Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chronicle 41: Decisions, Decisions

My hair is still falling out. I am doing all the right things: washing my hair every couple of days, using my special shampoo for women with thinning hair, pumping up the volume with thickening hairspray and mousse and getting light headed by blow drying my hair upside down. I'm even taking prenatal vitamins, still. Yet, my hair... it's not the same. It's growing back - there are uncontrollable, stubborn wisps adorning my forehead. The new hair is growing in straight and the bottom? Still curly and wavy and THIN.

I want my hair back. Weight loss and/or gain, humongous boobs, changes in skin, etc. can pretty much be controlled. But hair? Well, that's up to the hormones. I am afraid, no, make that petrified, that it will never come back. My son's pediatrician told me that it may keep falling out as long as I continue to breastfeed. So for now? Trying not to cry over spilt milk.
There is so much going on in my life that I have absolutely no control over, and it's proving hard to deal with. My husband is gone five days a week, and by the end of it will have been away from us for 6 months. Several people close to me are ill.  Sick in a way that may or not be cured. In a way where the only thing to say is, "We're praying. As hard as we can." Life seems cruel and bleak, and very unforgiving at the moment.

That just means that it is the time to put my energy into things that make me happy; things I can work on and better and be thankful for when I start feeling sorry for myself. Which brings me to the title of my post. "Decisions?" you ask (twice). "Can I help?!" OF COURSE!

When I first started having post partum hair loss, I had my stylist cut several inches off. That adorable cut has grown to my shoulders and is no longer... adorable. Because my hair is thin and is providing me with a few different textures, I am not going to grow it out just yet. Here are some of the haircuts I've been checking out:
1. Scarlett
I like the length of this cut, as well as the layers and the side part. Going too short would be disastrous on my round/square shaped face, so keeping it chin length or a tad longer is best!
2. Charlize
The length of this cut is very similar to Scarlett's. The difference lies in the hint of a side swept bang...which would be a leap for me, because I've avoided bangs for awhile. Will bangs only emphasize my hair loss? I'm not sure. This cut also seems to have fewer layers, and is much softer than the first option.
3. Reese
Love the long side swept bang, the short cut that's just shy of a bob if it weren't all choppy and sassy! This option compliments her fine hair and adds some volume by shorter layers at the top and middle, and leaving the bottom part one length, with blunt edges. This is a strong contender!
4. Brittany
I love this because it's fun and sexy. One piece in the front is a bit longer, which adds visual interest without being too quirky or odd. The side swept bangs and short, face framing layers do not add bulk to her face shape (a common problem with short cuts on round/square face shapes) . What do you think?

Last but not least... here's ME! That way you can kind of visualize what each may look like before helping me decide! My appointment is set for next week, so cast your votes as soon as possible!
The Hot Mama

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chronicle 40: Say What?! Wednesday: Communicating with your Spouse

Well, here we are, more than halfway through the Say What?! Series and I am a little sad. Not like "Leave Britney ALONE!" sad... more along the lines of "There are two more Oreos left in the package and I'm about to finish them off" sad. Wistful-like. Because there is only one more post left in the series, I've been brainstorming and narrowing down topics. I want to hit the most important issues, what I think might be most helpful to YOU.
Oh, Mr. Gable!
Something that comes up time and again in any relationship with a significant other is communication (mostly lack thereof, if we're honest with ourselves). Never is this skill more important than when you're trying to nurture a little ankle biter of your own. 

Is is notoriously difficult for men and women to truly hear and understand what the other is saying. Women are talkers and sharers by nature and men are visual creatures who just want us to get to the point so they can offer a brilliant solution. 
I can't even begin to count the number of times I sat down and talked to my husband about my horrible day and spilled my guts only to encounter a glazed look or the "I'm pretending not to read what's on my computer, but I'm really rocking the hell out of my peripherals" stare. One of those moments where I truly considered extreme couch bouncing a la Tom Cruise craziness... 
There are books. And articles. And Doctors and therapists and couples counseling and churches, and and and. What it really comes down to is your willingness to LISTEN. By stepping back, turning off defensiveness and keeping an open ear. This is a constantly evolving skill... trust.

Here's what I know/try to keep in mind:
1. Talking scares a lot of men. They're afraid you want them to get emotional and share their feelings... and stuff. Plus, they are petrified you will yell or cry. This triggers a shut down in most men. (Trying desperately not to generalize, here!)

