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Filtering by Category: Life

4 Things I love to do with my 4 year old

Rachel O'Reilly

Having a four year old is a game changer. I still hold all of our previous years together near and dear to my heart, but this stage I am really enjoying parenthood more than I ever have. Things are A LOT easier and, just being honest here, way more fun. If you are in the woods with your toddler, trust me - it gets better and way sooner than you think. Not only am I not feeling as much like a human porta potty, I now have a little person to hang out with who has real opinions and is pretty damn entertaining. Here are the top four things I am currently enjoying with my four year old:

Bake something new. I know, this one is a real shocker, right? We love to look up a recipe on Instagram and watch the video together a couple of times to get excited about trying it. We recently made these skinny banana muffins and they were fantastic. She snuck four of them before I blinked.

Go for a walk. This has always been one of our favorite things to do ever since she was literally in my stomach. I love it even more now because it doesn't require any hardware - aka stroller. I no longer need to pack a “baby bag” with snacks, wipes, and water and instead we can just throw our shoes on and head out. I especially love that she walks our dog herself and takes so much pride in it. He probably has another opinion on the matter! I find that whenever she might be a bit fussy or we need to kill some time, a walk is undoubtedly the best solution. We look at flowers, talk about other dogs we see, and the world is able to slow down, which is what I’m liking these days.

Write cards to people. We love to pick out new cards at the store and talk about who we are going to send them to. I always let her draw or write her name in them, if appropriate, and, of course, put the stamps on, which she sometimes steals and pretends are stickers. She is still a small child! She loves taking them to the post office herself, picking out the stamps, and popping them in the mail slot. Call me old fashioned but I’m hoping this small joy of mine sticks with her.

Sushi lunch date. This has become one of our little traditions I started when she was about two. It’s the one meal my husband never craves and one that I do all too often. Luckily, my baby is totally on board. I think sushi is such a great meal to take a young one to. The variety of small dishes, dipping sauces, and chopsticks make it more of a game than a meal. Which if you have a four year old, you know that getting them to actually eat something substantial is a challenge. The catch twenty-two is your child will become all too addicted and start to order rounds of sashimi which gets a little taxing on the wallet. Whoops!

Healthy Hippity-Hoppity Easter Ideas

Rachel O'Reilly

By Rachel O'Reilly

Easter is an especially whimsical holiday… I’m sure we can all remember the enchantment we felt as children waking up Easter morning and finding bunny paw prints leading us to our Easter basket, or the exhilaration of an Easter egg hunt, or the simple joy of gathering with family and community. Holidays are a sweet opportunity to relive that magic with your own kids and remember how special all those little traditions were to you!

Infusing more meaning and fun into family life with rituals and traditions is something we love to do at Cherish, so we’ve put together a few simple ideas, some borrowed from generations of Easter Bunnies, and some new hippity-hop ones that we hope you enjoy sharing with your little honey buns!

Dyeing Easter Eggs, Naturally

The hues that natural egg dyeing produces are so rich and beautiful, and most importantly are non-toxic and safe for children. This visual ingredient guide shows how simple natural dying really is. Most of these ingredients are things you probably already have in your kitchen. Thanks to Kristen Rickert for these instructions for natural egg dyeing. Eggcellent!

Healthy Bunny Treats

  • We’re big fans of Annies Organic Foods, and so are our kids. Luckily you can find these bunny fruit snacks and bunny crackers, (available gluten-free) at any Whole Foods or natural foods store, and they are a fun treat to incorporate in Easter baskets or to stuff Easter eggs with for a hunt.

  • Sometimes, if the Easter Bunny leaves baby carrots behind, kids will happily munch them down… Another way to sneak in healthy foods as festive fun is by cutting fruit, these homemade nutritious bars, cheese or other wholesome options with these Easter-themed cookie cutters.

Holidays often mean processed candy and unhealthy levels of sugar for kids, but rather than avoiding sweets entirely, these less sugary options will make any bunny happy!

  • Jelly beans made with organic fruit juice.

  • Sunflower seeds covered in chocolate or yogurt-covered raisins.

  • Gut-healthy gummies (which can be made in any festive shape you desire).

  • We were surprised by how easy these vegan, gluten-free, and overall healthy homemade chocolate bunnies are to make. Check out the Hippy Homemaker for the recipe.

Eggcellent Egg Hunt

  • Put a crystal inside an egg like rose quartz with an explanation of it's magical power (this is great for children 3 years+ so there's no risk of choking). 

  • Stuff eggs with special “coupon” notes for gifts and family activities. For example, “An afternoon at the Discovery Museum!” or, “A new soccer ball!” or, “Let’s go fly your new kite!” or, “A picnic at the park with grandma and grandpa!"

  • You can create an egg hunt anywhere, like in your house or backyard, but it can also be fun to use the hunt as an excuse explore somewhere new! Check out a different park or adventure on a new trail (where Dad or Mom can run ahead or go beforehand to place eggs before the kids reach the mysterious egg hunt spot), or even visit a local farm or petting zoo, and give kids the chance to see baby chicks, bunnies, or other farm animals up close. These kinds of outings can create thrilling and lasting memories as a family. Spring is such a great time to cherish nature and blooming life all around!

