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  • One and Done?

    Wrestling with the decision to have a second child.

    Article & Photo courtesy of Well Rounded NY

    When I reached for the pregnancy test on the Myrtle Avenue Walgreen’s shelf, there was the feeling of a little someone already there with me. I had a hunch that I was already pregnant, that I would definitely be seeing two lines in that proverbial answer window that we women have all looked at so many times before, hearts skipping a beat. The test was a formality, a proving mechanism for what I already, somewhere in my subconsciousness, knew.

    For me, deciding to have a second child was not a no-brainer. It was a weighted decision based primarily on my mothering instincts toward my daughter; my hope to give her a sibling was hugely outweighing the formidable discomfort I felt about going through pregnancy, birth, and baby rearing yet again for myself.

    I had just gotten out of the brambles, and had a functioning, awesome, self-actualized 3-year-old girl who could pour her own milk, go to the bathroom by herself, and understand when it was bedtime. I was only just beginning to get into that sweet parenting groove with my daughter. And now, not only would that be compromised, but I would become the parent to someone new at the same time. Hazy memories of eating salty cheddar bunnies while sipping cheap red wine for dinner then slumbering in my workout clothes (10 pounds overweight) after sweaty, aggressive zumba classes and sleepy bedtime stories slipped in and out of my mind. Why would anyone want to delve back into that deep dark thicket? That place was left like a land mine in the past desert of my biography.

    Many parents of second children ask themselves these same questions many times over and wrestle with their answers. “One and done,” I had to keep hearing other parents tell me when I asked if their child had any brothers or sisters. How are you totally sure your child won’t want or need a sibling later in life? Did it matter?

    I’ve never had a sibling, so my romanticism of large families can be a tad over the top. I picture siblings in their 40s chatting over the phone about weekend plans, great books they’ve read, and funny work tribulations. I thought about my daughter totally alone in the world in her 20s without anyone to lean on in times of dramatic dating duress, or even in patches of happiness to share them with.

    These “one and done” parents really knew themselves well! Congratulations to them. Their fortitude and investments toward their careers, hobbies, and savings plans were all intimidatingly impressive. The idea of their adorable family of three seemed like a shiny silver rocketship blasting full-throttle toward planets of more success than I would apparently never know.

    Of course, I questioned how on earth I could dare compromise these qualities of self-preservation within myself even more than I already had to begin with by having my daughter. Who did I think I was? This isn’t Little House on the Prairie; I have no covered wagon and acreage, nor am I an heiress on any level. Rent in New York City is astronomical. Childcare is over the top. We all know these things.

    However, perhaps years of travel and living in other places taught me that, in other lands (and states), people do have siblings and love them. Mothers even treasure having two and more. I fostered a faith in the notion of my daughter having a larger family against all odds in my life at that time in Brooklyn. I do have to say, officially, that I think only children are great (I am one), and especially when they are surrounded by happy, loving and awesome parents they can feel extreme strength in their family.

    Fast forward: my son is now six months old, and he brings my daughter happiness that I never dreamed possible from her. She is proud, protective, and in love with him. Since his arrival, though, I have witnessed tantrums and crying fits from her that never happened before. Her mom is not just hers alone now, and I cannot bail her out of every emotional or physical quagmire she sails into, thus, they often are deeper. I, also, have gotten more upset with her than ever when she gets into them–our boundaries and thresholds are shifting and making room for the new addition. We are both learning everyday to rescue ourselves, somehow.

    When people ask me how it’s going with two, I want to say, “Ask me in three years when he’s gotten into Pre-K.” But I usually smile and say, “It’s hard. But great.” It’s all the same. Since the beginning of humanity, procreation has probably been a pressure upon all of childbearing age in every culture. I know the expectation to have more than one is out there. Whether it’s from your grandmother, the Kardashians, or just from yourself. Yet, by being an only child, I know only that as a way of growing up.

    Making room in our lives for another child has been joyful and mysterious. But I won’t lie: it is hard. Like, hard on every level you could conjure up. Physically, mentally, financially, spiritually, etc. My fears about it were founded. But here I am, I am still here, writing this piece. It’s not like it’s been so hard that I am catatonic. You make it, you do it, and I think I’ll be stronger. But ask me in three years, when he’s gotten into Pre-K.

    This article is by Rebecca Conroy, courtesy of Well Rounded NY.  Conceived with love by former magazine editors Jessica Pallay and Kaity Velez, Well Rounded NY aims to be the singular pregnancy resource for city-savvy moms-to-be. Through reviews, profiles, expert Q&As, local guides and more, Well Rounded curates the New York City pregnancy and helps its readers come to terms – and term! – with pregnancy in the city.

