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Tips For Transitioning A Toddler To A Big Kid Bed

Willow is turning 4 in January and we finally just transitioned her to a “big girl” bed. It was always shocking to other parents, when they found out she was still in her crib at well past the age of 3. The truth is she loved her crib, sleeps 10-12 hours a night still and never tried to climb out! She was finally starting to outgrow the crib, and I knew it was time to find her a bigger, more comfortable bed. Since this is always a hot topic for parents, I thought I would share some ways we helped her prepare for this transition.

  1. Make It Sound Amazing! We talked about her new bed for about a month before it even came! I let her look at pictures and involved her in the process of picking out her new bed. We chose this amazing twin bed frame from Sweet Home From Wood and a nontoxic mattress from Tomorrow Sleep.
  2. Let Them Decorate…Willow picked out all of her sheets and quilts for her bed. I think letting her in on the process also kept her excited about sleeping in a new space. She went with mermaid sheets with a fun double sided quilt (all from Target).
  3. Go Over Ground Rules… Kids thrive off of routine and structure. Getting Willow into her new bed, came with some rules that we went over quite a few times with her. I has some anxiety about her having the freedom to get up and roam around at night now. So we discussed that she may only get out of bed to use the bathroom, or come directly to our room. Thus far she has followed the rules and is loving her new bed!

Shop The Room Below:

 

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#AskAbby: How do I relieve stress as a busy mom?

It seems stress can be the norm in my life sometimes! Thank goodness I’m familiar with the non-stop nature of my life thanks to being a nurse at a hospital for many years… however, my emergencies lately are generally less life threatening and more to do with running late to drop off Willow at school or forgetting to pack myself a snack to ward off my pregnancy fueled hangeryness.

 

Since spa days and vacations have been far and few between, I’ve found some other methods every mama on the go needs to help destress and wind down. Happy mamas are the best mamas and it’s uber important for us to remember that sometimes the best way to take care of our families is to be mindful of ourselves.

 

My “Favorite Five” go-tos to relieve stress:

 

#1: Acupuncture

I turn to my favorite chinese medicine often and I’ve even started making weekly appointments. I initially sought out acupuncture to jump start my fertility when I was having trouble getting pregnant (see next blog post for the full story) but I’ve maintained my commitment to the practice since. Acupuncture can be a little scary for first-timers and those who don’t like needles but I really encourage giving it a try. It might take a session or two to really get comfortable with someone sticking needles into your body but I feel the relief for long after my session is over. Besides relieving stress, it has helped me a lot with my headaches as well.

 

#2: Essential Oils

I love lavender and peppermint oils! My acupuncturist was the first to recommend these oils to me but they are VERY handy when it comes to relieving stress on the go.  Lavender is known for its calming effects but it also, more specifically, can relieve anxiety. I’ll put the oil on my hands throughout the day for this purpose. Peppermint is another powerhouse oil that can help relieve pain alongside a bunch of other benefits like reducing nausea and helping with digestion. I put peppermint on my temples when I have headaches and prefer it over popping a pain reliever medication.

 

#3: Working out

Working out has been a much different experience since being pregnant with the twins, I used to run on the treadmill to clear my head followed by toning arms and legs but I may begin trying out gentler methods of exercise for the duration of my pregnancy. I try to view exercise as less of a chore and more of a luxury and break from other hectic things that may be going on.

 

#4: Alone Time

The holy grail of relieving stress! I know whenever I’m getting in a funk, what I really need is some alone time. It doesn’t matter so much what I’m doing but just having no one around for a bit is very important in maintaining my sanity. I’ll often go get my nails done or go shopping by myself – not errands but a good activity while venturing alone.

 

#5: Manifesting

I’m not great at meditating though I’ve tried a bunch of methods… it just never works for me. One thing I do really enjoy though is actively thinking about gratitude. Being mindful of the things that mean a lot to us can be very calming and grounding – especially on a tough day. I try to make this a daily practice and it breeds a lot more positivity in my mind that reflects in my life.

 

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Spaghetti Squash Recipe

This recipe is a MUST HAVE for Mom’s looking to feed the whole family a super healthy meal but don’t have a lot of time for labor intensive meals. It’s also a crowd pleasing dinner that sneaks in veggies where heavy carbs usually are. A win-win for parents and the kids!

Wash the outside of an organic spaghetti squash. Pierce the skin with a knife several times.

