confessions of a workaholic turned stay-at-home mama

mama and babyI’ve had a real job since I was 15 years-old. I worked as a lifeguard, swim instructor and coach the second I was old enough and have continued gainful employment ever since. In college, I held several jobs simultaneously. In graduate school, I had my own business (Little Polska Aquatics, it was awesome). For a stretch of time in Maryland, I worked full-time during the week, worked per diem on the weekends, and wrote pearls on a string on the side! (Oh, and then I got mono…coincidence?) My point is, I truly love to work. I love to be productive. I love to contribute. (I also have a Mount McKinley-size pile of student loans, so there’s that too.) My former supervisor was seriously concerned about me moving to Alaska with no official job. “I can’t imagine you not working,” she said. “You’re not a stay-at-home mom type of person.” I totally agreed. I sent out resumés and went on interviews yet just couldn’t find the right fit. So I stayed at home. Frustrated. This was not part of my plan.

I was devastated to not have a job outside of the home. I couldn’t believe my new life revolved around nap schedules, breast feeding, and grocery shopping. When one’s identity is wrapped up in working (or anything), it is testing when that facet is suddenly not part of daily life. After all, the premise of my profession is you are what you do! So without that, who am I? #identitycrisis

And then, something happened. I got a job offer. A pretty good one, albeit not in my specialty at all. I considered it. No thank you. It’s not worth leaving my daughter for. Ummm what! How and when did this paradigm shift take place?

When I started making a conscientious effort to be happy and grateful for little things, I realized I am truly fortunate to have the opportunity to stay at home with Waverley during this time and I wasted too much time wishing for something else. I’ve been through enough in life to understand this phase will be short and not my destiny forever. Infancy flies by. I’m happy to be with her for every two-teeth grin and developmental milestone. I’m happy to have time to pursue other passions, like taking a photography class and writing pearls on a string. Above all, I am forever grateful that there is a greater plan than mine and by having every single job fail to pan out, I could spend the last weeks of my dad’s life with him. Every day.

At barely ten months in I’m certainly not an expert on Stay-at-Home Parenting. However, in my short stint as such I have discovered a few common occurrences happen on the days I am most satisfied with my new role:

  • I have a plan. I tackle my to-do list rather than wither the day away wondering what I should do first. I’ve learned taking advantage of naps and awake time efficiently actually requires excellent time management skills! Who knew.
  • I am flexible. So, you know, I am a little rigid sometimes. Going with the flow of life with a baby helps me to not get too caught up in the apocalypse that is venturing off my schedule.
  • I take a little time for me. Whether it’s dropping Puppy Girl off at the gym’s daycare, getting a manicure, taking 15 minutes to peruse a magazine (a total luxury, yeah?), these little habits really perk me up. I’ve also found I am much more grateful for these types of things now since these moments of independence are difficult to come by.
  • I stay up-to-date on my profession’s happening by reading a journal article, chatting with friends who are working, and staying as current as possible with new rules and regulations.
  • I learn new things. Like I mentioned, I am taking a photography class which is so fun and uses a part of my brain that has been idle for a loooong time.
  • I read about current events, even if it is only via theSkimm.

Someday soon I may take the leap back into the working world as a part-timer. But you know what? I am not in as much of a hurry as I thought.

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prosciutto asparagus pizza with goat cheese

prosciutto and asparagus pizzaProsciutto on anything is a great idea, right? I love incorporating it into dinners with guests because it seems just a little fancy yet is actually so easy. A few months ago I made these prosciutto-wrapped individual lasagna, but for something more casual and less time-consuming I am a proponent of homemade pizza. I actually veered away from my own pizza dough recipe this time (I was trying to spare everyone from the influx of whole wheat and flax flours) and made this thin crust dough. It was goooood (as most things made with white flour are). Sautéed asparagus and onions, white mushrooms, and chunks of happiness in the form of goat cheese came together for a lovely spring/summer dinner. There were no leftovers, naturally.

asparagus white mushrooms sauteed asparagus and onions pizza dough pizza dough with olive oil and garlic mozzarella and goat cheese pizza spring pizza toppings prosciutto and asparagus pizza sauteed asparagus and prosciutto pizza goat cheese and asparagus pizza

{Ingredients}
Dough
One tablespoon active dry yeast
One teaspoon sugar
One cup warm water
Three cups all-purpose flour
One teaspoon salt
Two tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Toppings
Two tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Three minced garlic cloves
1.5 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Four ounces goat cheese
Salt and pepper
Six asparagus stalks, rinsed and cut into thirds
1/4 cup diced onion
One cup sliced white mushrooms
6-8 slices prosciutto

