real mom series

real talk real moms: diaper bag essentials

diapaer-bag-essesntialsThis month’s real talk topic is all about the goods, the diaper bag goods that is. The what we lug around with us and why and it is yet another one of the topics where I feel like I should be the last one giving advice on. I am kind of a serial non-preparer. I will never forget the first few times we left the house after Archer was born (unfortunately it was only for more hospital visits for me or doctors appointments for Arch) but we would walk out of the house without a dang diaper back every single time. The first time was at our first visit to the pediatrician and Rupert ran out the door and jumped into the car drove home to grab it and came back before the doctors assistant was able to finish her sentence saying it’s ok we have diapers and wipes here.

I also hardly ever carry a purse and have been known to lose a credit card or two every couple months once in a while because I usually leave the house with nothing but my credit card in my pocket.

So with that said, I am really looking forward to seeing and hearing about what all the other mamas from our series have hiding in their diaper bags, and what has them ready for every situation.

But in case you are wondering… I have rounded up the things I actually do use, whether I remember to take them or not is a whole different story.

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real talk real moms: education

real-talk-educationWe are back with another installment from the “real mom series“. I have to admit I am more excited to read the other mama’s input on this topic than I am to write it… you see, Archer is 15 months old and we have just begun putting plans together for his education and boy can it be overwhelming. I am in no rush to send him off to school but living in LA, it is like so many of the comedic scenes you see on TV where to get into your preferred preschool you have to start applying basically when they are born or shortly after. I have two applications sitting on my desk as I type. I had to sign up on a wait list just to take a tour! On the flip side, I am thankful to have so many good schools available, so many preschools that foster play based learning and other important aspects like time outdoors. Through touring different pre-schools in the area, regio inspired, waldorf, montessouri… etc. etc. I have been able to narrow down the things that are important to me and here is hoping Archer get’s into one that checks off the most important boxes to me.

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real talk real moms: co-parenting

rupert-sarah We’ve got another installment of the Real Talk, Real Mom series, and this month’s topic is all about co-parenting… the who does what around bringing up our littles. I am always so curious about this topic and am fascinated to hear about the daily interworkings of other families. I want to peek inside one of those super moms windows (that sounds creepy) that seem to pull things off without a helping hand from a husband/partner and see how they do it. READ MORE

real talk real moms: self care

real-talk-real moms-self-careToday we’re back with another installment in the #realmomseries and this one is on self-care. When I think of self-care I first think of pampering yourself with manicures and massages and as far as beauty routines, exercise, and pampering I am probably the last person to look to on the topic. I have always been slacking in those realms. I’ve gotten my hair cut once in the last 2.5 years, my only exercise routine is walking Archer to the park and back, I’m the one to show up to beauty events with my nails grown out and at all different lengths (gasp!), legs unshaven (thankfully it’s blonde so you can hardly notice… at least that’s what I tell myself) and while I highly recommend regular massages I myself have gotten 2 since archer was born and both were gifted to me on big occasions like my birthday. 

But while I totally fail on the physical realm of self care, I do make sure to take care of my overall health in pretty basic ways which I can boil down to these four topics… sleep, food, meditation/prayer, and knowing when to say no. So here we go…

SLEEP: At the beginning self care is more self survival. You get the sleep when and where you can (You can read our real mom series on how I got as much as I could here). I need a lot of it and I make it a priority. When I start to feel drained or tired to the point of distraction it is time to take a step back and often a good nights sleep will be the cure. Oh and never underestimate the power of a nap. Also even at the very beginning, I did manage to take a shower every evening before bed. It sounds so simple but it is a luxury for some and I never take it for granted. It’s become part of my bedtime routine, the warm water washing off the day and getting me ready to curl up into bed all warm and cozy.  

