Ahh, it feels so good to reach out and catch up with you after being away on maternity leave this past month! This is the longest I “haven’t worked” since I started sacking groceries at HyVee at 14 years old. That said, these past few weeks have felt like a lovely, dreamy eternity in a mostly great way. We’ve been able to take things super slow, sleep in, watch movies, go on walks…however 90% of the time I lit-er-al-ly have no idea what day it is. The only thing that distinguishes one day from the next is which cast of Real Housewives is on tv at night.

That said, we were forced to face reality this week as Ben returned back to work and Lincoln will be starting school in a few days. Since he has an August birthday he’ll be attending half-day Kindergarten which means I get to delay saying goodbye to him for an entire school day for another year, thank God. We’re definitely ready to have him back in a school routine, but there’s no way this tender Mama heart could have handled that enormous transition on top of everything else.

Have you ever seen a prouder big brother, btw? <3

Day to day life hasn’t felt that different since having Gwendolyn. Going from zero to one baby was the biggest shock of them all, and going from one to two was hard because you no longer have any down time. That said, adding a third has been the easiest transition family-wise thus far and funnily enough, she’s the simplest to take care of! I find it hilarious that when I go out with the boys I need to pack a giant bag filled with diapers, wipes, swim suits, towels, sunscreen, a change of clothes, waters, snacks, snacks, and MORE SNACKS. Little sis just needs a diaper, wipes, and an outfit change and we’re off.

We said goodbye to our summer sitter at the beginning of August and our next one won’t start until after Labor Day, so I’m squeezing in a few minutes of work here and there whenever I can. Honestly I’m having less of a hard time with that then I thought I would – spending so much QT with the kids without the pressures of work in the back of my mind has been a treat.

Although she’s easy to pack for, baby girl of course needs the most attention and I definitely forgot how much time is spent nursing during these first few weeks and months. It feels like any time we get everyone ready to leave the house it’s time to feed Gwen again. It’s sweet though, and I adore our quiet time together.

My heart is going pitter patter even thinking about those moments because oh my gosh I love having a little girl so, so much. As nervous as I was to have a girl, and as much as I adore being a Mom to boys, the moment they laid her on my chest at the hospital I felt totally at peace (well, minus the part where she peed all over my shoulder.)  She, like both Lincoln and Cameron, is the best thing that ever happened to me. Love my babies so much!

I feel like I could write a novel about how this past month has gone but I’ll spare you. And we’ll get back to recipes sooner or later – got a fall-inspired, 1-skillet pork tenderloin recipe that I’m dying to share – but until then let’s continue to catch up via a new Currently post!

Wearing: Athleta Midtown Shorts. I went clothes shopping (glorious non-maternity clothes shopping!) for the first time post-baby last week and found these incredible shorts at Athleta. They’re cute and SO comfortable – hello stretchy waistline – able to be dressed up or down, and aren’t too short nor too long. Shall I keep going?! I love them so much that I came home and bought the same pair in black online. Love!

Craving: Spicy Shrimp Soup. I recently made a video for my all-time favorite soup recipe so you can see how easy it is to make. Even though it’s not quite soup season, this recipe is light and refreshing enough be be eaten any time of year. Ob-Sessed.

Spicy Shrimp Soup is a recreation of one of my favorite menu items from a local Ecuadorian restaurant. Spicy, comforting, and gluten-free - it's the new chicken soup for the soul!  | iowagirleats.com

Enjoying: stomach sleeping. Ugh, even more glorious then I remembered. So amazing after being forced to sleep on your side for 7 months!

Trying: Beautycounter Resurfacing Peel. The melasma that covered 70% of my face during my pregnancy with Gwen significantly lightened up a couple days after having her. YES! BUT, it hasn’t gone away completely so I’m working my way through a sample of Beautycounter’s Resurfacing Peel which I heard works wonders on stubborn brown spots. The melasma likely won’t go completely away until I’m done nursing, as mine’s hormone-based, but I am seeing further lightening after using the product for just a week. I use it as a spot treatment vs over my entire face, FYI.

