An Uncomplicated Life Blog: June 2018

Monday, June 18, 2018

5th Month Bumpdate Twin Pregnancy

I'm wrapping up my fifth month being pregnant with twins. See how things have changed since my last update!

I feel like I just wrote my 4th month bumpdate but wouldn't you know, it's been a whole calendar month! At this time last month I was just heading in for my anatomy scan and about to learn the gender of the twins. This week, I'm headed in for the second part of the anatomy scan - there's one on the early side to make sure the body and brains are developing on track and then a month later there's one specifically to make sure the heart is developing correctly. Fingers crossed for healthy babies! If all is well at this scan, my regular OB can do all other ultrasounds for me (twin mamas have to go to a specialist for these two mega-important scans). Not only is it more convenient for my OB to do it (half the number of appointments!) but she also doesn't charge for parking like this specialist does... I don't mind paying for parking downtown, but they're not downtown. They also only charge about $2. So it's not the money, it's just annoying. I digress! Here's what the 5th month of being knocked up with twins is really like:

18 week post-fitness bump

Weeks gestation: 21 weeks on Thursday. Well over the halfway mark for twins (which is closer to 18 weeks)

Cravings: Y'all, I've turned into a cave woman. A Neanderthal. I'm eating meat at most meals! I normally only eat meat a few times a week. Gimme beef! All the beef! Dear planet, I am so sorry I'm participating in your destruction, but these babies are demanding the calories, protein and fat that comes from animals. I promise to return to a more responsible diet once they're out! But for now, I'm a borderline vampire with all this disgusting bloody meat... Twin moms are supposed to get 150g of protein and close to the daily maximum allowance of iron (45mg) a day. Beef enchiladas are sooooo good! I can put down a three egg omelet, no prob. Man, I can't wait to be a vegetarian again! I'm grossing myself out with this paragraph. Let's move on.

Aversions: Anything exceptionally salty. I gagged on a pretzel. When I switched to an all-organic diet several years ago, I noticed how salty conventional foods tasted. Now I can't even stomach conventional type foods! The sodium levels are disgusting. No wonder heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S. Animal fat and sodium, your personal passport straight to heart disease!

19 week post-fitness bump. Left barre class early this day, the workout was too hard!

Weight gain: 10 pounds. I'm underweight, as I am in all my pregnancies. I don't get how twin moms are supposed to gain all this weight! My stomach is the size of a ping pong ball from all this baby (well, babies), yet I'm supposed to find room to pack in an extra 600 calories a day? Like, HOW? Where is this food going to fit? I'm eating high calorie foods like beef and nuts and dried fruit. I'm drinking juice for extra calories. What the heck else can I do?!

Workouts: Right after my last bumpdate published, I started doing most - if not all - the modifications for yoga, barre and Pilates workouts. Now I leave classes early when they transition to ab series (doing ab work is too uncomfortable even though I *can* do it because I'd been doing it). I was trying to make it to 30 weeks before I transitioned to prenatal yoga classes, but that's a joke. That will be happening a whole lot sooner than I planned. Maybe even next week. Despite all my modifications and outright sitting some of the workout out, I also dropped the number of workouts I do a week. I was doing 4 (which is my non-pregnant minimum) but now I'm doing 3. Sometimes it's just a physical challenge taking care of two toddlers and doing housework and getting through the day consumes any energy I've got.

20 week bump and a rare hair-worn-down-day

I started seeing a Chiropractor at 16 weeks and it has made such. a. huge. difference! Night and day actually. I was having extreme sacrum pain, part due to a surgery I had at 13, and my three adjustments a week not only keep it manageable, most days I can walk around and sit completely pain free! It's amazing. It's something that has been nagging me since I was about 5 weeks pregnant and now it's under control.

That's been one of the biggest differences between a twin pregnancy and a singleton. With one, you get your energy back sometime early in the second trimester, and you feel great! I got it back for about a month, and then by week 18 I was back to feeling tired. Really tired. Babies have a growth spurt sometime between 16-18 weeks and having TWO babies have a growth spurt in you completely drains you. Size wise, I'm the same size at 21 weeks that I was at 36 weeks with a singleton, and adjusting to how big you get so quickly is draining. I have round ligament pain constantly, which I only experienced maybe a few times at the very end with Otto and never at all with Henry.

