Monthly Archives

November 2014

grass is greener

hey jealousy

November 25, 2014

I literally took this picture out of jealousy. No kidding.

I comb through blogs and Instagram photos every day of stay-at-home moms and see pictures from their vantage point that inevitably contain the contents of their coffee cup, their fashionable footwear and the sweet curly hair of their toddler’s head.  I can’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy and think “OMG, why isn’t that me?! What am I doing?!”

The twinge, admittedly, can sometimes feel more like an ache when clients are being particularly difficult or rude, when internal politics are challenging, or when I feel like I’m not making an impact.

I know, how odd right? This coming from someone who wasn’t even sold on the whole motherhood thing after 9 mo. of harboring a tiny human in utero. But my sweet little Dan V changed all of that. Maybe I can so thoughtfully call him my sweet V because I’m sitting in the quiet solitude of my office and calmly completing this post while on lunch rather than wrestling an overtired toddler down for a nap.

More than ever it’s easier to see what’s on the other side of the fence and to think of what could be. For me it’s always a dreamier version of reality and usually not grounded in sound financial decision making. But no one sees the outtakes – the spilled coffee marring the put-together outfit and the barely discernible image of what can only be the blur of a child darting through the frame. We only see the catalog ready snapshot in time through someone else’s lense.

Some days the grass seems greener and that’s OK.

LV ♥

– JLVR

P.S. Yes, if you were wondering, this post title is a nod to Gin Blossom’s ‘Hey Jealousy’. I’m a true child of the 90’s.

gear

gift giving guide

November 24, 2014

We received some fantastic gifts from family and friends for our showers and after baby Dan V was born. Above are a few of the everyday items that saw a ton of action. With many of the items we didn’t know how much we’d come to appreciate them but those that gifted them sure did.

You see, V was a bit of a puker. He spit-up a lot. Like a lot-a lot. But that’s what babies do! (Trust me we talked to our pediatrician more than a few times about it. Apparently it’s a baby thing.) So quite a few of these items are on the list simply because they made the spit-up months a bit more dignified.

Without further ado…

  • Cloud B Sleep Sheep® – My brother-in-law’s mom purchases this for every shower because everyone she’s gifted it to raves about it! We don’t rely on it as much as some but we do love the different white noise options it offers – V particularly likes the whales. They even make a smaller travel version that you can attach to a car seat or Pack ‘n Play so you literally never have to leave home without it!
  • Aden + Anais Classic Burpy Bibs – These are fantastic! They have a snap so that you can place around the baby’s neck like a bib. Or you can throw over your shouldger as a burp cloth. They’re wide and have a curved shape so they fit really well around baby or on your shoulder and cover a lot of surface area. They’re also super absorbent.
  • Aden + Anais Classic Swaddles – These swaddling blankets are nice and big and thin which makes them really versatile. We’ve used them to swaddle V when he was little-little, for a blanket to cover him during warmer months in the car, stroller or on naps, attached them over the handle of his bucket car seat for shade, etc.
  • Carters Terry Snap-Up Sleep & Play – The key to this piece is ‘terry.’ The terry Sleep & Plays are awesome because they dry very quickly. If you have a puker, you’ll definitely want to get these. Plus they come in great colors and patterns. They’re both practical and irresistibly cute.
  • Swaddle Designs Baby Burpies – These burp cloths are sold in color coordinated packs of two. They are the perfect combination of adorable and absorbent. We received a pair as a gift before V was born and after we purchased another 2-3. Because if you’re got to wear a burp cloth to avoid being covered in spit-up why not do it in style?!
  • Summer Infant SwaddleMe – These are literally the best swaddles, especially when your baby starts to kick out of the ‘baby burrito’ swaddle blanket fold. They are a super simple, no fuss way to bundle your baby for bed. Cannot say enough good things about them!
  • Pottery Barn Kids Sherpa Stroller Blanket (Personalized) – My sister-in-law purchased this blanket for us with V’s initials on it after her was born. We LOVE it. It’s thick, soft and warm. Also, who doesn’t love a good monogram?
  • Bright Starts Lots of Links – OK, this may seem odd but trust me these links are amazing. We received them as a gift for one of our baby showers and I thought ‘Um… thanks?!?!’ having no idea when I would use them thus they were stashed away and almost forgotten. Let me tell you I’m glad I remembered where I stuck them because the possibilities are endless with these things! I use them for everything…
    • Connect toy to car seat, shopping cart or activity gym
    • Connect a mirror to the top of an activity gym
    • Attach Aden + Anais Classic Swaddle to the handle of a bucket car seat to provide additional shade for baby while allowing air flow

