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.

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Designer shoes for the best price!

I love shoes!

Seriously, LOVE them! With the baby my wardrobe simplified and now I find that shoes are my perfect accessory! I also love girl bosses who have a business, run the household and take care of a family! So today I would like to share with you a friend of mine who is in the business of shoes and making dreams come true.

So you know how you get ready for your wedding and you want those amazing shoes Maholo Blahnik shoes to wear as your something blue? I was that girl, but I couldn’t afford them. I know many girls have been there and have to choose between the dress, a couple extra guests on the list or the shoes! Maybe you are preparing for prom or a special occasion his summer and you really want to stand out, this may be the perfect option for you!

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Kristine thought of the girl who wants to be in the perfect shoe for the perfect occasion and started a business to make it easier! A designer shoe at an affordable price? Yes, please!

CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE WEBSITE & CHECK OUT THE SHOE OPTIONS FOR RENT 

There are so many different options for the perfect cinderella moment!

Click here for the Facebook page          &         Click here to see the jewelry and purses

Order the shoes for your next event, family photoshoot, birthday party or a date night out.

Here is how I wore the shoes during a photo shoot in New York:

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DISCOUNT: Enjoy 15% off when you mention this blog post.

PC: NYC photoshoot is done by Delaine, to get more information visit her website:  www.delainedacko.com

Do you have a business that services women and allows dream to come true? Email me for a collaboration and to be featured on my blog.

Stay fabulous!

xoxo

L.

Falling in love with Dublin

Ireland is the first country we traveled to as a family. My husband recently found out that he is 10% Irish  and another couple % from Europe, so this trip to Dublin was rather spontaneous. (we were originally planning to go to London until about 2 weeks before we left)

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We traveled via Aer Lingus and had a great time! It seems like Europeans are very family and baby friendly, which we just loved! We had a problem with our original tickets, so we purchased our ticket to Dublin from JFK a couple hours from departure, even so, we were seated first row (hello leg room!) next to another family. They also had a bassinet that attached to the wall so the baby can sleep in there. The family next to us used it, and we didn’t ask for one this time.

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Once we arrived, I was so tired! Of course the long weekend traveling prior to this flight, the packing and the over night flight, add the hunger and a baby to take care of.. and then we were picked up (we basically had a driver take us to our airbnb apartment).

and that’s when I fell in love with Dublin.

Just driving the streets towards where we were staying, the architecture, the buildings and the sun, it all made me so excited to be there!

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The thing is, since my husband is the Irish one, this trip was for him. What I looked forward to on this vacation was Paris – that was a gift for my birthday. (I talked about my birthday fails and crazies in an earlier post here) I was waiting until Paris and did not expect to have a good time in Dublin.

Then I fell in love.

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Let’s start with the apartment!

It just spoke to me. From the pictures online until we walked into the building, I was just mesmerized! It was a million dollar apartment, (probably worth more actually), in the best of neighborhoods, fully furnished, and the 25 foot high ceiling made me feel like I was in a museum.

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Opening the door into the apartment for the first time. And yes, he’s a great husband who carries my pink diaper bag.

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The photos do not do it justice. We later found out that this apartment is usually rented out to movie stars/producers when they come to film and stay for a few months at a time. It really feels like home.

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These incredibly large windows allowed for only the best light for a selfie!

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We’re standing in front of the door into our building. I miss saying “our building” because it really felt like a dream living there for a few days.
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The best was a french press and a fully loaded kitchen ready for us to use!

I’ll talk about our experience with airbnb in the next few days, but seriously, aren’t you convinced? (subscribed, or be sure to check in the next week or so to get a list of our top tips and must haves when looking at airbnb apartments to stay wherever your travels take you)

Then there was food.

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We found the cutest coffee station at the public market. It was across the street from our apartment every Thursday. This truck was an old ambulance car from the 50s in the south of France. They even showed us the pieces they left in the truck that showed its history. The espresso was as good as the story of their truck!

I love beef and Ireland is a beef country! We enjoyed some great food! (it is entirely possibly that on this trip I liked food better in Dublin then in Paris, and we had amazing food in Paris)

Restaurants we would recommend:

FX Buckley’s amazing meats! I had the best steak I’ve ever had, like ever in my entire life! They had an incredible selection of meat that was locally grown, or within the region. Rollo was so tired he ate some food and passed out for a nap, I laid him down on the seat/bench next to me for a long nap and enjoyed my meal.

Matt the Thresher  – this restaurant had amazing food and drinks selection and they were the most baby friendly. They were accommodating and had good space, especially for a big city restaurant; we were able to come in and have the stroller and a high chair next to our table, where in other places we couldn’t even bring the stroller inside because of lack of room. Our favorites here were french fries with truffle cheese and the beef stew pie.

