep well – more on that below.

Car music. Every time we are in the car and expect baby to sleep we play the same lullaby melody on a cd, there are also apps available and a couple options on Pandora to create a play list that works for your baby. I sometimes play the same music at home at bedtime so my baby knows it as sleep time. He is usually asleep before the end of the first lullaby in the car. After he is sound asleep we change the music to our liking with of course considering a sleeping baby in the car. Use your own discretion, you know how your baby sleeps best.

Tucking in. A sleeping baby while you are driving is the absolute best!! Even as I am writing this blog, we are coming back home from a weekend trip and baby boy is sound asleep. At home you probably have a very specific routine that you follow exactly in the same steps every night, I think it’s similar that your baby needs a tucking in routine when you travel by car and you are signaling to them that this is night night time. Make sure that it’s the same every time you expect baby to sleep in the car for a long time, and make sure that awake time in the car seat is different so they know what they are expected to do. My baby likes to have his face half covered as he is falling asleep. I usually use a swaddle blanket because its so breathable. I cover half his face so he has some light but also has that comfort like when his face is shoved into my arm; he would usually pull up the blanket to cover his face completely if he is comforting himself as he’s falling asleep on his own in the crib or in the stroller. So I do the same thing for him in the car seat. I tuck him in, with the blanket on one side of his so he can hold on to it or just lean his face into it and sleep. It works every time!

Car seat cover. I wish there was a car seat cover like the ones they make for infant car seats! It would come in so handy while traveling when you need your baby to sleep but the sun is too bright. I use an old black scarf of mine, tie it around the arm holder (the one above the window of the car, I don’t know the official name of it), and then I drape it around the car seat to block out the sun and create a cocoon type of environment with light that’s not too bright for sleep. I’ve tried a few different window coverings to block out the sun and none of them work for us! If you find a better way to have a car seat cover for a regular car seat, please let me know!!!

Car seat Canopy. This thing is genius! Maxi Cosi car seat canopy (obviously only works with Maxi cosi car seats) If you are still in search of a car seat for your growing baby, this is a good one to consider! It’s so convenient to have a canopy to shade from the sun, it’s my favorite feature of this car seat!

Nursing while driving. If you traveled by car with an infant and you are exclusively breastfeeding, you’ve done it! I know every mom thinks that their baby is super particular to what they like and don’t like, and it’s true, no one know your baby like you do! Mine hate bottles. Since birth he still has not taken to a bottle, so when we drive on a longer trip and he’s fussy due to hunger I’ve done the most uncomfortable thing you can do in a car – hunch over and breastfeed while he’s in the car seat. Sometimes you have to. (if you’ve done it you know the pain in my lower back and the tingling in the leg after being in the most awkward set up) Thank God for tinted windows in our car!

Sleep accessories. I always bring the sound machine and the baby monitor with us. Especially on weekend trips where we would stay in a place with more then 1 bedroom, it allows us to have time to ourselves and have the baby monitor to keep an eye on the sleeping baby. The sound machine is always with us at home and during travels. I turn it on when we start our night routine and it tells him to start relaxing and prepare for night sleeps. If your baby is a light sleeper it may be a good idea to have the sound machine on in the car as well. I often use it in the stroller when we are in public because then he’s less likely to be startled by random bursts of noises. If you can have a hotel room with a separate sleeping bedroom you’re going to love having the baby monitor and enjoy an evening to yourself without worrying about waking the baby with noises or lights.

Travel Gear

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Stroller. Picking the right stroller for your travel is so important! Is there anyone else like me who has an obsession with strollers? I want them all! Ok, it’s bad, and I will be doing a review on a couple of strollers in the next few weeks as I am still testing out one I got recently. P.s. some of my recommendations I have not personally tried, but I have heard amazing reviews and some of these are on my wish list. (feel free to send it to me for my honest opinion)

It depends on where you are going.

Outdoors like beach, hiking, hills, fields, and running trails – BOB All terrain Stroller

Disney, amusement parks, water parks, zoo and state fairs – Austlen Stroller  : the most compact stroller with the absolute most storage space for all the stuff your family will need for all day outings.

City life and short distance travels – Quinny x Rachel Zoe Moodd Jet Stroller: perfect for kids who need to be occupied and feel like they’re running the show! I love the front handle bar for babies to hold on to!

City life, subways, lots of walking and exploring – Musty NEXO: Compact, easy to fold and carry but allows decent amount of storage.

The smallest stroller, for the family with very little storage in the car and a need for a stroller that’s better then a cheap umbrella stroller – GB Pockit.

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I know that there are crazy long lists of strollers to pick from, these are just some of the options that work great for travel. For every day life we use Mutsy Evo, it also comes with us very often on vacations and trips because its compact compared to others I looked at, it offers good storage space and it reclines fully.

Car Seat. There are so many options for car seats! I know you moms do your research on what fits best for safety, style, price and functionality of a car seat, so this is just my opinion on what we use. When I researched for an infant car seat to me it was important that it was gender neutral and lightweight. This Maxi Cosi car seat is only 9 pounds and worked for us amazingly! I have a big baby boy and we transitioned into a Forever Graco car seat when he was 7 months old, even though he still fit into it weight and height per recommendation of the company, he would get really hot and sweat a lot because it’s super breathable (great for winter since he was born in October it was perfect) and my baby is a heat machine!

Activities in the car

Scavenger hunt. This is a print out game that’s perfect for the bigger kids and will be a lot of fun!

Printable road games. I am a very creative person and I love making art, but I also believe that you shouldn’t recreate the wheel. This blog post has 25 printable road games that are fantastic and I am sure your kids will love them!

