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For years, you sat back and listened to other talk about their kids – the good, the bad, and the ugly….the whole nine. Finally, it’s your turn to experience the triumphs and challenges of motherhood. So, what expectations do you have? I’ve been there, done that (for 19 months now to be exact), so I can speak with experience and say without hesitation that I had some false expectations – myths, as it turns out – about motherhood. Learning that my expectations (in part) where indeed myths has been painful in some cases, a relief in others, but eye-opening nonetheless. Here are some of the myths I’ve uncovered so far. May they help ease your mind and prepare you for the most amazing experience of your life – motherhood.
Myth 1 – Breast Feeding? I’ve got this in the breast milk bag!
I tried. I really did. According to the army of nurses who showed me the breast feeding ropes (I’ve never had so many hands on my breasts at once), I was doing everything right. My son was simply a “lazy feeder”, as they called him. I had friends who could have bottled and sold their milk and made thousands. Me? Not so much. I fed my son and pumped, pumped then fed, took hot showers, and most importantly, I kept at it for weeks, which is the key to the supply and demand theory. The more you try the more milk you produce – theoretically. Alas, I only pumped 2-3 ounces a day, and my sweet baby boy was up every hour crying at night, starving. It was a harsh reality, a failure in my eyes at the time. But, ladies, sometimes we just have to realize that no matter how we try, some things just aren’t meant to be. He did drink some of my milk and colostrum, which is super important, so for that I was thankful.
Myth 2 – I’ll be back in my skinny jeans in now time!
Do not, I repeat…do not ask your friend or your massage therapist how long it took her to lose the baby weight. Reality check – you and your body are different. Every woman is different. Some lose it in a month (insert insulting profanity here), for some it takes a year, for others it never comes off. Here’s the thing you need to remember; it took you 9 months to gain the weight. It’s going to take at least that amount of time to lose it for most of us. Here’s the thing; you’re a mom now, you grew a person inside of you and welcomed him or her into the world safely. You’re a rock star, a miracle-worker, an amazing woman! Celebrate your new curves and don’t be afraid to show them off with pride! Personally, it took me 9 months to get back in my jeans, and some things are still, well…different. But it doesn’t matter! I feel more confident that I ever have, because I am a mom. Being a mom gives you a renewed sense of womanhood, and that just feels good. So who cares if your stomach isn’t as flat it used to be, and who cares if your boobs hang a little lower than they used to. Celebrate you, your body (no matter what the size), and motherhood with pride.
Myth 3 – I will like my child all day, every day, no matter what.
Your little bundle of joy has arrived, and you’ve never been so in love. But as baby grows and becomes more independent, times tend to become more trying. Bottom line – when little Sally screams bloody murder during time outs, or baby Joey has learned to hit you in the face – like with blunt objects – it’s hard to feel warm and fuzzy toward your child in that moment. If you have fleeting, angry thoughts, and you want to sometimes run out of the room screaming, or you beat your pillow at night into a feathery pulp because sweet Sophie is awake and crying for the umpteenth time – you are not alone. What about losing your patience? If you’re human, it’s going to happen. The key is knowing how to get your own temper under control, so you can set a good example for your child and not let difficult situations escalate into potentially dangerous or unhealthy ones. Count to 10, take that step out of the room (with your child in sight) to cool off, and talk about it later with your significant, a friend, and your child (if she or she is of the appropriate age). You know you will always love your child, but you won’t always like him or her every moment of the day. And that’s ok. Remember, however, that if your fleeting thoughts of frustration become regular thoughts of anger, then it’s time to talk to a professional who can help both you and your child with aggression and anger concerns.
Myth 4 – I won’t let motherhood change my relationship with my significant other.