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  • How To Organize Your Life Before Baby

    A new baby marks big changes to the family and household. As all new parents can attest to, the bundle of joy will take up the majority of your time and energy. Sure, preparing your environment prior to your baby’s arrival sounds great but trying to get organized can be more than a little overwhelming. Enter Amelia Meena, a professional lifestyle organizer and owner of New York based lifestyle organization company Appleshine. Amelia has put her spatial-design and time management skills to good use and put together a list of nine tips to help you get organized before your baby arrives.

    HOME

    Newborns live a simple life: sleep, eat, poop & repeat. So focus on organizing the Bedroom, Kitchen and Living room.

    1) Kitchen: Clear out the servingware, large dishes and other items that are infrequently used. Designate the most accessible spaces (lower drawers, cabinets above the sink and counter space) for storing, cleaning + drying the baby bottles and food containers.

    2) Bedroom: Though a baby’s life is simple, they’ll still make no less than 4 outfits changes a day. Their small clothes will get jumbled in a large drawer. Make them easy to find by using cubbies, bins or divided shelves. Labeling the sections will help others know where to put things away or find them in a pinch.

    3) Living Room: Keep a large bin or basket beside the couch for all your nursing needs. Store the Boppy, blankets, wipes and Sophie the Giraffe at arm’s length from your favorite resting spot. And pick a sophisticated style that blends with the space- let the kids’ stuff stay in the kids’ room.

    HEALTH

    You’ll do everything right for your new baby but what about yourself? Don’t forget to take care of you, too.

    4) ‘Me-Time’: Whether it’s running, yoga, meditation or a walk in the park, your body needs (and deserves!) some ‘me-time’. Plan ahead by checking the gym’s daycare center, enlisting the services of a nanny or good friend, or signing onto your favorite YouTube workout channel during naptime. Inquire before you leave for the hospital, as it’ll be easy to let it slide once you come back and feel a bit overwhelmed.

    5) Food: Most new Moms don’t have time to sit down for a full meal. Plan ahead by buying lots of easy-to-grab snacks like nuts, fruit, tuna fish, yogurt, string cheese and the like. Make a list of items that you (or a helpful friend or partner) can pick up from the grocery and nibble on all week.

    6) Outings: The simplest task will become mission impossible with a new baby. Streamline outings by keeping all your go-to items in an obvious spot, close to the front door. Plan ahead of time by creating a nook for the stroller, diaper bag, a bin of last minute items and, most importantly, a designated spot for your keys.

    HELP

    It takes a village…so starting building one now. Have a rolodex of friends and family to lean on.

    7) Workplace: Arrange your maternity leave and be clear on what timeframe and expectations that entails. Ask your co-workers if they’d be willing to help in anyway and know whom you can go to during your time away from the office.

    8) Childcare: Decide what type of childcare you’ll want and when you’ll want it. A baby nurse, a nanny, your mother or in-laws- whoever it will be, be clear about your needs, compensation and timing.

    9) Partner & Close Friends: It may be your spouse, partner, best friend or family member that’ll be your support in this exciting new step. Let them be there for you. You don’t have to do this alone. In the end, trust your heart and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

    Amelia Meena is owner of the NYC-based company Appleshine, Lifestyle Organization. As a professional organizer for a range of clients including Fortune 500 managers, lawyers, investment bankers, artists and stay at home moms, she helps people clear clutter and establish efficiency and order in their homes and their lives. Check out Appleshine for more organization tips, videos and even some ideas on how to responsible reuse or recycle your unwanted items.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Planning for the Unexpected: All You Need To Know About Organizing Important Documents

    Article is courtesy of Everplans.com

    If there is one thing that almost all parents and parents-to-be have in common is that they are always planning and preparing for the next step –  but what happens when the unexpected happens?  That is why Nine Naturals is excited to partner with Everplans in the Planning For The Unexpected Series to help bring you helpful tips and information for everything from financial and medical planning to spiritual and grief counseling.

    Have you ever watched a show about hoarders? Even though the gross stuff is the most compelling, hoarding doesn’t only apply to furniture, expired food and doll collections. It’s also about paperwork. The stuff you throw in drawers and boxes in case you need it. The stuff you never really get around to sorting because you’ve got more pressing things going on in your life.

    If you’re not especially excited about tackling those boxes imagine someone else having to do it for you? Someone who doesn’t understand what’s important and what needs to be shredded or recycled?

    We all save lots of paper and digital files because it’s better to have something than to need it. You never know when you might require that gas station receipt or old pay stub or quarterly investment report. But imagine the stress your kid, spouse or best friend would feel while digging through boxes or filing cabinets to understand and settle all your financial issues?