Coloring travel game. For bigger kids this is perfect to create a competition, I am saving it for the future when I will need for our trips! Click here to print this License Plate Coloring Map. 

Lego Tic-tac-toe to go. Seriously, mamas, you are so creative! I am so inspired and can’t wait to try these games with our family in the future! This lego game is super when you have more then one kid to keep up with in the back seat.

Do me a huge favor, when you try these games with your family, let me know what you think of them and most importantly, let me know what your kids think of them! Check out my Pinterest wall to get more ideas for traveling with kids, games and other ideas.

And then some

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Packing light. Our first trip to visit family after the baby was born we packed the entire car, and the trunk, then realized that our dog was supposed to come with us and had to take a second car to fit all of us. (We have a great dane) We learned how to pack light. My tip for you is to pick out an outfit for yourself that you will wear each day you will be out of town. Then bring an extra shirt just in case you get spit on, or worse – a diaper situation.

For baby clothes I recommend packing:

  • 2 outfits per day, if you have a situation of blow outs or food spills, you have options. Perhaps bring 1 sweater if you are worried about weather changes, depending on the climate of course.
  • 1 pair of shoes for the baby, which you will probably not even put on them unless its winter time or if you have a toddler.
  • Enough diapers for 2 days, if you are staying longer then that, you can always buy more.
  • 2 blankets and 2 swaddle blankets, a black out curtain because it helps baby sleep better in a blackout place when everything is so exciting in the new environment.
  • We always end up shopping for baby clothes or for ourselves when we travel and it’s great when we plan properly and have enough space in our luggage to come back home with new stuff.

Usually between my husband, myself and our baby we have 1 carry on luggage, 1 diaper bag (I use this one) and my purse, if I expect us to go out without a baby I will sometimes bring a clutch. If we are traveling and staying with family/friends/ or airbnb we will often bring a “kitchen” bag with our french press, some ground coffee, some food for us when we get in and snacks for the road.

I talked about traveling with an infant by car in a different post you can read here.

Chinese food. After a couple of trips that made our arrival very stressful (mostly because we were too hungry and tired to decide on food choices) we decided to make a new family tradition. When we arrive at our destination we order Chinese takeout. When it’s daytime, which is rare because of how we schedule our drive time, we go to our favorite coffee shops for lattes and pastry. Chinese take out in Danbury, CT is still our favorite out of all we’ve had. We ended up eating Chinese take out 3 times that weekend.

 

Do you have any family traditions when you travel? Perhaps a special take out or hang out spot or a favorite movie to watch? Comment below, I’d love to hear what you do!

5 tips to keep a clean house

Have you struggled with keeping your house clean and organized ALL week and ALL the time instead of just only the day that it gets cleaned?

I’ve been there and lived through it! In the last year I made it a goal to live in a decluttered house and keep organized! It does good for my soul! So here are my 5 tips that have proven to work for me every single day, making sure that if someone stops by my house I am not embarrassed to welcome visitors!

  • Make the bed firs thing in the morning. This needs to happen before you get dressed, sometimes before you go down to get a cup of coffee. If you run a little behind or the kid(s) drive you crazy, just make sure it’s done before you leave the house! I think that having a made up bed is SO important for your mind! It just starts out the day with the mindset of get it done and it certainly pays off!

 

  • Open the curtains as the second thing in the morning. Ok, so this one I do after I have my coffee made, but definitely most often it’s while I am still in my PJs hanging out with baby R in the living room waiting for the caffeine to kick in. We have curtains in our house and I absolutely love the character curtains bring in! At night we close them for privacy since we live in a neighborhood with people walking on our street in the evening, but in the morning there is just something about opening curtains and having the light flow into the room that wakes you up for the day! It’s a gesture of being ready for the day, even if the coffee isn’t working yet, I always find that my mind is accepting of the day’s work load ahead and I usually accomplish more!

 

  • Distribute household chores between the days of the week. It seems so simple, but this one was the hardest for me to get into a habit of doing. I grew up in a family where Saturday was cleaning day, the kind of day where the whole house is turned upside down and every corner cleaned with dust bunnies picked up from under the bed. I sometimes will still do that, but mostly when I am dealing with some sort of frustration and cleaning helps me clear my mind. Having a chore assigned to each day allows you to have 30 minute cleaning sessions a day (a lot of times less then that) and your work load is much lighter to keep everything looking good throughout the week. For example, Monday is when I clean the bathrooms. So I don’t do any other house work except bathrooms and it feels very manageable. If you need to combine days, move things around, it’s all flexible of course, but having a day dedicated to a room or a chore is definitely what helped me!

 

  • Laundry. The enemy of every mom? The least desired task in the home ever? I remember a woman once told me she hates doing laundry so much she will go out to buy new underwear and clothes just so she doesn’t have to do the laundry. Now, that is wasteful in my opinion, it probably takes more time to drive to the store to pick out a new outfit then it would take to do a load of laundry and fold it into the closet! I have experimented with doing laundry all in one day and then leaving it all to be folded on a different day, or having to do it all at the same time and all in one day (yikes!) but what I found that works best for me mentally and physically is spreading it out. Here is what I mean!

I split the laundry into 3 categories: all whites (which basically includes towels and bedding), gentle cycle clothes (typically baby clothes and dress shirts), and everything else.

I spread out laundry over the week days, for example on a day that I don’t have a lot of house hold cleaning to do I do 2 loads of laundry, so the total amount of chore time is still the same day-to-day. On a day that I have more work – like cleaning the floors, I focus on doing 1 load of towels, which usually is run while I do the floors, and then I fold them and put them away after. Since it’s towels usually it’s the fastest to fold and put away as far as any laundry item.

