An open letter to social influencers: You have a role to play in this.

Lately I’ve been having numerous thoughts around the COVID-19 outbreak and how this global pandemic is affecting people across the U.S. in particular. Many are blaming the media, many are downplaying the severity of the virus, and many are scared out of their minds as they bunker down in their homes dreading the unknown.

While I’ve been doing my best to practice social distancing with my family, I have made a few errands to pick up a new computer, grab some grocery essentials, and even squeeze in a final workout session at the gym. I spent a lot of time debating on whether or not I should do those things, but told myself I’d get it out of the way now before locking myself indoors for the foreseeable future.

I’ve realized just how important it is for us all to practice social distancing and isolate ourselves because although we may not be in a high risk population, we all carry the responsibility of keeping the immunocompromised and elderly populations safe. By staying home and away from large crowds, you are literally saving lives.

You’ve probably seen this chart several times already, but here it is again so you don’t forget the impacts:

“If the number of cases were to continue to double every three days, there would be about a hundred million cases in the United States by May.” 

Recently, this time spent indoors has shamefully seen my time spent on social media increase. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all flooded with remarks and personal opinions about the COVID-19 outbreak. From tips and advice on how to protect ourselves to jokes and memes expressing sarcasm and insensitivity, the pandemic is currently everywhere we look.

I cannot count the number of times I’ve seen people mention that this is “all the media’s fault” and that “the media and the government are trying to control us.”

Yet, those same people who are rejecting the media and news anchors while they’re reporting scientific facts from medical professionals are tapping through Instagram stories and listening to nonsensical wellness tips from today’s top social influencers.

I even stumbled upon this Buzzfeed article about influencers sharing bad tips and information about COVID-19 and how their influence causes followers to internalize their advice and take it as gospel.

The more time I spent thinking about this, the angrier I became.

Why are we so quick to purchase an article of clothing or an expensive skincare treatment because we’ve “officially been influenced by @insertnamehere,” but when the World Health Organization tries to tell us what to do, we simply do not listen?

I’m not innocent in this game either. I’ve influenced and been influenced countless times on a digital platform. We all have a little bit of power. It’s high time we start recognizing the power of influence and how we can use it for good.

So, to the social influencers with tens and hundreds of thousands of followers and more: Please stop giving false advice, making light of this situation, and spotlighting your elegant lifestyle. When all of this is said and done, we can go back to doing what we did once before. This is serious, but it’s also temporary. And as long as we do things the right way, we’ll bounce back sooner rather than later.

As an influencer, you have a responsibility. Your voice and your influence DO matter, and it DOES make a difference. You have followers who will listen to you. It’s now more important than ever to refer people to scientific facts and advice around this pandemic instead of soliciting and offering false information.

To learn more about social distancing and the importance of staying away from large crowds, check out this Mayo Clinic article, this Washington Post article, stay vigilant, and stay informed.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, give this cherry chocolate fudge recipe a try! It’s decadent, sweet, and perfectly festive for all of your Valentine’s and Galentine’s day gatherings.

cherry chocolate fudge recipe

Cherry Chocolate Fudge Recipe

Ingredients:

Ingredients:
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
7 oz. marshmallow cream
1 package white chocolate chips
6 oz. chocolate chips
12 oz. maraschino cherries (chopped)
natural food coloring (if desired)

Directions:

Line a 13-in. x 9-in. pan with foil and grease the foil with 1-1/2 teaspoons butter; set aside.
In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar, cream and remaining the butter. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook and stir for 4 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in the white chips and marshmallow cream. Add the chopped cherries and red coloring (if desired) right before pouring into the prepared pan.

For chocolate topping: Melt chocolate chips in a double-boiler and spread over the the fudge. Swirl as desired with knife or toothpick. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Using foil, lift fudge out of pan. Discard foil; cut into 1-in. squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

Yields: about 3 pounds.

 

I really wanted to write a love letter to my body for all of the amazing things that it has done for me. Sometimes I falter. Sometimes I just don’t love my body the way I should and I want that to be okay, too.

Every day while I scroll through social media I notice images, quotes, and infographics about self-love and all of the reasons we need to love the skin we’re in. We feel compelled to share them and add our own dialogue and opinions about how loving ourselves is the healthiest thing we can do. We leave encouraging comments and write messages or support to our fellow comrades in a harsh society that is anything but accepting. We band together and pretend like we’re all more than happy with the way we look and feel because it’s the right thing to do.

