Why I'm Not Asking Ruthie to Trade in her Candy for Clementines

Just in case you're only in the mood to read one sentence: the short answer is "because memories".

 Ruthie sorting candy from a parade this summer.

Ruthie sorting candy from a parade this summer.

Soooo many of my childhood memories have been formed around really good food. A ton of our traditions would be almost unrecognizable without food, trick or treating for example. In order to enjoy these food-based traditions rather than anticipate them with anxiety and a bag of tricks to "survive holiday eating", a healthy relationship with food is completely necessary.

As a dietitian, especially as an RD working in school setting like I always have, there's an expectation for me to totally villianize candy and other foods seen as bad by society. The need to label foods as good and bad starts young. During nutrition presentations to pre-k and kindergarten classes, students often raised their hands and told me with pride that they never eat ice cream because it's bad. They also sometimes raised their hands and forgot what they were going to say, then panic and tell me that their dad has glasses instead.

I have been partly to blame for this societal fear of certain foods. I've done radio interviews discussing creative ideas for trading in Halloween candy for stickers and toys. I've developed checklists of the "healthiest" candy (healthiest in this instance meaning lowest in calories....healthy DOES NOT mean low calorie - not proud of that article). I've shared "healthier" ideas to satisfy a candy craving (nothing is truly going to satisfy a Butterfinger craving other than a Butterfinger). I've done a TV segment where I drew a ghost face on a banana and pretended to be certain that kids would find this just as satisfactory as a candy bar. All of these ideas represent a fear of food that I totally (and luckily) do not share.

I was basically being a big ole liar. I LOVE mini Halloween candy bars, I sure as hell wouldn't want to trade them in for a clementine (although I love clementines too). I know from experience and from research that trying to squash a Butterfinger craving with an apple is going to lead us to find more and more options to fight that craving until we have eaten way more than we would have had we just had the candy.

I'm not planning on showing Ruthie that it's fine to eat an entire bag of Snickers, but I want her to know that Snickers aren't forbidden. I want to help her create Halloween memories like I was lucky enough to have. Since she is only 2, she will require a little help storing and dispensing her candy (she might even completely forget about it after a day or two). But helping kids understand at a young age that candy and treats are a part of a healthy life is vitally important to helping them have a healthy relationship with candy and treats later. There are no forbidden foods. There are no foods that will suddenly take us from great health to poor health. There are foods of lower nutritional value that need to be experienced regularly in order to lose their aura of mystery and allure that can lead to a cycle of restriction/overeating as adults.  

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I want Ruthie to be able to sit down with a donut and eat until she is done. Sometimes she might take just a bite and leave the rest, sometimes she might lick the frosting off, sometimes she might eat the whole thing and ask for another. I want her to think of a donut simply as food, delicious food, but in no way forbidden or bad or "limited time only" or as a bribe used to eat something green. 

Halloween to two year old Ruthie isn't as candy centered as it might be when she's older, but I want to help her understand now that candy isn't evil, in fact, it's a pretty fun part of being a kid.

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New Blog Photos Guys! by Raven Vasquez Photography

My friend Raven took some new photos for the blog and I'm obsessed.

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I've been obsessed with her for a while, she is a complete entrepreneurial inspiration and I have the feeling you'll be AWWWWW-ing uncontrollably if you check out her Instagram feed.

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But I'm most of all majorly obsessed with the fact that these are new "head shots" - a FAR (far far far) cry from the head shot I needed for my old life which involved me wearing a super tight suit coat and trying to casually put my hand on my hip while having my head positioned by three different people (look down, now bring your eyes up to me...now try that again without looking so psychotic....how 'bout propping your foot up on this fairly tall bench...there, that looks casual).

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Back to that blazer real quick. I definitely miss dressing like a boss for work (I mean, I could do that at home I guess) but I DO NOT miss this jacket. I bought the tiniest one they had and insisted on squeezing myself into it because "shrunken" blazers were all the rage. If you had asked me to throw a basketball while wearing this blazer, I would have just rolled over onto my back like a turtle. Pick up a child while wearing this blazer? The definite result would have been a giant rip up the back. Casually place my hand on my hip in this jacket? A super awkward wincing face and inner elbow abrasion.

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Also for this old head shot, I had to pick a hobby and hold up a physical representation of it for a pic. If you asked me now, that would be easy...I'd hold up a baby (or a diaper? or a muffin? my laptop?) But back then I remember thinking "ummm I played the piano in 7th grade?". So I ended up holding a yoga mat AND rock climbing shoes and sort of shrugging in the pic. OK, finished with the rant, onto the sharing of these NEW pics featuring a soft and flowy top representing MY FUTURE. (#drama).

