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Saying Goodbye to Afternoon Meetings with My Breastpump

Chelsea Nelson

When I went back to work nine months ago, it seemed like the ‘end’ of pumping at work would never come. For nine months, I have carried around this ridiculous contraption – pumping twice a day – regardless of off-site conferences, out of town work trips, employee retreats, or other barriers. I did it. I have pumped in bathrooms, cars, sketchy hallways, other people’s homes, hotels, and even a kid’s party room at a bowling alley.

I am proud of myself. Despite the difficulty, despite the 15 pounds my body can’t seem to shake, and despite feeling like a literal cow many days – I kept it up. I didn’t stop.  

But my goal of breastfeeding for one year is nearly reached. And breastfeeding and pumping have become my normal everyday rituals. Pumping while being a working mom has been hard most days -- an interruption when I am knee-deep in a writing project, or an early exit during a meeting. But, at the same time, it has also been a sort of refuge -- a 20-minute break to watch videos of my baby or the latest Mindy Project episode, or catch up on one of my favorite podcasts. And certainly, it has been a few moments to pull myself out of work mode and into mom mode – which I miss during a busy workday.

I recently went down to one pumping session per day, as my daughter started weaning – bottle by bottle. First, she didn’t want her morning bottle. And this past week, she has been weaning her late afternoon bottle. She prefers pasta and strawberries; pb&j and crackers; eggs and yogurt. I mean, why wouldn’t she? In reality, I really could stop pumping at work today. We are less than three weeks away from her first birthday – but I won’t. Something about that diehard date has me fixated. And so, for three more weeks, I will take my afternoon break to procure the last of her bottled milk. <insert long sigh>

It kind of makes me want to cry, as much as it makes me want to shout a big “HELL YES” at the top of my lungs, over and over and over.

I have been reading a bit about post-weaning depression. A year ago, I might have thought that would be a crazy thing – why would anyone be sad about being done with breastfeeding? But I am. We will still keep on with the evening and morning feedings for a while, but she doesn’t get up at night anymore. She sleeps. She doesn’t nurse during the day anymore. She eats big kid food. And now, my husband can put her to sleep and I can have a break. And while that is so incredibly freeing, I can’t help but feel like I am losing something, like I am losing a connection that only the two of us have shared for one whole year.  

Over the past week or so, as I have been planning her birthday party: getting her one-year photos, ordering catering, and sending out invitations. I have also been relishing our nursing time. The way she feels in my arms. They way she still seems so dependent on me in those moments. The way she seems softer when she twirls her hair as I rock her. There isn’t a time I feel more like a mom than in those moments.

But, I know there will be new moments coming. I know that over the next year, the things she will do and SAY will be astounding in a new way. I can’t wait for those moments. I am so exited to see her transform and I know that there will always be things we are letting go of. Rituals we will leave behind. Moments that will never happen again.

But I really believe, that those moments are no better than the ones yet to come. Just different.

…….And, I am really excited to throw away my nursing bras.

…….And, finally be able to cut my calories and get my amazingly hot bod back (catch the sarcasm).

…….And, to bring the boobs back to the bedroom. I mean, let’s be honest. Those things have been off limits for far too long.

Cheers to all things new!
Chelsea


Have you had similar feelings while weaning your baby? Share with us in the comments! There is something about knowing a community of women have gone through the same thing that makes all of this so much easier.

#MomStuff
#MomLife
#GoodbyePump

Easter Recap!

ashley cardoza

Normally I am all about busting out the big camera for a holiday, but Easter was started too early and ended way too late. My husband is a musician, so our Easter weekend means we are at Church for the better part of the weekend. Husband brag: I need to find a video of his solo he rocked and had too much fun with this weekend. He plays electric guitar, so he's a rockstar in my world.

Our first Easter was kind of a blur. As I said before, my husband is a musician, we are at Church for the most part. Our weekend starts Friday with Good Friday services and ends with the last Sunday service. While he only plays about 4 services, I have friends who are on stage for 13 services. I decided that I made Christmas magical, so Easter was going to be low key. I didn't make fun bunny pancakes, or do an Easter egg hunt with my crawler. We were up at 6am Easter morning. I had to do my hair (which as one of my friends pointed out " I almost didn't recognize you out of mom-mode" mental note: straighten hair more often), get us dressed and packed up for a day out. Holidays are hard in the sense that I have to mentally prepare myself that Ellis' nap schedule will be off. 

