A Mama’s Guide to Sickness + Teething

Siri, what is wrong with my infant?

Siri, can you give a baby an exorcism?

Siri, where is the closest liquor store?

In our house, when it rains, it pours. If the kids get sick, it’s pneumonia. If they’re teething, it’s a full mouth of teeth ALL AT ONCE. That’s where we are right now. The Great Texas Plague (“It’s just a cold, Blakely, stop being so dramatic.” – Mike) has worked its way through our home TWICE and I am ready to bid it goodbye. To add to this lovely shit-storm of Tylenol and sucking the boogers out of their nose (Please go and buy yourself a Nose Frieda. It’s disgusting and amazing), Holly is currently getting FOUR TEETH simultaneously. I cringe when I look at her upper gums thinking about the pain she must be in.

Never has a blog collaboration been so appropriate. Oilogic’s line of essential oils and bath vapor soap has been working miracles for our house. While it can’t cure you of illness, it can help soothe the ache and congestion for the wee ones which is worth its weight in absolute gold. (Please note that these items are for babies 6 months and up.)

Let’s start with their Stuffy Nose + Cough Vapor Bath: I have always steamed up the bathroom to loosen up their mucus and help them breathe easier, but I’ve kicked it up a notch using the Oilogic Stuffy Nose + Cough Vapor Bath, which I pour into the tub and rub on a washcloth. I usually have Finn breathe into the washcloth for a few seconds, to help the vapors work their way into his nasal passages. When the kids get out of the bath, I help relieve the stuffy nose by using the Nose Frida (Yes, you use a tube to physically suck the snot out of their nose. It is every bit as disgusting and effective as it sounds, but if I’m honest, sucking out their boogers is one of the LESS gross things I’ve had to do as a mom).

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Now, let’s move on to the demon that is teething. Bless.

Holly has been a real joy to put to bed, so we’re currently using the Sleep Vapor Bath in her tubs at night to calm the pain and help get her in the mood to sleep. I also give her a little foot massage with the Sleep + Slumber Oil Roll-On when she gets out of the bath.

These seasons of sickness and teething are to be expected with a team of little ones, and I’m just grateful to be a comfort to them when they aren’t feeling well. Here’s to building their immune systems and snuggling our way back to health!

 

Holly Update: 10 Months

This post was written in collaboration with TwistShake, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I’m a little late to this update, since she’ll be 11 months in just a couple weeks. (Oops! #SecondChildProblems)

I feel like the second she turned nine months, there’s a new development every day, and I can barely keep up! Many other moms on Instagram ask me about her eating habits, schedule, and development, so I thought it appropriate to do a Q&A about little miss at 10 months.

Did she and Finn do things at the same stages?

Yes and no. Holly is a little quicker to try new things (I’ve said before Finn is our cautious baby) and she’s sort of a daredevil, so the second she discovers a new skill, she’s all over the place. She said her first words (if Mama and Dada count) at 7 months, and at ten months she’s a chatterbox. Our new favorite thing is when we ask her if she wants a bottle or to be picked up and she yells “YEAH!” with lots of enthusiasm.

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She learned to stand using the laundry basket… Who needs baby gear, anyway? 

What is her schedule like?

Schedule? What schedule? She’s all over the place. With two, its so much harder to maintain a nap schedule. She’s finally started to nap, which is a huge development, but they are still irregular and short. She does sleep through the night, though, so I guess I should count my blessings.

What does she eat?

Everything. She’s a baby foodie. Typically, her day looks like this:

Morning: Bottle.

Mid-morning: An egg, blueberries, and cheerios

Afternoon: Bottle, nap(ish).

Mid-afternoon: Snack (typically, whatever her brother is having). Greek yogurt smoothie with kale, avocado, strawberries, and banana is a crowd favorite. On days where I’m very busy, it’s grapes and a slice of cheese. #MomOfTheYear

Late afternoon: Bottle, attempt at another nap. Usually a fail.

Dinner: Whatever we’re eating, paired with avocado. I give her so much avocado, it’s a wonder she’s not green.

