Posts in Pregnancy
What Moms Really Wants for Mother's Day (When you're on a budget)
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Happy Mother's Day weekend to all my mums out there!

We are amazing people to be able to deal with tiny humans, live out our own dreams, work out 9-5's, wash everyone's laundry, and STILL make time for our partner-before we even think of ourselves. 

Most of our American holidays shove down our throats that we need to go to Kay Jewelers to find something special and unique for mom, but that's NOT what moms really want for mother's day. I'm going to speak for all of us when I say, we just want a restful day with our loved ones. A day where we're not sprinting children to practice, or waking up at 7 a.m. to not be late for school. Here are some awesome ideas to celebrate mother's day without breaking the bank!

  1. Freshly baked bread. You can literally go to the grocery store, buy a box of bread mix, throw some chocolate chips or dried fruit in it. Hell, throw some nuts in it if that's what mom likes and throw it in the oven. Banana Nut is highly recommended.
  2. Breakfast in bed. I'm telling y'all, we LOVE it when our families take the time to cook for us. It's like waking up on Christmas for a mom. You can keep it simple with toast, eggs, and bacon, or you can shake it up by making some crepes or blueberry pancakes for her. Here's a fab recipe for my favorite, Lingonberry crepes.
  3. Make her a video. Heck, you have an iphone. Get it edited on Fiverr to personalize it for $5. For all of her children to speak and share what they love about her. Movies and film are forever, we cherish all our pictures but videos make us feel like we can remember exactly what they looked and sounded like at that moment in time. Doblonk is a great person to use!
  4. Set up an outdoor picnic. Make some basic sandwiches with cut fruit and chips or swing on over to Potbelly and grab some. Set up a cute blanket outside with wine or juice for mom. We love to slip off our shoes and surround ourselves in the great outdoors.
  5. Clean up the house. Take some initiative by vacuuming the house, sweeping and picking up the rooms. Having a clean home without forcing someone to do their chores is a magical feeling that no mom can truly explain. Warm a candle or stick some cinnamon in a pot with water with some citrus, bring it to boil then let it simmer.
  6. Paint her something. Michael's has amazing deals for assorted acrylic paints that you can get for about 0.50 cents each. Kids can use brushes or paint with their hands. We literally try to keep everything so anything handmade feels that much more special.
  7. Give her a day off. Ask dad to make sure mom doesn't have to lift a finger unless she wants to. Kids forget every other day that they can ask their dad for snacks and everything else they harass mom for. Let dad take the lead that day. 
  8. An Edible Arrangement. You can literally make them at home with hand-cut fruit and bamboo skewers if you're a DIY queen like me. I used a bucket from the dollar store, styrofoam, skewers, a pineapple, strawberries, grapes, and cantaloupe which cost me about $12. If not, Edible Arrangements can be purchased in time for mother's day for pick up near your home! 
  9. Movie day. Binge on Netflix or load up on the newest Redbox movies. You can set up a comfy spot to lounge in your living room where everyone can pile together. Lazy days are the absolute best days and when you're a mom, those days are few and far in between.
  10. Make a Handmade Card. We literally always get sappy when we look at the ornaments and cards our kids made from scratch. Cards can be expensive when you purchase them from the store and often aren't very personal. Colored pencils and some help from dad goes a long way in making mom smile.
Goodbye OB, Hello Midwifery!
GoodbyeOB

Goodbye Obstetrician, hello midwife! 

A typical hospital birth can be described as a triage check-in and waiting until you're fully dilated (10 cm) and then you're shuttled into a frantic delivery room, with twenty nurses running around, and an on-call obstetrician who grabs your baby and rolls out before you even name it. This time around, I suggested to use midwives instead, and I'll tell you why.

First, what is a midwife? What is the difference between delivery with an obstetrician and delivery with a midwife? The difference is vast but for me, it boils down to two things, energy and environment.

Obstetricians will intervene often. There's a lot of yelling and swift movements with lots of people running through the hospital room. After you give birth, there are umpteenth visits from nurses Jill, Sue, and Steve and you're laying there on that hospital bed that is painfully uncomfortable. 

Midwives are highly-trained nurses who specialize in fertility and fetal-health medicine. They are generally used for women who are considered "low-risk" in pregnancy because they allow the patient to labor largely on their own in natural birthing suites. Their deliveries cater to making sure the women are comfortable and tend to their individualized needs during labor like music preference, temperature, aroma, etc. Midwives also provide a source of calming, feminine energy that is empowering when you need the strength of a superhero.

