Allergen-free lunches for toddlers

**All meals, products and recipes in this post are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, corn-free, and peanut-free.

In our house, we avoid gluten, dairy, soy, corn, and peanuts while being incredibly health-conscious at the same time. It is challenging, to say the least. But, even more challenging is catering to those demands with a toddler mouth to feed.

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Since I am always on the look-out for new meals and foods to offer my little one, I figure there must be plenty of people out there looking for the same. So, here are the most popular lunches in our current rotation…

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Brown rice pasta in fun kid shapes with shredded vegan “cheese,” avocados, organic applesauce.

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Grilled “cheese” made with sorghum bread, vegan cheese slices, and coconut spread. Peas, frozen blueberries.

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Hummus mixed with mashed avocado, brown rice sesame crackers, vegan cheese slices, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower (aka-snow puffs).

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Eggs scrambled with shredded mozzarella “cheese,” sorghum toast with coconut spread, peas, strawberry coconut milk yogurt.

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Quinoa dressed with a splash of olive oil and sweet potato.

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Quinoa with green lentils (spice as desired).

Super Simple Pumpkin Soup with Fun Shaped Pasta
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Ingredients:
2 tbsp Earth Balance Coconut Spread
2 tbsp finely diced onion
2 cups canned (I recommend BPA-free boxed) Pumpkin Puree
4 cups low-sodium Chicken (or veggie) broth
2 tbsp organic, no sugar added applesauce
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp thyme
1/2 cup noodles
Directions:
-In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt “butter.” Add onion and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
-Add pumpkin puree, broth, apple sacue, allspice, and thyme and bring to a boil.
-Add noodles and cook just until tender, according to package directions. Let cool slightly before serving.
To store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Some allergen-free kitchen staples (follow links below):
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365 Organic Quinoa

It gets to be hard

If you are a mother, it’s pretty safe to assume that you have had someone (or 97857472 someones) imply that some difficulty you are experiencing with your child is in someway your fault. If you would, perhaps, adopt this person’s technique or philosophy on the topic, things would be easier for you….because you would be doing it the “right” way.

But, I am here to say that regardless of your decisions it still gets to be hard for you. Because, it is hard.

There are a lot of problem solvers out there, which can be difficult from the perspective of a mother. Mothers are constantly experiencing challenging realities. Sometimes we want advice and testimonials, sometimes we are looking to change the way we are doing something because we feel it’s not working. But, sometimes, we are just venting and saying what is true for us. Sometimes, we truly believe in and are committed to our parenting choices, regardless of how hard they are, and do not want to change them even if they appear impractical/wrong/needlessly tedious/unconventional to others.

This is something I have experienced a lot of as a mother. I have never really made conventional decisions or lived in a mainstream way. Not as a rebellion, but because it’s just me. So, naturally, parenting hasn’t been much different and, as a result, I have endured a torrent of strong opinions of disapproval, questioning and sometimes just utter outrage about what I’m doing.

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I have been co-sleeping and nursing my child through the night (and her naps) for twenty-one months. She is very rarely alone in bed, as I’ve grown accustomed to going to sleep with her at night—a practice that I have felt very strongly against altering at all. I carried my baby in a carrier or sling almost all day, straight through all of her naps, for the first year of her life. I use cloth diapers, nurse in public, didn’t let anyone else hold my baby if she was crying as an infant, question medical advice, and feed her vegan “cheese” slices. Just to name a few things.

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But, here’s the thing. Those are my choices. And I refuse to believe that I need to change beliefs that feel right down into the core of me…to ignore my intuition or not give my child what I feel she needs or shape her existence according to my values. A lot of my choices are challenging—sometimes I do not want a toddler undressing me and sucking on my breast, sometimes I dream of sleeping through the night, sometimes I want to just shove an ice cream cone full of dairy, sugar and gluten in my child’s mouth, sometimes I long to spend less time parenting and more time being an individual or wife. And even still, given all of that, my struggle as a mother, my exhaustion, and my existence is valid. I am allowed to say “this is hard” without any suggestion that I maybe do things differently. As if I would no longer be able to say or feel “this is hard” if I were parenting another way.

