Monday, December 31, 2018

What 2018 Taught Me

What a year 2018 was! It’s hard to put it into words - there was so much good and I have a hard time finding the words to describe this year. It wasn’t without its challenges but I felt like a lot of this year was dedicated to me finding myself and coming into my own in this stage of life. I learned a lot this year along the way, but a few lessons from the year really stand out to me.

Trust yourself and follow your heart. I have worked from home since Madeline was about a year old but last January I woke up one day and decided I wanted to do something different. I hadn’t felt that way at all a week earlier but one day it came to me with such clarity. I was hesitant to share this with Corey but I felt really strongly that I was being led down a different path. Then, I met my mentor with Beautycounter and decided to upgrade my account to become a consultant and it has been such an amazing decision for me. I found that throughout the year I became even more passionate about women’s health and that by pursuing this job I actually got a lot of time for myself back while still earning a paycheck. Not to mention so much pride and a little bit of awe at my role of helping other families learn about and choose safer products for their own homes.

Friday, December 21, 2018

FAQ’s for our first Two Weeks

It’s hard to believe that our baby boy has been in our family for just over two weeks now. I have lots to share with you but adjusting to being a family of four has been keeping me very busy for the time being. I’m sure you have noticed that most of my recent posts were scheduled before his arrival.

I did want to pop in and share a little about how we are all doing. Putting together a coherent post seemed a little daunting so I decided to share some of the questions we have been asked the most since baby boy’s arrival. I tried to cover everything that has been asked on Instagram and then the most common questions from our family and friends, too, but if there’s something else you are curious about, you can let me know in the comments and I will share it next time.

Where did his name come from?

When I was pregnant with Madeline we decided on the name Connor Robert if she was a boy. We thought about a couple different things this time around but still loved that name the most so we kept coming back to it. We just really liked the name Connor. I loved the idea of him having a “C” name so his monogram would be the same as Corey’s. Robert is Corey’s middle name and also my father-in-law’s name.

For those of you who are new readers and don’t already know, we lost my father-in-law to a glioblastoma just a few weeks before I found out I was pregnant with Madeline so we really wanted to honor him by using his name. He loved babies and really desperately wanted grandchildren so I know it is making him teary-eyed and happy up in heaven that our baby boy carries on his name. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Our Family Holiday Shoot 2018

We had our family Christmas photos taken early this year. Way back in October, on a humid, overcast, eighty-five degree morning we all got dressed and pretended that it felt like Christmas outside. Then, we headed to a local Christmas tree farm to meet our photographer. 

Madeline was surprisingly shy so that was the hardest part of taking photos this year - it was difficult to catch her smiling. Our photographer was so patient and did such a good job of working around her toddler stubborness and shyness. 

I’m so pleased with how our photos turned out this year. I never scheduled maternity photos for either pregnancy so it was also so special to have some photos taken displaying my bump. 

Because we had our pictures taken so early, we were able to order our cards and get them out to friends and family  before our sweet Connor made his debut, which worked out perfectly because life has been pretty busy since then! We used Minted of course because of the free recipient address printing. 

I especially love these photos because they are the last professional photos we have as a family of three. We certainly love our new addition but Madeline was an only child for so long that I love having these of Corey and me with just our big girl. 

Merry (almost) Christmas from our family to yours! 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Holiday Home Tour 2018

I really can't believe the Holiday season is here. This year will be both special and chaotic for our family as we welcome a new baby into our family. Because of his arrival, I broke one of my own rules and decorated a little early this year. I had most of the decorations out in the days before Thanksgiving and got the Christmas trees up on Thanksgiving morning since we did not host this year and actually had a very laid back day.

I changed very little from last year aside from adding a few things upstairs and to the front of the house. Our home is a traditional brick colonial so I decorate it pretty traditionally. That is my style anyway with Christmas decor. I hang wreathes on the windows and then this year I added lighted trees to the front steps (thanks Mom for gifting me these for my birthday!) and replaced my candles in the windows with a fresh set. I finally upgraded to ones on a timer and it has made allll the difference.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Holiday Gift Guide for the Littles

I really can't believe that Christmas is almost here. This is my favorite time of year but the one thing I hate is scrambling around for last minute gifts. So, today I have compiled a list of ideas for what to buy for the little ones in your life. I broke it into two parts - baby and then toddler. Obviously my personal experience with this is a little skewed towards items that girls love but I think you will find something here even if you are scratching your head for a last minute gift for a toddler boy in your life. 

