Thursday, May 28, 2015

Prepping for Pregnancy

pregnancy, prepaing for pregnancy, healthy pregnancy, fit pregnancy
Photo credit: zsoolt / Foter / CC BY-NC
Shhh....don't tell anyone this, but....I'm not good at keeping secrets.  So, it should come to no surprise that I am writing a post on prepping my body for pregnancy.  I wrote a post awhile back about how pregnancy is like training for a marathon.  Well, we are going to be trying for baby 2 soon, so I am back in training, in preparation for pregnancy.

Here are the 3 things I do to prep my body for pregnancy.

1.  Stop taking birth control about 3 months prior to the "try" - At the end of this month, I will stop taking my birth control because we will start trying in the fall, when J turns two.  It takes about three months to get birth control out of your system.  Everyone is different of course, but that is the average, according to my OB.

2. If you aren't already, begin eating healthy and exercising regularly - Before you get pregnant is the time to get down to your body's ideal weight.  You want to make sure your body is muscular and has the right nutrients to grow a child.  I did this last pregnancy.  I made sure by the time we began trying, my body was in ideal shape for two reasons:  1) If I got pregnant sooner rather than later, I was taking care of my body to be able to nourish my baby. 2) Pregnancy and labor are hard, but they can be down right pleasant if you take care of your body.  I had hardly any pain and an easy labor, and I thank my focus on health and wellness for that.

3.  Take the right supplements - Begin taking your pre-natals as soon as you get off your birth control.  You never know if you might get pregnant earlier than you anticipated.  To help regulate your reproductive organs after getting off birth control, use Fertilify.  It's a supplement that was developed to enhance and support women's reproductive health.  It has antioxidants and coenzymes that help remove free radicals and balance hormones, improving fertility.   

FERTILIFY - #1 Doctor Recommended Women's Fertility Supplement: Supports & Maintains Reproductive Health with CoQ10, Vitamins C, E, D, B12 & Folic Acid. The Only All-natural, Chewable, Science Backed, All-in-one Fertility Pill on the Market. As Seen in Fertility Clinics! For Women Looking to Get Pregnany Now, OR Maintain Their Fertility for Later in Life.

What did you do to start preparing for pregnancy?

P.S. One more thing!  See that Top Mommy Blog badge on the top right?  Please click to vote for Sarah Smirks.  Thank you!!

This post cans some affiliate links; Fertilify was provided to me for my honest review.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

3 Supplements Women Should Take Every Day to Feel like a Warrior

supplements, women, health, wellness, fitness
Photo credit: Suzanne Schroeter / Foter / CC BY-SA
All my life, I have gone back and forth about supplements.  I took so many nutrition classes in college (because they counted as science prereqs and I HATED science), and my teachers always would say, don't bother taking supplements because if you're eating right, you are "just making expensive pee."  Yes, that is what they would say.  However, the older I got, the better I started eating, and I still felt like I wasn't getting all of the nutrition that my body truly needed.  I knew that was definitely the case when I got pregnant. 

When I got pregnant, I started taking prenatals and all of a sudden my hair was thicker, my skin was effin' radiant, and I just felt really good.  You might be thinking that was all a side effect of pregnancy, and I thought so too.  However, when I had my little man, J, I kept taking my prenatals, and while my friends who had children were complaining about how their hair was falling out and they felt drained, I still felt really good.  I was coping with the sleepless nights and hormone/chemical changes pretty well.  I eventually ran out of prenatals and didn't get more.  Guess what?  My hair started falling out, my skin looked terrible, and I just didn't feel healthy anymore.  Supplements make a huge impact on your mind and body.  While you might eat like a champ, it is likely you still aren't getting all of the nutrition your body was meant to get.

Here are my top three supplements I take every day to feel like a warrior.

1.  Omega-3 - Fish Oil:  Omega-3 Fish Oil is full of omega-3 fatty acids.  They help protect your brain and heart with EPA and DHA.  It also helps make you skin look gorgeous.  I started taking Quality Encapsulations - Triple Strength Omega-3 Fish Oil and my skin looked so much better within a few days of taking it. 

