Garnier Nutrisse Challenge

Finding a little “me” time when you’re a parent is nearly impossible. Just when the baby is in bed and the house is quiet, your mind races to find 83185 things to do rather than just sit and relax. Take it from a formerly very high-maintenance girl, even getting your hair done is a challenge. (FYI- I would never subject the other ladies at the hair salon to a mischievous toddler or screaming newborn. Salon time is a sacred getaway that must be honored!)

That being said, when Garnier Canada reached out to me to take their Nutrisse Challenge, I was game! It’s been a few years since I’ve tried at-home colour, but I figured I’d give it a try. I didn’t want to alter my hair color too much because I love having the same blonde shade as Charlotte (babies have the best hair). So I opted for Nutrisse Cream in Extra-Light Neutral Blonde (#101) to cover up my new scary grey hairs and to refresh my natural highlights.

The whole experience was super easy! The rich formula blends avocado, olive and shea oils that smell fresh and doesn’t drip. The formula left me with nourished hair, better color and my hair didn’t feel dry or brittle after coloring. Plus, Garnier Nutrisse covered all my stubborn greys (damn you parenthood!) I love how the product picked up my existing highlights and made them even brighter and camouflaged my roots. The color lasts up to 8 weeks, so that can extend my time between salon visits.

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Before – Blonde streaked with grey and very dark roots
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After – Back to baby blonde with less roots, and 100% grey coverage!

Now it’s YOUR TURN!

Want to try out Garnier Nutrisse Nourishing Color Cream?Garnier Canada invites you to TRY IT, RATE IT, WIN IT. Visit their website HERE and sign-up to get your $2 off coupon. Then, tell them what you think of the product and you could win your next box of Nutrisse Cream.

REAL TALK: How do you take time for yourself? When’s the last time you colored your hair? Are you an at-home girl? Or do you prefer a salon? Tell me in the comments below!

“It’s Like Riding a Bike” + GIVEAWAY

After a 16-month work hiatus (thank you Canada for your generous maternity leave), I’m back at work. Everything is different, but everything is the same. It’s kinda like riding a back…a bit awkward at first, but fun once you find your groove. I’ll be taking on a new challenge as PR & Strategic Partnership Manager, which is an exciting, new challenge! I’ll miss chatting with all of the Addition Elle followers on social media, but I’m sure I’ll make an appearance here and there.

The thing that takes the most getting used to is my morning routine! Instead of pressing snooze 3 times and dozing until the last possible minute, I’m up with my alarm and get ready before Charlotte wakes up. My lunch is made the night before and my outfit is already picked out. This has kept the morning as stress-free as possible. The hardest part of my new normal is seeing Charlotte for less than 3 hours during the day – 45 mins in the morning, and an hour and a half in the evening, if I’m lucky. There’s not enough time to get in all of my kisses and cuddles.

Since so much of our day is spent on the go – daycare drop-off, work commute, daycare pickup, home – I decided to upgrade my diaper bag to something that was functional and easy to lug around. Kiddycare reached out to me and I LOVE their backpack-style diaper bag. Featuring a wide top-opening, waterproof pockets, insulated front pouch and even tissue slots! It’s roomy enough that it holds everything for baby and me. And the backpack style lets me be hands-free to grab Charlotte when she tries to run away (yes, we’ve reached the “chase-me” stage).

Images from Kiddycare & @justjenp Instagram

Because I love this bag so much, I’m giving one away to my followers! Thank you Kiddycare for sponsoring this contest.

To enter:

  1. Follow @justjenp & Kiddycare on Instagram
  2. Turn post notifications on for @justjenp
    • Open my profile page, tap the triple-dot button in upper-right, tap Turn on Post Notifications.
  3. Like my latest picture
  4. Tag your mommy BFF
  5. Comment “DONE

Contest ends Sept 14 at 7PM. One winner will be chosen at random and given a code to receive their Kiddycare bag. Winner is responsible for any duties or shipping costs incurred. Open to Canadian & USA residents. Contest is no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Instagram.

The First Day of Daycare

The day has come. I dropped Charlotte off at daycare this morning and felt like my heart was ripping out. I’m a pretty emotional person and a major crier, so it’s no surprise that my reaction has been extreme. But let’s start at the beginning so I can fully explain how I feel about daycare and how everything went down.

Pat and I both work and we love working. We’re both ambitious people and strive to be successful at whatever we do. Plus, we live pretty nicely so there was no question that I was going to give all of that up by reducing one salary. When we first starting thinking about childcare, we strongly considered a nanny. I grew up with nannies that I adored (Hi Kate, Hi Mary Ellen!) and I loved the idea of Charlotte being at home, in a safe and familiar environment. However, the cost of the nanny was unfeasible (even with government help) and Charlotte is a little social butterfly and loves being around other kids and adults.