(Nearly) 21 week bump. I guess I wear all the same clothes in all my photos because so few fit!

Even though I just spent that whole paragraph being a Negative Nancy about my twin pregnancy, I have to say, things are still going well! I'm still getting to workout. My blood pressure is on the low end of healthy. I'm not swollen despite the insane summer Texas heat. Currently I have zero health issues and zero concern for issues to arise - I'm not "on the verge" of anything or "pre" anything. So despite being more tired than in any other pregnancy and it getting harder to move faster than I've ever experienced before, all is well and things are going smoothly! Honest to Pete, everything so far has been a "best case scenario" for a twin pregnancy, and I hope with all my might it stays that way and I stay pregnant to 37 weeks (full term for twins). 

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Do One Simple Thing To Feel Better In Two Weeks

Take the Activia Two Week Challenge to feel better and improve your digestive health in just two weeks!

This post is sponsored by Activia but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Admittedly, I'm a terrible breakfast eater. Most days of the week, I skip it. I even skip breakfast in my current state, five months pregnant with twins! Give me a cup of coffee (yes, I can have just one while pregnant) and I'm good to go until noon, sometimes as late as 2pm. However, I know this isn't healthy. Non-pregnant Paige can live off caffeine and adrenaline from an advanced yoga class, but pregnant Paige shouldn't. I needed to get better about taking a minute to care for myself and my in-utero babies. I had to keep it simple, because I'm already a busy mom of two kids under age 4 and run a tight ship of schedules to manage. Enter the Activia Two Week Challenge.

The principle was simple enough: Eat a cup of lowfat yogurt or drink an Activia Dailies yogurt drink once a day for two weeks and evaluate for yourself the impacts the probiotic-loaded yogurt has on your gut health. The packaging of the product makes it really easy to consume, even if you're constantly busy or constantly juggling little ones like me. Besides the probiotics, it was a great way for me to get 4g of protein in the morning to keep me and these twins I'm growing full and fueled. 

Activia is easy to find at your grocer. I happen to be loving anything peach flavored lately (blaming the babies on that one - besides fresh seasonal peaches, I've never been much of a peach fan before!) and was thrilled to see Walmart had the yogurt cups stocked in my favorite flavor. Bonus: They're currently offering an Ibotta offer to get cash back on your Activia purchase! Get your $1 offer here.

The rest of the challenge is pretty straight forward: Eat a serving of the yogurt a day. Take notice of how you feel. After two weeks, the brand is betting you'll feel better, more energized to tackle the day because you've taken a moment to prioritize yourself, and experience improved digestive health.

My two weeks are up today! So what changes am I noticing? First, the probiotics, carbs and protein are a great - and frankly necessary - mix for pregnant mamas. Sure, I *can* run on my cup of coffee and feel agitated and struggle to get through my morning yoga practice. But when I took a moment to eat the yogurt I felt SO much more energy and so much less irritated. The natural sugars gave me a boost of energy (and satisfied my peach craving!), the protein kept me full throughout the morning, and the probiotic helped balance my gut health and encouraged regularity.

Sometimes life is funny and gives you opportunities at just the right time in life. This was one of those times for me. Activia reached out to partner and I thought, "Actually, yeah... All of those things are things I should be doing for myself right now! Sign me up." Their two week challenge is great because everyone can commit to doing ONE thing for themselves for just two weeks. Everyone can take just a few moments and focus on themselves, having just a few minutes of "me time" a day, even if you're growing additional humans while you care for others. There's no risk to you - only reward! Take a moment, enjoy your day and get some protein and probiotics for your health while you're at it. You'll be glad you did. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Easy DIY Garden Markers

Keeping track of what is what in your garden can become challenging as the season progresses and your plants grow! Here's an easy DIY to keep all your plants straight

When my stepdad built me my raised vegetable garden last October, I had no idea what I was doing when I formed some rows and threw some seeds directly into the ground to see what would pop up. I wrote this post after with some of the lessons I learned and subsequent tips I have for newbie gardeners. Fast forward a few more months and I quickly realized that when plants grow to their full size, your garden can turn into a jungle quickly! Especially if you didn't know what you were doing to start and didn't space your plants according to the seed package directions. I did this easy DIY garden marker to help keep me organized. *Affiliate links used*

I should note, this isn't just a good idea for beginners. I've had a few play dates over at our house and even an exterminator come (did you happen to catch my InstaStory about the dead roach in my master bedroom? Yeah, he and all his friends got dealt with!) and ask or assume what everything in the garden was. Have you ever been to an arboretum or professional garden? They're always marked with what the plant is so visitors aren't left guessing, googling or assuming. Not only is this a great, easy DIY to keep your own mind straight, it's great for anyone looking at your flower or veggie garden too.

