Update: Organic Lifestyle

Eight months ago, after doing a lot of research I decided to become an informed food consumer. I made a conscious decision to only buy organic produce as well as grass fed meats/dairy, etc. I am happy to say that I still purchase 95% organic or non-gmo foods for my family. It really makes me feel great when I prepare a meal that I know has no antibiotics, no pesticides, and no gmos – especially now that Halley is starting to eat solids.

I’ve had to change the way I shop because the farmer’s market isn’t open during the winter here in NY. So I do most of my shopping at Mrs. Greens. The prices are reasonable and the all the produce is organic. It is also a small store so it’s easy to get what you need and not be distracted a la Fairway or Trader Joe’s.

Do I always eat organic? Unfortunately even in NY, most restaurants don’t serve organic food – so if I’m out or ordering in – it’s most likely not organic. Most of my family/friends don’t eat organic either so if we’re together unless I cooked – it’s most likely not. Does this bother me? A little. I would like to convert my family and friends to organic eating but I have to give it time.

I think the main thing that I have learned from this experience is that we should be eating real food. I definitely wasn’t eating enough vegetables before this. I also think that it opened my eyes to alternative sources of protein (other than meat and eggs) which is more cost effective. I think to a certain degree we all feel better when we do stick to our organic diet.

Have you made any diet or lifestyle changes? What were the results?  Thoughts, comments, share below.

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the problem with maternity leave as it stands

I don’t know about any of you, but I was naive enough to think that after child-birth everything would go back to normal. I could go to beach and swim, exercise, in general would be able to do anything I could do before.

Low and behold, that was not the case. The first two days I felt like I got hit by a truck and when I started to feel better physically, I came down with a child-birth related infection. I am now 4 weeks postpartum and still being reminded of things I can’t or shouldn’t do. I am not complaining – my body created life – in short, a miracle, a beautiful and amazing child that I can’t imagine life without. Recovery time is understandable and necessary. But I am reminded now that in 8 more weeks, I am supposed to return to work. For another 2 weeks, I am still 100% limited on certain activities. At my next doctor’s appointment, they can determine that I still need more time to heal, etc. The gist that I have gotten from mothers – in about 2-3 months things start to feel back to normal but it can continue for as long as a couple of years depending on your unique situation.

The guaranteed maternity leave of employers with 50 employees within a 75 mile radius, the Family Medical Leave Act is 12 weeks. That is, in 12 weeks from your last day at work, you can return and expect to receive the same salary and an equivalent job. During those 12 weeks however, you are not paid and if you are on the company health insurance you have to pay for that out-of-pocket.

We as a nation, as a community, are telling mothers that 1. you can take 12 weeks off, if you are able to forgo your expenses for that time and 2. just when you are starting to feel like you again and starting to get the routine of parenting your child, we are saying, stop all that and go back to work. Now this is only if you are lucky enough to be at a job that is mandated to give you the FMLA. Forget about if you work for a small shop with a few employees. You probably will either lose your job or be forced to deny your child the parenting they should receive.

12 weeks is not enough. A guarantee of your job/salary is not enough. We can and should do better than this.

Two Weeks A Mommy

Hello Everyone,

On July 27th, I gave birth to the love of my life, Halley Rose. Nothing I have learned over the past 25 years could ever prepare me for how much I love and adore her. All I know is that every day I count my blessings that she is happy and healthy – and I pray that I will be able to keep her that way from here on out.

As the first of my core group of friends to have a baby, I had a lot to learn on my own. The last time I really dealt with a baby was when my sister was born 20 years ago and I was 5. So here is some advice from someone just starting out as a mom.