Happy Easter EveryBunny!

I just worked out in Frozen headphones

Rachel O'Reilly

@choosetorun

@choosetorun

By Courtney Ward

This morning I did my usual routine of getting my child to preschool, followed by crossing off that first to do item which is a workout. I’m not some die-hard spinner, cross-fit, step class addicted Mama, but I like to get a solid hour walk or yoga class in first thing to ensure I have a small portion of the day just to myself. It helps me shake off a hectic morning of getting my daughter to eat more than one bite of waffle, convincing her not to dump cereal on the dog’s head, and filling her Frozen lunch box with something that resembles a healthy and edible meal.

I pulled up to one of my favorite walks. The sun was calling my name and the spring crisp air was crystal clear. I was all amped and ready to go when I realized that I forgot my headphones. Panic started to set in. I had a couple of my favorite podcasts all lined up to entertain me and doing an hour walk with just my thoughts was the most unappealing thing ever. I didn’t have enough time to run home to get mine and still get everything else done that I needed to, so I dug through my car searching for an extra set. I must have ten pairs of the uncomfortable, tangled Apple headphones lying around at all times, how could I not today!?

Then I saw it - my daughter’s Frozen headphones sitting in her seat, in all of their full coverage, ear-muffed glory. A thought went through my head and my first reaction was oh no - no way could I. Followed by, well shit, looks like this is happening. And ending with, fuck it, let’s ride Elsa.

Full disclosure here Disney, you make terrible headphones. The poor quality is, undoubtedly, the reason my daughter must have missed half of the lessons Daniel Tiger was telling her on our last road trip, which must be why she won’t, “Try new food because it might taste good.”

I looked around as I set out, but not before snapping a quick, proud selfie that I sent to my non-parent girlfriends with a simple text: 

"Your future"

The path was unusually busy. So many thoughts were running through my head. What if one of the new cool Mom’s from my daughter’s preschool saw me? Of course today would be the day I run into an ex - decidedly unambiguous headphones angled weirdly on my head because they were designed for someone who may or may not be potty trained. Clearly I wasn’t going to impress anyone over the age of four with my new accessory, never mind the thought of possibly running into an ex. Of course, if it were going to happen, this would be the time right?

Parenting is all about compromising and throwing any scrap of dignity you ever had directly out the window - you get a crash course in that the day you give birth.

Four years in and I’m still surprised that I am willing to “Let it go” as much as I do, and to be honest, I am not quite at peace with that yet. Part of me feels like I am so far removed from the person I was before I had my daughter. Little by little I am learning to embrace the new me, because I have realized that change is mostly good, even when it comes disguised as a pair of Disney headphones.

An open letter to our readers: Journey of a New Blogger

Rachel O'Reilly

By Courtney Ward

I started writing for Cherish almost two years ago and the experience has evolved for me in so many ways. First, I was grateful to have a place to share the many ideas I thought about and talked about with my husband, other Moms, and family members.

The process wasn’t easy at first, even though I had many ideas to write about. Once I sat down to write them, I often found it very hard to get my point across or make the time to do so when I wasn’t exhausted. The biggest chunk of time I used to have was at the end of the night and usually the only profound or creative thing that comes to mind then, is finding that perfect meme on Instagram to tag a friend.

Writing for me has been eye-opening. It has forced me to come forward with ideas that I was really shy about sharing. It makes me feel stronger. I established a process, beginning with ideas, then turning them into bullet points, then sentences and editing a few times, writing got easier. I got more confident. Of course all of your support has been so helpful and has not gone unnoticed or under appreciated. It motivates me to try harder, to write more, and to deliver useful information.

I was inspired to do this because I felt that there were topics I was passionate about that weren’t discussed on parenting blogs in ways I could relate. I would either find super preachy posts, or overly whiny ones, neither of which were helpful to me. Motherhood is hard and I wanted a safe shared space where that was represented truthfully.

The writing process for me has been a leap of faith. Honestly, I am scared to death before many posts go live, wondering, “What will my Grandmother think of this one?” Or did I offend someone accidentally? I have learned to let go of most of these worries and embrace the fact that sharing my experiences with parenting is an awesome way for me to preserve my memories, especially the life changing milestones.

These days, I often take Blake to preschool and once or twice a week come home and write a blog post. I try to do this early in the morning with a good cup of tea, music blasting and my snorting dog at my feet. I feel so accomplished when I get a few of these things done.

The most rewarding part is when I hear someone got something out of my posts. It makes me feel like my efforts are worthwhile and that I am not alone in my thoughts or my situation.

If you had asked me a few years ago (before I had Blake) if I would be doing something like this, honestly, I would have answered no. Writing has turned out to be so therapeutic and inspiring. It’s made me read more because I want to improve and learn more. It’s also made me appreciate literature immensely and in ways I never did before, even in college.

