Three Years a Mama

One thing you hear a lot when you are expecting a baby is, “your whole world is about to change,” and it’s true. Nothing is ever the same after having your baby! I learned this myself after having our first daughter, Norah. A month and a half ago, we welcomed our second daughter, Elsie, into our family, and again I say, our world has forever been changed. Of course I mean this in the best way possible! She has been such a treasure to get to know and love, and we are all smitten–especially her older sister!

img_0180

Elsie Jo Pianalto:: sweetest little pumpkin

Along with the life changing experience of becoming a mother, and then again recently for the second time, I’ve learned some life lessons for myself and my fellow mama friends who may be reading this. So with this being my first post up since Elsie’s arrival, I felt it appropriate to compile that list on here today!

First, I’ve learned that no matter what stage or season of motherhood you are in, you’re a mama! Whether it’s the first week of baby’s conception, or your last week of pregnancy, you’re a mama to that sweet life inside you. Whether you only carried your baby for a short while here on earth, you are a mama. Whether you are an adoptive parent, a foster parent, or are still waiting for that call, you are a mama. This is something to take pride in.

I’ve learned that your heart triples in size when you have your first baby, and that a mother’s love is rooted so deeply into your soul that nothing here on earth can quite compare to it. When you welcome your second (or fifth) baby, your heart triples again, and that unconditional love is equally felt for them.

I’ve learned that no two pregnancies are the same. Not your pregnancy and your friend’s pregnancy. Not your first pregnancy and your second. Stop comparing your beautiful preggo baby body and be thankful to have a baby body.

I’ve learned that no two babies are the same. Don’t place expectations on your baby to match your first baby or your friends’ babies; they wont meet those expectations! Enjoy getting to know your baby, enjoy watching your baby meet his/her own milestones, and soak it all in.

I’ve learned that when it comes between a nap and a meal, many times, a nap wins.

I’ve learned that when it comes down to having that nice shower you were hoping to get, and lying on the bed with your baby because it’s the only way she’ll sleep right now, you decide that your shower can wait.

I’ve learned that your baby body will linger, and that’s okay. Those extra pounds and stretch marks won’t go away over night (or in two months). Your post baby body is a beautiful representation of being a mother…it’s part of it. Allow yourself some grace to give it time to heal!

With this, I’ve learned that when your baby pounds do come off, your body really won’t ever be the same. Sure, you may fit into your old jeans and bras, but you’ll notice your boobs have taken a new shape, and your hips maybe changed ever slightly. You’ll take on a new woman’s body, and it’ll never be what it was before children. It’s okay; it’s beautiful, it’s sexy, it’s a new you.

I’ve learned that breastfeeding comes easily to some women, and to others, like myself, it is a huge obstacle. It hurts, you bleed, your supply isn’t overly abundant, your baby doesn’t latch to you, it puts you into a depression. Or, it works. No matter what end of the spectrum you are on, that’s okay.

Along with this, I’ve learned that fed really is best. There is no right or wrong for you, mama. Is your baby happy, and growing? If so, it does not matter what route you take. Don’t cause yourself so much stress and angst over this–your beautiful baby will be absolutely okay.

I’ve learned that you just can’t compare yourself to other mamas. Be inspired? Sure. Be encouraged? Yes. Ask advice? Okay. Learn from? Absolutely. But you can’t compare. Stop comparing.

I’ve learned that sometimes, the days seem never-ending, but I promise when you blink an eye you’ll be staring at your once tiny newborn who now is a beautiful, spunky, witty little girl. During those midnight feeds when your tired body and brain are tempted to wish for the day she sleeps through the night, try, try to remember this, and soak in every last hour with your sweet baby. Every day they are growing to need mama a little bit less, and someday, you’ll wish these days back.

I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff. It’s okay if you can’t get your picky toddler to eat anything but a pouch and a hot dog for lunch one day. Tomorrow, they won’t even like hot dogs! It’s okay that you napped with baby instead of doing that load of laundry today. Soak all that cuddle time you can get; laundry will be there tonight.