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While my unconventional choices provide a nice example of all this, the point is that it gets to be hard for you, too. Your mothering reality is valid. If you struggled for years to get pregnant, you still get to say it’s hard and you are losing your mind some days when you finally have a baby in your arms. If you go back to work by choice and miss your child like crazy all the time, that gets to be hard for you. You can bottle feed and whine about how annoying it is to pump or expensive it is to buy formula. You can insist on being a stay-at-home mom and still feel like it’s valid to walk into a room by yourself, close the door, and do some primal screaming because, in a moment, you wish you were a million miles away. You can devote yourself to baby wearing and complain of an aching back. You can have a natural birth and say it hurt. You can refuse to buy commercial baby food, but hate making it yourself. You can refuse to let your baby cry-it-out and still be upset about the lack of sleep in your life.

They are your choices, so own them, sisters. Love and light!

 

Everything changes…

One of the amazing things about parenting (and honestly, one of a few truths that keeps me from completely losing my sanity) is the fact that things change. So often there seems to be a behavior or set of circumstances that feel like they will never end. For instance, the fact that Emerson has refused to sleep, or be put to sleep, by anyone but me since she was four-months-old. It happened abruptly one evening as my husband tried putting her down for the night and she was like, no…absolutely not…this is NOT happening. And she has remained that way regardless of what we try. So, I have been her one and only sleep inducer—day and night—for almost two years. Sometimes it’s sweet and flattering. Sometimes it’s just extremely annoying and frustrating.

But then. Today. My husband suggested he try to take a nap with Emerson because he was tired. I laughed and wished him luck. That’s never going to happen- WHY are you even suggesting this, buddy? I sat here, on my computer, hurriedly trying to devour as much of the internet as possible in what I expected to be a short fifeteen minutes of listening to Emerson cry and fight with Alex….followed by the sound of defeated footsteps pounding their way down the staircase and a cranky toddler being placed on my lap. But, there was silence. For a long while. And so I creeped upstairs to make sure everyone was still alive and found this (sorry for the poor photo, but it was pitch black in there)…Screen shot 2014-02-05 at 2.17.12 PM

No explanation. No begging and pleading. No crying. No throwing of baby dolls across the room or diapers being pulled off and put on my pillow in protest. No mommy with her head between her knees in the corner of the room asking the Universe to just HELP. Nope. Just a sleeping child next to a sleeping husband after two years of feeling such a heavy weight of responsibility. Just like that.

It’s moments like these that make it possible to keep going. It’s moment like these that give me hope and remind me that it won’t always be so hard….that my child will eventually be ready to accomplish just about anything.

Did you know: feeding spinach to babies

Like most parents, I wanted to give my child the best nutritional start possible when she began eating solid foods. I committed myself to making all of her baby food from scratch with organic ingredients. I mostly used a baby food machine to do so, which perfectly steamed, blended and heated/defrosted her meals.

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When it came to the foods I was preparing, I followed the recommendations for which “safe” foods to introduce at each stage. But somehow, what I discovered about spinach I found by accident and had never read (or heard) anywhere else. I had been making spinach puree, which my baby loved, and wanted to find some good recipes for mixing it with other fruits and vegetables. That is when I stumbled upon the dangers of feeing spinach to babies (or anyone, really).

First, it is important not to introduce spinach to an infant younger than eight to ten months of age (some sources say six to seven months, but others say it’s safest to wait a bit longer). Spinach is an oxalate and a nitrate food (follow the links for more information). Diets high in oxalates should be avoided even though the foods they are found in are often nutritional powerhouses. As far as nitrates, babies don’t develop the stomach acid necessary to deal with them until about six months- with babies three months and younger being at the highest risk for nitrate poisoning.

I thought I was doing something good by preparing all my baby foods at home, but because of the above concerns it turns out that, in some instances (such as spinach), commercially made baby food is actually safer.

