Central America

Para me? Un orden el ceviche mixto, frijoles molidas con queso y papas tostadas, aguacate, y uno agua…This is my go to order here; essentially mixed fish and shrimp ceviche with mashed beans and chips, sliced avocado, and a water. Occassionaly I mix it up by braving a “casado”, or typical lunch, featuring rice and beans, plantains, a salad, and meat of your choosing. The food is amazing here as long as you stick to plant based options as we’ve learned that ranchers sell their best cuts to the united states; shocker, right? But, despite the limited variety of food at the “sodas” (mom and pop restaurants), we’re loving our adventure and new lifestyle!

And, what an adventure it has been. I researched this freakin’ country ad nauseam for months to find the perfect location for my family. As small as this country is however, there’s damn near 30 microclimates and even more variety in cultures. The country is divided into various regions of beaches, valleys, mountains, and forests. Not only does the climate change drastically every few kilometers, but the animals change, the fruits and vegetable options change, the cost of living, transportation needs, internet access, and so on and so on. After six months of extensive research I chose an area of the country I felt I vibed with and then a community I felt fit our lifestyle needs and then narrowed it down to a house I thought was perfect only to find out on our THIRD visit to it that its infested with mold! Ever stayed up all night holding your baby wheezing, gasping for air? Well, I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. The morning after our first night there I said, “Hell no! We’re not moving forward with this home”.

The beauty of living in such a tight knit community though is this- I posted on our community app regarding the situation and within minutes a neighbor (whom I’d never even met) invited me over to view her home and offered it up to us for six weeks while she travels abroad. What? Are you kidding me?!  This fairy godmother just literally shook my hand and handed me her keys. That would NEVER happen in the US without lawyers and contracts involved lol.

The home is divine, too! It has amazing airflow, which is crucial in the tropics as most places don’t have AC. The breeze off the river that flows behind the property is surreal and our “yard” is covered with lush grass, tropical trees, and the most exotic plants you’ve ever seen. We can hear howler monkeys in the distance and play “I Spy” a yellow bird in the mornings.

Living in the rainforest comes with a few nuances though that can make it feel like permanent glamping. If you can get over those things, it’s paradise! We’ve embraced the no makeup face, dreadlocked hair from the humidity and the jungle stinch that comes from sweating all day long! The surprise cold shower is humorous, the trace ants have become my frenemies, and I’m learning that the low cost of living only applies when you stick to fruits and ceviche from your local fruit stand. In fact, I’ve stopped by this one particular “fruteria” nearly every night and taken home bananas, plantains, avocado, papaya and ceviche for the following day. My “fruit friends” love to play with my babies through the car windows, “Hola guapo” and “que lingo” as they tickle them and bounce their chunky cheeks.

I’m learning alot about my strength as a mother and a woman. I am capable of living without modern ammenities and I can adjust to differences in lifestyle. I’m also humbled by some of the homes I pass each day and the people I’ve met. Their homes do not mirror any Pottery Barn magazine I’ve ever seen and their clothes have no labels, or even tags for that matter. They don’t wine and dine in the five star restaurants of the capital city and most of them have never been outside of their own villages. However, they are kind, warm, friendly, and embrace life every day for each beautiful moment. They try to speak my language out of respect just like I try to speak their’s, both literally and figuratively. I did not come here to teach them my ways, but instead I am here to learn from them. I want to learn the “pure life” and step outside my comfort zone for a cultural awakening!

Pura Vida,

That Girl

 

Fall Portrait Party!

YOU are invited to a portrait party in the heart of the hill country! Ariel Rawlings, elite wedding and family photographer and owner of Evan & Marin Photography, is offering fall portrait mini-sessions for ONE DAY ONLY Oct 8 at Whole Heart headquarters (aka, my home). Picture two acres of Texas hill country with miles and miles of rolling hills behind you. imagine hay bales, quilts, pupkins, apples, wood crates…

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Ariel is super talented with light! She’s that photographer that reminds us all that it takes more than a fancy camera to be a pro; it takes artistic talent and an eye for detail. I’ll be setting up three pinterest-esque fall portrait backdrops on our property for you to choose from. Or, opt for no backdrop and just get down with nature!

