Monthly Archives

September 2015

Before Pregnancy, During and Forever After

BLANQI motherhood tip

If you have yet to spawn an early riser, here’s a mama tip for you – take your time in the mornings!  Read the paper, a book, your favorite magazine.  Sip on your morning tea and watch the sun filter through your window as you listen to your favorite music.  Just be.  Soon the days of laying in bed until 9, 10, 11 will be a distant memory and getting up after 6:00 considered “sleeping in”.  Though what’s to come will fill your life with more amazing adventures than you could possible imagine, enjoy these moments by yourself 🙂

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Sarah Sweeney wearing our BLANQI Motherhood is my Muse tee

 

Images:  Sarah Sweeney

BLANQI Baby Bumps, Sabina's Life

The 3 essentials to making it through 5 months of pregnancy-induced bedrest

5 months.  20 weeks.  150-ish days.  However you say it, it’s a long time!

4 months into my pregnancy with my first child, Kai, I started having contractions and went into preterm labor.  “Preterm labor occurs when regular contractions begin to open your cervix before 37 weeks of pregnancy. A full-term pregnancy should last about 40 weeks. If preterm labor can’t be stopped, your baby will be born early. ” (WebMd.)  Needless to say, I was rushed to the hospital where they were thankfully able to stop the contractions and the labor.  I was subsequently placed on strict bedrest.  Yep, STRICT bedrest for the remainder of my pregnancy.  That meant only getting up to use the bathroom…for five months.  I will discuss the controversy regarding bedrest in a later post – all I knew at that time is that it had been ordered, so that’s what I was doing.  What I want to share with you right now is how I survived pregnancy bedrest without driving myself insane! 🙂  For me, it came down to 3 essentials –

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 1. Smile.  Be optimistic and don’t feel sorry for yourself –  I told myself that it was for the baby’s good, and that it was not a time for thinking “if only I could”.  Knowing that it was for the sake of the baby, and not, say, a broken leg, completely removed any frustration.  It’s amazing how your state of mind shapes your reality.  In fact, according to studies done by positive psychology researcher Suzanne Segerstrom, “Optimism is an individual difference variable that reflects the extent to which people hold generalized favorable expectancies for their future. Higher levels of optimism have been related prospectively to better subjective well-being in times of adversity or difficulty.”  Dr. Segerstrom wrote that when faced with uncontrollable stressors, optimists tend to react by building “existential resources” — for example, by looking for something good to come out of the situation or using the event to grow as a person in a positive way.”

Not feeling very optimistic?  According to Licensed Master Level Psychologist Here are a few ways to help change that:

           a.  Reprogram thinking:  Reprogramming thinking can help us develop an optimistic outlook where we expect positive things to happen, and feel confident and positive about how we can manage our current situation.

b.  Create a healthy support system:  Our support systems can also offer more pleasant moments and positive experiences. Having kind and caring people in our life can help us feel grateful for what others offer, and give us a chance to do something kind for them.

c.  Thinking creatively – There are always more solutions to a problem than appears on the surface. Sometimes we must use creative problem solving in order to make change happen. Creativity also helps us think bigger and expand our view of what’s possible.

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2.  Learn.  While it was tempting to catch up on all of my favorite series and those reality shows we won’t mention here ( which I totally did, by the way), I made sure to balance every bit of entertainment with something educational.  It could be a documentary on HBO, mastering photoshop skills, reading history books etc..  It was a terrible feeling to look up at the clock and realize the whole day had gone by to the tune of the Kardashians (eek!), so I quickly alternated the mind-numbing shows with things of value – those that I felt I left with something, some sort of accomplishment – it made me feel much more useful and satisfied, and as though I was utilizing my time doing something of worth.  “Your mind may be the closest thing to the Holy Grail of longevity and happiness. Education has been widely documented by researchers as the single variable tied most directly to improved health and longevity. And when people are intensely engaged in doing and learning new things, their well-being and happiness can blossom.”  Philip Moeller for U.S. News