FOOD: Like I said, my self-care seems pretty basic. We all need food but I LOVE food, like major flavour hound foodie here and since I am not a cook, I probably invest a lot more into it than the average person. And by invest I mean monetarily. I make it a priority to eat whole, delicious, and balanced meals but how do I do that without cooking them myself? Well thankfully in California you can’t throw a stick without hitting some healthy meal delivery service, or a vegan cafe, or a gourmet restaurant that uses quality ingredients and accepts orders for pick-up, or a Whole Foods grocery store that has a huge cafeteria section. I am a major foodie and the things I can make myself usually don’t cut it. When I have a belly full of good food I am a happy girl but since actually preparing it is not fun for me, I do a lot of ordering in, picking up, and getting food delivered. Yes, it can be expensive to have others prepare it, but I figure, I don’t spend money on my hair, I don’t spend money on cosmetics or creams, I don’t have a gym membership, I don’t collect expensive hand-bags, I don’t drink coffee (which out here can be an expensive habit), etc. etc. I just choose to spend my money on food and by buying a lot of it pre-prepared it saves me time to do other things that fulfill me oh and it usually tastes WAY better.

MEDITATION/PRAYER: I could also just call this quiet time but whatever you do in your quiet time it doesn’t matter, I have just found it to be really helpful to carve out some time every single day to take 10 minutes or so to just sit with my thoughts, pray and say thanks for all the good things happening in my life. One benefit of nursing is that you get a few sessions of quiet time built right into the day. Right now I am down to nursing Archie 3 times a day but the one right before his bedtime is one that I cherish (Sidenote: remember how much I hated nursing for so long because it was SO hard and so painful? well, update: I finally made it to the place where I enjoy that time of the day).  We both sit in the dark, say our prayers and it’s my transition from a crazy hectic day to a more calm evening. I will have to find a way to make this a priority once nursing is over because just sitting in the dark and clearing my head at that time of day (a couple hours before my bedtime) has been really beneficial.

SAYING NO: It is all about investing in the things that fill your cup, whatever that may be (in my book there are no wrong answers there) and saying no to more of the things that drain you. I feel incredibly lucky that a lot of my work actually fills my cup so I can happily work a ton of hours (as long as it doesn’t cut into my designated sleep and family time) and still feel balanced. But if I don’t say no to enough of the projects and parts of work that are total drainers, I feel it. It’s all about knowing your own personal “speed limit” and paying attention to it so you know when it is time to stop, say no, refuel and replenish to restore your energy and your soul.

See all of my posts from the series here.

and make sure to check out all the other mama’s thoughts on self-care:
Apartment 34
Could I Have That
The Effortless Chic
Ave Styles
The Refined Woman
Parker Etc
A Daily Something
Sacramento Street
Our Style Stories

real talk real moms working & childcare

real-talk-workingThis month’s ‘real moms, real talk’ topic is on working and childcare, which I find SO interesting. I can’t wait to hear what the other mama’s are doing. Going into motherhood, I had no idea how I was going to feel, what I was going to take on, or how I was going to do it. Before I had Archer, I was busy with just work. I had more than enough projects and a to-do list that didn’t quit, so I knew I would need help… help with him and help with work. I wasn’t sure how it would shake out but after a lot of trial and error, this is my current situation that is working for me.

When Archer was around 2.5 months old we brought on a nanny two days a week. It was a huge help to be able to ease into working again and to also get some much needed rest. Now, 8 months later not a ton has changed, well a million things have changed, but I mean as far as childcare goes. We still have the same nanny, and she still watches Archer for two days a week. On those two dedicated “work days”, I am in the studio for a full day, or taking meetings, doing shoots, designing, etc. But I am still close enough (i.e. in the backyard) to pop in for a quick snuggle, make sure Archer stays on schedule (remember I’m a sleep nazi) and nurse Archer at feeding times (or I pump if I’m extra busy). On the other three days a week, I have my studio assistant/shop manager working in the office while I have Archer. She starts just as Archer is usually going down for his first nap, so I work alongside her for 1 to 2 hours depending on how long the little sweet pea sleeps. This gives me more than enough time to get her started and give her enough work for the day. She also runs A LOT of errands for me. In the afternoon Archie sleeps for another 1-2.5 hours where I will cram as much work as I can. He then usually goes to bed for the night around 6:45, and that is when Rupert and I have dinner together, (lately we have been ordering A LOT of Munchery. TOTAL time saver folks) and more often than not, I do a bit more work at the end of the day. I currently try to get to bed somewhere before 10 as Archie wakes up around 5:45 and that is just SO early. Luckily… once I feed him, I pass him off to Rupert at 6am and he takes him for the rest of the morning and I get back into bed and either try and catch a few more z’s or start the work day from bed.