Labor is going to be SO different this time around! Aromatherapy to relax, in-suite hydrotherapy tubs to labor in, immediate skin-to-skin contact with baby, and a family-centered room.

This is super important for us because my fiancé, Dez was instrumental in assisting with the labor and delivery of Aria- he even cut the umbilical cord! Now, I will have him and Aria to be a part of such the beautifully painful process of delivering our son and Aria’s new brother.

Through a my first pregnancy, I found out that I am a friggin' warrior. I've already developed one baby and brought her in the world, safely, with "0" pain-reducing medication. I sure as hell can do it again!

(SPOILER: Our whole plan was to deliver naturally in a very comfortable birthing suite in our hospital with an 'OB' but Aria came so damn fast, she had other plans! I ended up laboring at home in our tub, Dez raced to the hospital fully dilated kicking out the speakers in our backseat and gave birth only about an hour after we checked in)

When it comes to delivery, I feel way more confident going into labor knowing what to expect and how we should do things differently. What they don't tell you during pregnancy is that the contractions are the worst part of the birthing process. I wouldn't advise suffering through contractions on a hospital stretcher.

I mean, you can physically feel your pelvic bones shifting to make way for your baby, it puts into perspective any type of pain you've ever experienced. Anything up until that point was really not that bad compared to what you endure to bring life into this world.

Since I'll have to go through that labor all over again for number 2, I'd rather do it in a tub, with soothing fragrances around me than strapped to a hospital bed, wouldn't you?! 

If you've used a midwife in the past, feel free to share your experiences with me!

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Baby numero dos!
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We are absolutely thrilled to announce that we're expecting baby number 2! Our family is growing so quickly as we become a family of 4 (6 including our pit-children) and Aria is excited to step into the new role of being a BIG sister!

During my first pregnancy, we were hesitant to share all of the moments we documented and did not share our news publicly until I was 7 months pregnant! During our first pregnancy, we decided not to get information on the gender and we didn't know that we were having a little girl until the day she was actually born (how the heck did we wait that long!?). For some reason with numero dos, I could hardly stand it. I was the most impatient, crazed, mama-to-be that couldn't wait one second longer!

Recording a video was an easy way for us to document this amazing moment as a family where we learned if we would be seeing shades of blue or tints of pink in our future. This time around, I want to be extremely open about my pregnancy about all the first time I feel the baby kicking to the disgusting crap they don't tell you but you find out anyway. I'm a little over three months now so we are entering this second trimester fully knowledgeable thanks to the beautiful little first born who more than prepared us for parenthood. Thank you all for caring to stay in the know and for keeping up to date with us as we ride this amazing wave of expanding our family, again!

Watch the video below to find out what the Seifu family will be welcoming in November of 2018!

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Learn To Thrive With Ivy
Teaching our children about our cultures is SO important. We hope that by doing so, he is able to appreciate his own culture as well as show respect for others.
-Ivy Elkington

Ivy Elkington is a rock-climbing mama who dwells in the beautiful mountain-sides of Utah. Her knack for artistic photography and capturing scenery is the reason why Learn To Thrivy is on my radar. Ivy blogs about embracing the little moments life, and shares that she keeps her sanity at home just by keeping things simple and organized! This relaxed boho mama shares about how she relies on faith and family to get through troubling times.

Q & A

1First of all, congrats on the new beautiful baby! What made you choose his unique moniker, Te Kanawa?

Oh thank you! He is such a blessing. It took us a while to pick out a name, we really wanted something that was meaningful and so we went through our ancestry to find something unique and special. Eventually my mother-in-law suggested Te Kanawa (who was the brother of my husband’s great-great-grandfather) and we loved it! Also, his nickname Kana in Maori means, “to stare wildly” and we couldn’t have picked a more perfect name for our beautiful big-eyed boy.

 


2. You and your husband both have stunning features, so does Kana, what is your ancestry background? Where is your husbands?

You’re too kind haha. My ancestry is European, I have a little bit of everything over there from Scandinavian, to Spaniard! My husband’s background is Maori and English, his family is very proud of their Maori culture, which I love! 

 


3. How important is it to you both to immerse your children in your cultures?

I think teaching our children about our cultures is SO important! It gives them a piece of their heritage and allows them to learn more about their ancestors and their history. We’ve made it a point to decorate our home with cultural pieces, to sing our son Maori songs, and plan on teaching him the language (which I will need to learn more about.) We hope that by doing so, he is able to appreciate his own culture as well as show respect for others.