{Directions}
1. Prepare the dough. I followed this recipe. Preheat oven to 450 degrees with a pizza stone in it.
2. Once the dough has risen and been rolled out, place it on a piece of parchment paper. Then spread one tablespoon of the olive oil and garlic on it using a brush (I like to go all the way to the edge of the crust).
3. Spread the mozzarella cheese on top of the dough leaving a border for the crust. Dot with 1/2 of the goat cheese.
4. Warm the other tablespoon of olive oil on a skillet. Toss in the asparagus and onion, salt and pepper and sauté for a just few minutes. Remove from heat.
5. Spread the asparagus and onion mixture over the cheese.
6. Distribute the mushrooms evenly on the pizza. Top with remaining goat cheese.
7. Using a cookie sheet or pizza peel, transfer the pizza (still on the parchment paper) to the pizza stone. Bake for 15-20 minutes depending on thickness of crust.
8. Immediately after removing the pizza from the oven, lay the prosciutto slices on the pizza. Let sit for several minutes so the prosciutto “melts” into the hot toppings.

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rustic feminine first birthday party

dessert table for first birthday partyThe main reason Waverley and I made the trek to Oregon last week was for my niece’s first birthday party. It hurts my heart to miss family events and I especially can’t stand missing first birthday parties. I am so grateful we could be there to celebrate my beautiful niece and Waverley’s Sissy-Cuz … and also so I can take advantage of my sister-in-law’s epic hosting skills and decor eye for Waverley’s nearing first birthday (WHAT!). See for yourself. This is one adorable first birthday party down to every last detail. My sister-in-law sewed all of the cute pennant banners, found and painted the vintage highchair, and made the birthday stats sign (which coordinated perfectly with the invitation). The outdoor pond setting was perfect on a horrifyingly hot day and provided the perfect rustic backdrop for the feminine decor. Happy First Birthday Paige!

paper straws in mason jars beverage station baby cousins flowers and drink dispenserIMG_4699 candy jars dessert table decor treat bags painted antique high chair first birthday cakeflower shaped rice kris pie treats first birthday stats sign pennant cake topper daddy and baby first birthday cake smashspringer spaniel in water

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the best baby gear for 4-8 month-olds

baby essentials 4-8 months

A few weeks ago I listed my favorite baby gear picks for newborn to four month-olds. I am excited to continue the series with more essentials for four month to eight month-olds! By the time Waverley was four months-old we were moved in to our house and had the opportunity to use more gear than before, which was perfect timing because she started eating solids at five months and the necessary gear kept multiplying. I still carefully considered each product we purchased and used, requiring everything to pass the test of being stylish and functional with long-term use capabilities. Here is my list of OT and mama approved essentials:

One: I chose the Stokke Tripp Trapp chair because it can grow with Waverley, keeps her contained and well-positioned (i.e., she’s not leaning all over the place), is easy to pull up to the table or use with a tray at the counter, and coordinates with our own chairs so it doesn’t scream “baby high chair here!”.

Two: The Boon Whale Pod is essential for storing away bath toys. The corners of our tub were quickly overrun with piles of toys that seemed to just soak in grimy water until the next bath. The Whale Pod allows the water to drain out and is barely noticeable against the white walls of the tub. Love it.

Three: The Joovy Spoon Walker is my preferred choice over obnoxious exer-saucers. I love being able to put her own toys on the large tray and the sleek design makes me not want to cringe when I see it in the corner of our living room.

Four: Beaba Silicone Spoons are perfect for first feedings with just the right size spoon and handle. The angle of the spoon to the handle is just right to ensure most of the bite actually makes it in Waverley’s mouth. Waverley loves to gnaw on these as well so silicone is definitely the way to go over anything with metal.

Five: Now that she’s drinking from supplementary sources more I wanted to use glass rather than plastic. The Lifefactory glass bottle with sippy cap are wonderful because the silicone covers are easy to grip and prevent breakage when they are vigorously thrown on the floor. We use them with the sippy cap for water and nipples for milk. Two in one? Genius.

Six: I am not sure why it took me so long to buy the OXO wipes dispenser but I’ve loved it ever since. The weight on the inside ensures only one wipe comes out at a time. It’s easier to handle one-handed (because the other hand is wrestling a wiggly baby on the changing table) than a package of wipes and it looks nicer, too. Winning!

Seven: The Ju Ju Be reversible bib comes in a handy little pouch which makes it great for traveling or going out to eat. The fabric is easy to rinse (we used cloth bibs at first …  it was a disaster) and the magnetic closure actually stays closed, rather than Velcro which loosens over time. It’s a little spendy for one bib but with the Ju Ju Be reversible bib you’ll only need one bib. It’s the only one we use.

