Archive for the ‘Mums & Mamans’ Category

Meeting Bebe JJ

August 11th, 2015

Good morning! If you’re an insta-friend you’ve seen me refer to Bebe JJ a lot this summer, as we near the end of the pregnancy (39 1/2 weeks already… crazy!!!) but I haven’t shared the full name, or gender for that matter yet and I realized I never shared why… With Piper we found out […]


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Good morning!

If you’re an insta-friend you’ve seen me refer to Bebe JJ a lot this summer, as we near the end of the pregnancy (39 1/2 weeks already… crazy!!!) but I haven’t shared the full name, or gender for that matter yet and I realized I never shared why…

With Piper we found out her gender, named her, and shared with everybody.  With Eaden, we didn’t find out his gender, we had 4 name options and waited until we met him to decide.  With this baby, we went back to the finding the gender out option, and naming the baby, but we never shared, at least not on social media… so why?!

I loved finding out that Piper was a girl, sharing with everyone excitedly and planning every detail.  And when we got pregnant again, everyone was shocked that I didn’t want to find out the gender.  But there was something so special about the wait and the surprise, and the feeling that he was all mine and I didn’t have to share yet…  The pregnancy felt so intimate because noone knew him as well as me.  I know it’s like that whether you know the gender or not, but there was something about not knowing, and noone knowing, that made it seem all the more like he was only mine for those 9 months, and it was so special.  (Little disclaimer! Honestly, we almost gave in and found out his gender…  at the beginning I felt like I couldn’t connect with the pregnancy because I didn’t know his gender, but then suddenly that changed and I realized how special the not knowing was!  We kept a little piece of paper in our drawer that the sonogram technician had written the gender down on for 24 weeks without peeking… and I made sure it was still folded and slipped into our hospital bag to bring with us to make sure they had been right!)

When we found out that baby #3 was on the way, Guillaume really wanted to find out the gender this time, and I completely supported him, I wanted him to be as much a part of this as I could make him.  But there was also a part of me that felt like I was losing something by letting other people in on all the details.  So… I delayed the sonogram a bit until I was ready, and then we went together, held each other’s hands (and I cried a little :) and we “met” our [insert son/daughter!] together, went out to dinner just us two and savored the moments, decided the first name, and then decided that we would share with family and friends.  Just the people who knew us well enough to ask, but we would keep it private from social media until the baby was here.  We share so much of our lives, and I love that, I truly do!  I love sharing all the details of how we’re raising our babies, and the brand I’m creating, and all the little adventures we find ourselves on.  But there’s been something magical about keeping this just for us so far, at least for what may only be a few more days…

So thank you for waiting, thank you for your patience, and for those of you who do know what we’re having, thank you for being some of our nearest and dearest and for all your love and support!  We can’t wait to introduce you to…

p.s. we still haven’t decided on a middle name… oops!!

Katherine Bignon Maternity Portrait by Boudoirathon Jessica Ruth Annmarie Swift Katherine Bignon Maternity Portrait BW by Boudoirathon Jessica Ruth Annmarie Swift

Photos by the insanely talented ladies of Boudoirathon | Jessica Ruth & Annmarie Swift 

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A Surprise Homebirth: Eaden’s Birth Story, Part 2

April 20th, 2015

Part 1 of Eaden’s birth story is here, from last Monday.  When I sat down to write out his birth story, for his first birthday, I realized that I couldn’t write his without first writing Piper’s, because to me they feel like one story.  His story wouldn’t be what it is without what I went […]


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Part 1 of Eaden’s birth story is here, from last Monday.  When I sat down to write out his birth story, for his first birthday, I realized that I couldn’t write his without first writing Piper’s, because to me they feel like one story.  His story wouldn’t be what it is without what I went through with Piper.  It wouldn’t have the same meaning for me, and it probably would have been much different and a lot scarier…

Piper and I wouldn’t have survived a home birth, and although it was originally what we wanted we were advised against it from the beginning due to a few things in our family history I was being monitored for.  Spoiler alert for the end of this story: Eaden was born on our bedroom floor, in a very accidental, very un planned, very fast home birth.  Piper’s labor had taken over twenty-four hours, and I had pushed for over three hours, and I had no idea how long labor would take this time due to how heavily medicated and controlled hers was.  So I had nothing to base the timeline, or the level of pain off of.  All I remembered was that Piper’s birth was extremely miserable, and extremely long.