Instead: "Hey, hotness (bunny, lovebug, big strong man, etc.), I wanted to get your opinion on something. Can we set aside 10-15 minutes later? I'll bring the wine! 
-A limited amount of time is concrete. It means that there is a way out. It means that you go into teamwork mode and find a solution without a prolonged, emotional conversation. 
-Also, talking about ONE issue at a time may be frustrating, but it is a scientific fact that men cannot multitask. It's brain science. 
-Don't cause confusion by bringing up five different things at once, as tempting as it may be. If it helps, write down everything beforehand, just to simply get it out so it doesn't make an appearance during your "non-chat."
-Don't get drunk, or even tipsy. The wine is to help you loosen up, not lash out! 

2. Start SMALL. 

-Don't try to tackle a heavy, complex issue on your first try. Gradually increase the time limit as you and your spouse become more comfortable discussing more emotional issues.
-Starter topics: Projects around the house, weekend plans, a trip, your next big purchase, planning a date.
-Eventually you will dive into the sensitive topics: money, sex, family, raising your children, your feelings about _____ event/situation, etc. 

3. Be ready to swallow some pride. You may have an idea of how you want the conversation to go, but the goal is to really listen to your spouse. Remember that you cannot control their thoughts, words, or actions. Give them time to think and talk, without interruptions. Check out their body language.
Body language
-Interrupting or giving an emotional monologue says "I don't care what you think. What I have to say is much more important" (whether that is true or not). Your love should shine through, not your impatience. 
-Support is key. Creating a safe environment will encourage your spouse to talk and share. 
-You may hear something that you don't like or conflicts with your wants. Take a minute to mull it over  before you respond. A lot of times our initial reactions may be overreactions, which hinder any progress you've made!

4. When all else fails, agree to disagree, and re-visit later. 

-When either one, or both, of you gets too worked up, the conversation is over and stops being productive. Being upset does not lend to rational thinking.
-Take a day (or several) to cool down. Jot down thoughts as they come to you and bring them to your next conversation if it will help keep you focused. 
-Do not say something you will later regret. This will make it really difficult to revisit the conversation with a wary spouse.  
5. Last, but not least: Timing is everything.

-Read your partner's cues. Did they have a rough day at work, or at home with the kids? Not the best time to approach them with a sensitive issue. Glass of wine, maybe, but super chat? No.
-A person who is on-edge will not be prepared to listen objectively.
-Your convo should take place in a quiet, distraction free setting. Chaos begets chaos!

Take it to the houuuuse!

The Hot Mama

Chronicle 39: Holiday Happiness

Hello, my beautiful friends! I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend filled to the brim with family, food, fun, and hopefully a bit of shade.

The Indianapolis 500 was on Sunday and all of Indy was ablaze...literally! It was a record setting hot, and trust when I say I've been to some extremely warm races. I've been going to the race with my family since I was a child and this year was the second year in a row that I haven't gone. Last year I had little G in mah belly, but this year it was just too dang HOT! Maybe I'm getting older AND wiser! (Dare to dream...)
Ladies & gentleman, start your engines!
We spent the entire day by the pool with delicious pulled pork sammies dripping with barbecue, chilly strawberry daquiris and coconutty pina coladas, and friends we consider second family. Little man was obsessed with the pool; he was giggling and splashing the entire time. I could not stop swooning over his chubby little pigs kicking in the water and the windmill motions he made with his arms as we held him close. I am so relieved that he loves the water.
Baby G splashing Daddy
I believe I have discovered my new favorite thing: a bag of deliciousness filled to the brim with an icy alcohol concoction. Not only is it super easy and handy, it is verrrrry classy. Yeah.
We did brave the extreme heat on Saturday in order to attend the Indy 500 Parade. My mama volunteered to watch sugarpants while the hubs and I sat front row to see my beautiful cousin adorn a float as an Indy 500 Princess! Even though I've been going to the race for close to 20 years, I've never been to the parade and it was the perfect time to experience it. 

While it was a wonderful holiday, I had to take a moment to reflect on all those that have served or are serving our country. We appreciate everything you do to protect our country and our families. Thank you!

The Hot Mama

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Chronicle 37: A Mellow Way to Start Your Day

I fell in love with this band when I saw them open for Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes a few years ago. At first they reminded me of a much more chill version of the Eagles (which may or may not excite you), but now I think they have a sound of their own. Just a bunch of dudes bangin' out mellow music. Groovy.

The Hot Mama

Monday, May 21, 2012

Chronicle 36: Snapshots

This weekend was JAM PACKED. We had something special going on every single second, and while I had an absolute blast... I could drop from exhaustion. 