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We left this beautiful city with nothing but good memories and a strong desire to go back.

Traveling with a baby certainly limits some places where you can go, but it didn’t stop us from having a great time. It rained on us, so we bought a rain cover for the stroller and went on with what we planned. The sun was out and we were so excited to enjoy this beautiful city and walked around for hours looking at buildings to see if there was anyone famous who used to live there.

Thank you for being so charming and lovely. I miss you Dublin.

Until next time.

L.

 

Picnic at the Eiffel Tower

Our recent trip to Paris was so fun!

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Naturally, you can’t go to Paris and not visit the Eiffel tower!

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Fun fact: my husband speaks french and has been to the country 13 times and not been even close to the tower. When we went together for the first time, and his 14th time in the country, I found a hotel with the view of the tower from our bedroom window, and made him go to visit! We climbed all the stars and took the elevator to the very top! He doesn’t think the tower is as ugly as he used to, but he’s still not a fan, which makes him the only human being I know who isn’t wowed by the Eiffel tower.

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We didn’t have a photographer following us around, so the photos may be a little blurry taken with my iPhone. In the end, we decided to leave the camera back in the States (it wasn’t a good idea because of what happened to the camera, long story), yet the memories we made mean just so much!

Back at home we have a bread guy. He lives on our street and sells bread at the public market. On Saturdays my husband walks over to his house to pick up french baguettes and pain au chocolat, they taste just like they do in Paris, which is basically the impossible right?!

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I love Rollo’s hair here! It’s so wild! 

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Fact: we ate bread every day. During this picnic we had a full loaf my husband and I ate and it was the perfect lunch! Because when on vacation calories don’t count right?

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The only pair of heels I brought with me. This trip I was so good at packing!!

There were soldiers walking around Champ de Mars and only days later it made sense since there was an incident at Notre Dame. With so many people out walking and hanging out near the Eiffel tower it was definitely noticeable that the security was increased significantly.

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What we brought with us to the picnic:

(stroller comes in super handy in this case)

  • Baguette
  • Foie gras
  • Camembert (one of my favorite cheeses)
  • Saucisson (my husbands favorite meat to eat in France)
  • White wine, my husband even chilled it so it was perfect!
  • Cups/dishes, thankfully our airbnb host had plates we could use.
  • A sheet. Yup, we couldn’t find a blanket so we ended up using a plain white sheet. It worked just fine and it was to be able to spread out on it.
  • Water – super important when it’s so hot out!

It was simple, but definitely enough food, especially since it’s our favorite snack/ hour d’oeuvres kind of food.

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I think I need to write another post with a list of places where I nursed my baby. It would be basically everywhere. So he was hungry here too.

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I hope you enjoyed some snapshots of our picnic and a glimpse into a Paris afternoon.

Whats your favorite food to take on a picnic? Does it change depending on what country you are visiting?

10 Must have toiletries for travel

I love traveling, as you can to tell by my IG and Insta stories. This year I have learned so much about myself and what my own needs are, not just wants, because my goal has been to declutter and take less stuff with me (in life and) as I travel. Going to places with a baby is fun, but also takes so much more space in your luggage so here are my absolute must haves when traveling.

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I do not compromise on skincare. When traveling through the dry air of the airport and the cool/hot/or just all together unstable conditions of the airplane air, it all takes a toll on your skin. Add the stress of packing and taking care of a little one at the same time – is calling for dry patches, weird skin issues and pimples. Anyone experience this before?

We just came home from being away for 10 days, car driving, airports, multiple countries and multiple flights. My skin has remained clear, clean and super soft just like I like it! So I am sharing what has worked for me!

1.Hand Sanitizer: I brought 4-5 with me on the trip to keep in every room and every purse! I used it on the baby, with diaper changes and especially throughout the airport on all of us!

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 Babyganics hand sanitizer in this small size is super key!  

2. Cleansing brush: this one is called Mary Kay skinvigorate cleansing brush, its amazing on the price and compatibility! No cords or extra space needed – battery operated and makes an incredible difference when washing face after a long flight! I personally love this purple color because its so fun, usually it comes in white, this was a limited edition color, and the best part – it’s only $50!

3. Jergens Natural Glow tinted body moisturizer. I am as pale as it comes, and for vacation I like to have a little glow. I love this body moisturizer because it gives a great color right away, within an hour or two of applying it – which makes it super convenient when you forget to put it on “on time” and want some color on your legs before you head out the door. (which has happened to me lots of times before).

Tip: for a clean look and seamless tan – shave, then apply moisturizer all over, then apply the fake tan lotion. Especially around the elbows and knees – it will take on the tint better and will look more even once it dries.