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3.  Create.  With so many hours in the day, you definitely need to give your eyes some rest from the tv, computer, and books.  I loved painting and crafting and preparing things for Kai’s nursery.  All those pinterest DIY boards you collect but never actually do?  Well, there’s plenty of time for it now 🙂  I used a breakfast-in-bed tray as the actual surface onto which I laid out whatever I was making, and had a rolling file cabinet as my supply station.  I painted all sorts of cute little wooden animals for the nursery, and I even did some needlepoint!  It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated – just something to keep your mind busy, and ultimately, happy.  In fact, “Positive emotions and creativity make us feel interested in the world around us. The ability to be fascinated and allow ourselves to explore and discover makes us feel open and alive. It’s also what draws us to learn new skills, perspectives, and ideas—resources that we can draw on to solve life’s problems. This boosts our resilience and our satisfaction with life—both part of the equation for overall happiness.” (This Emotional Life, PBS.org)

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 Additionally, according to an article published in US News & World Report, “in terms of happiness, a close companion of learning is the degree of engagement people have with tasks that provide them knowledge and fulfillment. People who are intensely absorbed in a task can lose track of time and place. Hours pass like minutes. They may be tired by the task but emerge energized and happy. This condition is known as “flow,” a name coined 30 years ago by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

So there you have it – Optimism, learning, and creativity.  Those five months were still trying at times, but went by surprisingly quickly.  Even better?  The little bundle of joy at the end of the bedrest tunnel!

Share your stories with us below!  How did you stay busy during bedrest?

xx Sabina

BLANQI Baby Bumps, BLANQI girl

BLANQI girl of the week

Brenda Bird // Graphic Designer + Lifestyle Blogger // Seattle, WA

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“…just as the countdown number is decreasing, my discomfort with a plump belly, flattened bladder and insomnia filled days/nights are only increasing….What helps you ask? Not much takes all that mumbo jumbo away, but Benadryl helps a bit with insomnia and this tank from Blanqi alleviates most of that lower back and lower abdominal discomfort.”

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We can’t get enough of Brenda’s adorable graphic designs!  Featured on Apartment Therapy, The Glitter Guide, Huffington Post and more, she is a design force to be reckoned with!  Be sure to stop by her blog –  www.brendabirddesigns.com – and store – From Me With Love – for beautiful designs and diy ideas!

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Images – Brenda Bird

Decor

Chic IKEA hacks

As a Swede, I’m a born and bred IKEA groupie, and have been surrounded by the Scandinavian empire’s design since birth.  Though I certainly appreciate IKEA’s original style and designs, sometimes a little hack is needed to spruce up the pieces!  I love these modern and chic IKEA hacks that turn an understated piece into a design statement without breaking the bank. Now go get inspired! 😉

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Fake the reclaimed look and restore the state of your wallet with this Scandinavian cabin-chic headboard

Stikwood headboard by Sugar & Cloth

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Beaturiful Tarva dresser revamp by Sarah of  Smitten Studio

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Leave a statement at the door with this DIY monogrammed door mat by Kristy Murphy

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Turn an otherwise unassuming board into a conversation piece with this Copper LACK shelving hack – by IKEA

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Does it get anymore industrial-cool than this?  Cage light sconce hack by Nalle’s House

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The only thing missing from this picture is you, Don Draper, and an Old Fashioned. Midcentury modern Expedit hack by ikeahackers

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Bedtime story?  Find refuge from the lego-strewn floor minefield with this amazingly cozy and cool IKEA bench seat hack by ish & chi

Got any good IKEA hacks?  Share with us below!

xx Sabina & Valerie

Day in the life, From bump to baby

Emily’s triplet journey – life with 3 newborns!

This is Emily’s story.  Beautiful mother of four, wife, entrepreneur, photographer, and writer of Zee + three .  We previously asked her to share some of her experiences to shed some light on her multiple pregnancy, and now life with newborn triplets, Daniel, Summer, and Taylor!   xx Sabina & Valerie

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Would you mind telling us a little about the birth?  