Labor started with Eaden at 8am on a Thursday, and went fast!  Pitocin contractions are nothing like normal contractions, and two hours later when my contractions were completely unbearable (as they had been during Piper’s entire labor), I assumed it was normal and I still had a long time to go, not realizing it was a sign that labor was just about over… My doula was there, and being the complete introvert that I am, we found out that I completely internalize all of my pain and she was questioning whether I was actually in labor or not…  Meanwhile I’m screaming on the inside.  We started to grab our bags to head to the hospital, and she rubbed my back to help me through a contraction and suddenly realized I was starting to push.  I replied calmly that yes I was pushing, but just a little so it was ok…  I mean, I had pushed for over three hours with Piper so obviously we still had time, right?!  Yes time, as in less than five minutes.  We realized we weren’t going to make it out the door…  I remember thinking I don’t want to stain the rug on our bedroom floor, it was a birthday present, and shoving it out of the way.  We called 911 to let them know what was happening, Guillaume grabbed towels and after less than five pushes I heard Sara yell, “It’s a boy!” and then, “and he’s peeing all over me!” and I collapsed forward onto the floor in exhaustion and relief.

Piper walked into the room immediately, getting a chance to give her baby brother kisses and hugs before medics had shown up and before the cord had been cut. The ambulance arrived about ten minutes later to take over and make sure we were ok.  They cut the cord, put me on oxygen and got ready to transfer us.  (Fun fact: in New Jersey, it’s illegal to plan for unattended home birth like we had- and yes, ours was truly very unplanned!! So along with the paramedics, a senior officer had to show up to check the situation and get a handle on what may have truly happened!  I’m pretty sure all it took was one glance into the bedroom to see a rug shoved out of the way and me laying on our fancy pillow shams and the towels that had been wedding presents to see that we weren’t quite prepared for this to happen…)

We live in an upstairs apartment of our house, so I was carried down our stairs onto a chair stretcher, then switched to a normal stretcher outside on our sidewalk and then slid into an ambulance for a ten minutes, lights flashing ride to the local hospital where we were both checked out, and then taken to a recovery room to sit around for almost two days waiting to be released to go home.

I started sobbing when he was handed back to me in the hospital after they cleaned us up and checked us out.  I felt something, I knew who this was and I could feel all the feelings.  And on top of all that, I could see him clearly.

It was the most redemptive experience I could have asked for, and to this day I’m extremely grateful.  People still ask me if I was scared, and tell me they would have been terrified, but the funny thing is is that it felt so right, that there was nothing to do but feel calm and at peace during the entire experience.

The best part of all of it for me was that Piper was right there to meet him.  The first time around I may have missed out on some of this moment with her, but the second time it was all three of us together and it was perfect.

My heart cries for women who don’t get the birth they wanted, who feel like something was taken from them and they missed out on something.  There’s a part of me that is still nervous about going into labor again with baby 3, but we’re trying a new hospital this time, and a new midwife practice, and ultimately I have to remind myself that God is in control and He knows what he’s doing.

xoxo, Katherine

Bignon Family Newborn Session by Richmond Photographics Bignon Family Newborn Session by Richmond Photographics

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A Sonogram Letter

April 16th, 2015

I see you in black and white, like an old film photograph; grainy and distorted, and intensely beautiful.  With hands that sway gently, rocking you back and forth, and ten tiny and bony white fingers resting at the end.  Ten toes as well, thank God, even though for a minute I only saw nine and […]

 

I see you in black and white, like an old film photograph; grainy and distorted, and intensely beautiful.  With hands that sway gently, rocking you back and forth, and ten tiny and bony white fingers resting at the end.  Ten toes as well, thank God, even though for a minute I only saw nine and had to recount.  We’ll chalk that up to the grainy snapshot, and not a future character quirk that I’ll have to learn to get used to.  There are enough of those going around already here.

You’re kicking me, with the foot with the hidden toe.  Not in an urgent, pay attention to me now, drop everything and run, type manner, but more in a, “are you sure you don’t need to step out to the bathroom again?” fashion.  A subtle under the table type rhythmic beat that is a mixture of a “hello I’m here” announcement and a gentle caress.  Thank you for the constant reminder, making sure we don’t lose you amidst the crowd.  It is a big one that’s gathered here already.  And then you pause for a second, to wave.

I’m the only one watching, but since you can’t see me, do you just know?  You’re being watched, just for a moment here, and apparently that sits just fine with you.  Or rests I guess, (lays, reclines?), you’re not quite sitting yet, but that will come.  There’s something about that wave, as if I’ve seen it before, but can’t quite place it.  And I’ve certainly never seen it end with a thumb being placed in the mouth, as if you were waving a quick hello to make sure I’ve found you, and then going back to your day to day relaxing and reaching the standard growth milestones.  The others weren’t like that, no waves, no “yes I know you’re watching moments”, no thumb sucking.  Yes, I’ve found you, and don’t worry, I won’t be leaving.

You don’t seem to mind the intrusion; all the prodding and bumping, making you roll this way to check your back, and lie still like this to check your neck.  Everything seems to be perfect, (except for that little toe mishap), and I’m realizing I won’t be privileged enough to stare for much longer.  Wave again please, do you know that I’ll be going soon?  That’s the problem when things go right; they send you on your way with a quick nod and a thank you, shutting off the whir of the machines without a second thought to the fact that you haven’t gotten that second move of the hand you’re longing for yet.  Just a quick flick of your finger, or tilt of your head is all I need.  Oh, I see.  (And feel.)  Another kick.  Well, that’ll do too.