Omega 3 Fish Oil - Triple Strength - 1,500 Mg Omega 3 Fatty Acids - 600 Mg DHA 800 Mg EPA - No Fishy Aftertaste - Pharmaceutical Grade Fish Oil - 60 Softgels

2.  Green Vibrance Powder:  Every morning I drink a super food smoothie.  This is a super food power punch.  It has 25 billion probiotics, organic grass, and freeze dried greens.  I used to take a probiotic supplement and add sea greens and other super foods in my smoothie each day, so why not save some time?  It's an awesome all in one solution.  Bonus:  no gluten!

Green Vibrance Powder 60 day supply 25.61 oz.

3.  Women's Multivitamin:  I like to take the Vitafushion women's gummy vitamin.  It has all of the vitamins and minerals a woman needs every day, and it tastes like candy!  Make sure to get a women's vitamin that is specifically for women.  This vitamin supports metabolism and bone health on top of everything else. 

Vitafusion Women's Gummy Vitamins, Natural Berry Flavors, 150 Count

What vitamins do you take every day?  Do you notice a difference when you stop, like I did?

This post contains affiliate links; Quality Encapsulations provided me a sample of Omega-3 Fish Oil to provide an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A One Year Old's Reading List + a Giveaway!

My son is 20 months old and LOVES books.  My husband is a teacher and I am a writer, so he really would be stickin' it to us if he didn't.  At 20 months old, he already has his favorites.  His favorite books are the ones that he can get quizzed.  He likes when we ask him to find things in the book, point out body parts, or make animal noises.

Below are his absolute favorite books at the moment - plus - I have a little bonus for you.  I have a copy of Kisses, Kisses Up and Down for one of YOU!  Contest rules below :).

toddler reading, first words, 1 year old reading list

1.  Dr. Seuss' ABC book - He loves the rhyming and learning his ABCs!

Dr. Seuss's ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book!

2. Brown Bear, Brown Bear - J likes that you flip the pages up and that he can make animal noises.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

3. First 100 Words - J can say 30-40 words, and this book has a lot to do with it. For months, this was the only book he wanted to read.

First 100 Words

4. The Icky, Sticky Frog - J gets the chance to point out the little bugs and other hard to find things in the book.

The Icky Sticky Frog

5. Kisses, Kisses Up & Down - J had a ton of fun going through this book and pointing out all of the body parts being kissed in the book.

Baby Books: Kisses, Kisses Up and Down (Best Baby Books, Baby Books First Year, Baby Books First Five Years, Toddler Books, Best Toddler Books)

Enter to win a copy of Kisses, Kisses Up & Down!  All you have to do is follow @babyluvbooks & @sarahsmirksblog on Twitter and C&P this in a Tweet, "@babyluvbooks @sarahsmirksblog #SSkissesgiveaway."  If you don't have Twitter, just comment #sskissesgiveaway in the comments of this post.  It's that easy!

Please Note:  U.S. residents only.  Thank you :)

A winner will be chosen a week from today.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Summer Vibes on a Friday Night with Few Spirits

What started as a walk to the park and then off to Jewel to pick up some pizza on a Friday night turned into a memory.  While walking down Chicago Avenue in Evanston, we saw families gathered in an alley just north of Main Street.  Music and cocktails were fueling the positive vibe of the late spring night bringing summer vibes.

A band that sounded a lot like old (and better) Mumford and Sons was playing in the alley, right inside a garage opening to the distillery, Few Spirits.  String instruments were getting our toes tapping and J dancing right in the alley with all of the other kids who came with their parents.

A food truck was set up, selling empanadas.  I ordered three:  beef, dates and bacon, and spinach.  As much as I wanted to devour them, J kept stealing bites (will I ever have a meal of my own again?).  They were delicious!  If you see the empanada truck in Evanston, stop immediately and get the entire menu.  They’re only $2.50 anyway.

Next, we popped into line at FEW Spirits – a distillery that gives off an awesome speakeasy vibe.  The line was a mile long, but with the music and food, everyone was in good spirits (get it??!) and didn’t really mind waiting in line.  We were all chatting and J was making friends with everyone in line.  Turns out, you can bring a baby to a bar – you were wrong Reese Witherspoon via Sweet Home Alabama.  I got the Citrus bourbon cocktail and my cuz got a Rose Gin cocktail.  I’m not a hard alcohol girl.  I don’t dig it usually, but – when in Rome – so I got one.  It turned out to be really good. 

