Thursday, March 26, 2015

Laila & Spot: Helping New Mothers Look Sane Since 2013

{This is not a sponsored post and opinions are all my own. As I was finishing up this piece, Laila & Spot kindly offered to send me an item of my choice to review in a future post. Can't wait!}

Why is it so difficult to find nursing-wear that is not hideous or expensive? (And I’m speaking from an Australian-shopping perspective.)

I spent a small fortune on maternity wear, most of it bump-hugging and glorious. I never had the courage to show off my midsection until it held a fetus (even in the 1990’s when I was pre-pubescent and crop-tops were a thing.) What fun it was, proudly bouncing around...until near the end when I was living in plus-size hoodies and hibernating on my couch like a Canadian Grizzly.

French Connection tube dress in one size larger than I (used to) wear.
Apologies in advance because there she goes again: I often rant about Australian prices to anyone who will listen.Things are bloody expensive here!!! Look, I get it... People make a living wage which is great, blah blah, but in my opinion, ya’ll have been a captive audience for way too long and retailers have been taking advantage.The sticker shock has worn off now that I'm five years entrenched but my other gripe is lack of variety. If I’m going to shell out big dollars I want to have more than two things to choose from.

Much to my naivety- once I gave birth to my bouncing baby girl, those stretchy tube dresses were no longer practical. I went from belly-pride to belly-hide in a matter of moments. Not to mention I lacked the foresight necessary to realize that my boobs needed to be freed from my clothing about a thousand times daily.

This is what you look like after giving birth- notice, the belly does not magically disappear along with the effects of the epidural.

Don't think the drugs had worn off yet
Desperate and exhausted, I scoured the internet for nursing-friendly attire, and found some amazing, and comfy looking clothes....in Scandinavia...with price-tags even higher than Australian ones. So I surrendered to my sweats, and big button-downs. I completely lost any sense of pride in the way I looked- call me superficial but at the time I needed all the help I could get. I felt fat, unattractive and unsure about the battered body which had just let forth a miracle.

I remember wishing I knew how to sew because I saw a big, fat, gaping hole in the Australian market. Someone needed to design cute, comfy, affordable, nursing-wear for new mothers. While I moaned frumpily, someone was all over it and her name is Laila. She founded a revolutionary company called Laila & Spot.

Finally! Clothing for new mothers and I'm not talking about maternity wear. I had a great laugh reading the section on their website No Pregnant Chicks.
“So you WERE a glowing, expecting mum. But now you ARE a mum – a first time mum or a mum all over again. Either way, among other challenges to be overcome – get ready for war with your wardrobe.”
Thank you Laila. You get it.

She came up with the idea for the company after the birth of her son, where much like me, Laila felt like she no longer knew her body and nothing fit properly. She remembers visitors dropping in during those first hazy weeks and she was sick of receiving them in her pajamas.

Laila explained it perfectly when she told me that in those sleepless early days- a nice outfit would have made such a difference in the way she felt. And like me- Laila moaned until her husband finally said to her "then why don't you do something about it." And she did.

I had the opportunity to scope out some of the Laila & Spot's latest designs at a photoshoot for their new line. Not only are the clothes adorable but the models were real Mums and fans of L&S.  A few had their little babies right there at the shoot, one little guy only 4 weeks old!  If you ask me- that's proof these clothes work for new and nursing mothers.


L&S clothing is trans-seasonal and is designed to be layered. This is strategic, taking into consideration the rapidly changing body temperatures for new mothers. The fabrics are breathable, stretchy and easily wipe-able (bonus.) Plus they have zips in all the right places, privacy shields and great, metal clasps. Gone are the days of fiddling with the crappy plastic ones.

L&S have engineered a user-friendly clasp. Yus!

And in even more good news, the colors and lines are simple so the pieces mix and match easily. They are clean, practical designs and in my opinion will appeal to all different tastes.

Play


Night Out

Work
Their current range of everyday items range from about 30.00-65.00. They are made in India, not far from where Laila herself grew up. Fair work practices and environmental sustainability are priorities to this company so it's refreshingly not about finding the cheapest place to manufacture.

