lifestyle, Personal, Uncategorized

2021 Goal Check!

Today is February 1st, and a Monday! There is extra “fresh start” energy in the air!

Last night I sat down with a journal and touched base on my 2021 “resolutions”/goals to see where I’m at. I think it’s super easy to set these goals with the “New Year New Me” vibes at the beginning of January, but for many people, they taper off by the end of the first month. I felt like I did a lot of sporadic things this month that generally were on track with my goals, but felt like they were scattered and I couldn’t visualize the totality of my progress unless I sat down and wrote it out.

I HIGHLY encourage you to take some time today and list out the things you did in January that aligned with your 2021 goals. Don’t leave anything out! For me, my list included things like:

  • Took care of my body by attending overdue doctor appointments
  • Bought an exercise bike and hit 150 miles in January
  • Cleaned up my eating habits
  • Made time for skincare
  • Made time for spirituality
  • Read more books
  • Hit one large life goal! (dream car)
  • Worked on budgeting/saving

Next – I challenge you to list the things you did in January that did NOT align with your 2021 goals, so you can see what to eliminate for February. For me, this included things like:

  • Ate fast food when I shouldn’t have
  • Ordered too many sugary drinks from Starbucks (this hurt my money and health goals)
  • Skipped workouts when I didn’t need to
  • Compromised valuable sleep time scrolling on my phone

Lastly, take a moment to journal out what you want your February to look like. Are you going to be more consistent with your workouts? Are you going to reach a specific goal at your job? Are you going to focus more time on family?

Don’t let your New Year energy fizzle out. It’s a new month, a new work week, a new day, and a new opportunity to show up as the person you want to be!

February, be kind to us all!

Feel free to share some reflections on your new year goals below!

lifestyle, Mom Stuff, Personal, Recipes

The Meal Service You Need in 2021

Photo from Hungryroot.com

I have gotten so many questions on my Hungryroot subscription so here is my full review now that I’ve been using it for a few months!

I have been searching for a while for a meal service that had a good selection of healthy gluten-free and vegan/vegetarian recipes. A lot of the popular meal service companies have vegetarian plans, or gluten-free plans, but rarely a good selection of recipes that are both. Hungryroot was the first one I’ve found that has a large amount of gluten-free and vegetarian recipes. On that note, you can customize the recipes you can choose from based on your own dietary needs. They provide the 10 minute recipes and the raw ingredients – so the meals are not prepped/pre-packaged. Hungryroot is essentially a half-meal plan, half-grocery service.

The plans start at $59 a week. I started at about $100 a week, then went down to $80 a week, and now I’m at $59 a week for now. I will probably go back and forth between about $60-$80 a week from now on. You can skip or reschedule deliveries whenever you want. The pricing depends on the amount of “servings” and meals you choose. However, once you select your plan (say you choose 2 servings each, 2 lunches and 3 dinners), your plan converts to Hungryroot “credits.” This is key! Here’s why:

You can edit your delivery based on recipes or groceries. The way I get more meals for my money now is I sort the recipes (I shop by recipe) from lowest credits to highest credits. So, instead of getting 3 meals that are 12 credits each, I can get 7 credit meals and get more meals for the same plan. You can also fully shop groceries only with those credits. I aim for 4-5 recipes, 2 servings each, and I normally have 1-2 credits left to add grocery items, like dressing, a pack of ramen or a snack. Here’s a snippet of how I browse through recipes by credits. The 28 credits is for my current $60/week plan.

The recipes are divided into categories of stir-fries, pastas, flatbreads, market plates, grain bowls, warm bowls, sandwiches, tacos, burgers, wraps, salads and bakes. The ingredients include fresh produce, some popular health brands, and Hungryroot’s own branded items. Some of my favorite popular brands they carry regularly are Beyond Meat, Banza pasta, Lotus Foods Ramen and Nutpods. A few of my favorite Hungryroot brand items include their Four Cheese Gluten-Free Tortelloni, Superfood Tomato Sauce, Cashew Cheddar Sauce, Spicy Refried Red Beans and their Hearty Tofu Veggie Burger. With my pre-set dietary preferences, I do not view the meat and gluten options when I select my recipes, but you can browse their current options on their website without setting up an account.

My typical weekly delivery will include a salad, tacos, grain bowl and a pasta, with maybe a couple snacks or extra packs of ramen.

You have a certain day each week you have to edit your delivery by. If you forget, they will choose the recipes for you based on your dietary preferences. This comes in handy for me so much because I often forget to choose my recipes by the deadline!

What I love:

  • The convenience of not having to shop, especially with a baby and during Covid.
  • It is so worth the money to me to not have to plan out each meal, easily select a few recipes each week, and have them show up at my doorstep.
  • I can’t accidentally overspend at the store. If you set me loose in Hyvee to get stuff to make a homemade pizza, or do pasta night, I can easily drop $60 for that one meal. This prevents me throwing random unnecessary stuff in my cart that will go to waste (and I’m really trying to limit our food waste!).
  • The pricing is constantly adjustable and you can skip a week when you don’t need it.
  • All my meals are balanced and have a healthy portion of protein, whether broccoli, protein pasta, beans, tofu etc., which is so important as a vegetarian.
  • The products, especially Hungryroot’s own brand, are so tasty, healthy and have good ingredients. A lot of the products they carry are also organic.
  • Their packaging is insanely eco-friendly down to the ice pack which doubles as plant food??
  • The recipes only take about 10 minutes which is ideal for this working mama with long work days and a long commute. Matt also doesn’t mind prepping dinner for me some days because it’s so easy to do!
  • Hungryroot is sustainability focused!