4. You guys explore amazing mountain-sides and thick jungles. Where is home to you all?

We are actually based in Utah at the moment while my husband finishes up school. Utah for me is a love/hate. I love that all kinds of hikes, rock climbing, and other adventures are just 5 minutes away! BUT, I am a born and raised Southern Californian, and so I struggle with the cold snowy winters.


5. I love that you share about your spirituality and that you are so connected to the world. How do your spiritual beliefs impact parenting Kana?

We are LDS and love being members! We actually had a hard time having a baby, but because of our faith, we didn’t lose hope and finally was blessed with our beautiful son. Our struggle made us believe even more, and I think because of that, we have more patience, more joy, and more love for Kana. I also think that because of our spiritual beliefs, we better understand the importance of being kind and loving to EVERYONE as we are taught about Jesus Christ and the life that he lived. Basically, if you don’t support someone’s actions, you can still support that person and show them love! This is something that we want to teach to Kana daily, by our actions, and how we treat each other as husband and wife.


6. What is your best advice to a mama who is trying to simplify her life?

Prioritize and organize! As a mama you are pulled in all sorts of directions, being a mom, being a wife, working out, friends, cleaning, work, hobbies, etc. Prioritizing the important stuff first can help you keep things simple. Once you figure out what’s most important, you can dedicate your time doing those things or spending time with those people and then just don’t stress the rest. Organizing your home is important too. The more organized and simple your home is, the easier it is to take care of it!


7.  Being a stay-at-home mom or working mom is a full-time job, in addition to that, do you have other jobs that you’re passionate about?

I absolutely love getting creative! You can usually find me working on a craft in my spare time, or exploring my artistic side with a painting or photoshoot. Much of our home décor is actually my work.


8. You post amazing photos of yourself and your family in nature. I’m convinced you’re a model! Who gets the honor of snapping your photos? What type of camera do you use to capture these moments?

Most of the time it’s me or my husband behind the camera with my instruction! He has a hidden talent. Occasionally I work with a professional photographer too. I own a Canon EOS Rebel T6i that I LOOOOOOVE. 


9. What do you want women and bloggers to take away from your experiences on Learn to Thrivy?

I would love for women and other bloggers to feel empowered and inspired as they read my experiences. That they can do more than they think they can, that we all experiences struggles, that being a mother is hard work but worth it!  


10. If you could go adventure anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

This is a hard question, I have a lot of places I’d love to visit. Right now at the top of my list is Bali. I absolutely love the turquoise ocean, and lush plant life there, not to mention the insanely beautiful culture. One of my favorite things to do is to explore, and Bali is the place for that! I know that there are views there that could take my breath away.

Follow Ivy Elkington on Instagram at @learntothrivy

Keeping It Real With Mom-Blogger Sam Lenz

My goal is to share our experiences of women all over the world to show how much we can relate to each other, as well as support one another! I'll be reaching out to mom-bloggers, artists, entrepreneurs and influencers who you should be following if you aren't already.

Sometimes there is nothing better than getting lost in another’s story then your own for a moment.
-Samantha Lenz

Samantha Lenz is a mom-blogger who should inspire us all. Not only is she a freelance writer who makes her own schedule, she advocates for mental health awareness and effortlessly snaps pictures of her life in British Columbia which is incomplete without her adorable toddler, Ry.

1. I was raised by a single mother and I know how tough it can be. What is your biggest struggle parenting solo?

Hmm, that’s a tough one - because most of the time the struggles can change day-to-day. One day I can be having a struggle getting my son to eat, and no other parent to try and help, etc. It can be something so minor to something so extra.

For the most part I would say my biggest struggle would be financially supporting my son on my own and the fact I am a “solo” parent. There is so much more responsibility - you’re playing the role of both parents.

2. What is your biggest concern about introducing new people you’re dating to your baby?

What’s dating? HAHA just kidding. Honestly, I haven’t had this concern yet. My son will be two in a few months and I sadly haven’t even gone on a date (I’ve considered it) but being a single parent - you don’t get out on your own much. So dating yet alone meeting someone is a hard task.

I feel though, my biggest concern when introducing someone is - not wanting me son to see me get hurt or attached to someone and have it not work out. And visa versa, I don’t need him getting attached to someone who isn’t in it for the long haul.

3. You were able to breastfeed longer than most of us could! How were you able to incorporate that into your busy schedule? Do either of you have separation anxiety after choosing to ween him?

Oh the topic of breastfeeding is one I cringe at but also smile. I was one of those people who were completely against it. I wanted no part of it (I said I’d breastfeed 6 weeks max)... well here I am 22 months later and still breastfeeding. I should say primarily at night and the odd time in the day still. You just do… I don’t really have an explanation for it. I finally got comfortable in public - so doing it wherever and whenever my son needed was how I fit it in.