You’re hidden, in a peaceful private world of one, that’s no one but yours, and mine.  You’re not to be shared yet.  The others get to see the photograph I hand them, a moment frozen in time, a black and white image of bones and fluid.  But the wave, and the missing toe question, and the kicking under the table, that’s all mine.  None of that comes across on a flat shiny four by six.  The performance had to be seen live.  And your audience of one, a mama who had the privilege to stare, for just a moment, was captured.  Anyone else would have been an intrusion, but us, it feels just right.  You and I with our silent language of rolling and kicking, tickling, and nausea each morning.  We’re the only ones who got to see.

The grainy film roll image is perfect for you, like an old 35 mm that would have captured your great grandparents walking hand in hand.  It catches you just right; the wrinkles, hunched back, curled fingers, the inability to hold yourself steady, it suits.

For now you’re my own private memory, those twenty minutes.  Not a word was shared, nor a sound made, save for the rhythmic beating of two hearts, inside one body.

For the first time I’ve seen your face.  One more quick wave, before you drift to sleep and I lower my shirt, wiping off the thick gel that only moments before had blanketed you and covered me, opening up the door into your tiny world.  And mercifully, the kicking stops, but only until naptime is over.  Long enough for me to breathe easy for a moment, and you to feel the need to remind me you’re still there when your eyes flutter open again.

We’re all so excited to meet you, but for now I cherish that you’re only mine.

xoxo, Mama

Katherine Bignon Maternity Shoot with a Custom Silk Robe, Image by V.A. Photography

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Eaden’s Birth Story, Starting with Piper

April 13th, 2015

I sat down to write Eaden’s birth story, in honor of his first birthday, and it hit me that I had never shared Piper’s full birth story, and there’s honestly no way to write his without sharing hers.  The two stories are so closely intertwined, and his is so dependent on hers that suddenly this […]

 

I sat down to write Eaden’s birth story, in honor of his first birthday, and it hit me that I had never shared Piper’s full birth story, and there’s honestly no way to write his without sharing hers.  The two stories are so closely intertwined, and his is so dependent on hers that suddenly this had turned into a two part story in order to share his birth and do the story justice.

Throughout Eaden’s entire pregnancy I knew I needed things to be different.  I knew that there was an extreme fear of going back to the hospital and being put on the same medicines again, of not being able to make it through labor.  But it wasn’t until six weeks before he was born and a close friend had a baby that I began to actually understand what I was scared of most.  I was scared of looking at him and falling in love instantly, and being reminded of everything I felt Piper had missed out on.  And yet despite everything a silent part of me was hoping for everything to be exactly the same as before so that I didn’t have to feel guilty, I could just feel pain.

There’s an emotional disconnect that happens when a labor is induced and your body isn’t ready for it.  Your body fights it, you fight it mentally and eventually you feel like your baby was removed from you before you were ready.  Suddenly you’re holding this tiny precious baby and don’t know what to do.  You shouldn’t be in this moment yet, this shouldn’t have happened yet, and you have no idea how you got there.

I was monitored closely all throughout my pregnancy with Piper for potential complications due to family history and some abnormal test results, but everything went fine until I showed up for a 39 week sonogram that I had almost cancelled the day before, but had forgotten to within the cancellation time window.  They checked things, and checked things again, and called another doctor in to check things, and then told me that my amniotic fluid was getting rather low and they needed to keep an eye on things.  I had a doctor’s appointment the next day and when I went in, things went downhill fast.  They checked my blood pressure in three different rooms thinking the machines were broken, then said I needed to go to the hospital immediately, they would be inducing me due to severe and sudden onset preeclampsia, and the fact that the placenta had stopped producing any nutrients and there was almost no amniotic fluid left.

I hadn’t started to dilate at all, and my cervix hadn’t even begun to soften yet, so there was nothing that was ready to go into labor.  They told me I had twenty-four hours to deliver her, and then it would be an emergency c-section because they couldn’t let my blood pressure stay this high for that long, and the only way to begin to make it go down was to deliver the baby.  This sounds feasible right?!  It gets better… I would be on Pitocin to start labor and keep it going, along with a balloon induction, but I would also be on Magnesium to help control my blood pressure and keep me from seizing.  The side effects of Magnesium are blurred vision, semi-loopiness, loss of hunger, and stopping labor.  Yes, stopping labor!!  (Magnesium can be used as a medication to halt labor for someone who goes into early labor before the baby is ready.,,)  In order to induce labor, and keep both Piper and I alive and safe they had to use two opposing medicines at the same time and try to find the balance that would lead to a healthy delivery.  My blood pressure was checked every ten minutes for the next twenty-four hours, plus the two days following while I recovered, and for two weeks after delivery I was on a medicine to keep my blood pressure under control because it still wouldn’t go down, and I had to buy an at home BP cuff to keep checking it.