 

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In fact, the thing that has had me the most stressed about daycare isn’t how Charlotte will react. When we visited the daycare, she was happy to go play with the other kids, and took a real liking to her daycare educator. What I’ve been most worried about is ME! The thought of someone other than family taking care of Charlotte freaks me out and has my anxiety in full blown panic mode. What if she hurts herself and I’m not there to soothe her? What if she needs a cuddle and the educator is busy with another kid? When you’re used to being available to your child 24/7, it’s hard to imagine them being OK without you. And selfishly, I want her to miss me. I want her to need me the most, because I need her the most.

Don’t get be wrong, it’s important for kids to be independent and learn how to soothe themselves. And to know that Mommy won’t always be there in the tough moments. But, I want Charlotte to love me the most and part of my anxiety stems from the question of whether she’ll like her new educators more than me. Crazy right? I didn’t say it was rational…

So this is how the first day of daycare went down. Last night, Charlotte decided she wanted to be awake and running laps in her crib from 11pm-2am. Perhaps she had picked up on Mommy’s anxiety? And then she woke up at 6:30am this morning. We were already in trouble before the day even began! Hubby was at work by 6am, so I got Charlotte up, dressed and fed and we headed over to the daycare around 9am. I was a bundle of nerves! My hands were shaking…I couldn’t figure out how the code to the daycare door worked. I could feel my anxiety growing and growing and didn’t want it to rub off on Charlotte.

When we got there, they were serving snack and Charlotte immediately was entranced. She literally sat right down at the table, stole another kid’s sippy and started to eat. I was trying not to cry and embarrass myself! I don’t even remember saying goodbye to her because I was so flustered. The rational part of me knows I’m doing what is best for her and our family, but the emotional part has completely taken over and all I can think about is: “Does she understand that I’m coming back?” But because she seemed so happy there, I exited quickly. The daycare educator assured me that she’d call if there was anything.

On the drive home, I was a wreck! But I knew that Charlotte was fine. I was so surprised to get a call from the daycare saying that she had been crying. Mom’s intuition kicked in right away…her crappy night and early morning meant that I had a tired little nugget on my hands. So 2 hours after dropping her off, I was picking her up and let me tell you…she was has never been happier to see me. She was so happy that her smile went immediately to big tears. Oh my heart! As I whisked her away to nap at home, her little arms clung to my neck and I no longer felt like an emotional wreck. I felt strong and capable. Nothing makes you get over yourself faster than when your kid needs you. Period.

We’ll try the same routine tomorrow. Dropoff around 9am and pickup before naptime. Hoping she can do 3 hours, and then 4, and then nap, and then a full day. Tomorrow will get a little easier, and the next day even easier. So glad that we survived day #1 and that you were all there to share it with me. Thank you to everyone who shared their experience with me. It’s so comforting to know that I’m not alone and that this is a milestone all working moms have to conquer.

REAL TALK: How was daycare transition for you? Was it rough? A breeze? Share you thoughts & experiences below!

Plus Mommy Podcast

You know when you meet someone and you just feel like you’ve known them forever? That’s how I felt when I “met” Jen McLellan, aka Plus Mommy, aka the plus size pregnancy guru. Jen and I connected through Tess Holliday, plus size model/author/mom, when we organized an informal Instagram live chat about postpartum anxiety (Tess and I both suffered from PPA). And how do I know Tess? Through my work at Addition Elle, of course. Phew! That’s a lot of background info!

Anyways, Jen has a super fabulous podcast called “The Plus Mommy” which covers topics around plus size pregnancy. Her website, Plus Size Birth, provides positive resources for plus size people who are trying to conceive or pregnant – form where to find plus size maternity clothes to connecting with a size-friendly care provider and so much more!

I was beyond thrilled when Jen asked me to come on her podcast to chat about my experience – from conception, to pregnancy, to delivery and postpartum. It honestly felt like chatting with an old friend. I’ve talked about my pregnancy experience HERE, but it was interesting to examine it through the lens of a plus size woman.

Video courtesy of Plus Mommy

I could transcribe the entire podcast here because it’s too fantastic to not share, but I’ll save it for the sound byte.

You can listen to Jen & I chat HERE. Scroll down to the bottom for audio.

You can also listen on ITUNES!

 

Real Talk: Did you have a plus size pregnancy? What were some of the misconceptions you had?

