Baby Prep: Products I’m Excited About

Big disclaimer: I’m not a mom yet, so this advice is just speculative, and is based on intuition, advice I’ve gotten from other moms, and reviews I’ve read.

Kevin and I are in the final weeks of “getting ready for baby” mode, and it’s created an exciting, fun atmosphere. (Yes, sometimes I feel overwhelmed, but we’ve made good progress over the last months and weeks, and so we’re down to just a few final things to be ready for Baby Girl to join us next month.) We’re finishing up a couple of things in the nursery (hanging a bookshelf, getting some closet racks built), and the other two must-do items we have left are packing our hospital bags and getting our car seat bases installed in our cars. So close…

As we’ve been getting things in place, there are some items I get especially pumped about using when our daughter arrives. (Note: This is a very short list, and we have so many other great things ready — in large part due to generosity from friends and family — to help care for, clothe, soothe, bathe, and entertain our girl. Thank you to everyone who has helped us get ready to welcome her into the world!):

  • aden +¬†anais Muslin Swaddles. Everyone I know who has kids raves about these, and it’s easy to see why. These swaddles are lightweight, breathable, a great size, and have adorable patterns. We have a solid collection waiting for our girl!

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  • Dohm Sound Machine. No, it’s not specifically a baby product, but Kevin and I are pumped about this item. (We actually have received two, which has been amazing because we put one in our room and one in the nursery. We LOVE ours, and know our baby will, too!)

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  • Anything Burt’s Bees Baby. We have a crib sheet and changing table cover by this brand as well as burp cloths and even a few ADORABLE outfits. Everything comes in such sweet, pale colors and is SO soft, and I love that it’s all 100% organic cotton.

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  • Beautycounter’s Line Baby of Products. I’m obsessed with this brand for myself, and absolutely can’t wait to start using their baby products on our daughter. I love that the products are made with such high-quality, safe ingredients, and know I can trust them to be ones that will be effective but sensitive to use on our baby girl’s skin. (Especially perfect timing: Beautycounter just launched a Calming Diaper Rash Cream that I’ll definitely be adding to our collection of diaper changing supplies.) Quick reminder: I’m a Beautycounter consultant, so if you’re interested in any products for yourself or a baby in your life, please shop via my site (and get in touch with me regarding questions, etc. — I’d love to tell you more about the company and its products!).

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  • BOB Stroller. I’ve been lusting after these since using one waaaay back in the day for a family I babysat for. I’m so excited that we got one (shout-out to Mom, Dad, Susan, and Marty for the generous baby shower gift!), and know our family will enjoy lots of runs and outdoor adventures thanks to this stroller.

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  • Baby Carriers (Bjorn and K’tan). I’ve had both of these come highly recommended from other parents, and look forward to trying them both. I hope the baby likes them, because the idea of baby wearing (and having two free hands!) is very appealing.

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We’re ready to meet you, Baby Girl!

 

 

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Friday Favorites

Okay, so it’s a Monday. But I had some new favorites I wanted to post and didn’t want to have to wait alllll week to do it. (Y’all are good with that, right?)

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! Mine was great, and was full of celebration.* On Saturday, my amazing Pure Barre family threw me a baby shower that started off with a Pure Barre staff class and ended with gifts and socialization. It was exactly what I hoped it would be! Thank you to everyone who made that event so special.

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Then, on Saturday evening, Kevin and I joined some other friends to celebrate our friend Ashleigh’s 30th birthday. It was an evening full of good food, laughter, and wonderful people.

*Minus the Super Bowl. Ugh. Poor Falcons!

Okay. So on to those favorites I was talking about:

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  • Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale Series. As a huge fan of this book (and Margaret Atwood in general), I was super pumped to see this advertised last night during the Super Bowl. I can’t wait to check out the series when it launches in April, and think it might be worth re-subscribing to Hulu for. (Especially because at that point I’ll be looking for some good maternity leave shows to watch! Perfect timing…)

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  • Fairlife Chocolate Milk. I’ve posted about this stuff before on my Facebook page, but I had to mention it here, too, because when I think about my “favorites” of late, this milk definitely qualifies. It’s kind of become my wine substitute during pregnancy (and I even have a special glass I like to drink it out of). Kevin and I both love this stuff, and not just for its taste (which is top notch). It also has much more protein and much less sugar than other chocolate milk brands. Good taste and good nutrition? Yeah, sign me up!