What I don’t love:

  • The delivery service they use is kind of sketchy. We have had some strange characters deliver and they always fly up the street in creepy unmarked vans LOL
  • I’ve had a few deliveries with missing items that showed they were checked off on the inventory sheet in the box but weren’t in there
  • I would like if the website adjusted more to what I usually order. For instance, I typically order tacos, pasta, salad and grain bowls. I never get any of the thai food with peanut sauce or stir-fries. Just not my style. When I miss the edit deadline though, I always end up with stir-fries and peanut thai food that I literally never pick (still within my restrictions of gluten-free/vegetarian). So, it would be nice if it sort of tracked my preferences better.
  • There were a couple weeks where their recipe selection was unusually limited. I don’t know if it was Covid-related or not but I haven’t noticed that issue again in a couple months.

Overall, my verdict is – I will be sticking with Hungryroot for the foreseeable future! I am addicted to the convenience of not only the cost-friendly delivery to your doorstep, but also the convenience of having pre-planned, simple and balanced 10 minute recipes within my dietary restrictions. For a busy mom, I have yet to find something that fits my needs so well.

If you want to give Hungryroot a try, you can use my referral code S7CAXUEN for $40 off your first delivery!

Let me know in the comments if you have any specific questions I can answer!

lifestyle, Personal, Pregnancy

My Virtual Baby Shower

Covid-19 has really thrown a wrench in every pregnant mama’s journey. We’ve had to re-set our expectations and adapt to a new way of doing things while pregnant, which unfortunately has meant a lot of replanning, cancelling or postponing of baby showers. I’m sure you’ve cried at those videos online of surprise drive-by showers like I have. Or maybe it was just my hormones…?

My mom, mother-in-law, sister and best friend had been planning my baby shower. It was going to be at the Ellwood House, which is a beautiful local and historic property. About 60 important women in my life were going to be there. They had done so much work and then this struck – so they re-grouped and planned something different.

At first, when my mom brought up these “virtual showers” that people do, I was not on board. I was just depressed and mopey and blah. I gave myself about a day to feel sorry for myself and then it was time to get on board with the new plan. We looked at websites and businesses that claim to specialize in virtual showers. We looked at using Zoom or other group video chat forums. After lots of research, we decided to utilize Facebook. And it was probably the BEST choice we could have made.

I’m half writing this to tell you about my shower, but also for you to take notes on how to do this yourself! I know a lot of states are opening up, but there are still plenty of women who aren’t feeling comfortable with large gatherings (understandably so). Hopefully this helps you!

First, we had to notify everyone we sent an invite to that we would be hosting the shower on the same day and time as planned, but on Facebook. We created a private Facebook group and invited all our shower guests to the page. I was kept off the page until the day of the shower! So, before I saw the page, they had posts and games started that were getting all the guests excited for the big day!

Some post ideas:

  • Link and pin your registry
  • Play with Facebook polls and have everyone vote on things like, who will baby look like? What sex will the baby be?
  • Baby pictures of the parents-to-be
  • Game cards to be printed and used during the “Live” shower
  • Posts asking for how guests met the mom/dad/parent to be, or asking for advice for the parents to be
  • Guess baby’s due date
  • “Guess how many” games – for example, we posted a large baby bottle full of animal crackers and had everyone guess how many for a prize

We also wrote a personal letter from Matt and I to our guests to post on the page before the shower, explaining how the Facebook Live event would work and thanking everyone for being so supportive and flexible with us during this pandemic. I think this is an absolute MUST, especially if you have older family who aren’t super tech savvy.

My MIL also went “Live” a few days before the actual shower which let people get familiar with viewing the Live, and she answered any questions that people had about the Live shower.

We used Babylist for our registry and had everything shipped to our house. So, my mom, MIL and sister came over and opened all the shipping boxes and wrapped every single gift. A true labor of love… There were a lot!

On the day of, my mom, MIL and sister came over and decorated our living room for the big event. We then went live and opened all our gifts with breaks where we played games and this mama got a break! We were able to monitor our guests’ live comments on our phones as we went along and could respond to the camera, almost like we were all together. It lasted about two hours and could not have gone better!

Winners were announced for all the games and they will get Starbucks or Amazon gift cards from my amazing shower planners. We are also sending out small favors with our thank you cards, so the only thing missing really was food. All other aspects of a baby shower were brought to life virtually!

I cried when I first saw the living room full of gifts. I cried during and after the shower. I was an emotional mess – because we felt so grateful. Yeah, it sucked not being able to hug and see everyone in-person, but the love and support we felt from everyone joining our Live and seeing all the posts on our Facebook Group from everyone was overwhelming in the best way.

After the shower, we posted pictures of the shower and of baby’s nursery, as well as thanked people for gifts that showed up after the fact. I can still go on the page and re-live the magic of that day! And if anyone misses the Live, it stays up as a video post so they can watch it later when they have time.

I hope this helps any mamas who are planning a virtual shower – and if you have any questions at all, comment below or DM me on instagram!

