Friday, November 30, 2018

Fave Target Finds - November 2018 Edition

I've always loved Target, but I don't think I really understood that basic white girl Target love until I became a mom. Now, Target is my place! I get to say that I'm grocery shopping (cause I am), while also looking at fun things. And mine now has a Starbucks. What more could this basic white mama want?!

I've had lots of good finds at Target lately and wanted to share them with you. I'm not being compensated for these in anyway, I'm just sharing some of my favorites. These could be great gifts or treat yo'self gifts!


Universal Thread Dylan MicroSuede Perforation Zipper Bootie - $34.99

Photo courtesy
I found these with my mom. They didn't have them in my size at the Target near my house, but I hit another up later in the week and found them! I'm so glad they did. These are great with leggings and with jeans. I love the zipper detail and they are super comfy with some no-show socks. I've worn them at least twice a week since buying them and that's saying a lot from a girl with a wall of shoes!

A New Day Stone Casting Earrings - $9.99

Photo courtesy
I am loving all the jewelry at Target - especially the Sugar Fix by BaubleBar! These earrings aren't from that line, but I literally live in these colors during the fall and winter, so I treated myself to this pair.

Sweater: Honeypunch by StitchFix/Top: LulaRoe Irma/Pants: WhoWhatWear/Earrings: Target (see above)
I actually wore them on Monday with a LulaRoe top and these pants, also found at Target! These pants have an elastic waistband and are great if you're trying to lose that baby (or any!) weight.


Target has some of the best ornaments right now! I normally don't venture very far into the Christmas decoration section at Target (too many people), but I went with my best friend when she was visiting and I'm so glad I did! Target has a bunch of character ornaments as well as the glass style ornaments. Here are some of the ones I've picked up:

Photo courtesy
I could only find Spiderman and Black Panther online, but there are a ton more in store! I picked up Batman and Thor for Aaron.

I picked up this ornament for my little boy. Carter's nickname since birth has been burrito. One of our nurses in the delivery room called him a Carter Burrito and it stuck! Seemed only right to give him a burrito for his first ornament!

Home Decorations
We don't have a ton of storage space, so I have to be pretty picky about my decorations. But I've found some great ones this year!

Falala Stocking Holder

Peace and Joy Pillow

Photo courtesy
I was really happy to find something not so Christmas-y for decorations. That sounds counter-intuitive, but sometimes you want something a little different. This matches the colors in my house and I love the simple message, peace and joy.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Back in the Saddle Again and It Feels So Good!

In my last post, I mentioned that we had ordered the Peloton Bike.  If you aren't sure what that is, it's a stationary bike with a giant screen where you can stream classes. It arrived this past Saturday and I did my first ride Tuesday morning. My bike is in my hallway because we haven't moved the bookshelf out of the guest room yet and my stroller fan is attached to the bike so I won't die. I got up at 5 am because Aaron went to work early and did an Advanced Beginner ride.  I am so out of shape, but I did it. And then I did two more rides this past week and an arms segment. And it felt amazing.

How We Got Here
So if you've been around here for a while, then you know that I started this blog because I was starting my fitness journey. I was trying to get healthy and lose some weight after gaining a ton at my old job. I found a gym, a tribe, that I loved and I found strength I never knew I had. I finally found confidence. Then we got pregnant with Carter. I worked out through most of my pregnancy, only stopping around 33 weeks. I slowly started working out again after I was cleared by my doctor and then my gym closed. And I kinda lost all my momentum.

Why Peloton?
My tribe has continued. The instructors stepped up big time and continued to offer classes in the park and one even started her own studio, which I hope to attend some. But working full time and having an extremely cute baby makes it hard to work out. I feel like I'm choosing between them. And my tribe is now in a location that doesn't work for me during the week. 

But with the Peloton, I don't have to choose between time with Carter or working out. Peloton has live classes all day and then those classes are archived, so I can literally do a class any time of day. I mostly did prerecorded classes this week and was still able to see other people working out with me. I did my classes at 5 am, which worked for me, and then had time to shower and put on my make-up before getting Carter up for breakfast. Aaron's also able to work out on his own profile whenever he's available.

Post second ride!
It literally costs the same as it did for just my membership to Burn. Don't get me wrong, that membership was worth every penny. And if Burn was still open, I'd still be going. But that season is over. So we found a solution that we both can use and the cost is the same. Actually, half since we both get to use it. Boom!

Also, that bike is gorgeous. It's super smooth. I did dent my wall trying to unclip, but that just means I'm not going to fall out in a crazy standing sprint, right?

But Your Tribe?
I still hope to be able to do some in person classes. I love the social aspect and still want to see my people. Plus, I like other classes too like yoga, barre and HIIT. But that's going to be on the side, not my main workout.

This is just my first week with the bike. And it's going to live in the hallway for a little bit. Cause that's how we roll right now. But I'm going to give it a month, then I'm going to do a full review. And all of this is my own opinion. I don't get anything for writing this review.  It's just one mom trying to keep herself healthy in ways that work for her and her family. My goal is to use the app five days a week. They have floor classes as well as rides, so that gives me some options.

My first ride was amazing. The music wasn't my favorite. And I'm so out of shape it's not even funny. The advanced beginner ride kicked my butt. But I literally just randomly chose that class. And it was my first since July. And the next two classes I took, I got better at picking my music and instructors. What was most amazing, though, was getting back into it. Knowing that I have options again and I'm working to get rid of this baby weight. I might even get to come off my blood pressure medication if my weight comes back down. But I have options again and it. is. amazing. And, even more so, I don't sacrifice any time with this little boy. And that's the best part of all.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Zinn Life Update or I'm Still Alive

Do you know how many posts I've started and not finished? Thought about blogging and then didn't do it? A lot. More than I can count. But I figured the easiest way to get back into it is to just update you guys on our life. Cause it's been a while.

If you follow me on Instagram, then you're probably familiar with some of these happenings, but not all.