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Hope your week gets off to a great start!

Clothing Items I’ve Loved Both Before And During Pregnancy

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As much fun as it is to buy maternity clothes, I was determined not to spend a fortune on that portion of my wardrobe, knowing this whole being pregnant thing wasn’t going to last all that long in the scheme of things. I wanted to be able to repurpose as many existing items of clothing as I could, and thankfully so far have had good luck on that front.

Here are some of the items I owned pre-pregnancy that I’ve gotten the most mileage out of while pregnant:

  • Mossimo Long Lean Tanks (from Target): I have maybe eight of these tanks (in black) and wear them alllll the time. So far, they’re still working great during pregnancy, and are perfect to throw on under an open cardigan, under a sweater, etc.

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  • Hue tights: I’ve loved this brand for tights for the last couple of years, and as it turns out they work great during pregnancy, too! They’re durable, affordable, comfortable, and wash really well. Plus, you can really hike them up over your belly when needed… ūüôā

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  • High-waisted yoga pants: I sure am glad I invested in adding some high-waisted legging options to my workout clothes collection before getting pregnant, because they are perfect for pregnancy as well! I especially love my high-waisted Beyond Yoga and Lululemon leggings. I’m hoping I can make them work for the next seven-ish weeks.

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  • Workout tops: Thank goodness for stretchy workout fabric! I’ve been able to get by with almost exclusively non-maternity workout tops (I do have an Ingrid & Isabel maternity tank, as well as a Beyond Yoga one, which are both excellent). As far as my existing workout tank collection goes, I find myself reaching for my Beyond Yoga tops the most, by far. Their Light Classic Racerback and On The Move Racerback Camis just can’t be beat.

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  • Aerie Boho Plunge bralettes: I am obsessed with these. I¬†wore them almost daily before I was pregnant, and continue to do so now. They’re supportive but SO comfortable. (Aerie has lots of cute bralettes, and I’ve tried a few styles. This one is far and away my favorite.)

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  • Open cardigans and ponchos: Ponchos (like this one from LOFT, which I have and love) are amazing. I mean, come on: blankets that are acceptable to wear out of the house? Uh, yeah. Sign me up. Plus, no zippers or buttons are involved, so there’s plenty of room for a baby bump. Same goes for open cardigans. Those two items (paired with leggings) have been my go-to uniform this fall/winter.

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Fellow expectant mamas: What pre-pregnancy clothes have you enjoyed wearing throughout your pregnancy?

Pure Barre During Pregnancy: My Experience So Far

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It’s no secret that I love Pure Barre, and since starting at the studio about four years ago it’s changed both my body and my life in a big way. I’ve transitioned from “What am I doing here?” to “OMG, I love this place” to “Can I live in this studio?” to “I think want to teach, too.” I’m so grateful to have found this workout and this community!

When I found out I was pregnant last July, Pure Barre immediately came to mind. I’d watched lots of other inspirational clients and fellow teachers attend classes well into their pregnancies (some right up to their due dates!), and that was certainly motivating. I’d read several blog posts, too, about women who’d written about their accounts of continuing Pure Barre while they were expecting. I found the posts (like this one!) by women who had at least two children and had done PB with one and not the other to be especially interesting. I knew doing this workout as much as I felt up to it during pregnancy would help me feel better throughout and help with delivery and recovery as well.

Thankfully, I felt pretty good throughout my first trimester, skirting the morning sickness so many women experience. I was TIRED, but I was able to keep my pre-pregnancy Pure Barre routine — both teaching and taking classes — intact. (I still attended and taught lots of 6 a.m. classes — I’d just go to bed around, oh, 7:30 p.m. the night before!) This continued into my second trimester as well (and the exhaustion subsided a bit — wahoo!). I was feeling really, really good.