Personal, Pregnancy

What’s in our Nursery

Hello, friends!! I’ve gotten a lot of questions about stuff in Brooks’ nursery from posts on my instagram stories, so I decided to make a blog post with all the links you need to shop.

Let’s start with the crib and dresser!

A loooot of research went into what crib to get. My mom and grandma were generous enough to go in on both together, but kept me a part of the selection process while we researched safety and reviews on basically every crib in existence.

My checklist for the crib included: modern, white, convertible, good reviews and safety ratings, Greenguard Gold Certified, around $200 and a known brand. This Carter’s by DaVinci Morgan 4-in-1 Convertible Crib checked off everything on the list! It’s only $179.00 and the back of the crib will turn into a stylish headboard by the time we convert it to that level. It’s sturdy and does not have a weird paint smell which many moms worry about!

The dresser is the Storkcraft Brookside 6 Drawer Double Dresser which I can’t find in-stock anywhere! We ordered it from Wayfair for about $200. A comparable Storkcraft dresser with similar safety features is linked here.

The beaded light fixture was super popular with you guys – it took tons of research to find one that wasn’t over $200. This Safavieh beaded pendant light is only $175 and actually gives off plenty of light. I love it – Matt did NOT love installing it though!

The rug linked here is also Safavieh (I love this brand) and comes in four color variations and tons of size variations. Ours is the beige/ivory and we ordered a 4′ x 6′.

The chair and pouf are also from Walmart! The HomePop Accent Chair comes in several colors and is a great price for the quality, ringing up at $130 when we ordered. (Price varies). Ours is the color cream. I was surprised by its quality.

The pouf is linked here and is only $40 in the color Ivory. It also comes in several colors (price varies). It makes the perfect foot rest with this chair!

Our curtains are from Target and are an unbeatable price. Buying curtains can be so expensive especially when you have to usually buy per panel. These Chenille Chevron Light Filtering Curtains come in a set of two and are a quality, heavier fabric that lets just enough light through but not too much. The set of two are only $35 and they come in grey and light blue – white is currently sold out.

The LAST addition to the nursery I really want to share is our name sign for above the crib! We ordered from CarpenterFarmhouse on Etsy and went with the 30″ sign, which came to about $70. You can customize the paint and font colors too!

And for a dose of reality: here is the current state of affairs in the nursery! Nesting has begun!

Personal, Pregnancy

Pregnant in a Pandemic

So many of us have landed in this unusual, unexpected and terrifying place. Some are in their first trimester, terrified of having a suppressed immune system during this. Some are nurses and bankers and grocery store workers still reporting to work. Many are going to OB appointments alone, cancelling gender reveal parties and baby showers, doing all their long-awaited shopping online. Some are delivering a baby in the midst of this, unable to have their mom, dad, sister and support systems present. None of this is in the “what to expect” books. None of this is normal.

You know what makes it worse? Shamers who are NOT pregnant during this, telling us what we can and can’t grieve, because we should just be “grateful.” I’m here to tell you that you can be grateful for your baby on the way and still grieve all the things we are missing out on. You can be grateful and still angry that we had these joys taken from us or altered. Nobody has the right to tell you how you should be handling this and how you should be feeling during this unanticipated obstacle of your pregnancy.

As a bit of comfort, however, I’m also here to remind you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There’s something comforting about being scared and unsure with other unsure and scared people. It’s like walking into class on the day of a massive test, and having everyone else tell you they didn’t study and are going to bomb the test too. It doesn’t change the fact that you are going to bomb that test, but it’s oddly comforting to know there’s a group of you feeling the same. We are here, we are scared and uneasy, and we are an untapped army of support for each other. Let’s have open, honest and real conversations and be there for each other.

My husband and I have been working from home for a few weeks now. We just closed on our first house a little less than two weeks ago. So, I was stressed before all this started. Being an attorney can be stressful. Working full-time in a professional career while physically uncomfortable, emotional, hangry and sleepy can be stressful. Buying a house for the first time is stressful. Packing and moving is stressful. Pregnancy on its own is stressful. Having an anxiety/panic disorder on top of all this (and being unmedicated due to pregnancy) is what you would think would be the cherry on top. BUT NO – NOW let’s throw in the plot twist of a damn unprecedented worldwide pandemic and you have the perfect recipe for a complete mental breakdown.

That being said, I’ve been focusing SUPER hard on what is helping me through this and what is not. I’m no expert here – just an anxious pregnant lady learning by trial and error – but I think some of these tips will work for you too.

Distractions

Okay – hear me out. I don’t care if this is the best psychological way to technically deal with this. All I know is this is helping me. Keeping moving and busy. Keeping my mind focused on anything other than the negatives. Netflix, podcasts, reading (all e-books and audiobooks are obtainable from your couch – no excuses), cleaning, housework, pinteresting, creating/editing your online baby registry, adult coloring books, board games, cooking new recipes, online shopping (for baby, for nursery, for yourself…), blogging, creating, starting that side hustle you’ve always talked about – KEEP YOUR MIND BUSY. Downtime just sitting and thinking can lead to a downward spiral of negative thoughts and soon, you feel the walls closing in. It’s okay to set time aside to think about what’s going on and to watch the news/scroll twitter and facebook for updates, but you don’t need to fill your day with it. In fact, you shouldn’t.