Laugh and Learn Car. This was such a great item that Madeline has loved for a long time. We first got it for her when she was eight or nine months old and she used it primarily for the sensory aspect - exposure to music, texture, and sound. Now that she is older she still plays with this and uses it for pretend play and pretends to drive her stuffed animals and dolls around. 

Leapfrog Violet (or Scout). Madeline received her Violet for her first birthday and still loves her to this day. This sweet little stuffed animals references your child by name and sings to them, plays games, and will even play lullabies at bedtime. 

Little People Farm. Madeline has an older version of this but still plays with it. Little People are such a great toy. Smaller babies will just enjoy touching and manipulating them and looking at the faces. Then, as they get older they use them to learn animal names and sounds and finally for pretend play. This is another great toy that grows with the child. 

Drum and Instrument Set. This set is great. We have an older version of this and it has been so very loved. It it a toy drum that comes with lots of other instruments inside. Babies love music and making sound so it was a toy that Madeline loved from a young age and is still loving now at almost three even though she has more experience with music at this point. 

Llama Llama Yum Yum Yum. This is a great book for little ones. It is a scratch n' sniff book so they will love smelling the pages. Llama Llama is likely a character they are already family with from other books or from the show on Netflix, making it even more fun. Madeline loves scratching and sniffing the pages herself now. 

Tickle Monster Book Set. This book has been one of our favorites for such a long time and has caused so much happy laughter at bedtime when we read it. You have to get the whole set so that you get the fun little tickle gloves - don't skimp on this one! 

Beautycounter Kids Gift Set. I am a big believer in including things that kids need as part of their gifts, too. I love the Beautycounter Kids Gift Set because it comes with a safe body wash and shampoo and then a cute hooded towel, which makes a great presentation. 

What about the preschooler? I included some ideas for those little ones, too. Madeline is right in the middle of the 2-4 age group right now so that is what this list is targeted towards. 

Vintage Play Kitchen. Madeline has this play kitchen. We were really lucky to snag it on our local mom group but it would be well worth its regular price as this is our most played with toy. We have lots of accessories (Target dollar spot, Melissa and Doug from Homegoods/Marshalls/TJ Maxx are great places to look) and Madeline cooks and plays in her kitchen every day. Its hard to put together, though, so don't wait until Christmas Eve.

Do-A-Dot Markers. These are really closer to paint than they are a marker but because they come out in dots they are less messy. We love doing art with these and they keep little ones busy for a long time. 

Duplo Park Set. Duplo's are a great introduction to legos and a toy that are great for children using their own imagination and practicing those creativity and engineering skills. There are lots of different sets so it can be a gift parents add-on to once their kids get started. 

Art Easel. We purchased this easel for Madeline last year for her birthday and it is used almost daily. I love that is is big enough for large toddlers to use without taking up tons of space. It has a whiteboard side, a chalkboard side, and holds a roll of paper (which I buy from Amazon). I also love that is has storage baskets at the bottom to hold art supplies. It doesn't fold easily, though, but we keep ours up all the time because it is used constantly. 

Fire Kids Tablet. Now this is not a gift to get someone else's child because technology with kids is a very personal decision. But, this is the tablet that we bought for Madeline. I always thought I would not let her have her own device but we caved and purchased this for our car ride to the beach this year and I do really love it. We very much limit her use of it but it is great for car rides, when she has to tag along to doctor's appointments, or for a few minutes when I need to get something done. I love that I can completely control the content and that it doesn't need internet access to function. 

Magnatiles. These are so great for preschoolers who are learning to build. They are great for sparking creativity, math and engineering basics, and for fine motor skills. The colors make them fun and most kids love them and will play with them forever. 

Dragons Love Tacos. This is such a cute book and one that we have on Madeline's list this year. It is funny and just perfect for toddler/preschool humor and interest. 

We are always looking for new ideas, especially with Madeline's birthday right around the corner. So, mamas, what is on your own little one's Christmas list this holiday season?

Friday, December 7, 2018


Connor Robert is here! He arrived on Wednesday morning, December 5, at 7:37 am. He is a whole pound bigger than his big sister was, weighing in at 6 lbs, 15 ounces and 20 inches long. We are still in the hospital but both are doing well and looking forward to being home with Big Sister and our complete little family soon! 

We are just smitten with him and so glad he is here. Madeline is especially proud of him and got to meet “her baby” yesterday and gave him lots of hugs, kisses, and pets. 