With the arrival of my third trimester, I noticed my body telling me to dial back the classes a bit — and I’ve been listening. I’m now taking about three classes per week on average (in addition to teaching regularly), which is about half the amount of classes I’d typically be taking. Still, I’m getting so many benefits from continuing to show up at the barre.

I haven’t experienced any back pain yet. My abs are still intact (though there’s a lot happening underneath them these days!). I don’t have any issues with mobility or going from sitting on the floor to standing. Despite having gained 18 pounds so far (I’m in my 32nd week right now), I really do feel good, and much like myself in many ways. I’m confident I have Pure Barre to thank for this in a big way — both the hundreds of classes I took before becoming pregnant as well as the ones I’ve been able to take during this pregnancy.

Here are a few photos documenting the evolution of my pregnancy at Pure Barre:

Week 19:

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Week 22:

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Week 24:

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Week 27:

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Week 32:

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I’m hopeful I can be one of those amazing women who keeps coming to class right up until it’s time to give birth! We’ll see. In the meantime, I’ll keep showing up as much as I can, getting lots of good LTB time in before this little girl arrives. THANK YOU, PURE BARRE!

Beautycounter: My Latest Brand Obsession

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Yes, this is a post about one of those order-via-a-consultant products that you see on Facebook alllll the time. (I know, I know.) But don’t close your browser window just yet! Hear me out.

I (like many of you, I’m guessing) feel like posts to purchase “Brand A” of skincare or host a party for “Brand B”¬†of clothing fill up my Facebook feed these days. It’s overwhelming and can get pretty annoying, as far as I’m concerned (not to mention pushy). And so it’s incredibly surprising that I now find myself among those people selling a product online. (This is not something I thought would happen!)

No, I don’t love when I feel like brands are pushed on me repeatedly. However I DO love discovering new skincare and beauty products that others have had a great experience with. And so when I realized that could be my Beautycounter goal as a consultant — to simply be a resource for other women looking to add some new high-quality products to their skincare and make-up routine — I was on board.

I first tried¬†Beautycounter products thanks to a college friend (and Beautycounter consultant) who shared some samples with me. I’d heard of the product before, and vaguely knew their mission, but kind of tuned stuff out about it. I’m so glad I gave those samples a try, because thanks to them I found a brand that I was really impressed by. I’ve tried natural skincare and beauty products before that just didn’t cut it from a performance standpoint, but this isn’t the case with Beautycounter, which I was pleasantly surprised by. They’ve been able to strike a balance between quality products that play in a more clean/natural space.¬†Plus, they have a line of baby products that I know Kevin and I will enjoy using once our baby girl arrives.¬†This is a brand I’d absolutely buy if it were sold in stores, but it happens to be sold via a consultant model.

Some of my top Beautycounter picks include:

  • Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer: I’d been using a different BB cream that I was decently happy with, but had heard rave reviews about this product and so I gave it a try. I’m in LOVE, y’all! It’s so light¬†(the other one i was using felt pretty heavy) but still provides nice, even coverage, and it does make your skin feel dewy and moisturized just the right amount. I use it under mineral powder, and since you just need a little bit the tube lasts a long time.

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  • Balancing Face Oil: I wasn’t on board with the whole “add oil to your face” philosophy until trying this stuff. I thought it would make my face feel oily, but it actually just moisturizes and replenishes your skin’s natural oils.

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  • Body Wash in Citrus Mimosa:¬†This body wash’s texture and feel is wonderful, and¬†smells amazing to boot. I’ve always been drawn to citrus-scented body washes, and so this one fits the bill for me in a big way.

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  • Charcoal Cleansing Bar:¬†I’ve been on board with the whole charcoal-as-cleanser trend for a while now (I’ve even tried using it as a teeth whitener¬†— with good success!), and this cleansing bar is wonderful. I love how bright it leaves my skin looking, and enjoy using it about once a week.

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So consider this my “Hey — I’m selling Beautycounter” intro. Don’t worry — I’m not going to be clogging your Facebook feed with constant updates or anything, nor am I going to pester you to host a party (although I’m happy to help facilitate that if you’re interested, as it is a great way to save on products). I’m just putting this out there so y’all know you can come to me if you’re interested in learning more about Beautycounter or trying this brand for yourself. If you’re someone who already uses ad loves Beautycounter products and, for whatever reason, are looking for a new consultant, please let me know. I’d love to help you replenish your stock and/or try something new.

