Cozy Mama GIVEAWAY!!!

Friday, October 2, 2015

I woke up this morning to chilly, rainy weather.  It's FALL, people!  Time to curl up with a cup of coffee and a book and be COZY!

So, I'm having a GIVEAWAY for all cozy mamas out there!  

I'm giving away a signed copy of my new book, For All Maternity, along with a super-cozy, gray chevron stroller blanket from Pottery Barn Kids!  I'm also including some of my favorite baby items including gift cards for nursing pillows and covers, Pampers to-go pack and more!!!

Check out this STASH I've got for you, valued at over $200!!!



Yep, that's it! And you have 4 weeks to share as many posts as you like!

Better yet, follow me on any social media platform to get a BONUS ENTRY (Like the PARDYMAMA FACEBOOK PAGE, and follow @pardymama on Instagram and Twitter!)

The giveaway is open until the winner is announced on OCTOBER 30, you have LOTS of time to spread the word and enter multiple times!!!

Guest Blog: Mothering In The Trenches by Lindsey Smallwood

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Today's post is brought to you by my friend Lindsey Smallwood.  Lindsey has two kids under two, and I've TOTALLY been there and love what she has to say about motherhood.  Check out her other work in her profile below.

“Oh, hang in there, you’re in the trenches.”  

Inevitably I seem to hear this phrase at least once a week when I’m out in public with my sons, ages 2 and 1. Whether it’s following some kind of meltdown after not getting a snack at their desired moment or when they start heading in two different directions toward danger at the playground, there are a lot of sympathetic nods and “I’ve been there” smiles. And while an “in-the-trenches” war analogy seems a little over the top, I will admit that this season is challenging in ways I never expected before motherhood.

If it’s not stopping my toddler from snacking on deer poop at the playground or trying to put away laundry while the baby takes it out again, it’s some other exercise in keeping little people alive and accomplishing small tasks at the same time.  It’s messy and exhausting and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But I have found a few things that make this whole experience a little easier.

1)   Buckets. Buckets. Buckets.  
You guys, it’s buckets for weeks around here. We have baskets for toys and bins for puzzles and boxes for diapers and wipes. The clothes are in baskets - not folded, mind you, but they’re in there. The mail has a basket, the snacks have a basket, even the toilet paper has a basket. Why the basket mania, you ask? Because with two kids under two, nothing stays in the same place very long. I am picking things up all the live long day. And whoever advocated that there be a place for everything and everything in it’s place knew what they were talking about because it feels so good to put things back where they belong. Baskets have the added bonus of hiding what’s inside them so yay – just toss it in and no one knows that there are forty unread magazines under my side table. Just a pretty basket. Or twelve. 

2)   Family dinner is not my number 1 priority.  
An older mom mentor of mine helped walked me through this one. I feel like ever since our first session of pre-marital counseling we’ve been drilled with the idea that having dinner together as a family is the most important thing you can do. And while it is a great time to reconnect with my husband, family dinner with two under two really isn’t a thing. They’re dropping food on the floor and asking for more fruit and spilling their milk. It’s lively and exciting and no conversation happens whatsoever. So lots of nights, I feed the little guys before my husband gets home and then once we get them to bed, we can have an at-home date night, just the two of us. When they’re a little older, we’ll make this a goal again but for now, as long as everyone goes to bed fed, I call it a win.

3)   I have a mom-uniform.  
The year after my first son was born, I just wasn’t sure what to wear. I was used to dressing professionally for work, but dresses and heels seemed like overkill for life with little ones. For awhile, I lived a lot of days in yoga pants. But sometime after the birth of my second son, I discovered what a difference it made in my feelings about myself and my to-do list when I took the time to dress well. For me, that means 3 pairs of well-fitting pants, a handful of tailored tops in bright colors, and simple jewelry I can wear with most outfits. I spend no time thinking about my outfit most mornings, and love knowing that whatever I pick fits and looks good.