Earlier this year I took my craft one step further and enrolled in a fabulous writing class in San Francisco, Blog Writing 1. It was like going back to college but for something you are totally interested in. Also, paying my own way made me take it seriously and show up in a way I never did in school. It has been the best part of my year - learning techniques, tips, and tricks to help make it all easier and more fun. There is something that really connects you to people when you share your writing. It’s one of our greatest forms of vulnerability and being able to do that in a room full of strangers has been such a cool thing. I have been able to spark more ideas, work hard on developing posts that would have just been okay, and embrace where I have room for improvement.

I am completely honest with myself that I am no Kerouac. I have a long road to travel,  but I am taking the baby steps that are necessary to get there. For now, it feels so wonderful to be self-indulgent and do something just for me for a little while. You lose sense of that when you become a new mother and getting back into something, especially if it is a form of work, is the most gratifying feeling.

So if you are contemplating getting into something new, do it. You might just surprise yourself with where an unexpected hobby can lead.  

Beyond Barbie: Raising a daughter Barbie-free

Rachel O'Reilly

“Let’s teach our daughters to worry less about fitting into glass slippers, and more about shattering glass ceilings.” -Unknown

Igniting the budding minds of little girls in playtime activities that engage their interests outside of Barbie play can help to establish a strong sense of worth that has nothing to do with appearances. 

We all know how much little girls and big girls are capable of when their unique abilities and interests are honored and nourished. When I was 4 years old my Mom let me pick out my own outfit in a department store for the first time. I chose a white blazer and matching pants. I wore that outfit every chance I got till I literally busted out of it! It’s hysterical to me to look back on what seemed like a funny and cute act of individuation at the time and realize that was me starting to articulate my desire to lead and understand the business world. As I grew older I did pursue those desires to learn about that "other" world that was business-minded and very different from the more emotive focused activities my wonderful artistic mother shared with me. I deeply treasure the creative interests my mother fostered in me, but I also would have loved for someone to see my desire to understand  the “adult world” from a younger age. Who knows what a little mentoring in that department could have resulted in! 

So, whether it’s a fascination with bugs, the stars that twinkle at night, mom’s business clothes, a drum set, or whatever it may be, try exposing your little one to all sorts of activities and games that are not gender-specific and see what you notice that sparks them! It could just be the very thing they spend a lifetime exploring and gaining true fulfillment from.

To be clear, we're not suggesting that Barbie should never be a part of playtime. And, if your little one really wants a Barbie, we love these Lammily dolls which represent how most women actually look.

If you decide to be a “Barbie free” home it’s OK to share with friends/family that you’re doing so. Who knows, you may start a trend! You can also consider not mentioning Barbie at all and just say “We’re working to reduce plastics in our home, and as such prefer toys/gifts that are plastic-free!” You’ll be amazed by the variety of thoughtfully crafted toys, games, books, and other interesting items that will be gifted.

Here are a few ideas for expanding the minds and hearts of little girls beyond Barbie:

GoldieBlox: Award winning construction toys for girls ages 4+ that strengthen the parts of the brain that are focused on STEM.

Roominate: For girls ages 8+ and similar to GoldieBlox, these toys enable girls to build their dream space, complete with circuits and motors that create lighting and other elements of the built environment.

Matching Animal memory game: We love this memory game made Fair Trade by Moms in vulnerable rural communities. Your purchase means a meaningful toy for your preschooler and an income and independence for Moms who need it most!

Bug/outdoor kits: Turn a walk in the park or a hike into a fun activity to get curiouser about the critters and the natural world around us.Musical kits: For toddlers who just want to rock… This kit comes with everything you need and all components are BPA free.

Musical kits: For rockin' toddlers, this kit comes with everything you need and all components are BPA free.

We appreciate EVERYTHING that Mighty Girl is about, especially their list of empowering shows, movies and books for girls.

Arts and crafts: For toddlers to older kids art is a great way to express creativity, work various parts of the brain and keep them interested for more than 5 mins! Here are some options we think are great.

Inchimals: A fun way to learn about measurements and get the left brain firing!

Interlocking beads: These colorful plastic BPA-free beads are safe for toddlers age 3+, are easy to put together, and encourage sensory development.

Grow crystals: For ages 10+ these crystal making kits are perfect for the curious budding geologist, scientist, or lover of the beauty of the natural world.

The Night Sky: This is a fun book for kids age 8+ and parents to learn more about astronomy and stargazing.

DNA Experiment: This kit makes biology fun and playful for ages 7+!

Monster bowling: An activity for indoor or outdoor that helps gently establish hand/eye coordination at a very young age.

Genius Box: For ages 8-11 these monthly boxes are designed to trigger STEM thinking by putting your kid in the driver's seat to solve the problem at hand with minimal help from adults.

We love Pretty Brainy as a resource and community for parents looking to get their girls more involved in STEM learning… You can even get ideas for DIY STEM activities at home, here!

Any ideas you've experimented with to engage your girl in play time activities sans Barbie? We'd love to hear.

Parenting Goal: Camping Edition

Rachel O'Reilly

Thomas Story

Thomas Story

By Courtney Ward

When I envision the childhood I want for my daughter, it includes things that I didn’t do in mine, like camping. I grew up in Orange County, near the beach. Our vacations were mostly to Colorado to ski every winter. Camping was the last thing my Mom wanted to do.