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Thank you so much Raven. And YOU. If you haven't already awed yourself into a coma from scrolling her IG feed, please do so now.

You can (should) book a session with Raven here.

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Yoga Stretches for Babywearers

Guys, my 9 month old weighs 26 lbs. 

AND, he loves to be held. (Side note: I love holding him too). Lately, he has been crawling up into my arms a little more often (I blame this and pretty much everything else on new teeth). In order to have a hand or two free, I've been wearing him a lot. My back hurts. Really specifically, my right shoulder and neck hurt, like a can't turn my head kind of feeling.

A lot of you are probably in the same boat. Carrying a babe on one hip, hauling around a giant bag, hunching over while nursing, wearing your 9 year old in the Ergo to get her to sleep (hi I'm a huge exaggerator, nice to meet you  👋🏻). Basically, babies can equal back pain. 

Rather than waiting hours after waking for my back and neck muscles to loosen up, I looked around online and consulted a yoga buddy to put together a series of super simple stretches that give me back my head movement. Aside from the physical benefits, I'm dabbling in the whole mind-clearing side of yoga and meditation. I haven't experienced any life-changing, stress busting breakthroughs yet, but I'm hopeful.

In order for this to become something I actually do everyday, I knew a few things. It had to be really quick, like about 3-5 minutes. It had to be simple so I could remember how to do it without reading any instructions. AND it had to be something I could do anywhere (I usually do it in bed every morning).

Seated Side Bend

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Seated Forward Bend (aka touch yo toes)

 "Is that really as far as you can reach?!" -Austin

"Is that really as far as you can reach?!" -Austin

 Demonstrating his flexiness

Demonstrating his flexiness

Seated Trunk Twist  

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Cat-Cow

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Child's Pose

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I hold each pose for about 30 seconds (which seems like forever, working on that yoga mind). As you can see, I have about as much flexibility as a pretzel but hopefully this helps me obtain Austins level of bendiness (he can seriously probably do the splits). I'm wearing the big guy in the Ergo as I type this and am about to put him down to do a little stretchin'.

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Toddler Yoga at Morton's Grove

Toddler yoga is real! 

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I didn't really believe it was possible at first, i just sort of pretended to so some of you guys would come over and hang out with me. 

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But it really happened! Most of the kids were around 2-3 years old, and they actually listened and participated! Except for Ruthie, she wasn't having it. I've been experiencing big giant major tantrums for the first time recently, and for the love of God PARENTING IS SO HARD. The instructor's sweet assistant asked Ruthie if she would like a feather. Ruthie was majorly offended and responded OF COURSE NOT! Maybe next time Ruthie girl!

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April Thrift (yoga instructor for all ages and stages at iBloom) led the session, starting with a simple craft activity: assembling a yoga foot dream catcher (a little foot cutout with streamers and feathers attached).

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Following the craft came a story with frequent breaks to incorporate yoga stretches. Toddlers are (can be?) so freakin' cute. April called out questions to them and they always had the craziest and cutest answers. When pulling on their pretend yoga pants, April asked "what color are your pants?". Little cutie Peyton shouted in answer "maybe just brown?!".

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My goal with Morton's Grove is to become a resource for building healthy families with food + nutrition and fun events + programs that celebrate the whole baby (+ mama). This yoga sesh was my first attempt to wrangle some people into this dream with me. Thank you to everyone who was a part of our first toddler yoga. It means so much that you spent your Saturday with us! 

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After everyone left, Ruthie spent hours doing tree (aka flamingo) and happy baby in the barn.  

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Contact April Thrift at iBloom for more information on toddler yoga or to see her class schedule. 

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Figuring out Productivity as a Stay-at-home Mom

I've never liked the word productivity. 

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It's sort of like "portion size", makes me cringe a little and immediately lose interest. If you also cringe when you hear productivity, I apologize in advance 'cause I'm about the say it like a million times. Whether I like the word or not, productivity is part of life both for both working and nonworking mamas.

The meaning of productivity has changed dramatically for me between when I was working and now. Productivity for working me: putting on pants, finishing a presentation, sitting in on calls, scheduling and attending meetings, leaving the office for lunch, sitting in traffic for 2 hours a day, oh yea, and making $$$. Productivity for stay-at-home me: A mystery. Started as keeping babies safe and fed, not completely trashing the house everyday, and maybe taking a shower and is currently morphing into writing blog posts at midnight. I haven't really figured it out yet.

