Happy First Birthday, Charlotte

June 2, 2018. After months of planning, the big day arrived so fast! I spent so much time and love setting up the house for our cat-themed birthday party for Charlotte. I had originally wanted to hire a party planner, caterer, send out 150 invitations and have pony rides for her birthday, but my husband talked me down off the ledge. Instead I opted for a smaller at-home gathering with close friends and family.

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Wearing the Fuchsia Rose Print Wrap Maternity Maxi Dress from Pink Blush in a size L. The fabric is super stretchy, so I sized down.

My maxi dress is one of my all-time favorite & most flattering silhouettes from Pink Blush. I wore a very similar dress for my baby shower and felt like a goddess. The 3/4 sleeve and wrap neckline was so easy to wear; I didn’t have to worry about tugging or pulling anything up. It’s vibrant print and flowy fabric kept me looking cool even though I was sweating from all the stress of throwing baby’s first birthday. It’s one of my new wardrobe staples and will look fantastic with a baby bump as a maternity dress, or post-baby as a nursing dress, or simply looking like a babe as an everyday maxi dress.

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The Birthday Girl herself in a onesie that says “I’m not kitten, I’m one.”

Like I said, it was a cat-theme for our Charlotte Adele Trottier (get it? C.A.T?) so I used ever pun I could think of…”let’s pawty,” “I’m not kitten, I’m one,” “Happy purrr-thday.” I also decorated with little cartoon cat faces, cat ears and pink and gold everywhere. I created a sweet table with a candy bar, cupcakes and a kitty cat cake and served pink lemonade.

They say it takes a village to raise and child and each person at the party had a big role to play in our lives during the last year. We’re so thankful for all the love and support. Charlotte is such a lucky girl to have so many wonderful people that love her so much!

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Kitty cat cake & cupckes. As delicious as it looks!

 

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Nothing beats a sweet table!
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Instead of traditional goodie bags, we did a “kitty adoption center” where kids could choose their own cat, name them & fill out details about them. Then, each kid got to take home their own stuffed kitty.
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The set-up for the cake smash where you can see the photobooth in the background.

All photos by Sandra Milioto. She is my fave Montreal family photog!

Decor: Amazon, DIY & Etsy (invites, kitty adoption center)

Charlotte’s headband is by Lily Love Creations, Tutu is by Bluishshoes are Kate Spade for Keds

Thank you Julie Kelertas for the cake & cupcakes. They were delicious & adorable!

Thank you Keikanne & Kareem for the birthday onesie!

REAL TALK: What was your child’s first birthday like? Did you go all out or opt for something more low-key? Let me know in the comments below!

My Thoughts on Thinx

Would you ever pose in your underwear? Would you ever pose in your underwear on your period? Yup, that’s what I did…When Thinx approached my mom group (Perfit Moms) with the opportunity to test out a pair of its patented “period panties,” I was totally down. Even if this meant facing some personal demons and letting it all hang out at a photoshoot with 9 other moms.

I love this picture! It’s for every woman that’s felt weird about their bodies. It’s for all the moms that are getting used to their new bodies post-baby. And it’s for everyone who has ever doubted themselves!

Warning TMI to follow…if you aren’t into period talk, then move on!

So immediately after this shoot, I got my 3rd post-baby period. The first two periods were awful! I’ve never been one to have cramps and I felt like I was in pre-labor. And they were the heaviest periods I’ve ever had…I ruined 3 pairs of underwear and decided to put on a leftover pair of Depends I had used after giving birth. I AM SO GLAMOROUS!

For my third period I wasn’t taking any chances. Our Thinx test couldn’t have come at a better time. If you’ve never heard of them, here’s how they work…depending on your flow (light, medium, heavy) Thinx period-proof undies can be a replacement for pads and tampons, or be worn as back-up with tampons and cups for extra protection against leaks and stains. Thinx hold up to two regular tampon-worth and keeps you fresh, dry and leak-free. It’s patented technology is made up of four layers: the first layer fights bad odors and wicks away moisture, the second is super-absorbant fabric, the third layer is a leak-resistant barrier and the fourth holds it all together. Plus, Thinx are light and thin so they feel like everyday underwear.

