Clearing out Clutter & Chaos

You know how in the show Friends Monica was obsessive about cleaning and organizing, but had that one locked closet where she stashed all of her junk and clutter? That’s kind of what our closet room/storage room has turned into lately (our house has no garage, no basement, no useable attic, and no closets. We have a bedroom designated for all of our storage). Our house is usually clean and organized (despite having a toddler and four furry kids which makes keeping a clean house a lot more work). My one area of weakness lately is paperwork. I had gotten so behind on keeping organized with all of the receipts and paperwork for my business expenses, just shoving things in boxes and drawers to deal with later. As we approach the end of our extension for our taxes, I started going into panic mode recently trying to get everything organized. I quickly realized that this prolonged procrastination of organizing my paperwork made several things go missing.

I decided that it was time to do a major purge on the whole house. I started tackling area by area, as we looked for the papers we needed to locate. Even though things were organized and labeled, it was still neatly organized clutter that we don’t need, taking up valuable storage space in a house with very little storage. This pile in the photo below is our donation bags and boxes that Salvation Army just picked up yesterday, along with all of the paperwork that I still need to organize in a better manner. Luckily, just a few days after I started my massive reorganization/purge project, a 31 day purge project started over at ABowlFullofLemons.net! I have been going to that blog each morning to find a daily theme for purging and organizing, and adding it to my routine. Breaking it up bit by bit has really helped! There is also a great Facebook page set up for the 31 day challenge, where lots of readers are sharing pictures, tips, and more. It has been so incredibly helpful!

I will be doing follow up posts soon, showing some of the changes I have made, and how I am reorganizing everything! For anyone who may have been wondering why I have been silent in the past week…I apologize! I have really been trying to focus on the tasks at hand here. 🙂 I’m finally just about finished with my tax stuff too. 🙂

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On a side note, I sorted my donation bags and boxes after I took this photo for easier itemization. I even had a few things labeled. The men that came to pick up my donation were super appreciative that my donation was organized. It helps them a lot and it is apparently something people rarely do. It only took a few minutes too!

My Guide to a Healthy, Toxin-Free Pregnancy

Alicia in Wonderland Blog - My Guide To a Healthy, Toxin-Free Pregnancy

If you read my previous post about my full pregnancy journey (seen here), you already know that it has not been easy for us to become parents. Since I knew that things would be difficult for me, I started early adjusting my lifestyle choices to try to get myself as healthy as possible to try to better my odds of getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy. The most important thing that I adjusted was with what we were eating. While I have pretty much always eaten healthy, I took extra efforts to eliminate toxins from our diet, keeping it as organic as possible.

There are a million articles out there of things you should avoid while pregnant. To err on the side of caution, I eliminated anything that may be potentially hazardous while pregnant. I did a lot of reading, and put together my own master list of things to avoid. Here is my own list of things that I eliminated throughout the course of my pregnancy to try to ensure the healthiest possible outcome for our baby.

1. The obvious things like sushi & alcohol. I even limited myself to only consuming the host when going to Communion at mass (during the phases of my pregnancy when I was allowed to attend mass).
2. Cheeses made from raw milk (I know there is some debate on this issue, but again, I didn’t want to take any chances).
3. Soft and unpasteurized cheeses (e.g. brie, feta, camembert, blue cheese, and Mexican-style cheeses).
4. Coffee, soda & other sources of caffeine. Once I started developing issues with my heart later in the pregnancy, I even had to completely cut out chocolate per my doctor’s advice.
5. Any foods with nitrates (e.g. lunch meats, hot dogs, etc.).
6. Any high mercury seafood.
7. Any raw seafood such as lox.
8. Eliminated sugar as much as possible.
9.  GMO’s and fruits and vegetables treated with pesticides, etc. I continuously snacked on organic fruit and veggies (made easier since much of it was growing in our garden).
10. Canned foods (since these contain BPA).
11. Water in plastic bottles (I started carrying around my stainless steel water bottle everywhere I go).
12. Food with large amounts of preservatives and additives.
13. Anything with MSG.
14. Any food with any artificial coloring. I am allergic to red food dye, and figured I might as well eliminate the others as well.
15. Processed and bleached starch options (e.g. white bread, white flour tortillas, etc.) – replaced with whole grain alternatives.
16. Any artificial sweeteners. I haven’t read anything in specific showing any issues that these might cause with pregnancy, but with my goal to cut out anything that isn’t natural and healthy, I eliminated these as well.

In addition to eliminating certain types of foods, I also eliminated a number of things in my beauty routine as well.
17. Any skin care products with salicylic acid.
18. Any skin care products with retinols.
19. Standard perfumes (since these contain surprisingly high levels of formaldehyde).
20. Standard sunscreens – replaced with natural, paba free versions without lots of chemicals.
21. My regular facial moisturizer – replaced with a natural version with SPF 30.
22. Standard nail polish and remover – replaced with natural versions without acetone, formaldehyde, or other strong chemicals.
23. All over hair dye.
24. Any of my “fancy” lotions – replaced with lotions with natural and organic ingredients, all paraben and phthalate free.
25. Any self tanners. Even though I wasn’t going anywhere most of the pregnancy, I was tempted to use some on a couple of occasions but refrained. After months of only getting sun exposure through a window, I have never been so pale and pasty in my life! I haven’t specifically read anything discouraging the use of these, but again…why bother with any extra unnecessary chemicals going into your system?
26. Any “regular” makeup – replaced with natural and mineral products (although most days I just went without makeup anyway).
27. Any whitening toothpaste or tooth whitening products.
28. Basically any other products with any artificial scents, etc. That was also largely driven by my sudden super sensitive sense of smell and never-ending morning sickness. Even the pets had to switch to hair care products without lots of artificial scents. 🙂