It’s a party so come mingle with other mamas. Those that schedule sessions in the morning can enjoy pumpkin bread from Quacks Bakery (I think there’s crack in it as it’s SO addicting) and fresh coffee or mimosas. Those that schedule the afternoon sessions can enjoy wine from local wineries and a charcuterie board with fresh meats and cheeses.

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Bring the baby, bring the kids, bring your partner, or bring the whole fam damn! This opportunity is too good to pass up. Ariel is offering her services PLUS three photos at a fraction of her sitting fees. Sign up here for the time slot that works for your family. Should you sign up during the TX/OU game…yes, the game will be on our outdoor TV!

Stay gold, 

That Girl

Austin’s Best for Prenatal Care & Pregnancy

It’s my job as a Baby Planner & Maternity Concierge to know the local pros and services available to expectant moms, so when I found out that I was pregnant, I knew just who to turn to!

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My Ob/Gyn: Dr. Vanessa Yium came recommended to me as “the crunchiest doctor in Austin”, which is exactly what I wanted. I didn’t want someone who’d find out I was having twins and immediately schedule my c-section. No way! Dr. Yium is honoring my plan in its entirety and she’s very welcoming to my having a doula. Im required to get an epidural at 7cm dilated in case babies turn breach and she needs to pull them out feet first (ouch) or, worst case scenario is an emergency c at which  point I’d have the epidural already placed.

Labor Plan: labor at home as long as possible! Once water breaks or contractions are long and strong I’ll go in, but the earlier you go to the hospital, the higher your chances for unnecessary medical interventions and c-section.

Delivery: I’m requesting minimal vaginal exams (decreased infection risk), low dose epidural at the LAST possible point, and I plan to stay mobile until pushing time. I’m hoping to deliver upright using a squat bar; however, sometimes US hospitals have policies that don’t allow this. I’ll have my mother, husband, and doula in the room with me, but I’m refusing students.

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My Doula: Austin Born has a team of doulas that are all exceptional. My prenatal doula is the owner, Phyllis Brasenell, but I know there’s potential for me to have a different doula the day/night I deliver. I’m trust them all though to provide the emotional and physical support I need to face labor like a boss!

My Chiropractor: Chiropractic care is a smart choice during pregnancy and I’ve been going to the Joint. I love the fact that each adjustment is only $20 and I don’t need an appointment. I can drive-by, walk-in, and back out whenever it’s convenient. Seeing a chiropractor can help keep your spine aligned so you’re working at optimum potential, but also widen the pelvis to reduce chances baby is breech.

My Prenatal Masseuse: I’ve had a prenatal massage 1-2 times a month since my twelfth week of pregnancy with Amy at Hand & Stone Massage at the Galleria. She knows you’re there to relax so she keeps chatter to a minimum, only talking at the beginning to find out what your current needs are. Not only am I relaxed after visiting Amy, but I’ve had virtually no swelling (edema), I have no varicose veins, and my circulation and  muscle tone have stayed healthy.

My Hospital: Seton Main is where my doctor delivers, but I would’ve chosen to deliver here anyway because it’s recognized as one of the safest hospitals in America to deliver! Its centrally located, they have a Level 2 NICU (I hope I never see), great food, excellent staff, and they’re familiar with crunchy mamas like me. Had I had one baby I would choose a birth center, but that’s not an option with two so I’ll have to do my best to advocate for myself and avoid unnecessary medical interventions.

Placenta Encapsulation: Lisa Kestler encapsulates placentas for Whole Heart clients and I’m honored she’s going to be doing mine. Placenta encapsulation helps regulate hormones to decrease post-partum depression, it helps your uterus shrink back to size faster, and helps increase mother’s milk supply. With twins I get double the pills!!