Now that I have a child, sleeping in the great outdoors seems like the perfect family activity and I’ve been thinking about it more than I care to admit. I picture us all around a campfire roasting hot dogs, telling funny stories, wearing Patagonia fleece jackets and Ugg boots. I guess it needs to be cold which leads me to another point, I don’t even know where to go. I also don’t even like hot dogs, but the visual I have in my head includes them so I’m going with it.

A few months ago I was getting my bridesmaid dress altered for my best friend’s wedding. My seamstress is a wise Great Grandmother and further sparked my interest for tackling this family tradition. She said in her family, they camped all the time with her kids and even go now with their grandchildren. She spoke of it with the same fondness that my husband and I do of our trips to Paris pre-babe.

A Grandfather, who was also there getting some pants taken in, shouted from the dressing room, “Take her camping! For our family, it was the glue that stuck us together.”

Wow.

Now that really stuck with me (pardon the pun). Often times, I receive (and dismiss) unwarranted parenting advice from strangers, but I try to heed the wisdom from elders, especially when it’s a good nugget like this that’s straight from the heart. I actually wrote this quote down right then in my phone and look at it to further motivate me to pull the camping trigger.

Here’s the thing: I know nothing about how to camp. I don’t even know where to start, except I know I need a tent and a sleeping bag and a flashlight and some hot dogs. Beyond that, I’m lost.

Last summer, my family took a road trip to Southern California to visit my Mom and stopped at this great place, El Capitan Canyon. Although I hate the term, we glamped for one night and it was so much fun. We stayed in a little yurt that had beds and electricity. My daughter loved it, especially making her own s’mores and waking up under the trees. They have a nice pool and play structure for kids and little log cabins to stay in, if fabric for walls isn’t your thing. It’s a great in between place to stop if you are driving from San Francisco to Orange County and also an awesome gateway camping excursion. Next time I want to stay for a couple more days to let sleeping in nature soak in and get a fuller experience.

I guess it doesn’t really matter as long as you go for it, right? What I have realized about parenting, is that adventure and taking that leap is what creates good memories and often that’s what kids cherish the most.

Do you have any new parenting goals for this spring that you would like to share? Tell us in the comments below!

Meet the enamoring, secretly evil face of my four year old

Rachel O'Reilly

By Courtney Ward

People often comment on my daughter’s appearance. “Her bow is so adorable!” And, “I love her glasses!” Or, “what a great smile!”

If only these sweet-intentioned people knew about a different side of my daughter that I've come to call her 'Dr. Evil' side.

The other morning we were all cuddled up in bed. My French bulldog, Gustave, was next to us, doing his usual snorts and grunts. My husband was joking that he wanted to ship the dog off somewhere, (at seven-years-old, he’s still not house trained).

Laughing, my daughter mimics my husband’s sentiments, “Goosie, you are going away!”

I stopped her and said, “Hey, he can hear you and understands what you are saying.”

Her sweet little face then leans in, holds his giant ear close, and whispers,

“We are going to get rid of you”, followed by the most evil laugh I’ve ever heard come out of her.

Needless to say, I was caught off guard by my usually compassionate daughter being capable of such a scene!

What I realize is that maybe I don’t give my daughter enough credit. Sure, she looks really sweet and innocent but if I’m honest, sometimes I feel like she has a little  maleficent inside of her.

My child  often shocks me, and at times it breaks my heart. Her rudeness can surprise me, and it’s hard not to take it personally. All I do is love this little human with everything I have, then if I won’t let her have chocolate chips at 7am, she tells me she “Doesn’t care about me.” It’s rough.

This comes with the rest of the things that parents don’t usually share the extremes of before you become one yourself. The endless lack of sleep, the food challenges, all the “phases”, the potty training, on and on. Maybe it’s like childbirth; and as you get older, you forget the pain that your young toddler slashes you with, and you just focus on the who they are in the present moment.

All I can do for now is handle her random outbursts and Dr. Evil-like comments as they arise and document these little wicked strokes for pure entertainment, (and blackmail when she hits her teens).

Have you found a slightly malicious side of your little one? Please do share!

Getting your sexy back after baby: Light kink & bondage

Rachel O'Reilly

Getting your sexy back after baby can be a challenge. Hormonally, physically and emotionally your body needs time to heal and adjust. Without rushing the process, at some point both you and your partner will want to reconnect and feel the sweet heat of sensual intimacy again.

Of course, things are different than they were pre-baby when you both were getting a full night’s sleep! It may also feel vulnerable for women to share their postpartum body again with their partner. In any case, infusing your sexy time with a fresh twist can be an inviting way to create new energy in the relationship…and makes you temporarily forget about the lack of zzz’s or other barriers you might have.

One of the options for a provocative twist is kink and bondage. For most, the words “kink” and “bondage” probably evoke a taboo “50 Shades” vision of whips and chains, leather shiny things strapped all over, and a punishing-like environment. However, that doesn’t have to be the case and indeed isn’t for most couples who enjoy a little “kinky” time! There are many sensual and simple ways to incorporate kink and bondage into your sex life that will enable you to go to another place together while feeling safe...and very turned on.  