If you do choose to prepare spinach at home, here’s what you need to know: it’s important to store and prepare it properly in order to ensure it is safe for your child. Nitrate levels can rise in the leaves if improperly stored in your refrigerator. Make sure to put it in the crisper and do not let it get moist or wet. Even when properly stored, you need to check the leaves before cooking. You know those icky leaves you sometimes notice mixed in with your good spinach? The leaves that are wilted, wet looking or have water droplets collecting on them? Those are actually dangerous and should not be eaten. Make sure to remove them before cooking the rest of the “good leaves.”

It’s also important when making spinach for your baby that you do NOT use the water used to steam the leaves to make the puree. With many fruits and vegetables you actually want to use that water so as not to lose vital nutrients, but with spinach you should add fresh water to the steamed leaves to make the puree.

So, there you have it. I had no idea this super nutritious green had so many secrets! Did you?

The fantasy world of a mother

I can remember (just barely) a time when the word “fantasy” elicited a list of things like coconut oil massages on a tropical island, an unlimited shopping spree, or an evening involving a lot of lace, feathers and sweat. But—and I’m not exaggerating at all here—my fantasy world has morphed into something like this…

Sitting in a coffee shop, alone, drinking a hot coffee at a time when I am not trying to get pregnant, currently pregnant, or nursing a child. No one is going to cry or stay awake all night or vomit or cause an allergy. No. This caffeine is going to do nothing but make me feel amazing (and guilt-free). Then I have a second cup…all while no one talks to me.

Working out in an actual gym—not in my living room with an infant or toddler climbing all over me or ripping my boob out of my sports bra as I try to do crunches. Not outside with a small person strapped to my back or chest. In a gym. Running and sweating and listening to music that is inappropriate for children.

Cleaning my entire house, and all in one shot. I mean hours of dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing, washing and tidying. Not one toilet lid or one wall of the shower here, a sink or window there. Not folding last week’s laundry as I start this week’s. Not putting the toys away only after I impale my foot with a tiny plastic pitchfork. All of it. At once. And it stay that way for at least twenty-four hours.

Sleeping in a big (clean) bed with only myself to put to sleep.

These are literally the things that run through my head these days. How about you? What do your fantasies look like?

 

Coming up on LC

Since this has been another slow week on the old blog, I thought I’d share some upcoming posts and series! Here it goes…

  • Love without hormones- marriage, sex, and the complications of parenthood.
  • A new ongoing series titled “Did you know”- each segment will feature a tidbit of truth and information on a topic (mostly relating to motherhood, pregnancy, children, but perhaps more) that I have discovered (and been shocked by) along my way. A little known fact about me: I am OBSESSED with research. So, I thought I’d try to work that into my blog somehow.
  • The space to be a mom- why we should let ourselves off the hook, ignore societal pressure and feel okay with the job we’re doing as mothers even if it doesn’t bring in any income.
  • It gets to be hard- why motherhood is difficult for every mother regardless of our parenting decisions and philosophies.
  • The girl I used to be- reflecting back on our old selves and deciding how much of our pasts to share with our children.
  • How to dress like a mom- my ongoing transition into owning my new role and appearing like a mom by saying goodbye to the wardrobe of my twenties and hello to a new mid-thirties woman. This will most likely be a series, heavy on the pictures, light on the words.
  • Toddler diaries- self-explanatory.

So, you can see that even though I took a break from posting I have not stopped writing in my head! I look forward to sharing it all with you! See you next week!

Currently obsessed with…

1. 30 Day Shred– I am not trying to lose weight, but I am trying to get a full-body workout with a toddler at home, cold weather outside, and no gym within a reasonable driving distance. This DVD combines cardio, strength and abs all in a twenty minute workout (with three levels). Not to mention, it has gotten rave reviews! Oh, and I nabbed it for $.6.99 at Target. So far I’m loving it (despite my shouting and complaining at the TV, but that’s a good sign, right?) and Emerson loves doing it along with me.