4)   My diaper bag is a survival kit.  
Seriously. Find me in case of emergency. I’ve got a change of clothes for everyone, snacks, assorted medications and toiletries, books, games, toys, sunscreen, baby wipes, water bottles, and oh yeah, diapers. I tried really hard in the beginning, I had this cute little diaper bag and I only took a handful of items with me but I’ve surrendered to the giant monster bag that probably would get raised eyes as an airplane carryon and I happily tote around everything we will ever need in it.

5)   There are all kinds of moms in my life.  
This is what’s carrying me through. There’s the grandma in my Bible study who tells me stories of how she did things in her day. There’s the fellow mom of toddlers who I meet at the park to have real talk with. There’s the mom friend from book club who has stories about soccer teams and read-a-thons and is gently preparing me for the seasons to come. There’s the mom of teenagers who makes dinner for us sometimes and cuddles my babies because hers are all lanky and awkward. There’s my mom, who loves my boys even more than I do and is always ready with an encouraging word.  All this mom-love reminds me that these years and this role is so short, always changing and a beautiful gift that I want to savor as long I can.

Even when they’re coloring with my lipstick.

Lindsey Smallwood hopes to leave a legacy of good relationships and bad dance moves. A former pastor and teacher, these days Lindsey works, writes and raises her babies in Boulder, Colorado. Read more by Lindsey at her blog or connect with her on Facebook at or Twitter @lindseysmallw

Five Reasons To Have A Birth Plan

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Let me start off by saying (and meaning) this:  There's no wrong way to have a baby.
Photo from Daphne's birth by Mathieu Photography

My goal for giving birth has always been "walk away with a healthy baby that's mine".  If that's how my story ended, I knew I would be grateful and satisfied.  This didn't mean that everything would go how I wanted it to go, and it certainly didn't mean the baby would be delivered according to my plan (or anyone else's for that matter).

So, why have a birth plan?

Before my first baby was born, I over-educated myself into the illusion of security, learning as much as possible about nearly every birth-scenario so I could spare myself any surprises day-of.  But, babies don't read your plans or your minds, and when the time comes there is bound to be surprises whether you have prepared at all or not!

My first two daughters were spontaneous labors that went on for hours and hours drug-free, followed by an epidural, and ending in a c-section.  My third daughter's birth was a planned c-section, and while everything went according to schedule, I was glad to have thought through the day ahead of time.

Why spend all the energy and time thinking you are a hippie-mama going drug-free only to find out when push comes to shove (literally) that you turn out to be an epidural-getting drama queen?  Why sort through calming verses and meditations for soothing your anxiety and pain when you know you'll have an IV drip and get a c-section?

Here's why:

1. A Birth Plan helps YOU know what you want.  

You might not even know what your expectations are until you start to jot them down on paper.  You may have a vision (haphazard as it may be) for what the day looks like and still not realize that you have joy or disappointment hinging on small things like "wearing my favorite chapstick" when you are at the peak of a contraction.  A birth plan can help you sort through what's reasonable (dim lights) and what's preposterous (a tranquil haven that stays a perfect 70 degrees and silent with only the glow of a lavender scented candle to warm the setting).  It can help you weed through your ideals (drug free and natural) as well as your limitations and tolerance for what's acceptable (  Bottomline, you can't expect others to know what you'll need in your best/worst hour when you haven't taken the time to think through it yourself.

2. A Birth Plan helps OTHERS know what you want.

Even your beloved husband is scratching his head as to how he can best help you in your moment of dire need.  If you don't know by now that your husband can't read your mind, then I really hate to break it to you that your doctors and nurses can't either.  Even if you are planning a home birth with a doula or midwife, they are going to have questions about your comfort and pain management along the way.  If you are having a scheduled c-section, you'll still need to convey your opinions adamantly regarding things like cord cutting, skin-to-skin, and pain killer options.  Maybe you know what you want and you can easily inform those around you with the command of a drill sergeant.  But, for those of us not giving birth to robots, it will make it much easier in the long run if you have talked through your expectations ahead of time and how you prioritize those ideas.

