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Honestly, I Don’t Care How You Feed Your Baby, But I Want You To Know This…

Last week The Honest Company approached me and asked if I wanted join them in a conversation about one of the most intimate and important experiences in a family’s life: feeding their newborn baby. Without hesitation, I said yes. Honest presents judgement free stories on its blog covering moms from every walk of life. Today I share my story and a letter to parents in hopes to end the judgement and stigma that comes with the personal choices families make to feed their baby.

Before I dive into my raw and real  experience, I’d like to say I’m not here to argue breast isn’t best. Instead, I’m here to shed some light on why breast wasn’t exactly best for my family under our circumstances. I would never encourage or discourage a mother from breastfeeding, pumping, or formula feeding. I’m 100% in favor of supporting moms by advising them to do what they feel is best for their baby and family. It’s my hope in sharing my story that a mommy in need, a mommy who feels like a failure when it comes to feeding her infant, will know she’s not alone.

Dear Mommies,

Congratulations on your beautiful ray of light. You’ve just started one of the most incredible chapters in your life. With all new roles, this one comes with a period of learning. Actually, there’s a good chance you’ll never stop learning – and you’ll grow stronger because of it.

I was where you are only nine short months ago. I was living (and continue to live) a life that no amount of reading, watching videos or joining Facebook groups could have prepared me for.

I’m a mom who had a baby that was unable to latch – and there was nothing that could have prepared me for it. Most of my reading and most of my encounters with medical professionals, peers and family prepared me for breastfeeding my baby. No one ever mentioned failure. Of course, there was the option to choose other methods, though these methods were hardly addressed or explained to me.

As a new mom,  I was afraid of wronging my son and I was afraid of not giving him the best. Through pressure from myself and the fear of being judged, I sacrificed my sanity and well-being to make breastfeeding work.

I could talk to you about the visits I had with lactation consultants, months I spent attached to a breast pump, suck training, syringe feeding, jaundice, formula and nipple shields.  I could also talk to you about the the guilt, anxiety, frustration and heartache that came with the decisions I had to make to keep my son fed and nourished. However, I’m here to talk to you as a mom on the flip side of all of that. I’m the mom that has done it all – and every step of the way I felt some type of pressure, stress or guilt.

I’m here to tell you that it’s okay if one, some or all of these options work for you and your family. Sometimes, as much as we prepare,  life has a different plan and pushes us in a different direction than we initially imagined.

Whatever direction life has pushed you in when it comes to feeding your child, whether it’s what you expected or what you’ve had to resort to, as long as you are nourishing your child, keeping them fed and loving them endlessly, you as a parent are doing your job.

The best you can give your child is accepting your circumstances and making it work. Show them you can overcome adversity, adjust to change and go with the flow.

If there’s one thing I learned from crying on the bathroom floor at three in the morning from emotional and physical exhaustion, it’s that my choices were driven by love, not logic.

In all your parenting triumphs and struggles, there is someone else out there who gets it – and as one of them, I want to say I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you for doing your absolute best.

In closing, I want to introduce you to my nine month old son, Jack.

See his smile? It’s not a result or being fed formula or breast milk, bottle or boob, his smile is a result of love. For for first week of his life he was fed breast milk by a syringe. For the first three months of his life, he was fed through a bottle filled with breast milk I pumped around the clock. From months three through four, he exclusively breast fed after finally latching completely out of the blue. From months four through six, he was fed both formula and breast milk as I struggled to maintain my supply. And lastly from months six and onward, he’s been formula fed (along with purees of his favourite Italian dishes) after my supply complexity dried up.

My biggest goal as a parent is to raise Jack to always be compassionate, kind and gentle. How he was fed as an infant will have never come up on first dates, university applications or job interviews. It has no indication of the type of person he is or will grow up to be.

Together, lets stop making moms feel isolated, hopeless and judged as they navigate uncharted water and raise their families. Lets answer questions rather than offer advice, lets offer support rather than sympathy, and lets be the generation of moms who end the mom war.

We’re all in this together, we may just be doing it a little differently.