Typically this kind of sexual play involves what’s known as a “Dominant” and a “submissive.” In male/female relationships there’s usually a desire by partners to be one or the other. You might think that being a female submissive would make you an “object” for your Dominant to use in whatever way pleases him. In fact, in loving kink and bondage experiences, (what we’re talking about here), this is not the intention. What IS is an opportunity for the man to be in “control” while feeling into his manhood, a sensation he may lack post-baby and something you may be craving more of. A Dominant can follow his intuitive desires to do things to please, surprise and satisfy the female submissive. This can be an experience of total worship of a woman’s body, or the submissive, without any form of degradation.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a few tips and resources to explore what might become your new desired way to be intimate and feel sexy after baby.

Prepping for a night of light kink & bondage

Items to consider starting with: A quick google search will pull up many sites to purchase these items below, (and more). If you have a good intimacy store nearby, like Good Vibrations or another boutique, drum up some courage, stop by and check out the options. Sometimes it’s nice to touch and see what you want and the people working there are very welcoming and helpful. 

  • Silk or satin sashes: Silky, soft and perfect for tying ankles or wrists together or to blindfold. Consider buying 2-4 sashes that are each at least three-feet in length.

  • Soft body rope: In addition to sashes, there’s also rope made specifically for being soft on your body. You or your partner may want to consider reading about some of the basic sexy rope tying techniques before using these.

  • Bondage cuffs: If you prefer to not tie using sashes or rope, bondage cuffs are available for wrists and ankles. You can even find ones that are lined with soft materials.

  • Blindfold: Try silk or some other soft material with an elastic strap or ties. Or, use a sash.

  • Flogger, whip, or paddle: These come in all shapes and sizes. Whatever you choose, light and playful pressure still can feel surprisingly intense without leaving a mark.

  • Feather tickler

  • Nipple clamps: If you decide to give this a try, go for nipple clamps that are completely adjustable, meaning you can set them for a light squeeze or something more intense if you choose.

  • Massage oil candle: We love this one from Oskia, London. You can pour the oil directly from the lit candle onto the skin without worry of burning your loved one.

  • Things you have at home: Ice, oils, lube, or whatever else you want to add to your experience.

  • Of course lingerie, or adorning your body however you like can add to the experience.

Getting in the zone: Before you start, establish two levels of safe words. For example, “yellow” could mean it’s getting a bit too intense, signaling the Dominant to pull back a bit. “Red” could mean stop, immediately. These words lay the groundwork to freely enjoy the experience with both partners knowing they can adjust or end it at anytime.

Whoever is planning to be the Dominant should spend a few minutes alone getting familiar with whatever additions you’ve decided to include for your time together. For example, adjust the nipple clamps to see what that requires. Just put your hands on the items and get comfortable with it all.

A good opening line that can establish who’s in control could be the Dominant telling the submissive, “You have 10 mins. to get ready and be on the bed.” It creates anticipation and gives the submissive a direction to follow. This time can be used to put on lingerie, shower, brush teeth, etc. During this time the Dominant should be thinking about creating the most sensual space possible. Cell phone ringers off, lights low, candles lit, (body massage oil candle too!), the right playlist on if you want music, and a bed that’s ready.

The next steps are up to you! A simple and erotic way to begin is by covering the eyes of the submissive and tying wrists and/or ankles. The Dominant could even then leave the submissive on the bed in the dark to tune into his/her senses, further building anticipation while the Dominant gets him/herself ready, (shower, brush teeth, etc.). The first several minutes should be about easing into the full sensory experience, acknowledging the whole body of the submissive with calculated touch, using whatever additions you like. The Dominant might assertively whisper his/her demands such as, “roll over” or “don’t move” as part of the sexy build up as you explore deeper into each other’s desires and senses.

Submissives: Your role is to be in touch with your body, let go, and receive. Often much harder than it sounds ;)

Don’t rush it! Relish in the process. Take your time. Go there together.

If you want further reading or resources, here are some goodies:

Naughty knots

Sexy stories: The big book of kink

Or, many more here.

Any naughty tips, resources, or ways you’ve found to bring your sexy back after baby? We’re all ears…

Pause for a parenting reflection

Rachel O'Reilly

By Courtney Ward

Last fall, I visited the historic Moss Beach Distillery with my husband and daughter after a day of festivities at the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival, in Half Moon Bay, California. The restaurant is as equally known for its breathtaking cliffside views of the pacific as it is for “The Blue Lady,” the resident ghost who has haunted the restaurant for over seventy years.

The day was cold and overcast. The fog was thick and rolled onto the shore in silent disappearing waves. Combined with our family's overflowing Halloween spirit, we decided that this would be a perfect lunch spot, and maybe even become a Halloween tradition.

The last time we had been there was shortly after our daughter was born. We wanted to enjoy a coastal drive and check out somewhere we hadn’t been. The restaurant has an outdoor patio which - bonus! - allows dogs, has a fire pit, and a never ending view of the ocean.

We were so proud to have her out that day to sit outside and enjoy a cold beer and some snacks.

This time, our daughter was four. It’s unbelievable how quickly time has passed since that last visit.