 

Naptime; When 2 Becomes 1

Ah naptime…the bane of my existence as a mom. Too much, too little, too early, too late…it’s a tricky negotiation that leaves me anxiety-ridden most of the time. Nothing has proved more complicated than transitioning Charlotte from two naps to one. So many of you have asked for Charlotte’s nap schedule, so here’s the breakdown!

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Charlotte’s sleep sack is from a wonderful local-Montreal company called Aiden & Aston. They make beautiful organic children’s clothing!

Around 11 months, she started fighting her afternoon nap. I would put her down at 1pm, like normal, and it would take her 2 hours to fall asleep. Then, she’d nap for so long that I would have to wake her so as to not interfere with her night sleep (around 4pm). The next day, it’d be a crapshoot…she’d either skip her morning nap all together, or catnap. Then skip the afternoon nap, or take forever to fall asleep. I knew it wasn’t teething (no signs), so I started capping the morning nap. Charlotte usually sleept 2 hours in the morning and then 1.5 in the afternoon, so I started to shorten the morning nap so that I could lengthen the afternoon one. By 12 months, she was sleeping an hour in the morning and 1.5 in the afternoon. But still, the morning nap was on-again-off-again.

The recommendation is to keep trying for 2 naps a day until baby is 15 months, but my child gave me all the signs that she was ready to try to switch to 1. I asked friends, sleep consultants and the internet and most moms conceeded that they just followed their child’s lead. And if she was showing more than a few signs that she was rejecting the morning nap, to try giving it up and see what happened.

So eventually, I took a leap of faith and gave up the first nap. It was a rocky few days! Charlotte usually wakes at 6:30-7am and couldn’t be awake longer than 5 hours. Her nap would start at 11am and last about 3 hours, then I’d compensate with an early bedtime. I gradually pushed back naptime to 11:15, then 11:30, then 11:45, 12:00, etc., until we got to 12:30. I find she’ll nap longer when I put her down at 12:30, at 1PM she’s overtired. Who knew 30 mins can make all the difference?!

There are days where napping doesn’t go as planned. Charlotte is cutting 2 molars and 2 canines at the same time, so her napping (and night sleep) has been all over the place! When she wakes up at 5:30am, I will put her down for a nap at 9am, but I’ll cap it at an hour. And even then, I don’t do it every day because the extra nap affects her night sleep. She’ll wake up in the middle of the night and it’ll take hours for her to fall back asleep. Not good!

By 14 months, she’s doing one 2-3 hour nap, 5 days out of the week. This makes me so happy because she’s starting daycare at the end of August and her schedule mirrors the daycare’s. I’m hoping it’ll allow for an easier transition for all once she starts. I LOVE the 1-nap-a-day schedule! It gave us so much more freedom in our day, and guaranteed that she’d sleep for at least 2 hours. This was WAY better than staring endlessly at the baby monitor, praying that she’d just lie down and relax. And having big chunks of time to myself is also enormously helpful to my self-care. I can eat, nap, blog, do a load of laundry, even read, while she sleeps. It’s made the summer very enjoyable.

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REAL TALK: When did your child transition to 1-nap-a-day? Was it easy or difficult to get them on a new schedule? Let me know in the comments below!

 

5 Perfect First Birthday Gifts

Charlotte’s birthday was a day to remember. You can read all about it HERE. It was a celebration of our family and a giant party to celebrate the fact we survived 365 days as first time parents.

One of the questions I get asked the most when I mention that my daughter is a year-old is; what are some great first birthday gift ideas? My favorite gifts for Charlotte were the ones that were personalized, unique or perfect for her developmental stage. Here are my 5 favorite first birthday gifts.

  1. A personalized book. Hands-down, Charlotte’s favorite toys are books. She’ll pick one out of her vast library and flip the pages, pointing to the pictures. It’s the cutest thing ever! As you may know, I’m quite the bookworm (see my current reading list here), so I’m thrilled that Charlotte is following in my footsteps. For Christmas this year, my parents made her a customized book and it’s adorable. Charlotte’s name and our family’s names are peppered through the book, and the main characters are bears – how perfect! (My husband’s nickname is Bear, and we’ve become known as the Bear family – mama, papa, baby).

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    Picture credit: Wonderbly. A Letter for the Littlest Bear $39.99
  2. An engraved baby bracelet. Is there anything cuter than a baby girl wearing jewelry? My mother-in-law gifted Charlotte with a beautiful engraved baby bracelet that I can’t wait for her to wear. Her little wrists are still a bit skinny, and she still chews on everything, so I may hold off for a bit, but I love the heirloom feeling of it.