Sure! From the first moment we met with our OB (he’s a specialist in multiple births and high risk pregnancies), we had a goal of making it to 34 weeks. He said that this would be the best outcome for me and the babies if we could make it this far, so I was determined to get there. As we drew closer to the date, he booked us in for a ceserean at 34+1 which was a Tuesday. However, on Sunday night, the babies had other plans. I went into labour on Sunday night, however the contractions were really far apart, so I stayed at home until morning. Then our OB said to come in and have the babies straight away. The operating theatre was very busy and a little overwhelming – but the team were amazing and helped me feel comfortable …. There must have been 15 people in the room, not including me and my husband. It was all pretty quick once it started… I think once we got into theatre, we had our first baby (Summer) within half an hour, our second (Taylor) a minute later and our third (Daniel) a minute after that! I got to hold all three of them for a couple of minutes before they were taken to the Special Care nursery and I was taken to recovery. The whole experience was pretty surreal but I do remember feeling weightless after the operation and the babies had been take out… I was so big in my pregnancy, and there was a lot of pressure on all my internal organs – I  remember feeling like I could breath again.

Emily - zee plus three - multiple pregnancy / BLANQI

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Are you getting any sleep?

Well, if you had asked me this last week I would have said, Sleep – what’s that? But in all seriousness, we have been pretty blessed with very settled babies. Usually they sleep for 3 – 4 hour blocks at a time, but now that they’re 14 weeks old, I have started trying some sleep training techniques. Now, instead of waking them for their dream feed at 11pm, I’m letting them sleep until they wake naturally. Now instead of feeding them at 11pm and 3 am, we’re putting them to bed at 8pm, they’re waking at around 2am, and then again around 6.30am – which means Im getting a bit more sleep this week.  I probably average around 6 – 7 hours of broken sleep a night. Hopefully by 6 months we can drop the 2am feed – but for now, it’s manageable!

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How many times a night are you getting up? 

It’s so much easier now… A few weeks ago I would have said up to 10 times a night. But now, apart from the 2 am feed, I sometimes have to get up once or twice to get one of the babies back to sleep. The boys both take pacifiers when they’re trying to get to sleep, but Summer isn’t a fan! She needs a little more help getting to sleep that the boys. I probably get up anywhere between 2 and 4 times a night, but they’re pretty easy to settle at this stage, so apart from the 2am feed which can take up to an hour, the other times I’m usually back in bed in 10 minutes.

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How are you managing their feeding schedule?

They have been on a 4-hourly feeding schedule since they came home from the hospital 10 weeks ago, so feeding times have been at 3am, 7am, 11am, 3pm, 7pm and 11pm. Now we’re trying to drop one of the night feeds that schedule is changing a little. In the beginning, the babies were not able to breastfeed as they were 6 weeks prem. We fed them through a gastric nasal tube for the first 3 weeks, and then started introducing expressed breast milk and formula. Then we started breastfeeding them when they were strong enough. Now we do a combination of breastfeeding, expressed breast milk and formula as I can’t produce enough to feed them exclusively. This combination works really well for us and I hope to continue doing this as long as I can.

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How are you feeding them – one at a time?  Two?  Is your husband helping?

It depends on how tired I am, and if I’m breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Sometimes I will bottle feed two at once but I can only do that with Summer and Daniel, as Taylor needs to be burped multiple times during a feed otherwise we have projectile reflux issues!! I tried tandem breastfeeding, but it wasn’t really my thing, so even though it takes longer, I prefer to feed them one at a time. My husband helps in the morning before work, and then most of the feeds at night too, however some nights I try and feed them without waking him so he can get through the next day at work without falling asleep in a meeting!

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Describe an outing with the family – what does it look like?  What does it involve? ( lots of preparation, we imagine! 🙂 )

My favourite family outing is on a Saturday or Sunday. Every weekend we will try and get all the kids out for a walk to the park (and a detour via the coffee shop for mummy!) We have to plan it so that Zee (our 2 year old) is fed and changed, the babies are fed and changed – then we have a 3 hour window before we have to be home again for feeding & nap time! We take the triplet pram (which I push) and then hubby pushes Zee in his Red Bike, and walks River (our Golden Retriever ) We look like we have our hands full and we do get lots of looks by passing traffic and usually get chatting to people at the park who are a bit surprised that they’re all ours!

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How long does it take to get out the door?

We have to aim to leave an hour before we really need to leave so we can get out the door, and even then we’re usually late! We’re getting better though. We probably only go out as a family once or twice a week, its a bit of mission. Yesterday we went to our nephews 5th birthday party, and it took about an hour and a half to get ready, which wasn’t bad considering!