There are so many other unique items that we received but these were the unsung heroes on the front lines of baby duty day in and day out. They may not seem like much, but let me tell you they made our lives just a little bit easier as well as more fashionable. (As fashionable as you can be when dealing with spit-up on the reg).

Whether they are for you or for someone you know, you can’t go wrong!

LV ♥

– JLVR

grass is greener

bad mommy

November 19, 2014

At a friend’s house warming party we were chatting over some appetizers about what’s new in our lives. A working mom friend shared that she recently switched her shifts and specialty in order to be home more. She explained that if she had kept with her other specialty she would have missed bedtime for her little girls half the week and she’d need to work every other holiday. For her, that was a sacrifice that she wasn’t willing to make. She wanted to be home to tuck her daughters in and didn’t want to miss a holiday with them.

“I’m away from them so much of the week, I just didn’t want to miss putting them to bed at the end of the day.”

On the other side of the coin a stay-at-home mom friend chimed in…

“I feel terrible, I LOVE it when I can miss bedtime!”

She’s flying solo all day with three kids at home and felt terrible about wanting some time for herself.

Guilt is a real thing on both sides – for stay-at-home moms and working moms alike. Sometimes the things that trigger our feelings of guilt are different, but we both experience it nonetheless. And it can be a hard thing to shake off! Even though at the end of the day we know that we’re doing everything to give the most we can of our best selves to our kids.

The struggle is real.

routine

morning routine 8/9 months

November 18, 2014

When little Dan V was still breastfeeding in the morning I found things to be much more difficult. I’m not sure if that was because of the breastfeeding or because I was a new mom trying to figure out the whole morning routine thing. Maybe a bit of both.

Honestly once I was done breastfeeding and pumping our routine in the morning was much easier to handle simply because the timing was more predictable. The switch really began around 8-9 months. Dan V was able to suck down a bottle really quickly as opposed to when he was breastfeeding and really took his time. The switch from breast to bottle was an awesome one, we no longer felt rushed getting ready to get out the door to daycare.

Here’s  a sample of our typical morning routine when V was around 8/9 months…

  • 6:00 – Dan IV gets up for his run
  • 6:15-6:30 – V is awake and lets you know he’s ready for the day ‘get-up, stand-up’
  • 6:30 – Bottle
  • 6:35 – Cuddle in the chair, read a book, hang out
  • 6:45 – Diaper change, get dressed for the day
  • 7-7:30 – Play in the bedroom/bathroom while IV and I get dressed
  • 7:30 – IV and V say ‘buh-bye’ to me as they head downstairs then out to daycare

Our routine has shifted a bit as V has grown and consequently it’s a bit different from our routine while I was still breastfeeding. Personally, I’m obsessed with different baby and family routines as we adapt our own so I’ll be sure to post our typical routine for each stage!

uncategorized

gwyneth… I just can’t

November 17, 2014

Let’s just agree once and for all that Gwyneth Paltrow is an unreasonable human and be done with it shall we?

The latest buzz around Gwyn is the release of the Goop Holiday Gift Guide on her website Goop.com. Yes, as noted it features a good amount of items under $100 however I wouldn’t label them as reasonably priced. For example, a onesie for $93… yeah not super reasonable. Beyond those items for under $100 there are some ‘splurges’ which seem exceedingly ridiculous such as an almost $5,000 gold juicer.

Media is blowing up this list and I get why for sure, it’s cray. But do you expect anything less from Gwyneth?

