Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What I wore - BlogHer '14

Last year I did a post about the clothing I wore to BlogHer '13.  Mainly I had gone out, shopped for new clothes, carefully picked outfits, and then delicately packed away those outfits with care for Chicago.

This year?

I dumped the excess crackers out of my purse and re-visited a bunch of clothing items I already had hanging in my closet.  I did re-purpose several of the outfits or in general re-wear several of the outfits from last year, with a few new pieces thrown in that I'd picked up along the way since the last conference.

This year's photos were taken by my absolutely FANTASTIC roommate/should-be professional photographer, Drea from The Maiden Metallurgist.  If you want to check out some fantastic photos, her site is the place to visit!!!

Without further ado, here are this year's photos!

what I wore to BlogHer '14, fashion, style, hair, dutch braid
Travel hair - Dutch braid.

what I wore to BlogHer '14, fashion, style
Saturday's sessions- purple cigarette pants and polka dot top.
what I wore to BlogHer '14, fashion, style
Friday's Sessions {& MY Geek Bar Session} - Navy wrap dress & funky jewelry.
what I wore to BlogHer '14, fashion, style
Wednesday night - pajamas and glasses.  Does this look like Laura Prepon to anyone else?

what I wore to BlogHer '14, fashion, style
Thursday's parties {Blogger Baby Shower & Eppa Sangria Soiree} and Evening at the Expo.
what I wore to BlogHer '14, fashion, style
Repeat from above just because I LOVE this photo!

what I wore to BlogHer '14, fashion, style
Saturday night's skirt/top for the {hot, outside} closing party.
what I wore to BlogHer '14, fashion, style
Friday night's party dress!
what I wore to BlogHer '14, fashion, style
Wednesday's travel outfit - blue shorts, a white flowy top, and a green chevron scarf.

If you can't tell by the smiles for miles in the photos - I had an amazing time.  Stick around this week for a sum up BlogHer '14 posts and information {including slides!} from my Analytics presentation!

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Keeping it cool - Summer Babywearing Tips & Tricks with Wrapsody!

* Disclosure - I was provided with two wraps from the fantastic babywearing company Wrapsody to facilitate the inspiration for this post!  All opinions and tips are 100% honest and my own!

Oh, summer.

At just the mention of the word I hear children happily splashing around a pool, the ice cream truck coming down the street, and the clink of ice in a glass of crisp lemonade.

Sounds great, right?

Wrapsody WrapDuo in a Front Wrap Cross Carry
For our family, summer tends to be a time where we really get out and about the town.  Trips to the park, play dates, the pool, or even just frequent trips of multiple errands seem much easier and more enjoyable when the weather is warm.

But, as a parent of a young child, summer could also mean trying to push a stroller through grassy fields at the park to follow your toddler, breaking a sweat while attempting to hold your baby in your arms and do anything else at the same time, or having to lug a stroller in and out of your car at every errand along your way.

Don't get me wrong - there are times when I'm glad to have a stroller, but thankfully, we babywear through many of these situations to make life much easier for our family.  That, however, brings on a whole slew of questions from friends, family, and my local BWI-area chapter members.

What are the coolest baby carriers for the summer?

What if baby/I/both of us get hot?  Any tips for keeping cool in our existing carrier?

Are there any options for wearing baby in the pool/lake/ocean?

Let's start by talking about cool baby carriers.  I've found there to be two basic, tried-and-true methods of choosing a baby carrier to keep you and your baby cool - choosing an option with cooler material or choosing an option with less material.

Wrapsody Breeze Orion in a Front Wrap Cross Carry
Babywearing options with more breathable material include things like linen or cotton gauze can be a fantastic choice for light, cool way to carry your baby.  Of the two, I find a good woven cotton gauze to be the lightest in fabric.  Because the the fabric is so thin, you can get away with more layers of a gauze wrap while still feeling as cool as possible!  A pro tip for a gauze wrap, like the Wrapsody Breeze Orion pictured above, would be to carefully spread your fabric or passes while wrapping to ensure a really comfy carry!