Her birth was a complete miracle, she was born 24 hours and 30 minutes from when I was induced.  I pushed for three and a half hours, and with each push they would tell me they could see her hair and the next one would be the last, but it never was.  The Magnesium had taken away the ability to push hard enough and finish the delivery, so she was delivered with forceps (think large salad tongs that the doctors insert, find your babies chin and grip, then pull).  Suddenly she was placed on my chest and my memory is spotty after that.  I remember seeing double, and it wasn’t something my glasses could fix.  I remember looking at her and thinking oh, this is interesting, there’s a baby here, but making no move to hold her tight and cuddle, or any connection to the fact that she was mine, and after nine months of waiting she was finally here.  Guillaume sat there tearing up and looking at her saying, “don’t you love her, she’s just so beautiful”, and I was lying there feeling guilty for feeling nothing, and thinking why is this such a big deal? I remember feeling nothing.

Her lungs had to be suctioned immediately because there had been such a drop in the fluid around her that she was covered in meconium, and had filled her lungs with it.  I had always wanted to have a homebirth, but it wasn’t feasible in the area we lived in at that time.  She wouldn’t have survived a home birth, and neither would I have with everything that happened.

I had to stay on the Magnesium IV drip for the next twenty-four hours and wasn’t allowed to move around or eat.  I laid there in the hospital that night holding her, still not connecting to what had happened and flipping channels on the tv; I came across an old episode of House and started watching.  It’s the one where a baby is born in the hospital, and then disappears, and the whole hospital is on lockdown trying to find this missing newborn.  It should have scared me a little right?  It should have made me hold Piper a little tighter, grateful that she was in my arms and I didn’t have to call up to the nursery to make sure she was ok and still there.  The only thought that went through my head was, oh, I hope that doesn’t happen to me one day when I have a baby.  Wait, what?!!  I had just had a baby, but there was no recognition or attachment, or connection to what had just happened.

My heart cries for moms who are required to be under heavy medication during labor.  I’m grateful for all the medical intervention we had, it literally kept both of us alive, but oh man did it change things for those first few months after she was born.

Those first hours after delivery are crucial for attachment, and we lost out on that completely.  It took so long for the medicine to work its way out of my system that emotionally I lived at the beginning like nothing had changed.  There was a baby with me 24/7, but it didn’t feel like she was mine, she was just there.  We went through the motions, but nothing seemed real.  Eventually things got better, life adjusted back to normal, my body re-regulated itself and we were fine, things adjusted to how they should have been all along.  I was pregnant again, and scared to death about going back to the same hospital and being put back through everything again.  I wasn’t showing any symptoms for developing preeclampsia again, or any of the other issues that went wrong but I couldn’t get it out of my head that everything would go downhill again at the hospital.

I didn’t fully start to process what had happened emotionally at the beginning with Piper until six weeks before Eaden was born when a close friend had a baby.  I saw a picture of her at the hospital holding her newborn, looking completely in love and happy, albeit exhausted.  She texted the picture to me and I broke down sobbing.  She looked completely opposite from anything I had felt; she was holding her son, looking completely in love, and most of all she knew it was her son, and things looked normal.  I had felt none of that; I don’t remember feeling that overwhelming feeling of love for Piper until she was at least four or five months old.  I spent the weekend crying, and processing, and finally started the process to heal and be ready to welcome another baby into our family.  She and I had used the same doctor, and she scheduled her post-partum apt at the same time as one of my standard appointments, so we drove together, and on the way back I remember telling her, “I wish there was a way that I could just skip the hospital this time around, and then once the baby is born, drive to our doctors to be checked out and start the recovery.”  I loved our doctors; I just couldn’t deal with the hospital experience.  That white room held too many memories and too many fears.  The post-partum depression and emotional disconnect only lasted for the first few months after she was born, but the trauma of the experience and a bit of PTSD still lingered.  Honestly, it’s still there.  I have a hard time breathing normal and thinking clearly when I think of going back to the hospital where she was born.  For me, it marks everything that went wrong with the delivery and the emotional process after…  And I still struggle with choosing to hold a baby; to reach out and take them and not let their dad carry them.  It was so natural for me at the beginning with Piper to not hold her, I didn’t have the urge to.  It was easier to just let things be and I made myself feel like that was normal.  I have to remember to physically remind myself to reach out and carry them sometimes, even now when things are completely normal and fine.

I can’t get back the time that I lost with Piper, but when Eaden was born, we did all of our post partum snuggling all three of us together, and it was the most amazing feeling of healing that I could have imagined.

As the icing on the cake to her birth, Hurricane Sandy hit the day after we made it home from the hospital, and we lost power in our apartment for a week, so after three days of living without hot water and learning to nurse and change diapers in the pitch black (we ran out of matches for our candles!!), we packed everything up and had enough gas in the car to make it far enough down the interstate towards Virginia and my family and a hot shower!