Eight: Sets of ramekins may seem random in a baby gear list, however, we use them for every meal. The small size is perfect for baby servings and they are microwave safe, which is convenient considering I am usually heating up previously frozen meals for Waverley. My always in-the-know best friend told me to use these and, as usual, she was spot-on.

Nine: The Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 convertible carseat is super plush, comes in lovely colors, and is easy to get Waverley in and out of. She has yet to take advantage of the cup holder, but I foresee that being incredibly useful in the future. The insert works well for smaller babes and provides great longevity by removing it as they grow. I guess it is ultra comfortable considering she is asleep within ten minutes of being in it!

Ten: Boon Dive bath appliqués are my favorite bath toys. They are mold and mildew resistant, are easy to grab and hold onto for little hands, and the colors and shapes are stimulating to Waverley yet simultaneously modern looking for us. Because they are BpA-free, Phthalate-free and PVC-free, I don’t worry when she chews on them for 99% of her bath.

Eleven: The Beco Baby Carrier Gemini is my lifesaver! I’ve tried several other brands and this one is my favorite, both for my ergonomics and Waverley’s positioning. It offers four positioning options, great back support for the wearer, is easy to put on independently, and has an extra safety latch on the buckles. I’ve taken it with me everywhere since I received it. Also, it comes in sophisticated colors and prints which is obviously a necessity.

I hope this list is helpful for you! Is there anything else you would add for 4-8 month-old babes?

 

 

 

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freshly picked moccasin giveaway

babies in freshly picked mocsLast week in Portland I spent several days with my best friend and her adorable family. One night we went to a concert in the park to let our littles rock out, although Waverley ended up playing with the container of wipes more than the tambourine I brought for her. Both girls were both sporting a pair of Freshly Picked baby moccasins and it was pretty dang cute. If you haven’t heard of Freshly Picked, I highly recommend taking a gander at the website and soaking in the cuteness of their moccasins for babes and kids, totes for adults, and now T-shirts for little ones. The moccasins offer a rare combination in baby shoes: they are super cute and actually stay on! Even with the dancing, rolling, and feet grabbing (and chewing, of course), both girls left the concert with two moccasins attached to their feet. They come in tons of fun and lovely colors (and just came out with a new line, the picnic pack, which I am dying for) and are incredibly soft. Waverley has had them on nearly every day since she received hers. Now one of you lucky readers will get to win a pair of your choice! Lucky you! Scroll down to enter!

freshly picked mocs babies in freshly picked moccasins chambray romper and gold mocs platinum baby mocs cute babies in moccasins pink freshly picked moccasins

Can you believe Elin’s hair and these girls’ thighs? I’m thoroughly loving everything about them right now. If you’re wondering, Waverley is wearing Freshly Picked moccasins in Platinum (c/o); Elin is wearing Blush.

Enter as many times as possible in the Rafflecopter widget below and tune in on June 28th for the winner on my Facebook page. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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the ten minute fishtail updo

fishtail updo

This may be my last long hair how-to for a while … I just chopped my hair off! Can you believe it! I am excited to debut it soon. When I did have long hair (for 99% of my life), quick and easy updos were essential to know how to do quickly. I love this fishtail braided bun because it is a tad more interesting than a typical top knot yet is just as easy and effortless. Creating a fishtail braid takes practice but once you get the hang of it you’ll be able to do it as quickly as a French braid. Honest. Here’s the how-to!

Supplies: Hair spray (I like Oribe Superfine Strong Hair Spray), strong bobby pins, a thick hair tie, and a clear elastic hair tie.

updo supplies

Step One: Start with a mess of hair.

wavy hair for updo

Step Two: Gather hair in a pony tail at the desired position of the bun. I like them a little higher, so I started this pony tail on top of the crown.

gathering hair in a pony

Step Three: Wrap hair in a thick elastic. Divide pony tail into two sections.

fishtail braid step one

Step Four: Take a 1/2″ chunk from the outside of one of the two sections. Bring that 1/2″ chunk over the section it came from and add it to the other section.

fishtail braid step two

Step Five: Take a 1/2″ chunk from the other section and bring it over to the first section. You will continue to only have two section, not three like in a typical braid.

fishtail braid step four

Step Six: Continue taking 1/2″ chunks from the outside of the pony tail and adding it to the opposite section. Pull tightly as you go.

fishtail braid how to

messy fishtail braid

Step Six: Once you’ve reached the end of your tail, tie it with the clear elastic. Then mess up the braid by pulling it apart from the middle so it looks thicker and messier.

make a braid messy

Step Seven: Wrap the braid around the base of your pony tail to create a bun. Secure with the pins. Spritz with hair spray and you’re done! Enjoy the summer heat without looking like a hot mess with sweaty hair sticking to your neck (my worst nightmare).

pinning an updo
fishtail bun
quick fishtail braid updo

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make your own almond milk

how to make your own almond milkI love coffee creamer. I could seriously bathe in it I love it so much. Just writing about it really gets me jonesing for my morning coffee with thick, sweet cream stirred in. Sigh. Heavy sigh. One of the ways I am trying to shed my extra pregnancy pounds is by swapping mon amour creamer for a healthier option: almond milk. It’s okay. At least I can take pleasure in making my own, which is easy breezy with this awesome blender. I like to add just a hint of flavor with vanilla bean paste and agave nectar. It’s also delicious in smoothies!

