“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.

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?

 

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!

#MamaMojo

When I started my blog a little more than a year ago, my intention was to document my life. I shared my pregnancy, work-life, baby pics, what I wore, where I was going and what I was doing. But recently, I’ve had an epiphany…and it started because a stranger reached out to me through my Facebook page to tell me how she found my page “inspirational.” She commended me for being positive and feeling great in my skin. I thanked her, of course, but it started my wheels turning.

Not too long after that, I hosted a Facebook Live for my mommy group about how to dress your postpartum body. And one of the things that kept coming up was the word “flattering” (which I HATE!)  Moms wanted to know what to wear to “flatter” their new body. They asked me where to shop because the stores they used to go felt “too young” now. They told me how they were stuck in a rut, wearing the same black leggings every day. As I spoke to them, the re-occurring theme was how they feel lost and unsure of their new identities as moms. Pregnancy is a whooper on your entire physical and mental state and coming out the other side, it’s difficult to recognize yourself and connect with the “new” you! I’m talking about simple things like dressing your new “mom bod”, skin care, and self-care. As I answered their questions, I emphasized how important it is to find what they love about themselves, as they are now, and celebrate it. I wanted to let each mom know that they are worth investing in!

As I’ve discussed before, I still struggle to accept my new mom bod. But the one thing I refused to do is to let whatever self-doubt I have, get in the way of enjoying myself. Also, I’ve continued to do the things that I love to do, even with a baby in tow. Why can’t you be a fashion-lover, beauty addict, travel junkie, boss lady AND a Mom? Just because you’ve had a child, it doesn’t mean that you’ve stopped being who you are!

That’s when I came up with #MAMAMOJO. It’s the magical essence that you have as a woman and as a mother. It’s that thing that makes you do a double take in the mirror and give yourself a smile. It’s the power of looking and feeling your best just as you are. As I meet and connect with other moms and women, I want to encourage and support them to feel good about themselves and connect with their mama mojo! I feel so impassioned and motivated by this new motto and hope that it resonates for you too.

And it’s all thanks to you, lovely mommies! Thank you to all the amazing moms who’ve reached out to me to tell me how my voice has encouraged them to take a little more time for themselves…whether that be to put on some lipstick, take a time out to read a new book, buy a pretty new dress, or simply look in the mirror and truly love what you see.

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I found this dress at a street fair last year and every time I wear it, I feel like a boho goddess! Do you have that one piece of clothing that makes you feel amazing every time you wear it? Photo credit: Grey Cat Studio

REAL TALK: How do you find your own #MAMAMOJO?

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?

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!