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Mum's the Word

WREN'S HOSPITAL BAG ESSENTIALS

I have been pregnant 4 times in the past 5 years … no multiples … basically 1 child every year. And with each pregnancy came changes in my attitude … as the babies came, I became more and more laid back with everything and packing for the hospital was one of those things.

THE LEVY CREW

I remember very distinctly with my first – my bag was packed 6 weeks in advance because I KNEW I was going early, after all I was 3 weeks early myself and everyone told me based on my size that the baby was most definitely coming early. For the record everyone was wrong and my first came 4 days after her scheduled due date. I brought out a giant wheely suitcase (one typically reserved for lengthy vacations) and filled it with my list of “essentials”:
  • At the top of the list – many changes of clothes (what if I saw someone I knew … I wanted to look cute!)
  • a straightening iron
  • nursing pads
  • bras
  • pumps
  • many baby outfits … I didn’t know it’s gender and wanted it’s first appearance on Insta to be perfect
  • a pillow for my man (apparently he needed to rest while I was in labour)
  • those birthing print outs you get from the labour and delivery classes (if I needed to reference the best birthing positions)
  • tons and tons of food
  • adult diapers (which would serve to be the most useful thing I packed)
  • and of course alcohol (because I knew I would definitely want to drink immediately) the list went on and on.

Fast forward to my labour … I came to the hospital in the middle of the night (in my PJs with pimple cream on … so much for looking cute) – there was no changing of outifts … no eating food and the baby clothes I had brought were all too big (who knew there was a newborn size???) and alcohol was the last thing I wanted after labour. As for those birthing print outs … turns out the best position is on your back.

                           
By my fourth – I packed a few days before my due date (because I KNEW I was going late ;) I fit all the essentials in a teeny tiny little bag – and I really learned what the “essentials” were:
  • a phone charger
  • one change of clothes
  • magazines (if you are getting an epidural!)
  • toiletries (bare minimum)
  • baby diapers
  • a few newborn onesies
… that’s it!
Everything else you can get from the hospital - swaddle, adult diapers, and the MVP of essentials that everyone had failed to mention (and I hadn’t even packed that in my bag – the hospital gave it to me!) the beloved squirt bottle!

 

SHOP OUR LIST OF HOSPITAL BAG ESSENTIALS NOW IN STORE & ONLINE!

MOMSPIRATION: LIV JUDD SOYE

Instagram: @livjudd | YouTube: Liv Judd

WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING THING ABOUT BEING A MOTHER? 

When I stand back and watch these two incredible little humans that my husband and I created. It’s such a bizarre yet incredible feeling.

BIGGEST JOYS?

When they see me across a room and come running with their arms out for a hug. I would love to bottle that feeling.

BIGGEST CHALLENGES?

When I had my first daughter, it took me a very long time to fully understand my new life. I most definitely had postpartum depression — I was in full shock. I was horribly embarrassed about my feelings and felt like a bad mom. I had problems breastfeeding, I felt very isolated. Then tack on a lack of sleep and hormones, and it all does crazy things to your head. I felt like I should only feel joy, like all the other moms I knew. But slowly as sleep came back, I saw light at the end of the newborn baby tunnel. When I had my second baby, I created a mommy group — socializing with other moms living within the same baby world is very important.

BIGGEST SURPRISES?

How much joy they bring and how wonderfully fulfilling it is relive the world again through their eyes.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?

The creativity and the energy. It might sound frivolous, but I love how quickly a single item — either a stiletto or BB cream — can transform the way you look and how you feel about yourself too.

DO YOU FIND YOUR GIRLS ALREADY OBSESSING OVER FASHION? 

YES! They know exactly what they want to wear and when. I can’t believe how much they love getting dressed and picking their clothes.

Pink, glitter, hats and dresses—they are the very definition of girls. I also love that they like dressing like twins and I’m using that to my advantage as it simplifies getting my two fashionistas out the door in the morning!

HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH YOUR KIDS' NAMES?

We wanted to give them Scandinavian names — my mother lives in Norway, I have citizenship and have lived and worked in Norway. But, I wanted to make sure we could find names that sounds just as good pronounced in English as they do with a Norwegian accent — unfortunately many Scandinavian names pronounced in English are horribly jarring.

We also wanted to give them an English name as well just in case later on they wanted to change their name (I was originally known by my middle name Amber and when I was 10 I changed my name to my first name; I like that Liv was uncommon in Canada).

My 4 year old is named Malin Arabella. The first name is a very common Swedish name, and Arabella is my sister’s name—a name I have always loved. My 2 year old is Vendela Rose. Her first name is a relatively uncommon Scandinavian name and Rose is named after my husband’s Irish aunt, who sadly passed away the day after Vendela was born.