I’ve learned that it’s okay to say no to some things. If you aren’t the mom type who has a Pinterest home, goes to social gatherings every day, runs a small business, has a homemade meal in the oven every night, spends quality time with your kiddos and saves an extra hour for a bubble bath and a book, I deem you normal. It’s okay to say yes to some things and not feel guilty to say no to others! Say yes to the things that are Kingdom work, and say no to the things that aren’t purposeful and intentional.

I’ve learned that you are watched every minute of every day. Be intentional with what you watch, listen to, say, how you treat others, how you react to things. Our kids’ minds are soaking it in and learning from our actions.

I’ve learned that children are the easiest way to bring us to our knees in prayer. It is a blessing and a privilege to be a mother, and we need to be in constant prayer for those sweet babies.

I’ve learned that our children are our biggest and most important ministry.

I’ve learned that raising children is the best way to grow yourself; in patience, in character, in wisdom, in love, in creativity, in discipline, and on a spiritual realm. Norah and Elsie bring out the best and the worst in me, but they also make me want to be better!

I won’t tell you I’ve mastered all of these life lessons, but I am thankful for all that my girls have taught me so far! Being a mama to Norah and Elsie has truly been my biggest blessing, and the greatest adventure that my hubs and I have ventured on together! To my fellow mamas out there: what are some of the most important things you have learned on your motherhood journey? I’d love to connect with you and hear!

I don’t know about you, but Oak and Earth is super excited for the upcoming holidays! Keep an eye out for some fun holiday inspired posts that will be coming your way really soon! Follow @oakandearth on instagram, and my personal handle @terapianalto for blog updates and my every day snippets!

img_0954

 

Peace and Love,

Tera -xo

Our New Normal

As my second pregnancy comes to the finish line–nearly 36 weeks and counting–I suddenly feel the reality hitting me of going from a family of three to a family of four. I anxiously and excitedly prepare for and await the arrival of our second daughter, and though I daydream about how incredible it will be to watch our little girls growing up together and the bond that we pray and hope they will share, tears come to my eyes at the thought of our sweet Norah going from our baby to our oldest daughter as we welcome our newest little one into the family. So many blessings that await our nearly family of four, yet such a bittersweet-ness to saying goodbye to our budding family of three.

These thoughts that have been on my heart recently have me truly soaking up every bit of my Norah that I can before our new love is here. Not because I feel I am losing anything by adding a sweet new blessing, but because I know that my care, my time, my attention, my energy are all about to soon be divided.

shutterstock_424191577

Soaking up even the long, hard days of raising a sassy toddler because I know that soon, the moments of just Norah and mama will be a rarer thing. Our every day routine will be shared with our new baby. Though I know this will bring even more special moments with my girls, my heart clings a little bit longer to Norah’s hugs. I will myself to remember the  special and tender moments of holding my first girl, the countless times I’ve read “Where are You Going, Smitty Baby?” as she sat on my lap begging for just one more book, and the undivided attention that allowed me to cave in (most times). The endless hours I’ve sat on the floor with her and played with her dolls, and the extra time (mostly from saying: “the dishes can wait”) that I had to sit and marvel at how creative and sweet she was (is) as she plays with her toys and brings them to life. The extra snuggles at night that make my heart swell as I listen to her say her sweet and innocent prayers, and sings her favorite songs. I want to cherish these times more than ever before because I know these last few weeks of just she and I will be fleeting, and they’ll all feel like just a few moments.

I know these moments won’t be totally lost on me; I’ll make time for my oldest treasure, and she and I will continue to have special memories together. But another part of me realizes that these moments will have to be fought for. That our new little love will become a part of our new normal, a part of our story time and our play time, a part of our nighttime prayers. Life with two babies will be a whole new ballpark and learning experience for me, and Norah’s role will go from being our only baby, to being an older sister. My heart bursts with anticipation and pride as I picture this new normal, though I realize the changes and adjustments that Norah and I will have to make may not be as easy for a while. I am so excited to grow our family and begin a new journey, but also so nervous about this transition.