Evening: Bottle, sleep.

How is she taking to the bottle?

The transition was seamless. This is really the only thing Holly has made easy on me. 😉

We have started using the TwistShake bottle (pictured below, isn’t it cute?!) and I love the happy, bright colors. They also have compartments to store formula and snacks, which makes my life so much easier on-the-go.

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I love her nursery. Where did you find her stuff?

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Her nursery is my favorite room in the house, and it’s not even finished yet! (Note the gallery wall on the shelves with empty frames…I’ll get to it.) Her macrame swing is my favorite part – I’m all about baby style with function. I wanted the space to feel fun for me (I spend a LOT of time in it) but also playful and babyish, because it’s her room after all.

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I took her dress and made it into a wall hanging by attaching it to string in a frame with clothespins. Easy, cute…and it cost me next to nothing!

Her blanket is from Soul Studio Prints (a great baby gift for an expectant mama), the rug is Rugs USA (similar), and her knick knacks and shelves are mostly Target with a few antiques (mostly books) from shops in downtown Buda mixed in. (If you ever get to Buda, TX, you simply must swing through the cute little antique and thrift shops.) I’m all about mixing the old with the new!

What’s your favorite part about this stage / age?

Holly is such a little personality – seriously, she is my mini with her sass. It’s so fun to see how much she learns every day. Plus, even though she just stopped breastfeeding, our bond is pretty special.

What’s the most difficult part about this stage?

We nicknamed her “High Maintenance Holly,” if that tells you anything. Ha! She’s always been our “tougher” baby, but that’s probably because Finn was so easy that anything by comparison will seem tricky.

I guess the hardest part is that now she’s mobile, and having two babes running around makes getting anything else done impossible. I have to get creative, which is probably why she’s playing with the laundry basket in that picture.

I cannot wait to see who this vibrant little lady becomes. She is so fun… and dressing her is a blast!

xoxo,

BG + Holly (Finn, too.)

The Ecocentric Mom

I am not what one would call a “crunchy” mom. Sure, I do my best to buy organic and keep us GMO free (except for the odd Chik-Fil-A night here and there – I am only human), but I’m a gluten fanatic and I wouldn’t last being vegan a day. So, I was a little skeptical how excited I could get over a box full of all natural, healthy mom products. Color me surprised, when I got the Ecocentric Mom’s subscription box in the mail, there was not a single product I didn’t love. (You can watch my review of it here.)

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The “Happy Joy” Essential Oil smells like heaven and sunflowers – it was my favorite product!

If you, too, could use a monthly gift (to yourself), I highly advise you check out The Ecocentric Mom.

I’ve linked my first video (EEK) below, to give you a run-down of all the goodies included in the box!

Watch Video

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A Goodbye to Breastfeeding

Full disclosure: I’ve never been a #BreastIsBest crusader. I truly, deeply believe that how a mother chooses to feed her children is her decision and I don’t want to is a good enough explanation for not choosing to nurse. Motherhood is so hard, I can’t understand for one single second why we judge each other for bottle vs. breast. So, bottle-feeding moms, please do not feel in any way judged or condemned by my sadness about our nursing journey coming to an end. I know, just like you, that my abilities and strengths as a mother go way, way further than my boobs. 

This has been a long time coming. We’ve battled a zillion drops in supply (fought with Fenugreek, lactation cookies, and a million hours attached to a pump), two bouts of mastitis (OUCH), and nursing strikes. But, now, it’s time. I know it, Holly knows it. As much as I love the bond that we’ve established (her and I are like peas and carrots), nursing is starting to bring us more problems than I feel its worth. Still, two days ago, when she nursed for the last time, my heart was in absolute shambles.