I think keeping Easter low-key will be my norm. I opted against any ham lunches. In fact I declared to my friends that I didn't want any traditional holiday food for Easter lunch. I love a good mashed potato & roasted meat meal, but momma wanted something fun. So we did Hibachi! It was the best. No one had to cook, no one had to clean, and Ellis was entertained. I managed to keep her awake so she would take an afternoon nap (so WE could nap- and nap we did). After the nap, I declared I wanted dessert crepes. Thank you for a husband who is willing to look past the fact I didn't cook once Easter day. (Crepes: Me- Apple Cinnamon Caramel, Husband - Smore's Both- scoop of ice cream, Ellis- Sliced bananas)  

Ellis: Cuteheads Vineyard Top , Gap Shorts, Willow Crowns, Freshly Picked

Brace Yourself: Bluebonnets & Sweetness

ashley cardoza

Nothing says springtime in Texas like BlueBonnet PIctures (and take note-- bluebonnets are flowers, not little bonnets of blue on darling girls!) I am dying over the bluebonnet pictures I quickly took the last weekend! Pre-Ellis, I didn't understand why everyone was dying to go out to hill country and take pictures of their family in the fields of blue. But then, I see this sweetness and HOW CAN YOU NOT?! 

Thinking of doing family photos in the spring flowers? Here are a few tips for getting good pictures of your kiddos! 

  1. Time of Day: I highly suggest going first thing in the am, when it's still not totally sunny, your kids can eat breakfast naked, and you can just do it before the morning nap. I had awesome luck with 3 kiddos under 2 at 9am. If you can't do before morning nap, go right after dinner before sunset! It's the golden hour. 
  2. Location: So what you don't see, is the highway is behind us. I had no desire to pack up a ton of littles and drive forever away to get pictures in the blues. Wherever you choose to take your pix, look at your surroundings (check for snakes), and decide what you want your backdrop to be. 
  3. Lighting: I can't urge you mommas & dad's enough - AVOID super super sunny open fields. But if you can't avoid it, face your kiddos away from the sun. Always pay attention to the squint factor. If they are squinting, its probably very bright out. So that ugly gray morning/day is the perfect day to get pictures out in the beautiful blues!
  4. Seating: I found that chairs are too high away from the flowers, opt for a low seat. I brought an old suitcase out. If you have an ugly green bathmat, bring it for them to sit on. Some kiddos hate the feeling of grass/bugs/dirt/life. 
  5. Be Courteous: Please be kind to the flowers. Sit your kiddos in the already matted areas. Don't be a trail blazer and ruin the patch. You'll see already walked on paths. Thats a good sign that is the place you want to set up shop and get photos. All the other mommas and photographers will be eternally grateful. 

I'm only a 3rd year veteran of bluebonnet pictures, but these are just basic things I remind myself every time I go out for photos. There are probably a TON more my photographer friends will add, but I'm all about easy, breezy, and quick. 

Clothes:


Keeping the Romance Alive - Post Baby | Valentine's Day Edition!

Chelsea Nelson

Photo by : TessaJ

Photo by : TessaJ

You may have recently seen us post a survey on our social media outlets, asking parents a few simple questions about how they keep the "romance" alive after kids enter the picture. We were so excited that so many of you responded and it gave us a really great perspective on our readership and what issues we all face in regards to getting some important alone time with our partners.

As a new mom myself, I know how difficult it can be to find not only the time, but get in the mind-set of a romantic person and partner. Let's be honest, getting that engine going again can be difficult - even if you have a free hour or two. Because really, we probably all need to catch up on sleep.

I want to share a few results from our survey and then hopefully, this little post will culminate into a list of sorts for how to keep the va va voooom happenin'!

Let's start here:

Overwhelmingly, folks seem to get some one-on-one time with their partners about once a month.

I feel like once a month is a pretty healthy amount of time, as long as that time is spent with some true reconnecting in mind. If all you are doing is running errands, I think you are missing something. Take that one day a month and make it special. Go on a picnic. Go to a museum and chat about art. Go out for a cocktail. Get dressed up. There is nothing that makes me feel more romantic than taking some time to get ready (a glass of wine and a hot shower, mostly) for a night out with my husband -- that doesn't include grocery shopping or picking out new bath towels. 

Having reliable child hard is a big road block to getting some alone time with your partner!

Having reliable child hard is a big road block to getting some alone time with your partner!

I have to say it, my husband and I lucked out. My family lives close and most of the time they are fighting for some baby love. My mom will even ask every once in a while if we need a date night, just so her and my dad can hang with their only grandchild. I get that this can be a rare thing and I do not take it for granted.

So, for those parents out there aching for some alone time, but have no where to turn for a reliable baby sitter, what then? I have had friends who have had luck with sites like Care.com, but in the end, having a stranger watch your child for an occasional date can feel entirely not worth it.