shutterstock_229273192

I look at Norah, and I picture how big she will look standing next to our newborn, but also how much of a baby she really still is. How dependent on her mama she still is, and how I hope (and to be transparent, worry a tad) that she never feels like she can’t depend on me. How she was entrusted to me by the One who gave her life, and how much I rely on Him to help me raise her (and our next) with grace. During my last few weeks of pregnancy, I’m seeing how God is doubling my love. How much love I have for my sweet Norah, and already the love I have for our unborn daughter. How I would do anything for Norah, and already could say the same for our littlest. Though there are moments with my first born that I will miss, there is nothing that I anticipate and look forward to more than becoming a family of four. The bittersweet-ness it is to say goodbye to one season that holds so many memories so near and dear to my heart, and to trade it in for even more love and more precious memories to be shared together.

I am so thankful to God that He extends His love and grace to us so that we can give it. Multiplying the love of a mother so that though her life may look different by adding a new baby to the mix, she doesn’t have to divide her heart and her love for them. Giving mama’s of multiples the energy to get through a sleepless night with one baby, and still do the ‘mama thing’ with the kiddos the next day and with a thankful heart. I am thankful that God has painted a picture of our family and that His picture includes both of our sweet babies.

My time with Norah as my only baby is coming to an end, and it is a precious season that I am thankful to have gotten with her. And though I will miss these moments with her, I am so blessed and grateful to begin our new normal.

-xo,

Tera

IMG_7727.jpeg

My sassy, yet oh so sweet Norah 🙂

Easy Lower Body Workout Routine for Pregnancy

If you missed my last post, I shared exciting news that I am expecting our second baby in September! We were so thrilled and a little surprised when we discovered the news back in January when I thought I had come down with a stomach bug and ended up with a positive stick!

Though my husband and I had been talking about getting pregnant in the near future, one of my goals for myself beforehand was to get my body back in shape! Having had a busy summer and fall with moving and then settling in, and then moving again, and settling in, my workout routine had fallen by the wayside. We got pregnant sooner than expected (funny how that happens), and though I didn’t hit my main goal of running another half marathon before pregnancy, I was able to start back up a good routine to get my body feeling good and enjoying the sweat and burn! Fitness is something that I am passionate about and something I plan to incorporate into my pregnancy now, but preparing your body before getting pregnant will help you maintain a good routine after becoming pregnant!

IMG_1668

While I enjoy fitness, this pregnancy has really kicked my booty harder than my workouts have been lately! I feel like I may be turning a corner, but the exhaustion and the nausea have been real. It could be partly that it comes with the territory of having a toddler in full toddler-mode, and also growing a human being inside of me, but my lack of energy as of late speaks for the lack of motivation to hit the gym regularly! Sometimes Mama just wants to stay home and eat a s’mores pop tart. I’ll admit, one pop tart was consumed during the making of this post.

All this leads to my main point. Though I haven’t had as much energy these last few weeks to hit the gym more than a couple times a week, I can be motivated with a short, easy workout in my own home! I mean, come on. Bra, no bra? Real workout pants, pajama pants? No one knows! You’re able to burn some calories and feel great afterward regardless of what you’re wearing or how dirty your hair may be, and for me, that’s for many days the more realistic alternative!

I decided to pull some of my favorite exercises for my butt and legs (and core!) and create a short, 10 minute workout that is safe (in most cases) for all trimesters during pregnancy, and also, I believe, a great workout for moms to get back in the groove post-pregnancy! Ten minutes may not seem like a lot, but trust me…I’ve done this routine myself, and you definitely feel a good burn! The other great thing about this simple workout is that you don’t need much more space than the size of your own home! Scoot a couch back a few inches, crank some music, and you’re good to go!  If you’re feeling ambitious, repeat the steps one or two more times and make a 10 minute workout a good 30 minute one! Ready?!

Tera055

Cardio

Start your workout with some cardio to get your heart pumping and start burning those calories! You’ll continue burning calories throughout the workout once you stimulate your body and get it pumping!