The most helpful tip for me when it comes to laundry is putting it away within 24 hours of it coming out of the dryer. I find that if I don’t do it the same day then it will probably not get done for a while. The best thing you can do for yourself is build in time for tasks like laundry so it feels less overwhelming and very manageable.

Clothes that you see in your closet will get worn, clothes that are put away into your closet will keep better in long term then being tossed into a wrinkly pile in the corner of the room, and clothes that are easily accessible in your closet will save you money to not have to go search for new things at the store to avoid laundry days.

  • 5 minute check at night. You can create your own name for this part. In my opinion how you start the day and how you end the day is THE key to cleanliness and organization of your home!

At the end of the night before I go upstairs to get ready for bed (or just get ready for bed when you don’t have a multi level home), I take 5-10 minutes to just straighten things out. I have a hard time putting into words but you all know exactly what I mean.

It looks exactly like the 5 minutes you take to make your house look good when you get a call that your in-laws are coming over or your husband is brining a colleague over after work. It’s the 5 miraculous minutes it takes to take your house from a complete mess covered in toys, pillows in the wrong spot of the couch, and random shoes on the floor to a presentable home establishment.

Except, this time you take 5 minutes to do it for YOU! So that what you wake up in the morning to come open the curtains and let the sun into the home, you will find peace when you turn around to face your living space picked up. It gives me hope and energy for the new day and it jump starts my next productive day.

 

Let’s have a quick reality check here. Is my house perfectly squeaky clean all the time? No. I wish! Is my laundry all done on time every week? Nope. But I am ok with that! These 5 rules I created for myself to help me keep accountable and get things done in a timely manner. I am not perfect and when I slack off and things don’t get done it’s hard to get back into the flow. When my system works however, I am at my happiest and I am in my best mindset to be there as a wife, mom, friend and business owner.

I hope you find this inspirational to strive to change 1 thing at a time to a more organized life and home. Don’t strive for perfection, make it a goal to becoming better over time.

 

L.

5 Nursing BRA Reviews

I know I am not the only mom who had a hard time finding a good nursing bra. If this is for you lady, then keep reading – I’m talking my personal experience with nursing bras!

Since I had the baby I feel like my rib cage expanded and its wider, my cup size increased and the shape of my breast changed. As frustrating as it is, these are all normal things to experience for a nursing mama.

When I look for a good bra I look for: support, comfort, underwire, no uniboob, no back boob, reasonable price, refund policy (just incase), soft material but also thick enough not to show nipples though. Sorry if it’s tmi, but those are important to me. When I look at a company, I want the best return policy, just in case and remember its always a good idea to get professionally measured at 2 months postpartum and at 6-9 months postpartum.

But in case you are a DIYer girl, here is a link to see a video on how to find out your size. 

Sleeper bra

My first nursing bra was from Amazon. A still use it as a sleeping bra, its soft and gives me good support during the night, but it’s not enough during the day. The material feels nice, it handles the wash well, I bought the pink one and its lost some color since washing it but I still like it. During the first 2-3 weeks this served as a good transition bra for me. Ultimately it’s not a fantastic fit for the day look because I didn’t find enough support for during the day and this one has a thin material that would show nippling.

Demi Cushioned from Motherhood Maternity 

This is my favorite when you want a seamless look. It is easy to wear under clothes that show lines and lace material through, also any see-through type shirts, this bra is great! I find that it runs small, I would order a size or two bigger then what you normally would wear. The band tends to be very tight so order a size up again. The material is soft and it wears well. This is my favorite bra from Motherhood Maternity and the only one I’d recommend. (I tried 4 from this store)

Jessica Simpson Underwire Bra 

The only thing I like about this bra is the price. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give it a 6. It’s not bad, I still wear it when I need to, but if it was gone out of my closet magically I wouldn’t miss it. It is underwire and the cup material is thicker then I’m used to. What I don’t like is how it shows the lines of it under clothing – especially if it’s a smooth material top. A perk of this bra is that it gives you rounder-ish shape and the shape of the cup stays just the way it is. So if you feel like you need to have the girls stay in nice shape, this will be a good fit.

Third Love Underwire Nursing Bra

This bra definitely impressed me. I had my eye out for the regular line undergarments this company has, and when they came out with a nursing bra, I jumped right on it! I think this one runs a size smaller, but the best part is that you have 100% satisfaction guarantee, they take good care of you! You have to click the link to check it out but I just love the front clasp and the softness of the cups. This bra fits me best out of all of the ones I’ve tried. No side boob, no back cleavage, no weird tight spots anywhere, so it has my vote! When I got the package I love the little tag that says “the best bra is the one you never think about” – what a great moto to have!

Heidi Klum Lace Bra no underwire

I called this one my sexy bra. For the first few months motherhood is so far from glamorous. Spit in clothes and hair, dry shampoo, showers once a week or sometimes two times a day, diapers upon diapers, and just so much pulling and tugging on your body that it’s hard to remember that you are a graceful, beautiful creature underneath that new title mommy. About 4-6 weeks postpartum is when I found this bra and it made me feel all womanly, feminine and sexy again for the first time in what felt like ages. I love the lace and how soft it is! I love the lace detail even when you pull the side down to nurse – that’s probably my favorite thing about it! There are about 5 extra clasps at the end so it accommodates your body changes and the fact that you can loose weight and this bra transitions with you! Heidi sure know what she’s doing with this design, comfort and function! This is my second favorite bra out of these 5!