Baby Updates

Happy Sunday, everyone! I wanted to share a few quick baby-related updates, as things are coming along on the baby prep front at the Keller house. I can’t believe we just have nine weeks left…

We officially have a nursery set and (somewhat — we still have pictures and floating book shelving to hang) ready to welcome our girl home in a few weeks, which feels amazing. (I’ll post photos soon!) In recent days, I’ve felt major nesting mode set in and want to do ALL THE THINGS around the house. This involves going to bed later than usual and often waking up stupidly early with tons of energy to get some things in before work. Poor Kevin.

 

We’ve had two amazing baby showers so far, and have received such beautiful/adorable/useful things from our family and friends. Thank you to everyone for showing us so much love and support during this exciting time! I feel like I could burst with thankfulness.

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I can’t wait to try Beautycounter’s Baby line¬†once our little one gets here.

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I’ve loved all the Beautycounter products I’ve tried for myself (especially the Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer — that stuff is BOMB — and the Balancing Face Oil). I’m always a fan of foods and products that aren’t stuffed full of chemicals, but these days I’m even more picky about that stuff. Beautycounter‘s commitment to safer, cleaner skincare and make-up products is pretty refreshing. (Plus, the stuff WORKS, so it’s not like you’re giving up good products in exchange for not feeling terrible about what’s in your skincare and make-up.) Best of both worlds.

Hope everyone has a great Sunday! I’m off to do my first load of teeny tiny baby laundry…

Starting A New Project — And Looking For Volunteers To Help Out!

The last thing I should probably be doing right now is starting another “thing,” but I want to get the ball rolling on this project I’ve had jostling¬†around in my head for a while. I want to figure out whether it can become something viable or if it’s just a dead end. I think there might be something to it…

Here’s the idea: A book on perfectionism. Or, rather, the truth that there is no such thing as being perfect AND that the people you love and like the most are probably okay NOT appearing to be perfect. This book would serve as a glimpse into the imperfect lives of various individuals.

This comes from a personal place. I’m someone who is most definitely wired to strive for perfection — or at least to try to appear perfect. Over the last few years, I’ve done a lot of work — independently, with the help of friends, and with the help of therapists — to come to terms with the fact that I’m not perfect and THAT’S OKAY. In fact, that’s better.

After all, think about your favorite people. They are probably folks who are open. Willing to share their own shortcomings. Quick to laugh at themselves. Not afraid to try new things, even if they might fail at them. In short, they aren’t perfect, but that makes them more lovable, relatable, get-to-knowable. They’re human, and aren’t afraid to show it.

I desperately want to be part of this group, and I think I’ve made huge strides in my journey to get there. During that evolution¬†toward non-perfection, my relationships have deepened, my self-confidence has grown, my stress levels have gone down, and my general¬†mood has become lighter. Life is more fun when you aren’t trying to be perfect.

So back to this project. My vision is to compile a collection of personal stories that give us a peek¬†into imperfection. The goal is to remind readers that everyone struggles or has struggled with something — either big or seemingly small — at some point in his or her life. Navigating through those struggles, though, are where we grow, where we are challenged, where we become more of who we were meant to be. And so it’s time to talk about them — to let the light into those very dark spaces — so others can learn from them and grow from them as well. It’s time to remember that these struggles are often what mold us in the best way. It’s time to start to remind ourselves and each other that, despite what we see in carefully filtered Instagram images or on seemingly perfect Christmas cards, no one’s life is perfect. We all have a “thing” we’re dealing with.

And those “things” — those struggles that make us so very human — are all so intrinsically tied to who we are. They’re worth sharing, because they help us relate to one another. Talking about our struggles helps¬†lessen the shame or the guilt that might be associated with them. By letting them out into the universe, rather than shoving them into some dark corner, we’re freeing ourselves from those “things.”