YOU TRAVEL A LOT FOR WORK - WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT BALANCING MOTHERHOOD WITH YOUR CAREER? 

I love my career and it makes me a happier, healthier and more balanced person. When I’m all of those things, I know I’m a better mother.

HOW DO YOU AVOID "MOM-GUILT"?

I try to be present when I’m home with my girls. When I’m home, I’m really home (and not on my phone, for example. Yes, it happens, I’m human, but I try my best). 

HOW DO YOU FIND TIME FOR YOURSELF? WHAT'S YOUR IDEAL NIGHT OUT? 

To be honest, my work is time to myself. My husband laughs when he hears this question as he always says I would do my work in my down time too — shopping, researching trends, playing with makeup, learning and reading about the latest beauty launches… I feel exceptionally lucky to work in such a creative and visual environment. An ideal night out would have to be more than one night! It would be an escape somewhere — a beach by the ocean, with hot sunny weather and exotic food. That would be an ideal escape. 

ANY FUN FAMILY TRADITIONS?

I grew up having afternoon tea with my family (my Dad is English). We would talk about our day or school over a cup of tea and some sort of sweet treat (cookie, donut, cake…) — before homework or late-afternoon activities. I hope when my girls are a bit older we will start this tradition.

 

 

 

 

 

ANY MUST-HAVE PRODUCTS YOU RECENTLY DISCOVERED OR CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT?

  1. Concealer: It Cosmetic’s Bye Bye Under Eye in Medium. This stuff covers every sin and does not sit in wrinkles. Its gods gift to moms and all those sleepless nights. I only WISH I had known about this when I had my first daughter. I’m making up for lost time now 
  2. Luminous skin: Philosophy Renewed Hope in a Jar Glow Drops. I like my skin to glow and this is magic in a tube. I use a touch on my cheek bones to highlight or I'll put a drop into my BB cream for all over luminosity.
  3. Mascara: Voluminous Lash Paradise in Black. I get seriously massive lasheswith this in just one swipe. Fully obsessed. I did a YouTube video about this one this mascara is drugstore winner!
  4. Lipstick: Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink lipstick in Heroine. I like to wear bold lip colours on TV and this REALLY stays put (as in, an early morning TV wake up call, 3 lattes, a buffet lunch and this will STILL be just as bold as when I first put it on). Plus, it doesn’t dry out my lips the way many matte lipsticks can.

    WHAT ARE YOUR 4 FAVOURITE INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS THAT WE NED TO FOLLOW?

    @aniab — Her photographs are STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL. Plus she is a good friend and Canadian (fellow prairie girl).


    @louiseroe — I have followed her TV career for many years and I adore how to she doesn’t take life too seriously.


    @sazan — She is a beauty YouTuber based in LA who has just become pregnant. She has such an upbeat, positive vibe and makes you feel like you are good friends, even though we have never met.

    @evachen212 - Eva is a superstar Instagrammer. Head of fashion partnerships at Instagram, previously EIC at Lucky magazine (hand picked by Anna Wintour), Beauty Director at Teen Vogue, and has two young kids. Her commentary is whip smart and witty and she is in the know about all things fashion and beauty. She is definitely a must follow.

    ANY LAST WORDS OF WISDOM FOR OUR FELLOW NEW MOMS?

    Sleep eventually comes back! And once it does, there is light at the end of the baby tunnel. But if you want a leg up, read this book: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr Marc Weissbluth. A mom of twins told me about it. The advice is real, incredibly accurate and I followed every word.

    MOMSPIRATION: CAITLIN CRONENBERG

    WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING THING ABOUT BEING A MOTHER? BIGGEST JOYS? BIGGEST CHALLENGES? BIGGEST SUPRISES?

    I think the most rewarding thing is seeing Wolfy learn new things and grow, both physically and emotionally. Like now he can crawl into any room and close the door in my face and say “BYE”. It’s so satisfying. Every day there are so many joys. He hugs and kisses and snuggles me so much that I forget how tired I am.

    WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT BALANCING MOTHERHOOD WITH YOUR CAREER?

    I have learned nothing about balance, but I have somehow managed to do both at the same time. I take Wolfy to work with me, so it is less of a balance and more of a sticky mash-up of motherhood and career. I love having him at work with me because I’m not distracted wondering how he’s doing. It’s the best. Plus, he is having lots of interesting experiences and meeting lots of people. He loves being on set. He charms everyone in the room and keeps the mood light. It’s almost better than having a puppy on set. Almost.