 

I hope you found this review helpful! This is my personal experience, so take what you need.

P.s. I tried some bras from Target and Walmart and had really bad experience. They didn’t properly, fell apart quickly and just didn’t work for me. You know, the kind of bra you put on and immediately it sounds like you need some wd40 to oil up those corners (or whatever is making that squeaky noise every time you move an arm).

10 things I wish I knew about breastfeeding

Pain

I loved my pregnancy journey and really enjoyed my breastfeeding journey with my now 9 months old baby. I am still exclusively breastfeeding and I love the bond it created between my baby and I. At the same time I know that not everyone is able to breastfeed and that means that their baby will love them just as much as they would love their momma anyway, the bond you will have or already have with your baby is going to be strong no matter how you nourish your child. I am simply sharing my own experiences.

These days there are many resources available online and at different medical facilities. Maybe you are like me and found it too overwhelming and simply too much information. I was feeling the hormonal changes right away and it resulted in a heightened ability to worry, not that I needed this one to be a side affect of pregnancy.

When I read up on breastfeeding and almost everyone was saying how painful it was. I was expecting pain, naturally. However, it was far from truth for me. Baby and I had a rough beginning of our breastfeeding experience and once we both learned what to do it was a breeze. Sometimes I was uncomfortable, sometimes I had sore nipples during a growth spurt where my baby was attached to me for what felt like 20 hours out of 24, but nothing that lasted and a little bit of nipple balm wouldn’t fix. If you are expecting your first baby and don’t know what to expect with breastfeeding, I hope this gives you some comfort, your experience may not be painful at all.

NICU baby

My birth plan was simple: delivery a baby into the world in the healthiest and safest way. I certainly did not plan on sending my newborn to NICU, but he was born with a swollen head and a high fever. I barely had a chance to hold him but for a second as they pressed him against me and then took him away.

NICU experience significantly influenced the initial bond and made it harder on our nursing journey. The nurses at the hospital were great and do what they need to make sure that the babies are safe and recover. When I held my son for the first time he was recovering wonderfully and had a pacifier in his mouth. I don’t believe he needed it, and if I am ever in that situation again I will make sure to ask that they don’t give a newborn a paci. When I held him and tried to latch him on he would just fall asleep, as he did with the pacifier. The nurses were trying to help and kept trying a few times every couple of hours. I was given a nipple shield when he still wasn’t latching on, and that’s when we had first success.

If you plan on breastfeeding, my advice is to avoid the paci before you have a chance to teach the baby how to latch on, and definitely DO NOT use a nipple shield if you don’t need one. I did not need it and using it actually hurt me and gave me a lot of soreness (also because they gave me a size too small). Once we started out this way, my baby would not latch on by himself without the nipple shield. We kept working at it and I was honestly starting to hate it and was praying for a change.

Day 7 was amazing. Baby boy decided he was done with the shield and wanted to latch on by himself. My discomfort was gone and it became so much easier for both of us. Maybe it was because my milk came in by that point and he wasn’t getting enough, I was just happy to throw that nipple shield away. Did you have to use one? Was breastfeeding successful for you after having your baby in NICU?

Education

The first thing you will teach your baby is how to eat. I think that’s so incredible! I love that my body was made for this and is doing the job of growing this baby boy into a little moving crawling chatty curly head of hair! If you’re like me you were probably worried about some things and started to read books.. Well, that didn’t last long because I became more overwhelmed while doing research on how to educate and help my baby become the best learner. Now he is 9 months old and I think he’s doing amazing. I trust my intuition, I always have, and I know that no matter what I will always do my best trying to take care of him. That’s basically what we all do right? Just our best effort at screwing up the least while being super sleep deprived, hormonally unbalanced and hungry most of the time.

I certainly didn’t expect to have to teach my baby how to do this eating thing. After about 2 months he really got good at it and didn’t need much assistance in latching on or nursing in general.

Professional help

I had great advice from mom friends who were also nurses or in the medical professional field. From the beginning a couple of them recommended to talk to a lactation specialist at the hospital and after we came home. It was excellent advice and I am so glad I listened! Maternity nurses are great and I loved mine, but the most help and guidance I received was from a lactation specialist; and trust me I needed it!! Every hospital should have a lactation specialist and it’s often free. My baby was in the NICU for the first 10 hours of his life and we did not have skin to skin right away, more on this below, so it really made a difference in talking to professionals to help me figure it out when I was already exhausted from labor and worried about my baby’s health especially if they didn’t let me see him right away.

Another cool thing was going back to get help at 2 weeks and then at 2 months. They helped me measure how much the baby took of my milk at one feeding, it was really helpful since I was not using a bottle.

Bras

Buy a really good, even if very expensive, nursing bra right away! First of all, can Victoria Secret finally come out with a nursing line?! Because we ladies need good support and pretty bras after the baby too. I had a hard time finding a bra with the perfect fit, comfort, function and sexiness. I believe those are all key to a good nursing bra!

I ordered a couple soft nursing bras on amazon to go into my hospital bag and I still use them, but they’re back up only at this point. My favorite nursing bra right now is from Third Love, they just came out with one literally within a couple weeks ago and I love how fast mine came in the mail. The fit is perfect, there is a clasp in the front, and I wish I had it from the beginning of my breastfeeding journey! I also LOVE this one from Heidi Klum collection, so far Heidi’s collection is my favorite and I only wish there were more options with an underwire bra. My advice – buy a good bra right away, it should be so comfortable that you never have to think about it.