  1. As a pre-labor prep option, it definitely helps to have pre-made meals in the house. Baked ziti, any kind of casserole, etc. I really didn’t have the energy to do this but if you do or know someone who will make some stuff for you – that’s great and it will make your life easier pp. I personally barely had any energy to even think about food so we ended up ordering in a lot.
  2. Labor is scary and painful. Hopefully this is not true for you but it definitely was for me. I had planned not to get the epidural and let’s just say – anyone who chooses not to get the epidural should be immediately wheeled to the psych ward. JK! More power to you but it did not work for me. Be open to changing your birth plan if you need to. At the end of the day, your babies health matters more than anything.
  3. There is a recovery period after labor. I assumed that I would be up and running the next day because I gave birth vaginally – not true. I felt like I was hit by a truck and I learned that for some things, it is worth it to get hit by a truck. Not to mention that you can have some postpartum infections, so if you have a fever/chills go in to your doctor and get that taken care of stat. Unfortunately, I fell into this category. Taking care of you is very important during this time. Your baby needs you so make sure you try to take care of yourself as well. BTW: You can’t have sex or go swimming for 6 weeks – I literally had no clue about this so I was disappointed about no swimming for the rest of the summer, I had an idea about the no sex thing but I didn’t think it was for a whole 6 weeks. #lame. 
  4. You decide when it’s best to bring your baby out. When you get home, half of the people in your lives will expect you to stay in your house for 4 weeks and not come out, the other half will be trying to come over / call / talk to you all the time. Find your balance and don’t worry about everyone else. Everyone will eventually get to see your bundle of joy and if you wanna take the baby out 2 days post delivery – go ahead. I wouldn’t bring them anywhere there would be a lot of children (germs/colds) but do you.
  5. YOU WILL BE JUDGED. Everyone will try to give you their 2 cents. Take it and then decide later what you want to do with it. Don’t let other people’s remarks bother you because you are doing what you think is best for your child. Everyone has an opinion on parenting and there is no perfect, right course. As long as you are thinking about your babies best interest, you will be fine. Haters gonna hate.
  6. Breastfeeding is almost impossible for the first five days. If you want to breastfeed (from the breast – not pumping) you are going to have to diligently work at it. The baby will be crying and starving and you will be crying with breast milk leaking all over the place but I swear that in a few days everything will come together. It’s very trying to get through that initial period and postpartum emotions are not helpful but it’s a dance. They are learning and you are learning. The more you work at it, the better you both will get.
  7. Postpartum emotions are insane. As a husband/wife/fiance/boy or girlfriend/sig. other if  you think PMSing is bad, postpartum emotions are 1000x more intense. I do not easily give into my emotions in general but I was hysterically crying just looking at the beautiful/perfect/amazing baby we made. Just let things flow and you will be fine. These should start to get less and less intense over the next couple of weeks and supposedly by 3 weeks pp you are back to normal hormonally. If you are feeling depressed, definitely let someone know as pp depression is not something to make light of.
  8. It’s important to have your partner around or a significant person who will be in the babies life. We were lucky that B was able to take off for two weeks to be around to help. I honestly don’t think I would have survived without him around. It really made things better and I think it’s great that they are already off to starting a wonderful father/daughter relationship.
  9. Be prepared to do laundry. Something that is always suggested when attending a baby shower or buying baby gifts is “don’t buy newborn clothing, parents always get too much and they barely wear them before they are the next size”. Expecting an 8 lb baby myself, I was happy that we only received a few outfits in NB. Halley was born about 6 lbs so we really ended up needing some of those outfits and everything I put her in for one reason or another managed to get poo, pee, or spit up on. Don’t buy more clothes, just do the laundry. Save the $$$ for something you really need.
  10. Enjoy these moments. Don’t stress to much, your baby can feel it. Your baby will never be this tiny again. Take a million pictures, have a million snuggles and really cherish every moment you have with him/her. It will go by so fast. Just like these past two weeks did.

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Leave below.

Baby Steps: Switching to an All Organic and Non-GMO Lifestyle

How I plan on going 100% organic and non-GMO: Baby Steps.

Yes, there are plenty of not organic and even processed foods and beauty products in my household but I plan on finishing what I have and replacing them with their organic and non-GMO counterparts as they have been used.

Starting this week, I placed an order with Udder Milk, a creamery co-op for some farm fresh milk, eggs, yogurt, custard and berries. Was it super cheap? No. But I can tell you now that it was completely worth it. Everything we ordered was amazing and delicious and I can’t wait to order from them again. Not only were the products great, but if you aren’t close to a pick up zone or are too preggo/lazy to pick up (like me), they will deliver the goods straight to your house (no delivery fee!). Plus, I totally messed up my first order by accidentally saying I would pick up in Brooklyn (something must have went wrong on my computer that day) and they were able to deliver to me next day after I called them about my issue. It’s nice to deal with people who care about their business and want to make sure the customers needs/wants are met.

Although I frequently go to Farmer’s Markets when I am in the Catskills, I usually don’t go when I am home – which for now is most weekends. I know that the farmer’s market in Union Square can be pricey so I am never inclined to go too often and it’s not very close to where I live. This weekend, I made up my mind that we would go to the Bronxville Farmer’s Market. We were able to get some fresh caught Sea Bass from Montauk and several types of vegetables and fruits- all for very reasonable prices, yes cheaper than buying Organic/Non-GMO in the grocery store!

All in all, I was very happy about my first foray into official organic and non-GMO eating and I am recommending all of you to try it. Obviously, it can be expensive but if you play your cards right you will save money by ordering meats in bulk, buying produce (as much as you can) from a farmer’s market you can really cut down your food budget and still eat clean. Plus the health benefits are tremendous. There’s no need to put excess chemicals into your body when you don’t have to. It’s not the way we were intended to eat.

Now I just need to work on my meal planning and this process will really be taking off!

What Am I Doing Here? Am I Doing the “RIGHT” Thing?

For as long as I have been alive – yes 25 years now, don’t rub it in 😦 I saw so many different career paths for myself ballerina, actress, veterinarian, dolphin trainer, animal sanctuary owner, lawyer, dentist, teacher, psychiatrist/psychologist, doctor, surgeon, accountant, consultant, yogi, translator, wedding planner, environmental org. worker – you name it and at some point it was at minimum a consideration. I have never known 100% what I wanted to accomplish in this lifetime or what my legacy would be, I just have always known that it is important that I am on the track to success.