Put 1/2-1 cup water in the bottom of a crockpot.

Place squash in crock pot and set on high for 2 hours.

Prior to squash being done sautée turkey meat in skillet. Heat marinara sauce in sauce pain until hot. Mix sauce with turkey meat.

Remove squash from crockpot, let cool. Cut into 4’s. Scrape out seeds from center.

Add salt and pepper to taste, along with butter.

Use a fork to remove squash from skin and into plate. Cover with marinara sauce and turkey. Sprinkle with cheese.

 

Photo credit: Kate Hauschka Photography

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What to Expect When You’re NOT Expecting: Twins Edition

Our road to getting pregnant for the second time was not an easy one. After getting pregnant with Willow so easily, I genuinely thought I would be pregnant with another baby in no time. After we decided as a couple that I would stop taking birth control, it was an exciting time and we couldn’t wait to see the positive sign on the pregnancy test! Little did we know and frustratingly, it wouldn’t be coming for quite some time.

 

Each month I would track my cycle with serious OCD, romantically text my husband that we had to get busy, and then subconsciously think I was pregnant and psych myself to tell the world I was with child… EVERY… SINGLE… TIME for 7 months straight. I was on an emotional roller coaster of anticipation and disappointment and eventually hit an all time low after my birthday.

 

I finally decided it was time to head to my OB in April. I figured that there was something wrong with me, and it turns out I was right – as most moms usually are. I had the labs of a premenopausal woman so my body was just not looking to get pregnant. Per my MD, my Estradiol was undetectable, my FSH was high and something was suppressing my ovaries. So to sum it up, at the ripe age of 33, I had California Raisins for ovaries and nobody knew why. I was devastated and all my doctor could attribute it to was the rise of environmental pollution which was an answer with little solace.  They told me to come back in another month for a redraw but again, like a bad record, each month my labs would look the same and getting my period was a constant reminder I had failed. This was not the scenario I wanted to be in and the emotional roller coaster continued.

 

To make matters worse, I wasn’t the only one eager to announce a new baby would be joining the family… I was constantly pained by complete strangers asking me when  baby #2 would be arriving. “I don’t know lady, when are you buying your 8th cat” was how I felt like responding.  These conversations continued to rehash my open wounds from the internal pain I felt over my empty womb. I started telling myself I had one amazing, beautiful daughter and that’s all we needed. Though this was the truth, I would hold back tears when Willow would ask me for a little brother or sister and I felt like I was letting her down. I was frustrated, embarrassed, and just plain sad.

 

My infertility consumed me, and I couldn’t see the way off the emotional roller coaster. With my labs heading in the same direction, I was open to trying anything. I even started acupuncture with an amazing woman, named Natalie who happened to specialize in infertility. I would go to weekly sessions with her, discuss my labs, and she started me on a serious regimen of natural supplements and vitamins. Natalie gave me a safe place to speak about my issue, and one day we decided together that I would go see a Reproductive Endocrinologist in which their sole purpose is to get people pregnant.

 

I met with the doctor and to my surprise she was enthusiastically upbeat. She looked at me, my medical history and my shitty labs, she then looked right back at me and said, “We are going to get you pregnant”. It was like a weight shifted off my shoulders, the heavens parted and I had just heard the voice of an angel. I couldn’t be any happier! The doctor explained that during my next period, I would start injecting fertility drugs that would help control my ovulation in preparation for an IUI. I finally had a plan, and was beyond ecstatic.

 

So naturally, I went back to stalking my cycle and patiently awaited Aunt Flo. Except, Aunt Flo never made it. I was one day late, and thought well isn’t that just odd. Just to amuse myself, I decided to take a pregnancy test, completely expecting it to be negative – no pun intended. However, I was greeted with a positive sign instead. I was in shock and didn’t believe it. Surely, this was an ironic mishap of a pregnancy test. I took 6 pregnancy tests that day and I’m not sure any of them would have made me believe it.

We were beyond excited to confirm with a blood test that indeed we were pregnant. How crazy was it that on the heels of deciding to turn to a last ditch effort but before actually starting the treatment I was with child?!

 

The pregnancy itself was such a surprise but we didn’t realize how much of a surprise we were in for until my first ultrasound, this was when we found out just how “pregnant” we were.

 

The visit went something like this:

 

Doctor: “Um, did you take any of the drugs?”.  