Part two will be coming next Monday, I promise!

xoxo, Katherine

p.s. Here’s a link to a post I wrote shortly before Eaden was born, when I shared a bit about Piper’s birth story and the struggle I had emotionally.  My prayer for you if you’re going through anything like this is that you reach out and ask for help, don’t go through it alone!

2015-04-12_00012015-04-12_0002Images by Richmond Photographics

 

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Measuring Cups

April 8th, 2015

Two cups is the general equivalent of 400 grams, at least when it comes to flour.  The measurements are relatively interchangeable, depending on whether you’re cooking a metric recipe or an American one, but the difference can also be just enough to make sure your cake never quite sets, or your bread turns to brick. […]

 

Two cups is the general equivalent of 400 grams, at least when it comes to flour.  The measurements are relatively interchangeable, depending on whether you’re cooking a metric recipe or an American one, but the difference can also be just enough to make sure your cake never quite sets, or your bread turns to brick.

If we ever move back to France, the first thing I’m hiding in my suitcase is a set of measuring cups.  Ones that will let me still cling to some of my favorite foods in moments of desperation.  Ones that will let me still smell my mother’s zucchini bread rising in the oven; 3 cups of flour, in order to keep the bread just moist enough. Ones that will still let me make waffles from scratch for my family on Saturday mornings; two cups of flour, plus a dash of sour cream and coconut oil.  And ones that will let me still get a sugar high from my chocolate chip cookie recipe that made my husband fall in love with me; 4 cups of flour for a firmness that’s just so and lets them melt in your mouth like butter.  God forbid we cook those on the French system, he won’t know who I am anymore.

It’s funny, my attachment to these little white stacked cups, with their handles and red numbers engraved on the side, because I learned how to cook in France, without them to guide me, yet I feel like I’m not quite at home without them now.

The difference between two cups and 400 grams is what keeps me from finding a home in my mother’s kitchen, and what stops my mother-in-law from inviting me into hers.  It’s a difference that can’t quite be explained, because there’s no way to make it equivalent.  It’s simply what makes me different.  I can copy their recipes, but I can’t quite duplicate them.  There’s always something just a little bit off.

I will always speak just a little different; my children will always speak it too.  Our accent, our cadence, our choice of word order.  None of it is equivalent, yet similar enough.  We are understood, but it is not always correct.  It’s two cups in a recipe that really wanted its 400 grams.  I will always dress just a little bit off, I will always parent slightly outside the lines of their culture and what they expect.  It’s simply me trying to find a balance between my cups and your grams, and knowing that it doesn’t always exist.

According to someone, I will always be holding two cups instead of 400 grams, or grams instead of its’ slightly off equivalent of cups.  Yet if I can learn to take the forthcoming questions and eye-raising with a grain of salt; whether it’s the 99 cent box from the bodega or the lavender fleur de sel at the supermarché that’s a little out of my reach, my cups and I might just be able to make it through, knowing that at least if all else fails, I still have my little white handled safety nets, and those chocolate chips, four cups of flour, and a man who loves me for them every time they melt like butter in his mouth.

I’ll always be working from the wrong side of the system, trying to find the middle ground and which recipes will work there; buy maybe we simply need to expand our palette a bit and steer clear of the cakes that don’t set and the loaves of gluten brick.

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As I’m finishing up my last semester at the Fashion Institute of Technology, I found out right before the semester started that I was short one English class, so I’ve been able to spend the semester taking a creative non-fiction writing class.  It’s my favorite genre to read, and I think I finally found my writing niche; I can get lost with hours and hours of journaling for the class… This is an excerpt from one of the pieces for class, and it’s the inspiration for a longer piece due in a few weeks that I’m currently working on.  This course ranks high in the top 3 I’ve taken at FIT, and it’s not even related to my major!!  But, I have a feeling it will be related to future projects… My professor is trying to talk me into writing a book about all of our French family experiences, and I have a couple other projects up my sleeve too!

xoxo, Katherine

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Family Getaway

November 8th, 2014

I don’t know what it is, but there’s just something  about hotel living that makes life seem more peaceful and relaxing, even in the midst of a crazy busy season!  We’re way up north this weekend, just outside of Niagara Falls, and staring at Canada across the river from our hotel window in Lewiston (seriously, […]