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2. Pixi– I’m loving this all natural, reasonably priced makeup (available at Target). It was created by a mother of two who wanted to create fuss-free makeup that enhances natural beauty and makes you look like you got some extra sleep. I’m sold. The middle of winter always leaves me needing some extra excitement when it comes to my beauty routine. Right now I’m a fan of Pixi’s winter eye shadow palette and extra eye bright liner.

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3. Kiss My Face Clean for a Day Cleanser– This all natural, incredibly gentle face cleanser is exactly what I’ve been looking for for years! It is gentle, doesn’t dry my skin, doesn’t cause breakouts like pretty much every other cleanser does for me, and is non-toxic. I have tried so…SO many face cleansers and finally found one (within my price range) that delivers. It also has an uplifting vanilla orange scent (and I’m super sensitive to scent). Perfect for winter!

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4. The perfect lounge capri– I’m very discriminating when it comes to my lounge pants (perhaps because I live in them). I have been looking for a good capri length pair for years and finally found some…at Target. I might buy these in every color (the gray, which I own, is currently on clearance for $6!!). They are super soft, comfy, and flattering. As a mother, and woman in my mid-thirties, I appreciate clothing that hugs my body in key areas then falls away from the body in others—modest, but still shaking what I’ve got just a little bit. These capris fit the bill (more attractive on the body than pictured).

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5. A Gifted Man– I never watched TV…until I had a child. Now I almost always have a current Netflix obsession. Right now it’s A Gifted Man. There is only one season, but I love it and still thinks it’s worth the watch (though I’m sad that it doesn’t continue). It centers on a very gifted and competitive surgeon so it has that medical drama element, but with the twist that he is visited by the ghost of his ex-wife in every episode—a great combination of paranormal intrigue and intellectual stimulation. I can’t help but also admit that I really just enjoy watching a super good looking man (Patrick Wilson) use his super big brain. Am I the epitome of a mid-thirties stay-at-home mom? Hmmm…

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6. You Can Go to the Potty– Okay, maybe this is Emerson’s obsession. But, I am impressed by the effectiveness of this book, for sure. It written by Dr Sears and his wife so I appreciate the gentleness of it. It is full of good info for parents who are potty training and good info for toddlers who are interested in learning to use the potty. Emerson seriously cannot get enough of this book! Highly recommend.

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7. Learning to give hair cuts and my Wahl Clipper Set– My husband is the worst about getting himself to the barber. And it really bothers me. I recently realized that instead of continuing to nag him I could learn how to give hair cuts. Yes. So I took to youtube and after watching a few videos and reading a few articles I felt confident enough to set up my own barber shop at home. The kit I bought includes everything you need, more styling instructions and was only $17.99! It saves time, tons of money, and I get a well-groomed man all the time (next up, learning how to trim and groom beards). I plan to continue learning how to cut hair on my child(ren) down the road- it’s kind of fun!

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8. Ninja Blender– My husband got this for Christmas and since then the entire family has gone smoothie crazy. Our old blender literally got thrown out into a pile of snow when we fired up the Ninja. For us, it’s a cheaper way to “juice.” You can throw just about anything into it and it’s blended up perfectly (though I fear I’m going to lose a limb every time I use it). It also comes with single serving attachments, which the hubs uses to blend up a green tonic every morning, pops the travel lid on, and takes in the car for the commute to work. It may sound silly, but we are all healthier on the inside now that this appliance lives in our kitchen.

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9. Target home furnishings and decor items- I rarely have money to decorate anymore, but thanks to a generous Target gift card I was able to have a little fun recently. And I am amazed by Target’s home furnishing collection these days. The variety in personality, style and price point is so much more than it used to be. Not to mention, it’s pretty exciting when you can change and enhance the decor of your entire home for less than the cost of maybe one new piece at an expensive home store. It’s not a new obsession, but I’m feeling it pretty intensely right now. I love you, Target (even if you may have leaked my personal credit card information to scammers….get your acts together on that account).