Changes

I wish I knew the changes my body would experience. But then again if I really knew everything that would happen I am not sure I would have gone through with having the baby pushed out of me thing… Right?

Two months postpartum I had one really really rough night. I was trying to nurse, my baby was obviously hungry, he kept crying and wanted more but I knew that there was no more milk for him. I was getting so frustrated, I was sobbing, emotional hormonal mess, and really sad that this may have been the last time I would breastfeed my baby boy. We just got good at it and now my milk is gone? Well, we survived the night, and in the morning I went to the lactation specialist extremely worried. We live 2 blocks away from a hospital, so this was very convenient! She was very helpful and encouraging, so many more reasons to seek help from a professional. We weighed the baby before he ate and after, he took in 4 oz, and I still felt like he wasn’t getting enough. What I learned is that right at that mark of 8-12 weeks postpartum boobs change, basically, they don’t feel full all the time like in the first weeks and when baby is going through a growth spurt at 2 months there isn’t enough for him to drink, but its so important to keep breastfeeding him extra (even if it feels like 24/7) because it will help communicate to your body that it needs to produce more.

When you feel like your body is failing you, push thru! Your body will go thru so much in such a short period of time, but it’s designed for this! We are going 9 months strong through every step and challenge.

Milk blisters

I wish that I still didn’t what these were! Yikes. I know you will probably just google it, but trust me it’s not good, not comfortable and definitely painful. Essentially it is a thin layer of skin that covers one of the openings on the nipple so milk can’t come out and results in a clogged milk duct.

One morning I woke up and I knew my breasts were more full then usual, I knew I had a clogged milk duct but it didn’t go away after baby nursed. I also started to feel very sharp pain in my nipple and knew something was wrong. After about 4-6 hours it wasn’t going away and I consulted google. After trying absolutely everything on the list of recommendations nothing worked, so I used a needle to basically break the skin and everything went back to normal within five minutes. If you have more questions about my experience and want more details just message me, this is not a fun experience to go through!

Mastitis

I wish I knew what to do to avoid mastitis from the beginning. Sure, I read up on what helped others, but honestly, there is so much to keep track of I just wasn’t paying attention. (This is where professional help is super!) I wish I knew to make sure that I was pumping and switching sides regularly to avoid being too full. After mastitis hit me once, I was really paying attention to what my body was feeling like and it was easier to take care of the early symptoms.

I hope it doesn’t affect you. It’s so painful!

Pumping

My worst enemy.

Some of my dear friends are exclusively pumping and I applaud you! Seriously, it is such hard work and so much dedication to push through and provide nourishment for your baby. My boy hates the bottle, even at 9 months he will still not take it, so I stopped pumping around 3-4 months because it would just go to waste at the end.

I was still able to create a good freezer stash using this awesome silicone pump, and I believe that if I got my hands on it from the beginning I could have avoided some overflow issues and probably mastitis too… You can read more about my freezer stash without pumping here.

Now when I try to pump with an electric pump 6 months postpartum and after, I just run into issues and pain. I also could never get much out that way anyway, so I just stopped and put Medela into storage. (has anyone else experience this?)

Comfort

What I didn’t expect at all is having this need to take care of my baby and feed him. Sometimes after a bad day full of unexpected or everything going wrong I would just hold my baby, nurse him in the rocking chair and everything would feel so much better. Maybe it’s the hormonal mess of a mother’s life, maybe it’s the true mystery, I still find breastfeeding comforting and very calming to my soul. I’m not the only one in that right?

 

 

I hope that my story is helpful to someone else, I believe we all experience the same things but receive them differently and thats absolutely ok! If you’re taking care of feeding your baby you are a super star in my eyes; and if you are exclusively breastfeeding – I feel ya!

xx

L.

Breastfeeding: 5 things that helped me with milk supply

Increasing my milk supply is hard. I think ultimately it all has to do with genetics, stress levels and on the baby (what kind of feeder/eater baby is). I certainly remember doing all kinds of research in the beginning to find out what would help with my supply; now that baby and I are getting pretty good at this feeding thing and I hope my 5 tips may help someone who’s looking for ideas.

I no longer use a pump and I stopped building a freezer stash as of a few months ago. Around month 4-5 I decided that I will continue to breastfeed as long as my baby wanted, introduce foods and let him try everything he wants. I stopped stressing over it and have felt much better about our experience of feeding, since then its been great for me and the baby since he’s growing longer every doctors apt!

Breastfeeding a hungry little dude is a lot of work! This past weekend our little family went to Long Island, New York, and half way through our trip I started to worry about my supply changing mostly because Rollo wasn’t eating as much as he did at home during the normal routine. He ate more solids on this trip and even took some water from a bottle.

I’m sure every baby is easily distracted at this age, it seemed like everything is more interesting then me and eating is hard now, again. I am not sure if I’m the only one experiencing this with my baby at 7-8 months old, I literally have to hold his head, sometimes his legs and arms too, and even cover his head with a swaddle blanket because otherwise he’s too interested in stuff around the room or where ever he is.

I plan to breastfeed until 12-14 months, depending on how long he would like and how it goes with weaning him. It’s a little selfish too, because we have a big 3 week trip planned when he’s 12 months and I don’t want to make a big change like weaning him before then, making it easier on me to comfort him on a long plane flight (like more then 12 hours long) and bribing less food and formula for the trip when I’ll be focusing on less luggage.

If you have tips on traveling for that long with a baby and what to bring on a plane for a 1 year old, please let me know in comments below!

Coming home this week I went back to what works for me to increase and upkeep milk supply. I know there are tons of milk supply cookie recipies out there, so I will not include that here because that’s not always my go to.