My baby boy is on the same page. He was baptized yesterday, and was so super cranky that he cried throughout the entire ceremony. Which means we barely registered what was being said, and instead of crying tears of joy, they were more like tears of frustration. I'm sure we'll look back and laugh at the situation, but at this point? I would much rather nap!

Best friends celebrating a birthday
Godfather & Godson//with rootbeer
A lovely marbled cake
At a wedding with my love
How was your weekend, friends? What fun & exciting things did you do?

The Hot Mama

Sneak peek for this week on The Hot Mama: Mellow music for a Tuesday morning, Traveling with Baby for Say What?! Wednesday, beauty, fashion & more! 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Chronicle 35: Independence Day (by Day)

My son doesn't need me.

Ok, I'm being melodramatic. What I mean to say is, it FEELS as though my son needs me less and less. Which is one of those things that puts a little crack in my heart. Of course I am thrilled when he demonstrates another milestone proudly, puffing out his baby chest and slapping on a toothy grin. How can I do anything but melt into a mommy puddle at his chubby little feet?

After I reassemble myself this devilish part of my brain starts talking. "He can feed himself now. You don't have to do THAT anymore." Or this, "Those bruised knees means he is crawling. Away. From YOU!" Oh, man. Harsh. The best and worst, simultaneously? Putting himself to sleep. I rock him less, but he cries less. I don't nurse him to sleep, but... I don't nurse him to sleep. Wahhhh.

See what I mean? It's the best thing for him, obviously. It is good for me, too. Learning to let go and help shape his independence is a blessing.

And a curse.

The Hot Mama

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Chronicle 34: Say What?! Wednesday: Breastfeeding

For my first edition of Say What?! Wednesday, I want to put forth my version of a DISCLAIMER. This is not a warning label, or Interwebz caution tape. It is merely a "before you read/keep in mind while you read" type...thing. So. Disclaimer: I do not endorse/prefer/judge those who do or do not use said method. I am writing solely from my own personal experience. So please, no snide comments or debates necessary, mamas. Thank you for reading the disclaimer. Please, read on!
When I found out I was pregnant (or, as I fondly referred to it, "knocked up"), I did a lot of research. I spent countless hours hunched over my ancient Apple laptop and poring through a worn copy of What to Expect When You're Expecting, charting every second of my pregnancy and what to do once the baby was actually born.

It wasn't until I was weeks away from delivering that I received a shock. Nursing, as it turns out, is NOT an easy thing to do. In fact, once I stumbled onto this tidbit, it became a train wreck topic (you know, can't look away...). First time moms were terrified, experienced ones assured us that it was hard, but it could be done. With lots of help. The La Leche League website became one of my most visited sites, until I finally added it to my bookmark bar.
Why was I so utterly shocked? Udderly? Ha. Because! I literally thought that you just popped the baby on. And they drank. And then they were full and you patted their little backs until they let out an adorable "urp!" Maybe you got to breathe in their little milky breaths while you were at it. And my nipples? What about 'um? I did not give them a second thought. Even though I became terrified that I would fail at such a "natural process of mothering", I was so glad that I was prepared. Glad that I took the time to really find out what it was all about. That is why I want to help prepare YOU, so that when faced with this decision, no matter what it is, I can somehow make it easier for you.

There is a lot of information in this post, so bookmark and "read as you need" or take it in a few times so you are not overwhelmed.

After Delivery:
1. The hospital where I delivered G made it a priority for mothers to nurse their newborns as soon as possible after birth. Not only does this start the bonding process, but it gives you a snapshot of what nursing will be about for the first few months.

2. My son had a hard time latching, so my room nurse had the lactation consultant visit our room. She helped by correctly positioning my son in my arms & also provided a nipple shield. This helps the baby latch on and stay on. It also protects the nipple a bit more.

3. It hurts. I'm not going to sugarcoat it, because if you're prepared for a bit of pain, then it is easier to deal with. You may experience chapped, raw, bleeding or cracked nipples. It's not pretty, but it is for a relatively short period of time. Then they toughen up and you can't feel a thing. It's a bit odd.

4. I made sure to make another appt with the lactation consultant before we left hospital. There is so much to deal with at the hospital, and all the information comes fast and furious. It is ALWAYS a good idea to get the information again. Make sure to leave with a pamphlet that details local nursing groups and hotline numbers for urgent questions.
At home:
1. I drank ALOT of water from the huge bottle given to me at hospital. I relaxed on the couch and my man refilled it (what a sweetie!). This jug holds up to 30 ounces, which I downed every few hours. It helps with milk production, and keeps you from becoming dehydrated.