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I don’t know what it is, but there’s just something  about hotel living that makes life seem more peaceful and relaxing, even in the midst of a crazy busy season!  We’re way up north this weekend, just outside of Niagara Falls, and staring at Canada across the river from our hotel window in Lewiston (seriously, my phone keeps telling me I’ve gone international and will be paying extra fees!).  My husband had a paper accepted at a conference up here (can we say super proud wife?!) and I’ve been begging him to take me to the falls since we got married, so here we are!  We packed up the kids, a ton of food, a bag of toys, about half of our winter gear, and all of my patternmaking supplies, and started the drive!  The only thing we forgot was our passports so I guess we won’t be venturing into Canada this time around… just means he’ll have to bring me back!
He’s been spending the days at the conference, while I’ve been able to enjoy the hotel with the kids (there’s a fireplace in our room for me and the kids are experiencing a tv in the bedroom for the first time!), work during naptimes and take bundled up chilly walks around this gorgeous little town when they wake up.  We’re right on the riverfront and when we went out to explore yesterday morning,  I discovered that we were standing on the spot that marked the end of the Underground Railroad!! What?!  This is where the escaped slaves crossed the river in tiny wooden rowboats to make it to freedom in Canada!  I had chills and had to take a moment to catch my breath!  (I don’t know if we’re going to homeschool our kids or not, but this was one of those moments that made me stop and think, I wish I could sit right here and teach my babies about the civil war, and human rights, and freedom, and the list goes on and on… too bad they’re barely two and six months… yet another reason to come back!)
I had a lovely afternoon yesterday browsing through an old bookshop filled with the most gorgeous books, owned by an old man who just wanted someone to listen to what he had to share.  I’m telling you friends, take the time to browse through old shops run by people who have seen the world and have stories to tell, and then ask them to share those stories with you and really listen, they’ll change your perspective and open your eyes!  And it’ll completely bless them in the process, they just want someone to listen!  I bought myself a couple amazing vintage etiquette and housekeeping books!  Ahhhh so excited!! I have a total weakness for all things vintage when it comes to the kitchen and home.  I can’t wait to dig into them and find all the little gems, like the secret recipe for getting rid of bed bugs and restoring the pile to old velvet!  Who knew?!  Yes I’m a bit of an “Emily Post’s Etiquette” nerd!
We’re off to see the Falls today and I’m ridiculously excited, like little girl giddy!!  I can’t wait to share pictures soon from our adventures, but what I truly wanted to share this morning was this, take the time in this busy season to say yes to making memories and being intentional about how you’re spending your time.  It’ll all pass by in an instant and suddenly it’ll be January and you’ll think where did the time go?!  Take the time to take a walk and see the colors with someone you love, to bake cookies with your babies, to read a book by candlelight.  Take a moment and take a deep breath and be thankful and grateful, and relax.  Choose to say yes to the people you love, instead of, “wait just a minute, I don’t have time just yet…”
Xoxo
K

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Bilingual Parenting: How We Do It

October 14th, 2014

Bilingual Parenting!  It’s so much fun! (Really it is, even if it’s a little challenging at times!)  I talked here about why we’ve chosen to bilingual parent our babies, but I’ve had a lot of people ask me for the how?  How do we do it, how do we make it work for us? There […]

 

Bilingual Parenting!  It’s so much fun! (Really it is, even if it’s a little challenging at times!)  I talked here about why we’ve chosen to bilingual parent our babies, but I’ve had a lot of people ask me for the how?  How do we do it, how do we make it work for us?

There are SO many different methods and models to raising your kids to speak multiple languages, you really have to find what works best for your family, and what both parents can agree on.  If both parents don’t speak the second language, sometimes one parent can feel left out, so you have to find the compromises that work for you!  Since Piper was born (almost two years ago!! holy cow that time flew by!!) we’ve gone with the one parent one language method, or OPOL, as a lot of people call it.  We stick to this pretty exclusively, but with some exceptions.  Guillaume will always speak French to the kids, and I’ll always speak English.  It changes a little for example when we take trips to France, I’ll speak more French with the kids than normal, because I’m in the midst of lots of French conversations, and we’re around his family, whom not all speak English.  We’ve been lucky with bilingual parenting, because we both are fluent in each of the languages we’re teaching, so we understand everything that the other parent is saying.  This has been working extremely well for us, Piper has a very full vocabulary in both languages, and will have super adorable conversations with us in either language.

Our plan is to continue with OPOL until our kids start school, and then we’ll reevaluate.  If we feel like they’re getting enough English outside the house, but not enough French within, we have the option of switching to speaking only French within our house.  I would also love to bring a French au pair into our house for a while at some point.  I worked as an au pair in France for a year, and I loved it, and I would love to offer that opportunity for a young girl to come live with us at some point…

One of the best parts of bilingual parenting are the new friendships it’s brought into our lives.  Just the other day, we found out that there’s a French family living in our neighborhood with two little kids, one a month younger than Piper, and one 4 days younger than Eaden.  Perfect!!  The kids get together and play a couple times a week, it’s helping Piper’s French to grow, and their little boy’s English to grow, and this mama has a new mama friend!

So there’s no official right or wrong way to bilingual parent, there’s just what works for you and your family, and what both parents feel comfortable and confident with.  If you start with something and find it’s not working, try something new, switch it up and start over a little!  It’s such a fun adventure, and little kids speaking other languages is one of the cutest things in my opinion!

 

Good luck!

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Nursing Mamas, Recipes to Boost Your Milk Supply!