This myth is more like a bitter pill to swallow. As you enter motherhood, you tell yourself you will be able to balance everything in your life, but for many of us, it just ain’t so. You’re adapting to life with a baby, and your priorities no longer include happy hours, long weekends at the beach, and Twilight movie marathon nights with the girls. The state of mind you’re in for the first year of motherhood can be summarized in two words – survival mode. You’re suddenly responsible for another human being, 24/7, and you’re running on empty most of the time. Something’s gotta give, and more often than not, it’s time with your significant other. Date nights fall to the back burner, you’re too exhausted to care about intimacy, and any spare time you have is dedicated to cleaning, working, exercising, or napping. It’s just the nature of the – I hesitate to say “beast”, but you get where I’m going. Being prepared for it is half the battle. If you’re aware in advance, you can make efforts to make time, or at the very least, you can talk to your significant other about it to avoid an unpleasant surprise.
The first quarter of 2013 is in the books – which means your New Year’s Resolution should be well underway. Most of us set some sort of fitness goal when the calendar changes to January 1st. In reality, spring is a much more suitable time for assessing your personal fitness and setting goals. The weather finally begins to cooperate and exercising on a regular basis becomes less of a challenge. One of the fun things about spring and summer is that it opens up all sorts of possibilities of ways to work out. I love exercising outside. Even when it’s 20 degrees outside I prefer to throw on warm clothing and run outside versus inside on the treadmill. But – that’s just me. I know many people who have drastically different preferences. That’s the great thing about spring weather. The world is your oyster when it comes to working out!
As you’re getting ready to jumpstart your summer fitness, consider these strategies:
What is your favorite way to exercise during the spring and summer?
If you like to garden, spring is one of the nicest times of the year. The weather is improving, and plants are waking up after a long winter of inactivity. If you think last year’s hydrangeas or azaleas were spectacular, now’s the time to propagate them to make even more beautiful plants. If you want to plant an herb or cutting garden, this is the time to grab a few nursery catalogs and start putting together a wish list. If you’d like to start taking control of your family’s diet (and save a few dollars at the same time), this is the time to plant your own victory garden full of nutritious heirloom vegetables — and get the kids interested in gardening.
Whatever your landscape goals happen to be, spring will start you on the road to a better garden. It isn’t magic, though. Even with the help of light rain and gentle sunshine, the heavy lifting is up to you — or whoever you can cajole or blackmail into helping you.
Let’s take a look at some basic but important steps you can take now to get your sleepy garden ready to bloom in a big way.
Winter can leave a mess behind, including fallen branches, drifts of dead leaves, dried grass, dead plants and weedy interlopers ready to sprout at the least provocation. Taking an afternoon to dig your wheelbarrow out of the garage and gather up the detritus of the last season or two is the first step to a successful garden mini-makeover:
Remove decaying wood – Remove fallen branches and any decaying wood on your property. If you have a woodpile, move it as far as possible from your house. Although fallen wood doesn’t attract termites, if they encounter a food source, they may become active in that location and discover other sources of wood nearby, like your home’s foundation. Dead wood left lying around can also attract and harbor vermin that will use it as nesting material and for concealment. Decaying wood can also contain bacteria, mold and mildew that may cause problems for new plants, shrubs and even trees later in the season.
Lose those sprouting weeds – Remove any early weeds you see. Early in spring, most weeds are still relatively shallow rooted and easy to grasp and remove. Eradicating one weed now will save you having to deal with 20 of them in a month. There are other ramifications to leaving weeds to flourish in your spring garden. Weeds do more than look unsightly. They deplete valuable nutrients your invited plants will need to survive. Some of them also have nasty spines or thorns, cause skin irritations or allergic reactions and attract destructive insects to the garden.
Make use of last year’s leaves – Gather fallen leaves from nearby trees and compost them. If you don’t have a compost pile, add the leaves to your flowerbeds. Leaves make excellent spring mulch.
Test your soil – Most gardeners start with less than perfect soil. The good news is that compost and soil amendments like lime and wood ash can help transform poor soil into a flourishing garden. The first step is to discover what type of soil you have; then you can start improving it. Purchase a soil test kit at your local nursery, or have a professional test performed. If that’s not feasible for you, your local USDA Cooperative Extension Office may be able to offer some general information about the soil in your area. Your local nursery may be able to offer some advice, too.