It may sound a lot like I am either working, or watching/playing with Archer, or sleeping… and that sounds about right, BUT a lot of the “work” I do also doesn’t feel like work at all. I LOVE design and creating, making, doing… it’s all ingrained in me. I thought maybe that would change after I had Archer but it didn’t. My passions are still my passions and I still feel fulfilled by my work. I was kind of worried I would completely lose myself in motherhood which you hear so much about and yes, there are new passions and new parts of me surfacing (and I should probably run a comb through my crazy tangled hair more than once a week) but I am also pleasantly surprised about how much I still feel like me. I’m hoping that feeling continues. Of course Archer tops it all, which is why I only have someone watching him for me two days a week, and maybe that will change after the first year… or maybe not, but for now, I am soaking up as much mama/son time as I can and still keep my business going/growing.

sarah-archerOf course, working and being a new mama isn’t easy (being a new mama, period, isn’t easy amirite?). I actually didn’t feel like I got into the groove until Archer was around 6 months old and then it took until he was about 8 months to really, really start enjoying it all. I don’t know babies, I am the youngest of three sisters and have never spent any kind of extended time around a newborn. So for me, the first 6 months was an insane stress filled, sometimes panic stricken period and yet each day was still sprinkled with magic moments. I found myself often thinking… I don’t know what I am doing, I am not very good at this, maybe I am not cut out for this. And funnily enough, I think my work had a big hand in keeping me somewhat balanced. It felt good when I could do something familiar, something I was good at, and accomplish something concrete. Somewhere along the line the magic moments lingered around longer and while it isn’t all pure bliss, it is pretty darn great.

I also have the tendency to try and do it all, which just can’t be done. No one can do it all on their own. So here is my summary of my crack team I’ve put together to keep this train going…

1. We have a nanny that watches Archer two days a week, OH and I forgot to mention… on top of that she also comes one half day each week just to clean. Which is HUGE. So she is nanny/housekeeper. She cleans, does dishes, laundry, makes our bed each day she’s here, and is pretty much a saint for picking up after me constantly. She basically takes care of the household things that I would completely sacrifice doing, over work, until the clothes and dishes and dirt were piled up to the ceiling.

2. I also have a studio assistant/shop manager working in the office the opposite three days from the nanny (the days I am not in the studio for the full day).

3. And finally I have an a very supportive and involved husband, who walks the dogs, makes (or warms up) dinner and spends every morning with Archie while I get an hour or so to myself (even though a lot of times it means I fall back asleep).

So in a nutshell of a nutshell, I work whenever and wherever I can, get help where I need it, and have a really supportive and involved husband.

So what’s YOUR secret mama’s?!

See all the other mama’s thoughts on working & childcare here:
Apartment 34
Could I Have That
The Effortless Chic
Ave Styles
The Refined Woman
Parker Etc
A Daily Something
Sacramento Street
Our Style Stories

See the rest of the series here

Photos by Alissa Noelle Photography

real talk, real moms: travel

real talk, real moms air travel // sarah sherman samuelTopic number three in our Real Talk, Real Moms series is all about Travel and you know I love me some of that. We have done quite a few weekend driving trips here and there with Archer but the biggest travel adventure was our first cross country flight to Michigan when Archer was around 4 months old. I was nervous about the plane ride, to say the least. Everyone assured me, “oh he will do great, they are so easy at that age” but I am already a nervous (and motion sickness type) flyer so adding a baby into the mix only got my belly churning even more. I usually pop dramamine and pass out, so staying awake alone didn’t sound all that appealing. I looked around for advice for first time mama flyers but didn’t find a whole lot so I am going to share what saved my life (and my back) on our first mile high adventure (wait um no, not that kind… clean it up guys, jeesh).

real talk, real moms air travel // sarah sherman samuel I can’t say enough good things about the Orbit Baby travel system. I saw people carrying their babies in the airport (you know I love to wear Archie too) but Rupert likes to get to the airport INSANELY early, like three hours minimum, so there was  no way I was going to be walking around with a near 20 lb monkey strapped to my body for that long. So I checked my carrier with the luggage and strolled through the airport. The great thing about the Orbit is that the car seat is the seat of the stroller and the fact that it swivels makes getting in and out of the car extra easy. We flew Southwest this time around and if the flight isn’t full they let you take the car seat on with you, giving your lap a little rest and taking up an extra seat, (hello entire row) without having to pay for it. Triple bonus. However if the flight is full, they let you curb check it, which means you get to push your little guy around in the stroller that also doubles as extra arms to hang onto your carry-on bags, right up to the side of the plane, drop it off and then pick it back up right after. Both ways are handy because having the stroller meant I was light on my feet while it did all the hard work of carrying our over-stuffed carry-ons with all the “just in case” things we could jam in and our heavy pride and joy. Yes, you could tell we were flying with a baby for the first time.

