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.

Nixon family-177
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.

Nixon family-5
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.

The day I gave away my greencard

I became an American Citizen on Friday.

That morning I felt so frustrated, so alone and so rushed as I was getting ready for my ceremony. I even had a dream about my first half marathon race in New York. These feelings were similar, 7 years ago I ran my first half marathon in Queens NY, and after I crossed the finish line I walked away with a medal weighing heavy on my heart and felt my heart break with every tear that ran down my cheek.

It was such a big accomplishment, yet I felt so alone. There was no one there to witness this super important event, no one to cheer me on. My naturalization day came with similar feelings, except I invited friends to come, and they came. They responded, they texted and were present before I even I realized that I needed to be the one to invite them.

When your baby is asleep in your arms, but you have to take an oath to become an american. 


I gave up my citizenship of Ukraine on Friday. I gave up the country I was born in and grew up in. Today, I realize that for almost 15 years I tried really hard to fit in and be this American, which I wasn’t, be this person I thought an American should be. So who is this american that we all chase trying to become? Is it a dream that drives us as individuals to achieve, because in achieving THE dream we become the evidence of what this country is built on?

I was brought up valuing community; the people around you – they mean everything and share everything with you. The pain, the joy, the sorrow and the bliss. Everyone knows everything and you don’t mind one bit doing life with people all up in your business. Ukrainians value community, it’s not spoken of, but you know it when you go to a friends house for a baby shower and leave 9 hours later or when you have people show up at your house within hours notice, or no notice at all, and you all sit around the dinner table drinking tea until it’s 1:30 am and you can’t be late to work anymore, so they go home. I married an American and I had to learn this new way of doing community.

The American dream is about each individual achieveihg their dream life. Today I gave citizenship of the country I grew up in and I know in my soul that for me, being an American means to take the old and the new into the same melting pot and live from the lessons of the past. I didn’t have anyone come to cheer me on my first race because I didn’t ask, I felt alone because I didn’t let anyone in. Maybe I just needed a break from everyone knowing my business like when I grew up, but I am so thankful for the reminder to reach out, to ask, to let others know what goes on with me and invite them into my life.

That piece of paper is so important. It’s the one piece that you need that proves this day a reality.  Also, I wore the good shoes for the occasion. 


Perhaps later I can share with you more about what my American Dream is, but for now, I hope to make you appreciate your country, your origin, your ethnicity and your nationality. Be proud of where you come from and proud of where you are going. I hope to inspire you to think of what your dream is and take the reroute if your dreams have taken the back burner spot. Detours in life happen, but you can always turn around.

I feel blessed to have friends who either showed up, or responded to my invitation to come witness my swearing in ceremony. I feel freedom. I think that I will continue to experience freedom and learn its meaning in many new ways in the years to come, and very soon as I am rushing to get a passport for our first trip out of the country as all american citizen. As my country of birth has been at war and without peace for a some years now, I have peace, knowing that no new law or regulation or mistake can make me leave a place I know and now call home and the many people I now call family.

Taking a photo next to the county clerk and the judge, both of whom my husband knows from working together. Only to think that I wouldn’t have these photos if my friend Brigit didn’t show up with less then an hours notice ( love you lady!!) 


I will take lessons from both countries. I will be the dream chaser like a true American inspiration. I will be a gentle soul and a true friend or the community like my parents taught me to be, and I will do my best to inspire you to hug your close ones tight, be present in their life and get all up in each other’s business because that’s what makes us not alone, but a community.

P.S. here are some fun things that happened during the ceremony. The whole thing took about two hours, and if you have a baby, you know they will be hungry and need a nap and a diaper change within that kind of time frame. So I sat there, then nursed my baby without a nursing cover of my nursing friendly shirt, I rocked my baby gently to sleep for a 30 minute nap and he woke up just as my husband got there. That way I didn’t hold him in my arms as I went to get the official papers. And my friend who came with her baby got to experience the same thing and some baby talking on top of everything. We ran into a couple of people we knew in the court room and it was a memorable day as I shared this experience with 66 individuals from 47 countries. Also, I had to surrender my green card, which was my travel ticket for so long!

p.s.s. What’s your naturalization story?

My favorite diaper bag

We planned a spontaneous trip to NYC and I started to worry about how I would get around with everything I would need for the day with the baby. In the last week or two I have been eyeing this diaper bag and couldn’t get it out of my mind, so I ordered it with 2 day shipping.
Guess what?

Enter a caption


We got packed and ready to leave, then I had to come back to the house to get diapers that I forgot to bring with us, and then left the second time, and still no FedEx delivery. I was literally praying for the truck to show up on our street.

Guess what?

The truck shows up on our street a block away and we wave the driver to slow down and ask him if he has a delivery for us! So I got my big box and we kept driving to our weekend get away in NYC. After using this bag, I wanted to share some thoughts and give you all a sneak peak, I will update this post with a full review and more detailed pictures in a few days.


Let me start out with the fact that I am generally not a fan of diaper bags, at all. The idea is GREAT, I just hate how they all look – I’m a sucker for pretty things and this bag is SO adorable, functional, and large to fit everything! I like having a backpack for traveling and to make it easier if I have my baby in the carrier. My back is always hurting and it’s so much easier having hands free.

Pros:

  • Color: Pink or Charcoal – both so chic and sophisticated. I want them both honestly! (So if you want to send me one in charcoal, I’ll wear that one too!)
  • Large size: for traveling, for mamas with more then one kid – SO MUCH ROOM!
  • Large padded shoulder handles, they are soft and SUPER comfy!
  • Pockets within pockets: the way its organized is simple and allows you to fit everything and find everything easily.
  • Pockets and pockets: the outside pockets are so well positioned and easy to access while holding the baby and having the backpack on your shoulders. Because every mom is multitasking.
  • That hassle: so cute it deserves its own category.
  • Vegan leather: easy to wipe, clean and maintain. It got us through lots of rain.
  • Good price and quality.
  • Extra handles to hang on the stroller – visit the website to see an example.
  • Changing pad: I love that its padded, it matches the bag inside color and I don’t have to think to include one!

 

We’ve had lots of questions about this stroller and car seat cover. Scroll down below I included links for both. The stroller is currently on sale. 

Cons:

  • Size: its so roomy that for every day seems too big to carry around, this depends on personal preference and how much you carry with you as a mom.
  • Doesn’t have an insulated pocket for bottles/food. It’s the only thing that I really need in this bag to make it 100% perfect. (its so close!)
  • Changing pad doesn’t have a waterproof side to it. It’s still easy to clean and wash but I wish it was easier to clean with just a wipe if there is a mess, and we had one of those messes to clean up after already.

I hope that you find this review helpful and enjoy a diaper bag that can be function, fashion all in one! To shop for it click here: Greenwich Diaper Backpack  and if you get yours – tag me in it, I want to hear what you think of it and if your review would be similar to mine!

Stroller: Mutsy EVO – On sale right now

Car Seat: MaxiCosi

Carseat cover: MaxiCosi

Boots: Steve Madden 

Stay fabulous mamas!

L.