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10. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work– Let’s be real: marriage is hard work. And after a child? For us, much harder. I recently discovered the Gottman Theory, which is a method of therapy for couples. It makes so, SO much sense. It is not your typical marriage advice at all. It is based in science and research and gets results. You can find a therapist who specializes in this theory, but this book is pretty amazing, too, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is married or thinking of getting married. It breaks down so many myths about what makes relationships work and last. Incredibly enlightening (and we’re having fun working our way through the information and exercises!).

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How about you? What are you currently obsessed with?

Hello, there!

I am here, people! It’s been a while, and I’m not really sure what to say about my sudden and prolonged hiatus (the longest I’ve gone without blogging for almost five years!). I’ve basically been in a period of deep reflection and change, and have found my energy being needed elsewhere.

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I felt like I needed some space—something that is a rarity in my life as a mother (and tell-all blogger). I needed to take a break to really meditate on the direction of my life, and what I want to be doing with myself—something I need to do on a very thorough level at least once a year. I needed to think for a while without sharing those thoughts. And, really, I also wanted to know what it felt like to just be a mother and nothing else.

Then there’s this new phase of mothering that has left me with almost nothing to give outside of my home: mid-toddlerhood. They say toddlerhood exists between the ages of one and three. That’s a pretty long phase, as far as I’m concerned. Given it is two years instead of a few months like many other phases, there are so many phases within phases within phases when it comes to “toddlerhood.” You wake up one day and your baby is suddenly gone and you are staring a toddler in the face. A whole new creature. From then on you walk further and deeper into a crazy, challenging, hilarious, exhausting existence (wondering how you are going to make it to the other side, at times).

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Because of this, I feel like toddlerhood should be broken up into levels or stages so we can have some sort of reference point. Like, “it’s total level three toddlerhood up in here. It’s all I do it MYSELF/I will climb up on your counters and swipe anything you suckers leave lying around/everything you own is now MINE/I’m a big girl/I’m a baby/I will only stop screaming if you let me wear your hot pink underwear over my pants, a bathing suit on my head, and one mitten to music class/surprise, surprise, sometimes I will take a nap, sometimes I won’t/I need you/I don’t need you/leave me alone/GIVE ME ALL YOUR ATTENTION NOW/stop hugging me/yes, I wrote all over my body and your white couch with the highlighters I found in your desk/I’m never going to sleep/I see nothing wrong with the volume of my voice, I’m sorry about your headache.”

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Anyway. I’m exhausted. In a new way. That’s one of many secrets about being a parent. Okay, maybe it’s not a secret, but it certainly feels that way when it happens to you, because somewhere inside you you are hoping that your kid is the one exception to every typical newborn/infancy/toddlerhood/childhood phase, affliction or annoyance. You want to believe that you will be the lucky ones and it will somehow get easier and less tiring at some point. But, really, as most parents say, it doesn’t get “easier” per se, it just gets “different.” One thing that was hard or exhausting will resolve and an entirely new one will pop up.

And that is what is happening to me now. I feel such freedom from a laundry list of baby and early toddlerhood challenges and totally exhausted in a new way that is forcing me to live my life differently (hence, the no blogging).

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I have this little being who talks. Like, really talks, freakishly well for her age. I’m not sure how it’s even biologically or physically possible. She is speaking in sentences, she uses pronouns and past tense and adjectives and articles and possessives. And, it never stops. She wants to talk to me all day and everything she says requires a response, and if no response is given she will just repeat what she has said over, and over, in an increasingly urgent, increasingly high pitched voice. And, don’t get me wrong, I am so in love with this amazing being with the most awesome personality I’ve ever known, but it takes a lot out of me.

You see, a toddler is so different to me than a baby, in that their needs are more difficult to meet. I totally rock the baby phase. I am at my best when I am soothing and nurturing and cuddling. I didn’t get any sleep those first months after Em was born, but I was oddly not tired. Really. Feedings every two hours, twenty-four hours a day? Seriously, probably the most awake I’ve felt as a mother. Now, the needs are more complicated. I am living with a person, not a baby, who is rich with emotion and preference and intelligence. There is a lot to take care of there that isn’t always a tangible “thing” like patting her back to make her burp so she stops fussing.