How wonderful to have options! Austin is filled with wonderful service providers who’s goal is to support the expectant FAMILY, not just the mother. I’m fortunate to have created anamazing team of providers and I feel very confident as my delivery is fast approaching.

Wish me luck, 

That Girl

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Keep Up the Mommy Wars

Please put down your pitch forks and hold those tomatoes for dinner rather than throwing them at me. Hear me out. I used to be on the bandwagon of “stop the mommy wars” too, simply because that was the only side ever argued publicly and I hadn’t really though it through. But, when I think about it I start to think the so called “mommy wars” might be exactly what our society needs. 

So, dare I say it, keep up the mommy wars!

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Women naturally compete with one another; it’s written in our DNA and there’s no way around it. When we dress up to go out for an evening, we rarely are dressing up for the men, we’re dressing for the women. We exercise and eat right for health, yes, but many of us also desire looking great in our swimsuits and cocktail dresses around our girlfriends. If I want shinier hair I’ll ask my friend with the shiniest hair what she uses. I save the recipes my health nut friend posts on facebook because I’d love to be as healthy and toned as she is. I watch the way my best friend meets new people and admire how she instantly puts them at ease. I try to be more like that.

The point I’m getting at is that a little competition is good so long as we’re not putting one another down.

So, why try to stop competition among mothers? Sure, there are women who make certain choices solely based on how great they will come off to other mothers, but there are also women who are just kick ass moms! A trained eye can tell the difference. If we keep chanting, “stop the mommy wars”, it might make those really amazing moms insecure about doing their best for fear they’ll be ridiculed as a sancti-mommy or some other ridiculous term.

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There are moms who get up every morning and make breakfast for their children before school. They pack their lunches, write notes to put in their backpacks, and make whimsical snacks they either made up, or pulled off Pinterest, each afternoon. They have a homemade dinner on the table every night. Is this mom competing in some hypothetical mommy war or is she doing what she feels is best for her family? Some women gossip behind her back and accuse her of showing off, but maybe they just need to step it up! Maybe you’re a working mom and don’t have time to make meals, but can you leave notes? Can you decorate the lunchable with stickers? Be the best you for your child.

There’s the mom who throws the birthday parties with a spread fit for a king, handmade decorations, custom dress or outfit for the birthday boy/girl, and invitations that rival those for a royal wedding. Maybe she is a mommy war competitor, but maybe she just goes all out for birthdays because growing up she never had a party. Maybe she knows how special a birthday celebration can make a child feel and she’s willing to put in the man hours to make it great. Instead of mocking her, join her. Throwing a wonderful party for a child is not something that should be shamed.

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Some moms decide to birth naturally because they know it’s what’s best for babies, not because they look down on those who had a c-section. Don’t assume they’re trying to prove anything by making that choice. Some moms cloth diaper because they’ve done the research and know the benefits for their child’s health, the environment, and their finances, not because they’re trying to “win” the mommy war. These moms may also cook organic baby food and breastfeed exclusively for a year. If this makes another mom feel inadequate, step it up! Again, do what you can do to make the best decisions for your child.

Shaming each other for our choices as mothers? Bad. Acknowledging each other’s choices and being aware of our own inadequacies? Good.

We could use a lil’ healthy competition in the world of motherhood so keep it up. Share your recipes, pin those DIY projects, tell us about your triumphant parenting skills. Some moms are just better than others, either get over it, or do something about it. We should acknowledge these moms, watch them, try to learn from them, and keep raising the bar higher for motherhood. We should keep trying to be more patient, more creative, more balanced, more kind, a better cook, a better teacher, more prepared…keep up the mommy wars (with kindness)!

Stay gold, 

That Girl

Itzy Ritzy Gets Me Everytime!