But what about those of us who just aren’t feeling it? I can’t be the only person who suffers from moments where I just don’t love my body the way that I should. Maybe it’s part of the postpartum experience. Maybe it’s aging and several years of wear and tear. All I know is I want to stand in solidarity and commend every single person who makes positive changes toward loving themselves and being body positive. I want to be that person too. But I also want to be honest with myself and share my truth. I just don’t always love you the way that I should.

dear body

Dear Body,

I love you most of the time, but other times I do not. I’m really working on that.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I respect the hell out of you. Your legs walked you through so many new places carried you through numerous adventures. Your arms have held and embraced friends and family members who needed you in desperate times. Your shoulders have been cried on. Your hands and fingers have folded together during prayer. You danced and performed your way to gold medals. You carried my daughter inside of you for 9+ months. You endured hours of painful back labor. You pushed a literal tiny human out of you so that she could be a part of this world. You have provided nourishment and comfort to her when she needs it. 

But sometimes I do things to you that are hurtful. I’ve called you names, I’ve hidden you in the back, I’ve deprived you of nourishment, I’ve exhausted you, and I’ve neglected you. 

I’m sorry for that. 

There are thighs that rub together where a gap used to be, skin that folds over my waistline, wrinkles alongside my eyes, gray hairs that peak out amongst the blonde, and scars and stretch marks that tell a story of 32+ years. 

I want you to know that I’m trying. I want to stop picking apart all of the physical traits that make me self-conscious. I want to stop looking back and wishing you looked the way you used to look. I want to give you the affirmations you need to confidently carry you through the day. 

Most importantly, I want you to know that I still love you. 

Thank you for all that you’ve done and all that you will continue to do. 

xoxo,

Laura

dear body

 

 

With Christmas right around the corner, I thought it would be the perfect time to share something that’s important to me and my family– the reasons I vaccinate. I know this can be a controversial topic for many, but as a pro-vaxxer I want to make it clear that I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinions. I, for one, am a huge proponent of vaccinating and believe it is my duty as London’s mother to ultimately make the best choice for her. 

I’ve partnered with I Vaccinate to share my story and this content is sponsored by I Vaccinate.

Since we will be traveling up to Michigan, spending a lot of time with extended family and friends, it is crucial that we take the necessary steps to keep our daughter protected. The day I gave birth to London, we had her receive her first round of infant immunizations (Hep B). Vaccines are not only meant to protect our daughter from deadly diseases (like tetanus, polio, and diphtheria) but to also keep other children safe by eliminating dangerous diseases that can spread from child to child. We now do our part to keep up on each round so that she can stay up to date and safe. To elaborate, I want to share some of the biggest reasons why I vaccinate

I Vaccinate provides information & tools based on real medical science and research to help Michigan parents protect their kids.

i vaccinate

I vaccinate

5 Reasons I Vaccinate My Child:

1. Vaccines are safe. 

Currently, the USA has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in its history. Clinical trials are conducted in order to assess the safety and effectiveness of a vaccine before it can be brought to market. If the results indicate that the vaccine is safe, additional testing in people must be done before the vaccine can be approved by the FDA.

2. Vaccine-preventable diseases still exist today. 

That’s right, folks. Diseases like measles, tetanus, pertussis, polio, and more are still around. The things that children used to DIE from back in the “olden days” are still taking the lives of infants today. Vaccinations exist to protect our children from these deadly diseases. 

3. Vaccinations are better today than ever before. 

Although infants and children receive more vaccines to protect against more diseases now compared to 30 years ago, the number of antigens in vaccines is significantly less than they were decades ago. Vaccination technology has improved, making vaccines way more efficient.

4. We are protecting more than just our daughter. 

By making the decision to get London vaccinated, we are not only protecting her, but we are protecting ourselves, our family, our friends, and our community. These vaccines affect her as much as the rest of us. When a person is vaccinated, they prevent diseases from spreading to babies who are too young to receive vaccines, as well as pregnant women, the elderly, and individuals who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.

5. Vaccines save lives. 

Vaccines have reduced and eliminated many diseases that have killed or severely disabled people in generations past. Scientists widely consider immunization to be one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century, and experts in medical science and research agree that timely immunization is vital to staying healthy.

i vaccinate

We are blessed to have an amazing pediatrician as well as a community of care providers here in Nashville. London is up-to-date on all of her vaccines and always handles them like a champ. I’m pretty sure watching her get her shots is harder on Steve and I than it is on London. She typically cries for a couple minutes, but after nursing and rocking her immediately afterwards, she’s back to her smiling self in no time. She is a trooper. 

i vaccinate

So, as we prepare to make the long road trip up to Michigan for the holidays, we can now feel confident in knowing our daughter is safe from harmful diseases. This is why I vaccinate and why I feel so strongly about protecting my daughter and the safety of others. 

Recently I’ve had some friends reach out to me to see if I had any tips on traveling with a baby. Since Steve and I are back and forth between Michigan, Canada, and Tennessee quite often (and we just recently took a long road trip down to Florida), I thought it was time that I shared all of my baby travel tips with the world.