  1. Water! I know, duh! But it really works! At home on a regular basis I drink 100-125 oz of water every day. I literally measure it because otherwise I won’t drink enough. I notice a huge difference in my supply once I started to drink 100 or more oz a day. Since then I’ve been drinking water and visiting the bathroom like when I was pregnant. Added benefit – my skin is feeling great, smooth and hydrated. This time I also added some coconut water to add the hydration to my body. Somehow when I’m traveling I end up dehydrated.
  2. Tofu. Ok, so this has been my go to for increasing my supply anytime I get worried. About 3 months postpartum we went out and I had agidashe tofu, it’s usually served as an appetizer at a Japanese restaurant. The next day I noticed a huge increase in my supply and ever since then it’s been my little secret weapon. I also have used tofu in my cooking at home, and I can link a few recipies if you ladies would find it helpful, it can be hard to eat if not seasoned well because the taste is so different. IMG_1228
  3. Muesli. I love this muesli from Red Mill brand, it’s what I have for lunch or breakfast every morning at home. I add blueberries or raspberries to my muesli with some almond milk and it’s so refreshing on a hot day! I noticed how my milk supply started to be very consistent once I added this mean into my day. I don’t know why exactly, but it must be all the different grains in it! I also know it works because when we travel and I don’t have it for a few days I notice a difference. IMG_1166
  4. Increase feedings. I think babies know home and their own bed! My baby boy certainly loves his bed and will sleep best at home in his own crib. I’m very protective of his sleep, and when we come back from a trip he always takes a day or two to recover. He usually takes an extra nap during the day and an extra hour per nap. It works great for me because I can unpack and get stuff done at home. I add in a couple more feeding sessions during the day to help increase my supply. I don’t pump anymore, unless it’s super necessary, and I feel like making my baby nurse actually increases my supply more then if I was pumping. We both enjoy the extra cuddles after a busy weekend. IMG_1454.JPG
  5. Sleep. Maybe it’s me, maybe its the stress levels, but I find that after a weekend trip, or any trip with the baby, I need a LOT more extra sleep to catch up. I find that sleep and rest, maybe a bath or a massage – whatever helps to relax and catch up to a peaceful state of mind – helps me SO much with letting my body do what it needs to! So make someone baby sit if you need to, and rest up!

 

I am no expert, I am not a specialist, just a mom who tried different things via trial and error until I found what worked for me and my baby and my body.

Best of luck to you if you are in the fight to breastfeed your little one. It’s a good fight to be in, and many of us win in the end and get the hang of it! Keep up the good work mama!

L.

Mind Battlefield

The last couple of weeks I feel like I’ve been attacked and hit with so many grenades of the insecurity kind that I feel compelled to share with you ladies some thoughts on the subject.

Why are we, why am I, so negative and shameful towards my body?

All our body ever does is carry us through life, give us babies, feed the babies, give comfort hugs to those near us, waves hello, gives goodbye kisses, and welcomes home our loves ones. It protects, strengthens, comforts and loves on everyone else, so why don’t we do the same and protect our body by treating it properly and dressing it with respect and grace it deserves. Why not take time to strengthen our body at the gym, by going for a walk, eat proper fueling nutrition to give it power to keep going. Take time to comfort the body to let it heal, like after giving birth for example, and let the body rest on a regular basis (this one is hard for me, I tend to go and go until I’m really hurting) and take a day out of the week for a sabbath – no hard work physically or mentally.

After all the love our body gives to the husband, kiddos, hugs our friends, and pet the fur babies, I strongly believe we need to find time to actively love our body back. For me it means mani/pedi on a regular basis, sometimes a massage or a bubble bath with some alone time. The biggest fight in actively loving yourself, in my opinion, has to come from your mind. This battle every woman has to fight on her own and woman, I FEEL you these past few weeks. If YOU have been fighting in the battlefield of the mind against the weapons of insecurity and loneliness, I am with you.

You are not alone in the fight.

You are not alone because we, all and every woman, feel you.

You are not alone because God is there to catch every tear and hold your hand through every valley to help you walk out of that battle. Remember, you may not win every battle, and its ok because you just need to focus on winning the war. And I believe that you can and will win the war, you will build your self esteem, self love and self worth; you can do that by arming yourself with the strength of God, His love for you, His healing words and the perseverance to push through.

I am an introvert, it may be hard for some to believe that – but I am, I am just a very social introvert. When I am experiencing these attacks and the struggles I tend to close in and not share my thoughts and feelings with anyone, and let me tell you, it’s harder to get through when you’re dealing with it alone. So, find a friend or someone who loves you and will help you through the process. Talk to God in a way that works for you and you will find that your battle is almost over.

From one girl to another,

Luba

 

 

 

I am a woman before I am a mother.

Today is Mother’s Day. You would expect that I would be thinking about what it means to be a mom and how motherhood changed me. But it’s not what I am thinking about.

I have been a mom for five minutes and I feel like I still have so much to learn! Every day brings new joys and new learning experiences, new opportunities to learn about myself and about my baby. One day I hope to be like the mom my children can adore and see Jesus through every word (thats hard for me), and every eye roll, and every hug and every tear.

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I am every woman. I am a mother. I live postpartum. You may see the depth of my eyes and the strong love for my baby, but what I see is the body that carried that baby, the wide shoulders that still carry that baby and won’t let me wear my old clothes. But he needs me.