I didn’t plan on breastfeeding being so important to me. I did it simply because I knew, nutritionally, it was the best option. Heck, it was also free and formula is hella expensive. I committed to 6 months and feel so incredibly grateful to have made it as long as we did. Along the way, nursing Holly became more than just “doing best” for her. It also became a way for me to slow down, to snuggle, to catch up on scripture or The Kardashians (If you’re judging that juxtaposition, I don’t blame you). My husband will tell you that I’m not great at slowing down, at soaking things in. But nursing demands it. It demands you feed yourself (otherwise your supply suffers) and it biologically demands that you take care of yourself. That you stay hydrated. That you not be too stressed. That you get enough sleep.

Slowly but surely, nursing sessions became my favorite parts of the day. I marveled in the way her hands would search for my face, the way she’d smile in between sucks, the feeling of her breath slowing as nursing sunk her into a deep sleep. The books, the blogs, they were all right about breastfeeding: it gives as much to the mom as it does to the baby. It kept her (mostly) healthy when Finn brought home many toddler bugs, and the way she flourished made me so proud. I am so proud that, between pregnancy and breastfeeding I sustained a life – using only my body! – for well over a year. How amazing is that?

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But now, for many reasons, I feel the time has come to stop. Since she was introduced to a bottle, she has little patience for the breast (which is slower) and now that she’s mobile and active, her desire to cuddle me long enough to last a whole nursing session has dwindled. And, because I’ve been her only food source for so long, she’s pretty much against anyone else coming near her, and I’m ready to share her (KINDA) with her dad and grandparents.

I am ready. I think she’s ready. Ten months was a good run. I’m proud of myself. Still, I’m sad and will miss this incredible bond she and I have forged. I hope this won’t be the last time I nurse a baby, because it really is the most amazing experience.

She may not be at my breast anymore, but she is always and still my baby.

New mamas, I know it’s hard. Your nipples are bleeding, you don’t know what you’re doing; you’re sleep deprived and it hurts. Stick with it. Just a few more weeks, and I promise you, you won’t regret it. I am so glad I did.

 

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Something Old

For Christmas, Mike gave me Chip and Joanna Gaines’ book, The Magnolia Story – it had been on my list for months, and I stayed up all night to read it that very day. If you haven’t read it, I won’t ruin anything for you, but the book chronicles how famous “Fixer Upper” TV renovators “Chip and Jo” fell in love and made their life’s work making beauty out of ugly, abandoned homes in Waco, TX. For me, a lover of all seeing gold in old, quirky things,  the show hits so close to home and has taught me so much. When Mike and I moved into our first home, a little green house on a quiet street, I wondered how we would ever make it feel like it was ours. But, week by week, with lots of (Mike’s) elbow grease and help from our families, our home took shape into something that was completely our own. And, we did it on a budget! A borrowed light fixture here, a thrift shop side table there. I remember nesting in Finn’s nursery, sitting back in a funky chair I’d found (on sale, for $80!) thinking, “This feels like home.” His room was my favorite in the whole house, just as it should be. While we never quite got to “Fixer Upper” status, the house was ours, and that meant everything. Even now, in our new-build home in Texas, I sometimes long for old things – things with charm and history.

My favorite part of Chip and Jo’s book is reading how Chip surprised Joanna by bringing her to a jeweler to design her own engagement ring. He’d borrowed some money from his parents to give her the ring of her dreams. She opted, of course, for an antique setting. Joanna Gaines is not a simple solitaire kind of girl. Years later, when their renovation business became successful, he took her to the jeweler again, this time to “upgrade” her diamond. This is my favorite part. She looks at her ring, then dead into the eyes of the jeweler and says, “Thank you, but I love my ring just the way it is.”

This is the remarkable thing about Joanna Gaines: She has, by my account, the money to change her lifestyle – upgrading her ring is not a lofty, unprecedented expense. But she hasn’t stopped seeing the beauty in old, quirky things. She knows the value of the diamond isn’t it’s cut or clarity, but in the love and commitment that went into it when Chip anxiously asked her to marry him.