Not so long ago she was eloquently explaining why it’s better to work 9-5 than a hellish film schedule…

“I think it’s different when you have an office job, because it’s routine and, you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening. When you’re shooting a movie, they’re like, ‘We need you to go to Wisconsin for two weeks,’ and then you work 14 hours a day and that part of it is very difficult. I think to have a regular job and be a mom is not as, of course there are challenges, but it’s not like being on set.”*

I see what she’s trying to get at. It’s hard to work 14+ hour days and be away from your family. However, when you weigh the amount of money she’s being paid for such relatively little work as compared to many of us 9-5 working stiffs it becomes a bit hard to relate.

She seemed to add insult to injuy when she followed it up with this explanation on her website…

“This somehow was taken to mean I had said a 9-5 job is easier, and a lot of heat was thrown my way, especially by other working mothers who somehow used my out-of-context quote as an opportunity to express feelings (perhaps projected) on the subject. As the mommy wars rage on, I am constantly perplexed and amazed by how little slack we cut each other as women.”**

Wow, this response is exhausting. Projected feelings? Victim of mommy wars? Ugh.

I’m sure she meant well but she came off kind of like Ricky Bobby in Taledega Nights after saying “with all due respect…” It doesn’t give you the right to say whatever you want without repercussion Gwyn!

Gwyneth Paltrow is a celebrity with a charmed and weathy lifestyle. She has the luxury of choosing whether to work on a film or stay home and do the occasional spokes-model gig to pay the bills. Not just to get by, mind you, but to live exceedingly well.

So are we surprised that her website has an unreasonable collection of outrageously priced items tempered by a good amount of items under $100 which are, in their own right, unreasonably priced for said items? No, not really.

With all due respect Gwyneth, give it a rest will ya?

LV ♥

– JLVR

Links to full articles…

E! Online

** Goop Journal

pinteresting

hostess gift as easy as 1-2-3

November 13, 2014

The holiday season is soon to be in full swing, as evidence by not only fall/Thanksgiving decor but Christmas (yes… it’s mid-November and it’s happening).  It can be difficult to find the time to prep yourself for a party let alone a little something for the host/hostess. Who has the time to get all Martha Stewart for each occasion when you’re spending your week ping-ponging from daycare to work to home for dinner/bedtime just to wash, rinse and repeat? That’s why I love having an easy go-to hostess gift. It takes the pressure off trying to come up with something inventive in an extremely compressed time frame. (Let’s be honest, half the time we think of bringing a hostess gift the day of the party!)

One of my favorite hostess gifts is kitchen towel wrapped wine for a number of reasons…

  1. Wine is a great gift
  2. Wine wrapped in cute kitchen towels is a greater gift
  3. Kitchen towel options are seemingly endless
  4. You can never have too many kitchen towels
  5. It’s SUPER EASY

The great thing about this as a hostess gift is you can find everything you need at a few stores and have all items on-hand in a go-to spot to throw it together quickly and easily. What you’ll need…

  • Pick-up some cute kitchen towels whenever you pop into TJ Maxx/Marshalls/Tuesday Morning
    • TJ Maxx/Marshalls/Tuesday Morning always have deals on cute kitchen towels
    • Be sure to purchase some seasonal or holiday towels on sale after the season to have on-hand for next year
  • If you have willpower, purchase some nice bottles of wine (or booze) ahead and have them ready to wrap
    • For me this is a lofty goal, the wine always seems to disappear… funny how that happens!
  • Purchase some twine, it literally goes with everything!
    • No need to match colored ribbons, etc.
  • Grab some tags that you can personalize with a note, stamp, etc.
    • I used some manila pre-strung shipping/merchandising tags that I purchased from Staples

The steps are as easy as 1-2-3!

  1. Kitchen towels usually come in a pair, wrap the first towel around the base of the wine bottle you’ll be gifting
  2. Next unfold one side of the second towel, place the bottle of wine wrapped in the first towel along the edge, then fold the towel around the base of the bottle like you’re wrapping a present
  3. Roll it up and tie securely around the top with twine, finally top it off with a personalized tag

This gift is perfect for any time of year and occasion – from holiday parties to hosted gatherings, housewarmings, etc.

Super easy, wicked cute, and aimed to please! Cheers!