 

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I’m wearing a THINX Hi-waist panty in XL.

Here’s how they held up to post-baby period…AMAZINGLY well! In the past, I’ve always used pads because of tampon leak issues, but pads are bulky and stinky. I used a tampon with my Thinx hi-waist panties for the first two heaviest days of my period and had ZERO leak issues. On day 3, my period slows down quite a bit and so I just used the panties, without anything else. My period tends to go from heavy to light quite fast, so I was able to use just 1 pair of panties during the day, and then rinse and dry for night until the next evening. If you’re period goes from heavy-regular-light, then you may want to consider 2-3 pairs for changes throughout the day, or consider using a tampon/cup along with the panties.

Taking care of them is pretty easy. Rinse them first, then put them in a mesh laundry bag which will keep your delicates delicate, then cold wash and hang dry. Don’t use bleach or fabric softener!

In terms of sizing, their chart is bang on. I wear a 14-16 jean and the XL was perfect. Just keep in min that Thinx runs a bit more snug than regular undies. This actually works to your benefit because I find it kept me sucked in – period protection and a light slimming effect, HOORAY!

Also, did I mention how CUTE their underwear is? Like if I didn’t know any better, I’d think that these were super high-end! The mesh inserts on the side are sexy AF and the high-rise style accentuated my shape. Hubby will have no idea these are period panties!

REAL TALK: Have you tried THINX? What’s stopping you? 

Reflections on the First Year

Oh hi there! Have you missed me? Sorry I’ve been quiet but I’ve been busy planning the event of the year…Charlotte’s first birthday! I am in awe that my little nugget turns ONE of June 2. If you need a refresher of my birth story…read here.

I have a few outfits planed for various pre-bday celebrations for Charlotte, but this is the one I keep coming back to. I discovered Pink Blush while I was pregnant and absolutely loved the style and fit of their clothes. The maternity clothes showed off my growing bump, were feminine and actually COOL. Many of their pieces can be worn post-baby too, like this gorgeous floral kimono. So far this week, I’ve thrown it on over everything from jeans and a tee, to a sundress. I plan on wearing a printed maxi at Charlotte’s actual birthday tomorrow, so look forward to that post!

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This maternity kimono is so pretty! It’s lightweight, sexy and super feminine. I’m wearing an XL. It’s from my absolutely favorite online shop Pink Blush Maternity.

I never believed when other parents would say “they grow up so fast” but here we are in the blink of an eye. I still remember so vividly the feeling of Charlotte’s little hands grabbing my finger for the first time, then the warmth of her body when they put her on my chest and the smooth, fuzziness of her skin…sorry getting lost in thought (and in tears over here).

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How Charlotte and I spent the first 3 months together

I said to my husband the other day that I wish I could go back and do it all over again, just to be able to spend more time with her as a wee little baby. I tried the best I could to savour each moment with her, to be present in the moment and cement it in my mind. But as she grows and changes, new memories and moments take their place and memories of her lying on my chest, or falling asleep in my arms drift further and further away.

Growing up is bittersweet. Seeing your baby take a first step is momentous and exciting, but it also takes her one step further from being carried everywhere by mommy. Just one of the many opposite thoughts I’ve had as a mommy in the last year.
Speaking of mommies…The other day, in my mommy group, we went around in a circle and each woman shared what motherhood meant to her.

Here’s what I said:

“Motherhood is like a piece of your heart existing outside of your body. You entire happiness is wrapped up in one little person.”
“Motherhood is a secret society that I’ve been initiated into. Our secret handshake are the bags under our eyes and the love in our hearts for our kids.”

And you can definitely quote me on that!

Stay tuned for a post with all the birthday details…gotta go, still lots of decorating to do!