Itzy Ritzy is the ritz of the baby world and a favorite of celebs like Jenifer Garner, Gisele Bundchen, Angelina Jolie, and Gwen Stefani (to name only a few). In a storefront I find myself pulled by a force bigger than me straight towards the Itzy Ritzy selection. And, this year, at the ABC Expo, I was a woman obsessed when I saw their newest additions!

Itzy Ritzy gets me every time!

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Get a glimpse at these prints!

I’m a glam girl and ever since I was a little girl I told myself, “I will NOT be one of those moms that forgos fashion when she has kids”. Itzy Ritzy keeps moms looking haute  with on fleek prints like chevron, boho, clean/classic stripes, moroccan nights (my personal favorite), and mod circles. Their apparel tends to be cleannd modern for moms, while the baby gear takes a more whimsical approach for the kiddos.

FUNction!

Jessica Alba, a die hard Itzy Ritzy fan, put infinity scarfs on everyone’s fashion radar years ago. But, when interviewed about her day look she downplayed the fashion part of things, and credited the scarves for function. She says the scarves were not only cute, they were damn near essentials for moms! They doubled as headwraps when she couldn’t wash her hair, nursing covers on-the-fly, and even a cover-up when a baby had spit up or covered her with food. Itzy Ritzy has a FULL line of lightweight, breathable infinity scarves that double as nursing covers. They come in classic, clean stripes, or modern patterns.

  • Everyday scarf that is convenient to wear and use when nursing
  • Allows maintained eye contact and airflow for your baby
  • Cotton and polyester jersey knit blend with finished edges
  • Machine washable and line dry recommended
  • Comes with a warranty against any manufacturing defects at the time of purchase

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The Carseat Canopy AND Tummy Time Mat

Sure, you could just use a swaddle blanket as a carseat cover (environmental shield), but A. they’re not as cute, B. they don’t stay put, and C. They don’t double as tummy time mats because they’re too thin. Like I said, Itzy Ritzy rocks in FUNction! Their new carseat canopies come in adorable prints like anchors aweigh, chev-rock pink, or grey chevron (my fave), in breathable muslin. They have a simple hook and eye closure, protect from sun, rain, and germs, and are easily removable when you need a changing mat or tummy time mat.

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Snack Time (in more ways than one)

Itzy Ritzy gets it! They know your baby snacks on-the-go and often snacks on you. They’ve always had the adorable “Snack Happens” reusable bags, but now they have reusable baby food pouches and even teething jewelry for the mom that feels like she’s morphed into her child’s personal teething toy. These jewelry pieces are non-toxic and safe for munching munchkins! Cause they know teething happens
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The Snack Happens bags can be stuffed with fruit, veggies, cheese, or dry snacks for an eco-friendly, chic alternative to the BPA-laden ziploc. They’re machine washable, durable, have a secure zipper closure, and the bags are so cute your kiddo might actually look forward to their celery snack! What does the fox say? Dee-dee-dee-da-hee-hee-haw-haw…you get it, right?!

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I saved the best for last! Moccassins!!! 

These are currently only available for pre-order until January so…get ’em while they’re hot! Pesonally, I don’t want to pay $75 for baby mocassins like some other brands. Itzy Ritzy moccasins are just as cute (maybe cuter) and definitely won’t break the bank.

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  • Super soft, breathable and durable leather
  • Easy on, easy off with elastic opening
  • Removable padded insert for comfort and to extend the life of the shoe as baby’s foot grows
  • Signature Itzy Ritzy chevron embossed soles for style
  • Adorable gift box packaging makes Itzy Ritzy moccasins the perfect baby shower, new mom, christening or first birthday gift
  • Spot clean only
  • Available in 0-6m, 6-12m, 12-18m

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Go straight to ItzyRitzy.com now and peruse the latest and greatest! Try not to drool!