Five fantastic real-life Mums at the L&S photoshoot
It’s understandably difficult to picture what post-baby-life looks like when you’re pregnant with your first. My old friend hindsight has given me yet another gift which I will take as advice: "Next time you are preggers, invest in post-baby threads." I share this wisdom because believe me, clothes are the last thing you’ll have the energy to worry about with a newborn hanging around.

Trust me. You don't want to end up in public looking like this.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Mom's Chicken Salad: A Salad for Chicks


This recipe has five main ingredients and is versatile enough that you can work with what you have on hand. It's a great one to make ahead if you have a girly-friend coming over for lunch or tea. I think it seems a bit fancy because of the grapes.

I've made it a tad healthier than my Mom's version by cutting the mayo with yogurt. You could probably cut out the mayo completely just double the yogurt and be sure to compensate with a little extra seasoning.

I like to serve this to my lady friends with mini croissants or rice crackers.

For this recipe I used two chicken breasts that I poached myself. But you can use any type of cooked chicken- a great way to use leftovers!

(Feel free to experiment with other ingredients like onion or shredded carrots depending on what you have in the kitchen.)




Mom's Chicken Salad


Ingredients
  • 1 or 2 Breasts Cooked Chicken
  • 2 Cups Celery
  • 2 Cups Sliced Grapes (any type works I used black grapes here)
  • 1/4 Cup Mayo (try this awesome homemade one)
  • 1/4 Cup Greek Yoghurt (Or Plain)
  • 1 Teaspoon Poultry Seasoning
Cooking Directions
  1. Dice or shred chicken and celery. Slice the grapes.
  2. Throw ingredients into a bowl.
  3. Mix the mayo, yogurt, and seasoning together first (prevents unnecessary grape mushing.)
  4. Fold dressing in with rest of the ingredients.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Daylesford Afternoon



Last weekend we went to visit Matt's family on their farm.  It's about 15 minutes from the lovely, eccentric little town of Daylesford.

Set in the hills (a nice change from the rest of this flat state) it has an old fashioned charm. Ironically it's a progressive place, known as the gay capitol of Victoria. This means there are some awesome and eccentric people milling around, another welcome change from your typical Aussie-country-town.

Want to get your Tarot cards read or buy some new crystals?  Just use the GAY-TM to withdraw some cash (I regret not snapping a photo of that rainbow ATM in all it's awesomeness). * Update: here it is! Here it is! Thanks Skye*
Photo Credit: My Sister-in-law Skye

Ask me why I've only been to D-ford like three times?  I can't tell you.

For our latest visit with the folks I suggested to Matt that we drop Lavinia with her grandparents so he and I could have a lunch date alone. I really hope we can make it a regular thing. Lavinia gets some alone time with her Nana and Papa and Mommy and Daddy get a break. Win-win.

We also stumbled upon a new-ish American restaurant called The Galley Diner where they serve Anchor Steam (one of my fav beers of all time) too bad they were all out.  Yet another reason to head back.







Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I wrote a Mission Statement

My Mothers Group Rocks (missing Katie who took the pic)

I would like it if mothers could feel less alone. Motherhood is an isolating gig whether geographically (if you're an ex-pat like me) or emotionally. The villages meant to 'help raise the child' have dissolved into myths. We are supposed to do it all, have it all, and love it all, at all times.

My aim is for this blog to be a virtual village (I know the word 'virtual' sounds creepy, but it's not.)  Modern motherhood is scary- can you say input overload on the Interwebs? (Organic or non? Strap the baby or set it free? Breast or bottle? Cry-it-out or claw-your-eyes-out?) Too much information! Make it stop! What ever you chose, there is another side telling you, you're wrong. Guilt! Guilt! Guilt!

In addition to TMI, we are the generation of women who were given the gift of TMC-too many choices. Our fearless, feminist mothers and grandmothers told us; “Career first, then start a family.” So here we are, having carved out a bit of life only to hand it all over to a helpless little human.