REAL TALK: How do you feel about your kid growing up? Does it make you want to cry? Or, does it make you excited for what’s to come next?

The Story of Us

I met my husband, Patrick, when I was 18 years old. We were set up by a mutual friend who thought that his two single friends would like each other. It was the days of MSN Messenger, and my blind date and I chatted for quite a bit and hit it off. We’d talk for hours about everything and nothing. But when we finally came face-to-face, it was NOT a love connection. He remembers that I wore red pleather pants, drove my parents Pathfinder and had platinum bangs. He also claims that I acted like a stuck-up-snob. I remember that his hair was slicked back with gel, had his shirt unbuttoned WAY too low, and he had on a thick gold chain. I thought he was a Tony Soprano-wannabe.

After that disastrous first meeting, our mutual friend kept us in the loop of what each other was up to, but I didn’t actually see Patrick again for about 7 years. Fast forward to 25 years old; Pat and I had just both gotten out of long-term relationships that sucked our souls, and the same mutual friend was tired of hearing us bitch to him about our exes and complain about being single. So, he suggested that we get together for dinner.

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One of our first pictures together – December 2010. We’re 25 here!

I remember Patrick being so nervous at dinner his hands were shaking. In his defense, I was a lot to handle back then…I was still recovering from a deeply traumatizing breakup and didn’t want to “commit”. Poor Pat! He was a sweetie from the start, but I was too caught up in myself to notice. I was mean to him, really, really mean. It still makes me cringe to this day! He had told me after a few months of dating that he was falling for me, but that fell on deaf ears. I’d boss him around, expect him to take me out and pay for everything, and then go out with friends after he’d drop me off. Finally, one night he had enough of my shitty behavior and broke things off. He didn’t just dump me, he dumped me HARD! He wouldn’t answer texts, phone calls, emails, messenger, Facebook…he iced me out. I deserved it, I was horrible!

I knew almost immediately that I had messed up and lost something really precious. Nobody had ever made me feel the way that Patrick did. I instantly regretted my actions and tried to make amends. But my stubborn guy wanted NOTHING to do with me. So, we both went our separate ways and ended up dating other people. His relationship got very serious and I was afraid that he had potentially met “the one” and I lost out. But, thankfully, girlfriend screwed up and Pat and I were found ourselves single again 6 months later. I BEGGED our friend to help me get in contact with Pat. I was relentless! Calling, texting, email, Facebook…finally, I got a text back from Pat that said “What do you want?” and I was elated. I begged him to meet with me, it would only be minutes of his time. He agreed and we went for coffee.

In my heart I knew that if he forgave me, then this would be the one for me. I knew that he was my person, I’d just been too stubborn to notice. It was because of the way he looked at me like I was the only one in the room. It was because of the way I always tried to make him laugh, and the payoff of his sparkling smile. It was because of the warmth of his hand on my back when he’d hold the door open. It was because of how completely and totally he understood me, the good and the bad, and didn’t bat an eye. It was because how everyone he meets instantly becomes his friend. And above all, it was because of his huge heart, a heart that I had hurt and needed to mend.

In that coffee shop, I apologized like I had never apologized before! I was groveling! Pat was stoic and didn’t give away an ounce of emotion. But I told him that if he gave me a chance, that I would spend the rest of my life making it up to him. He said, “We’ll see…”

That was September 2010. By June, we were living together. By December we were engaged. We married May 18, 2013, 5 YEARS AGO TODAY!

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The last 5 years of marriage haven’t been a breeze. In our first year, Pat’s Dad passed away suddenly and it devastated our family. All the stress of the first year of marriage, a new house that needed major renovations, plus dealing with such a huge loss and depression…it nearly broke us. Thankfully, we came out the other side. We learnt a lot that first year; like how to fight fair and when to give each other space.