I’m hoping that these tips save you a few headaches while preparing for your first big trip with a baby. I learned a few of these things the hard way, but the more road trips we take with my daughter, the easier each trip gets!

Note: This blog post shares tips for traveling with a baby by car, not by plane. Some of these tips may be helpful for flying, but they are intended for those who are road tripping. 

For Diaper Changes:

1. Purchase PUPPY TRAINING PADS! No, I’m not even kidding. During our first trip up to Canada, London had a total of 3 blowouts in one day. That means her washable changing pad was ruined early in the day when we still had a lot of miles to go. There was a pharmacy selling “Disposable Changing Pads for Babies” that were paper thin with no absorbency and cost around $14 for a 5-pack. I said “screw that” and headed straight for the pet aisle and picked up a 20 pack of puppy training pads which are super absorbant for half the price. Now when we’re on the go, we change London on top of a puppy pad and if we get any poop or pee on it, we can just roll it up and throw it away!

2. Skip out on changing baby in a public restroom that is likely loaded with germs. (How often do employees actually wipe down those baby changing stations, anyway?) Instead, clear some space in the backseat or passenger seat and change baby on top of a changing pad while you stand outside of the car. Just make sure baby has plenty of space and that he/she doesn’t roll over or out of the car.

3. Stock up on hand sanitizer. Just do it. You never know how many messes you’ll encounter while traveling with a baby. You’re better safe than sorry if you have a way to fight off germs and bacteria.

For Feeding:

4. If your baby takes a bottle, bring some frozen breast milk with you in a cooler. As long as it stays cold during your trip, you’ll be safe to give it to the baby during feedings. This will save you from the hassle of needing to stop and breastfeed every time baby is hungry. If you’re traveling with a partner, you can feed the baby while they are in their carseat while your partner drives. This saves a TON of time. Just make sure to burp the baby at your next step.

traveling with baby

5. If you use a breast pump, get a car adapter! I was able to pump for every missed breastfeeding session while on the road. I use this one for the Medela Pump-in-Style and it works great. It allowed me to fill up a bottle to feed London on the go. It was amazing to sit in the backseat and empty my breasts while still putting miles behind us. This was a HUGE travel hack.

For Packing:

6. If you’re traveling to a place where family won’t be around, bring along a Boppy, Rock N Play, Bumbo Seat, or other chair/swing that baby loves to spend time in. It’s hard enough being in an unfamiliar place with an infant, so giving them the familiar furniture they love at home will be easier on both of you. This isn’t as necessary if you’re traveling to your parents’ house where people will volunteer to hold the baby while you’re busy.

traveling with baby

7. Pack at least 1-2 outfit changes in the diaper bag for baby and yourself while you’re on the road. If there happens to be a blowout, spit-up issue, milk spill, or other… you’ll be happy that you have spare baby clothes handy so that you don’t have to dig through your suitcase in the trunk to find clean clothes.

8. If you’re bottle feeding at all, bring extra bottles with you for the trip. When you arrive at your destination you can sanitize and re-use as often as you need to, but remember you’ll only have dirty bottles as you feed while in the car. You can never have too many just in case there is a feeding emergency.

9. The Pack n Play is a Godsend. You won’t need a bassinet or crib if you have a Pack n Play. Just make sure you have a Pack n Play sized sheet! (I use this super cheap one and it works wonders.)

traveling with baby

10. If you have enough room in the car, pack your baby’s bathtub. I use the AngelCare Baby Bath support and it’s pretty easy to bring along whenever we travel. I am of the opinion that if it makes your life easier and gives you peace of mind, BRING it! I’m still not totally comfortable bathing London in the bathtub without some form of support, so I always bring mine.

11. Don’t forget the white noise! If baby falls asleep using a white noise machine, you don’t want to travel without some form of white noise machine. You can get a small travel-sized one, or, if you’re in a pinch like I’ve been in the past, you can use apps on your phone. I love the Calm app!

12. If you can’t fit the stroller in the car, bring a baby carrier, wrap, or sling to wear on your chest. That way you can easily move about and go out in public with baby without having to carry around a heavy carseat carrier.

General Tips:

13. Take care of yourself. Traveling can cause a lot of unnecessary headaches, so be sure to eat healthy, drink lots of water, and keep yourself sane so that baby doesn’t recognize your stress and have a meltdown with you. It’s important to stay calm and try to relax.

14. ENJOY IT. Remember that travel is a luxury and a privilege. To be able to bring your baby on adventures like this is an incredible experience, so it should be enjoyed to the fullest. You are making some of the best memories, so soak it all in.

Traveling with Baby

Traveling with a baby can be a bit stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! Preparedness is the key. Make sure you have everything you need to make your road trip with your baby fun and memorable instead of chaotic and scary.