October 9th, 2014

Last week I opened up about how Eaden gave up on nursing for a few days because there wasn’t enough milk for him to get a full feeding, so he wasn’t interested in nursing at all.  And then after 3 long days of trying everything we could to boost my supply, he finally started nursing […]


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Last week I opened up about how Eaden gave up on nursing for a few days because there wasn’t enough milk for him to get a full feeding, so he wasn’t interested in nursing at all.  And then after 3 long days of trying everything we could to boost my supply, he finally started nursing again!  I had a lot of people asking for advice for how to boost your supply and get milk back when your baby decides not to eat, or when your body won’t produce enough, so I thought I’d share what worked for us!  There are a lot of options out there for how to boost your milk, I’ve just always been surprised that so many of the people I talk to don’t know about it!

The main thing is food and drink!  You need to be drinking LOTS of water!!  And Mother’s Milk nursing tea is great too!  I wasn’t the biggest fan of it hot, so I drank an iced version of it…  And did you know that there are specific foods that will help boost milk?!  Like dark chocolate!  Lentils too.  (They work better than chocolate, but I had to list that one first, I mean… chocolate!!)  Flaxseed, oats, fenugreek, and brewers yeast are a couple others that work great too!  Here’s a couple options for how to use them:

1. Lactation cookies!  Have you ever heard of these?  They’re delicious!  Basically a chocolate chip cookie with some extra goodies added in to help with your milk.  Here’s a recipe that’s delicious, and uses all the necessities- flaxseed, chocolate, oats, and brewers yeast, and you can even throw in a dash of fenugreek on your own.

2. Homemade popcorn, sprinkled with brewers yeast. Yes, I know it sounds a little crazy, but it’s an old family favorite of ours.  Sprinkle a good amount of brewers yeast over your popcorn (Yes, you can still put butter and salt on too!), turn on your favorite movie, curl up on the couch to relax, and munch on your popcorn.

3. Lentil salad:  This is one of our favorite lunch recipes, and given that its main ingredient are the lentils, it’s definitely a good one for milk!

1-2 cups lentils, cooked

A couple steamed carrots, chopped

Ham, chopped/diced,etc.

Tomatos, diced

1/4 purple onion, finely diced

2 hard boiled eggs, diced

Salt, Pepper

 

Sauce:

equal parts Olive oil and Balsalmic Vinegar (We prefer Raspberry vinegar, but I’ve never seen it outside of France!)

a couple squirts of dijon mustard

Garlic clove, finely chopped.

 

*Mix all the ingredients together, and pour the sauce over.  Mix, eat chilled or hot!

 

Along with being intentional about the food you’re eating, be sure to pump as well!  If you want to boost your supply, pump each time after the baby nurses, even if you’re not getting any milk.  It will still begin to make a difference!  If the baby won’t nurse, but you want to boost your supply so that they will start to again, pump on the same schedule you want them to be eating on.

None of this is an exact science, there’s lots of options for great recipes and foods to eat to help with your milk production, these are just some of our favorites!  I ate the food and drank the tea, plus pumped lots and lots for 3 days and then it finally started to make a difference!  It takes time, but just relax, do your best to stay calm, and if you’re like me, make sure you have a good shoulder to cry on when you’re feeling a little bit down because it’s taking too long!

Good luck!

xoxo

p.s. I love chatting with mamas about nursing and helping them figure things out, and I’d love to chat with you if you’re having a hard time!!

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6 Tips for Flying with Kids!

August 20th, 2014

Have you ever flown with kids before?  It’s definitely not always the easiest… ears popping, the grumpy lady in 12C frustrated by the screaming, and not much legroom, especially when they’re on your lap!  Piper flew for the first time at 8 weeks, and has so far done been on 19 flights between our trips […]


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Have you ever flown with kids before?  It’s definitely not always the easiest… ears popping, the grumpy lady in 12C frustrated by the screaming, and not much legroom, especially when they’re on your lap!  Piper flew for the first time at 8 weeks, and has so far done been on 19 flights between our trips to France to see Guillaumes family, and Alaska to see mine.  Today marks flight number 20 and we’ve started to figure some of the things out that make flying with kids easier, so I thought I’d share!

 1.  Dress for COMFORT, and bring a change of clothes (for everyone, including you!) Especially if your kids are flying on your lap!  You can still look totally cute and stylish while comfy, but stay away from tight fitting, non stretchy, fancy clothes, you’ll regret it, promise!  You’re going to spend the flight holding babies, (whether they have their own seat or not), bending down to pick up toys, changing diapers on your lap, and having drinks spilled on.  (It is still fun though!)  My favorite thing to fly in is leggings and a stretchy tunic, and a second tunic folds up nice and tiny in the diaper bag for when I need it.  Comfort extends to SHOES too!  No heels when with kids on a plane!  And you’ll want something with straps that won’t slip off when you have to chase the kids through the airport waiting area on your layover.  I highly recommend Teva’s, but there are so many good options out there!