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 How is your little man feeling about it?

Zee has been an amazing big brother since the very first moment he met them. He had been practicing their names over and over again from when they were still in my tummy. A couple of days after they were born, my husband brought him in and he ran in to the Special Care Nursery and said “Summer, Taylor, Daniel, I love you!” He still tells them everyday and showers them with kisses. He definitely has his moments of jealousy, but that’s directed at me, not at the babies…. But we’re working on special things I can do with him when the babies are napping during the day so he feels special.

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How are you feeling? 🙂

I’m actually feeling really good – especially now that the babies are starting to sleep for longer than a few hours. Its amazing what a little sleep will do for you! I’m starting to enjoy it more now too that we’re starting to get smiles and interaction from the babies. They make me laugh, I just love how Daniel and Taylor can be lying there crying and Summer will look at them and start giggling, or if Taylor is hungry, he’ll slide over to Daniel and start sucking on his forehead. It cracks me up!

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xx Emily

For more adorable photos and to follow Emily’s journey check out her Instagram account here – zee_plus_three

Any questions for Emily?  Ask below and we will forward them to her!!

Newborn photography session by:  Sugar Images

Other images:  Emily /  Zee + three

Day in the life

Day in the life: Tess in Malmö, Sweden

My name is Tess and I am a 37 year old Swede that loves making things (especially cute kids). I currently live in a one bedroom apartment in central Malmö (Sweden) with my American husband David and our two children Eden (2 years) and Phoenix (6 months). We have big dreams about buying a house in a year or two.

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I’m on maternity leave with Phoenix until November 2nd when I am scheduled to go back to work (as a graphic designer for IKEA). David who currently runs his own business as a carpenter will then be home for 8 month before Phoenix can start preschool. I love that the Swedish maternity/paternity leave is so generous and equal.

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I also design and make jewelry under my brand Nova designs. I have been selling on etsy since 2008 but after the kids were born the business was put on hold. I started sewing a lot instead and I love making cool and colorful clothes for my kids.

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A day in the life:

Our day usually starts when Eden wakes up around 5-6am. We’ve tried everything to make her sleep longer but decided it’s better to embrace it and get up with her then it is to fight it. Coffee is key to our survival. That, plus our mantra that we repeat when things get crazy; “This too shall pass”.

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After coffee we eat oatmeal porridge (well the majority of us do). A certain little lady likes to pinch her lips shut and mutter something about “iwantmilkwithstraw”. So I don’t have any great tips for what to feed your two year-old unless ice cream is an option (which it unfortunately isn’t in this household). Breakfast is usually followed by a series of well timed events that ultimately gets us out the door. It involves wrestling clothes on a screaming 2 year-old followed by impossible toothbrushing as said lips then are glued shut. But some days are definitely better than others. I’ve learnt to stop asking her (Eden) if she wants to do something like putting her shoes on. Instead I give her a choice between two sneakers. Either way she gets something on her feet and we are good to go!

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We don’t own a car so we do everything by bike or foot. When I take Eden to preschool I put both kids in their big retro Brio sibling stroller that I sewed a new green corduroy cover for. If I am only going out with Phoenix I use our retro Emmaljunga that I’ve made a new cover in blue corduroy for. I couldn’t live without these strollers. They are unbreakable and you can almost fit a month worth of groceries in the shopping basket underneath the emmaljunga.

Eden’s preschool is an all outdoor preschool that is located inside a park. It takes about 30 min to walk there. Since she is outside regardless of the weather (rain or shine) she is always wearing comfortable and functional clothing. It’s rare that I put a dress on her. It would kind of cramp my little climbing and jumping monkey’s style.

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After I pick her up we usually go and play in the park by our house for a bit. There is this big inflatable pillow thing that she would bounce on until bedtime if I let her.
But by 4 o’clock I’m all hopped out and I bribe her to get back in the stroller so we can head home and start dinner. Laying puzzles on my phone usually does the trick. Or if she is really fighting back I’ll break out Maya the bee or some other cartoon on Netflix.