Improve the soil – Once you know you need to lighten a dense clay soil, for instance, you can start adding a little sand, straw and compost to your flower beds every year. After a few seasons, you’ll have rich, loamy soil that will need very little additional work beyond weeding, feeding and an occasional minor adjustment. Improving your soil today is an investment in the future.
Now that you’ve cleaned away all the distracting and potentially damaging debris, it’s time to evaluate your landscape and make some plans. Those hostas may need some judicious thinning, or your day lilies might look better transplanted to the backyard. You may want to add some companion plants to your rose garden, or include some herbs in your vegetable patch. Whatever your goals happen to be, it’ll be easier to implement them when your garden is prepped and ready.
Easter. Remember how much fun it was when you were a kid? Mom would take you shopping for your Sunday best – a frilly new dress, shiny patent leather shoes, your new, big-boy clip-on tie. Easter was all about the outfit and the hunt – the egg hunt, that is, and the candy…chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and who could forget the sugary sweet goodness of PEEPS.
Times haven’t changed much, and most of are still kids on the inside. We still enjoy all those guilty pleasures of Easter old, but now we can celebrate with a little more style and sophistication. If you’re entertaining grown up kids this Easter holiday, these delectable recipes and charming table setting ideas will help you host the ultimate Easter dinner party with a whimsical flair.
Just Say “No” to Ham!
Sure, Easter has its traditions, but ham doesn’t always have to be one of them. This year, ham is out and salmon is in! It’s a light and elegant main dish that is oh so good for you too. Check out this fabulous Salmon with Cucumber Relish recipe from the Queen of Holidays herself, Martha Stewart.
Serve the salmon over rice with cucumber relish or your favorite vegetable on the side.
If salmon isn’t your thing or you teeter on the brink of Anaphylactic Shock when you eat fish, then here’s another succulent recipe made even more appealing when Matthew McConaughey cooked it up in How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days. (Ladies, you know what I’m talking about.) This one is sure to impress. Word to the wise – just be sure your guests are meat eaters.
Oregano and Orange Rack of Lamb with Fingerling Potatoes
Don’t Forget to Set the Table!
You might as well serve hotdogs for Easter dinner if you neglect to properly adorn the table with which you present your dinner. So let’s talk tables, shall we?
Easter is all about colors – pastel colors to be precise – and pastels are tough, because they tend to look juvenile. Children are very much a part of the Easter holiday, but remember we are going for a sophisticated table setting with just a hint of whimsy.
The key to a sophisticated Easter table setting is to limit the number of pastels you incorporate. Stick to two colors to avoid a table setting that resembles your baby’s favorite blankie. Combos like purple and yellow, pink and green, or white with any color (I prefer orange) are stunning together. Just remember we’re talking pastels here, not “like, totally 80’s” obnoxious colors. If you’re into bold prints, check out these gorgeous table linens from Target. Just remember to pair your bold table cloth or runner with solid colored accessories for a clean, simple table setting.
Dress Up Your Stemware
Another great way to add that “wow” factor and a little fun to your Easter table is to dress up your stemware. Add butterfly charms to your wine glasses or paint them with flowers. I know, I know. Who has the time (or in my case the talent) to hand paint anything? Fortunately, there are lots of savvi resources out there to help! Check out these gorgeous finds to help dress up your stemware!
Centerpieces: The Heart of Your Table
The centerpiece is the most important piece of your table setting. It’s a focal point for your guests to enjoy, and it can be a great conversation piece as well. You can never go wrong with a clear vase filled with a little color or sparkle. Take a clear vase and fill it with jelly beans then use the beans as “soil” for fresh flowers. Use just one color for an elegant monochromatic piece or use lots of color for a fun and festive look.
Candles for Less often has deals on bulk vases, so if you entertain often, you can probably use more than one vase. http://www.candles4less.com/Bulk-Square-vases_c_148.html?gclid=CNb8uPWnuLUCFUWd4AodBl8Alg
If you prefer a rustic table setting, fill a basket with colorful dyed eggs, candy eggs or a combination of both, and use this bountiful basket as your centerpiece. Not quite country enough for you? How about buying or building a large bird’s nest and placing adorable (fake) baby chicks inside? If that doesn’t scream Easter on the farm I don’t know what does!