  1. Butt Kicks- 45 seconds   This is a really simple step and if you haven’t done them before, it’s basically like jogging in place, only make sure to bring your foot all the way up to your butt. Go at a steady pace, but always listen to your body!
  2. Knee Highs- 45 seconds   This is another simple exercise to get your blood pumping. Holding your hands out, lift one knee and bring it up to your parallel hand, then switch and bring your other knee up to its parallel hand. Again, keep a steady pace with this to get your heartrate going!
  3. Lateral Shuffle-45 seconds   With this exercise, bend your knees and keep your core balanced and upright. Shuffle a few steps to your right, then shuffle a few steps to the left, and repeat for the 45 seconds. The more swiftly you do this move, the more you will feel it!
*Stay in tune with your body and never push yourself farther than what you are comfortable with!*
–water break–

Standing Exercises

These exercises will focus on your butt and thighs and most can be done *optional with weights! It’s a great way to add an extra challenge and also throw some arm muscle toning in too.
  1. Standing Lunges- 1 minute (weights optional)   For this exercise, you should be very careful to keep good form to avoid injury. The bigger the belly, the more you need to make sure your body is in good balance! Keeping your spine straight throughout the duration, step back with your right foot about 2-3 feet. You can keep your hands down to your sides, or hold some 2 or 5lb. weights like I did above. Lift your back foot so that your toe makes contact with the floor and your heel is off the floor. Then, bend both knees (the goal is for both knees to hit a 90 degree angle). Make sure your right knee doesn’t bend over the right toe line. Hold for about 5 seconds, and then repeat the steps with the other side.
  2. Squats- 1 minute (weights optional)   I LOVE doing squats! It’s an exercise you’ll feel today and tomorrow. The best way I can describe doing a squat is to first set your feet about shoulder width apart. You can hold your belly to help you balance, or hold onto some weights like I’ve shown above. Keeping your core centered, spine straight, and butt back as you go down, squat down and act as if you are going to sit in a chair, and slowly come back up. Keep your butt tight as you do these for best results. If you choose to use the weights, a great way to incorporate them as you squat is to do a punching movement each time you are squatted down (squat, right punch, left punch, back up). You can sort of see the movements I used in the above picture!
  3. Plie Squats- 1 minute/ Pulse- 30 seconds   This is an alternate style of squat that is very effective and again, gives you a burn right away that lingers a day or two! Set your feet about a shoulder’s width apart, this time with your feet pointed out (think of a ballerina). Hold on to your belly if it helps you stay balanced, and keeping your thighs and butt tight and core centered, squat down and slowly come back up. After your minute is up, go into your squatted position and slightly bounce up and down in a “pulsing” motion. Don’t come all the way back up when doing this; the goal is to stay squatted and lightly bounce, keeping thighs and butt tight. Feel the burn!
  4. Wall Sit- 45 seconds   For this, find a flat wall (easy enough to do!) and stand with your back against the wall and your feet about shoulder’s width apart. then, keeping your back straight, go into a sitting position (really just like you are sitting in a chair). Make sure your knees do not go over your toes. You can hold the baby belly, or keep your hands in your lap as you “sit.”

–water break–

Sitting Exercises

For these, it’s helpful to have a mat for some cushion, though not necessary! They will also focus on core strength, which is so beneficial during and after pregnancy when our muscles are totally shot!

  1. Arm and Leg Raises- 1 1/2 minutes   Start on all fours, and slowly lift one leg, and the opposite arm (like in one of the pics above). Make sure to keep your butt tight as you lift your leg back. Then, slowly come back down and repeat the opposite arm and leg. Keep your butt tight while you do these, but this will also help your core and arms! As you get further into your pregnancy, it may not be safe to raise your arm while doing this exercise. If it is uncomfortable for you, keep both arms down and use the same lift and tuck movements with your legs like normal. You’ll still get the burn in your glutes and core strengthening without the risk of losing your balance.
  2. Side Leg Lifts- 1 minute + 20 second circular movements per leg   Lay on your side and stabilize yourself with your arm (like shown in above pic). If your belly is bigger, make sure your whole side is flat on your mat. Slowly raise one leg up as high as you can, and bring it back down. After about 30 or so seconds on one side, add in 10 seconds of small forward circular movements, and 10 seconds of small backward circular movements. To do this, raise your leg just about 6 inches, and with your foot, make forward (or backward) circular movements. Repeat with your other leg.