I got wooden sticky sticks (they're actually called that) at my local craft store that have adhesive on the top. Get them off Amazon for less than $6 here. Then I picked up some chalkboard painted mini signs (similar here for less than $10) and a silver Sharpie marker (two for less than $3 here) so that the writing would show. While chalk is a good idea because you can change it as you change out your garden, one water from the hose or one rainfall will wash it right away, so use permanent ink. You'll want fresh markets anyway because of the deterioration of the thin wooden "sticks" - some sort of metal garden marker is the only way to get a permanent one. Or a painted rock, which in my opinion, isn't all that useful because it gets covered in either dirt or the plant itself. The affordability of the wood and the ability to easily change out signs is what I like best about this particular DIY garden marker.

The DIY is ridiculously easy and straightforward. Use the Sharpie to write the name of the plant on the chalkboard sign, let it dry fully, then stick it to the adhesive part of the wooden stick. Place it firmly in dry soil near the plant you want marked. I like to put them all on the same side of the garden so that it's neat and organized and you don't need to hunt for the sign - all signs are in the same location for each plant.

Use this easy DIY to make your own garden markers to clearly identify and label your vegetable or flower garden
Like it? Pin it!

That's it! This easy DIY garden marker is so so simple. It's affordable and changeable as your garden morphs over the season(s). You can get fancy with your penmanship to spruce it up or you can keep it simple so that it's easily legible. If you find that the adhesive doesn't work well in your climate (if you're in a rainy or humid climate, it likely won't stick long!) just use a tad of hot glue to ensure the sign stays on the stick. And voila! You'll be able to keep your garden straight and guests won't constantly ask you questions on what you're currently growing. 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

How To Deal With Negative Blog And Social Media Comments

After blogging for over 4 years, I've developed thick skin and excellent strategies to dealing with the negative blog and social media comments keyboard warriors leave

I hadn't even been blogging for 6 months when I got my first extremely negative, judgmental comment. It was on my blog, and a commenter was critiquing my own personal feelings on my own son's medical diagnosis. That right there is enough to tell you that commenter is not a well-adjusted human, but I remember being SO shocked and SO hurt by what they said. I deleted the comment and texted my sister about it. "Congratulations!" She said. "When you get negative comments, it means you're getting big. People who don't support you are even reading your stuff, and that's great!" I thought about what she said for a second, and it's true. The good news is that when you get negative comments, it means more people are reading your blog than just your friends, family and supporters. It means you've gained social media followers who might not like you all the time, and are still willing to take time out of their day to let you know (and in the process, drive up your engagement numbers). But it can be really hard to stomach! Here are the best methods I've developed over the years for dealing with negative blog and social media comments.

blogging, how to blog, negative comments on blogs, how to manage a blog, how to manage social media, social media strategy for bloggers

1) Do not delete the comment
That miserable commenter I mentioned in the intro? Yeah, s/he trolled my site. When s/he saw I deleted the comment, s/he came back with an even nastier comment, attacking my feelings about my own child AND my ability to run a website! Don't delete the comment. It will only escalate the situation, and odds are high the negative commenter is looking for an (online) fight. The best way to "fight back" is to leave their comment up so that all can see what a nasty person they are, and to NOT respond. Respond to everyone else but the negative commenter. It will drive them NUTS! This way you're not engaging them or giving them what they want (a fight or a debate) and there's really no way for the situation to escalate. Just let it be.

There's two caveats I have to this rule: 
First, if someone used language you can't have on your public social channels - racial slurs, four letter words, whatever your tolerance is for appropriate, if a commenter violated it, I'd delete the comment and ban the person from having access to your page (this is super easy to do on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) and depending on who hosts your blog and how they commented, somewhat easy to do on your blog. In my experience, these jerks always comment as "anonymous" which makes it nearly impossible to block. You can, however, not allow comments from anonymous/unknown commenters if you start to get a lot of nasty comments on a particular post. 
Second, I reply to negative comments when I can tell the commenter has merely misunderstood me. Be extremely nice and humble about it, and the miscommunication gets cleared up almost immediately, and nearly every time, the commenter apologizes for their harsh words when they simply didn't understand you or your intentions.