    Our endgame is simple: Make all the paperwork in your life manageable so you don’t overwhelm the people you leave behind. When it comes time to settle your estate, pay required taxes, and quickly and easily receive benefits they’ll be able to do it all without wanting to resurrect your corpse with the sole purpose of murdering you.

    Places You Should Start

    Types of paperwork you should gather and put in an easy-to-find folder:

    • Estate Planning: Will, trusts, power of attorney, etc…
    • Medical: advance directive, living will, DNR, DNH,
    • Financial and Legal Accounts: insurance policies, bank accounts, credit cards, tax returns, mortgage info, deeds
    • Personal Information: birth certificate, Social Security card, marriage license, divorce decree
    • Professional Contacts: lawyer, accountant, insurance agent, etc..
    • Utilities and Services: Power company, phone/internet/TV provider, cleaning services, electrician, plumber, etc…

    Let’s Get Digital: Organizing Passwords

    Gather password information for all of your online accounts–email, online banking and finance, social media–as well as for physical items–banking PIN number, computer, cell phone, safe deposit boxes, and combinations to locks or safes.

    We understand this is incredibly sensitive information so store these items somewhere safe, and tell someone you trust of the location. This includes family or an attorney, who can securely store these items for you.

    Don’t store these items in a safe deposit box, as the bank may require a court order to allow your family to open the box, which will often take more time that you’d like.

    You can also securely store your important information, documents, and account info online, with services such as Personal.com.

    Why This Is Important

    After a death, your family has to deal with lots of financial and administrative tasks that can quickly become overwhelming. They can spend months digging through drawers and file cabinets and waiting for new statements and bills to arrive just so they can figure out what’s going on. Even then, they might not uncover everything.

    With some planning and organization you can relieve a big chunk of that burden by helping your family easily settle your estate, pay required taxes, and quickly receive the benefits they need.

    The low-down on all the stuff your family needs to do:

    • Apply for and claim benefits
    • Get through the probate process
    • Close bank accounts
    • Pay any final estate or income taxes
    • For a full run-down of everything so you don’t leave anything out, use our resource [Checklist: Documents to Organize and Share] or jump right into your Everplan where you can actually get it done right now.

    Need More Reasons? Here You Go!

    • Avoid unnecessary charges from ongoing subscriptions
    • Protection from identity theft or fraud
    • Distribute, sell, or donate any personal items that weren’t included in the Will
    • This is also beneficial while you’re alive too. It can help you budget more effectively and get a complete, real-time financial sense of where you are.

    Hope we gave you enough reasons. If you have any more, or have specific experiences with how organized paperwork helped you through a tough situation, please share them with us. Our goal is to do everything possible to make this easier so you can get on with enjoying life.

    Everplans  is a leading online resource dedicated to empowering people to plan for and deal with  life planning, end-of-life planning and dealing with a death. The website offers step-by-step processes to help people understand the totality of the decisions they need to make and get things done. The mission of the company is to make life planning, end-of-life planning, dealing with a death, and supporting someone through their loss less confusing, more manageable, and easier to work through. Everplans was founded in 2011 by Adam Seifer and Abby Schneiderman, entrepreneurs with a passion for helping people and a proven track record of creating successful online communities.

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  • Freezer Friendly: Meal Planning Ahead of Delivery

    Article & Photo Courtesy of Well Rounded NY.

    Petit Organics founder Michelle Marinis shows us that with a little planning, meal time can be a breeze…even with a newborn.

    You’ll hear close to a million pieces of advice throughout your pregnancy — you’ve probably heard more than enough already. One of the best bits of advice I received was to meal plan in advance of your delivery. When your little bundle of joy arrives, chaos will quickly follow. Your schedule no longer belongs to you, but rather revolves around a teeny tiny hungry, sleepy, poopy munchkin. Leisurely preparing your meals whenever you feel like it will be a thing of the past.

    Freezing is a great make-ahead strategy and some recipes freeze better than others. Try to prepare your freezer-friendly meals at least two weeks in advance of your due date in case you have an early arrival. I recommend you double or triple the recipes and separate them out so you’ll instantly have three meals covered. One less thing on your “to do” list when you are sleep deprived can be incredibly helpful. Be sure to label and date each before you put them in the freezer.

    Read on for my top three recipes for freezing. All recipes below will safely keep in your freezer for up to three months. Enjoy!