So, who’d like to join me on this journey toward embracing imperfection? I’m looking for people who are willing to speak with me about a struggle in their lives that they’ve kept hidden to keep others from judging them for it. Something you’ve tucked away because you were afraid it would make you appear less than perfect. This can be an issue you’ve been able to overcome or one you’re currently working through. Feel free to send friends my way, too. I’ll be careful to keep your anonymity intact if needed.¬†

Ready, set, go! (Please email me at annaskeller@gmail.com.)

Third Trimester Goals

It’s hard to believe that Kevin and I are just a few short weeks away from becoming parents. It feels MORE real when I look at our calendar over the next couple of months and realize a major theme: baby. Between going to our Bradley Method birth class weekly, going on a hospital tour, attending a two-session breastfeeding class, baby showers, meeting with potential babysitters, and more, we are most definitely in the home stretch.

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The whole thing feels exciting. I suppose there are some anxious feelings there, too, but more than anything I’m just giddy. I can’t wait to meet her. To see Kevin as a dad. To start this next chapter of our lives.

But I do want to assign a few goals to these last weeks, to help me be a little more intentional about recognizing that this stage of my life is coming to an end, to an extent. So here goes — my third trimester goals. (Appropriately, there are three.):

  • Being present. I was at dinner with my family last weekend (this Thai place we love in the Atlanta area) and was suddenly struck by the realization that I need to start really being aware of how nice it is to go to a restaurant and not be tending to a child or rushing to get back¬†home to relieve a sitter. Over these next weeks, I’m going to be very aware of how freeing it feels to enjoy meals out, to have full nights of sleep, to have quiet time with Kevin, to have the ability to quickly jump into my car and just GO somewhere — no accessories or nap times to take into account. Very soon, all of those things will change.
  • Being connected.¬†I want to be a part of the world around me, plugged into current events and cultural goings-on and the lives of my friends and family members. This is something I aim to prioritize after becoming a mom as well, but right now it’s so much easier to keep top of mind. I’m going to soak it all in!
  • Taking in information.¬†I had a friend advise that I learn as much about parenting as possible before the baby comes, because after she’s here it will be hard to have time to read books, etc. She said she felt very prepared for her first child’s birth, but then realized her newborn care/parenting skills were lacking. I’m going to try to absorb as much information as I can over the next little bit, trying to create a database of things I can (at least vaguely) refer back to as needed during the first weeks and months of Baby Girl’s life.

Other parents out there: What do you wish you’d known/done in the last few weeks before your first child arrived? I’m definitely open to add to my list!

 

Friday Favorites

This first Friday of 2017, my main emotion is anxiety about the weather this weekend! I’m in Atlanta tonight for a baby shower tomorrow (I drove down last night rather than to night since the forecast was looking so grim), and really am hoping the predicted ice and snow don’t get in the way of that event. Fingers crossed for things to work out!

Aside from the weather gods not being on my side, this week has been an amazing one. I’m LOVING my new job so far, and it leaves me feeling energized, motivated, and excited for the weeks and months to come. Life in general is good, too. I’m still feeling really great, all things considered (except for that stupid heartburn, but Prilosec seems to be helping that a ton), and am really enjoying pregnancy. I’m so glad I’ve still felt up to both teaching and taking Pure Barre classes, which I feel are definitely helping make this pregnancy easier. I love feeling Baby Girl move so frequently now, and I just keep getting more and more excited as we get closer to her arrival. (I’m 30 weeks pregnant today! Whoa.)

So yeah. To quickly recap:¬†This weekend weather forecast sucks. Job is amazing. Life is good. Pure Barre is the best. Pregnancy is awesome. Net-net: I’m so lucky!

Okay! On to my Friday Favorites:

  • Y’all. Lululemon’s Align II Pant is incredible. I asked Facebook friends for recommendations on workout leggings for pregnancy, and lots of folks mentioned this legging. I’m not a bit surprised, after having checked them out for myself. They’re soft and comfy, high-waisted but not super tight, and I love the length, too. I bought two pairs (one in black and one in gray), and am also glad they’re not maternity so I can wear them after the baby comes as well.

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  • On the maternity clothes front, I ordered my first pieces from Ingrid & Isabel and am so impressed with this brand. I snagged this dress¬†in navy to wear to an upcoming shower, and also got a pair of their everyday leggings, which are stupidly comfortable. Mamas-to-be: Definitely check out this brand!