We waited 4 years to have a baby and I’m so glad we did. It allowed us to be in a much better, more stable place – emotionally & financially. It allowed us to travel the world together – Paris, London, Scotland, Iceland, Costa Rica, Mexico and Caribbean. And waiting before becoming parents gave our relationship the time to mature. As we became parents, we started to learn how to not sweat the small stuff and how to maintain our own relationship outside of being Charlotte’s Mommy and Daddy. That is a work in progress. There are very good days and very bad days. The important part is that we are each other’s best friend, team-mate and life line.

So to my husband on our 5th wedding anniversary, I love you. You are my person and I’m so thankful that we’re in this together. Here’s to another 5 years…and at that time, I would like to have vow renewal in Jamaica please and thank you.

REAL TALK: SO MANY QUESTIONS FOR YOU ALL! How did you meet your spouse? What obstacles have you faced? How have you overcome them? What does marriage mean to you? I want to know everything…share in the comments below!

Interview with my Mother

It’s not until you become a mother that you fully appreciate your own mom. That’s certainly been the case for me. Franny, aka Franny Lams, aka Lambo, aka Mom/Mommy/Ma/Mother is a prominent figure in my life. She’s the big cheese, the boss, a larger-than-life tour de force. She’s always been my biggest cheerleader, my strongest advocate, the president of my fan club and my ride-or-die. I would not have survived my first year of motherhood without her guidance, support and love. So, as any annoying daughter would do, I asked her to talk about me and gave her less than 24 hours to come up with something meaningful. Here’s how it went down…

Tuesday, 9:01 PM

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Tuesday, 9:04 PM

Phone call to my mom

Me: Mom, I sent you an email did you see it? Why haven’t you answered yet?

Mom/Fran: You sent me an email? I’m doing my crossword, I have priorities. Let me look and I’ll call you back.

Tuesday, 9:07 PM

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Tuesday, 9:10 PM

Phone call to my mom

Me: Mom, I’m going to email you the questions now.

Mom: Wait, so you’re going to pawn off your blog post this week to me?

Me: Yup!

 

Wednesday, 9:00 AM

Calls mom x 2. No answer.

Wednesday, 9:01 AM

Calls mom’s cellphone x 3. No answer.

Wednesday, 9:02 AM

Facetimes mom x 2. No answer.

Wednesday, 9:03 AM

Mom sees my missed calls and panics. Calls me three times in a row. I ignore her until 12pm. Aren’t daughters wonderful?

 

Here are the questions I sent my mom about me. Get to know me through my mother’s eyes. Her answers may be a little bias 🙂

Q: When I was little, what did you think I was going to be when I grew up?

I thought you would be an actress! You were a natural performer and you loved attention from an admiring audience. Some things never change!

Q: Do you think I have more of your good qualities or bad qualities?

I think you have many of my good qualities – perfectionism, creativity, intellect, sense of adventure, empathy (shall I continue?) – and only one of my bad qualities – nail biting!

Q: What is the funniest thing I ever said or did as a kid?

Picture a 2-year old Jen, her hands on her hips and feet planted firmly apart, with a steely defiance as she locks eyes with me and proclaims:” I am the boss of me.” Didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Q: What was the most annoying thing I did as a baby?

You hummed when you ate: a low and not-so-melodic hum to indicate your approval of food. Annoying, but also a good indicator.

Q: What were my very first words?

I wished it had been Mamma or Dada, but it was “Ju”, which was short for “juice”, and you demanded this loudly, usually in public places.   

Q: What’s your all-time favorite picture of me?

Actually, it is a picture of you and your brother (yes, HE is in it), mugging for the camera during a photo session at Sears when you were 3 and he was about a year and a half. Both of you are laughing and, for a moment, seem to like each other (Mom award for diplomacy here, svp).

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I was likely trying to push him off the table…

Q: What is your very first memory of me?

Easy peasy: you were screaming only seconds after you were born, so the nurse lay you down beside me and you instantly quietened when I said, “Hello, there sweetie, did you have a good trip?” You opened your eyes and fixed your bright blue (bloodshot) eyes on me as you saw me for the first time. We just stared at each other; it was love at first sight (for me, at least!)