This past week my thoughts have been consumed by more insecurity and negative thoughts of my body, my wifery (if that makes sense), and the way I am doing this motherhood thing. Today I am thinking of WHY. Why is it that some days I am not able to see past the imperfections of my body and feel proud of what the stretch marks mean, and feel proud of the wide shoulders and strong arms that carry a big baby boy around all day long?!

Why is it that some days I am not able to see past my questions and struggles as a business woman to confidently help others?

Why is it that the emotions and insecurities I used to struggle with as a teen are not going away? Maybe this one you also feel with me.

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I will choose to put my trust in God and take photos like these to remember that I am loved and I need no further reason to get dolled up, more often then I do.

Every time I share my thoughts with a woman or a teen girl, a mother, a sister, a grandmother, a married and a single woman, I find we all have something in common. We, a woman, each have the girl inside who is scared and wants to be loved for who she is, especially on the days when she can’t love herself. I feel like a lot of my adulthood revolved around either hiding this girl or pleasing her need to sulk in loneliness.

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I am not going to let the negativity stay. Every one of my fat cells belongs to a beautiful baby boy right now. And I feel like this picture can summarize my joy and my pain all in one. Because with every imperfection I am reminded that God loves me first, He made me in His image, by honoring my body I honor Him. Also, rolls made beautiful by lace.

Today I would to speak to that girl whom you like to hide, from one soul sister to another.

I am with you.

Let me hold your hand, look deep into your eyes until the human connection makes you teary, squeeze your hand a little and feel that lump in your throat that you’re unable to swallow.

I am with you. I feel your pains. I feel your insecurities. I see the imperfections in the mirror.

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I am here to tell you that you are beautiful, you are not alone and NO, you don’t look bloated, and NO, you don’t look 4 months pregnant. People don’t see what you see, they see the smile, the genuine laughter, the strong hugs you give that take your breath away a little, they see that bright lipstick, they see your hair curl and fall into your face, and they think its cute.

You are beautiful! Especially because it is Mother’s Day take a moment to love you, the real you. If you are a mother and if you are not, take a moment to hug that young girl who’s hiding deep inside, bring her out to the sunshine (even if its raining all weekend like it is where I am). Spend a minute with God and let His presence and truth fill your heart with hope. Because when you are filled with love only God can provide and truth only He can make true, you will be equipped to love yourself truly, be a better daughter, a kinder friend, and a more patiently loving wife.

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I teach women how to apply makeup, I love my job. To me there is a great joy in what I do because I am on a mission to make the world more beautiful one face at a time. When a woman feels good about how she looks, when she is equipped to be able to do her makeup the way that makes her feel beautiful, my job is complete. So, here is an open invitation. If you need that feeling, talk to me, find me, and let me help you find your way to beautify.

Take time today to beautify. I love that word because to me it brings hope. You can take anything and make it more beautiful! I believe God does that with every one of us! Start with your hair, do something special, not like every day, add just a little more mascara then usual, wear the good shoes and that dress that makes your body curve in just the right ways. (if you don’t have a dress like that talk to me)

Go out of the house, love yourself and go love on your mom. Bring her flowers with some good quality time.

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I am a mother now and I love things, but no matter how many things I have on my wish list, the best gift for me is spent with my baby when I don’t have to worry about taking care of anything else but him.

I am a mother now, but I am first a woman. I believe that if I am a better woman then I will also be a better mom. If you’re not a momma yet, take the time now to better yourself and prepare because that strength you will need later.

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I hope you will be inspired to be the best version of yourself, the woman God wants you to be. Set aside and fight insecurities! Encourage the woman next to you! Hug your mama extra tight tonight.

Love,

your soul sister.

 

P.s. Photos are taken by Delaine, a New York City photographer. It was a dream to work with her! Something you may never see, she really is good at what she does, is how busy and hectic that morning was for me, my hair wasn’t the way I wanted it, the dress I wanted to wear didn’t come in on time, and other stuff that just kept getting in the way of how I wanted to feel that day. So I put my good shoes on and wore a little extra mascara.

p.s.s. Blue shoes are my favorite. It’s the best statement color because it looks good on everyone!

My Americanized to do list

 

Two weeks ago I took an oath and became a citizen of United States. You can read more about my experience HERE, and see pictures from the ceremony.


When I was in college my two friends Scott and Eileen had a great time making fun of my accent and my immigration status. I was in the process of getting my green card at the time and they came up with a list of things I needed to do to become americanized. 


Here is my list:


Watch a football game  

The first football game I watched was super bowl 2013, we just moved to a new city and were newly married. One of our new friends invited us to a super bowl party and in a couple of weeks we will see him in Ireland where he currently lives. Also, our son was born on his birthday. I just liked the commercials that year, Beyonce was performing the half time show and it was my favorite one so far, I’ve seen 3 more super bowl games since then, and that year also had the absolute best puppy and horses commercials.

Drink a beer

I hate beer. I never liked the smell of it, so I don’t drink it, but the first time I tasted it was by accident actually. I was running Rochester Flower City Half Marathon 7 years ago and at one of the stops they were giving out beer instead of water. I almost choked on it because it wasn’t what I expected. Now I will only taste beer from a brewing company our friends started, even though I don’t think I will ever like beer.

Eat a cadbury egg

I don’t know why this one was significant. I just never tasted a cadbury egg or knew what the big deal was. So my first Cadbury egg tasting was during Intro to Psych class; I’m sure my friend Eileen brought them the next day after adding that to the list.

Attend a baseball game

I am not a huge sports fan and baseball is definitely farthest on the list. My first game in person was in Rochester NY with friends from Grace road church. I remember it was very cold, very long, and it was the first time I had Dippin dots ice cream. Turns out ice cream was better then the game and my friends had to explain everything to me.