2. I became constantly hungry, which was not a problem as nursing can burn an 500 extra calories a day. I just tried to snack on healthier options like crackers & cheese, fruit, veggies & dip, etc. Some days I had chips and candy. Balance is key.

3. There are several different ways to hold your baby as you nurse. I liked and stuck with the traditional cradle hold, which is probably what you think of first. It was easiest for me to prop little man on the Boppy pillow (a U-Shaped pillow that fits around your waist and supports your arm while nursing). Different holds include the cradle, crossover, reclining, and football, to name a few. This article outlines them all, and provides helpful tips.

4. When your milk comes in, you may become engorged which is extremely uncomfortable. Your breast tissue will swell and become inflamed and your supply will not be regulated. The baby can't drink enough at one time to relieve you, so you may need to pump. Word of caution: only pump until your breasts are soft again. Any more and you will encourage the production of even more milk! Don't let the milk go to waste, bag and freeze it for when you introduce the bottle.

5. Burping, spit up, and gassiness...oh, my! For the first three months feeding, sleeping, and pooping are going to be top priority in your life. Anything that disturbs those will be the bane of your existence. Enter burping that elicits spit up, and a hold that allows air to get into your baby's tummy which brings on gassiness. There are a few things you can do to help your baby get through these disruptions, but they are inevitable. There are Mylicon drops, which basically binds gas bubbles, making them easier to exit the body (either way). These can be found at drugstores and are harmless enough that you can give them multiple times a day. I always gave a bit before and a bit after feeding. This seemed to help the most.
5. NIPPLES. Again, with the nipples! Lanolin is your new best friend. Use it after you nurse. Yep, every time. If you can find them, get petal gel pads. They are cool and soothe aches and pains. Also, putting a few drops of breast milk on them and letting them air dry after nursing works wonders. Get used to always having your boobs out. Once you're on a schedule, it gets better. I promise!
6. You will leak. Invest in some washable nursing pads to wear in your bra when you go out in public. There is nothing more embarrassing than leaking through your shirt. I would also recommend having a change of clothes with you at all times. Between leaking and baby spit up/poop/etc, you never know when you might need an extra shirt!

Schedule/After 3-4 months:
1. When you're out and about, be sure to wear an accessible shirt or dress. There's nothing worse than realizing you have to get completely undressed to nurse. I purchased a few nursing bras, but after awhile I realized wireless bras can just be pulled up, AND they cost LESS!

2. Breast feeding in public is tricky. I do not like to do it, although I did get a nursing shawl. I tried it once and it was just too much for me. People were staring, I was trying not to show the goods, and my son just wriggled around and pulled everything out of place. I usually try to find a restroom with a chair or countertop to sit on. Some places actually have nursing rooms, which is a huge bonus!

3. Take a lunch box with ice pack for a bottle of pre-mixed formula or breast milk during longer car rides or outings. If there is not a place to nurse or you are unable, it helps to have a pre-made bottle.

4. I DO supplement with formula for the above reason. Also, if someone is watching my son and they run out of frozen breast milk, it is nice if your child can accept formula from a bottle as well. That has worked well for our family.
When older:
1. Teething prompts the return of sore/bleeding nipples. Reacquaint yourself with Lanolin cream, gel pads, bottles, and soft bras. Nurse from the "healthier" nipple until the other has healed a bit.

2. When your little one starts solids you will be nursing less. Your supply may decrease or even dwindle, or your kiddo may not be interested in nursing anymore. This decrease in supply may herald the return of your period, so be prepared! I wasn't and my husband had to make a midnight run while on vacation.

3. If you missed those lovely little adult beverages, now is the time to fit them back in your life. Make sure you pump or have formula available. One drink is metabolized in one hour, which means it is not stored in your breast milk. Better safe than sorry, mamas. Go with your gut on this one. And be prepared to be tipsy after less than one drink!
After much research and consideration, I decided that nursing was best for me and my family, but that does not mean it was at all easy. It was a huge sacrifice, one that I decided to make because of the positive effects for my baby and myself. Would I do it again? Absolutely!

The Hot Mama

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Chronicle 33: Have You Heard this Bird?

I go through spurts where I hear a new band or singer that I like and just scoop up a batch of c.d.s on Amazon. I put her in my cart on a whim, because I was not impressed by her SNL performance. Glad I took a chance - Miss Lana Del Ray is unlike anything I've heard in awhile!