The whole scene was a memory maker.  Stumbling upon a bunch of young families drinking in an alley with a cool band was definitely one of my favorite Evanston nights yet.  If you’re in the Evanston area, I recommend stumbling upon your own memory maker at FEW Spirits.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Gorgeous Gift Baskets for the New Mom and Newborn

My sister-in-law had her baby last week!  It was very exciting for the whole family.  We had a big text chain going for the 30 (!!!) hours of her labor, getting the play-by-play.  Luckily, everything turned out good in the end (the middle - not so much - but that's her story to tell), and we got a new nephew/cousin/grandson added to the family!

While she was in labor, I was in search for the perfect gift basket that would be helpful to a new mom.  I hate those joke gifts for new moms, like earplugs to ignore the crying and tic tacs because you won't have time to brush your teeth.  That's just annoying.  I thought more about the things like, my boobs hurting like crazy, not being able to walk, and feeling not-so-pretty.  I wanted to address those things in my gift basket.  Here are three gift baskets that I considered (+ one that I bought).

new mom gift baskets, all-natural baby products, all natural pregnancy products, all natural/organic new mother products

1.   SimpleSincerity New Mom Basket - includes handcrafted soap, natural chapstick, oatmeal face scrub and bath soak, lavender belly rub, lavender pillow spray/toner, and 2 sets of eye pillows | 2.  Post-partum Gift Basket by Complete Natural Soaps - includes herbal sitz bath, nipple cream, & lip balm (this is the one I chose for my SIL). | 3.  Natural Mom and Baby Gift Basket by Milk of Paradise Soap - includes baby sleep massage cream, baby organic hair and body soap, nursing balm, and baby rash salve. | New Mommy Gift Basket by Melanies Apothecary - includes baby bum butter, lavender belly butter, lavender linen spray, bath tea, and chapstick,

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Stylish Activewear on the Cheap

exercise with toddler, cheap activewear, inexpensive gym clothes, cute gym clothes
Looking stylish at the gym has become more important to me since becoming a mom.  The thing is, when I have days where I have a sucker stuck in my hair and don't have time to wash my face until noon, I need to make sure on those more normal days, I'm looking good.  So, even when I'm going to the gym, I insist on looking stylish.  However, I am unwilling to spend a ridiculous amount of money.  1.  I'm not a marathon runner.  I don't need super smart clothes.  Some simple air-wicking will do the trick.  2.  I'm cheap.  My kid takes all my money.

My favorite place to shop is Target because I can get whatever I need.  Groceries?  Check.  Clothes?  Check.  A tent if a frickin need it?  Check.  So, all of my picks are from my favorite cost-effective shopping heaven.


1.  Women's Printed Leggings - RBX | 2.  Women's Woven Capri - RBX (the cutest "sweatpants" I ever did see) |  3.  Women's Tank Top with Keyhole - RBX - bonus!  I'm a neutral girl myself, but this top comes in pink and peach too. | 4.  Women's Ingrid Tank - Tulah

inexpensive activewear, cute gym clothes, cheap and cute gym clothes

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Key to Successfully Juggle Work and Motherhood: Outsourcing

working mom, parenting, household management, work/life balance
Sometimes being a working mom seems impossible.  There are just not enough hours in the day to work, raise your child, do laundry, dishes, cook, and the list goes on.  But, there are so many of us (working moms) out there, so there must be a way, right?

The only way that I stay sane while juggling my life is to outsource.  I do it for work.  I do it for home.  I'll be the first to tell you, I'm not good at everything.  I am not the best person for every job.  As a marketing director, I outsource SEM because I couldn't do it as well as someone else could and it isn't worth my company's money for me to fiddle until I figure it out, so I outsource.  The same thing goes with home.  I could not do as good of a job as my son's school to educate him and keep him stimulated all day, so I outsource.

How do you decide when it is time to outsource something?  I'll tell you my strategy to determine when to outsource for both work and home.  I ask three questions:

1.  Could I do this task as well as someone else?

If the answer is yes, I go question 2 with money as a bigger factor than if I answered no.

2.  Is it worth the money?

How do I determine if something is worth the money?  I set an amount my time is worth - $70/hour.  How do you determine how much your time is worth?  The obvious choice is how much do you get paid per hour.  If you don't work right now, how much money would you have to be paid per hour to take a job offer? 
3.  Is this task essential?

If it isn't worth the cost to pay someone to do it and it isn't worth my time, I might as well just cross it off the list and say it is not essential to my life. 