Q: What made me cry the most when I was little?

You thought it was most unfair when we went to ToyRUs to buy a birthday prezzie for one of your friends and you did not also get a gift.

Q: What made me laugh the most when I was little?

Fraggle Rock, a muppets-type TV show in the 1980s, made you laugh a lot. It also scared the beejeezus out of you!

Q: What was the nicest thing I ever said to you?

Since you became a mom yourself, you said you now understand various things I experienced as a new mom, including how intensely and instantly you could love your child and would do anything to protect her from the world. Told you so…

Q: What was the meanest thing I ever said to you?

If I was in the U.S., I would plead the 5th amendment. Mum’s the word here…

Q: What age (of mine) did you hate experiencing the most?

While all the years have had their “challenges”, the late teens and early 20s were a roller-coaster. Hang on for the ride or be killed. Sometimes I wished for the latter…

Q: What age (of mine) do you feel like we were closest?

Again, easy peasy: now!

Q: What is the worst part about being my mother?

Trying to keep up with your quick intellect, navigating your sensitive nature, and meeting your high expectations of me, yourself and others.

Q: What is the best part about being my mother?

Keeping up with your quick intellect, successfully navigating your sensitive nature, and meeting those expectations! Yay me!

Q: What’s the one thing you would have done differently as a mom?

Not lose your remaining piece of “binky” (Binky was my baby blanket) at a hotel in Las Vegas. Sorry…

Q: Do you think it’s easier or harder to be a mother now than when you were raising our family?

It is definitely not harder, but infinitely more complicated because of the volume of information available through the Internet. People share their experiences and their knowledge online, so when you can search questions or have doubts you can find a hundred answers or suggestions. We had Dr. Spock and a couple of books as resources. Child-rearing techniques and ideas have changed in the past 30 years, but you can still phone your old Mom for advice. Then you can go ahead and do whatever you think is right or what Dr. Google suggests.

Thanks Mom! I love you!

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REAL TALK: Has your relationship with your mom changed after getting pregnant/having a baby? Share in the comments below!

 

The Reluctant Chef

I hate cooking. I’ve refused, for the last 7 years of my relationship, to step foot in the kitchen to cook anything other than Kraft Dinner, scrambled eggs, or grilled cheese. My mom was much the same way. She claims to have only learned to cook once my brother and I started to eat “real” food. So at least my disdain for the kitchen runs in the family. My husband does most of the cooking, much to his chagrin. We eat a lot of takeout, prepared food (thank for Costco) and often hit up our parents for dinner.

I never thought that I’d actual enjoy cooking either. I rather do 138502 things other than cook. I find it such a giant waste of time – you clean, chop, sautee, bake for hours, and it takes 15 minutes to eat. Also, as a perfectionist/control freak, I find it SO frustrating when the recipe doesn’t turn out exactly like how it looks in the picture, and when it doesn’t taste the way that I want it to. Plus, after cooking for what feels like forever, I’m often too grossed out with the food to even enjoy it. Then the clean-up, the menu prep, the grocery shopping…ugh the whole process is extremely annoying and makes me want to lie down and take a nap until I feel better.

I’ve kept up this spoiled princess mentality for quite some time (hey, I am what I am). But once Charlotte started to eat solids at 6 months, my world changed. Suddenly, I found myself in the kitchen, boiling and blending fruits and veg. It was easy enough and I got into a routine with my Baby Bullet. And then we went away for 2 months to Florida, and I swapped to organic pouches mixed with baby cereal that I’d spoon out to Charlotte. But when we got back, she wanted NOTHING to do with me feeding her. She was becoming an independent little lady at only 8 months old!