Carter is 8 months!
Guys, this is crazy. I have an 8 month old. Who is also in 12 month clothing and it fits him. People tell you that the time goes by quickly, but you never realize it until you're here.

I feel like he's grown so much in the past month.  For the longest time he hated solids. He'd eat them at daycare, but not really for us. Something switched recently, though, and you can't get the food in his mouth quick enough! It's crazy! He's super curious about the world around him. He loves to be free on the floor and really, really doesn't like to be contained. He's not crawling yet, but you'd be surprised how far those little arms can take him!

My breakfast nook is now Carter land.
Things you say before you have kids: "My house will not be taken over by kid stuff! It will be pretty!"

Things you do after you have a kid:

This has always been the plan in the back of my mind, but it's been a while in the making. We have a beautiful dining room space, so we made the breakfast nook area, which is accessible from the kitchen and the living room, Carter's space. We got a LOT of the foam puzzle piece flooring and Aaron even cut it to fit the room. We have baby gates ready, too, but I'm not putting those up until we have to.

My fitness has tanked. Real bad.
My beloved Burn Athletic closed in July. And I've tried a bunch of different things to try and keep going what I had, but it's been hard! One of the instructors is opening a studio and I'm hoping to be able to be part of that, but we've also officially ordered the Peloton bike! I'm so excited!  We can work out at home, we can both use it, and I still get to do "classes" for the same price that I paid for my membership alone at Burn. I still plan to do some in-person classes, but for the most part, Peloton is going to be my new gym.

We have paid off massive debt!
We've been working really hard to pay off some debt. We've stuck to a pretty tight budget since before Carter was born and we've finally hit some of our major goals! We paid of Carter's birth sometime in May or June, but we've mostly been tackling our credit card debt, which includes Carter's nursery furniture and our couch and ottoman. We are down to just the Mazda, my student loans and our mortgage for debt. And it feels FABULOUS! And we did this paying $1,150 a month in daycare costs. You can do it!

Our next house project is painting.
When Beazer built our house, they used flat paint. Flat paint is disgusting, so we're looking at painting all of downstairs.  We're also going to be painting our master bathroom. We replaced the wall o' mirror with two framed mirrors and we're going to paint the room green.  I can't wait to show it to you once it's complete!

Blogging is going to continue!
I can't make any promises about how often it will happen. I'm trying really hard for once a week. But I'm not going to lie, if it's between blogging and time with my little or big man, I'm choosing them. But I miss this and I miss my people. So thanks for still being here andvstay tuned!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

All the Things I Need to Say: Ramblings of a Working Mom Six Months In

I've tried to write all these blog posts lately and I never seem to finish them. To be honest, I think it's because I just don't have the heart. I'm trying to be lighthearted and put on a good face and be upbeat, but it's just not there. So here's all the things that I've been trying not to say, but I think I need to say.

This is hard. Being a mom is hard. Being a working mom and keeping your ish together is freaking hard. This is nothing against a stay at home mom, our struggles are different, but I've accepted the fact that I'm losing the battle at keeping things together. I've been pumping full time, working full time, mom-ing full time and half you-know-what-ing the rest.

I hate the term "little one." I can't say it, it makes me want to gag because I feel like someone completely not me when I say it and it makes me crazy. Maybe it's my hormones? I don't know.

Daycare is not raising my kid. Someone said that to me while I was pregnant, that they wanted to stop working before they had children because they didn't want someone else raising their child. That's great that you feel that way. That you have the ability to do that, but not everyone does. Daycare isn't raising Carter. They are taking care of him and building on what he learns at home. We are his parents, we are raising him.

I like that he's in daycare. I grew up in daycare. I wasn't traumatized, I don't need therapy. He gets to play with other kids, have other adults love on him. And he's going to have one amazing immune system when he's done.

God did not make me to be a stay-at-home-mom and that's okay. I've always known that. Maternity leave just reinforced it. And it's okay. I'm still a good mom, I still love my baby more than anything. And I hope that growing up with a mom that works, that has a career that she's really good at, teaches him respect for strong women and to not be scared of them.

Don't make a face at me when I tell you the above. You don't get it, it's cool. But I still love my baby and that's all you need to know.

Breastfeeding is hard, full-time pumping is harder. I breastfed for two weeks and have pumped ever since. I've made it six months. In the beginning, two months was my goal and then I changed it to six. And, as only a mom will understand, while I'm almost completely weaned, there's still a part of me that feels bad for not continuing. Even though I know he's healthy and fine on formula and, honestly, has been more formula than not for a while, I still feel guilty for choosing me and my sanity over continuing to pump full time.

Mom guilt is real. Period.

I hate my postpartum body, but I hate it a little less every day. There are blogs out there about how women love their bodies because it gave life to their babies, but I'm going to be real and tell you that I hate this body. In a way, I'm in awe of it. It went through some crazy crap to have Carter. Pre-eclampsia, cardiac issues, etc. I'm still on blood pressure medication six months later. But I also hate it. I worked so, so hard to lose weight. To be okay with where I was and here I am, back at square one. I've slowly started to shed the remaining 20ish pounds, but it's slow going. And until then, I'm lumpy and feel about as unattractive as I can get. But each day, I make a little more progress and I hate it a little less.

I sometimes don't know who I am anymore. I don't think there is enough talk about loss of identity when you have a baby. No one tells you that while you will love that baby more than anything, you'll also mourn a part of yourself. Some women grow up dreaming about being wives and mothers. That wasn't me. I wasn't even sure I wanted kids. I was, and still am, fiercely independent. Aaron and I were at the, "If it happens, great, if not, great" point. And in one fell swoop, two weeks early, my entire world changed. As the mom, you are the end all, be all. You no longer matter. This tiny person becomes your everything, your master. I taught my body how to go hours without eating or, alternatively, how to subsist on fruit snacks. I learned how to pee holding a screaming, wiggling baby. Your husband can help to a point, but there are some things he can't do. And he can't help what switched in you. My entire personality altered. When Carter screams, I literally feel like someone is pulling my heart out of my chest. I can't explain that to someone that has not birthed a baby. Now world events that have nothing to do with me freak me out in a way I can't explain. There are days that I honestly have no idea who I am.