Quick Fix Centerpieces
When it doubt, go with simple, elegant fresh flowers. Just stop in your local grocery store and pick up a small bouquet. You can usually find tulips for well under $10. Nothing is more reminiscent of spring than flowers, but if they don’t quite say “Easter” to you, then use the bunny as your backup. Place a large chocolate bunny in the center of your table, dress him up with a bow, and tell your guests “hands off” until dinner is done.
In case you’ve never heard of or used Pinterest before, (Side note: when is your lease up on that cave you’ve been renting?) here is a quick guide to Pinterest and why you should (or shouldn’t) use it.
Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board. It’s full of ideas, projects, blog posts, recipes, clothing, quotes, ecards, and more. Each of these items are called a “pin” and most blogs, websites, and online stores have the option to “pin” their link, and they end up on Pinterest. You in turn, can customize your Pinterest experience by making your own bulletin boards and organizing the pins you like, find useful, think you will try, want to read, want to buy, etc.
You have the ability to follow your friends and let your friends follow you. You can see what they have pinned and they can see your pins. It can help you share ideas with your like-minded friends. You also have the ability to view someone’s board that you don’t know, but have similar interets and ideas. Forging Pinterest friendships can be part of the fun.
OK all you organized people, Pinterest is your site! You can create a board for “Food.” OR you can create a board for “Desserts,” “Meatless Recipes,” “Bread Recipes,” “Appetizers,” “Recipes with black beans,” “Food I think is pretty but would never actually try and make…” You get the idea. No limit to how specific you want to get.
You pinned an idea for a rainy day activity to do with your kids one bright summer morning. A month later, you find yourself with long faced little ones staring out the window at the sheets of rain coming down in your back yard. Pinterest to the rescue. Pull up your board, remind yourself what that brilliant idea was and do it! It’s your virtual filing cabinet.
If you ever find yourself with sweaty palms and a mini anxiety attack because you are supposed to come up with a fabulous, themed birthday party for someone, let Pinterest do the thinking for you. I’ve been to more than one party and have complimented the host on the (delicious) (lovely) (creative) __________. And more than once, the host has said, “Pinterest!”
One can get lost in the beautifully pictured and pinned up world of Pinterest. One great idea is pinned and that leads you to another great idea, you visit links, sites, other boards, the next thing you know you’ve created a board for homemade toilet paper and floor wax. There can be an addictive component if you let yourself get caught up in the board pinning frenzy. Keep this in mind when using Pinterest, especially if you’re new. Set limits and be practical. When you start creating boards completely dedicated to pictures of cute, calico cats, step away from the computer and take a walk outside.
Pinterest is a popular place for professional bloggers, magazines and major companies to promote their ideas, projects, recipes and more. But the typical user is someone like me, a non-professional, semi-skilled at cooking, mom to 4 kids who barely has time to look at Pinterest, let alone follow through on anything I pin. So you could pin that seven-layer, multi-colored, superhero birthday cake, but in reality end up making a bunch of cupcakes with either red or blue frosting. Although those cupcakes were devoured and enjoyed by all your party guests, you’re still thinking about that seven-layer, multi-colored, superhero birthday cake that didn’t get made. It’s a Pinterest curse. Don’t be too hard on yourself if your attempts don’t look like what you pinned, or you never actually get around to completing a project you had in mind.
Most social media sites have settings where you can control who sees your posts and messages. Pinterest allows you to have up to three secret boards where only you can see what you’re pinning and have the ability to invite others to see also. But only three. Anyone else can see what kinds of things you’re pinning and the names of your boards. For some this isn’t a big deal. But if you like to browse and pin in privacy (more calico cats?) than Pinterest isn’t the best site for you.
So, are you off to use Pinterest? If not, the next big thing is always around the corner.
Have I convinced you? Great. Go create an account, then come back and have this article be your first pin, and title the board, “Smart Articles Written by Smart People.” Or something like that.