–water break–

*Try repeating the whole work out for double or triple the muscle and calorie burn if you’re body is feeling good!

I was so excited to formulate this routine and share with you all, as a way to encourage you to keep you feeling and looking great during your pregnancy, and also to hold me accountable to keep at it throughout my own pregnancy! Obviously, our goal during pregnancy should never be “weight loss,” or doing some major body sculpting; rather, it’s to maintain a healthy weight, keep those muscles toned, and feel amazing during these 9 months. It’s so beneficial for mom and baby to exercise and keep moving! Whether you’re in tip-top shape, or a very early beginner, you can do these simple workouts at your own pace and time! Only have energy for half the time? Cut it down in half and start there! Any effort is a great start, and your body will thank you for it!

*I do want to state that it is always safe and a good idea to check with your doctor before any type of exercise during pregnancy. In most cases, you’ll get the okay, but for some with complications there may be restrictions and limits to what you should and shouldn’t do!*

I hope I gave you a great lower body workout that will keep your butt and thighs feeling tight and looking hot during and after your pregnancy! What are some of your favorite workouts that are safe for pregnancy?! I would love to hear what you all do to stay moving! If you don’t follow Oak and Earth on Instagram yet, we have created a new page (@OakandEarth) that you can follow! I also have my personal Instagram @terapianalto that you can follow and stay up to date on blog happenings. Plus, now you can find us on our Facebook page (Oak and Earth)!

Can’t wait to see how you all enjoy the workout! Here are the steps, without the how-to’s:

butt kicks (45 seconds)

knee highs (45 seconds)

lateral shuffle (45 seconds)

standing lunges (1 minute)

squats (1 minute)

plie squats (1 minute)/pulse (30 seconds)

wall sits (45 seconds)

arm and leg raises (1 1/2 minutes)

side leg lifts (1 minute per side with 20 second circular movements per side)

*Repeat if you want a good sweat!!

IMG_1810

 

Peace-

Tera, xo

A Celebration-Norah is TWO

I just had to share a little life update this week, as we have had a lot going on this past weekend! Norah turned TWO  years old Saturday (HOW can this be?!). We gathered around our sweet girl and she was celebrated–and she could feel the love. She felt so special! I was visiting with a close friend yesterday about how our girls (only one month apart) both had a very good grasp of their birthdays this year. They both realized we were celebrating them, and they just loved having everyone they love surround them on their special day. This could not be more true for Norah! She soaked up the whole afternoon of family and friends!! We are so blessed to have so many who love our family and share our celebrations with us.

norah3 - Copy

If you have been reading along with us for a while, you may recall my last birthday post, here-. I shared a few things I learned over the course of Norah’s first year of life; the ups and downs for me as a mom, and how each stage brings a new season of parenthood. I have to say though, that this second year has probably been my favorite stage so far! I treasure every baby stage and share some sweet memories of Norah’s baby innocence, but man this past year has been a blast! Just like that, she turned into a little girl right before our eyes. It is bittersweet, but it has been a blessing for my husband and I to watch what a sweet, sassy, hilarious, beautiful, little girl Norah has blossomed into.

Though she has become quite the independent little girl–we hear “Norah ‘dood’ it” an awful lot–there is still such a precious innocence about her. Still marveling over the things that we adults would rarely think twice over, causing Jeremy and I to pause and acknowledge these little things every now and again that in her world are new and amazing (like the sound of a “choo choo,” or a little anthill in the yard). She keeps our imaginations running, and I hope that never ends! There is so much about her life that we treasure. We could not be more grateful to God for another year of life with our girl!

IMG_6182

One of the things Norah loves right now is ice cream (i-keem), so naturally, we decided to have an ice cream sundae themed party for her! We supplied the ice cream and a plethora of toppings, and let everyone create their own sundaes; it was a huge hit! She loved helping me prep for the party and only tried to smuggle the M&M’s under the table a few times (ok, ok…if Norah’s honest, it’s really the only thing she was concerned about regarding the party prep). Note to self: next year, hide all party food until the day of party to avoid stolen bags of candy around every corner turned.