2) Know that the negative comment is NOT ABOUT YOU
Let's take a brief moment and examine what I do when I read something I don't like on the internet. I consider myself a fairly well adjusted, mentally healthy woman. I read plenty of stupid crap on the internet, plenty of offensive content and plenty of articles/blog posts that are outright WRONG. I roll my eyes. I snort laugh. I might even send a link or a screenshot to my friends and have a good laugh at someone's expense. But in the end, I SCROLL ON. I scroll on being leaving a negative comment accomplishes nothing, and I'm smart enough to know that. Their words don't effect or change my life in any way, so I just get to scrolling and move along.

When you get a negative comment, it's not about you or your words. Well adjusted people keep it moving. Instead, it's about the COMMENTER. Your words triggered something in them that made them lash out at you. It's about their inner demons, their unresolved issues, their insecurities. This is why you shouldn't reply to the negative commenter - you're going to get nowhere. You can't argue with someone about their past that you know nothing about. You can't argue their hurt feelings, or their trauma. This is why you leave those comments up and don't reply, and also don't take it personally. It's about them, not you.

Prime example:

This person called me out as a "whiner" when clearly THEY just wanted a space to whine. Under the guise of anonymous, of course.
3) Know when to pull the plug
Sometimes, it's best to just take the whole post down. This is extremely true for social media, less true for blog posts - although if you're getting really uncomfortable with people's responses, feel free to do it. I've only removed one blog post ever, because there were about 10 people trolling it with not just negative comments, HATEFUL comments. As in, not just name calling, but wishing death on me. Yeeeeeah. They completely took over the comment section of my post! They even started one off conversations with each other about me and the content of my blog. First I started with turning off the comments for that post, then learned via Google Analytics that they were sharing it to various social channels and ridiculing it/me. That's when I decided, you know what, it's just not worth it! I took it down and literally haven't heard from any of those jerks since.

A somewhat similar thing happened recently with a post on my Facebook page. Granted, it was a tad too snarky of a post. Everyone who is a personal friend of mine and commented understood my sense of humor. Others who only know me as an acquaintance or simply follow my page/blog and don't know me personally didn't get it AT ALL and thought I was trying to mom shame. I explained myself in the comments to a few commenters, who then all got it, but an acquaintance tagged my PERSONAL Facebook page in her comment (I'm really protective of my personal account and keep the two very separate - not sharing one's content to another, and locking down my privacy settings on my personal account). Some of the haters started to send me personal messages about how I'm a bad, hateful mom. That crossed a major boundary for me. Comment on my public page, message my public page, call me names publicly... Ok, fine. But nobody gets to creep on my personal account and call me names, judge my parenting there, etc. So that post came down, too, because I was not ok with what was happening over on my personal page due to that tag. On the upside, a whole bunch of people got banned from my public page, which is a bizarrely satisfying thing to do! Don't be afraid to ban/block people, on any of your channels.

Bloggin' aint easy! Of course it looks like a fun, glamorous job with tons of perks. We get free stuff! We get paid to write and take photos! We get commissions from people who buy via our links, and advertising money, and get paid to play on social media! Yes, all of that is true. But you've also got to have thick skin. The bigger you get, the more people you'll reach who are NOT your fan, who don't like what you have to say, and who will let you know all that via the safety of their screen and keyboard. It's hard to stomach negative comments, but if you use these tips to deal with them, you'll successfully navigate the negativity and come out the other side a stronger person - and better blogger. 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Essential Oil Diffuser Blends For Summer

I've been experimenting with various, nontraditional essential oil diffuser blends. These are my favorite for the warm months of summer!