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Have a wonderful (potentially snowy) weekend, everyone!

My 2017 New Year’s Resolutions

How is it New Year’s resolutions time again?? The years are just flying by more and more. It’s kind of crazy.

And yes, I know it’s totally cliche to use this time of year to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and make promises for bettering your life in the year ahead, but there’s a reason this tradition exists. It’s a new year, y’all. We get to turn the page on the calendar to a clean page: 2017. Many things feel fresh, like we’ve gotten to hit the restart button, especially after a busy holiday season. So yeah, I’m totally okay with using this time of year to reflect on the past year and plan for the one ahead. And this year, having just started a new job last week, New Year’s resolutions seem more relevant than ever.

(Also, if you’re interested, here are¬†my 2016, 2015, 2013, and 2012 resolutions. I guess I took 2014 off!)

So here goes. My 2017 goals! This year, I just have a few:

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  • I want to be a good mother. This one won’t¬†become relevant until mid-March, but it’s at the top of my list of goals for 2017. This will be a whole new role for me, and one I want to be great at. Not just because I aim to be good at the things I commit to (and that’s definitely a factor, if I’m being honest with myself), but also because this baby girl deserves a good mother. A great mother, even. (Plus, Kevin’s going to be an incredible father, so I want to be a good partner in parenting to him.) I know I’m going to fall short of that goal time and again, but I want my intention to remain intact. I was given a parenting personality book by a friend, which guesses the positive traits as well as struggles you might encounter as a mom based on your Meyers Briggs personality. I LOVE things like this (I’m a big believer in differences based on the way you’re wired), and think the assessment for me will likely prove to be quite accurate. One positive: “ENFJ parents will encourage their children to explore and grow, recognizing and appreciating the individuality of the people they bring into this world and help to raise.” But I’m also wired to do things quickly and efficiently, and already anticipate getting frustrated with a tiny person who slows that process down. I’ve tried to start mentally preparing (as best I can!) for what this change might look and feel like. It’s helpful for me to think back on childhood memories of baking cookies with my mom. I’m sure it took her five times as long to make those damn cookies when she let me help, and it made nine times the mess, but those were special moments that made me feel included and valued as a child, and times I still look back on today with a smile. So yeah — I want to be that kind of mom as often as I can. And I also want to be quick to forgive myself when I’m NOT that kind of mom, which will happen a lot, too.
  • I want to be intentional about my new career role. In my new job as Marketing & Communications Manager for AlphaBEST Education, an after-school enrichment organization that’s part of the Kaplan family, this is my first time working outside of advertising. I’m so excited about this new challenge, and am especially energized by the fact that no one held this title at AlphaBEST before me. I’ll be able to dictate what this role involves, how it grows, and more. For the first time in my career, I’m able to blend my educational background (journalism/PR) with my career experience to date (advertising, in an account service role), and I couldn’t be more excited about getting to merge those two realities. Knowing that this position is new is thrilling and slightly intimidating, but my excitement outweighs my apprehension. Because I’m carving out what this role looks like, being intentional about my career is more critical than ever. I can’t just follow along in a pre-prescribed path, nor can I rely solely on past career experiences for success here.
  • I want to be kind to my body. This one will be especially important in 2017. After all, my body is working hard these days growing a human. I’m continually amazed at all it’s able to do (and, for the most part, I’m able to function within my normal routine, which is kind of insane to consider). So this year, I want to pay it back for all its hard work. This one is going to be hard for me, I think, because this year “being kind to my body” is going to entail more than staying active and eating healthily. My body is going to be recovering from childbirth at a certain point. I hope to be able to breastfeed, and that will involve a physical commitment I can’t quite understand yet. I’m going to have less time and, often, less energy to stay active. This year, being kind to my body is going to also involve cutting myself some slack. Remembering all it’s been through and being okay when/if things are slow to go back to “normal” physically. One thing I know for sure: This won’t be easy for me. It will feel uncomfortable and frustrating at times, but I’m going to try — really try — to be patient with myself throughout the process.

Here’s to¬†2017 being a great year!