Premama Prenatal Vitamins

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I think most women's maternal instincts kick in the second we see that positive pregnancy test. We want the best for our children and we would do anything to give them the best life possible. That is why our OBGYNs insist that expecting mothers take a prenatal vitamin to ensure the healthy development of our children.

Even before I got pregnant vitamins typically made me sick. I always had to have something on my stomach when I took them and make sure I was finding the gentlest solution for my system. Luckily, I did not have any morning sickness with either of my pregnancies, but I wanted to make sure my prenatal wouldn't send me into a porcelain God spiral either. There are so many choices available on the market and you have to sift through them all to see what works best for you.

I personally wanted something gentle and natural that would provide my baby the multivitamins and DHAs he needed. I came across Premama during this pregnancy and gave it a shot. They have a Duo-Capsule prenatal vitamin as part of step 3 in the products that they offer. I found the time-release capsules helped with nausea and also helped my body to absorb the iron it needed. There is no gluten or allergens, no synthetic fillers and the capsule is vegetarian. They also do NOT have that gross after taste that most vitamins do. Premama is infused with mint so it actually leaves you with a pleasant palet. 

Stage 1 consist of a pre-pregnancy birth control cleanse, Stage 2  is a fertility support kit, Stage 3 is the prenatal system and Stage 4 is the lactation support and postnatal vitamins.

Personally, I have only used the prenatal vitamins but I plan on using Stage 4 as well. I had some issues with milk production when I gave birth to Cashton so I am excited to try the lactation support and postnatal vitamins too.  

Why We Decided On An Aupair

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When I tell people we have an Aupair for our son Cashton, I get all kinds of reactions and questions. 
Isn't that crazy expensive? Is it weird having someone else live in your home? How did you find her? And I think the most important question... Do you like being a host family? The honest to goodness answer is, "No, I love it!"

Having an Aupair has not only enriched our little guy's life by exposing him to different cultures and giving him stability in a caretaker, but it has also made our lives more manageable and helps our household run like clockwork. The stress I used to feel every day trying to schedule care for Cashton while I am at work and my husband Dallas is on the road for business is a thing of the past. 

Although we have been extremely satisfied with our decision to become a Host Familly, it was not a commitment we took lightly. I spent months researching programs and following Aupair agencies on social media. One of the things I loved about Cultural Care was their "takeovers" on Instagram because it gave me a better understanding of what to expect as a host family and an insight as to what the experience should be from an Aupairs perspective. 

I also spoke to other families who had hosted Aupairs before, to get an honest "read" on the situation. I asked so many questions like how to be successful in finding the right person and setting house rules. Luckily, my husband's boss had hosted Aupairs for years for their twin daughters and had lots of insight to give us, including their "house handbook." Which was a layout of where to find things in the house, what their family schedules and curfews were as well as emergency contacts, and how both parties should respect each other. This was especially helpful once our Aupair arrived. 

As for the other questions my friends and family had, let's take these one by one. "Is it expensive"? I use to think Aupairs were for the super-wealthy but as it turns out, for us, it was pretty comparable to what we were paying for childcare with our nanny and we were getting a lot fewer hours. However, having someone who becomes a "big sister/ brother" figure to your child is invaluable. This person becomes someone who is caring for your child through your ethics, principles, and disciplinary beliefs. 

"Is it weird having someone else live in your house?" I could see where a family would be concerned about this topic at first glance. Questions like, "will we ever have our own private family time again" could be a worrisome thought, but as the host family, you set the tone. Different families will be looking for different candidates. We happened to want someone who would become a part of our family and not a distant roommate. Other families might want an Aupair who is a little more independent who spends less time at home when they are off. That is why the interview process is so important and it is imperative for BOTH sides to be open and honest throughout the process.  

Another question we get quite often is, "how did you find her?" After doing my research to find an Aupair agency that was right for our family, we decided on Cultural Care. In my opinion, they had the largest selection of countries to choose from when matching with Aupairs. With our Italian background, we knew we wanted Cashton to be exposed to our heritage and Italian language. You can also search by age demographic and gender. A family of all boys may want to have a male figure for their children, while others may feel age is important. We were looking for someone a little more mature for our first Aupair experience, but as lots of us parents know maturity doesn't always come with age so we were a little more open to speaking with Aupairs of all ages. We were, however, looking for someone who would fit into our family dynamic, who could keep up with our busy schedules and gave us "that" feeling. After all, this person is coming to live with you.

Which leads us to our last question. "Is it scary to invite someone into your home before ever meeting them in person?" Yes, but imagine how your Aupair feels. You are in the comfort of your own home. One constant is changing for you, everything is changing for them. Of course, you have to be confident in your match, but once they arrive the faster you can make them feel welcome and settled the stronger your bond can become. Think of it as your niece or nephew coming to stay with you for the first time. They will need to know, where the grocery store is and maybe how to use the washer and dryer. Little things that we take for granted and do every day might be a first for them. 