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Mike spent a lot of time shopping for rings – He has told me about how he wandered into Tiffany & Co. on his lunch break, and was beaten bloody with details. (He now knows all about cut and clarity, thanks to Susan at Tiffany.) But, nothing there felt right. So, when we were on a mini-getaway to Kennebunkport, Maine (where my parents were married) and we wandered into an antiques and estate shop and happened upon this ring – my ring – I was stopped in my tracks by how beautiful it was. He suggested I try it on, and I was all-too-happy to comply. I loved it. It was one-of-a-kind. It was old. It had lots of history (it was made in the early 1920’s), just like Mike and I, who met in elementary school. But, I didn’t think he was that serious about getting married. I didn’t know if I was, to be honest. I thought this was merely market research. For “one day.” I gave the ring back to the store’s owner and didn’t give it much more thought. We left the store, strolled into another boutique where I got lost in the art and candles, and Mike immediately called the jeweler who showed us the ring. “Do not sell that ring,” he told them, “I will be back.” And he was.

He didn’t know when or how he’d propose, but he knew he would, so he bought the ring. He spent the hard-earned money he’d saved, fresh out of college, on a ring because he knew it made my eyes light up.

Every time I look at it I think about us, young and naive in Kennebunkport, but smart enough to know we’d found a good thing. And, if one day he’s silly enough to suggest an “upgrade,” I’ll laugh and remind him: There’s beauty in old things, things with history. 

 

 

Oh hey, 2017.

I think we can all agree: 2016 was a weird year. It was risky. It lived on the edge. Donald Trump was elected president. Spice Girl-esque chokers are back in style. I am a pretty positive person (or so I like to think) but every time another 2016-ish thing happened, I looked at Mike and said, America just needs a nap. As if we could reset the state of the universe by tricking our toddler country into its crib.

2016 was also a good year in so many ways. It was the first year I maintained each of my resolutions. I was easy on myself in ’16. I didn’t aim to lose ten pounds or color code my daily agenda to stay organized. I just told myself I was going to live a life of intention. I plugged in more to life than I did my phone. I prayed nearly every day, as a discipline. I took more risks.

But, what now? I don’t have any specific goals for ’17 – except for one. I want to shake off excess.

No, I don’t mean I’m going to throw out items from my closet (although I should do that too) or de-clutter my junk drawer. Instead, I’m going to prioritize the things and people that matter and lovingly, gently let go of the rest.

My stepdad Todd likes to joke that he has a “sandbox” of people and things he lets in. If I had to guess, it looks like this: God, his family, and a SMALL group of friends. He’s not unkind about his sandbox list. In fact, he’s one of the kindest (albeit grumpy, in a Al Bundy from Married with Children kind of way) people I know. But, he has this remarkable ability to only make space for things that matter.

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He’ll disown me for telling you all this, but this former pro-hockey player took dance lessons super seriously.

Cutting off the excess doesn’t come as easily to me. I’m a people pleaser, through and through. (This sounds like a positive trait, but it’s not. I’ve gotten myself into the stickiest of situations out of fear of disappointing others.) Something I’ve learned through watching Todd as I’ve grown up is that you don’t have to apologize for the truth. For me, that means spending less time and energy on people and things that don’t align with my priorities or integrity. It means keeping my little family and a handful of honest, generous, good-to-the-core people in my sandbox and letting the others to find their way elsewhere. You really are what you devote your time to – and I want to make every second count.

Thankfully, my sandbox runneth over.

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And aren’t they the sweetest?!

 

 

 

Things That Matter

I dropped the ball on Christmas cards this year. I’d make some excuse about how busy we’ve been (true!) and how many wrenches have been thrown in our plans, but honestly – this is just a case of me deciding that there are worse things than not sending out a perfectly creative and curated card. We’ll have better luck next year. (Maybe!)

My favorite part about receiving cards from our friends and family are the updates – announcing marriages, pregnancies, moves, new jobs, and family vacations. I smile each time I open one and see your families, tan and smiling on a faraway beach or snuggling close at a Christmas tree farm. So, I couldn’t face the holidays without sending an update of our own, even if it’s digitally. I know these days we get our updates via Facebook (and I over-post my family, because I can’t help but share their happy faces), but those are only snapshots, not the full picture. So here goes, 2016 for the Giordanos.