Wishing you sleep + happiness,
Annie

Hello – Adele (Sleep Parody)

Hello, It’s me.
I was wondering little baby, will you ever go to sleep?
To hit the pillow, would be a dream.
They say caffines supposed to help ya,
Well, then hand me a Venti.

Hello, can you hear me?
I’m mixing bottles, changing diapers…trying every damn thing.
Shut your eyes, baby, please.
I’ve forgotten how it feels to have a solid block of sleep.

My eyes are droopy, yours are wide,
We’ll be rocking through the night.

Hello stars up in the sky,
I’ve counted you a thousand times.
To my dog, I’m sorry, you’re losing sleep too,
But I promise, I’m doing all I can do.

Hello from the night time.
At least I can say that I’ve tried,
To go to bed early and sleep if I can.
Doesn’t matter, insomnia has another plan, every time.

Hello, how are you?
It’s so typical of me to huff and puff, oh my dear, I’m sorry.
The moon, it’s shining bright,
On the spit up in my hair and the bags under my eyes.

It’s no secret, this sound machine
Does absolutely nothing.

So, hello from the night time.
My kid has pooped a thousand times.
And this night, my gosh, will never it end?
But wait, his little fingers just grabbed onto my hand.

Hello stars up in the sky.
It’s almost time to say goodbye.
But don’t worry, I promise, I’ll see you again,
And one day I’ll miss how much he needed me, way back when.

Ohhh way back when,
Ohhh way back when,
Ohhh way back when,
Way back when.

Hello from the night time,
My babes asleep and I survived!
It’s now time for me, to crawl back into my bed,
Next to my husband, who’s been snoring all through this mess.

Hello stars up in the sky,
Good night, sweet dreams, lullaby.
Thank you, my  baby, you’ve stolen my heart.
Wait. Stop. That better have just been a fart – oh help me.

Being a Mother in the Twenty-First Century

20170419_174727We live in a world where we are never alone. We’re constantly surrounded by vibrant images, conversations and social distractions. In seconds we can be connected with friends, family and even strangers through a compact digital screen. Yet even with a social realm right at their fingertips, mothers often feel isolated and alone.  They often struggle through long nights, keep their head up through long days, and hit their pillow emotionally and physically exhausted.

For decades, mothers have been simply trying to keep up.

We’re trying to keep up with laundry, friendships, children, careers, our spouse, and even at times, ourselves. We’re trying to give 110% to each and every role in our life but often slide into bed each night fulfilling the bare minimum of our responsibilities.

We put our laundry in the washing machine but forget to transfer it into the dryer.

A dear friend sends a text for dinner on Friday night. We read it, put down our phone, forget about it and respond on Saturday when it’s already too late.

We plan a date night with our loving spouse. We put on enough make-up to hide the bags under our eyes. We feel confident, we feel giddy and we feel young. Then our child clings onto our leg, our baby cries as we wave goodbye and our mind is in two places at once the entire night.

We want a career. We’re ambitious and want to fulfil our dreams and achieve our goals. We want to provide for our family without missing first steps and first words. We’re torn between personal development and the development of our children.

These challenges are not just challenges for mothers of our generation, but also generations before us.  However, as a mother in the twenty-first century I can confirm that the pressure to satisfy each these roles 110% and not just meet the bare minimum is sometimes more than a we can handle.

As a new mom, I’ve sought out relationships to help me cope with the ups and downs of this beautiful journey. I’ve met mother after mother who has shared the same challenges, the same concerns and the same guilt. We’re a generation of mothers who are constantly tearing ourselves down and comparing ourselves to others in a made up, digital world.

We’re mothers in an unfriendly housing market, challenging job market, a high cost of living market. We’re mothers who grew up with the idea that we could achieve and be anything, yet the world isn’t that friendly and not that simple.

But mother’s of the twenty-first century: we’re also mothers who need to give ourselves a break. Mothers who need to take advantage of the magnitude of resources available to us. We’re mothers who need to accept that the quantity of love and not quality of things will be what our children remember most about us. We’re mothers who need to identify and stay true to our capacity. Who shouldn’t compare ourselves to @insertinstagramhandle and who should know that in a time in our life where we feel alone, there’s a world of support around us.