I think he is having some separation anxiety and maybe I am too? We’ve cut back the day feeds - which yay! It was getting a bit too much for me. The night-time is hard though, he uses it strictly for comfort and I am exhausted. I’m hoping as he improves his sleep schedule and the amount of times he wakes up that it’ll improve his neediness for the breast.

I’ll update you once we’ve officially weaned though!

4. You talk openly about your battle with depression which affects so many of us especially after baby. What do you do to cope with your mental illness?

It does. And for myself I had it well before I had my son and to this day still have it. It’s not something that just goes away… it takes a lot of time (medication, therapy, etc). to get a handle on things. I don’t think I will ever get over my depression - but I can use tools to help manifest it and properly deal and cope.

For me I see a psychiatrist monthly - it’s a big help. I have also become very self-aware over the years so that also helps. I journal (hence I am a writer, I love to write) and read. Sometimes there is nothing better than getting lost in another’s story then your own for a moment. Other things that I know can worked and have for others are exercise, support groups, and just talking to family and friends.

5. How does your depression affect your life as a mom and your everyday life?

The way it affects my life as a mom would be towards to simple everyday things. Some days I am just too down to want to do anything or leave the house. Don’t get me wrong I am still putting on my fake smile and being the best mom to my son. But some days there may be extra cartoon time and we’re eating McDonalds for dinner. It’s sad because I want to enjoy more of the little things… going to the park etc. but my depression and anxiety hinders me sometimes.

Same goes for my everyday life - I am very controlled and calculated and stress very easily. I can’t just be like oh let’s go to the zoo today. If I wake up on the wrong side, something doesn’t go right, the day is already shot to me. I like to pre-plan and be organized. I know this has to do more with the anxiety but depression hinders you from having a “normal” outlook on day-to-day things.

6. Blogging is definitely a great creative outlet. What other outlets do you have to blow off some steam?

I like to read, write, go to the driving and shooting range, shopping. Sometimes just having a good ol’ vent to a friend is cathartic!

7. Being a freelance writer takes a lot of entrepreneurial skill. What do you love most about the writing industry? What is your biggest obstacle for launching your writing business?

I like that the writing industry is always changing and evolving. Writing and written content is never going to go away. However the biggest obstacle is making sure you are unique. There are TONS of other people out there who can do exactly what you do. You need to differentiate yourself and make sure you are well rounded. I’m still new so growing my business. I also want to take some courses so I can offer my clients and future clients more within house and not have to outsource it.

I currently still work with and for a lot of other clients whereas I hope to have that go the other way around. I work for just me and have people I can eventually contract out. At the end of the day it’s a competitive business (price wise, how many people in your area do the same thing) there are a lot of logistics.

Also networking and knowing the right people is key! That is definitely a huge obstacle.
 

8. Life is one big balancing act. How do you balance having your career and having time to spend with your son?

Ah the word “balance”, I am not sure I ever will have balance or have ever had it to begin with. First off, I am lucky to be able to work from home; however the downside to that though is I am at home! Lol. My son and I literally spending 24/7 together. For the majority of the day it’s focusing on him and running errands and maybe a random work function or task. My real day doesn’t start till about 9pm once he’s in bed.

All about time-management and doing what works for you. I’d love to work during the day, but my son is only little for so long and that time is precious. I am fortunate a lot of work functions take place at night - but for business meetings and calls during the day my son comes with me (for now). Once I start doing better financially I can look at maybe doing drop-in daycare for those important meetings.

Prioritize!!!
 

9. British Columbia is one of the most gorgeous places on earth and you spend a lot of time outdoors. What are your favorite activities to do with your son?

Everyday things. Going to the park, beach, playground, etc. My son loves being outside and we have a great backyard full of toys and outdoor activities for him - endless things for him to consume himself with.

As he gets older I am excited to do more day trips though - go into the city, sight see, take day trips!

10. You and I share a love for writing, and tattoos! What is your favorite piece that you have inked on you and why?

Writing and tattoos really two things I love! I have ten tattoos currently, and have a few in the works. All of mine have some sort of meaning so I cherish each one in a different special way. I have one on my left forearm that says “Ich Liebe Dich, Opa” written in his handwriting. Which means “ I love you, Opa” in German. My Opa has since passed so it’s a nice reminder he is always here with me.

Follow Sam Lenz on Instagram at @snlenz