{Ingredients}
One cup whole almonds
Four cups water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/2 teaspoon agave nectar

{Directions}
1. Soak the almonds in the water overnight.
2. Pour the mixture into a blender and blend according to your particular blender’s directions.
3. Pour through a strainer to thin out.
4. Pour the milk back into the blender and add the vanilla bean paste and agave nectar.
5. Blend again!
6. Done! Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

soaking almonds for milk natural sweeteners homemade almond milk

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kitchen reveal

gray and white kitchen

I am excited to show y’all our kitchen today! Our old kitchen in our apartment in Maryland had a dark, dungeon-like quality to it with zero windows, dark cabinets, and black counters. The depressing nature of that kitchen and the impending dark Alaskan winters made me yearn for brightness with plenty of natural light and a white color scheme. We were living in Maryland and building our house in Alaska via the internet (not something I would recommend, especially to someone as controlling as I am about these types of things) so we made our choices and hoped for the best. We were limited in that the floor plan was pre-established yet we were able to customize a few aspects. Our biggest splurge in the entire house is definitely our farm sink, which I couldn’t be happier with. It makes me smile every time I look at it! We added in a microwave and handy little shelves in the center island, perfect for Charlie’s treat jar, a basket of baby wipes, and cook books for easy access and saving counter space. We just added the backsplash (white ceramic subway tiles with gray grout) and I am loving the finished product. Despite the house being in Anchorage, I finally feel home.

white kitchen herringbone backsplash ball kitchen light fixture white and gray kitchen microwave in center island farm sink white farm sink hood over stove french door refrigerator gray bar stool shelves in center island{Light fixture and counter stools are both from West Elm}

 

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what’s your ultimate summer tradition?

mama and baby at the poolHappy Friday to you! I am so happy about this weekend. I am currently in Oregon soaking up the sun (it is legit hot you guys) and time with friends and family. Oh and decent places to shop. Our first day’s agenda was naturally a day at the pool. Waverley is definitely a water baby just like her mama! I was so happy to expose her to her first pool day because I feel it is such a quintessential part of summer as a child. My brother, sister, and I lived at the pool growing up and all had summer jobs at one in high school, too. As an Alaskan baby, Waverley is just not going to have the same experience and I am sad about that. It got me wondering: what is your definition of a classic summer day as a child? If you have babes, are you set on giving them the same summer experiences that you had? I wonder if Waverley’s summers will be any less of a summer without epic games of Marco Polo, night swim after her dad gets off of work, crushes on the lifeguards, and bleached out hair.

I’ll be enjoying my time in Oregon all next week but don’t you worry, I have plenty of exciting posts in store like our kitchen reveal(!) and how to do a ten minute fishtail updo. In the mean time, be sure to follow me in Instagram for the latest and enter this giveaway for a free 4moms mamaRoo baby miracle! Or be a dear and share it with your pals. Have a lovely weekend!

Long live summer!

mini boden swim suit

 

 

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grilled chicken gyros

chicken gyrosI am a sucker for a good gyro. I’m immediately taken back to our honeymoon four years(!) ago in Greece, when gyros and French fries were a daily meal…with a giant mug of Mythos. I recently ordered one from a restaurant and was so disappointed: it had no vegetables in it! Ever since I have been craving a true, delicious gyro loaded with veggies, feta cheese, tzatziki, and meat (of course). Although I do enjoy traditional gyro meat, sometimes I opt for a lighter version with chicken. I love how gyros can be as homemade as time allows (baking your own pitas or making homemade tzatziki) which makes them perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or a true labor of love.

We made ours with the following ingredients:
Wrap: Whole wheat pita bread
Vegetables: Bell peppers, red onion, tomatoes, and cucumber
Toppings: Tzatziki, feta cheese, and kalamata olives
Meat: Chicken marinated with sea salt, garlic, black pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice and then grilled on the BBQ

So easy, right! Don’t forget the French fries!

greek salad ingredients greek toppingsgyro ingredientschicken gyros and french fries greek meal

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