     

     HOW HAS MOTHERHOOD INFLUENCED YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY?

    I haven’t really noticed a difference to be honest.

    WHO HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE PERSON TO PHOTOGRAPHY (OTHER THAN YOUR SON, OF COURSE) 

    My favourite person to photograph is Sarah Gadon, who, coincidentally, was the first person to tell me about Ani + Wren!

    HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH YOUR SONS' NAME? 

    We started calling him Wolfy when I was still pregnant with him. There’s no real story, just that we talked about thousands of names and both thought Wolfgang was a very cool one. It’s classic but not very common, so it was cool without being a made-up name or a name hybrid of some kind. His first name is Charles, so Wolfy is really a nickname. We use both at home, but with his crazy hair he is a pretty serious Wolfy to me.

    QUOTE THE WORST/FUNNIEST THING YOUR CHILD HAS EVER SAID. 

    He doesn’t really talk yet because he is only 15 months, but once when he was up in the night and calling out he said, “Mama! Mama! Mama! Mama! Elmo! Dada!” That was pretty memorable.

    SUNDAY NIGHT TRADITION? IF NOT, ANY FUN FAMILY TRADITIONS? 

    Every weekend we have pancake breakfast. Wolfy likes to dip his in a combo of Greek yogurt and maple syrup, and then our cat Mickey stations herself close by and licks his fingers. He giggles. It’s the best.

    HOW DO YOU FIND TIME FOR YOURSELF? WHAT'S YOUR IDEAL GIRLS' NIGHT? 

    I have had exactly ONE epic “girls’ night” since Wolfy was born and it involved a (possibly illegal) firepit in my backyard and a make your own sundae bar, while Wolfy was upstairs sleeping. That was great. It has been sustaining me since last summer. If I can pee alone once in a day I consider that my “time for myself”.

    WITH THE POWER AND INFLUENCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA SUCH AS INSTAGRAM, HOW DO YOU DRAW THE LINE ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK IS APPROPRIATE TO POST OF YOUR CHILD? AS A MOTHER, DO YOU ENJOY AND/OR FIND IT BENEFICIAL TO SHARE PHOTOS AND VIDEOS OF YOUR FAMILY ON SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS? 

    I really don’t know where this line is. I do post some photos and videos online if I feel comfortable with it in my gut. I think this moment in our lives is unlike any other, because obviously sharing about our lives is at an all-time high. I try not to go too crazy with it, but it’s hard to hold back. The world needs to know about this zany little character.

    ANY LAST WORDS OF WISDOM FOR OUR FELLOW NEW MOMS? 

    Do whatever it takes to keep you both alive.

    Images sourced from @caitcronenberg

    FAMILY DAY RECIPE: DEVIN CONNELL - MEXICAN STYLE BAKED RISOTTO & CHICKEN + HOUDINI BANANA BREAD

    Family Day is today and we are so excited to be partnering up with our good friend, chef and mom of 2, Devin Connell to bring you two easy kid-friendly and healthy recipes to make with your family.

    Mexican-Style One-Pot Chicken & Rice, with ‘Burrito’ Garnishes

    Serves 4 (2 adults and 2 big kids) OR 6 (2 adults and 3-4 little kids)
     Active cooking time: 25 minutes
    Total cooking time: 50 minutes 

    INGREDIENTS:

    6 bone-less skin-on chicken thighs (drumsticks also work well)

    1 Tbs kosher salt

    1 ½ tsp cumin (used separately)

    2 Tbs olive oil

    1 cup onion, diced (about 1 large Spanish onion)

    2 Tbs garlic, minced (about 2 medium cloves)

    ¼ tsp cinnamon

    ½ tsp cocoa

    2 Tbs tomato paste (or ¼ cup basic tomato sauce)

    1 ½ cups Arborio (risotto) rice

    4 cups chicken stock

    DIRECTIONS:

    Preheat oven to 375F.

    Place the chicken thighs on a large platter and season with salt and 1 tsp of the cumin (keep the other ½ tsp for later).

    In a large heavy-bottom skillet, heat the olive oil on high until just smoking. (Don’t be afraid of heat here! We have to brown the chicken skin and we need a searing hot pan to do it!).

    Carefully place the chicken thighs skin-side down. Allow to brown without moving for 5 minutes. Flip the thighs over and cook for another 2 minutes.

    Remove the chicken from the pan and place in a dish on the side. Turn off the heat and ladle or spoon out the remaining oil, leaving roughly 2 Tbs in the pan.

    Turn the heat back on to medium. Add the diced onion and saute until translucent- about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, cinnamon, remaining ½ tsp cumin, cocoa and tomato paste.