Here's a common question that a lot of parents have to determine:  Do I stay home with my child or do I use childcare?

Outsource childcare?

Q1:  Could I teach J as well as someone else? 
A1:  No.

Q2:  Is it worth the money?
A2:  It would cost me $3,500 of my time a week.  It costs $321 a week for daycare.  It's worth the money!

Q3:  Is this task essential?
A3:  Yes!

So, we choose to send him to daycare and have no regrets.

What are some other tasks that can be outsourced?

  • Laundry
  • Maid Service
  • Grocery delivery service
  • Childcare
  • Lawn maintenance
  • Dog walking
  • Dog yard clean-up
In my world, outsourcing is the only way to make my life manageable.  What experiences have you had with work/life balance?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

A Letter to the Boy Who Made Mother's Day My Holiday

mommy blogger, parenthood, mom, mother's day
My Dear Baby J,
You’re almost two now, but you’ll always be my baby.  You’re the one who made Mother’s Day my holiday.  You made me reborn.  One day, I was a girl.  The next day, I was a mom, and that changes you to your core.
I thought I was a woman before you.  I wasn’t.  I was a child, just like you.  I had some responsibilities, but it was nothing like the responsibility of carrying and nourishing you in my body and then one day I got the opportunity to begin raising you.  At that point, I truly changed.  I went from someone who could think about herself exclusively, and that was fine, to a person who had someone else so much more important to focus on.  Now, my drive is for you.
I work for you.  I kept my career because I want to provide for you.  Not only financially, but I want to provide a strong, independent female role model for you.  I want to show you that a woman can be all things.  I want to show you that women are equal to you.
I put myself behind you.  Whenever I plan anything, I think, how will this affect you?  Will this be a memory that you keep forever?  Will this educate you?  Will this experience help mold your personality?  I want you to have the best life you can.  And that makes me understand my mom better.
You helped me understand my mom better.  Before you, she was my mom – she was always there for me – but I never understood what “mom” meant until you.  I never understood that sacrifice she made.  I never understood the heartache I put her through.  I never understood the love that swelled in her.  I never understood how much it could hurt to watch me leave.  I understand now.  You’re only two and I feel all of those things. 
I want to thank you, J, for being my son.  You made me a person that I could never have become without you.  Your smile lights my life.  I catch myself watching you and taking breaks when you’re gone to look at your picture or watch a video of you because I love you so much and I’m in awe of you.
I’ll love you forever.  I’ll like you for always.  As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Our Kentucky Derby Weekend in Chicago (Bonus: My Kentucky Derby Party Planning Tips)

This weekend we had a grand old Kentucky Derby party. We're the hosting types - always coming up with a reason to throw a party. This weekend it was to celebrate Mint Juleps and big hats - er - I mean, the Kentucky Derby!

We had some family and friends over to barbeque, cocktail, and watch the races. That was the intent anyway. The kids were the real stars. Jax and his darling friend went park hopping and Jax had a good time pretending like he was riding a horse while watching the race. He loved it. The whole race he was calling out, "Neigh! Neigh!" and riding a fake horse (his aunt's lap). Don't believe the terrible twos hype. The closer he gets to two, the funnier he gets.

Anyway, if you are interested in throwing a Kentucky Derby style party, here are my tips!

1. Have a dress code: Have some fun with it and encourage family and friends to dress in their finest track-wear and hats. I wish I could have gotten Jax to wear anything other than his Elmo shirt.  Here are some hats I recommend for your next Derby party, trip to the track, or formal event.

1.  Yellow Kentucky Derby Hat | 2.  Black and White Handmade Kentucky Derby/Formal Hat | 3. If you aren't into hats, how about this beautiful formal headband? | 4.  For the husbands, this sexy bowler hat.

2. Good cocktails are a must: We made three different types of Mint Juleps: classic, blueberry, and ginger. Here are the recipes.

3.  Get the right décor:  Make the space pretty with Derby-appropriate décor.

1.  Kentucky Derby themed confetti for the table tops (bonus: it's only $7.50!) | 2.  Beer bow ties | 3.  Kentucky Derby Lollipops | 4.  Kentucky Derby candles for the tables.  Tablescaping is key when having a party.

None of these items are expensive.  I don't believe in pricey party décor.  BUT, they make a huge impact when throwing a party!

Do you have any tips on creating a fun themed party?

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