{Newbie tip?  If you are transitioning from a stretchy wrap to a woven wrap for the first time, I find woven cotton gauze to be a more forgiving fabric than other woven wrap fabrics for a new learner!}

When considering how to use less material while wearing your baby, you may find the best options to be carriers or wraps with less passes or layers over you and baby, especially for cotton or heavier fabric wraps.  Carries like front cross carry or rucksack back carry place less fabric over you and your baby.

It may also be beneficial to consider the layers you & your baby are wearing.  I tend to dress my little ones and myself very lightly when I know we'll be wearing for a longer period of time.  Typically, on a day out I will have my 18 month old daughter in a light onesie/diaper and myself in a tank top or loose/airy t-shirt and shorts.  Another option to check out is wearing athletic-inspired clothing while wearing your baby.  I've found that athletic tops designed to wick away sweat and stay cool are also fantastic pieces of clothing to adorn while wearing your baby - thus decreasing heavy, bulky, hot layers of material between the two of you.

While we're on the topic of keeping things cool between you & your baby, I recently found an awesome way to stay comfortable by adding one simple accessory to your babywearing routine - a cooling towel.  Construction workers have been using these towels for quite some time, but the idea is that you can wet the towel and due to the materials used to make the towel - it will stay cool for several hours.  When the towel ceases to cool any longer, you can just re-wet it, wring it out, and use it again.  My lovely, thoughtful husband heard me talk about cooling towels and picked one up for me on his next trip to our local hardware store.  I wet the towel, placed it between my daughter and I, and promptly went on a walk with the kids in the hot sun feeling a lot less sweaty and hot.

The cooling towel DH purchased!
One other inexpensive option to stay comfortable is purchasing a keychain misting fan to keep attached to your key ring, belt loop, or purse/wristlet.  That way, when you & baby get warm you can spritz a few mists of cool water through your fan to feel refreshed again!

Speaking of the water...  Babywearing in the water - whether that be a pool, ocean, or lake - also just happens to be one of my favorite ways to carry my children in the summer.

Wearing the Wrapsody WrapDuo in a Front Wrap Cross Carry

For whatever reason, my babies always tend to be very tentative about the water {even the kiddie pool} initially.  Being able to snuggle my babies next to me in a water wrap or sling makes them feel so much more secure and comfortable, and turns a trip to the pool into a relaxing, gentle dip as opposed to a scary, emotion-filled dunk.

While wearing your baby in warm climates or during the hottest months of the year in your area can be different than babywearing in cooler temperatures, there are certainly many options of how to make keeping your baby close comfortable!

What are your favorite warm weather babywearing tips?

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bad things happen in rules of three? {or more, maybe?} AKA our Intro to BlogHer '14

Oh my goodness, guys.

The past day or two have been a crazy comedy of errors and start to BlogHer '14.  Thankfully, I'm now officially in San Jose and cannot wait for the conference to start, but the getting here of it was a bit rocky.

It started as planned when I drove up to Chicago on Tuesday night.  Instead of flying out of Indianapolis {which would have been more expensive and required several connections}, I chose a less expensive flight from Chicago that was non-stop to San Jose.  I stayed the night with my parents and planned to fly out early Wednesday morning.

Well, the day immediately began with a bump as I slept through three alarms.  Three.  How do I even do that?  Anyway, my mom had to wake me up {I left the house feeling slightly like a teenager again, lol.} and I very quickly threw on yesterday's clothes, grabbed a banana, and ran out the door.

I was running just a twidge late at that point, but still was on course to make it to the airport with 1 hour and 30 minutes in advance instead of the normal 2 hours it's recommended to plan for when flying.  I parked my car, entered the Midway airport, and promptly realized that American Airlines doesn't fly through Midway.

Um, crap.

I don't know how I did that guys.  I was so nervous about flying for the first time in 7 years that I focused so much on the time of the flight that I completely missed the place of the flight.  I hopped the shuttle back to my car, popped the O'Hare airport address into my GPS, and off I went again.