Carter is the best thing I've ever done. I say all of the above because it's true. And yet, despite all of those feelings, he is truly the best thing I've ever done. It's so fascinating to watch his little personality grow and change. To watch him learn how to do things. To find the parts of Aaron and I in him and the things that are all him. And that smile when he sees me in the morning or when I come home after work is the best part of every day. My cousin once posted that parenthood can be summed up as, "I can't wait to see who you become, but slow down a little." I've never heard truer words.

We're all just trying to do the best by our kids. Social media is wrong - most moms feel your pain and want to help you. They don't want to judge you. They might not get you (see the part about not wanting to stay at home), but most moms just want to help. We've all survived those first few crazy, exhaustion blurred months. We've had people give us things and we want to pass those on to you (and clean out our houses). I've met some of the best women and have found rest and support from people in a way I never would have imagined since joining the mom club.

At the same time, my secret favorite thing to do before bed is read all the comments on the Facebook click-bait baby, breast feeding and first-time-mom articles. Those women are crazy and I love it. It's a train wreck and makes me feel like a better person. It's okay to judge me for this.    

Being a mom is hard. Being a working mom is the hardest thing I've ever done. And I'm saying all these things on the off-chance that there's another mama out there that feels even one of them. Because everyone wants to say the nice, pretty things. But those don't help you when the walls are closing in. And they do, I've felt them more than once.  But they also open back up and you find your footing. I've found that this crazy, exhausting time is one big paradox.  Because while it's the hardest thing I've ever done, it's also the best. And for every time I think I'm going to lose it, I'm given at least three more reason why I'm not. 

You've got this mama.  And, if you don't, go read some click-bait article comments. You'll feel a lot better.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Sarah the Mother Pumper: Our Breastfeeding Journey

A while back, I had an email from Aeroflow (where I got my pump) asking for Mother Pumper stories. I was still in the new mom with a newborn fog, so I didn't send in my story. Now that I'm back at work and have been a Mother Pumper for over four months and the fog has lifted a little, I decided it was time to share my story as a Mother Pumper! There's even a Mother Pumper blog community. So cool!

I've only blogged a few times since having Carter. I've wanted to write about breastfeeding, about our journey with it because people talk about it, but usually in a this or that way is best, not a
"this is how we did it".  Breastfeeding is such a hot topic and sparks fire in the hearts of many mamas for one reason: your ability to be a good mom comes into question. Or at least it feels that way. Personally, I think that we moms are more alike than not, so sharing your story helps others that are like you find their way and peace with their decision.

When I was pregnant, I was asked by oh so many women, "Are you going to breastfeed?" and I would reply that I was going to try. I was a some breastfed, mostly formula fed baby. My mom has worked my entire life. I knew that I was going back to work, so I really wasn't tied to one way of feeding over the other. I just knew that I wanted to try. To give it an honest go and, if it didn't work out, be able to say that I gave it my all and it just wasn't for us.

My favorite quote about breastfeeding actually came from the social worker that we spoke with before leaving the hospital. It has stuck with me and provided sanity in many stressful moments: For something that is so natural, it sure as heck doesn't just happen naturally.

So, so true. At least for me.

Our breastfeeding story begins with my labor and the word magnesium.

I hate that word. When we were leaving the hospital, I told Aaron that I was going to make a sign with three terms (blood pressure, magnesium and breastfeeding) and if someone said one of the words in the house, they were going to be kicked out. Immediately.

I had preeclampsia. I was induced two weeks early because of it.  One of these days I will get around to writing out Carter's birth story if only for me to remember just how crazy it was and how blessed we are. The treatment for preeclampsia is to have the baby. If you're like me, you're given magnesium. It's a muscle relaxer that helps prevent seizures.  It can make you very tired and loopy. In my hospital, you aren't allowed to eat (you could asphyxiate) and you are tied to the bed. You get a catheter and you're bedridden until you're off the mag.  You're also on magnesium for 24 hours after you have the baby.  And, because it makes you tired and loopy, you aren't allowed to be alone with the baby. Magnesium also can cause a delay in your milk coming in. It's fun. Not.

One of my first photos with Little Man. This was after we left labor and delivery.
Since I had magnesium, Carter had magnesium too. When babies are born, they are very sleepy. I've read that it's best to feed them within the first hour or two because of the sleepiness (but I'm not a doctor, so don't quote me on that). Because Carter had mag in his system, he was even sleepier than usual and had no interest in eating. We did skin to skin as soon as he was born. We tried to breastfeed him. It also didn't help that I didn't have any milk (because of the mag). We sent him to the nursery the first night because I was still on magnesium, so I couldn't help Aaron, and we'd both been up for about 24 hours at that point. They gave him some formula through a syringe in the nursery so he wouldn't starve.

The nurses kept saying, "He'll eat when he's hungry." And we kept trying. But my milk didn't come in and he didn't eat. And then all of the sudden it was, "You need to breastfeed your baby now. He needs to eat, he's dropped 13% below his birth weight."

You want to feel like a terrible parent? Like you've totally failed and it's only day 2? That's how you do it.

Thankfully, the same nurse that delivered that lovely statement was also willing to help us. And was probably the most helpful of everyone, including the lactation consultants. Her name was Sarah (I knew she was good people!). She came to see us every three hours that night and taught us how to do SNS.  With SNS, you're simulating breastfeeding with formula.  The idea is to stimulate your breasts so that milk does come in and teaches the baby how to breastfeed. You put the formula into a vial that hooks onto your bra at your shoulder. It uses gravity and suction from the baby to deliver the formula through a tiny tube that goes into a nipple shield.  It's a pain in the butt to set up and I honestly couldn't have done it without Aaron. We did this every three hours for 2 or 3 days.