Check these out:

Dave Hollis – Get Out of Your Own Way E-book

You Are Fucking Awesome: A Motivating Swear Word Word Coloring Book for Adults

Joanna Gaines’s Magnolia Table Cookbook Volume 2 (releases April 7th!)

Avengers Monopoly

Limit News Intake

This stems from where the previous section left off. In the beginning of this, I was spending ALL DAY – I’m not kidding – all day, every day scrolling and refreshing twitter and facebook with the news on in the background just soaking up every bit of chaos there was to soak up. After this became noticeably unproductive and unhealthy, and I was catching my anxiety spiking while reading, I realized I needed to limit my intake. It was hard at first because I felt like if I wasn’t refreshing my twitter feed constantly, I would miss out on the latest social distancing recommendations and the latest political press briefing (a weird FOMO). To my surprise, limiting my exposure did not lead to the world ending. Some days I will watch the president’s and governor’s press briefings, other days I will catch the recaps of the briefings on twitter or from my husband and mom. If I notice a certain person on my facebook feed is posting things about Covid-19 that aren’t helping my anxiety, I mute them. If I notice I’m reading tweets and my anxiety starts spiking, I close out. If I am having a conversation with someone about Covid-19 and it’s not beneficial to my mind, I cut it short. Protect your mind and well-being unapologetically. Limit your news intake to what is necessary to stay informed.

Gratitude Journaling and Meditation

I used to write in a gratitude journal a couple years ago but haven’t since. I originally started when I read Rachel Hollis’ books – Girl Wash Your Face and Girl Stop Apologizing. Unfortunately, I struggle with being a morning person so that morning practice slowly faded out of my life. I was inspired by other women on instagram (it can actually be a good thing sometimes) to pick up gratitude journaling again during this crazy time.

You don’t need a fancy gratitude journal to do this. I made Matt do it this morning with me and gave him a notebook and told him what to journal based on my gratitude journal’s guides. Do this first thing in the morning, with a cup of coffee and some meditation, massage, ocean waves or nature sounds in the background (Spotify has unlimited options).

  1. Three things you are grateful for today. Get detailed!
  2. Someone you are grateful for today:
  3. Today I am: (perfect for feelings or manifestations!) “Today I am strong, invincible, powerful…” “Today I am stressed, but optimistic…”
  4. Three goals or intentions for today:

If you want to order your own guided gratitude journal, check these out:

Green Inspired Simply Grateful Journal – $12.00 at Target

Erin Condren PetitePlanner – Gratitude Journal $14.00

If meditation is more up your alley, check out this post on the 15 Best Meditation and Mindfulness Apps for 2020.

Give Yourself Grace re: Productivity

I added these screenshots because they are IMPORTANT. If you are working from home and you feel stressed that you aren’t being productive enough or you’re finding it hard to focus – give yourself grace. We were abruptly uprooted from our daily routines and are learning to adapt to a new way of life in a scary time and are expected to not miss a beat with our jobs. Be patient with yourself, do your best, and remember the above!

Also important – stop comparing yourself to the bloggers on instagram who seem to be living their most glamorous lives during this. Their job and source of income is literally based on posting and promoting a glamorous daily lifestyle. We could all achieve that too, if we were being paid mass loads of money to post on instagram. We aren’t. Don’t feel inadequate for getting through your day without doing pilates and making a picture-perfect whipped coffee drink for instagram.

Take a Walk!

The best thing I’ve incorporated into our daily routine is a walk around the neighborhood first thing when we get up (observing social distancing of course!) We live in a neighborhood now full of kids and families, and there’s something comforting about seeing everyone else at home, kids out riding their bikes and drawing with chalk, dads playing basketball with their kids. Take it all in. It restores a sense of normalcy.

While out – watch for decorated windows and doors and chalk messages on the sidewalks! We have a lot of #hearthunt participants in our neighborhood where people are posting colorful hearts on their doors, some naming people they are thankful for in these times, like nurses, teachers, first responders, etc.

Create a Pregnant Mama Support Squad

If you don’t already have a few other pregnant mamas you can talk and vent to, find them! If there’s someone from high school who is also pregnant right now, but you haven’t talked in years, reach out! Ask them how they are doing and form your own little web of pregnant mama support. You may have a great support system already, but there’s something special about having women to talk to who are going through this at the same time as you. If you don’t know anyone pregnant – I’m here! Message me!

If you are a pregnant or new mama right now – comment below with what’s helping you cope through this!

Personal, Pregnancy

20 Weeks!

It’s absolutely nuts to think we are officially halfway through this pregnancy! I can’t necessarily say it’s flown by, since the first trimester felt like an endless drag of illness and survival mode. But I’m definitely not ready for the next 20 weeks to fly by either!

We still have so much to do. We are moving at the end of March, so the nursery can’t be started. We won’t know the gender until our reveal on Saturday, so we haven’t really bought much for baby. I feel like I still have a million books to read and a ton of learning to do before baby arrives. Not sure 20 weeks will be enough time…. But also, not sure I’ll ever be fully “ready” for such a big, new thing.