 

Me: No!

 

Doctor: Well, this is a surprise, there are two heartbeats.

 

Aj: Yeah, like the baby’s and Abby’s?

 

Doctor: No, as in there are two babies!

 

Me: Shut the F**k up!

 

Aj: What…

 

And then there were two…

Photo Credit: Kate Hauschka Photography

Obviously we are elated to be welcoming two new additions to our family this year. If you asked me how we did it without fertility drugs, I don’t have a clue. I do know that once I felt comfortable with a plan from my acupuncturist and doctor that I felt less stressed and happy to be making some kind of progress. I think I stopped over thinking my own body’s downfalls thus far, and actually gave myself a break for once. I spent more time on myself, and focused on other important things in my life that made me happy. As we always said in nursing, your body follows your mind, so get your mind right.

 

A note on infertility: I know our personal struggle with infertility for over a year may not be relevant to your own journey. I share this with you so that you know you are not alone. I also share this with everyone else who doesn’t understand infertility because they never had to go through it. Stop asking when someone may be having a baby or second child. Sometimes what you think are words of encouragement aren’t, and just listening can be helpful. It’s better to give support than advice or suggestions.

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Skincare Tips for Seasonal Change

This time of year is fun for so many reasons! Pumpkin flavored everything, sweater weather (not so much in Los Angeles yet), and gearing up for the holidays BUT cooler temps tend to wreak havoc on our skin. I’m here to bring you some skincare tips that I’ve learned throughout my years as a dermatology nurse that will save your skin from dry cool weather and indoor heaters without having to completely change your usual routine.

 

Tips

 

Tip #1: Apply moisturizer, retinols, and benzoyl peroxides to a moist face. This helps the products lock in extra moisture to your skin. The key during these cool months is keeping skin hydrated so try and keep all the hydration you can! This may want you to slather on extra creams but also be mindful that too much can cause breakouts or make existing breakouts worse.

 

Tip #2: Decrease frequency of retinol creams and other drying products. If these are usually part of your daily routine, maybe start applying every other day to give your skin some extra time to recover and retain moisture.

 

Avène Eau Thermale & Avène XeraCalm

Tip #3: Don’t forget to apply moisturizer to your body! We’re all guilty of rushing out of the shower into our work clothes because hit the snooze button one too many times but we cannot skimp on taking care of our bodies! This will prevent itchy dry patches and dermatitis. (Pro tip: I really like Avene’s thermal spring water spray to stay hydrated and XeraCalm on dry skin)

 

Tip #4: Keep wearing sunscreen! Just because we don’t get the sunshine does not mean we are protected from skin damaging rays. Cloudy weather can even intensify the worst rays for our skin so it’s even more important to not leave out SPF from our morning skin rituals.

 

Tip #5: We’ve all heard it before… stay hydrated! It’s easy during colder months to forget our 8 glasses of water (and maybe replace them with an extra cup of coffee) but keeping our water bottle count is just as important now than it was during the summer. (Pro tip: herbal teas are a great way to stay warm & hydrated!) When it’s warm, we may sweat more but that also causes our bodies to produce more oil which keeps skin hydrated. Since we produce less oil during the winter, we should be extra mindful of water intake.

 

Tip #6: During the winter skin peels produce faster results. Since the air and our skin is drier, skin reacts faster to peels. One whole day could be knocked off the peeling time frame so it’s good to keep this mind when scheduling these appointments. 

 

Tip #7: Eat pumpkin. Seriously! Our October porch decor is actually super rich in antioxidants that are incredible for our skin. Carotenoids are abundant in those jack-o-lanterns and this antioxidant is a powerhouse in protecting our skin from UV damage and other skin related disorders. Pumpkin is also filled with Vitamin C, B, Magnesium, and Beta-Carotenes.  

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#AskAbby: How to keep your family organized?

Most moms can relate to always being short on time and don’t need a reminder to it’s importance. Since AJ is often on set, I’m the family task manager and the one making sure everything and everyone is where they need to be. I’ve found a few “best practices” that have been my saving grace in keeping the family organized, and my sanity!