LV ♥

– JLVR

motherhood

the biggest surprise

November 12, 2014

When I was at the Urgent Care up the street from our house for a drop-in Strep test (in case you were curious this was Round 3 for Strep with a 4 day reprieve from antibiotic regimens between 2 and 3), I had a little time to peruse some back issues of WebMD magazine. I already had Strep, why not peruse some germ-infested hard copy magazines while I was waiting?! (Plus my iPhone battery died – I was desperate to pass the time).

I stumbled upon a great Q&A with Lisa Ling. My favorite was this:

What has surprised you most about motherhood? “That I would enjoy it so much, frankly. I never had a desire to be a mother. It just wasn’t something important to me. I’ve always been career-driven; I felt like [my work] was my purpose. But having a child has changed my life. It’s brought me incredible fulfillment, a new perspective and purpose. I love it.”

I thoroughly enjoyed this response from her, even more so because she didn’t just stumble upon motherhood – she tried for it. In that one response, I connected.

Lisa Ling articulated something I have personally experienced, the biggest surprise about motherhood is that I love being a mom – being V’s mom. To give you some context, when revealing to a senior associate at my agency that I was pregnant he literally asked, based on how I was sharing the news with him, “Oh, I’m sorry, was this not planned?!” I quickly exclaimed “I’m crazy planner, of course this was planned! I just don’t know how I feel about the whole thing yet.” True story. Because although I’m insane with planning, researching and organizing I’m not awesome with change and this was a BIG ONE!

If there’s one thing I can say it’s that some changes are amazing, and motherhood – for me – was one of them.

LV ♥

– JLVR

working mom

going back to work

November 7, 2014
work, advertising, agency, downtown, cleveland

As it turns out, I was utterly and completely naive and perhaps a bit in denial about what it would be like to leave little Dan V and go back work.

So first, let me state the obvious… leaving your baby SUCKS. I was shocked by how down I felt. I truly thought I’d be ready to jump right back to work after 7 weeks – surprise! I wasn’t. I literally cried every day the week before I went back to work. In uncharted territory and completely overwhelmed I finally reached out to a friend and fellow working mom for moral support. Her advice was to take as much pressure off morning prep as possible, especially while trying to figure out the new routine. Here are a few pieces of her wisdom…

Tag someone else in…

If you can, have someone else drop the little one off at daycare for two reasons:

  1.  It will allow you to avoid an extra step on your morning commute so that you don’t feel like you’re rushing out the door
  2. You can avoid the inevitable emotional breakdown that will take place when you hand over your little one officially for the first time

Dress for success…

You’ll be heading back into a professional environment with adult humans; you’ll want to look the part. Start with maternity gear and work your way back – especially pants! Trust me, for your own sanity, start with the demi-panel maternity pants you purchased while you were pregnant. The last thing you need is to lose it over not fitting in your pre-pregnancy work outfits as you’re preparing to leave your newborn to go back to work for the first time. Not awesome.

Take the guess work out of “what to wear” in the morning by trying on and prepping your outfits for the week. This way you can get into the groove of a new routine without stressing about what you’re going to put on much less fit into. Remember, if you’re pumping you’ll need easy access so pants or skirts and tops are your best bet.

Get ahead by any means necessary…

Anything you can get ahead in the morning is a positive exercise. Try things like…

  • Shower the night before and dry your hair
    • Grab a shower cap if you still like to jump in the shower to perk yourself up in the morning
  • Prep baby’s bag and food for daycare the night before
  • Buy yourself a great robe so you can get dressed last thing before you walk out the door
    •  You will be covered in some type of bodily fluid that is not your own (usually not your own anyway), it’s inescapable so plan for it

For your first week back be sure to schedule some lunch dates with co-workers to reconnect. You’ll be able to catch-up on what you’ve missed and actually eat a full meal in peace. Plus you’ll have an excuse to share the hundreds of photos you’ve taken of your little one.

I can’t promise that it will be easy but I can promise that you will get through it. You’re stronger than you think!

LV ♥

-JLVR

uncategorized

family first

November 5, 2014

Was just chatting with my cousin this morning about work/life balance, career, family and the grass always being greener. As a working mom it can be easy to feel guilt for not being around for all of the moments of every day. Sometimes, when the scales seem to be tipped the furthest away from your personal life, it can be difficult to feel truly committed and fulfilled.