By that time it was roughly 8:00 a.m., and my flight was scheduled to leave O'Hare at 8:30.  Unfortunately, I missed my flight sitting in rush hour traffic unable to even GET to the airport before it departed.

{Thank you to my very loving, wonderful husband, my still-half sleeping mom, and my friend and '14 roomie Drea for all the kind and reassuring words in the car on the way to O'Hare, I love you all.}

When I finally got to O'Hare, I parked my car and shuttled into the airport with my luggage.  I checked with a ticketing agent {the time was now probably 9:00a} who informed me that there were two other flights to San Jose that day, at 10:45a and 7p - but that both were overbooked with standby waiting lists.  She also told me their flights for the next day to San Jose were also already overbooked.  All the other flights they had that day with connections were also overbooked.

Basically, I had the option of trying to fly standby on the 10:45 flight at the tail end of a list of 20 standby passengers in front of me, or I could buy a new ticket for another airplane.

Since by that point it had turned into 9:30, I thought I'd take my chance on waiting for the 10:45a flight while researching other airlines.

As I sat and waited {in between intermittently crying to the gate agent and utterly freaking out}, I contacted Delta and purchased a second {thankfully refundable} one-way ticket where I would leave Chicago at 3p, fly into Minneapolis, and then finally make it into San Jose at 9p.  I felt a little better to have another option {albeit an option that was going to cost me $360 more in addition to the $480 I'd already spent on my first ticket}, but that still stung quite a bit.  And, the person who never flies was going to have to take two flights due to the connection as opposed to just the one that I mentally thought I could handle.

Thankfully, and by that I mean I was thanking ALL THE THINGS, I made it onto the 10:45 standby flight.  I don't know how, but I did.  DH promptly cancelled the Delta flight for me and off I went, straight to San Jose with no layovers or connections.

Thank all that is thankable.
Since Drea was initially supposed to arrive after me, but now ended up there an hour and a half before me, she had to hang back in the secured passenger area of the airport to be able to eat while she waited and missed picking up her bag.  Once I finally did arrive, we had to take a bus to the other terminal at the airport and attempt to find where her bag had been transported - which included a long line of people who were very upset about their bags being diverted to another airport.

Bag waiting.
Fortunately, it was a relatively quick and painless task to find her bag.  Once we grabbed it and went outside, however - it was a different story.  We had ordered an Uber cab to pick us up since we had a free $30 voucher each for Drea signing up, but once the Uber driver arrived 3 mins later {literally the second he pulled into the airport}, he was given a ticket for not having some sort of sticker.

Poor guy mentioned he'd been a driver for over four years and this is the first ticket he's ever gotten.  Although, from what the officer described, it was really a ticket {for $250,  yikes} that Uber needed to pay since they weren't requiring their drivers to have said sticker to pick folks up at the airport.  The driver continued to be very sweet, though, and dropped us off a few minutes later at our hotel.

Oh, the hotel.

The Hilton San Jose was very nice at first glance and we had no wait or issue checking into our room, but once we headed upstairs to look at our room, it was a little different experience.

View from our first room!

As soon as we walked into the room, Drea & I both noticed a rather funky smell.  We thought maybe the room just needed airing out, opened a window, unpacked all of our things, and left to go to Walgreens to buy some water and other necessities.  When we returned, we expected for the smell to be cleared out and we could go about our way.

It had not.

A few minutes later, we noticed a very wet spot on the floor next to the air conditioner.  After a quick call downstairs, a maintenance worker was up within minutes and diagnosed the problem as being the air conditioner.  He proceeded to start to shop vac the area while we waited for a new room.

Re-packing while listening to the lovely tune of the Shop Vac
Finally, we were able to get into our new room and get settled in.

Which meant wine and chocolate.
And lots of snuggles and smiles!
We haven't had any other snafus since that time, but here's to hoping that was all the crazy we needed from BlogHer '14 and that the rest of the trip will be easily enjoyable!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

BlogHer '14, here I come!