Stay gold Ponyboy, 

That Girl

Baby Stuff I Despise

I’m a pretty chill person for the most part- mellow, go with the flow, pick my battles. I eat clean as often as I can, but I have never said “no” to pizza or Taco Bell. I prefer organic products on my skin, but if I’m traveling I’ll use whatever lotion or body soap is available. And, I try to keep environmental toxins to a minimum, but I’ve been known to use diffusers in my home that are everything BUT organic.

This being said, there are things made for babies that I REFUSE to budge on and will NEVER, under any circumstances, use with my own children.

Non-organic ‘Sposies

Disposable diapers are bad for our wallets and Mother Earth, but they are downright POISONOUS to babies. Sodium polyacrylate, dioxins (found in agent orange), chlorine, dyes, phthalates, bisphenyl A (BPA), toluene, dipentene, styrene, etc etc etc. These toxins have been scientifically proven to cause endocrine disruptions, hormonal imbalances, exacerabate asthma and allergies, cause respiratory infections, and suggested as culprits for the rise in childhood cancers and infertility. I cannot, in good faith, pull a plastic, chemical laden diaper, out of a plastic bag, and place it against my baby’s skin (his largest organ). Knowing these things are leaking into his bloddstream for the first few years of life gives me the heeby jeebies. I’m packing newborn cloth diapers for the hospital and organic ‘sposies just in case my boys have to spend some time in the NICU. This is a non-negotiable.

Plastic Bottles

I cringe when I’m doing a family consult, or caring for a newborn, and have to insert a plastic bottle into their mouth. I don’t judge the family, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel guilty the ENTIRE time I was feeding the baby. The bottle will have been heated in either a warmer, or a mug of hot water, which releases the bisphenyl A into the formula or milk. Blech! BPAs can have negative effects on the bran and human behavior, increase the risk of cancer in later life, cause heart problems, and many experts are looking into the correlation between BPAs and obesity, ADHD, diabetes, and early onset puberty. Even BPA free plastics are being made with BPAs cousin, a chemical that has not yet been proven safe using longitudinal studies. Eek! For me, it’s glass all the way!

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“Mainstream” Toys

This is one of my no-nos that my mother has a hard time with. Whenever we’re in a store like Target or Buy Buy Baby and she’s ooing and ahhing over some of the toys, I just shake my head and tell her, “You know my babies won’t be playing with those, right?” I can hear my readers (especially my friends) now going, “Chelsea, c’mon! Toys are too toxic?!” Yes and no. I imagine I’ll budge when it comes to toys from time to time and let a few non-organics into the home. Toys that have been used, washed, played with before tend to be aired out and the toxins from the plastics, dyes, paints, and fabrics are less; however, I’m really not into toys with batteries or requiring electricity. You won’t see an activity gym that lights up, spins, or sings songs in my nursery. You won’t see that “left foot, right foot” bear in my toy box, and I guarantee my playroom won’t smell like a Sears or toy store because that “new toy smell” is toxic. Not only do I want nontoxic toys, but I want classic toys that are open ended and encourage creativity, imagination, and free play. I don’t want my child’s play to be limited and their imagination to only be able to go as far as the manufacturer of the toy allows.

Whatever happened to lincoln logs, cardboard bricks, wooden toys, dolls, dress up boxes full of vintage clothes, pretend food (that isn’t scented), puzzles, art, clay, and musical instruments?!

Here’s a sneak peak at the registry I’ve put together for my boys. Hopefully, by viewing this you’ll see that there’s alot of really cool, modern, and CLEAN options out there for babies!

Vail Twins Registry

I could also add to this list how much I hate boy’s clothing with duckies, trains, polar bears in party hats, or dinosaurs. Oooh, or how ’bout cliche phrases like “mommy loves me” or “daddy’s MVP”?! Finger in my throat gag! Am I being a bitch or can I play the pregnancy hormone card?

Let me know your thoughts. I LOVE to hear from you!

That Girl