I do know that newborn babies throw a total wrench in traditional views of productivity, obvs. They take a scheduled life and turn it upside down. This stage probably lasts a different amount of time for everyone. The first time for me it pretty much lasted the entire 12 weeks of maternity leave. Going back to work brought order and schedule back and by default, feelings of productivity. With my second baby, I decided that going back to work wasn't going to happen so the hard deadline ending the newborn stage never came. Where did that leave me? Incredibly happy and grateful to be home followed by feelings of "S&*t, I'm going to have to figure out how to feel organized and productive by myself this time."

I wanted to know what productivity means to other working-turned-SAHMs, so I asked a few.

Meet Laura (a different Laura, I swear).

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Amazing mom to almost 2 year old, Bodhi, and brand-spanking-newborn, Wilder. Corporate insurance broker: whip smart, put together AF, great hair. Spent her days in pencil skirts and seriously high heels. She knew during her pregnancy with Bodhi that she was going to stay home after his arrival. Laura and her boys travel for her husband's job, so she knows very few people in her current city and is about to move to a new one (yes, with a newborn and a toddler 😱).  

I can't really imagine Laura being unproductive, but I asked her about it anyway. Her response to my email was polished enough to be an article in some sort of boss mom magazine. To her new life at home with babes, productivity means leaving the house most days. Without those structured escapes she fears her and her toddler will get on each others nerves (#truth). She also tries to keep a schedule most days but isn't super strict about it (I'm gonna call her a soft scheduler), possibly a nod to her former life planning for deadlines months in advance. Laura takes advantage of conveniences like online grocery shopping and meal delivery services (like plated) Because next to staying at home all day, one of the things that makes her feel most unproductive is having an empty fridge.

Laura most missed the adult convos she used to have at the office. I imagine those convos were pretty badass and involved words such as integrative, expedite, and perhaps synergy? She also misses the clothes & shoes required by the corporate life. I totally relate to this. My office was much more casual than Laura's, but not so casual where I could show up in the PJ lookalikes I currently wear to work. 

Meet Anne.

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Hilarious, so so kind, cute as hell, and laid back, being a mom appears second nature to her. She went back to work after her first babe, David, and decided to call it quits when she was expecting her second little nug, Lucy. Anne is the first friend you text when you get pooped on by your child. Like Laura, she is raising her babes far from extended family while her husband finishes up his residency. 

Productivity to Anne as it relates to caring for babes means keeping an at least slightly organized house and tackling stuff that needs to get done, like meals and laundry. She's working on not beating herself up and letting messes happen (I feel you). She focuses on getting herself and the kids ready every morning (unlike me and my typically naked kids 🙈) with the goal of getting out and about during the day (park, zoo, errands). The part she most missed about working is seeing her work friends everyday. Luckily she still has them around to text with because work friends can seriously turn into the best friends sometimes.

Something Anne told me I'm her email totally struck a chord, and that was she feels less productive when her 2 year old watches too much TV. I 100% agree. It also makes me feel unproductive and also just like a bad parent when Ruthie watches too much Clifford (January and February right after Bobby was born = WAY more TV that id like to admit🙈. It was Thomas back then, I miss Thomas).

Things I've been doing in order to feel like I'm not just floating around between diaper changes all day:

1. Get up before babies - I've been failing at this most days because Bobby wakes up at 3 am lately, but days I get up early I have a slightly more laid-back attitude all day. Might be the extra coffee.

2. Listen to a podcast - I usually pick trending nutrition related stuff, or inspiring but short shows like How I Built This.

3. Turn Netflix off - Especially difficult lately because I've started watching Gilmore Girls again (it makes me feel fallish?!).

4. Limit social media - Somebody please help me with this.

5. Cut the ties between productivity and a clean house - I read somewhere that cleaning a house with a toddler is like brushing your teeth while eating oreo's. For someone who isn't very cleaning motivated to begin with, basing productivity on keeping the kitchen clean is a terrible idea.

What do you guys do to feel productive at work or at home?

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Baby Raisin' Essentials: Gear That Will Get Used Everyday

I am probably the last person you want to see a baby gear list from. 

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I've mentioned before that I tend to be a little unorganized. I'm also not really a "gear" person meaning I don't usually have the latest and greatest of things. I just got an iPhone 6. I tend to show up to things like camping trips grossly under prepared. I took my laptop to the apple store for repair and they referred to it as a "vintage machine". But when it comes to baby stuff, I do my research. Planning for Ruthie's arrival 2 years ago in a giddily excited haze, I pieced together a pretty cohesive registry.

This is a list of the things that I have used every. single. day. for the last 2.5 years. I haven't gotten bored with them, frustrated with them, annoyed to the point of throwing them out the upstairs window (unlike my husband and his short lived romp with an electric toothbrush), and they also haven't worn out on me despite everyday use through two babies.