We are 7 weeks into the second trimester and I can tell you, the promises of the second trimester being the best are true. I feel great. I am still exercising (just swimming and walking for joints and labor prep). I have gained back the weight I lost with pneumonia and morning sickness and am the heaviest I’ve ever been – in the best way! For having a joint disorder, I’m doing pretty well keeping my dislocations and joint slips to a minimum. And my favorite perk yet – I can finally call myself a morning person! I have always been one to sleep heavy and deep; anywhere, any time. On weekends my husband and I would sleep til about 1 PM. I think baby is trying to prepare me for when he/she arrives, because I’ve been waking up early (around 5 AM) and getting a jumpstart to my day, which I’ve never been able to do. Rachel Hollis, author of Girl Wash Your Face and Girl Stop Apologizing, often talks about the benefits of getting up early and jumping into the day. I finally see what she’s talking about! There’s something spectacular about giving yourself time to fully wake up, sip coffee, scroll instagram, read a magazine – write a blog post 😉 – get a headstart on your work for the day, do a little more with your hair and makeup sometimes. It helps me feel like I’m maintaining a little more control over my life in this moment of a lot of big new things coming at us. In addition to all the positives, I am feeling a little more difficulty with bending over, walking long periods and getting fatigued more easily.

One of the highlights of the past week I can’t fail to mention, is I am finally feeling baby move! I found out I have an anterior placenta (where the placenta is between baby and the front of your stomach instead of back towards the spine) which makes it more difficult to feel baby early on. Typically, they say you will feel baby move between 18-25 weeks, later if it’s your first. I felt baby move during the 19th week – and it wasn’t like anyone described. People and literature tell you it will feel like tiny gas bubbles or flutters. My first movement I felt was a massive somersault or flip that about knocked me out of my work chair. Since then, though, it HAS been a lot of flutters, bumps and kicks! After waiting month to month to check on baby with a heart doppler, it’s so nice to have reassurance throughout the day that baby is good and moving in there.

We had our 20 week ultrasound yesterday – and let me tell you – my bump best friend was right. It was absolutely mind-blowing! For those who don’t know, for a normal pregnancy, you typically have an ultrasound around 8-10 weeks, and then await for another at 20 weeks which is the full anatomy scan. They look at all the little details of baby, including the lips, the fingers, the bones, the sex. Then they measure all the parts of baby. The 20 week is important if you skip genetic testing because they can see any deformities or complications with baby. They can see where your placenta is, check the placental insertion, see how baby is turned (which doesn’t really matter this early). Luckily, baby was looking great and our technician was able to see what the gender was, even with our baby moving around like CRAZY. I do have to go back to get more images of baby’s head, because baby’s head was so low and we couldn’t get he/she to move the head for different angles (even with jumping jacks!). It is mind-blowing to see this baby inside of you, moving, kicking, flapping its hands, and thinking – “I am growing this!” It was probably the first time I fully realized that I’m having a freaking baby! I also realized I shouldn’t have a Starbucks Pink Drink before an ultrasound because then baby won’t sit still.

Even though we had our 20 week ultrasound, Matt and I won’t know the gender until this Saturday when we have a small reveal get-together with some immediate friends and family. Matt and I chose to find out with everyone, but now we are regretting it seeing this little envelope with our baby’s gender sitting on the TV stand. It’s so hard not to open it! My best friend had her gender reveal last weekend and it made me so excited for ours! And I’m always feeling so excited, grateful and blessed that this baby, whatever gender, will have an amazing soul to grow up with.

I’m so excited to share baby M’s gender with you all come this weekend! Stay tuned!

Personal, Pregnancy

How to Fight Morning Sickness

If you read my previous post, you know that I had my bout of morning sickness in the first trimester for about 8 weeks – the same 8 weeks I was super ill. It was a terrible cycle – I was so nauseous I couldn’t hold down fluids (not even water) so I wasn’t helping myself get better. The violent coughing from the pneumonia made it impossible to not puke. So, as you can imagine, I tried just about every trick in the book to help combat the morning sickness. Here’s what worked for me:

Ginger Ale

Ginger ale has always been my go-to when hungover. People say it doesn’t actually help, but the ginger taste, ice cold and carbonation has always helped settle my stomach in all situations. I kept a stash at home, in my car and at work and drank it almost exclusively for weeks. The sugar intake was probably bad, but it was either that or be dehydrated which wasn’t an option for baby.

Ginger Tea

Herbal teas are tricky during pregnancy because, well, herbs are tricky. Mixed herbal teas tend to have several different herbs so you’ll find yourself googling a million herbs and their safety relative to pregnancy while standing in the tea aisle. Go for pure ginger and lemon, or ginger honey tea. Or, get a pregnancy-specific ginger tea like this organic, caffeine-free orange ginger tea from Pink Stork. As always, consult with your doctor.

Ginger Tummy Drops

There are many brands of tummy drops, but I prefer ones with a strong ginger taste (can you tell that ginger was my go-to?!) Try these Raspberry Ginger drops from Pink Stork.

Sea Bands

I’ve had major motion sickness issues my whole life, so these bands were not new to me, but I didn’t think to use them for morning sickness until they came in my first Bump Box!

Basically, they are wristbands with a metal ball that presses gently on the inside of your wrist for targeted acupressure that helps relieve nausea.

Tons of Water

This may be obvious to some, but staying overly-hydrated helps a ton. I ended up keeping a big bottle of water next to my bed and would drink as much as I could in the morning before I sat up or tried to move.

Crackers and Water on Night Stand

This wraps in with the above, but keep crackers on your night stand with your water as well. Munch on them in the morning before you start moving.