We met with lactation consultants. They checked and made sure he didn't have a lip or tongue tie. He had a small tongue tie, but the LC told us it was small and would take care of itself. By the time we left the hospital (5 days later), the nurses and lactation consultants were all proud of us and impressed by what we had done.  One of the LCs even brought us a crocheted blanket and cap for Carter.

This is my one and only photo of Carter breastfeeding. I never planned to document it, but his little face was so precious that I couldn't not capture the moment. 

When we got home, the SNS went out the door. My milk had started to come in, so I breastfed with a nipple shield, because apparently I have flat nipples (the world told me this) and we supplemented with formula. We were on a strict schedule with a certain amount we had to bottle feed him in order to get him back up to his birth weight. I would feed him, then supplement and then pump. And it hurt. Lord the nipple shield hurt. Because it felt like a bottle, I got treated like a bottle. We lost the nipple shield once. I used one that was too small until we replaced it. And then my nipples started to bleed.

It was rough. I lasted about two weeks at home. I caught myself getting mad at Carter because of how much work it was and how hard it was to get him to latch. I was mad because it hurt. Because I was mentally and physically exhausted. Because my body was still reeling from everything. And that  bleeding nipple with blood in the nipple shield was the last straw.

At that point, I decided to stop breastfeeding and to just pump. For my sanity. We were already supplementing with formula and he was doing fine. Aaron was fine with me stopping all together, but I felt like I could keep pumping. Also, formula is expensive and we were about to be broke from daycare.

Today, I pump four to five times a day. I produce between 14 and 16 ounces a day and he eats around 32 ounces. We've been doing this for 4 months now.

Here's my schedule, especially now that I'm working:

5:30 AM - 20 minute pumping session
9:30 AM - 15 minute pumping session
1:30 PM - 15 minute pumping session
5:00 PM - 15 minute pumping session
10:00 PM - 20 minute pumping session

I can honestly say that this is probably more work than just breastfeeding. There are so many pump parts and bottles to wash. And I know the tricks of the trade and how to make life easier. I've also now pumped while road tripping and flying for work training. It just is what it is. But I always knew that I'd be pumping when I went back to work. And pumping also allowed Aaron to share in the joy of middle of the night feedings.

Right now, my goal is six months. I used to say anything after that was gravy, but considering I've dreamed about chucking the pump out the window while flying down the interstate, I'm going to say that's probably not going to happen.

My name is Sarah. This is my happy, healthy and growing baby boy named Carter. He's breast and formula fed. Mostly, he's just fed. I'm a proud breastfeeding, working mother pumper.   

Friday, June 15, 2018

On Your First Father's Day

On your first Father's Day, I have much to say.

I've been writing this in my head for a while now. And you're probably going to be annoyed that I wrote this, because you aren't a writer. But I am. And this, all of this, needs to be said.

We've been a family, you and me, for five years this year. And that, in and of itself, is pretty awesome. But in February, we grew. We became a family of three. We added a nugget, Carter. And I remember what life was like before Carter, but at the same time, I don't. He has completely and utterly consumed our lives as we once knew them. And the man that I've loved for the past 8 plus years was completely and utterly consumed and changed by him, too. So was I. We've changed.

But it's for the better.

I've been told that your love for your spouse changes when you have kids. And it's true. It's so very, very true. Before, you were my other half and my partner in crime. Now? You're my partner in the trenches. You've now seen the worst of the worst. We survived five days in a hospital room without any (additional) bloodshed. We've survived sleepless nights and have learned how to function in a constant state of exhaustion. You're the one that picks up my slack when I have nothing left to give. The one that gets to experience my most epic meltdowns, and yet, you're still here. The only thing I do that you don't in this parenting adventure is pump and produce milk.

Though, I'm sure you might try if you could.

Most importantly, though, you're the best dad I could have asked for Carter.

Sometimes, I wonder if we should have done this earlier. But I think this is just right. We're the people we need to be for Carter. One minute sooner and the three of us would have been different people.  It would all be so different.

So, on your first Father's Day, I want you to know this:

For all the joking around and silliness you contain, of which is endless, you are the best partner I could ask for. You wake up early so you can help get Carter ready in the morning so it's not just me. You stay up with me until my last pump, even though you could go to bed a lot earlier. When we go out, you take care of everything. I've gotten really spoiled by it, honestly. You are the best bottle washer. Hands down (don't worry, I'll keep washing them, too).  But even though all of that is amazing (and trust me, it is), the best part is watching you with the nugget.

Listening to bath time is my favorite and melts my heart every time. Watching his little face when he realizes it's you is the best. He looks at you like you're the coolest thing in the world. It has been my privilege these past four months to watch you grow and become one awesome dad. And now the rest of the world knows it too. As they should.

I hope to never have to do this parent thing without you.  You are forever my first favorite. Stupid movies, jokes and useless nipples aside.

Paul Walker ain't got nothing on you.

Happy First Father's Day.

Love, your tribe.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Measuring Success: Back at Square One - 5/31/18

Hi! Do you know who I am? I feel like I should reintroduce myself, it's been so long! I'm Sarah, this is my blog and I'm now a mom. Also, if you could see the number of draft blog posts I have that I started and never finished. It's kind of sad. But babies. Man, they rock your world. So I thought, what better way to start back the blog than with a back at square one Measuring Success?!

My last measuring success post was January 31. So it's been four months. I worked out most of my pregnancy, right up until about 32 weeks. That's when everything became uncomfortable. I'm proud of myself for doing what I did. And I'd like to think it made a difference, but sometimes I wonder. If nothing else, it helped me feel more human and not so...huge. Like, I might be huge, but at least I'm strong and capable and huge. In the end, I was induced two weeks early due to pre-eclampsia.