    VEGETABLE CHILI

    Ingredients:
    · 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    · 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
    · 1 orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
    · 1 medium red onion, diced
    · 3 cloves garlic, minced
    · 2 cups fresh or frozen corn
    · 2 cups kidney beans (or one can, drained and rinsed)
    · 2 cups black beans (or one can, drained and rinsed)
    · 2 cups pinto beans (or one can, drained and rinsed)
    · 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
    · 1 large (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
    · 1 tablespoon cumin
    · 1 teaspoon coriander
    · 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
    · 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional if you prefer less spice)
    · ½ teaspoon sea salt
    · Black pepper and paprika to taste

    Preparation: In a large pot over low to medium heat, add the first five ingredients and sauté for 4 minutes. Next, add the remaining ingredients, stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove pot from heat and allow to cool, stirring occasionally to release more heat. Once the soup is room temperature, it is ready to be packaged for the freezer. You can use freezer-safe Ziploc bags that take up less freezer space when frozen flat. I personally prefer sturdy food storage containers with tight-fitting lids to minimize the chance for leaks and prevent the transfer of smell to other foods in your freezer. Label with the date and contents, and place in your freezer.

    To reheat: The night before you plan to serve the soup, move it from the freezer to the refrigerator overnight. Thirty minutes prior to serving, place in a large pot over low to medium heat. Heat through stirring occasionally until the desired temperature is reached.

    SWEET POTATO, BLACK BEAN & KALE ENCHILADAS

    Ingredients:
    · 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    · 1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
    · 1 clove garlic, minced
    · 1 medium sweet onion, diced
    · 3 kale leaves, stems removed and chopped in 1” sections
    · 1 tablespoon water
    · 1 large sweet potato, baked and mashed or pureed
    · 2 cups black beans (or one can, drained and rinsed)
    · 1 teaspoon cumin
    · ½ teaspoon sea salt
    · 3 grinds freshly cracked black pepper
    · 10 non-GMO corn tortillas

    Preparation:
    In a skillet over low to medium heat, add the extra-virgin olive oil and poblano pepper. Sauté 5 minutes then add the garlic and onion. Sauté 5 more minutes. Remove from skillet and place in a large mixing bowl. Next, add the water to the same skillet over low to medium heat. When the water begins to sizzle, add the kale and sauté until just wilted (approximately 1-2 minutes). Strain off the water and add only the kale to the mixing bowl. Add the sweet potato, black beans, cumin, salt and pepper to the mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir to combine. One at a time, place the black bean, sweet potato and kale filling into a corn tortilla. Wrap and place in a freezer and oven-safe baking dish. Repeat until the dish is filled. Cover the enchiladas with moisture and vapor-proof material such as freezer paper, heavy foil, plastic wrap or a tight-fitting lid. Fix tape around the edges to make a tight seal. Label and date the contents and place in freezer.

    To reheat: Place uncovered in a 400 degrees F until heated through (approximately 1- 1 ½ hours).

    PASTA WITH HOMEMADE MARINARA SAUCE

    Ingredients:
    · 10-14 Roma tomatoes
    · 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    · 1 small onion, diced
    · 2 cloves garlic, minced over low to medium heat. Heat through stirring occasionally until the desired temperature is reached.

    · ½ teaspoon dried oregano

    · Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

    Preparation: Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a cooling rack on top of the pan. Slice each Roma tomato lengthwise and place cut side up on the rack. Roast the tomatoes in the oven for at least 2 but no more than 3 hours. Remove from oven and allow to cool. In a large pot over low to medium heat, sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat to low and add the tomatoes, oregano, sea salt and pepper. Using an immersion blender, blend through until you reach your desired sauce consistency.

    You can stop here by simply freezing the marinara sauce and cook the pasta just before mealtime or you can prepare your pasta of choice (I love buckwheat for the added protein) and add it into the sauce prior to freezing. If you are freezing the pasta with the sauce, only cook it to al dente. As the pasta is reheated, it will cook just a bit more and you don’t want overcooked, mushy pasta.

    To reheat: The night before you plan to serve the pasta, move it from the freezer to the refrigerator overnight. 30 minutes prior to serving, place in a large pot.

    Bon appétit to you and your bébés!

    This article is by Michelle Marinis courtesy of Well Rounded NY.  Conceived with love by former magazine editors Jessica Pallay and Kaity Velez, Well Rounded NY aims to be the singular pregnancy resource for city-savvy moms-to-be. Through reviews, profiles, expert Q&As, local guides and more, Well Rounded curates the New York City pregnancy and helps its readers come to terms – and term! – with pregnancy in the city.

    Raised in Texas with a down home Southern upbringing, Michelle Muller-Marinis grew up with a passion for food and cooking. After moving to NYC and beginning a family of her own, Michelle realized the importance of fresh, healthy baby food – she discovered her little ones were always happiest with a spoonful of homemade food in their mouths!  She is the founder of Petit Organics and an NYC mom of three boys, Pearce, Rylan and Brandt. You can find Michelle on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Petit Organics on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

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