Also, this was already part of my normal routine, but if it hadn’t been, I would have switched out to all natural cleaning products as well. You can read more about my eco-friendly cleaning routine here. I also started myself on organic prenatal vitamins with probiotics and herbal supplements long before I got pregnant, as well as some DHA supplements as well. Also something I had been doing anyway…we made sure any paints being used in our house were zero VOC paints.

I am not trying to encourage paranoia about what you should or should not do while pregnant, nor am I trying to pass judgment on anyone who does not avoid everything on my extensive list while pregnant. I instituted these changes in order to feel as healthy as possible, and feel confident that I am giving this baby the best possible start to his life that I can.

What I Wore: Father’s Day Weekend Part 1

Okay, I am just going to say it. I DESPISE the whole sock bun trend. I can’t stand when perfect every-hair-perfectly-in-place hairstyles become a huge trend. This overly neat sock bun trend brings back flashbacks of being yelled at in ballet class for having “wild hair” as a little kid, as if that is anything I can control. I love a messy updo, and love that they embrace my hair’s natural tendency to be curly, wild and crazy. I don’t care if messy updo’s are not the trend du jour, you will never see me trying to force my hair into an unnaturally perfect hairstyle. Just like when stick straight, flatironed hair is the trend of the moment, it annoys me. Most people can’t live up to that level of Pinterest hair constant perfection, and it is silly to try. I feel better that I got that off my chest. 😉

I absolutely love this shirt that I found in my closet! It is the perfect comfy breastfeeding shirt. It has a faux-wrap style, and the parts that crisscross over the chest have thin bits of elastic to help it keep its ruffly shape. I will be wearing this one a lot. 🙂

Shirt: Anthropologie
Nursing tank: Motherhood Maternity
Jeans: JCP
Bracelet: vintage
Shoes: Dr. Scholl’s

E’s shirt is from Etsy, hat from H&M, pants & socks were gifts.

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What I Wore: Early Summer Evening Walk

It is always a good day when my husband is home on a weekday while the sun is still out. In addition to my physical therapy routine three times a day, I am trying to gradually rebuild my strength after almost a year being laid up with short walks in our neighborhood. Last night, my husband was able to join us and snap a couple of quick pictures for me. 🙂

Hat: H&M (from the men’s department)
Nursing tank: Motherhood Maternity
Plaid shirt: H&M
Shorts: JCP
Tights: Target
Boots: Urban Outfitters
Sunglasses: Armani Exchange

E is wearing H&M Kids, from their organic cotton collection. 🙂

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I Love Finishing Big Projects!

In our downtime during E’s first month of life, I focused on trying to get all of the photoshoots I had planned executed. This was not an easy task given my difficult post-partum recovery from the Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction symptoms. During my free time in his second month, I worked hard trying to get all of the pictures from his first month edited and processed. It was a LOT of pictures, and it took me a long time to go through them all (multiple memory cards full!). I am so happy to say that I just finished blogging the rest of the pictures from his first month! Time to do a two month photoshoot now! 🙂 Be sure to check them out at www.apluscphotography.com/blog.

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What I Wore: Vintage Boho Sunday – Mommy & Baby Style

I usually am not a big fan of button-down shirts since they usually end up looking boxy on my frame. I found this button down shirt that I absolutely love. It is a mix of cotton woven fabric with ribbed knit cotton inserts on the sides and parts of the sleeves, which gives it a much better shape, and prevents me from feeling like I am drowning in the shirt. The buttons work for breastfeeding on the go, and the lightweight fabric is great for a warm day. The vintage skirt is one of my favorites, and I was happy to find something that would look cute paired with it, as well as still be breastfeeding-friendly.

Top: JCP
Skirt: vintage
Scarf: H&M
Sunglasses: Coach
Belt: came with a dress, but not sure which one…maybe from H&M?
Boots: Boot Barn
Purse: Marc by Marc Jacobs

E is wearing a vintage seersucker romper, a hat from H&M, a Burt’s Bees Baby organic cotton tee, and Ecoland organic cotton socks. His Gdiaper cloth diaper is also peeking out in the pictures. 🙂

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And a pic of my handsome husband today! Such a great dad. 🙂

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Baby E – “I prayed for this child”

Time has been flying by lately. I feel like I am trying to play catchup after so many months of inactivity. I spent most of last week trying to catch up on almost two months of housework that had to get put aside while I recovered from the extreme Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction pain, as well as recovering from my c-section as well. One of these days, I want to start working on really recovering my garden as well, but that will take a bit more time. Whenever I have a few free moments, I have been trying to finish working on processing all of the pictures from baby E’s newborn sessions that I shot. I am extremely proud of the session that I posted on our photography blog today…be sure to take a look (link here)!

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