As we were having our lunch and trying to model manners, such as “French fries go in your mouth and aren’t drumsticks”, “The table is not to dance around” and “Please stop staring at the people behind to us,” a couple sat down right next to us with their newborn baby girl. Now we were the ones staring, smiling, remembering our baby that size.

Suddenly everything seemed to come full circle, and the Moss Beach Distillery had magically turned into a time machine.

Often times as parents, you don’t realize how far you have come. We don’t take the time to reflect on the milestones that we’ve passed and how much more equipped we are to be parents now then we were four years ago.

My husband and I smiled at each other in a way we hadn’t in a long time. We had made it this far, together, and now have this little girl, who feels closer to being a teenager than she does to being a newborn.

That’s not to say that parenting suddenly becomes easier at four. As I am writing this I have a sneaking suspicion that my french bulldog has secretly been given half of my daughter’s dinner. I do a double take when I realize that her declaration of “I’m full” now, will become cries of “I’m STAAAARRRVVVING!” in about twenty minutes. Parenting however is a journey, not a race, so next time you feel like you aren’t being all the parent you can, take a moment and reflect on the little victories you have had along the way.

What is a victory that you have had recently? Tell us in the comments below!

Our Top Picks for Healthy Meal & Grocery Delivery Services

Rachel O'Reilly

One of the biggest day-to-day stresses can be how to fill the bellies in your family with nourishing food while having limited time to prepare “3 square meals” a day. Luckily, it’s never been more convenient to get healthy meals and groceries straight to your door. One of my new year's intentions is to spend less time in the kitchen while still nourishing my body with quality food. This list will help you do just that!

Grocery

  • Good Eggs: This group is on a mission to grow and sustain local food systems = Local brands and most produce that is on average 9 days fresher than what you’d find in most stores with next day delivery - That’s appetizing!

  • InstaCart: Instead of running around to multiple stores, with a few clicks you can have your items delivered within hours in many major cities and suburbs. Order your faves from Costco, Whole Foods, PetSmart, and more... One and done.

  • Google Express: With overnight delivery from pretty much any store you can think of from Target to REI to Walgreens, this service is a super time saver!

Meal Delivery

  • Urban Remedy: We love this company that offers organic-everything options that are rainbow bright beautiful! Nearly all of us ladies at Cherish have enjoyed the juices and nourishing meals that Urban Remedy offers. They ship all their goodies nationally and have some sweet stores in CA. These nutrient dense foods are especially great for getting your body ready for baby, pregnancy, and postpartum healing.

  • Thistle: Want ready to eat nutritionist-designed meals at your door? Thistle is your answer. Chock full of nutrient rich ingredients, these meals will help you get your glow on.

  • Sakara: Plant based, organic, ultra nourishing superfood meals is what Sakara is all about and they do it beautifully and tastefully. Meals are delivered ready to eat, so save yourself that time in the kitchen and dig in!

  • Methodology: You choose your portion size and they deliver fully cooked nutritious meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner options), that are organic, locally sourced when possible and do not include any dairy, sugar, canola oil, gluten, chemicals, or preservatives. Eat your clean heart out!

  • Green Chef: This all-organic meal delivery provides you everything you need to make a delicious and healthy family meal in 30 mins. or less.

  • Sun Basket: Whether you’re gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, or paleo Sun Basket has you covered with all-organic, non-GMO ingredients and high-quality meats/ poultry/ fish sourced sustainably. Everything is pre-measured too, which means less waste.

  • Sprig: If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sprig offers ready-made meals to your door in 20 mins. Or less. Each meal is geared to be wholesome using mostly organic and seasonal ingredients prepared by some of SF’s top chefs. Check out what they’re offering each day, and push that button to have it arrive at your door.

Any we missed?! What time saving and stress reducing tips do you find work best for mealtime planning?

 

A conversation with Emma Casagrande - Mom and Shark Diver

Rachel O'Reilly

By: Courtney Ward

 

I’m fascinated by women who have really cool jobs and are Moms too. Being a working Mom myself, I know the juggle is real. Today we are featuring an interview with my friend, Emma Cassagrande; wife, mother, shark conservationist and world traveler. Let’s dive right in!

 

When we met several years ago on a whale shark diving trip in Mexico, you were hesitant to even get in the water. Now you frequently dive and photograph sharks with your husband for work! What changed?

 

That time 9 years ago when I met you in Holbox, Mexico was my very first time diving with such a big shark, a whale shark, and it truly was an incredible experience and feeling. I had been diving with reef sharks before but I had very little experience diving with sharks at that time.

Entering that big open water outside of Mexico with very little knowledge about these animals definitely made my heart rate go up, but it was also a mixed feeling of being super excited at the same time. I was able to get up close to one of  the sharks and seeing them underwater in that big open ocean made me fall in love with them.

 

After that experience, whale sharks are still one of my favorite sharks. They are the biggest shark in size but maybe the nicest shark in mind. They only eat plankton and small fish.They are safe to be around and a good shark to get to know and hang out with.

 

Your husband is an award winning cinematographer for Discovery Channel’s Shark Week and sometimes you get in the water and assist him too. How has becoming a Mother changed your perspective on the presumed dangers of that line of work?