Summer weather has hit the whole country, despite it not officially being summer yet. Our glorious 6 week summer session at school has even started back up (whoohoo!) For me, summer calls for fresh, cooling and relaxing smells to get us through the Texas heat. I've been playing around with new "blends" lately, and have really gotten into peppermint. That's a standard, mulit-use, mulit-purpose oil but I haven't really used it until this year. I'm also experimenting with rosemary, which I got for free as part of my Essential Rewards. It makes a great addition to one of my most popular DIY posts (details below!) and is also a fabulous diffusing oil. These 5 oils create my favorite essential oil diffuser blends for summer. *Affiliate links used*

First, don't have a diffuser? Get one for less than $16 here  (pictured above) and get a fancier, programmable one for less than $30 here. I have both of these in my home and love them both! If you need to get started with a diffuser AND oils, this is a great intro combination. I regularly use Young Living oils and products, which are top of the line oils safe for ingestion. Art Naturals are my favorite "affordable oils" to get started with when you're on the fence about EO's and not ready for the financial commitment of YL or joining a wholesale program.

Rosemary and lemon
The best way to describe this blend is fresh and cleansing. If you've got some stale air to clean out in our home, this blend is for you! I use equal amounts of lemon and rosemary. It's fresh, clean, bright and slightly herbal. A "non-oily" friend was recently in my home when I had this diffusing in my living room and she said, "wow, what's in that!? It smells amazing!" It's quickly become one of my favorite blends.

This blend helped me discover my love for rosemary, like I mentioned in the intro, and have since added it to this DIY outdoor spray that works WONDERS for anything you don't want crawling on your or biting you. I've added 5 drops of rosemary and also 5 drops of geranium to this DIY spray and have not been "bugged" once by outdoor pests!

Peppermint, eucalyptus, and rosemary
This was on such regular rotation, I went through a whole 15ml bottle of peppermint in less than two months when it had previously taken me more than 2 years to go through the 5ml bottle you get with a YL starter kit. Thank goodness peppermint is an affordable oil and I can use the heck out of it without cringing about the price! It's the perfect oil for summer (and also in that DIY outdoor spray) and it smells amazing when diffused in your home. Eucalyptus has the same effect as peppermint, it's just a more earthy scent. The rosemary adds a fresh, clean element to this cooling blend. I use about 4-5 drops of peppermint, 2 drops of eucalyptus, and 2-3 drops of rosemary.

Bergamot and orange
Need a mood booster? This one is for you! It's so bright and citrusy, it's perfect for a rainy day. It's also one of my favorite blends to fill my diffusers with when we're having guests over. I always get asked, "Wow, your house smells good, what's in that thing with all the mist?" To which I explain it's essential oils and that it's currently diffusing two of the best smelling citrus oils. It always goes over well! It's also a great one if you're cooking out and grill smoke might enter the house. The citrus helps clean out that stale smoke smell before it even grabs hold of your home. I like to use equal amounts of both oils, or if guests are coming over I use 4-5 drops of orange and 2-3 drops of bergamot.

Lavender and pachouli
This is absolutely one of my favorite blends to bust out in the afternoon when my kids are squirmy and sick of being stuck in the house (they just started back in a summer camp session yesterday, but when they're out for good in July and we're dying of hot summer cabin fever, can someone please remind me of this post and this blend?!) I know what you're thinking... Pachouli? Um, gross hippie much? Just a few drops goes a long way, but it really does smell wonderful and calming when blended with the lavender. I use 4-5 drops of lavender and 1-2 drops of pachouli.

Lemon, lime and peppermint
I made a DIY room spray two springs ago that is still one of my favorite smells (and a great way to use oils if you don't have a diffuser yet - but when you can get them for less than $16 I'm not sure why you don't have one! This is the exact one I have on my desk) The lemon and lime is a great blend for spring to get funky, closed in winter smells out of your home and the addition of peppermint transitions the blend perfectly for summer by adding a cooling element. I use 4-5 drops of peppermint, 2 drops of lemon and 2 drops of lime. 

Check out these great spring diffuser blends!

essential oil diffuser blends, how to diffuse essential oils, benefits of essential oils, using essential oils, essential oils for the home
Like it? Pin it!

Diffusing essential oils is a great alternative to candles. Candles, even some of the highest end candles, burn toxic perfumes and chemicals in the candle used to preserve the scent. Not to mention you have an open flame burning, which is a problem if you have kids. Diffusers smell BETTER than candles, minus the toxins, and you can control what scents you have in each room throughout the day! These are my favorite essential oil diffuser blends for summer - just a few ideas to get you started if you're new to oils, and some new ideas to try if you're an old pro.