2. Bring a little wallet size cross body bag for yourself that you can slip your phone, money, and passport in.  That way, you can be hands free to hold onto and chase kids.  I’ve switched my entire wallet into my little bag, and I LOVE it! I can stuff it into the diaper bag when I have everything with me, and if I just need to run in somewhere quick and don’t need everything, I have my bag across my front, and it’s lightweight and hands free. I bought it before my last trip with the kids, and oh man did it  make a huge difference!

 3. Bring something for them to suck on during take off and landing.  If they’re still nursing, let them nurse, if not, bring a sippy cup with some juice, or a squeezy pouch with applesauce to eat.  I don’t recommend lollipops, but they do work for some kids- Piper tends to lick them instead of suck, and she makes a HUGE sticky mess!!  It’s just not worth the mess for us when she’s  cooped up on our lap in a small little seat.  If you’re flying with a baby and they won’t nurse, and are screaming because their ears won’t clear, try blowing in their face.  It forces them to swallow suddenly and usually works!

 4. Plane friendly toys!  Here’s some of our favorites: an ipad with a car headrest attachment (it’s usually a case with a wide piece of elastic designed to wrap around the headrest in front of the child.  Guess what?! They work on airplane tray tables!  It’s a hands free way to add a little entertainment and calm to the flight!  If you’re in a window seat, little static cling window decals are fun to play with!  Some of our other staples are finger puppets and a coloring book with crayons tied to a string so you don’t have to go searching for them.

5.  It’s OK when they cry.  Don’t worry, and don’t let the neighbors looks make you want to crawl into a hole and hide.  Sometimes they just need to cry, and it’ll be ok. A fun way to deal with the neighbors is to bring a little goody bag for the people sitting next to you with ear plugs, and a little Starbucks gift card so they can tune your kids out, and be excited about their coffee when they get off the plane.  Sometimes it just helps to smooth things over!

6. Just remember, no one knows your kids better than you, you know what comforts them most, what makes them most upset, and how to help them through it all.  So trust your instincts, and look at it as a FUN adventure, not something to worry about!

And p.s., a little pacifier tip- if your kids still use a paci, use one of those little strings that clip it onto their shirt and it’ll be a lifesaver!  Otherwise, you’ll be bending down to search for it under your neighbors feet many more times than you wish to…

Have a GREAT flight!

xoxo

K

 

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Bilingual Parenting

August 18th, 2014

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved listening to toddlers learn to talk, and trying to guess at what they’re saying!  At the beginning it’s like this secret language between the parents and child, because no one else understands them yet.  But imagine if your child is learning TWO different language at once!  […]

 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved listening to toddlers learn to talk, and trying to guess at what they’re saying!  At the beginning it’s like this secret language between the parents and child, because no one else understands them yet.  But imagine if your child is learning TWO different language at once!  All the sudden you have to expand your options when you’re guessing what word they might be saying…  I have to be honest, sometimes I forget that there’s a good chance the word Piper is emphatically telling me might just be in French, and that’s why I can’t figure it out (and sometimes I can’t figure it out because, well, she’s one and it’s just not clear enough yet!)  She has an incredible vocabulary for a one year old, and has rather “grown up” conversations with us, and on top of that- she has them in English AND in French!  It’s adorable, and I’m so impressed with her!  Bilingual parenting is tons of fun, and yes it does have its challenges too, but they’re completely worth the effort!
We’re off to France this week, and in the spirit of the upcoming trip, I thought I’d share some of our motivations for raising our kids bilingual!  Most of you know that my husband is French.  (I know!  How lucky am I?! 😉  We met 6 years ago, married 4 years ago, and now we have two adorable babies who are growing up with two first languages.  Why?  Well for us, the main motivation is pretty easy- because their dad is French.  They have grandparents in France, aunts, uncles and cousins in France, and an entire heritage their that I don’t want them to miss out on just because we live on this side of the ocean.  Given that Guillaume is French, bilingual parenting tends to be easier for us than most, and it’s hugely helped by the fact that I’m fluent in French, so I understand what he’s saying to them.  That’s one of the biggest frustrations I’ve heard from other parents trying to raise their kids bilingual- that both parents don’t speak both languages, so one parent doesn’t understand what the other is saying to the kids.  (That would be rough on me, if I didn’t follow along with what Guillaume said to our children!)
But besides Guillaume being French, and therefore us having an easy “in” to the bilingual world, I had always hoped to one day raise my children bilingual, before I had even met him.  I studied French in high school, and always wanted (and still do!) to learn Russian, so I don’t know what language I would have gone with, but I wanted to at least try.  I want my children to grow up with a respect for other cultures around the world, and not expect the world to revolve around their English speaking skills.  I love that we’re able to give them this opportunity, and if bilingual parenting is something that you’re working on too, I wish you the best of luck!!  Stick it out, it’s SO worth it!  While we’re in France over the next few weeks, I thought I’d share some more of our bilingual journey with our kids, some of the challenges, and different methods that we’ve tried/seen other parents do!  And if you have any questions, I would LOVE to chat with you!  Send me an email/comment anytime!
Happy Monday friends!
xoxo
K