Anywayyyy, Orbit made the flight and the logistics of travel easy… other things we were glad we brought on were:
– a small cooler stocked with extra milk (Archer did do great on the flight btw. Although he did NOT want to nurse. He started crying and was hungry but refused to nurse. Rupert busted out a bottle quick sharp and that did the trick. He ended up fussing for all of three minutes the entire flight). We use Dr. Browns bottles and Kiinde storage bags, btw.
– my big giant squishy sweater/blanket which made a cozy bed for Archer on my lap when he crashed out.
– a toy or two. babies seem to love these links. Although a water bottle is still his all time favorite and keeps him busy for hours.
– a couple swaddles. For a million reasons… they can clean up messes, they make great sun shades, nursing covers, blankets and they also work well to cover your lap for in-flight diaper changes if you are like me and squeebed out by doing it in the airplane bathroom.
– oh and a pacifier if your baby is into them. Archer loved his wubbanub and those animals keep the pacifier in place SO well. (people recommend having the baby drink on take-off and landing to help with their ears. I have also heard that this is dated as the cabins are much better with the pressurizing these days but it sure as heck doesn’t hurt, and if they are not hungry because you have been stuffing them silly to keep them happy on the plane, then a paci works too).
– and I hope it goes without saying, loads and loads of diapers & wipes ;) Since we were going for a long trip I also shipped diapers and wipes ahead of time which meant I only had to carry what I needed for one day which was nice and saved me a trip to the grocery store that is not very convenient from the cabin.

So we made it to Chicago and had a two hour drive to the cabin ahead of us. Since Archer didn’t feel like nursing on the plane I was literally about to explode by the time we touched down and ended up pumping milk in the car rental parking garage (I have the medela pump in style that you get with your insurance in case you are wondering). Glamorous indeed. But we made it, and it was a heck of a lot easier than I thought, and since our stroller was also the car seat it made getting out of the terminal and into a car easy peasy (and probably saved us a lot of frustration from not having to figure out how to use the rental company’s different kind of car seat. Plus how many babies have pooped, peed, or threw up in the rental ones anyway? ew).

real talk, real moms air travel // sarah sherman samuel Once we got TO the cabin, I was back to my baby carrying ways and wanted to do nothing else but share lake michigan and all it’s beauty with Archer and take our nice walks on the beach as a family of three. Archie was just four months so it was his first time facing out in the carrier. They usually don’t recommend it for long periods of time until after 5 months so we kept it to short, 15 minutes at a time, before turning him back around. He then would usually conk right out and we would just keep on walking. The Ergo 360 is ideal for that reason. You can carry your babe in 4 different positions, I have yet to try him on my back, and it’s super easy to go from one to the other. Archer particularly liked chewing on the front of the carrier, since he was also teething, and that removable drool catcher kept things neat and tidy.

real talk, real moms air travel // sarah sherman samuelreal talk, real moms air travel // sarah sherman samuelArcher loved the trip, the only bugger was the time change, we tried keeping him on California time but since we were there for three weeks he kept creeping closer and closer to Michigan time which made for quite the adjustment when we got back home. You can read all about that debacle in the post on sleep! I am glad we started him early and here is hoping he continues to be a good little traveler. Any tips or tricks out there that have worked for you? I’d love to hear what’s handy for older babes too!

Stroller/Car Seat system by Orbit Baby // Carrier by Ergo Baby // Dress by LuLu’s // Hat from J.Crew // Denim Shorts from Madewell

And don’t forget to check out the rest of my cohorts chatting about travel…
Apartment 34
Could I Have That
The Effortless Chic
Ave Styles
The Refined Woman
Parker Etc
A Daily Something
Sacramento Street
Our Style Stories

And, And… keep an eye out on Instagram for a pretty great giveaway all of us mama’s got together for. x