As of later tonight, I leave for BlogHer '14!  I am so lucky and fortunate to be able to speak at the conference this year, so if you're in San Jose, check me out at my Geek Bar session on Analytics!

While at the conference, I'll be shacking it up with my amazing and gorgeous friend Drea from The Maiden Metallurgist.  Look forward to lots of Instagram photos during the trip!  You can find me on The Naptown Organizer Instagram page!

This year's conference will be a lot less hectic and a lot more enjoyable as I'm only attending two, BlogHer-sponsored, private parties.  I'll be posting a little more about the conference and parties after I get back home, but wanted to share a bit of info before I leave as well!

One of my favorite events from last year that I'm attending once again is the Blogger Baby Shower!  The Baby Ladies, along with Baby's First Test and Save Babies Through Screening, are hosting a fantastic, education-filled event to further their cause of increasing awareness for life-saving newborn screening procedures!  The event last year was filled with information, demonstrations, fantastic atmosphere, great friends, and some pretty amazing swag.  You can check out my post from last year's baby shower here!

See you all in San Jose!!!

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Monday, July 14, 2014

My early PiYo results {and progress photos!!!}

*This post contains links to my personal business page- because I'm addicted to this program, for sure.  Message me with any questions you all may have! 

Deep breath, y'all.

I recently decided to make a change in my life.

To be totally honest, I really have evolved as a person quite a bit since having children.  I actually have grown to a point where I deeply love my body in all of it's imperfections and tiny details, and I am so thankful for this body that has birthed and fed my two babies for years.  I wear my features proudly, no matter how different they look from a magazine model's body.

With that said, I've also been doing some things to my body that aren't so healthy lately.

Prior to Little Man's birth, I was completely vegan and did quite a bit more exercising than my days have included recently.  Unfortunately after both of our kids were born, I lapsed back into a pattern of very intermittent exercise and was eating much more unhealthy food than I should have been.

And, even more unfortunately, I'd begun to have a lot more aches and pains than I'd had in the past.  Low back pain, knee pain, wrist pain - I had it all.  I have several family members with debilitating back issues, so the back pain especially scared me quite a bit.  To make sure my body was in a place where that didn't become a consistent issue, I knew I had to get my body back into better shape with exercise and better nutrition.

A friend of mine who is a BeachBody coach suggested that I try a new program called PiYo.  I'd previously tried beachbody programs with not the best result.  Because of my knee pain, all the jumping and bouncing around in the program I tried made it physically impossible for me to finish.  I was nervous about all of that, but my friend knew about all my issues and assured me that this was the program for me.

And, man was she so right on.

Since starting the PiYo {a fusion of Pilates and Yoga} program and Shakeology {a seriously filling, meal-replacing, right-up-my-alley, superfood-filled shake that includes ingredients such as quinoa, chia, flax, acai, goji berry, green tea, spinach, kale, spirulina, and so much more - and has vegan options!} a few weeks ago, I've completely noticed a difference in my body.

I have muscles!  And this action-shot outside play moment that DH caught is only after two weeks in!!!

I've lost just under 10 lbs in around two weeks, I have zero back or knee pain while completing the program, my body is actually starting to tone already, and I can for sure say that I've been feeding my body a much healthier diet of vegetables, fruits, vegan and soy-free proteins, and a few eggs here and there.

The food lifestyle change is facilitated by a simple, easy-to-follow plan.  The exercise program is focused on stretch and strength - no bouncing around the room or slamming my knees into the ground.  Simple, uncomplicated exercises are the base of the program with a completely amped up take on yoga that lends to a seriously sweaty, sore-in-a-good-way type of workout each day.  Thankfully, the program offers modifications for every exercise, so no matter the shape you're in, you can do PiYo.

{Seriously.  I have another friend who recently had her knee replaced and is doing this program.  It's awesome!}

At this point in the game, I have some pretty fantastic goals.  I'm realistic that this is not a diet.  It is not a fad exercise program.  It is not a one-shake-fixes-all sort of a deal.  This is a complete change in my day-to-day life.  It's going to take a good amount of time, a ton of effort, and a lot of determination.  But, for the first time in a long time - I'm there both mentally and physically.