Finding this support and surrounding yourself with mothers who get it will make everything that feels abnormal, normal. It will lead to a 3 a.m Snapchat celebrating a sleeping baby in their crib and a 5 p.m text requesting permission to have a glass (or two) of wine.

As you live each day trying to achieve 110%, know that there’s a 110% chance you’re not alone.

7 Reasons You Should Have Apple Cider Vinegar in Your Life

Plain and simple, I love vinegar. There are literally hundreds of uses for it. From cleaning your floors and counters to drizzling it on your salad, vinegar is natures secret weapon.

Apple cider vinegar in particular has been cited as the cure-all for decades. It has a wind range of benefits and some people have turned to it to help with health concerns including diabetes, high cholesterol and weight issues. Each and every day as part of my morning routine I take one tablespoon of Bragg raw apple cider vinegar. I’m actually pretty fond of the taste but if a shot of straight vinegar makes you as squeamish as a shot of straight vodka then I recommend mixing the vinegar with water. On the other hand, vodka pairs nicely with orange juice – but I digress.

Here are 7  of the many reasons you need raw apple cider vinegar in your life today!

  1. Lowers Blood Sugar
    By far, the most successful use of apple cider vinegar is to lower blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity.  Please speak with your doctor before using apple cider vinegar if you’re already on medication to lower your blood sugar.
  2. Help with Tummy Troubles
    Have an upset stomach? Apple cider vinegar can help alleviate some of the symptoms due to it’s acidity. Studies have proven it’s effectiveness for treating heartburn, acid reflux and improve digestion when mixed with water.
  3. It Could Help Lower Cholesterol 
    More research is needed to confirm whether apple cider vinegar is effective in lowering cholesterol – however, a study in Japan found that a half once a day lowered cholesterol in participants.
  4. Clears a Stuffy Nose & Ease a Sore Throat
    Apple cider vinegar contains potassium which helps thin mucus. The acidic properties are also helpful in preventing germ growth. Next time you find yourself fighting a cold, mix a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with water to clear your sinuses.
  5. Aids in Wight Loss
    Trying to trim your waist? Add apple cider vinegar to your daily ritual!The acetic acid suppresses your appetite, increases your metabolism, and reduces water retention.
  6. Boots Energy 
    Before you reach for the coffee to get you through the afternoon hump, try drinking 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with water. Between the potassium, enzymes and amio acids, it’s the perfect recipe for a pick me up!
  7. Banishes Bad Breath
    Gargle it or drink it to kill odor-causing bacteria!

Mindfulness for Happier Minds

You’ve probably heard the term mindfulness being thrown around lately. Although it may seem like the newest fad, it’s actually been something that’s been around for a really long time.

With Millennials being the most-stressed out generation in recent decades, it was only a matter of time before this method of reducing stress came front and center in the media.

Research shows that mindfulness works. It can help you be happier, healthier and reduce stress. But if you’re like me, you probably think the whole idea of mindfulness is down right weird. Or, you may  think it does absolutely nothing.

Let’s start with the science.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, a microbiology Ph.D. then teaching at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, was inspired in the late 1970s to apply the basic principles of mindfulness meditation to patients in a medical setting. His studies found that mindfulness was effective in helping alleviate the suffering of chronic and previously debilitating medical conditions such as chronic pain. Further studies have shown that the ways we intentionally shape our internal focus of attention in mindfulness practice induces a state of brain activation during the practice. With repetition, an intentionally created state can become an enduring trait of the individual as reflected in long-term changes in brain function and structure.

Okay, now let me break it down for you: mindfulness is a powerful and effective tool that can rewire your brain. As a result you can:

  • Improve learning, memory and cognitive function
  • Reduce anxiety and depressive episodes
  • Alleviate Stress
  • Reduce distraction

In even simpler terms, you’ll be calm, refreshed and happy.

Sounds convincing but…

You don’t have the time.

You don’t have the energy.

You still think it’s weird.

Let me tell you something…

Not picking up a phone and calling people anymore is weird.

Seeing someone on the street you never met but know their whole life-story based off their Instagram page is weird.

Investing in your health and happiness by doing nothing is totally not weird!