Of course, there is also all the running. And chasing. And various types of physically-challenging “rides” she would like me to give her. And playing. And saving her from killing herself. And constant….constant cleaning up of messes. And shorter naps…oh, the shorter naps. And fighting bedtime.

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On top of toddlerhood, there is also me. I find myself weaving in and out of these states of being just a mother, and trying to find the piece of me that isn’t a mother. Instead of the challenge of my youth—not seeing a path to take—I find myself with so many clear paths laid out in front of me, each of which would lead me to a totally different life from the others, but with a complete inability to decide which one is right.

Which career? When?  Go back to the old career I hated or show my child what is possible by following your passion? Take classes? Get another degree? Before, during, or after more kids? Do I even want any more kids? Can Emerson be my only child? How many more kids do I want? When?

Just to name a fraction of the life decisions I’m facing…

So, that is where I’ve been. I hope some of you are still out there. I’m back and I’ve got a lot of new ideas!

P.S. For those of you who were concerned about Emerson’s health (which, I’m sorry was the last thing I posted…kind of an ominous way to go out), everything is fine. We saw a specialist, and aside from being on a yearly watch, our fears of anything serious happening to our sweet angel have been alleviated. Thank you to all of you who showed us great support and sent kind prayers! It meant a lot! Hugs!

The fear of losing everything

I took Emerson to the doctor’s office this morning. She has a hemangioma on her tongue. Or, so they think. It showed up when she was about seven-months-old—a tiny black line that grew into a small, swollen black mass over the course of a few months. At the time, I wanted to know what it was, but felt comforted by the explanation: it’s a benign venous malformation, much like a birth mark, that will most likely shrink and go away. We had three doctors look at it. And that was that.

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But, one night a few weeks ago, I asked Emerson to stick out her tongue while brushing her teeth and the small mass looked slightly bigger. I had already been feeling increasingly nervous as the months passed and it hadn’t gone away. But now, it definitely looked a little bigger to me…the one thing the doctors told me to watch for. When I saw it, tears instantly began to fall from my eyes. I hugged my child, who looked at me bewildered, as I repeated the words “please let my child be okay! Please! PLEASE!”

That night I began to do some research, though I knew it wouldn’t alleviate my anxiety. That empty box at google.com waiting for you to fill it with all your worries and fears and question marks can be the worst place for a mama (or anyone, really) to find herself. But, there I was. I began to worry. I began to imagine the next step…an oral surgeon…a sedated biopsy….an operating room…and and and. AND…the worst feeling a parent can ever have: the fear of something being wrong with their precious child.

I decided to be proactive and made an appointment with a pediatric Ear, Nose, and throat surgeon. That’s what my google search told me to do. I felt slightly relieved. But, not really.

Today, we went to the pediatrician so he could assess the situation before I take Emerson to the specialist. Emerson was terrified, as she usually is in the doctor’s office. She clawed her way up my body, pleading with me “mama, no! mama, NO!” She sobbed in a way I have only heard exactly four times in her life. And this was just to LOOK at her tongue. Imagining any next steps felt incredibly daunting in that moment. In so many ways.

The pediatrician didn’t have anything new to offer, except some words that were very unlikely, but he had to say because it is his job to give me all the possibilities. Those words were “tumor” and “malignant.”

Of course, the mother in me could barely hear the words “very small likelihood,” as I held back a wave of tears. I smiled and tried to act as if I understood when the doctor said “don’t lose any sleep.”

On the way home, I did everything in my power to stay positive…and practical….and calm. But, there were too many visuals in my head. There was the memory of watching my husband’s cousin lose his first born child just two months ago. There was the knowledge that in creating this beautiful, amazing, gift-from-above being sitting in the back of my car, I am now vulnerable beyond measure. Because, from the day my child entered this world, I have experienced the greatest, most overwhelming kind of love I’ve ever known, but with that comes the fear of losing it all.