Initially I panicked. Shit shit shit, what the hell am I going to give her? But a friend mentioned something called baby-led weaning and away I went. The idea is to offer your baby foods that are soft-cooked and cut or mashed into small easily manageable pieces. You do the cooking, the cutting or mashing and the offering of the foods and your baby does the rest. That way, baby can be in control of what they are eating. I started with foods that were similar to what she enjoyed eating solo – she is obsessed with arrowroot cookies and rice puffs. So I started making baby muffins, cookie-shaped lentil patties, or fruits and vegs that she could easily pinch. You can see some of my fave baby recipes on my Instagram Story Highlights – follow me HERE.

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Christmas 2017 – Charlotte eating her favorite arrowroot cookie. Her little face just makes my heart melt!

This was a gateway for me! I started menu-planning for Charlotte which led to menu-planning for Pat and I. And before I knew it, I was cooking for us 5x a week. It was quite shocking to Pat, and to my family. My brother told me that I was officially an adult since I had a house, a baby and could cook dinner (thanks bro!) I was even a bit shocked by myself. I had defined myself so long in this negative light and created this narrative that I was a horrible cook – like the time I burnt water (I let the pot boil dry). But learning this new skill made me SO PROUD! It made me feel like I had grown up.

My new self confidence doesn’t mean I’ve become a great chef. I’m still unsure in the kitchen and check recipes at least 20 times as I’m cooking. We still order takeout, and buy prepared foods, but more often than not, I cook dinner myself. I love being able to feed my family yummy food that I made. And when Pat doesn’t douse dinner in ketchup and Charlotte gobbles everything down with a loud burp, I feel a sense of accomplishment and a deep satisfaction. A homecooked meal isn’t mutually exclusive to being a good mom, but for me, it’s one of the many tangible changes that I’ve felt as I’ve become a mother.

 

Real talk: Do you love cooking? Hate it? Have you always been good in the kitchen? Or is it a skill that you’ve had to hone? Let me know in the comments below!

Mom Uniform

I knew maternity leave would be at such a different pace. I knew that I wouldn’t have time to shower every day. I knew I wouldn’t always be wearing makeup, or have my hair blow dried, or my nails done. I knew that most of my clothes would get covered with a variety of baby bodily fluids. I knew that a lot of the clothes I wore before baby would never fit the same. I even knew that I would likely wear the same outfit over and over until it smelt and/or got stained with aforementioned baby fluids.

What I didn’t realize is that I’d still want to feel like “me” – the girl who never went to work bare-faced, that loves bright lipstick and has an outfit for every occasion.

Dressing my baby bump had been pretty easy. I wore fitted dresses, peasant blouses and maternity jeans that went up to my armpits. I stuck with flat shoes, or kitten heels, with the occasional stacked heel. Postpartum dressing has been the real challenge! I need clothes that are comfortable, take zero thought to put together, that are forgiving of weight fluctuations and very forgiving of stains. I thought I would have to sacrifice my personal style for baby, but instead, it evolved! Let’s say that I went from glamour girl to practical Patterson. I swapped stilettos for sneakers…and you know what? I’m not mad about it.

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Mommy tummy out and I’m ok with that! This is my signature mat leave style – leggings and cool top. Lululemon leggings (Align Pant), HYBA Floral bomber (in size XXL).

My absolute favorite buy while I’ve been on maternity leave has been the Align Pant by Lululemon. I bought 3 pairs in the last 10 months. Best investment ever! Not only are they super lightweight and buttery soft, they come in every color of the rainbow. This means I can dress them up and down and convince the world that I’m wearing “real” clothes and not leggings 24/7. Plus, the signature high-rise style with mega-stretch and shape retention means the pants lie flat against your skin and won’t dig in. Perfect for post-partum mommies! Oh also, I should mention, the Align is known for giving you an instant butt-lift. Hooray! Get yours here.

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Wearing the Align Pant in size 12 (I wear a 16 in jeans). Color is Black Currant. Bomber is from HYBA. Look how happy my mom butt is!

 

REAL TALK: What’s your go-to mommy outfit? Is there a piece that you love? Let me know in the comments below!