3. A Birth Plan helps BABY remain the focus.

This seems counterintuitive.  How can a paper all about your expectations help keep the focus on your newborn?  Because the less everyone has to worry about wondering what you want and need, the more they can channel their skills and energy to that screaming creature who just entered into the universe.  If you can include choices about the baby on your birth plan as well, you can put your mind at ease knowing your birth plan can be easily referenced for your choices instead of trying to remember in the middle of it all if you chose salve-on-the-eyes for the baby or whether you wanted to postpone the Vitamin K shot.  A LOT happens just minutes after the birth, and you don't want the burden of "having to think" placed on your or your husband's brain.  Free it up so you can fully embrace the bliss of staring at that new little bundle of joy you just brought into the world.

4.  A Birth Plan helps HUSBANDS understand.

Sure, hubbies are included in #2.  But, more than just understanding your expectations, husbands have been (most likely) taking a crash course in all-things-baby since you announced the pregnancy.  Birth is SCARY - and that's totally normal.  It's a terrifying roller coaster of emotion to usher another human into the world, and your brain isn't meant to fully comprehend sentences like "What do you want to do with the placenta?" when you are just barely grasping the fact you took part in the creation of life.  A birth plan can help a husband truly take part in the process of labor and delivery, knowing how best his time and energy is spent in the midst of the wild ride.

5.  A Birth Plan helps MOTHERS in the future.

This blog is a perfect example!  Here I am, dishing about my own experiences, hoping to reach an audience of new mamas understand that their birth stories are important - no matter how the scenario plays out.  It's an opportunity to get to know why we think what we think about birth, share it with others, and help them understand their own journey.  Looking back across my three birth stories, I can compare them to the plans I had anticipated and grow from the story that ultimately came out of it.  It rarely goes how we think it will, right?  But, healing from disrupted plans can help us curb disappointments and turn them into lessons of hope for others.

When you are about to have a baby, it's easy to feel like the only person on the planet that's ever felt that way.  The more we can hold our expectations in our hands and learn to understand them, the easier it can be to let them go if the need arises.  After all, learning to adjust and adapt to the unpredictable will serve you well once that baby arrives (however that may be)!

Babies, Babies, Babies

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon is when you learn about something new and then all of a sudden it seems to pop up everywhere.  Never is this more true than for pregnant women and new mothers.

Once you become pregnant, the whole world starts having babies.  You notice "Baby On Board" signs in traffic, you can't help but glance at a woman's growing belly across the aisle in Target, and suddenly you find yourself judging everyone's name as if it's a genuine possibility for your offspring.  Everything has to do with babies, and more and more birth announcements show up on your Facebook newsfeed than you ever thought possible.

I'm not immune to this anomaly.  I know of at least 8 babies that have been born in the last six weeks, with more pregnant friends still awaiting their turn.  (Seriously, what was happening last Fall, people?  Did they put something in the water?)

If you aren't pregnant yourself, chances are good that you know someone who is or have had a baby somewhat recently.  So, I'm embracing this phase and gonna be talking a LOT about babies in the upcoming posts.  Breastfeeding, c-sections, body image, and more. (Comment below on what YOU'D like to hear about!)  It's a wonderfully terrifying time of life that continues to bewilder me with purpose and pride.

I wear a lot of hats.  I'm a wife, a writer, and a marriage counselor, with personal interests in cooking, films, and puppetry. (Okay, not that last one.  I was just throwing in a curve ball to see if you were awake.  If you didn't catch it, go pour yourself another cup of coffee and hug someone.)

But, of all the titles I hold, mother is my favorite by far.

With so many mothers in the world, there still seems to be a lack of honest stories being shared about real women experiencing it.  I find myself cringing with insecurity all too often, wondering if I'm doing enough or doing it right instead of just enjoying the act of doing it at all.  

As my life shifts and changes, as my heart grows to allow for the capacity to love yet more for this newest baby in my life, I want to remind all you mamas out there that HEY - we're doing this thing called motherhood, and we're not alone.  

In a world where we can be inundated with babies and growing bellies all around us, let's not forget that behind each little creature is a mother who is trying to keep it all together.

You're not alone, mama, let's chat.

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