Since I've had such fantastic success so far and have realized that PiYo is going to be the program for me to turn my lifestyle back to healthy again, I have signed on as a BeachBody coach.  I'm proud of the changes I'm making both in my eating habits and in my new fitness routine, and want to keep sharing with you all!  I'll be continuing to log my journey here on the blog {complete with before/after PiYo photos once I've finished the 8 week program} and hope you all won't mind walking this journey with me!

Has anyone else considered doing PiYo?  I would love to help you all start a journey back to good health if this sounds interesting - and would love to have some other ladies complete the program with me! 

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Safety 1st Advance SE 65 Air + Convertible Car Seat Review!

*Disclosure - I was provided a car seat for review purposes, but all opinions are honest and my own!

With a quick congrats again to the winner of the Safety 1st car seat giveaway from a few posts ago, I'd love to take a few minutes today and chat about how we're liking our Safety 1st car seat!  When we initially received the car seat, I had been debating which child would be using it.  However, about ten seconds after the SE 65 Air + arrived, Little Man claimed it as his own.

Shouts of, "It's MY NEW BLUE SEAT!" were likely heard 'round our whole neighborhood.

Let's just say he was smitten.

After pulling the seat out of the box, I was also a bit enamored.  The SE 65 Air + had all the features I look for in a convertible car seat, including that it can be used in a large weight range {5-65 lbs, with a rear facing range of 5-40 lbs and a forward facing range of 22-65 lbs}.  I also LOVE the fact that the harness is a no re-thread harness, which means when your child grows in size, you just pull a lever on the back of the headrest and both the straps and headrest move up - instead of having to take the seat out of the car, take the whole seat apart, and put the straps through different holes.  DH also loves that fact, so there isn't any frustrated muttering when the seat needs adjusted every few months.

{Side note: if you are a soon-to-be parent looking for a car seat, BUY one with the NO RE-THREAD HARNESS, like the SE 65 Air +.  You'll thank me for this later.}

No, really.  Whoever installs the seats in your house will also thank me for the lack of frustrated muttering as well!

I also love that the seat comes with a cup holder.  For whatever reason, some car seat companies make seats without standard cup holders and for the life of me I will never understand why.  There is always a toy, removed shoe, baggie of crackers - whatever - in our kids' hands that needs a place to live while in the car.

As far as safety goes, Safety 1st does a few pretty special things with the SE 65 Air + seat.  Aside from the reinforced steel seat frame, LATCH use ability, and 10 position headrest/4 position recline features, the SE 65 Air + features some fantastic additional safety features that go above and beyond the norm.

Safety 1st borrowed ideas from the auto racing industry when creating their Air Protect advanced head cushion system {which protects baby's head side to side during a collision} and their GCell HX patented foam with hexagonal shapes inside the seat to promote superior body safety during a side impact crash.  Even though there are currently no regulations on side impact safety testing, the Safety 1st company put features into place to protect your child on their own accord!

DH did have a little trouble installing the seat, but that was mainly due to our user error and the fact that he installed it with the LATCH system, which I didn't see that until after he'd finished.  Due to the new car seat requirements, since Little Man is 40+ lbs, I very gently reminded him that it needed to go in with the seat belt.  There was a twidge of frustrated muttering, but the install was very fast!

After the seat was installed, Little Man happily climbed on up and in.  And fell asleep.

Clearly a satisfied customer here.
It's really nice as well that when Little Man is all slumped down and sleeping, his head is still supported enough that it's not bouncing around as the car moves.

Overall, I think it's a great seat that offers the same conveniences as some of the higher priced convertible seats in it's category, yet with a much more reasonable price of $189.  We've been using the seat for a few weeks now with only good experiences thus far, and will continue to do so happily!

If you're looking for more information, check out the seat at the Safety 1st product site or learn more about the Indiana-local Dorel Group company here!

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