4. Men: My husbands 1 must have when traveling is the Mary Kay Moisturizer for men. It has spf and all the anti aging my man needs. Once he forgot to bring it with him on vacation and didn’t want to use my moisturizer, so he made me contact a local beauty consultant and have her drop one off for us at the hotel!

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5. My absolute favorite cleanser I’ve ever triedMary Kay Volufirm Foaming cleanser   The real reason I love this cleanser is because of how it foams when I use my cleansing brush with it! Also, it leaves my skin feeling so smooth and this tube is so big it lasts me a really long time, about 5-6 months!

6. Eye Makeup remover! In the photo I have the full size bottle in the back, because what I take with me is the mini, it’s just perfect size for my travels. (If you need the mini eye makeup remover for traveling and smart packing, ask me! I will often have a promotion where you can’t the mini for free when you buy 2 products)

I can’t say enough about this product, honestly the best makeup remover I’ve ever used!

7. Charcoal Mask – this is a brand new product for this company and I am SO in love! I think I have a new tradition now! As I am packing up to leave I put the mask on (because I am packing it will stay on longer then it needs to, but I am ok with that!) that way my skin is super fresh and clean to go! I even had my husband do it with me! So far this mask has been with me to New York, Dublin and Paris!

On a separate note – I saw a huge difference in my husband’s pores and blackheads, I keep my skin care regiment tight, so I saw a difference but not as big as on his face!

8. Night Solution and Volufirm Lifting Serum: I couldn’t decide which one to bring so I took both with me! These two products are my absolute must have for a night routine! After I wash my face I apply the lifting serum and then the night solution serum. The vitamins and the boost is incredible! I see such a huge difference if I stop using it just for a day or two. A lot of women comment on my porcelain type skin, and honestly these two are the reason for it! I swear!

The lifting serum is the most expensive skin care item I am using right now but I think it is the one that makes the biggest difference in the elasticity of my skin and the youthfulness!

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9. Eye Cream: I LOVE this eye cream because of the cool metal tip – it calms the skin down and allows the puffiness to go down and to me that’s exactly what my eyes need after an over night flight with lack of sleep, jet leg and taking care of a baby tired.

10. Revealing Radiance Facial Peal: let’s talk about taking some skin layers off and doing a serious detox on your skin! I love this one as soon as we get settled into our apartment or hotel room. Nothing freshens up my skin better! I like to do this one at night just in case I have some redness and I leave it on my skin for about 30 minutes (which is more then you need to do) while enjoying a glass of wine and relaxing because that’s what vacation is about!

extra: my favorite deodorant right now is this one from Dove, I like how its easy to use and doesn’t leave white marks on clothes. I give it a thumbs up! Pictured in the above photo.

Another item I bring but not all the time is the Lip mask – allowing my dry lips to recover!

Here is the list of all of them again, click on the image for more details and a link is underneath for each product.

 

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!

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.

 

 

What we learned about traveling with an infant

Our first trip as a family was over Christmas and NYE to San Diego (from NY so it was a long flight), and our baby boy was just 2 months old.

Babies are more resilient then you think, so take your baby with you. Live the experiences. Our new mantra.

I was so nervous as a new mom taking my baby out into public, I’d cover him up (car seat cover that’s not see through), and people would ask me if there is even a baby in there. Now, after traveling on the plane, in the car, restaurants, malls and just everywhere I need to go, I can’t imagine not having him with me.

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Here are some thoughts my husband and I have about our personal experiences traveling with an infant.

Build in time for the baby’s needs: feeding, play, down time, tummy time, naps.

Don’t over plan, be picky about time you give to others and to your family.

When going to a place where there is going to be friends and family, be prepared for people touching your baby. I was not always prepared for this one, especially when it was extended family whom I didn’t know well and didn’t trust exactly.

You don’t need as much as you think you do. the first time we basically brought everything but the kitchen sink. It took us a few trips, like 5 or 6 before I figured out what we needed and never used.

You know your baby, he’s not like anyone else’s baby, you know what you’re doing, so take care of him the best you know how! This is personal to me, there are so many people out there, moms and not moms, who give baby advice but I know that its not all good, not all for me. Even though it is hard to filter, it’s necessary to keep my head sane from feeling like a real failure of a mom. My baby is awesome, and I will do all I can to take care of him. Especially applies when traveling. Period.

Make sure the baby has the shots appropriate to age done before the traveling. We found it helpful to talk to the doctor and ask advice about traveling locations and safety. Doctors have a network they can rely on to help you even when you’re out of town, as long as it in the US territory. I found it so comforting that if something happened to us on the trip our doctor at home could still help us out.

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Nothing happened to the baby on our trips, by the way, when we were in San Diego my husband caught the stomach flu, and we spent a lot of time in the hotel with him ordering room service, but baby R and I were great, and enjoyed lots of walks outside.