Don’t Drink While Eating

This was a tip my family doctor gave me. If you’re having trouble holding food down, eat your meal without any water or beverage, wait a while, and then drink. It helps prevent vomiting.

Bland Foods

Just like when we were kids with the stomach flu – the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast) diet is key! I ate a lot of cheerios, plain crackers, and plain vegetable broth or ramen noodles, applesauce and toast during this phase. Anything is better than nothing. Avoid foods with strong aromas!

lifestyle, Personal

Half of my heart is in Atlanta…

IMG_2744

If you’ve been following along on my instagram, you probably know I recently had a brief visit to Atlanta to see my brother graduate basic training for the National Guard! Staying on an army base was a whole new world, but it was so much fun finally getting a glimpse into Mike’s life over the past several months. We were shown videos about what the new soldiers had gone through to graduate from basic, and we visited the massive infantry museum on base and learned about his potential future, as well as some of our country’s past.

It was an amazing experience and I’m so glad I got to witness him become an American Soldier. We are beyond proud of him, as I’m sure you know! After getting some much-needed quality time with Mike, he had to head back to his college, and we were left with an evening and one full day to explore Atlanta. It was my first time, so I had done some thorough research for the best spots (lots of thanks to PLIG aka Poor Little It Girl and her Atlanta Travel Guide).

One of the spots I knew I needed to check out was Ponce City Market.

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Outfit:

Identical White Beaded Tassel Earrings: Baublebar (40% off right now!)

Sheer Chiffon Smocked Off-the-Shoulder Top: $12 at F21 (40% off)!

AE High-Waisted jeans (All jeans are BOGO 50% off!)

Bracelet: Kate Spade Logo Cuff (found on Mercari and Poshmark!)

Similar brown peep-toe mule heels: ShoeMango or lulus ($35 or less!)

Ponce City Market is like a mini mall, with high-end shops like Madewell, Anthropologie and Lululemon, combined with a next-level food hall. I love shopping more than anyone, but the food hall is the highlight of the Market.

“At the heart of Ponce City Market, the Central Food Hall is becoming the most vibrant food hall and market in the Southeast. James Beard Award-winning chefs the likes of Anne Quatrano, Linton Hopkins, and Sean Brock join Atlanta’s most exciting young purveyors and restauranteurs to offer everything from Georgia and Carolinas-caught seafood, to classic burgers, cold-pressed juice, house-made pasta and freshly milled heirloom grain bread.

Similar to the legendary food hall at Chelsea Market in Manhattan—also owned by the developers of Ponce City Market—the Central Food Hall is a culinary gathering place within a revamped historic space, but with the distinct character and flavors of Atlanta.” – poncecitymarket.com

The food hall features places like Batter Cookie Dough Counter, Farm to Ladle, Root Baking Co., Spiller Park Coffee and Pancake Social. Every spot has a fresh, conscious and modern feel.

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As if PCM didn’t sound cool enough, it also features a rooftop carnival. I’m not even joking. It’s a carnival, complete with a long row of carnival games and a full mini-golf course, on a rooftop overlooking the ATL skyline.

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The rooftop is kid-friendly unless it’s on the weekend after 5:00, because then it turns into a rooftop party! But no worries, alcohol is served all day 😉

One spot I KNEW I wasn’t leaving without going to was bartaco, because I had seen them all over social media as a must-hit spot. We don’t have bartaco up north, so we drove to the northeast side of ATL to test it out. And, my goodness, was it freakin DELISH.

I ordered their classic bartaco marg, and I’m not kidding you when I say, it was the best-tasting marg I’ve ever had (and I drink a lot of margs. I’m a marg connoisseur, if you will). Everything, including the marg, is SO. FRESH.

“bartaco is inspired by the beach culture of brazil, uruguay and southern california. we are upscale street food with a coastal vibe in a relaxed environment. we are freshly-squeezed juices, specialty cocktails and beer out of a bottle. bartaco evokes a visit to a stylish beach resort and creates an unforgettable experience.” – bartaco.com

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I am all about good food, but adding a good atmosphere to that makes the food taste even better? It’s science.

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Absolutely, 100% hit them up while you’re in ATL. You will not regret it!

On my last note about food, (if you can’t tell, I’m all about food when I travel) we randomly ended up at Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria because we saw they had gluten-free pizza. I will say this: my favorite pizza before being diagnosed with Celiac disease was Sbarro’s. I loved the thin, soft crust, the greasy cheese… Everything about it. This was the closest I’ve tasted to it since I went gluten-free. I nearly cried, it was so delicious. I am down for any pizza place that actually MAKES their crust instead of using a cardboard frozen gluten-free crust. If you’re looking for a family place downtown where you can also grab a beverage, hit up Max’s. Also, if it’s just adults, there is a kickass sports bar right next door. The easiest dinner and drinks set-up right in the heart of downtown ATL! Perfect for that first night in town when you’re settling in.

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Credit: @maxspizzaatl on instagram

I didn’t expect to have as much fun as we did with a basically 24 turnaround, but we soaked it up and I can’t wait to go back. Have you been? Drop a comment with your favorite spot in ATL!

Personal

5 Ways to be Your Own Health Advocate – And Why You Need to Be

This post is a little different, and a little personal. I’m going to share a bit of my medical struggles I’ve been facing because I feel like people truly need this advice.