She truly loved having all of our friends and family come over and celebrate together, and the ice cream sundaes weren’t a bad way to do that! Though it will likely never happen again, the weather on Norah’s (winter) birthday reached about 73 degrees! We lived it to the fullest with a bounce house, courtesy of a family member, and trampoline for the kiddos, and they hardly stepped foot inside from start to finish! We kept it simple with the food and decorations for her birthday, and made the focus more on who we spent the day with. We loved how it turned out, and Norah adored every minute of her special day.

 

Year two had some exciting and some challenging stages surface. The beginnings of potty training, the development of a very stubborn independence that begins to battle with you over things from which socks to wear, to bedtime, to what foods she’ll eat (today). Learning colors, shapes, numbers, letters, and songs. Building strong bonds with loved ones that are treasured. A quizzical nature that tends to get into mischief, daily. On the go bright and early, and no stopping until we crawl into bed that night. So many days can feel so draining and even mundane at times, though it will always be worth every long day. I am so grateful for a God that allows new mercies in the morning to start each day with renewed energy and grace (He knows I need it)!

A letter to Norah Grace:

Sweet Norah,

How fast your second year flew by, but oh how I treasured every bit of it. Our selfie queen, ice cream lover, little ham. You give us sunshine every day, and I could not be more proud and humbled to be called ‘mom’ by you! I love your gentle, caring spirit, your one of a kind facial expressions, your love of donuts, and your obsession with all things pink and all things princess. My heart swells with joy when you talk to us about how you love Jesus, and how excited you are to go to church every week. I love listening to your sweet singing voice as you perch on a cinder block outside and belt “Let it Go.” I love that you call me ‘mom’ on occasion to get my attention (“Mom. Hey mom. Here you go, mom. Mom, look”). I love that you love to read and be read to! I may be tired more days than not, but I still love that you still need your mama for an occasional extra cuddle, to kiss your booboos, to feed you, and tuck you in at night. I love how you are learning new things every day, and I love the way you pronounce some of your words (to-mah-loo “tomorrow,” oo-ah gace “Norah Grace,” and so on). I love that you ask me to play pretend in your kitchen, and with your million and one baby dolls. I love that you already possess a nurturing spirit, and I pray I can be an example to learn after. And I love that your favorite thing to do is play chase and be tickled! God created a most beautiful “you,” and I pray that you will grow up living and knowing the fullness of Christ’s goodness and love, and that you would chase after His will for you. I am so incredibly thankful for another year God has blessed us with “you”, and I pray He blesses us for many, many more years to come. I love you most forever.

-Your Mama 

 

Someday, there will be a last time Norah plays with her baby dolls. She’ll wake up one morning and “Oo-ah” will be “Norah.” She’ll outgrow her need for cuddles, and one day she won’t need me to prepare her food or tuck her in at night. And someday, she’ll use her cinder block in the yard as her performing stage one last time. As I type these thoughts out, my heart already weeps preparing for this day. No, it won’t all happen at once, and for that I am thankful. It will be gradual, over the course of time, but in my heart I know it is all too fast approaching. Seeing how fast the first two years have flown by, I am saddened at the thought of waking up one morning and being a mom to a teenager, just like that. I pray that in the long days where I am so exhausted and just want a shower or to eat my meal that was overlooked in the busyness of my day, the Lord will slow me down and let me cherish all of these little things about Norah that won’t last forever. That He’ll prompt me to cuddle her a little bit longer before bed time (even though she may be stalling), and to not be frustrated after preparing four different foods before finding one she will eat. This is such a precious time of our life. So challenging, but even more so rewarding. Lord, help me to slow down and live in each day, to soak it all in. Amen.

IMG_6891

Here was our big surprise for everyone at the party!! We feel blessed to be adding a little one in September. Norah is so excited to be a BIG sister!

 

Keep up with Oak and Earth on my Instagram handle (@terapianalto)! We love your feedback and love hearing your stories and getting to build a network with you all. We are so thankful for our readers!!

Love and Peace,

-Tera, xo