PS: don’t let the name scare you, my fellow sensitive-skinned ladies – I had visions of experiencing chemical peel redness after using this product, but it’s extremely gentle. I’ve had no issues.

PPS: I’m still using coconut oil to wash my face at night and my skin has never ever felt softer – no post-baby breakouts yet either, wohoo!

DIY’ing: Soap Foam. Mamas, do yourself a favor and follow Angela from Teaching Mama’s Instagram page if you aren’t already – she has the BEST ideas for little ones that are almost always super easy and inexpensive too. The soap foam activity she shared last month looks like so much fun and I have all the supplies on hand already. I’m on the lookout for 2 year old-friendly activities since it will be me, sis and Cam in the mornings when Lincoln is in school, and would love if you shared some of your favorite ideas below!

Sharing: Top 5 Baby Must-Haves. I was brainstorming blog post topics at 3am the other night whilst nursing Gwen, as one does, and the idea to share my top 5 baby must-haves got me quite excited. That said, people tend to get peeved when a food blogger writes about baby stuff, so I’ll just share them here! After three kiddos, these are the 5 products I couldn’t live without:

1. SwaddleMe Swaddles: I am absolutely hopeless at swaddling babies in blankets – they break out within minutes – but these SwaddleMe Swaddles keep baby super snug and last forever. Gwen is wearing the ones I used with both Lincoln and Cam.

2. Rock ‘n Play: The only reason I’ve slept as good as I have/did after Gwen and Cameron were born is because of this magic contraption. I bought a Dock a Tot for Gwen (I’m such a sucker) but switched her into the Rock ‘n Play the first night home from the hospital. You just can’t beat that incline and snuggle factor. Edited to add: this product has been recalled!

3. Lectro Fan White Noise Machine: We went through three different white noise machines for the boys’ rooms before finally settling on small floor fans instead – the machines we’d tried were just too “thin” sounding. The problem with fans though is that they collect dust then spit it back out and I didn’t want them breathing all that in. Anyway, I found this Lectro Fan White Noise Machine earlier this year and have since bought one for all three kids. It creates a very “full” noise and can be turned up super loud if needed. Must have!

4. Nose Frida: I buy a Nose Frida for every expecting Mama’s baby shower because it is SUCH a lifesaver. In my experience, bulb syringes are totally useless at clearing out stuffed noses. Give baby’s nostrils a mist of saline spray before using the Nose Frida and your – and more importantly, baby’s – life will be changed forever. And no, you will not get snot in your mouth!

5. Milk Snob Cover: a girlfriend gave me a Milk Snob cover before Gwen arrived and it’s been the best car seat cover! I love that you can also use it as a nursing cover, or for covering a shopping cart or high chair. The car seat cover I used for Cam was so clunky and a unitasker (meaning you couldn’t use it for a high chair, etc.) I’ve been so pleased with this Milk Snob cover so far, and they come in the cutest designs too.

Drinking: Chemex Coffee. Last week I randomly stumbled upon a YouTube video showing how susceptible the tubes inside Keurig machines (which we use) are to growing and harboring mold. HORRIFYING. That said, I ordered a 3-cup Chemex pour over brewer and coffee grinder literally the instant the video ended. You guys, the coffee is so, so smooth – and I’ve been brewing it at night so I can pour over ice in the morning for iced coffee too. Love!

Testing: Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls. I’m finally working on the gluten-free cinnamon roll recipe I’ve been promising you for like, three years now, and they are EPIC!!!! Here’s my latest batch, that’s both gluten-free and dairy-free, just before being doused in buttery icing. I’ve made four test batches in the last week and cannot get enough. GF CINN ROLLS = LIFE. Be on the lookout for the recipe in early October. Yum!

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