 

Yes, my husband Andy Casagrande films sharks and other predators for a living. I'm originally from Sweden and 10 years ago I was travelling in Africa and very randomly I met Andy in the middle of the Serengeti where he was filming the lions for National Geographic during the whole summer.

 

We both fell for each other immediately and that’s where our journey started.

I ended up coming along on many shoots and learned on location.

 

Having 2 small children 1.5 and 3.5 years old, Nova Fina and Ace has definitely changed our life in every way. All to the better of course!

 

Safety wise I think that each and everyone one of us have a different perception about what safety is, and  it all depends on what you are use to doing and what your profession is. Statistically, driving in the car has a higher risks of accident than diving with sharks. But I definitely have higher awareness of danger now and embrace safety in every way possible!

 

How have you managed to continue doing what you love while raising two adorable toddlers?

 

Doing what we are doing with kids definitely needs more planning. We have brought my Mom along to the locations for help, so  we have been able to dive during day and be with kids/family in the evenings. My mom still lives in Sweden so we have been needing to plan more for sure.

 

Speaking of Sweden, you were born and raised there. Is the Swedish style of parenting different than the American? If so, what tips can you share with us?

 

I think Swedish and American parenting is similar in many ways. There’s a billion ways of doing something right. Even within the same country, there’s different beliefs on what’s right and what’s best. This is great because you can always find one study that supports your beliefs! Kids communicate with their parents the best, so listen to your child, go with your gut and do everything with love.

 

What’s scarier...the first time in the water with tiger sharks or your first night home with your baby?

 

(Laughs…) I don't know! It depends on if you are scared of sharks or not?

But going home with your newborn definitely tops every piece of emotion out there in every way!

Nothing can beat that!

 

How can we get involved and help you save the sharks?

 

Don't eat Shark Fin soup

Less plastic in the ocean

Create awareness through education

Inspire people to care for Sharks

You can become an shark angel at sharkangels.org

Also check out https://theperfectworldfoundation.org

 

Any last words you want to share?

Love your little ones more than life and the rest will be just fine. Each and every one of them are born as perfect as they can be! And don't forget to love yourself equally as much! See the beauty in imperfection and see the world with love! Love sharks and have a happy, amazing 2017!

 

Thank you so much Emma, it was a thrill to speak with you. Click here <Link: sharkangels.org> for more information about shark angels.

 

If you are a Mom who also has an exciting career, tell us about it in the comments section below.

 

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Things we should do more of: Ditch the Mom Guilt + Take time for ourselves

Rachel O'Reilly

By Courtney Ward

Taking time for yourself as a new mom is extremely difficult, and something many of us think is out of the question at first. But in reality, it’s what we need most. If you give yourself a little love, you will be able to do that much more for your family.

Admittedly, I wasn’t very great at this when my baby was born. It was extremely difficult to ask for help from anyone -- even my husband, who was for sure doing his part already. I also started working, soon after she was born so it felt like anytime I wasn’t working, I should be with my baby. Mom guilt sets in early as hell.

I quickly burned out, found myself under a lot of stress and started developing anxiety. I knew I needed to change it up. I had to create a little space to fill up my own damn cup. I also wanted to set the example early on for my daughter that I was a mom who found her own joy. It’s important to me that she sees me as a happy person who is well rounded in interests and things besides simply being her mother.

I started doing yoga and exercising more - two things that were healthy and gave me energy. I realized I could also multitask this into spending time with friends, no matter how short those meet-ups were. That little change was such a difference. It is so fulfilling to see a girlfriend and hear what they are up to, when we are in the midst of changing diapers and cleaning baby barf off our gap maternity breastfeeding tops. If they had dating gossip, it was like a breath of fresh air!

After making these small changes, I found myself much more rested and patient, and I wanted to keep it up. I plotted out times when my baby would be napping and made an effort to plan time for myself - no, not including errands - which eliminated most guilt of being away from her.

I would leave the pile of baby food making dishes and started going out a bit more often, to dinner with girlfriends and even to a movie sometimes. It was so glorious to have a chunk of time with no responsibility. Since I was breastfeeding, it was extra liberating to have my body to myself. I did often wonder why I made certain commitments, because it was a LOT of effort getting organized to leave the house (especially in the moment I was swapping out the sweats for skinny jeans). But once I was officially out of the house, it was almost always worth it. A quick mani/pedi with a cocktail concealed in a travel cup and a magazine was like a trip to the spa back in the day. I found that even a long walk chatting on the phone with my mom sans the background noise of a baby was incredibly energizing.

It’s easy to not push yourself when you are as tired as you undoubtedly will be after you have a baby. It’s equally difficult to leave our old selves in the dust when we become mothers. It takes a lot of energy to be a good wife and a good mom. When something seems like an extra effort on top of that - it is easy to say no to that. But the person we should be saying no to least is ourselves.

My advice is to treat yourself once in awhile, and make a habit of it early so it’s easier down the road. Trust me. Not only will you thank yourself, but your whole family will benefit when you are happy. You will be a better mom because of it.