 

Tools

 

  1. Planner: I may be old school with my physical planner/calendar and yes I know that I can move everything to a digital one.  Yet, I’ve found that writing things down by hand in my planner as soon as I hear them has been key to staying on top of daily tasks and other things that may pop up.
  2. Color coding: As a nurse, EVERYTHING is color coded at work! I’ve carried this over to my home and it has been equally as useful. I even used to carry around a 4 color pen! In my planner, I’ll use different colors for notes pertaining to different people/categories of notes.
  3. Post-It Notes: (Also color coded!) These are all over my house! I use sticky notes for things that NEED to be done that day, I’ll write them down and then stick them on the back of my phone so there’s no way the task will escape me. No excuses with this method 😉
  4. Shared Google Calendars: My one “with the times” best practice! I LOVE this feature on Gmail. I have AJ’s calendar shared to mine and vice versa so we are always in the loop with each other. Plus, Willow has her own within my account so I know who has to be where and when. I love how everything auto-populates and there are so many different customization settings that would work for anyone’s needs.

 

Habits

 

  1. Putting daily items back where they belong: I’ve found this to be so helpful so I’m not wasting time during the day looking items I need. Whether it’s as simple as putting the keys back by the door or a mug next to the coffee pot to putting AJ’s eye mask back on the bedside table… I’d rather put these items back where they will be needed than be asked for help looking for them later 😉
  2. I coordinate all of Willow’s activities at the same time: I do my best to sign up all of Willow’s extracurriculars for the same time slot during the day so that even as her activities change, our routine doesn’t.
  3. Doing “fast tasks” immediately: Whether it’s opening the mail and paying bills right then and there or responding to an email… anything that can be done right away and in a few minutes should be. If I don’t do these tasks right away, I mentally file them away and forget to do them by the time they are due.
  4. Daily check in: This tends to be unscheduled but I always make sure to take a moment to review what needs to be done for the rest of the day/week. This moment also simply helps me to feel more organized.
  5. Planning a month in advance: I always made fun of friends who would do this but now as a mom I TOTALLY get it and practice it!! Maintaining friendships is extremely important to me so I make sure to actively reach out and suggest a date ( a month out) that works for me.
  6. Not being afraid to ask for help: I love my role and everything I do for the family but sometimes help is needed. I’m so lucky I have the ability to get help whether it’s hiring a sitter for Willow when I need to go to meetings or even have my mom coming to visit and lending a hand. Doing it all doesn’t have to mean doing it alone.
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How To Make Almond Milk At Home

We stopped drinking dairy milk in our household quite some time ago. In our family we found that dairy wasn’t so easy on the tummies, so we incorporated almond milk into our diets. I usually bought the in-store almond milk, but always wanted to try to make my own. So with a little trial and error I ended up with an easy recipe that the whole family loved.  Its simple and quick, plus it is a great activity to do with the kids.

Ingredients:

1 cup almonds

2 cups water (if you like a thinner consistency add more water, for thicker consistency add less)

1 tbsp agave

1 tsp vanilla extract

Equipment:

Blender

Bowls

Cheese Cloth

Strainer

Measuring Cup

Measuring Spoons

Instructions:

Pour one cup of almonds in a bowl, cover with water. Cover the almonds with a cloth and soak the almonds overnight or for at least 8 hours.

Drain and rinse the almonds under cool water.

Add almonds to blender (I use a Vitamix) along with water.

Add agave and vanilla extract.

Blend on high for 2 minutes.

Pour the almond milk through a cheese cloth into a bowl.

Press the almond milk from the almond meal inside the cheese cloth. You should get about two cups of almond milk.

Bottle almond milk, refrigerate for up to two days and enjoy!

Photo Credit: Kate Hauschka

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Where To Spray Your Perfume (Hint: It’s Not Where You Think)

Where do you spray your perfume everyday?

I would bet money that most of you would answer, my neck, chest and behind the ears. Unfortunately most of you beauties will end up in a dermatologist office due to this practice alone!

Why you ask? Well most perfumes contain alcohol, and when applied to sun exposed skin causes a photosensitivity to occur in direct sunlight. Thus increasing your chances of sunburn, which can lead to a list of problems. Such as hyper-pigmentation,  wrinkles,  Poikiloderma (google it, it is not pretty) and even skin cancer.

I take great care to avoid sun exposed areas when applying my perfume and so should you! I like to apply it under my clothes and I also do a spritz in the ends of my hair. Be careful not to spray too much in your hair, as the alcohol in the fragrance can also leave you with dry ends!

 

Shop My Favorite Fragrances Below:

Photo Credit: Kate Hauschka