Working out at 31, almost 32, weeks pregnant
I like to say that pre-eclampsia hit me like a train. I was fine, or mostly fine, and then I wasn't. High blood pressure runs in my family. Part of the reason why I work out like I do is because between the high blood pressure on one side and high cholesterol on the other, I'm a walking time bomb. I had mildly high blood pressure during the pregnancy. I was watched and was on 81 mg of Aspirin as a precaution, but that was it. Towards the end, they did a urine test and I had high levels of protein, the other indicator of pre-clampsia. So, I went in for a normal blood pressure check on my lunch hour on a Thursday, was induced that night and Mr. Carter made his entrance that Friday. Two weeks early. My blood pressure wasn't that bad that day, but by the time I was in labor, it was hitting 185/105. There were a bunch of things that happened that made for what my nurses called "a traumatic labor." My sweet baby has one gigantic dome piece (as I lovingly call it) and gave me a stage 3 tear (4 being the worst). So, suffice it to say, getting back to working out was not the easiest in the world.

I was cleared by my doctor at six weeks postpartum to start working out again. I started with walking with Aaron and Carter, then yin yoga, and barre. After I gave up my donut (not the one you eat), I finally got the nerve to sit on a spin bike and two weeks ago, I did my first boot camp class.

And it is quite literally starting back at square one. Bootcamp is probably the hardest. I spend half the class thinking, "Man, I'm fat. This is sad" as I am literally the very last one when we run. I spend the other half thinking, "I just had a baby and I haven't died or puked yet. YES!" But I keep going back because each time, I can do a little more and feel a little stronger.

Sometimes, I feel like all that working out I did when I was pregnant was for nothing. Like I might as well have not done it. I was doing 10 and 12 lb hand weights before getting pregnant and now I'm back to 5 lb. I haven't even attempted the 8 lb yet. And when we run in class, I'm dead last. We're talking a good two to three minutes behind everyone else.

But I'm doing it. I'm back in the gym. We're walking as a family. I'm working out at least 3 days a week. And I might be the very last person in class, when running, but I finish those runs. I'm running three months after having a baby. With a big ol' head. And for all of that, I'm proud of me.

I'm defining this as a success. Because it's hard. It's all hard. Having a baby is hard. Taking care of a newborn is hard and I have one of the best, most supportive and helpful husbands on the planet. Going back to work is hard. Getting back in shape and healthy is hard. It's all hard. So I count the fact that I'm doing something and going back every week as a success. I've had so many people tell me that I wouldn't get back in the gym after Carter. I wouldn't be able to work out. But we make it work because I need to be healthy for him. And for me.

So if you're a new mom, or any mom, trying to get back in shape, you can do it. You just need to find what works for you and get ready to work hard. And find you a tribe. Because this momma thing is hard. Every time I think it's getting easier, something new happens and I'm back at square one.

If you've stuck with this post to this point, you're awesome and I love you. I had a lot to say! But, let's get back to the progress!

1 week postpartum versus 3 months postpartum

Pregnancy Weight Gained: 50 lb
Weight Lost: 24 lb
Weight to Lose: 26 lb

Here I am. Back at square one. At the beginning of my new journey.

Friday, March 9, 2018

A Curious George Nursery

Today makes three weeks old for Carter and survival of my first week alone with him. Mom went back home last Friday and Aaron's been on his regular work schedule plus working a little late.  And, Carter is officially back up to his birth weight! It's a big week around here. So, to celebrate, I'm finally posting about Carter's nursery, his Curious George nursery to be exact. Because it's pretty dang awesome.

Before we found out that we were having a boy, I had already decided that we wanted to do a Curious George themed nursery. Also, I don't really think of it as a nursery, just Carter's room. But the world calls it a nursery, so I am. I digress. I figured either way, it would work. We could do blue walls for a boy and yellow for a girl. Turns out, finding Curious George decor is harder than you might think. Pottery Barn Kids had a bedding set a few years ago, but it's discontinued now, so it's not easy to find. And when you do, the prices are jacked up. So I looked on Pinterest, found a few ideas and went from there.

Our friend Kim is an art teacher, so we asked her to do a mural. We found a scene in the original Curious George book and gave that to her for inspiration, but the rest she did herself.  Overall, the project took about three months from beginning to end. Not that it was hard, but Aaron painted the room and trim himself, then Kim worked on her winter break. Then we had to wait for furniture to arrive...then my kid made his appearance two weeks early. We still aren't completely finished as we're waiting on our newborn photos and I want to print some of those and some from our maternity shoot and hang them in his room.  But it's kind of like your house - if you wait until you're done, it's never going to be done!

Aaron and I picked out the main color on the first try. I was actually really impressed with our color picking skills! We went to Lowe's found one we liked, did a swatch and decided it was the one. You'll have to forgive the lighting in these photos. His room is on the back of the house and doesn't get a lot of natural light. We went ahead and measured out the outline of the crib on the wall so that the mural would frame it.  It's a big tall crib and I didn't want it to mess with George.

Aaron also felt the need to label the large box on the wall. You know, just in case someone was confused. 

Then Kim started work.  I documented the progress because it was so cool to watch. She took the photo from the book and then made adjustments so that it wouldn't be too busy on the wall and would work with the furniture.  She also sketched everything free hand.  Be impressed.

The first day, she sketched and painted the grass. Then she worked on George and the Man in the Yellow hat. 

Next came the balloons and trees. And the outlining! The outlining really made everything pop!

The final details were the mushrooms and pink flowers.  Aaron is still having moments over the pink flowers in his boy's bedroom. 

We waited until after our baby shower to order the furniture. And let me tell you, it gave this mom some heartburn! We went ahead and ordered the chair early. It was a custom chair, so we needed to give it 4-6 weeks to arrive. Our baby shower was on January 27 and at that point, I knew I was going to be induced by February 23 at the latest. We ordered the furniture online with a two week delivery time frame.  It was delivered on February 9, which was good since they induced me on the 16th. Photos of the finished nursery are below with links in case you want to copy us!