7 Secrets to Success as a New Mom

Rachel O'Reilly

By Courtney Ward

When I was a new mom, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. Thankfully I had google at my fingertips and a few great friends who were just a text message away, offering their sound advice - which often included, “have a small glass of wine and relax.” 

I wanted to share my secrets to success as a new mom:

  1. Sleep when your baby sleeps - I realize this might sound cliche but it is the #1 advice I can offer as a mom. I wish I did more of this - babies sleep a LOT and it’s the best way to counterbalance fatigue.

  2. Ask for help - If this means having someone clean your house, pick up dinner, hold your baby for an hour so you can shower, talk to a therapist, etc. Now is not the time to go at it alone.

  3. Don’t stress about the weight coming off - Don’t hate me, but I didn’t have much trouble fitting into my old jeans. But that said, they didn’t fit the same and still don’t. As mothers our bodies change and the sooner you embrace that, the better. It will come off if you eat healthy, non-processed foods and take good care of yourself (see #2 above!). The less you stress about it, the faster you will be in your pre-pregs attire, trust me.

  4. Pump and dump - Don’t feel guilty going out for spicy margs with your girlfriends every now and then; it will save your sanity. The pump is your friend.

  5. Keep an extra set of baby clothes/diapers/wipes in your car - I can’t tell you how helpful this tip was to me - we used that stash many times.

  6. Don’t be afraid to double up - I mean this in many ways. If it’s easier for you to have an extra changing station in another part of your house, do it. If you need the bottle warmer, get it. Asking around for hand-me-downs if you need something to make your life easier should be a no brainer. Go easy on yourself, and have on hand whatever improves your quality of life.

  7. Utilize delivery services in all forms - The 2-day delivery option on Amazon and Diapers.com saved me so many times, as did the many food delivery options out there. If you set up a Meal Train, even better. Check out this post for streamlining your family flow.

We would love to know what helped you, chime in on the comments below and share your own secrets to success!

Q & A with my Family's Matriarchs

Rachel O'Reilly

image source unknown

image source unknown

By Courtney Ward

Recently, I came across a fascinating article, which sparked my interest in learning about how my grandparents raised their children. Considering I can barely raise one kid, it’s incredible to me that both sets of my grandparents raised four children each.

I was excited to start by asking them one question (that I spend way too much time contemplating). My grandma even asked one of her friends as well as a little bonus…..

A big issue that moms worry about now, including myself, is how much time we spend on our phones scrolling through social media and not being totally present when we are with our children. Was there something like this that concerned you and your friends, or any habits that you tried to limit? I wonder if you worried as much about your parenting style as people do now.

Grandma Bee:

Looking back, I think my goal was taking my kids to the library every week. Never played games with them! The grandparents did that. Reading was my number one priority. My focus was on keeping my husband happy and the house clean enough for his standards. Dinner better be on the table when he walked in the door! (Apparently that wasn't enough.)

My Grandma’s Best Friend, Bernie:

Interesting topic. I worried that I spent more time on the phone than I should. Remember we cleaned, as far as the cord stretched I had to really babyproof as the boys got into everything.

Grandma Darland:

I don't think we worried about parenting - we were too busy. I wish I had had household help as the 4 children, dog, cats, etc. were a handful. Grandpa was gone a lot of the time so he helped on weekends, but I wish I could have played more with our children, laughed more and been more involved in their school. In our world very few wives worked outside the home - so contact with others was by the phone (with the cord) or coffee at someone’s table. I do wonder if the constant use of cell phones, Facebook, etc. doesn't cause some confusion and distraction, as talking to people all day would confuse me.

One thing we want to weave into our parenting styles at Cherish is the wisdom of our elders. I plan to continue this conversation with my own - not only is it incredibly fun to hear these stories, but my hope is that we can all gain something from those who have already done the damn thing.

To Co-Sleep or Not to Co-Sleep

Rachel O'Reilly

Ali Olives

Ali Olives

By Courtney Ward

There is much debate about co-sleeping with your newborn, and I recently came across this article that I thought was interesting. I like that it supports the idea of co-sleeping and shows how common it is in other countries.

I haven’t thought about this subject in a while, as my babe is four now, although we still encounter sleep issues more often than I would like to admit. But we feel this subject is a hot topic for new parents and something we want to delve into a bit deeper.

Personally, when my daughter was born, I did not plan to co-sleep at all. At first, we simply used the moses basket right next to our bed. I was nursing and getting up to move the baby in and out of it many times a night, which got old pretty fast (AKA, I got pretty lazy). When she was close to three months old I decided to bring her into bed after that first nighttime feeding.

I would not have done this if my husband wasn’t an extremely light sleeper and woke up several times to check on her. Poor guy! Our pediatrician also gave us several facts that helped support our decision to co-sleep that helped eliminate many of the common fears.

We discovered pretty quickly that our babe slept longer and better while in our bed, which is no real surprise. Especially since, as this article states, mother and baby’s sleep cycles sync during early motherhood. We also realize that for some families, a crib in another room or in the same room works best. The most important thing is that you (as in the parents) are able to sleep, and to choose the system that works best for you.

We are curious -- what has worked best for you in regards to newborn sleeping in your family? Please share in the comments below!