Could we go back to that career we love without being called selfish? *wince* Is it possible to simultaneously keep our dignity and admit that we enjoy staying home and raising babies? *cringe*



But seriously though, I’m one person with one perspective.  I haven’t been doing this parenting thing for very long and I am no expert. What I do understand is the feeling of crushing guilt, anxiety and insecurity that comes with the job. Sharing my journey makes me feel like someone else gets me.  Like I'm not the only one.  Like I'm not alone.

I think if we are more honest, maybe we can lessen some of this pressure to be these grateful, cup-cake-making, smiling, instagram-hot Moms. Parenting is messy, glorious, and uncomfortable.  It's about making mistakes, learning from them, and loving your guts out.

If I have one mission it’s to be inclusive, respectful and supportive of all Mommas fighting their daily battles and nailing the occasional sweet, sweet victory.

Thanks for listening,

Dawn
xoxo
PS if you would like to join our Facebook Group, click here.
 photo Joinusbuttontake2_zps530b2207.jpg











Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Healthy Shamrock Shake: Happy St. Patty's Day!



I follow this great blog called My Fussy Eater. It's full of great and healthy recipes that even my toddler will eat. Nothing pisses me off more than when she refuses to eat what I cook. And by refuse, I mean enthusiastically throw everything on the floor.

Since it's March and I'm trying to bring some St. Patty's flavor to Australia (it's a very low key day here compared to my hometown of Buffalo where it's practically a month-long drinking fest) I decided to make this Healthy Shamrock Shake full recipe here.  Below is my slightly simpler version.

Oh my, I've come a long way since the special Irish Coffee's I used to make the morning of Parade Day (Coffee, Vanilla Vodka, and Bailey's in case you were wondering.)

Healthy Shamrock Shake: Avocado, Banana and Mint!

Ingredients
  • 1/2 Avocado
  • 1 Banana
  • 1-2 Cups Coconut Milk
  • Bunch Mint Leaves
  • 1-2 Spoonfuls Honey or Maple Syrup
Cooking Directions
  1. Throw all ingredients into a blender and process until smooth. Add more or less coconut milk depending on desired consistency.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Lavinia at 17 months, A Poem



Your heart shaped face
And rose kissed cheeks
Hold a curly crown of tarnished gold,
Framing eyes the color of storm clouds.

They reflect light 
As the surface of the sea,
So upon trying to match their depth
I must concentrate on staying afloat.


***This poem came to me one afternoon as I was feeding Lavinia her bottle and looking into her eyes. People always tell me she's an old soul- and I'm biased but I've always thought the same.  Her wisdom astounds and intimidates me.  Sometimes when looking into her eyes I almost have to look away from the intensity.  But I don't.  I stare and hold her gaze and let her take me to this deep, raw, place where I swear she can see right through me.***

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

How Do You Grieve From A Distance?



My Grandmother passed away this week.  

We were incredibly close and I credit her to influencing me as much as my own mother did. She gave me a sense of grounding, humility and strength I would not otherwise know. 

It’s a logistical nightmare trying to get to the funeral in New York, in the middle of winter, with a toddler. As a family we have decided I will stay put and my Mother will come to us as soon as she can.

So here I am. In Australia.Trying to grieve.

Funerals are difficult but they allow us to process the loss, say goodbye, and give ourselves the memory of closure. And I've never wanted to be at one so badly.

I want to walk into my Grandparent's house like I did when we lost my Grandfather, hug the first person I see while fresh tears spring up and legs weaken. I want to be able to experience the smells one last time. I want to cry and laugh with my relatives and pick at meals the neighbors drop off.

I want to see my grandmother’s still face as she lays in a carefully-chosen suit, to touch her papery soft hands, and to feel my brother’s suited arm around my shoulders.

I’m not really sure how to do this from here but I’ve been working on a eulogy and it’s helping a little. We are going to try and Facetime some of the wake and funeral which is odd but comforting. Maybe these things will help me to say this trapped goodbye.