Trust me on this one. Mindfulness and meditation have completely changed my life and my attitude (ask my husband). The easiest way to get started is to have someone talk you through a session. For the days I can’t get out of the house and make it to a physical class, I love the Headspace app. It’s free, it’s wonderful and it works.

Namaste

Chaos and Clarity

There are moments in life when you find yourself at a crossroad facing two decisions. One decision is often safe and familiar while the other takes you through uncharted water offering greater return but also greater risk. Every few years I find myself at this crossroad questioning whether I’m living my most authentic life (often I’m not). For fear failure and judgement, I stick on the safe and familiar road, ignoring my higher self and my truth.

In recent months my identity has been compromised, inspiring deep thought, self exploration and a lot of personal judgement. I’ve been craving fulfillment outside of being a mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend. Even with my greatest accomplishment currently tickling my toes, I’ve felt unaccomplished. At the same time, my return-to-work date is my Apocalypse. My heart and soul are with my family and the thought of missing moments to be present in my home make me anxious and ill.

Through all of these emotions and feelings, I’ve desperately needed an outlet. I’ve created little side projects, some of which you may have seen on Facebook, none of which were satisfying. I’ve researched methods to create my own happy sauce and find inner peace. Through this journey I’ve turned somewhat “granola” and really connected with my inner self and my purpose. I’ve fallen in love with meditation and with clarity. Most importantly, I’ve fallen back in love with writing.

Grown Up Glamour has always had my heart ingrained in its workings. It’s a place I created for other women to feel safe in sharing the tough real stuff we go through on a daily basis and in this new chapter in my life, it will be a community for moms to find support. Grown Up Glamour is my happy sauce and I hope within it you will find yours. Moving forward, you’ll find a granola approach to happiness, wellness and self care. I’m officially returning back to this love of mine and hope you enjoy my authentic approach to sharing as you follow along.

Thank you for your subscriptions, your continued support and for your engagement. Join me on living an authentic life and taking the road less traveled.

Annie

Making the Most of Nap Time

As mom’s we get a few glorious moments a day to do as we please or catch up on what we must. These moments are our children’s nap time or as I like to call it: mom time.

Now that Jack is exiting the world of the fourth trimester, nap time is becoming a luxury. Gone are the days of eat, sleep and poop. The days of Elmo’s Song on repeat, “don’t put that in your mouth” and “ouch, that’s mommy’s hair” are among us. We’re also entering the wonderful world of the four month sleep regression. For the mom’s who have been through it, you know what I mean. For the mom’s not yet there – stock up on the wine.

When I was still adjusting to life as a mom and living on minimal hours of sleep, I’d usually find myself slumped on my couch trying to grasp my new reality. These days, with a little more sleep and a new appreciation of these quiet moments – I go all out.

My favourite nap time mom-moments range from cozying up with a cup of hot tea (key word, hot..unlike that morning’s coffee), sitting in complete silence, or stalking Donald Trump’s Twitter account for his next tirade.

These moments may seem simple to some, but for us mom’s, these moments are our daily dose of extravagance. Below you’ll find other indulgences from well-seasoned mommies. Check it out:

The thing I want to say, I’m not sure it’s appropriate to publish. But who am I kidding, ain’t no body got time for that. 

I sip on a hot tea while watching the Maury Show. 

Take a shower, blow dry my hair, paint my nails. I like to pamper myself! 

Watch those late night shows that are too dirty for little minds while getting into the hidden treats I’m not willing to share. 

I work… and cut up my own apples.  

Then there are the mom’s that aren’t as lucky:

My daughter will only nap in my arms for 30 minutes at a time, so I sit there with her dreaming of sleep. 

Mine don’t sleep! On the rare occasion I’ll nap with them. 

Mine sleeps until I put him down and then BAM! eyes open. 

crfzsya

Whether you’re indulging in those guilty pleasures or simply trying to survive the day – sometimes it’s the simplest of moments that are the most precious.

How do you treat yourself during mom time?