These are the items I didn't know that I would fall in love with, therefore could not have recommended until recently. Some of the items I'm still using with 2 year old Ruthie and 8 month old Bobby simultaneously. THESE ARE GOOD THINGS.  

1. Ergo Classic. My number one, all time fave, will-recommend-it-until-I-die piece of equipment is the Ergo. This piece of gear is built. to. last. I use it every day, multiple times a day around the house. I nurse in it, feed myself, literally run with Ruthie, cook and photograph food, rock babes to sleep, take them to the store. One of Ruthie's first words was Ergo. Anytime I leave the house, it's with me. It was originally grey but is now has a sort of beige haze of spit up and food stains. Somehow a crayon melted inside of it. It isn't pretty anymore but structurally, it is still as perfect as the day I bought it.

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I got really into different carriers after having Ruthie and tried out a ton of varieties (ring sling, stretch wrap, mei tai, Tula soft structured carrier, and Ergo). I loved the ring sling and stretchy wraps with Ruthie, but Bobby has been too heavy for both since he was about 3 months old. A few things I look for in a carrier: a wide base that enables legs to be "frogged", a flap to help hold head in place after baby inevitably passes out, and cushiony straps. 

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END OF LIST. 

 

Jk I have a few more faves. 

2. Phil and Ted Lobster Claw Seat. This little diddy has been through some gross stuff. It gets a thick coating of food almost everyday and you KNOW I'm not wiping that bad boy down after each meal. The removable canvas seat usually gets hit with the hose and hung to dry but I have also put it in the washing machine (not recommended by manufacturer) and it is still as sturdy as day one. The metal frame is pretty bulky so I wouldn't exactly call this portable, but it is perfect as an everyday seat. Clamps right to the counter or sturdy tabletop allowing you to sweep right underneath after feeding babe (or you know, 5 hours later 🤷‍♀️). 

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3. Charlie Banana cloth diapers + wipes. One thing I researched a ton, like spent WAY too much time on, was cloth diapers. I drove to an adorable little cloth diaper store to take a CLASS in cloth diapers. The women of yore are rolling their eyes so hard at me. There are so many different varieties of diapers and I found it super confusing. There is a lingo and a community and a million hashtags and it was a lot of info. I ended up investing my diaper money 70% into Charlie banana and 30% into another brand and the Charlie bananas are the ones I always reach for first. It's not only the cute prints, the same exact diapers somehow fit really well from birth all the way to a 2 years old. I use the same diapers now with Bobby that I did with Ruthie (again, not being super careful and following all the manufacturers directions), and most of them still look pretty new. We use cloth when we're home and disposables overnight and when we're out and about.  

I also love the wipes. They are super soft, I just run a few under water before going in for a dipe change and then toss them into a wetbag. Even if you don't cloth dipe, these are very handy to have around! Ruthie has a special pack just for bathing Hank, her inflatable hippo.

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4. Jessica Simpson nursing bras. NURSING BRAS ARE TERRIBLE. I've been wearing one since 2015 (even when I didn't have to wear one 🤔) and can tell you so many of them are just not what I was looking for. Whyyyy are they so flimsy? At a time when you most need NON flimsy? IDGI. I found some solace in j.simps. She makes nursing bras with convertible straps that can be worn under racerback tanks. This style offers sturdy support without those weird, perfectly circular removable cups. Some of the reviews claim that the cups are too stiff and don't fold down easily enough for nursing. The cups are firmer than normal nursing bras, but I find that to be a good thing and don't have any problems with it. Oh and all of her bras are under $50!

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5. Halo Bassinest Swivel Sleeper. I've only had this one for about a year so only Bobby has tried it out, but this is the co-sleeper I had been searching for since Ruthie was born. I borrowed and tried out an Arm's Reach Co-sleeper and a snuggle nest (similar to dock a tot but less $$): the Arm's Reach was too low compared to the height of our bed, and the snuggle nest took up too much room. The Swivel Sleeper extends to the exact height of our bed or even swivels over the top of the mattress, so night time feeding is super easy. By the time Bobby was about 3 months old, he could simultaneously touch all sides, so he had to move out. But I still felt like we got great use out of it. They are a little pricey (and super sturdy, the base weighs a ton), but well worth it if you're looking to co-sleep but already have a bed full of toddlers and husbands. I found mine second hand through a Facebook mom's group for $100!

 

This post contains affiliate links. This means if you decide to make a purchase through one of the links, I will make a small commission. 

 

What are your everyday baby faves? Leave your recs in the comments! 🙏🙏

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