    Add the rice and coat evenly with the onion and spice mixture for 1 minute.

    Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

    Place the chicken thighs skin-side up back into the pot. Do not overlap the chicken.

    Place a lid on the pot and bake for 35 minutes.

    When finished, the rice should have soaked up all of the cooking liquid and be cooked through. Test it to make sure it’s not undercooked. If it is, place in back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

    Garnish with any of the following:

    You can easily prep all of these while your chicken and rice are in the oven.  

    • Grated cheddar cheese
    • Sliced avocado
    • Cilantro
    • Green onion
    • Sour cream
    • Hot sauce

    Houdini Banana Bread

    PLUS a fun way to dress it up for dessert.

    Gluten-Free and Sugar-Free

    Serving: Makes 1 large loaf (8 ½” x 4 ½ “ loaf pan) or 12 muffins.
    Active cooking time: 15 minutes
    Total cooking time: 1 hour for loaf, 35 minutes for muffins

     

    INGREDIENTS:

    4 very ripe bananas -these need to be very ripe (like really ugly and brown or you won’t get the sweetness you need)

    ½ cup melted butter (or coconut oil) plus more for greasing the tin

    2 extra large eggs

    1 Tbs vanilla extract

    1 ½ cups gluten-free flour (I prefer Bob’s Redmill)

    1 Tbs baking soda

    ½ tsp cinnamon

    ¼ tsp kosher salt

    DIRECTIONS: 

    Preheat oven to 350F.

    Grease your loaf pan or muffin tins with melted butter or coconut oil.

    In a large bowl, mash the bananas very well with a fork until very soft and almost liquidy. Whisk in the butter (or coconut oil) and eggs until well incorporated.

    In a separate bowl, sift together the gluten-free flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Push any remaining kosher salt through the sieve.

    Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir with a large spoon until just mixed together. Use a spatula to scrape any dry ingredients down from the side of the bowl. Do not over mix.

    Spoon the batter into the loaf pan or muffin tins until ¾ full.

    Bake for 45 minutes for the loaf or 20 minutes for muffins*. Allow to cool 10 minutes before removing from the pan.

    Dressing It Up!

     For Dessert...

    Grilled Banana Bread with Coconut Whipped Cream, Honey & Cocoa

    Refrigerate a can of coconut milk (not light) for a minimum of 4 hours.

    Remove the hard fat solids from the top of the can and discard the liquid that will have settled. Place the solid coconut cream in a medium size bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy and stiff peaks have formed. Set aside.

    Heat a grill pan on high heat for 5 minutes. It should be screaming hot. Slice 1-inch pieces of the banana bread and place in the dry pan. After about one minute, use tongs to lift a piece up to check for grill marks. If you have acheived nice golden grill marks, rotate the slices 45 degrees and toast for 1 more minute. Repeat on the other side.

    Remove and set aside to cool slightly.

    Spread a good 2-3 Tbs of coconut whipped cream on each slice. Drizzle with raw honey and a dusting of cocoa powder.

    MOMSPIRATION: LANI WEISINGER

     

    WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING THING ABOUT BEING A MOTHER? BIGGEST JOYS? BIGGEST CHALLENGES?

    The most rewarding feeling in the world is knowing that my presence makes my baby happy. Seeing that big smile light up when I walk into the room melts my heart. Maybe he's just hungry for my milk, but whatever, I’ll take it.  

    I would have to say time management is one of  my biggest challenges. I’ve always been that person who thinks I can get anywhere in 15 min.  This coupled with getting a baby dressed, in his bucket and out the door... might as well skip the music class all together. But in all seriousness, budgeting my time has been difficult given that I am a working mom while trying to be as active and involved as possible in Xander’s day to day life. Being a mom has taught me that time is precious, and you need to be extra vigilant about organizing your daily routine to ensure that everything is taken care of. I am still trying to figure it out, but isn’t that what this entire mom thing is about?!

    DO YOU FIND YOUR PERSONAL STYLE HAS CHANGED SINCE YOU'VE BECOME A MOM?

    Comfort is key baby!!! If pants don’t have at least 80% spandex I am not putting them on.  Since Xander is the king of spitting up -  his bib game is strong but unfortunately my silk blouses have started to collect dust in my closet.  On my working days, I’ll throw on a great cashmere sweater and a pair of heels on my way out the door. Otherwise I am in a stretchy pair of Mother Jeans (no pun intended) , a clean tee and pair of sneakers. Having a great scarf, a cool  leather jacket, and a nice handbag goes a long way, and tends to distract ppl from the mess that is underneath it all.

    WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT BALANCING MOTHERHOOD WITH YOUR CAREER? 