 

Jack’s First Thanksgiving

This is a year of firsts for us. For Jack, everything is a first – which is why I’ve been trying my hardest to make each holiday extra special (even though my son will remember none of it). Earlier this month we dedicated an entire week to celebrating Thanksgiving. Lord help this child when Christmas rolls around. Next to Christmas, Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays. Growing up, my parents would load our kick-ass, boxed style mini-van with a turkey, cranberry sauce and our little family to head north for Thanksgiving weekend. There is only one Thanksgiving I recall not being there – a weekend when my Dad threw his back out, and coincidentally, our hamster Molly kicked the bucket (R.I.P).

The first year Dave joined our family for Thanksgiving at the cottage was in 2012. We were just two early-20-something’s in love.

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First came love, then came marriage, then came our dog Louie, and THEN a baby carriage.

To celebrate Jack’s first Thanksgiving and our first year of marriage, Dave took a week off of work, and I went into overdrive planning excursions.

We packed our small, hatchback Volkswagen with turkey, cranberry sauce and our little family to head north for Thanksgiving weekend. We continued the tradition of spending Thanksgiving at the cottage.

20161009_110637 The cottage is home. It’s a structure that has weaved its way into my heart in way that could never unravel. I hope to weave this piece of my heart into Jack’s.

We spent three peaceful, warm autumn days laying fireside, watching movies, and hiking the wilderness (that’s really not that wild).

20161009_134305From there, Dave and I did the unthinkable.  We abandoned our 9 week old baby to spend a night alone celebrating our first wedding anniversary…in Blue Moutain. Fear not. He was with my totally-obsessed-with-their-first-grandchild parents, and I’d bet he was completely and totally smothered with love and kisses.

We started our night away with a beer tour at the Collingwood Brewery, a small, quite brewery about 20 minutes outside of Blue Mountain. I had the sampler – and after five small tasting flights felt like a 17 year old with their first taste of freedom.

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Childless and ready to party, Dave and I checked into the hotel and quickly made our way into The Village for an early dinner. After pounding pasta covered with primavera and washing it down with a cold glass of water, I crawled my way into bed at 9 o’clock (after pumping to keep my supply up, of course  – #momlife).

The next morning we grabbed a coffee and jetted up the mountain for an early morning hike.

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About a quarter-way up the mountain we stopped and hugged while we stood in silence. Between the chaos of a newborn and adjusting to life as parents, we remembered how to love but we forgot how to hug. Standing there with the sun beating on my back and my arms around my man was one of the most calming moments I’ve had in these last two and a half months.

After 18 hours of being away from our sweet, baby Jack, we craved him. Ditching our afternoon plans, we ventured home to scoop our kin from his dotting grandparents. “Do you think he missed me?” I asked Dave. “Of course” he replied. “Do you think he loves me?” I asked Dave. “Yes, he loves you” he smiled.

I showed up at my parents with tears flowing from my eyes… and my baby barely blinked.

To wrap up the week we did something I’ve always looked forward to – baby or not – pumpkin picking. Although this year I looked forward to it more than any year before. What two month old isn’t dying to pick a pumpkin? The answer: all two month olds, especially mine:

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We got a cute family photo –  though, Jack was less than impressed.

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To me, Jack’s first Thanksgiving was everything I could have dreamed of and more. It laid the foundation for tradition, gave this momma some much needed time to relax, and created some beautiful memories – that we will always keep in our heart and Jack can one day admire through photos.

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To the Moms Learning to Love Their “Mom-Bod”

There’s a ton of pressure for Moms to “lose the baby weight” as soon as their tiny human’s exit their body. As they stand at the grocery checkout, exhausted, potentially with a baby on their boob, their bombarded with photos of celebs who shed pounds about as quickly as I shed postpartum hair.

I began planning my Kim Kardashian body reveal as soon as I became pregnant. I’d lose all my weight and proudly dance around with a baby on my hip, serving my husband home cooked meals in stilettos.

Hindsight is 20/20.  I often dance my baby to sleep but my feet may never fit in my stilettos again.

Realistically I knew life with a new baby would be hard – but until you’re thrown into the beautifully-wonderful yet especially overwhelming role of mom, you have no idea just how drastically your life and body will change.