One resource that I have not yet utilized are my other momma friends. I think most moms gravitate towards each other for mutual understanding and connection (or, they should - no mom shaming people!), so why don't we utilize each other more for baby care? Do we not like to ask for help? Do we know that other moms are as tired as we are, and asking them for a hand might seem like adding to their already full plate? Here's what I think - let's all give each other a break! Need a few hours to reconnect with your partner? Give me a call. I would be more than happy to trade babysitting in exchange for a date night of my own!

Everyone, look at your social media, or even the contacts in your phone. Find those momma friends. Start an alliance! Help each other out. We all make better moms, partners, and friends when we get some alone time with our spouses/partners. ....if you know what I mean....

Friends, I love this! IT DOESN'T MATTER what our "date night" ends up being in the end. Maybe it even could be picking up a few groceries - we just want time with our partners. When kids enter the picture, "alone" is rare. It is rare as a couple and it is rare as a person. But it is so vital to our happiness and our wholeness.

This answer says a lot about how we view our partners and our relationships, I think. Sure, we are exhausted. Yes, we are stressed. We want to be the best parents we can be. But, I think most of us realize that somewhere in the body of those emotions, there is always a deep-seeded longing to feel the romance, the connection, and the one-mindedness that we KNOW still exists with our partners. We want to feel loved and wanted. I know I do. If I don't, I can feel like I am failing at everything.

Sometimes, my husband and I can go a few weeks without a good reconnection point. But, one thing I know for certain is that at any given moment, I am longing to connect with him. At every moment. And when those rare, but wonderful alone times come - I want to do all I can to make sure they are filled with as much romance (AND FUN) and possible. Because if at the end of the day I am disconnected from him, everything can feel like it is falling apart. If we are solid - everything is solid.

NOW - for my favorite question and responses!

We asked you this and got a lot of great ideas from everyone. Thank you!

  • The baby goes to bed early, so we still have dinner and tv time alone each night
  • Feeling like we're in "it" - parenthood - together. Acknowledging that we're both tired and cranky and being able to laugh about it has been huge
  • Couch dates after kids are in bed, dates are a must
  • Putting it on the calendar in advance and having family that is willing to help babysit
  • Scheduling and spontaneity; in a moment when kids are both sleeping we steal moments and when a week has passed and haven't, we schedule it and send the kids to family for some time
  • Romantic dinners at home on a set night has really helped us. We take turns cooking and who ever doesn't cook that night does something small and nice for the other. We also go to bed earlier so we have energy to keep the spark alive
  • You have to plan time for each other. Before kids one on one time and intimate times just happened but after kids there seems to never be time for it to just happen. So my husband and I plan "us" time each week. It is mostly at home us time, but it still allows us to focus just on each other at least once a week
  • We are very protective about date night. We don't cancel unless we truly have to. We build the anticipation for date night up with text messages, making plans, getting ready together, etc. And we try really hard not to talk about the kids, finances, etc while we are out. In between date nights, I focus on making him feel appreciated so that he can be in the best mood possible come Friday night
  • For lack of a better word, quickies when the baby is sleeping!
  • Dates are fine and good. However we have found that finding even just 5 minutes every day to touch base, and just talk to each other about non parenting topics is one of the keys to keeping real intimacy in our relationship
  • You have to make time for each other. You have to make time for sex. It doesn't have to be elaborate, it just needs to happen
  • We just remember to focus on us and communicate, it's easy to let parenthood occupy every single moment, but truly we try to remember we are smart funny sexy people that like to express that with each other, and put parenthood away for a couple of hours
  • Our date nights home alone really really help. Also sex. Even if it's just a quickie. When we are at each other's throats, we know it's time to have sex. Just that 5-10 minutes can make a world of difference in our relationship and thus our family
  • Not a day goes by that we don't joke, touch, kiss, hug or talk. We make each other a priority
  • We just had our second, which makes it much harder, but are goal is to get one date a month in. It's helping
  • putting a good lock on the bedroom door. Sometimes you just need that barrier to speak as adults without interruptions. 15 minutes can change the whole outlook of the day!
  • We have meaningful projects (work) that we do together. Also, we pray together most nights after the kids are in bed, and talk. This helps us stay connected and on the same page. We snag coffee together when we can in the morning if we get an early enough start before work
  • It's nice to get out. Also socializing. We try to be around adults about once a week. It helps keep our social lives intact and it's nice to visit with friends after spending my day with a toddler
  • We always talk or text no matter what. Also most of it is flirting or praising each other

Thank you to all the parents who answered our survey! These were just SOME of my favorite answers....and there is so much great advice here.