Currently obsessed with

1. Shea Moisture hair products. Shea Moisture users are pretty extreme in their love and devotion for these products so I finally decided to give it  a try. Now I can’t stop ordering more…and more (you can buy online or at Target or Walgreen’s). These shampoos, conditioners and styling aids are organic, natural, smell delicious, all while actually working (unlike a lot of natural haircare). I will say that these products probably work best if you don’t use sulfates or silicones. Shea Moisture also makes body care and baby products!

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2. BareMinerals Stroke of Light Eye Brightener. As I plunge deeper and deeper into my thirties and since I’ve become a mother (who doesn’t get enough sleep) I have begun to look a bit a lot more haggard. Enter Stroke of Light. It’s natural, light and sheer yet does an amazing job at brightening dark circles and erasing exhaustion. Bonus- it helps diminish fine lines over time.

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3. Sleep Pillow App for iPhone. I have struggled to fall asleep for decades. Now that I am a mom, I am totally exhausted and really need all the sleep I can get, but oftentimes I still have trouble drifting off. I just started using Sleep Pillow and I love it! There is a free version, but I opted for the $1.99 pro version to have access to all 75 soothing sounds. The app has over 5 million users and promises to have you asleep in minutes. So far, I’m a big fan! I especially like the mix feature, which allows you to create a mix of several sounds—I want to feel like I’m camping by a stream with rain falling on my tent and a fire crackling outside.

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4. Squeegees. Yes, squeegees. I know. But, it’s true. On a recent trip to the hardware store I decided to finally purchase one. The wall-to-wall windows in our sunroom were so murky and streaked and I dreaded cleaning them by hand. I hate washing windows. It’s so tedious, and even worse, they never look clean when I’m finished thanks to all the streaks, which I find impossible to avoid no matter what I try. Well, not with a squeegee! I’ve also started using one in the bathtub to prevent soap scum. It’s a small thing to be excited about, but I truly am.

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5. St. Ives Apricot scrub. This is an oldie, but a goodie. I haven’t used this scrub since high school, but while at Target recently I noticed that it was only $2.99 and come on. That’s a deal. The scrub I normally use is $28 so I thought I’d at least try St. Ives. Well, it works. It brightens and softens and it’s paraben-free.

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6. Yes to products. I recently started reading a ton of reviews for skin and haircare products while in the process of changing all my routines. Yes To is so highly rated, and natural (though it doesn’t have the best EWG rating) so I thought I’d give some products a try. I will say that I’m not a big fan of the scents, but the results are pretty great! I love the Yes to Tomatoes Daily Balancing Moisturizer and Yes to Blueberries Eye Firming Treatment.

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7. Shirts with decorative cuffs. I seem to have a growing collection of these in my wardrobe. Most recently I picked up this one by Free People, which coincidentally is where all of the shirts in my collection are from. I just love the look. The cuffs are not only pretty, but so unexpected.

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8. Flushable Diaper liners. I didn’t think I had a need for these, and have had a roll sitting around for a while. But, I decided to give them a try with my prefolds recently. I don’t know why I never considered using a liner before, but they really make cloth diapering convenient. I thought my diaper sprayer was a life-saver, but since I started using liners, I only need the sprayer for accidental diaper spills. They make cloth diapering as convenient as disposable diapers (with the exception of a little extra laundry).

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9. Baby Bee Multipurpose Ointment. While this ointment is great for bums, I mostly use it for other skin issues. My babe’s eczema spread to her face for the first time as the temperature dropped this fall, and I have searched high and low looking for something to help heal her poor skin. I wasn’t about to put a prescription steroid anywhere near her mouth or eyes, which is where the problem was. But, nothing I tried worked. Until Baby Bee. I use this in conjunction with a warm steam vaporizer at night and my child’s skin is beautiful and moisturized. It’s also great on cracked adult hands and any other little nick, cut, or rash that may pop up.

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10. The Four Agreements. I admit, I am a big fan of self help books. I always have been thanks to my father who has passed on all of his reads to me for decades. I’ve read The Four Agreements several times (and all the companion books), but this last time it really took. I kid you not when I say my life has been completely transformed by these teachings in the past month.

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What are you currently obsessed with?