Last summer I rocked a Victoria Secret two piece, with flowing blonde hair, and an effortless thigh gap.

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Exactly one year later (lacking the confidence to wear a swimsuit), I rocked an additional 53 pounds, a baby bump and size DD boobs.

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This summer my body gave me the gift of a beautiful baby boy, and with it came stretch marks, sagging skin and a little something I like to call my kangaroo pouch. My body does not resemble the body of Christmas-past. Yet I admit, the body of Christmas-past, one I envy myself for now, is not a body I loved when it was mine, nor a body that was healthy. It was a body I believed was filled with flaws, ones I picked apart and fussed over. Ones I tried to improve on and cover up with make-up and clothing. Ones that were indeed not flaws at all, but all a part of what made my body beautiful. I never felt curvy enough, slim enough, fit enough or pretty enough.

It’s incredible how we allow ourselves to be affected by Body Image. How we can look at ourselves in the mirror and pick a part our flaws rather than celebrate our beauty. It’s amazing how we compare ourselves to others, wishing for their features, while they are wishing for ours.

As a new mom I’ve grown a strong appreciation for what the female body can do. It has inspired me to start the journey towards loving myself, tiger stripes, kangaroo pouch and all. It is why I’m not sharing how much weight I’ve lost since the birth of my son but sharing my plans of being healthy, setting a good example for my child, and loving this new body that is mine.

As women and as mothers, we often compare ourselves to the women and mothers around us. We often find fault within ourselves, we often feel guilt and more often than not, we neglect the temple that gave us our children.

My post-baby body plan isn’t about resembling my pre-baby self, there will be no grand Kim Kardashian weight loss reveal.  It’s about fueling my body with nutrients, walking with my son in the park, finding a routine that makes me healthy and happy. It’s not about the number on the scale but about looking in the mirror and loving the strong, often tired, woman looking back at me.

The internet terms my new body the “mom-bod”, a term I’m not particularly fond of as it categorizes mothers into one body type, yet each of us are so wonderfully different. Today, although still somewhat insecure, I rock the curves, I rock the pouch and I rock the determination to be the healthiest version of myself. Join me, won’t you?

Jack | One Month Old

Dear Jack,

Today you are one month old. Life before you seems like a distant memory. Adjusting to having you in our world rather than in my tummy has been one of the most incredible experiences your Dad and I have had the privilege living. This isn’t to go without saying that having a newborn hasn’t been a lot of work.

Our new life has been complicated, messy and often unpredictable. Your Dad has quickly grown to resemble a member of the Nascar pit-crew. He approaches a diaper change with speed, precision and great care – constantly challenging his time  and improving on his method to avoid and combat disaster. While I on the other hand have quickly grown to resemble my pre-teen self. I enjoy 2 hour windows of sleep, have my very own brand of eau due parfum and wear pajamas as if they’re “what’s hot” this season. There are nights I seem to rock you endlessly, as you press against my chest while I whisper lullabys in your ear. There are days I drink my coffee ice cold because you’ve pooped on me for what will be the first of many times of that day. Then there are days I look at you and cannot believe my body was able to create something so perfect. That your Dad and I were able to create something so perfect.

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The speed in which time has passed this month has terrified me. I’ve been warned that my life will flash before my eyes as I watch your life grow – and now it’s happening. As I fold your little newborn clothes and pack them into storage, my heart aches and celebrates the next step you’ve taken in your very fresh but very real life.

You have gone from our tiny 7 pound, 10 oz infant to our sturdy ten pound baby.  You have beautiful grey-blue eyes and have started to use them to explore your new world. You are beginning to recognize your Dad and I,  and you capture our hearts with each gassy smile. You love bath time, car rides and being rocked and swayed to rap music. It appears you have your Dad’s taste in music, we’ll work on that.

Jack Josef, you are the apple of so many eyes. You have brought sleepless nights and endless joy to this little kingdom you call home. Each and every day your Dad and I grow and learn more about you, more about being a parent and more about each other. The best part about having you here is the new purpose and thrill we’ve discovered in our lives.

This is only the start my sweet boy – of change, of learning, of the love we expect to grow within our home and family, and you are in the center of it all.