At home I try to entertain her with Playdough, making beaded necklaces, painting, drawing, bubble baths (usually mandatory after painting) while I prep and cook dinner. But let’s face it. She is two and has the attention span of a squirrel so at some point the iPad probably makes an appearance so mummy doesn’t burn dinner.

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David always comes home for dinner around 5-6pm so we can all sit down together. Well almost all of us. You-know-who has ants in her pants and makes numerous trips to go potty, get a book, pick stuff up from the floor etc. before she can eat. It is getting better though, so I believe there IS hope.

After dinner it’s bath (unless we already did that), story (like five hundred of them) and bed by 7-8pm. Hopefully followed by blissful sleep (insert big glass of wine here) until it all starts over at 5 a.m. the next day.

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I’d like to say that I’m all crafty and creative after the kids are asleep, but the times when I haven’t accidentally put myself to sleep at the same as them,  I can usually only muster up enough energy to crawl to the sofa and reach for the remote…

Becoming a mother has definitely been the hardest but also the most amazing and rewarding experience of my life.

If I haven’t mentioned our son Phoenix much it’s because he is still at that glorious age when they don’t argue with you about anything. He’s just happy to be along for the ride.

Tess

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Tess wearing her BLANQI maternity high performance support tank when pregnant with Phoenix.

Sabina's Life

How I disconnect to reconnect – a small tip with big impact

You don’t have to be a business owner to be glued to your phone (however, if you are one, it’s pretty much a requirement.)  I’m constantly on my phone.  And I mean constantly.  If I’m not talking on it, I’m looking at it, touching it, or listening to it.  It’s a necessity, really, and I’m thankful for such an amazing technology that allows me to have the world at my fingertips.    Having said that, it’s also a necessity to at some point put it down.  So what’s my simple tip, the one thing that I don’t do?  I don’t keep my work email on my phone.  *GASP*, I know!  I disconnect to reconnect…

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Here’s why:  I have an evening email-check cutoff of about 8:00 – anything after that can wait.  If it’s an emergency, I will get a phone call, period.  The only thing that checking my email at 1o:00 will do is give me anxiety and the urge to reply – chances are, the person on the other end of the email will not reply to your email until the following day anyway.  I simply step away from the computer, and don’t get back on until the morning. I have learned over the years to practice restraint, and to realize that the world will not come to an end should I not read my inbox.   So, as I do dinner and bedtime with Kai and Sienna, as I sink into my favorite chair to read or watch tv, I can do so in peace, without the anxiety-inducing  “dings” of my inbox raising my heart rate.  It’s a foolproof way to resist any urge to reach for the phone, to see if  “such-and-such” wrote me back.  Yes, it seems like such a small thing, but it has such a big impact – not only will you be more relaxed, but so will those around you when you give them your undivided attention.  It will allow your mind to rest, to disconnect and reconnect with your life outside of work – because at the end of the day, that is what life is all about.  Don’t believe me? 😉  Read below.

xx Sabina

 

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In an article on npr.com, writer Patti Neighmond quotes psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair, author of  The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age – “when you’re texting or answering email, the part of your brain that is engaged is the ‘to do’ part, where there’s also a sense of urgency to get the task accomplished, a sense of time pressure. So we’re much more irritable when interrupted.”

“We are behaving in ways that certainly tell children they don’t matter, they’re not interesting to us, they’re not as compelling as anybody, anything, any ping that may interrupt our time with them,” she says.

“In research for her book, Steiner-Adair interviewed 1,000 children between the ages of 4 and 18, asking them about their parents’ use of mobile devices. The language that came up over and over and over again, she says, was ‘sad, mad, angry and lonely.” One 4-year-old called his dad’s smartphone a “stupid phone.” Others recalled joyfully throwing their parent’s phone into the toilet, putting it in the oven or hiding it. There was one girl who said, “I feel like I’m just boring. I’m boring my dad because he will take any text, any call, anytime — even on the ski lift!’

Steiner-Adair says we don’t know exactly how much these mini moments of disconnect between a parent and child affect the child in the long term. But based on the stories she hears, she suggests that parents think twice before picking up a mobile device when they’re with their kids.”

Via –  For The Children’s Sake, Put Down That Smartphonewritten by Patti Neighmond

Do you have any tricks or tips on disconnecting and reconnecting?  Share with us below – we would love to hear!