That’s why I had to share this video from Union, an ad agency on the short list for Agency of the Year.

Their set-up is simple:

This business of advertising isn’t easy. There are people who put their blood, sweat and tears into the campaigns they produce. That’s why, when an agency like Union gets shortlisted for strategy‘s Agency of the Year awards, the painstaking time and effort that goes into the creative product is worth celebrating. And the shop knew just what gift to give its staffers for a job well done.

Agency life can be creative, amazing and fulfilling while at the same time maddening, insane and all-consuming. This video is a hilarious reminder.

Hope you like it as much as I did!

LV ♥

-JLVR

routine

prepping for daycare

November 4, 2014

As this picture demonstrates, having a tiny human and attempting to get out the door with said tiny human each morning can be an interesting exercise. For any working parent time management is a constant struggle, especially in the beginning when mornings feel particularly unpredictable. One of the best things we did was get into an evening routine to prep for daycare because the last thing we wanted to do in the morning is give up any precious minutes of sleep! Plus, prepping at night takes the pressure off of the morning routine. This was especially important when baby Dan V was little-little, the more time we had with him in the morning the better.

Our routine wouldn’t be complete without the products we used on the reg. Below is a breakdown of the gear you’ll need to make your mornings run smoothly…

Bottles

Bottles stressed me out. There’s entirely too many choices claiming to be superior – it’s all so overwhelming! Before Dan V was born I was obsessed with getting different types of bottles, fearful that he’d reject each and every one of them and go on a hunger strike. Little did I know that my V was motivated by food in general and didn’t so much care which bottle/nipple combination it came from. I ended up spending a ton of time returning all of the different types I purchased.

Whatever bottles you settle on you’ll want to be sure you have enough for daycare and some to spare. That way you can get a nice rotation going without having to wash/dry/reuse the same bottles over and over. If you at least have a two-day supply you can get in a nice flow between washing/drying overnight and those you’re prepping for the next day.

LV – Since the Medela Breastmilk Storage Solution items were the ones I actually opened and washed I felt committed to using them not only with my pump but to feed Dan V. Quite honestly I think V would have eaten from anything I gave him. These just happened to be first so we went with it. I’m glad we did, we had a constant flow of ready to fill bottles. No need to wash, dry and fill the same ones we used for that day.

 LEAVE – In theory this Calma® nipple from Medela sounds awesome, in practice it’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen and have NO IDEA how this could be an elite design exclusively for breastmilk feeding.

Labeling

Avery Easy Peel Clear Address Labels

Avery Easy Peel Clear Address Labels

Letting my freak flag fly on this one. I’m obsessed with organization and loved using Avery Easy Peel Clear Address Labels to name and date bottles and food for V. Print off some clear labels with your little one’s name and the date to save time labeling multiple bottles by hand. It’s a small thing but can have a big impact.

Cooler Bag

Cooler Bag

Cooler Bag

Honestly most accommodating cooler bag we use on a daily basis is one we received for free as a promotional item. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to work. Something like this is great – it holds bottles and baby food perfectly and can be prepped and kept in the refrigerator the night before.

Bringing it All Together

Disney Reusable Shopping Bags - Mickey, Goofy, Daffy

Disney Shopping Bags

You’ll need an easy way to transport your baby’s things to and from daycare. We use a reusable shopping bag featuring Goofy that we received as wrapping for a shower gift. It’s the perfect catch-all for V’s needs. We can throw his bed sheet and blanket in there along with a change of clothes* and cooler bag.

* Don’t forget to have both an extra sheet/blanket and an additional set of clothing on hand at daycare, in the beginning especially. Our little guy was a came home a few times in daycare clothing – let’s just say they’re not the most fashion forward. 

Honorable Mentions

 

You’re going to be washing and drying a ton of bottles. We loved The First Years Spinning Drying Rack because it holds a lot and takes up very little space. We also loved the Playtex SmartBrush Baby Bottle Brush. It’s no scratch and the nipple brush screws into the handle ensuring that you always have easy access.

There’s no hard or fast rule on what products will work for you and your routine, but those listed above really made our lives easier. They don’t have to be fancy, they just have to work!