I am 24 years old, and I started having severe back pain when I was 19. I was raised in a “put some dirt on it” family, so I ignored it as long as I could and let everyone tell me that I couldn’t have a serious back problem because I was only 19. “You’re so young, you don’t have arthritis.” “You’re probably just sore.” “Take some ibuprofen.”

I listened. I ignored it as much as I could. I took Aleve, Ibuprofen, I stretched, I took hot baths, whatever I could to get through the day. And that’s what I did until one day, I was riding in the car with my parents for a drive that was about an hour long. I remember sitting in the back seat and freaking out that I just “threw out” my back, and my pelvis felt detached from my lower spine. I was SOBBING. My parents didn’t know what to do, so we went to the emergency room.

This was definitely a bad idea in retrospect. I had a terrible doctor treat me in the ER, who ordered X-rays of my lower back, but before the X-rays came back, he thought it would be a grand idea to flip me over and examine my back, and without my consent, he yanked my leg up and put all his weight on my lower back to “pop it back in” because my “lower spine had popped out of place.”

I could have had a fracture or something seriously wrong on the x-ray, but he did this before seeing them. THE PAIN. Oh my god, I sobbed so hard in that ER rolling bed that I remember thinking he just broke my back, because I couldn’t breathe.

Flash forward about half an hour later, when he actually saw my x-ray results. He told me everything was fine, nothing came back from the x-rays, and prescribed a muscle relaxer and told me I was just stressed.

Obviously, I wasn’t pleased with this treatment, so as soon as I could get in, I went to my primary care physician and had the x-rays sent over to her. It was here that I found out the ER doctor who told me everything was fine, actually found degenerative changes and mild arthritis on my lower spine and didn’t bother to tell me (probably because he had just shoved my back around while telling me I was “just sore”). So here I sit, in my PCP’s office, while she sits in a chair telling me that she doesn’t understand why I’m crying, and that mild arthritis wouldn’t cause any pain like what I’m feeling. So again, she chalked it up to soreness – didn’t even get up from her chair to look at my back or examine it.

I asked her, “so what do I do for the arthritis?” She told me to take some Aleve and I would be fine. I told her I had already been taking Aleve and it wasn’t helping. She STRAIGHT UP TOLD ME that she couldn’t do anything else for me. So I asked, “well isn’t arthritis like a permanent thing? What do I do long-term?” And she tells me, “you’ll probably be taking Aleve for the rest of your life. That’s it. That’s all you can do.”

Again, obviously, I was not pleased with this appointment. But, I let her convince me that I was being dramatic. That I only had mild arthritis and I should suck it up. I was just sore. I was just stressed. Take some Aleve and get over it.

I dealt with this for a few years, along with chronic fatigue and other weird things going on. Right before my 21st birthday, I had something strange happen. I found a lymph node in my neck that was rock hard and swollen. I remember that moment so clearly. I was sitting in my mock trial coach’s constitutional law class, in the back of the room, and discovered it. I immediately felt my stomach drop because I always think the worst – so right away, I was like “oh my god, I have cancer. I have lymphoma.” I grabbed my laptop and backpack and left in the middle of class and drove straight to immediate care.

I won’t get into those details – because obviously immediate care didn’t do anything for me but tell me to see a doctor. I’ll summarize this briefly – I had an ultrasound. Wasn’t looking good. Had a CT scan. Wasn’t looking good. Had a needle biopsy to test for cancer. This test would be determinative. It wasn’t – and it wasn’t looking good. Had surgery to remove and test the node for cancer. This process went on for two months. Two months of bad news, and thinking I could very well have cancer. Two months of my now-husband being in denial. Two months of my poor mom trying to stay positive. Two months over-thinking about how my life could change, how I wouldn’t be going to law school that fall, how it was going to affect everyone around me…

Negative. The test, thank God, came back negative for lymphoma. I never in my life have felt relief like that. I ran to my car and sobbed. But…. The next day, I realized I hadn’t gotten an answer for WHY. Like, don’t get me wrong, I was SO HAPPY I didn’t have lymphoma, or Castleman’s Disease, or any other problem they tested for… But I didn’t get an answer for why this lymph node was blocked, swollen, large and rock-hard. When I contacted the specialist who did both my biopsies, he said they didn’t know.

So I moved on with life and didn’t think about it much once I was recovered from surgery. Then I found out I had Celiac Disease.

If you don’t know, Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease where your immune system basically freaks out upon contact with gluten, and attacks the tissues of the body. Basically, the molecular makeup of gluten is so similar to certain tissues in the body, like the lining of your lower intestines, that as the body attacks the gluten as a “threat,” it accidentally attacks the lining of your organs, especially the lower intestines, thinking it too, is a threat.

As with all autoimmune diseases, when you have one, you probably have another. But, my doctors at my university’s Health Services weren’t that great, and when I went in for concerns about autoimmune issues, I got no help.

Flash forward again, and my back problems came back with a vengeance. I had multiple x-rays done. Mild arthritis. I was referred to a specialist and had an MRI done. Mild arthritis. I was sent to Physical Therapy. My back problems got worse. “You’re just sore.” “It’s just muscular.” “Mild arthritis wouldn’t be causing this pain.” “Just stretch more.” “Take ibuprofen.”