Shoot a gun

The first time and so far the only time I shot a gun was in 2011. A good friend of mine took a bunch of us through some good training on safety and let us practice with different guns. Let me tell ya, I did some damage to the dirt in that field and took very memorable photos.

 

Go to a hockey game

Apparently there is a theme to becoming an American and it has to do with sports. I didn’t grow up with sports, its not something a girl does anyway, and even now I am not a huge fan of sports, but I have attended multiple sports events to support events, fundraisers and sometimes just because my husband wants to go. My first hockey game was in Binghamton, NY, with southern tier young professionals group in 2013. It was a great way to meet people in a new city and I haven’t been to a game since.

Visit New York City

 

The first time I went to New York to go to visit and not just drive through the city was in 2010. I went by myself via train, it was the most memorable time as the city was hit with a huge snow storm and it was very cold. I walked the streets for hours, window-shopped, did some actual shopping and caught up with good friends. My favorite part was going to see Wicked on Broadway and people watching. That trip was so important for me, I found inspiration to run in New York and I came back 4 months later to run in my first half marathon, I found peace and forgiveness, I let go of things that were causing me a great deal of pain at that time of my life. I don’t remember how many times I’ve been to the city now, but last time was 2 weeks ago for my baby’s 6 months birthday. It is one of my favorite cities and I will go back every chance I get.

P.s. Lately we have been using AirBnB instead of a hotel to stay in New York. It’s been the best experience ever. If you’d like to receive $50 discount on your stay via AirBnB comment below and I will email you a code to use!

I Am Immigrant.

I am a first generation immigrant.


Today is a big anniversary for my family and since becoming an American citizen 2 weeks ago I am doing a lot of reflecting on what it means and how I got here.


My family immigrated to United States as refugees 15 years ago, no one spoke English and the only person we knew was my uncle who moved to Rochester, NY a few years before we did and “invited” us to move also. I don’t know the official terminology, I just know you can’t simply move, you have to have someone sponsor you into the country. I was under 14 years old at the time so I didn’t need to go through interviews upon interviews my parents went through with immigration officers in Kiev, Ukraine and in Moscow, Russia. What I remember is leaving my childhood, my friends, my life as I had known it in a small town called Smila, Cherkaskiy oblast, and move to a country I only saw in Beethoven (the movie about st Bernard dog) and seen in pictures from the lives of Americans who visited our town.

Fun fact, we now live just feet away from Beethoven St and drive on it every day to get home. I do think about that movie often as it was my favorite for years, I really thought that it was exactly what life was like in United States. I just didn’t know it was called suburbs. Also, feel free to send me that movie on dvd if you find it, I can’t wait for my kids to watch it with me.


So many people from “back home”, as it’s not home and hasn’t been my home for years, thought and talked about America as the country with money and opportunity and money. The way I remember growing up, the memories I have, the good times and the bad times, I know all my memories are coming through the glasses of a naive girl who didn’t grow up with opportunity and felt alone most of her childhood. Maybe one day I will be able to talk about my memories of growing up but for now my heart is filled with greatfulness for what we have. Moving to united states at 14 years old where we were sharing a 2 bedroom half of a house with 8 siblings and an outhouse for the bathroom; if you didn’t catch that, it means no toilet inside the house. Fast forwarding 15 years later I am a wife and a mom living in a 5 bedroom house with 3 (three!!!!) bathrooms ALL inside. I learned the language, learned how to drive a car, got rid of my accent (mostly), earned a degree in English education, started a business, and married an African American who now takes me traveling everywhere.

Another fun fact. The first time I saw a black person in the actual person was at the airport, at 14 years old. I remember it at JFK, but I am sure we saw them on the plane also, I just probably don’t remember.


15 years is a long time. It feels like a lifetime because my life is so different now. Sometimes I wonder if I will even remember my childhood and life in Ukraine because I never think about it anymore.


This country offers so many opportunities for every single individual who will take it. There are so many second chances to get back on your feet after a bankruptcy or losing a home, you have a dream – and you have the tools to achieve it if you look for it. It’s the definition of hard work pays off, my parents are the example of that. We all had worked to get ahead in every opportunity that was given us, and I’m so thankful for the freedom to be able to do that here, in a country I am a citizen of.


My parents now speak English, own their own home, have multiple cars (they still have teenagers at home who drive). I was the first one out of my family to finish a bachelors degree and this year my brother is graduating with a PhD in Chemical Engineering, and another brother graduated college last year as a Ceramics Engineer. I can list so many things that my family has come through from good to bad, from food stamps to a life we have now, and I am greatful for every single person who made a difference in my family’s life through this journey.

It’s almost impossible to list every one – but I will do my best to tag you all on Facebook – thank you for your support, prayers, financial support, teaching me to drive, driving my family around when we couldn’t, and being a part of our story!


Tomorrow I will talk about my get americanized list – a list my friends in college created for me as I was going through the process of getting my green card. It’s a fun list for sure and one of the things on there is probably going to freak out my dad a little… if he reads this that is. So subscribe or stop in tomorrow!

I hope you enjoyed my stories and going down memeory lane. Even though I got everything on my list checked off, the things I am most proud of are the accomplishments I talked about earlier, the education, the travel, and opportunities to experience so much in America that I wouldn’t have otherwise.


Treasure our country! I say as an American now and it feels strange because I’ve never said “our” in reference to this nation; treasure the freedom and take every single opportunity there is. You owe it to all the immigrants who came here years ago and made it possible for your life to be on this continent.

I am immigrant.