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Photo c/o Amy Nolan Photography

This year, Finn got the greatest gift he didn’t know he wanted (he’ll figure that out one day) in a little sister, our sweet Holly Kate. While Finn lulled us into a false sense of perfectly behaved security, Holly prefers to shake things up. If you ever needed proof that no two people are the same, have siblings close in age. Woah! Finn loves her madly. He has no idea that she’s plotting to ruin his life. He hugs and kisses her constantly and pays no mind to the fact that at a mere 8 months old, she’s already pulling his hair and stealing his toys. She embodies girl power, this one.

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Photo c/o Amy Nolan Photography

 

Finn will be 2 in March. I don’t know how that happened. All I know is I demanded he stay a tiny baby and he didn’t listen. We’re looking into preschools and I’m trying not to cry every time I think of him, a too-big backpack over his shoulders, waving goodbye to me from a bright and happy classroom. Will his teachers know to pretend to blow on his food, even when it’s not hot? Will they be tender with him when he’s nervous? Truth be told – he’ll do fabulously. It’s me that will lose my cool.

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Photo c/o Amy Nolan Photography

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Photo c/o Amy Nolan Photography

Mike has had a busy year trading bonds. At least, I think that’s what he said. I know there was a lot of mentions of interest rates, yields, returns, something like that. I know he’s good at it. I’m so proud, even if I don’t understand a ding-dang word. He’s adjusting to his new office in Austin, where I’m told the office snacks are really good. (I might not understand finance-lingo, but snacks are my language.)

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Photo c/o Amy Nolan Photography

Which brings me to our biggest update… We moved to Austin, TX! Well, we moved to a quaint little town about 25 minutes outside of Austin. Buda, TX is the Stars Hollow of Texas towns. It makes me happy just driving down Main Street and passing the farmers market and storefronts lit up with Christmas decorations. (As I write this, Mike just sent me a photo of Cowboy Santa, greeting people outside his office. Oh, Texas.)

For those of you who don’t know, Mike and I grew up in the same little New Jersey town of Ridgewood. It’s where we met, at Somerville Elementary. It’s where we got married. It’s where we had both of our children. Ridgewood is, and has been, home to us for 25 years and leaving was terrifying. We spent 3/7 days a week with either one of our families. There was rarely a Sunday where we didn’t start the day at Grace Church. We’d sit next to my parents, usually followed by brunch and the occasional hockey or soccer game. Then, the evenings were usually spent at my in-laws, where we were well fed and sent home with the most amazing leftovers. To say that we miss them would be the understatement of the century.

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Photo c/o Amy Nolan Photography

But, it’s been really amazing to settle in as our own family on our own adventure. Mike is home more often, and we finally have time to spend together as a family. I still pinch myself when I hear him pull into the driveway at 5:00. God works in mysterious ways, and kept telling us to prioritize family time over our fears of leaving home.

Moving was an absolute nightmare, but because we have a knack for chaos and a healthy sense of humor, we had a lot of fun. And a lot of fast food. (FYI: Texas has a drive-thru for everything.)

While waiting for the movers to arrive, we shared a twin-size mattress, that was meant for Finn’s bed, and the kids swapped out carseats and a pack-n-play. We all got Bronchitis. Finn got an ear infection. Finally, three weeks late, our furniture arrived.

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Moving is exhausting, but Holly managed.

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Little mattress, lotta fun. 

This brings me to our theme for 2016: Things that matter.

2016 has taught us many things, but above all, it’s shown me, and us, not to stress the small stuff. Even when we were all miserably sick, sharing a tiny mattress on the floor of an empty house, I had more than I could possibly ask for. God is good, all the time. Discomfort teaches you many things – but above all, it teaches you gratitude.

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So, Merry Christmas from this little house in this little Texas town from this little New Jersey family.

May God bless you. And may you keep sending us those sweet cards with your fabulous updates – because they light up our hearts!

All our love,

The G’s