More and more of the same.

So I ignored it. I ignored my body screaming for help. I ignored my body when my hair started falling out. I ignored my body when every other joint in my body started to feel like the tin man from the Wizard of Oz before Dorothy oiled up his creaky joints. I ignored the signs of nerve damage. I ignored the headaches. I ignored my chronic fatigue that demands I sleep 10-12 hours a day to feel “normal.” I ignored the debilitating pain every time it was going to rain. I ignored everything, because I had been told so many times that I was being dramatic and that there was nothing wrong with me. I didn’t want to pay more and more money for doctors to keep telling me to take ibuprofen and deal with it. I gave up and told myself “you’re just going to have to live this way.”

Then my teeth started breaking, and I woke up one day screaming that I couldn’t use my arms, and it felt like my bones had migraines. So, I started researching. I was worried I had another autoimmune disease flying under the radar. I started learning as much as I could about autoimmune diseases that involve severe joint pain. I started learning about Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus. And then, I went to a new doctor to try again.

Only then, after I did my own research of all of my symptoms, and read multiple “feeds” of people posting about living with multiple joint autoimmune diseases – did I find a doctor who listened to me. I pulled out my sheet of notebook paper that I wrote all my medical problems and the things I suspected were wrong with me. I read it all to her, knowing full well she was probably annoyed that I was “self-diagnosing” using the internet. I did it anyway, because I needed to. And, to my surprise, she listened. She ordered tons of blood tests to see if I would set off any autoimmune indicators or rheumatoid markers.

Finally, five years later, I found out that I have some sort of connective tissue autoimmune disease. We’re not sure which kind yet, but I’m being sent to a specialist to narrow it down between RA, lupus, etc. And still, since I got those results, I’ve been doing deep, DEEP research into the depths of google, preparing to help this doctor – and myself – as much as I can.

Why did I just have you read all this?? Because I lived FIVE YEARS in pain. FIVE YEARS I went undiagnosed because I wasn’t fighting for my health. I wasn’t fighting for the answers I deserved. I was rolling over and letting doctors tell me I was dramatic and nothing was wrong with me because that’s what we’re supposed to do. We’re not supposed to google our symptoms. We’re not supposed to tell doctors what to do. We’re not supposed to tell them what tests we need. We’re not supposed to argue. They know best.

This is not at all a bashing of doctors. This is a mere recounting of the bad doctors that I’ve had, and this is massive criticism of MYSELF for not being my own health advocate. There are bad doctors out there, just like there are bad lawyers, bad police officers, bad teachers, etc. The point is, you need to be your own health advocate, because YOU, and ONLY YOU, know how you’re feeling. NO DOCTOR knows the pain you’re feeling, or the weird symptoms you’re having that you chalk up to be “nothing.” You have to help doctors for them to help you. And sometimes, you have to be stubborn.

Here are five MAJOR things you need to do to be your own health advocate:

  1. Trust Yourself

Don’t let anyone, family, doctors, friends – tell you how YOU’RE feeling. If you feel like you’re not getting answers, and you feel like something “just isn’t right” with your health – listen to yourself! I said it a few lines ago, and I’ll say it again. You and ONLY YOU know how you’re feeling. Even if you have the best doctor in the world, they can’t feel what you’re feeling in your body. Trust your instincts, and listen to your body, even when people are telling you you’re wrong.

  1. Do Your Own Research

When I say this, I am NOT talking about going online and doing a quick WebMD search and concluding you have cancer (we are all guilty of this). I am talking about DEEP in the depths of the googlesphere research. I’m talking about joining forums where people talk about health issues you think you might have. I’m talking about hours of reading multiple articles from several sources. I’m talking about reading complicated health journals written for doctors. Research, research and RESEARCH.

  1. Don’t Take No for an Answer

If you feel like you need a test done, and you’re getting a no from your doctor, or being told that it’s unnecessary, PUSH. If a doctor tells you there’s nothing wrong with you, PUSH. If you don’t feel right, and you’re getting “no, no, no” – change doctors. Get a second opinion. Post on facebook looking for recommendations on specialists. If you have a PPO, go to them. If not, demand that your PCP refer you to the specialist you want to see. Do not take no for an answer – this is your body, your life, and no one cares about it like you do.

  1. Be Involved Even When You Feel Annoying

When your busy doctor is reading you your test results, ask questions. Ask what an EO% is. Ask why you might have low blood pressure. Ask questions until you’re satisfied. They are making bank off of your appointment – don’t let them shoo you out leaving you with a million questions.

  1. Be Persistent Until You’re Satisfied

This kind of ties in with number three, but this is more of a “reach your end goal” point. For me, it took five years to get some kind of answer. Why? One, because the bad doctors I had. And two, because I wasn’t persistent enough. I gave up on myself and ignored my problems again and again until I reached another breaking point and would see a doctor again. I wasn’t persistent in reaching for answers, and I let people tell me I was dramatic and nothing was wrong with me. Be persistent, and don’t make the same mistakes as me – push and push and push until you get an end-answer that you’re satisfied with.

WOW. This is definitely my longest post to-date, and I feel so good getting this all out there. I hope this helps at least one person get closer to solving their daily health issues that they put on the back-burner. Have any of you been through a similar experience? Are you currently going through a similar experience? Comment below – I’d love to chat with you!

Tiana