The crib and dresser are both from Buy Buy Baby and are from the BassetBaby Parker collection. It's not cheap, but it's a convertible crib that will go from crib to toddler bed to full size bed. And it's made of sturdier wood than some of the others, so I'm hoping it withstands Carter probably trying to eat it. The mobile and hamper are also from Buy Buy Baby. For the bedding, I didn't try and do anything too crazy. I went with either solid colored sheets (I have light blue and yellow) or a monkey themed print that I found. 

You'll also notice a beautiful Curious George blanket on the chair.  My mom made that. It's been my friend more than Carter's lately as I use it to cover my legs while breast feeding and/or pumping in the middle of the night!

And that chair. If you're going to breastfeed, get a really comfy chair with arm rests. Life saver!

For added storage, we just did a simple nine-cubby storage shelf. We actually found this on NextDoor for $20. I got the bins and labels at Target.  The space above the cubbies is probably where we will hang the maternity and newborn photos.  My plan is to arrange them around the invitation from the baby shower. 

Finally, another angle of the room to see some of the dresser. We splurged and purchased the changing gallery for the dresser. It was an added cost, but it's made life so easy. We have everything right in arm's reach when changing Carter.  Also, this is our favorite changing pad cover.  The middle is a plastic-like material that wipes down really easily, but the whole thing can be thrown in the washing machine and dryer. The sides are a really soft, minky material. 

I'm so stinking happy with how his room turned out. It's so cute and I love that no one else will have a room just like this.  He's also blessed to have lots of talented and crafty ladies that love him. I plan on doing another post to highlight all of the beautiful handmade items that we've received for him. He's a lucky little man to have such talented ladies in his life!

I hope he loves this room for a long time to come. If not, I'll just enjoy sitting in there with him until he demands it be changed. Happy Friday everyone!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Bumpdate: Hello Mr. Carter!

Hi friends! It has been a long, long time since I've posted a blog on here! And that's for a very good reason. Our little boy made his appearance two weeks early on February 16, 2018!

Meet Mr. Carter Hollon Zinn. Born at 1:59 PM, Friday, February 16.  He was 8 pounds, 1 oz and 20 inches long.  I'm still working on his birth story, mostly because it's kinda crazy, but I though it only fitting to introduce on during my regularly schedule bumpdate post!

Carter's name was a mystery to everyone until he was born. Aaron and I had come up with two names that we liked, but hadn't settled on either one until we were in the hospital.  We'd also decided not to tell anyone the name ahead of time, much to the dismay of the grandparents.  There is no special meaning behind his first name, we just happened to like it! His middle name, however, is for my family.  I'm the last Davenport (only child and a girl!) and I wanted to carry a part of that family forward, but not necessarily Davenport. It's a little long for a middle name.  But the name Hollon is a family name.  It goes back to my dad's grandfather.  Starting with him, all the males had the middle name Hollon.  I thought it would be a very cool way to carry a piece of my family forward and let Mr. Carter be the fourth male with the middle name Hollon. Not to mention my Poppa Hollon was a remarkable man with an amazing story. All of my grandparents were, actually.

Today is Carter's actual due date and he's already two weeks old.  It's amazing the little personalities babies have.  I'm amazed each day by this tiny, perfect, complete human that somehow Aaron and I created and I grew. So far we know that he loves to be swaddled. He even earned the nickname Carter Burrito because of it! He loves sleeping on your chest.  He knows who dad is and loves to hang out with him after work.  The kid hates to be naked (truly, no idea where he gets that from - who actually likes to wear pants?!) Baths are pretty much the most traumatic thing ev-er. And he's actually a pretty chill, happy baby. He really only cries when there is something to cry about - hungry, diaper change, cold, hot, gassy. Otherwise, he's just happy to sleep or chill out with you.

First photo with dad. 

First photo with mom. 

Crabby burrito. 
It's been a wild two weeks. We spent the first 5 days of his life in the hospital and the next 3 shuffling both of us back and forth to doctor appointments. We have two more this week, then hopefully life returns back to our new normal. Aaron stayed home with us the first week and my mom came up and helped after that. I'm so grateful for both because this mom thing isn't always easy. Mostly kind of crazy. But worth it. So very worth it.

Next week I'll be back with some semblance of posts, ha. And I hope you like reading about mom life - because that's where I'll be until mid-May when I go back to work. Then it'll be working mom life! Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Measuring Success and Bumpdate - 1/31/18

It's been a while since I've done one of these! My sporadic blogging has not been the best for keeping up with post schedules, ha.  But this will probably be the last bumpdate before Little Man gets here, so I thought it important to actually do it! I also have some fun photos with life updates.

How far along: 35 weeks + 6 days (Friday is 36 weeks, holy crap!)

Size of Baby: Canary Melon

Cravings: I haven't really had any cravings per se, lately. I'm all about the sugar and not about cooking, at all. I've eaten more fast food in the past two weeks than I probably have in a year. Sorry kid. My taste buds totally changed this week and foods that I've enjoyed before are totally revolting now. I have no idea why my body decided to wait the better part of 9 months to do this, but here we are.

Weird stuff: Where do I begin? Apparently, the third trimester is when it gets real for me. I have carpal tunnel in my right arm. Really bad. I'm sleeping in a brace and sometimes I can't even squeeze bottles with that hand. It's my dominant hand, so that doesn't help. Mostly, though, I just feel like I've been hit by a bus. Every. Single. Day. That whole, "get your rest!" thing apparently doesn't apply to my body. Also, I've lost a good three to four inches off my reach, thanks to my belly. It's highly entertaining to watch me try and put away dishes right now.

Fun stuff: We had our showers this past week! I had a surprise baby shower with some of my old co-workers on Friday at Nantucket Grill. I was supposed to be having lunch with my former boss, one of my favorite people ever, and when I got there, she led me to the back where about 5 ladies were waiting for me. It was so sweet and totally made my week! One of them even brought me a donut tree from my favorite bakery in Sanford!