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    Birks Baby Silver Bar Bracelet. Available at Birks. $95.
  3. Baby’s first bicycle. Of course my summer baby had to have a bike to ride. One is a great time to introduce baby to bicycle. My brother, the biking aficionado, picked the Little Tikes Ride ‘N Learn because it’s a 3-in-1 that converts as your baby grows. Plus, there’s a removable and adjustable waist bar (that keeps baby on the bike) and a foot rest so they can learn to pedal and steer while feeling secure.

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    Look at her little face! She is so proud of herself! Riding her new trike. Available on Amazon. $99.99
  4. Baby’s first year photo album. Bubbie for the win! My mom loves created photo albums (she made our engagement album, and wedding album because I never got around to doing it!). She decided to surprise us for Charlotte’s birthday with a highlight reel of the last year. She told me the hardest part was narrowing down the pictures. There are so many different companies that do this, but you can’t go wrong with Shutterfly.

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    I will treasure this photobook forever! Get it HERE. Prices from $19.99
  5. A wildlife adoption. For the baby who has everything, I love the idea of donating something in their honor. Charlotte is obsessed with animals, so the WWF was the perfect place to donate. They even have “adoption” packages that come with a stuffed animal. I was at a bday party for Chalotte’s bff Evelyn and she received the Caribou

     

Honorable mention goes to this great idea from my friend Samantha. For Father’s Day, she created a custom book for her daughter that featured pictures and names of the most important people in her daughter’s life.

 

Real talk: What did you buy your child for their first birthday? Did you do something small and symbolic? Or did you go over-the-top?

The End of the Journey

I weaned Charlotte off the boob last week. The end.

Ah, if only it was that simple. Breastfeeding hasn’t been an easy journey. You can read about it HERE and HERE. And the decision to stop nursing Charlotte didn’t come lightly, or quickly. Here’s how it all went down…

At around 11 months and some change, Charlotte had her first nursing strike. At that point, she was only nursing twice a day – when she first woke up in the morning and at night before bed. I loved it! It was our cuddle time together and a slow start to the morning and the perfect wind-down to the day. But, out of nowhere, she refused to latch for more than 5 seconds and would even push my breast away and arch her back when I tried to snuggle her in close! I was offended at first, then doubted myself, then sad. I felt like I had failed her in some way and failed as a mom. And I certainly wasn’t ready at that point to let breastfeeding go!

11 months into motherhood, I had a bit of experience under my belt, so I knew that Charlotte’s nursing strike was temporary and that she’d soon be back to her twice a day feeds. And I was right. A few days later, she was back at it, like nothing had happened. Not long after, I noticed her gums were swollen and red. Teething was back with a vengeance…and this time it was the dreaded molars!

So we continued along with our twice-a-day nursing sessions, until about two weeks ago, when she absolutely refused to have anything to do with am/pm cuddles and my boobs. She actually started crying when I tried to put her to the breast. She would flail her little body around, smacking me in the face with her hands and kicking me in the stomach. It was very annoying. And it was precisely because I was so annoyed that I decided to stop nursing her cold turkey.

When we started nursing, I’d “check in” with myself every 3 months for a little status update – was this still working for me? For Charlotte? And as time went by, breastfeeding got easier and easier. We developed a rhythm that structured our day. Truth is, I would have continued for another year if it wasn’t for her strike.

I know for a lot of moms, weaning their child can be an emotional experience. And part of me is sad that my little baby has taken a step away from me and towards independence. But, that also makes me a little happy and a little proud. Charlotte feels confident and secure enough in herself to self-soothe and knows she is getting my love and comfort from other venues than just my breasts.

There are some negatives to weaning… My once-full breasts are now hanging lower and feel like semi-deflated balloons. Also, putting her to sleep for the night has become a bit tougher because she doesn’t have as much wind-down time from bath to bed. And she’s WAY more energetic in the mornings than she used to be, which means mama is doing double-shots of espresso in the AM.

I have been giving her a bottle of breastmilkd before bed of my breastmilk. I have saved up quite the stash when I used to pump before bed and in the middle of the night. And tonight, it’s my last bag of milk. So as I close this chapter of our breastfeeding journey, I start a new one – one that will see Charlotte transition from wide-eyed infant to curious toddler. I’m so exciting to see what’s to come.

P.S. I’m so glad I captured these nursing moments when she was 5 weeks old. The way that I’m looking at her gets me so emotional every time I look at these pictures!

 

 

REAL TALK: When did you wean your little one? Was it emotional? Or was it just the next step? Tell me in the comments below!