The one thing that I always knew from day one or (the day one of my memory) is that I wanted to be a mom. At some point a young mom, but up until I was BLESSED and SURPRISED with my pregnancy – just being a mom in the future was enough for me. Now, I have a month until I meet the love of my life and I am constantly asking myself what I need to do to be the best mom that I can be to her?

Do I work? Do I stay home? Will we have enough if I stay home? What kind of job can I do while being with her? What can I do that is meaningful? Most of my time is spent thinking about these questions and researching what other people are doing in my situation. But what works for some does not necessarily work for all.

I can’t explain exactly how most of the last 7 years of my life passed by but they did and a lot of them passed without a definite feel on where I am going. I changed my major four times – psychology, biology, education and then history finally and managed to graduate in 3 years. Where does a history major get you? I don’t know. I ended up working for a string of non-profits and sort of created a little niche for myself. I have no desire however to get further education in the field that I am working in and have never been sure that this is what I want to do. I work hard because I want to be successful and because I morally feel that if you are getting paid to do something you should put in hard work and effort to get it done. My work ethic and natural abilities have allowed me to shine in my current work place and have even pushed me up the promotion ladder.

Now I am faced with a serious challenge about what to do for my family. Do I stay home? I have student loans and credit cards and life expenses that I was not planning on having when I started a family. I also feel somewhat responsible to contribute financially to my household. Additionally, I want to be able to buy a house and eventually have more children. What about healthcare? If we get married, I lose my dad’s healthcare which is phenomenal. My healthcare at my job is great but if I’m working it goes poof!

It was my birthday on Saturday and B was asking me what I wanted for my birthday. I told him that I want answers. I want to stay home and I want to work but I know the value of a work life balance and I want to be able to work on my terms – not any one else’s so this is where I have gotten myself:

  1. I need a job that I can manage by myself, something that is flexible and can work on a mom schedule. I need to create/provide a service that others will find valuable.
  2. Health and healthcare are very important to me. If we are not healthy, we are not doing our children a service. I want to be in the best shape for my baby and I want her to benefit from the foods I eat. I realize that this wasn’t as much of a concern to me as it should be and I know that my pregnancy would have been even more smooth sailing if I had been doing yoga and eating organic more.
  3. I like to help people/animals (as you can see through my running list of potential jobs).
  4. I want my blog and social media efforts to be part of my future job.

Here is what I have come to the conclusion of doing. For the next few months I am going to do a lot of research and put a lot of effort into making my health and the health of my family a serious priority. Going all organic and removing toxins (as much as I can – we live in NYC), as well as encouraging fitness and yoga in our lives. If I can commit and can see a difference and obviously, I will be blogging along the way. I am going to save and start a plan to become a Nutritionist/Dietitian. A job that I can blog with, I can manage on my own by scheduling my own appointments, a job where I can help other people and a job that helps me focus on my priority of living healthy for my family.

Sorry this was so long. Questions? Comments? Feedback?

How Do Pregnant Ladies Do This?

I am 34 weeks pregnant today and I am exhausted.

My plans have been to work up until the last possible day so I can maximize my time with my new bundle of joy. But I AM SO EXHAUSTED! Like getting through the day everyday is so much that I can barely do anything at home. Cook/clean/etc. Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone else feels the same or if anyone has any tricks of the trade to make the next 6 weeks go by in the most productive way possible.

So in case you’re wondering where my posts have gone and fell off the Earth, I blame pregnancy. I started about 5 posts and was never able to finish them. I will be trying to post more regularly in the future. Let’s hope I can get some energy back.

Why You Can’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket

For me, it’s hard to imagine working a job where I don’t get out until 10 or 11 pm every night. A job where I can’t make weekend plans because I never know if something is going to drop and I am going to have to be on hand to pick up the pieces. Where making plans with my friends and family is something that can’t happen on a regular basis and my only social communications involve a phone or the internet.

I also can’t imagine a life where every day is mine by choice and I have no responsibilities (regardless of whether or not I am making income). A life where I could party all day and all night. or sleep all day. Or sit around and wait for a phone call.

I can tell you one thing though, if you fall into either of those categories there are some unnecessary challenges that will come with the territory. You can’t get all of your fulfillment/satisfaction out of one thing. Because, if that one thing should ever disappoint, it will be much harder to deal with it. If you spend all your time, kicking your ass at work and no time enjoying yourself, there will be times when you are overlooked or didn’t get a promotion that you wanted. If you don’t have the social life or outside activities to focus some time and energy on, this can be seriously depressing and damaging to your mental health. Likewise, if you are only looking for social fulfillment – you will eventually be left out of the conversation when your friends have work the next day or talk about moving up a corporate ladder or how their business is doing.

It’s important to spread your eggs out. You should have meaningful relationships and you should have a career or volunteer activity that you can also throw your efforts into. No matter what, you should be working towards something whether it’s creating content or art, etc or managing and making a household more efficient or volunteering to be part of a community garden, it’s important to be an active participant in life.

How did you establish your work life balance? Was it difficult? Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Leave below.