    It’s an ongoing balancing act, with a whole lot of guilt being dished at me in every direction. It's definitely a learning process coping with the internal guilt that you’re always going to be missing something. It’s like the worst case of FOMOs that never goes away.  What's worked best for me is delegating time to focus on work and time to focus on being a mom. It’s always going to be challenging, but I just remind myself, that showing Xander that his mom is a hard working female entrepreneur is something he will hopefully respect and admire one day. 

     Also I have an amazing support team around me which really helps.  My husband Marc is an unbelievable father, he's an extremely involved hands on dad who helps out with any task that needs to get done. 

    Not to mention my wonderful superstar parents who are always making the constant effort to call, visit, babysit and provide words of wisdom, which is especially necessary when Marc and I have our bi-weekly parental melt down.


    HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH YOUR KIDS' NAMES? 

    Marc came up with it early on in my pregnancy and it just stuck. Figured if we like it 9 months later then it was our "boys name". Also was convinced I was having a girl, so never in a thousand yrs did I think we would use it.  Total side bar, the only other time I've ever heard of the name was on my favourite childhood show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer,  Xander Harris  #coolname #notsocoolcharacter

    QUOTE THE WORST/FUNNIEST THING YOUR KID HAS EVER DONE.

    Xander once sharted all over me in an airport lounge before boarding a plane to Portugal, so there's that..... 

    FAVE FAMILY VACATION?

    As long as there is sun, a body of water, and some cocktails - we’re good :) I am sure once Xander starts walking our priorities may change slightly. But until then...

     SUNDAY NIGHT TRADITION? IF NOT, ANY FUN FAMILY TRADITIONS?

    Saturday is our family day together, it's the only day of the week that both Marc and myself are off work. It's kind of our "free hall pass" day. The rest of the week Xander is on a tight schedule, so we try to give ourselves 1 day a week to slightly break the rules, and enjoy the day together. Whether it's going out for brunch with friends, or hanging out with his cousins and grandparents, we try to switch it up and do the fun things we've always liked doing.

     HOW DO YOU FIND TIME FOR YOURSELF? WHAT'S YOUR IDEAL GIRLS' NIGHT?

    I make sure to stay grounded by hanging out with girlfriends. It’s so easy to get caught up in this mommy life, and quite frankly over analyzing every minute detail about your baby can be exhausting and quite boring. I like to turn that part of my brain off a few hours a week and go out and catch up with friends over several 9oz glasses of wine. 

    WITH THE POWER AND INFLUENCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA SUCH AS INSTAGRAM, WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK IS APPROPRIATE TO POST OF YOUR CHILDREN? AS A MOTHER DO YOU ENJOY AND/OR FIND IT BENEFICIAL TO SHARE PHOTOS AND VIDEOS OF YOUR FAMILY ON SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS?

    I think the key is to share, but not over share. This is definitely tricky, bc when do you draw the line?  I always had an open profile on instagram until I had Xander, then I locked that shit up. I also never thought I would be a mom who only posted pics of their baby, but I am guilty as charged. What can I say, he is cuter than me and gets way more likes! #whoiscounting 

    ANY LAST WORDS OF WISDOM FOR OUR FELLOW NEW MOMS AND/OR MOMS TRYING TO JUGGLE IT ALL?

    Zero judgment, sleep when you can, and treat yourself to the small things.

     

    Also, I think the most important life lesson that I’ve taken away so far from this motherhood gig, is that it’s so important to stay true to who you are. Your life gets flipped upside down when you enter this crazy journey of raising a human. Somehow you need to figure out how the old you meshes with this new super responsible, selfless, version of yourself.  I try to do the small things that still make me feel normal, while trying to balance my new busier lifestyle. 

    BONUS QUESTION - BIGGEST MOM FAIL?

    Overfeeding Xander. I swear he is a bottomless pit and will eat whatever we give him. That being said 2.5 hrs to digest 16oz of milk and a jar of peas before bed time was just not a good idea. Projectile barfing, exorcist style, all over his beautiful neutral nursery :( Needless to say, I fear he will never get to enjoy a cup of pea soup from United Bakers thanks to me, sorry Xan!!

    INSTAGRAM CONTEST ALERT! Win Our Essential Bump Basics Kit

    Bump Kit Prize pack includes 4 essential pieces:




    One winner will be chosen plus the tagged friend on Instagram post to receive their own Bump Kit. Contest runs from Wednesday January 18, 2017 10 AM, EST to Tuesday January 31, 2017 10 AM EST. Winners will be chosen randomly and contacted on Instagram. Prize cannot be claimed as cash.