I had my main baby shower on Saturday. My friends Hannah and Sarah planned a beautiful Curious George themed shower (our nursery theme!) with my mom, mother-in-law and sister-in-law helping out. Sarah made a ridiculous and amazing cake that tasted as good as it looked! And my favorite part was the Curious George book that they used as a guestbook. There were so many cute details! I loved every minute and I can honestly say that there are few times you feel more loved in life than in a big group of women that are excited for the next phase of your life and already love your kid, long before he's even here.

Me and my wonderful hostesses!

Deviled egg babies!

My Curious George cake made by my friend Sarah Schaefer.
I actually have my work baby shower today. Truly, it's hard to feel anything less than super loved and blessed at this point.

The other cool thing this month is that I was asked to speak to a MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) group in Fayetteville. They asked that I speak about body image, food prep, etc. based on what I talk about on this blog. As a blogger and someone that has struggled with her weight and appearance, it was such a fun experience for me and also super flattering that someone wanted me to come speak to a group!

Weight gained: So, I looked at the scale last month. It was a terrible, horrible number that I won't even tell you. At that point, I hadn't gained 50 pounds. It was more like 38. That was depressing and I won't be doing that again.

Exercise: Up until about 33 weeks, I was doing just dandy. I could still do some spin classes, pilates, yoga and barre. And then, it magically went away. Spin became 45 minutes of pure uncomfortable hell. It hurt to sit (too much pressure) and hurt to stand (my feet went numb). I felt like all I did was kick the crap out of my kid when spinning sitting down, so I decided to just stop. Walking in general is a work out right now. So I'm down to yoga and barre, two classes a week. I do what I can. It's so modified it's not even funny. For example, I can't do down dog without getting massive acid reflux, so I stick to table top and child's pose. But, going back to that grace thing, I'm okay with it.  My friend Josh told me I was a beast to have made it this long, so I'm going with that. 

Endurance: It's gone. That's all.

About this time next month, Little Man should be here. The doctors don't want me to go past a certain point, but who knows the exact day of his arrival at this point. I will say that pregnancy has been a ride. Not a bad one, it's been fairly good to me, but I also never realized the things your body goes through to grow a human. I'm proud of what I've been able to do and keep doing and I hope that we both benefit from all that exercise! Happy hump day friends!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Baby Zinn Prep: Freezer Meal Recipes and Ideas!

Welcome to part two of my freezer meal posts!As I mentioned in last week's post, I've been working on this gigantic project of making a ton of freezer meals so I don't have to cook for the first few months of my son's life. In that post, I talked about my planning and supplies. Today, I'm going to provide you with the recipes I used and my plans for them!

Types of Freezer Food
First, let's talk about the types of freezer food I did. 

Casseroles - I have some casseroles in 9x13 pans and I have smaller versions of the casseroles in loaf pans. The 9x13 pans will feed us for multiple days and the loaf pans will feed us one dinner and one lunch. This way we don't get tired of eating the same things over and over!

Individual Packs - I packaged some items (like freezer waffles) in individual packs. This is more for my husband than anything. He's not always the best at portion control. So, I used my 2 quart ziplocs to make individual packs for breakfast to ensure that a) I made enough and b) he didn't eat all of them at once!

Meat Packs - I got this idea from the Pioneer Woman. She's a genius, I tell ya! In her cookbook, "Dinnertime," she lists a bunch of recipes for meats and fillings that you can then use for multiple recipes. These include beef taco meat, meatballs, chili packets, taco chicken filling, etc. 

Crock Pot Freezer Meals - While the crock pot is amazing on its own (no, I don't have an Instant Pot), there are times when you literally just want to dump some meals and go. So I made a few crock pot freezer meals that you literally just thaw and dump in the crock pot. 

Fillers - At some point along the way, I realized this was a ridiculous amount of work and that I probably wouldn't get to three months of food that I made. So, I started working on back-ups that I could buy that would still be food we wanted to eat and didn't require a lot of work on my part. 

Let's get to the real part of this post, shall we? The part you actually care about! The recipes! I'll share what I've made, how I've packaged each and some of what's still in the plan to be made.

Freezer Waffles (Against All Grain, Meals Made Simple)
I found this oh so amazing and easy recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks from our Paleo days - Against All Grain's Meals Made Simple. I also loved it because it helped clean out some of my frou frou flours that I hardly ever use anymore. I made these waffles in my Cuisinart Griddler and Waffle maker. While the recipe says you'll get 24 waffles, I got about 12 per recipe, maybe a little more. I packed these 3 to a pack and have 9 packs. They are super fluffy and really, really good. You honestly can't even tell they're gluten free!

I also plan to make some breakfast burritos and egg muffin frittatas for us. But, who knows if that's going to happen! I plan to package all of the breakfast items individually, though, so it's just a grab and go kind of thing.

Meat Packs 
Meatballs (Dinnertime, The Pioneer Woman)
The recipe that I have linked is not the exact recipe that I used.  My recipe comes from the Dinnertime cookbook (as do many others on this list!), but just in case you don't have a copy (and you should), this one is pretty similar.  It took me a good while to make these meatballs. Definitely give yourself two or three hours to do all the work and flash freeze in batches. It's not hard, just takes time. The recipe says 125 meatballs, I think I got about 110 meatballs total, which was fine for us.  I froze 22 meatballs per 2 quart freezer bag for a total of 5 bags. Here are some recipes I plan to make with these:
Taco Meat Packs (Dinnertime, The Pioneer Woman)
I didn't find a recipe to link to for this one,  but any type of taco meat would work.  Simply use ground beef and then season with either tomato sauce, chili powder, cayenne and cumin or use a premade chili pack. I froze two cups of the taco meat per 2 quart freezer bag for a total of 6 bags. I used 6 pounds of ground beef.

To store the taco meat, I pre-labeled all of my two quart bags with the contents, how much and reheating instructions.

Once the meat was prepared, I poured two cups into each bag. I use the stand and fill bags, which makes it easier to load!