What do you think of her unique style?

The Hot Mama

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Hot Mama's Day!

I get to see this handsome smiling face every day! Being a mother is one of the best jobs in the world. I've never been more challenged, aggravated, frustrated and IN LOVE! Unconditional love taking shape in the way of craziness. My life has changed for the better.

Hope you've had a wonderful Mother's Day, mamas! How did you spend it?

The Hot Mama

Friday, May 11, 2012

Chronicle 32: Cheers to the Freakin' Weekend!

Just some pictures & thoughts for the weekend. Have a wonderful couple of days, and I will see you Monday!

*Loving this simple and classic sheath for summer cocktail parties 
*How gorgeous is Emma Stone?! I am leaning towards this haircut for my summer style. What do you think?
*Hilarious! I guess this goes along with all those workouts I've been pinning...
*One of the most important things we can teach our children and ourselves.
*A bit of humor that hits close to home these days!
*Something yummy to try this weekend! Maybe with a Mike's Hard Lemonade?
The Hot Mama

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Chronicle 31: Technology DOs for the Modern Family

This is what I love and hate about Facebook: you are privy to anything and everything. I think we can all agree that there are just some things that are better left unsaid or unseen. Cute picture of baby hitting an important milestone? Ok. Fifty pictures of baby hitting that milestone? Please print those out and put 'um in an album, folks. And, please reconsider posting if that milestone happens to be throwing...their own poop. Nothing dies on the Internet. NOTHING. Let's save our children the embarrassment of walking into a job interview 20 years from now only to be faced with these pictures and a big fat "We're not interested."

There were two particularly interesting articles I read this week. One was about parents over sharing on social media sites, and the other was about putting down the technology we use on a daily basis in order to reconnect with our children and spouse. I am guilty of both over sharing and overuse of technology on a daily basis. In this day and age it is simply how we communicate. Rather than burden myself with a whole slew of what not to do, how about a simple list of what TO DO? 

Here are the guidelines I set for myself:

1. Use the Internet to connect with other mamas so I don't feel isolated. When you stay at home with your baby all day, it is nice to talk with someone who understands and can give you advice. This is a great use of nap time! I also use that time to talk or text with friends and family. Unless it is an emergency, those things can wait. This will definitely be different for mamas whose baby no longer naps...

2. Research: vaccinations, illnesses, baby clothes & toys, etc. Also during naptime or after little man has FINALLY gone to sleep. (Just don't let yourself get convinced that your baby either has a simple rash or OMG CANCER!!)

3. When it comes to the iPad, I use Pandora during mealtimes. They have some great stations for kids like Raffi (think Baby Beluga!) and Sesame Street. We chow down and rock out at the same time!

4. I have also found some entertaining and educational apps that G absolutely loves. Sound Shaker by Tickle Tap Apps, Dr. Seuss animated books, AlphaBaby Free, and ABC by Wee Sing, to name a few. These, of course, are just in addition to actual games that I get down on the floor and play with G. 

5. I limit TV use to nap times and after bedtime, as well. This way I can catch up on "my stories" uninterrupted. For the most part ;)

6. When it comes to sharing pictures and stories of my boy, I will e-mail, post on my personal blog, post on here, or print pictures before I post on Facebook. That being said, there are some things I just really want to share! There is also a handy way to hide people from your Newsfeed, which works wonders if you get baby overload. 

Original Website Here
There you have it. A short list of things that I can do that will works for me while keeping other people in mind. What are some guidelines you use/will use when it comes to technology and your kiddos?

The Hot Mama

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chronicle 30: Say What?! Wednesdays

Ladies & gents, I have an announcement! I'm psyched to share with you the beginning of a new series on The Hot Mama Chronicles called Say What?! Wednesdays. Due to an enormous response (comments, e-mails, etc.) to my last post on New Mama Insider Info, I have developed a series of topics to discuss in-depth for new mamas, mamas to be AND future mamas to be. Something for everyone!

I will cover all the important stuff, like post-baby body, breast-feeding, your relationship with your partner, getting back into the swing of things, and much, much more! Look for the first installment next Wednesday, May 16th! I am so excited to hear feedback from you all!

The Hot Mama

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Chronicle 28: My Current Music Obsession

This has been on repeat in our house for weeks! Good thing Baby G is accepting of repetition... My husband, who still thrives on 90s rock like Metallica, has even jumped on the bandwagon. I love the funkiness of the video, too. Strange looking man covered in geometric shapes? COUNT ME IN!

The Hot Mama