And here it comes - the list. Pulled together from these great survey responses, as well as my own experiences as a new mom, desperately in love with my partner and a hopeless romantic at heart - here is my summary for you:

Make each other a priority - ALWAYS!

FLIRT!
Send lovey text messages. Praise each other. Thank each other.

SCHEDULE!
Even if you have to put it on the calendar a month in advance, put it on the calendar and keep your date. Give yourselves something to look forward to

GET PHYSICAL!
Sex is an important to part to keeping your connection strong. Sometimes a quick five minutes is all you need to keep that spark alive.

KISS
each other. A lot.

COMMUNICATE
with each other. Ask how the other is feeling.
Be the shoulder to cry on. Be the support and the strength for your partner.
Be their rock.

Now, go prepare for the big Valentine's Day. Does it have to be elaborate? Absolutely not - but find some time for you and your partner to connect and regroup. To fall in love all over again. To remember why and how that damn cute kid(s) got here in the first place!

Happy Valentine's Day from Dress Your Kid!

Spring Break (without the break)

ashley cardoza

It seemed like to a good idea at the time. Let's take a mommy weekend trip, we said. It will be awesome, we said. And you know what, it was pretty spectacular. Two moms, three kids under 3, and an empty beach full of retired snowbirds. So we packed up the suburban, packed it willy nilly, squeezed 3 carseats across, typed in South Padre, and hit-the-road. We fully believe that the hand of God was on the first 3.5 hours. The stars aligned, and all 3 kiddos slept all the way to Corpus Christy. And the gloriousness of kids strapped down and sleeping is uninterrupted mom conversations (aside from husbands calling because they can't live life without us *hah*). We only had to bust out the ipad for the last leg of the trip. 

The beach was magic. I am a baby when it comes to going to the beach. I don't like getting sandy. You find sand for weeks after a trip. And the fine sand of South Padre just about gets into every crevice. The excitement you have walking onto the beach isn't the same excitement you feel leaving. Nobody wants to leave the beach, ever. Lets just say, after we left the beach, trudged back to the car, fed the kiddos lunch, mommas crashed on the couch and napped during nap time. Before the tragedy of saying goodbye to the "OSH" (the nickname the twins gave the Ocean), here is kid magic!

Gosh. Those twins are the best. One thing I've learned hanging with toddlers 24/7 for a weekend. They are tiring. I was tired at the end of the day just from hanging out with them. So to all the mommas with toddlers out there, you guys have the hardest job, but you make it look so easy. And twin moms, you seriously are the ones I want to learn from the most. You show what its like to have to let go on the idea you can control. 

You're probably wondering where my gal fits into this day? Oh you know, she just napped the whole morning we were at the beach. So I only was able to snap a few photos of my gal experiencing her first real beach day. 

PS. I loved having the Lotus Crib at the beach! It was easy to set up, and without the heavy bottom, it was an easy cleanup! 

PS. I loved having the Lotus Crib at the beach! It was easy to set up, and without the heavy bottom, it was an easy cleanup! 

Beach Packing List for 3 under 3:

  1. A sun hat: Even my little brunette needs to be protected from harmful rays. I love the iplay hat! I bought mine last summer in the size 6mos-18 mos when my gal was still in newborn size. It was crazy big last summer, but it had a cinch to make it fit. And this year, it magically fits and I am not scrambling to find a hat on sunny days. 
  2. Baby powder (talc free): Baby powder is magic for sand. I don't know where I read it, but when you're trying to get sand off your kid, rub them down with magic powder and voila! The sand comes off, and your kid is moisture/sand free. 
  3. Travel Crib: LOVED having this so my gal could nap! I left the bottom at the hotel, and just let her have blankets and towels in it to stay sand free until I was ready.
  4. Sand Toys: Don't be that mom who goes to the beach with a toddler and no toys. I've learned first hand, they will longingly look at another kid's toys and wonder why his mom didn't think to bring toys. They only need a bucket, shovel & lots of sand!
  5. Sunscreen: Choose what you want! But I love Babyganics! Put sunscreen on your kiddo! 
  6. Rash Guard: For the fairer skinned kiddos, long sleeve rash guards are your best bet! Even on the hottest days, they will still be wet, so they won't over heat. 
  7. Sunglasses: If they will keep them on, protect their eyes! 
  8. Not Pictured: Blanket, Snacks, lots of water, patience, energy, a good watch, and the knowledge of knowing when you're about to have meltdowns. But, the less you pack the less you have to carry (if you don't have helping hands).
*The images above are linked to amazon. If you like what you see on the blog, the Amazon Affiliate program is a way for me to pay for overhead/time. :) Just want to be honest with ya!