Once filled, I then flattened them for easier storage. This is an art, you have to let some air out while flattening to get the extra air bubbles out.

Finally, I stacked them on my small cookie sheet and loaded into the freezer to freeze.  This method works great for any type of soup, stew, or meat mixture. 

Here are some recipes/meals I plan to make with the taco packs:
  • Tacos (duh!)
  • Mexican Pizzas
  • Taco Salad
  • Quesadillas
1 lb. cubed chicken breast packs
This is not a recipe, but something totally worth having on hand. When I buy chicken, I tend to either buy it at BJs or at Harris Teeter, both in large quantities. I go home and split some chicken breasts into two and package into one pound packs (see below) or I'll cube the chicken and put into one pound packs.  This comes in handy for quick back up meals like Marion's Kitchen meal kits or even pan grilling some chicken and throwing it in with.  But having it already cubed, you save  yourself a good amount of time!  I use my two quart freezer bags for this.  

1 lb. split boneless skinless chicken breast packs
I always like to have some boneless skinless chicken breasts that aren't cubed. These are great for seasoning and making with vegetables or even putting in the crockpot. You don't always want (or need) cubed chicken, but having portioned out in 3-4 oz. breasts also cuts down on prep time. I use the two quart freezer bags for this as well.

Casseroles are one of the easiest things to freeze. I love to have them on hand, but also get tired of eating the same thing over and over, so I solve that by having larger casseroles and some smaller ones in loaf pans. Thankfully, the freezer 9x13 pans are just a tiny bit smaller than your regular 9x13 casserole dish, so I always have some leftover to make a small loaf pan without having to do any extra work!

When I make the casseroles, I use disposable pans and I write the directions on the tin foil. This way, I don't have to look them up in a book and someone else can easily pop the food in the oven without my help. The less work I have to do, the better!

Here are some of my favorite casseroles that I've already made!

Mexican Tortilla Casserole (Dinnertime, The Pioneer Woman)
I was able to make a 9x13 casserole and a loaf pan with this recipe! The covers us for a couple meals one week and then lunch and dinner another.

Three Cheese-Stuffed Shells with Meaty Tomato Sauce
This is one of my very favorite  freezer meals to make! I'm not a big fan of the regular stuff shells recipe because I like meat in my meals and that one just has cheese stuffed shells. This one, though, has the perfect amount of meat and cheese. I usually make two batches of these. One big casserole and then five small loaf pans. I estimate about 3 shells per person and a loaf pan holds six, so a loaf pan will either cover us for dinner or dinner and a lunch for someone, depending on how hungry we are.

Lasagna Roll-ups (Dinnertime, The Pioneer Woman)
I promise, I made more than just recipes from PW! But her stuff is so good! Lasagna roll-ups is my new favorite way to do lasagna.  Aaron has a small problem with portion control (he has none), so roll-ups are great. One normally does it for me while he definitely eats two. But it helps keep him from eating so much at once! I made two of these as well, doing a full 9x13 dish and opted to do the second set in loaf pans instead. I was able to get four loaf pans with four roll-ups each.

Lasagna Roll-ups packaged with instructions on top!

Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna Rolls (Skinnytaste Cookbook)
Full confession, I can barely choke these down pregnant. The texture is not okay for this pregnant lady. However, the taste is wonderful and I'm excited to eat them again when my texture issues aren't off the charts (thanks Little Man!). I liked this recipe because it uses lots of veggies, which you don't always get when doing freezer meals. I made two batches of these, we ate one and then we froze one. The author recommends freezing these in a gallon size ziploc, so I did! They take up a lot less space than the 9x13 pans!

Crockpot Freezer Meals
I love my crockpot. I haven't been watching This Is Us, so my love hasn't been tainted yet. I also don't have an instant pot, though I hear they are magical. So, it's still me and the crock pot once a week. However, even those meals take some prep. I found this awesome graphic of easy, healthy crockpot freeze meals and I've made a few of them! I made the Glazed Carrots for dinner one night and it turned out pretty good, so I made two others for the freezer.  The link to these recipes is here.  Here are the ones I've made/plan to make:
  • Ginger Garlic
  • Spicy Orange
  • Seasoned Corn
  • Maple Potato
For us, this fed us both dinner and lunch the next day. I froze these in gallon size ziploc bags, as suggested by the site.

I figured I wouldn't be able to get a full three months complete, so I also came up with a list of filler meals to have on hand.  Here's what I've got:
  • Marion's Kitchen meal kits - I did a post reviewing these meal kits a while back. I love that they are easy and have good ingredients that you actually know what they are.  They're pretty cheap at Wal-mart, but I've also found them at Harris Teeter.  These are great to use the cubed chicken breast with!
  • PF Chang's Meals for two - Hi, I'm Sarah and I love Asian-inspired food! The PF Chang's frozen meals for two are actually really good and easy to do.  We have a few of these in the freezer now. 
  • Stouffer's Chicken Enchiladas - This is by far my favorite frozen family meal. It's so good! I almost always have one of these in my freezer.
  • Pasta - I have a variety of pastas on hand - macaroni and cheese, penne, spaghetti noodles, etc. These can be used with the meats up top to make lots of meals!
  • Uncle Ben's 90 Second Rice packs - These things are a life saver in my world. I mostly use the Spanish, Jasmine and Basmati rice packs. They're great because they literally just take 90 seconds in a microwave and bam - you have a side dish. They pair perfectly with the PF Chang's Meals and the meal kits. 
To finish up my meals, I've actually signed up to do a Pampered Chef freezer meal prep party with one of my friends.  You choose a menu and make 10 meals to take home and freeze.  Hopefully, that will finish up my freezing because this lady is tired! I've also hit that point where I don't want to cook anymore (already!!), but I'm trying to be good and not break into those meals just yet. Here's what my freezer looks like right now (minus the girl scout cookies that we just added last week).

Have you done any freezer meals? What are some of your favorites?!