I think once you realize that your Aupair truly wants to be there to support you and your family, your nerves will be put to ease. I knew as soon as I met Elena at the airport that we had made the right decision. Now that is not to say that things will always be easy. There will be a learning curve as well as times your Aupair may feel homesick but if you try to work through things together, as a family I truly believe you can be successful in this experience. You also have the support of your local LCC (Local Childhood Consultant) to help with the transition if needed.



Here is a look at our first week as a Host Family!


Mother's Day Gift Ideas

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Mother's Day is right around the corner and if you haven't figured out what to get Mom just yet, let me help you pamper her this year. 

I can assure you that any mom would love to receive a little self-care after being stuck in the house for weeks on end. We could all use a good microdermabrasion and a blowout but that doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime soon. So, why not give Mom the tools to do it herself? 

Here are my Top 10 gifts Mom will love. 

1) The gift of Switch! Switch is a monthly subscription-based rental program that lets you "switch" out high-end jewelry as often as you like. Imagine being able to rock Chanel, Dior, or Tiffany's pieces for as little as $29 a month. Plus with the code MerolaLauRen22J you'll get a $25 credit towards pieces that you fall in love with and want to keep. Of course, Mom would love it! You might too! 

2) A fun Pop Socket! I got this one as a gift from a fan, and it is by far one of my favorites. I get so many compliments on it, and it is the perfect blend of statement and practical. The fun part is that they are available through Etsy and you can pick your own shape and pattern. 

3) A good book! You can never go wrong with a thoughtful inspirational or fictional book. Stick to ones you have enjoyed and you know Mom will get a kick out of too! I recently read Demi Moore's "Inside Out" as well as to "Catch and Kill" by Ronan Farrow and both were amazing! 

4) Gold undereye masks. This is a personal favorite in the beauty department. I post them from time to time on my insta stories and I get so many inquiries. They help with puffiness as well as fine lines and wrinkles. 

5) Perfume. Here is a simple gift you can never go wrong with especially if mom has that signature scent. I personally think Chanel's Chance is a crowd favorite. It's light, floral, and easy to wear. 

6) The Nurse Jamie face roller! What a game-changer in my skincare routine! It is an uplifting facial massager that helps with loss of firmness and elasticity, fine lines and wrinkles as well as inflammation! (Also great for hangover recovery.) 

7) The Dyson hairdryer. Whether you have straight, curly, or wavy hair this hair dryer is the best thing ever! (Next to a salon blowout of course.)  It comes with two styling concentrators and a diffuser. Sure this would be a Mother's Day splurge, but Mom is worth it and so is this dryer. Its powerful and fast, cutting drying time in half! It also boasts intelligent heat control to protect your hair and give it that extra shine. 

8) The Clarisonic. Oh, you thought I was kidding about that microdermabrasion? The Mia 2 or 3 is perfect for any skin type because its bristles are interchangeable. Maybe you're looking for a full scrub of those blackheads or just beautiful polished skin. The Clarisonic can provide both. It comes programmed with a two minutes timer which is all you need to hit your t-zone, cheeks, and chin. 

9) Flowers. Sure it's a traditional gift but nothing says "I love you" like a beautiful bouquet to brighten Mom's home during quarantine. Mom not into flowers? Opt for an edible arrangement or a chocolate-covered strawberry box. 

10) Last and certainly not least, give Mom the gift of fashion. Any woman would love a new clutch or pair of shoes to rock when we emerge from our stay at home orders. A night on the town with some new accessories may be just what the doctor ordered.  

Shop any of these gifts by clicking the links above or the photos below. 
Happy Mother's Day! 

Baby Strager's Nursery Design

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Well, I think we can all agree that this quarantine hasn't been easy for anyone! Being pregnant and cooped up in the house has been a challenge but not nearly as big of a challenge as putting together a nursery for the new baby. 

You see, I had this idea in my head that baby #2's nursery would have a safari theme, complete with giraffes and lots of jute/rattan materials. Well that idea quickly went out the window when I realize a lot of the textures I was looking for are manufactured in other countries and right now the import service isn't exactly working like clock work. 

All of the woven pieces I was looking for are on back order until at least July 31 (and that was BEST case scenario). After weeks of racking my brain on whether of not I was going to wait it out, I decided against the whole thing. If you have children you know that if it doesn't get done by the time the baby gets here, good luck! There are just not enough hours in the day. Plus, our little one is due to make his debut June 12th. 

So, back to the drawing board I went. I had to figure out a new game plan that would work with the pieces I had already ordered. I ended up being able to keep the giraffe idea but incorporating a modern elegance feel to the room. By swapping out my grass pieces for gold I was able to create a soft relaxing mood that I think might even work better than my original plan, but we shall see. 

We are still in the planning stages but all of our pieces have been ordered and construction on the wall molding starts today. 



Christmas Lights By American Dream Home Remodeling

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Tis' the season for all things holiday! Not only did I find myself ordering an enormous 15 foot artificial Christmas tree this year but I also wanted to make sure our holiday cheer spread to the curb appeal of our home. Just one problem, my husband wasn't volunteering to climb up on the roof to install the white Christmas lights I dreamt up in my head. In fact, he was avoiding my holiday nesting all together. You would have thought I had the plague and I clearly wasn't getting up on the roof since I'm pregnant. So I had to get a little creative.

I started to call around to those companies that put up lights professionally and get some quotes. The average quote started at $1000.00. Most of these companies have preset packages and don't have much wiggle room if you are looking to custom your order to get the prices down. However I did find one, and it was a company I have hired in the past to do my driveway pressure cleaning so I was familiar with them. American Dream Home Remodeling installs Christmas lights during the holidays. I had no idea you could call companies like this to help you out and they were a fraction of the price! 

I loved working with them because when Ben came out to give me my quote, everything was line itemed. That way I could pick and choose what I actually wanted to do. I decided on having his company do the roofline and the two big trees in front of our house. I also ended up adding a huge light-up wreath for over my garage because I still had some budget left over. It was perfect, I would have them do the lights and Elena and I would handle the smaller wreaths we hung from each window and the front door. We did a little, they did a lot! 

All in all, I am really pleased with the way our holiday decorations came out. It's our first Christmas in our new home and I wanted it to be special and make a splash in the neighborhood. I think I accomplished both. 


Salt Dough Ornament Recipe

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I love family activities and I know with the kids about to be on Christmas break you will too! This is a fun project to work on with the kids while they are cooped up in the house during the holidays. As much as I would love to take credit for this idea it was our Aupair Elena, who is a former preschool teacher who came up with this one. She is great about creating fun ideas and games for our family to do together.

When I came home from work, Elena asked me if we had flour and salt. My reply to the items most people keep in their household was, “of course we do”.  We followed a simple recipe involving just 3 ingredients.  My son Cash loved helping mix the blend together, squeezing the concoction in his fingers until it turned to dough. Then, he helped roll out the dough and created little trees, gingerbread people and stars to be put in the oven for 2-3 hours.


After they were cool Elena used her artistic skills to paint the most beautiful ornaments to hang on our Christmas tree!

To see the recipe we used watch the YouTube video below:

Baby Strager Is Coming June 2020!

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Talk about a tough secret to keep! I feel like I have been sneaking around long enough. I have lied to everyone close to me, dodging get-togethers and holiday parties to conceal the fact that we are expecting another little bundle of joy this coming June! 

There are multiple reasons a woman keeps this secret. Early pregnancy is a sensitive subject, and as an expecting mom, you want to make sure that everything is okay with the baby before shouting your announcement from the rooftops. This was an especially surprising time for Dallas and I because we were just "pre-family planning" at this point. It took us over a year to get pregnant with Cashton and we were trying so hard then. So, imagine our astonishment after realizing that after only 3 months of being off of birth control that I hadn't had a normal "cycle" in over 40 days. 

Shock, amazement, and excitement flushed over mine and Dallas's faces when I immerged from the bathroom holding a positive drug store pregnancy test. We just kinda stood there staring at each other for a few seconds before the news finally sank in. 

I wasn't sure how we were going to be able to contain this news with so many events on the horizon. After all, October to December is our busiest time of the year for social events. Gravediggers Ball, Friendsgivings, holiday parties, and social get-togethers flood our calendars for the last portion of the year. I knew I would get busted the second I showed up to my first gathering and declined a cocktail. EVERYONE would be onto me! So Dallas and I developed a plan to attend every single bash together until we made our announcement. We would BOTH order drinks and he would drink both of our cocktails on the sly. We would just continuously switch glasses until both drinks were gone. It was a match made in heaven. I had a designated drinker and he had a designated driver!   

We also decided that we wanted to tell our family during our Thanksgiving gathering. We had already planned to host the holiday at our new home this year and since this would be the first time since our wedding (10 years ago) both sides of our family would be together I wanted to tack on a holiday family photoshoot for our Christmas Cards. It all seemed to be coming together. If I could dodge the champagne and smoked Manhattans all weekend we could tell them at the end of the photoshoot and catch their priceless reactions on film. 
   
Somehow by the grace of God, we were able to pull it off. No one knew except Dallas and I. Not Cash. Not Elena. Not even our parents. I kept this secret so tight to the vest that our photographer didn't even know until she showed up. 

I had the whole thing planned to a tee! We would finish our shoot and I would announce that I forgot to include a "Merry Christmas" sign I had made for the photos. I would ask everyone to get together one last time and present my "The More the Merrier. Baby Strager, June 2020" sign instead. Here are some of the amazing photos of everyone's reactions.




Of course, the fun didn't stop there. Genetic testing is something we decided to do at the recommendation of our doctor. Apparently having a baby at 35 years old makes you a "high-risk pregnancy", which is laughable but true. The upside to having this test is that they can tell you the sex of your baby as early as 10 weeks! So we were able to share our gender reveal with our family the same day we told them we were expecting.

However, word to the wise. If YOU do not want to know the sex of your baby have someone else check your test outcome because "Boy" or "Girl" is printed right there on the Myriad results. We wanted to know so we check the test ourselves. This way I could order gender reveal poppers on Amazon and have them ready to go for our fam. 

So, we were excited to announce that we are having a ...



BOY!




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