Thank you all for following along throughout my pregnancy and all the love, prayers, and well-wishes as we prepared for his arrival!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Holiday Gift Guide for Her

Last week I shared my Holiday Gift Guide for Him and I hope it gave you a few ideas if there's a certain man on your list that has left you scratching your head for what to buy. Today I wanted to share my Holiday Gift Guide for Her. I put this one together with my own friends, family, coworkers, Madeline's teachers, and party hostesses in mind and tried to choose a great variety of gifts that were really reasonably priced.

Leather Tassel Pouch. This cute little pouch comes in nine different colors and is just perfect to help keep any lady's purse organized. It is leather and can be embossed with a monogram. I think it is great for keeping cash and change, a few lipsticks, or tucking receipts into.

Hand Cream Trio. I love this little set of three of Beautycounter's hand creams. It is the perfect gift for a hostess and is great for coworkers or teachers, too. For Madeline's teachers I plan to break the set apart and attach each one with a gift certificate to one of each teacher's favorite places.

Charcoal Balancing Mask. This mask is the perfect gift for about any woman on your list because who doesn't need a little more pampering in their life? Charcoal draws out impurities and toxins in the skin - even toxins from the environment - so it will leave the recipient feeling refreshed and relaxed.

Quartz Roller. This is something that I have on my personal list this year. You all know I am a lover of skincare, specifically anything more natural that will give me great results. I have heard so many great things about using a quartz roller for areas of your face that are prone to getting a little puffy or retaining fluid - specifically around your eyes. This one is really reasonably priced and I think its something most of us was hesitate to splurge on for ourselves, making it the perfect gift.

Emoji Coffee Mug.  I have a similar coffee mug and get so many compliments on it. It is just cute and it truly does make me smile when I make my coffee in it. It would be a perfect gift for a coworker, friend, or teacher with a little gift card tucked inside.

Monogrammed Locket. This is a really great gift idea for a friend whose recently had a new baby, mamas, or grandparents of your own children because you can go ahead and put two pictures inside for them. It is super reasonably priced (under $30) and comes in gold, silver, and rose gold. I personally would not recommend the rose gold color in this piece but love both of the others. The chain is long, which I love, and I love that it is personalized with the recipient's monogram.

Pom-Pom Beanie. This beanie is currently only $10 and comes in four colors. Its such a cute hat that will be much appreciated on a cold day this winter. For myself, I just never think to purchase a hat but am always glad to have one when I have to be outside on a very cold day. I know I personally wait until the last minute - like the day before we are attending a football game or other outdoor event to realize that I don't have one to wear.

Scalloped Gloves. These gloves come in several different colors and are so soft and pretty. I nice pair of gloves are so great to have but I feel like are so annoying to purchase for yourself - making them a great gift.

Homebody. I so enjoyed the Magnolia Table cookbook by Joanna Gaines earlier this year (another great gift idea, too) and have her new book Homebody on my personal list this year. Either book would be great if you are buying for someone who either loves to decorate or loves to cook. I think Joanna Gaines just has such a way about her that makes both meals and spaces feel so warm and personal.

Monday, December 3, 2018

3 Goals for December

It is officially baby month! It’s actually baby week so my goals are a little shorter this month because I know it is going to be a busy one!

1. Have a healthy baby. Obviously this is our biggest order of business for the month. If you caught my last bumpdate you know we had a little hiccup in our plan. Of course I’m super emotional and a little bummed that things aren’t going quite as I anticipated. Mostly because I expected my birth experience to be a lot like Madeline’s and anticipated being up moving around in just a couple days, popping into Target and running simple errands within the week to keep myself sane, and able to get out and walk and do more things with my big girl to just feel as normal as one can immediately after birth. Baby boy is still not being cooperative even though we haven’t stopped trying to get him to flip around so I’ve been a little (ok, a lot) emotional about the whole thing. But, our biggest goal is just to get him here safely, so I’ve reminded myself several times that that’s really all that matters! 

2. Celebrate Christmas with both of my babies and our family. It will be a lower key Christmas since I’ll probably still be recovering a little. Paper plates instead of china perhaps? But I know it will be so special to have our family complete and together for Christmas. Our halls are decked (home tour coming very soon) and I’ve done a good bit of the shopping. Now, the packages might not be wrapped with as much care as usual since I’ll probably delegate that task to Corey or just stuff everything in gift bags. But, I’m still SO excited to celebrate this year!

3. End my year with Beautycounter with a fun 12 Days I’d Safer Beauty online event. I kicked that off on Saturday and it’s an education first event where we will chat about some of the worst offending ingredients in Beauty and personal care items, I’ll share some of my favorite products with you, and a special deal will be offered every day. At the end, I’ll be giving away some great products and there are so many ways to enter with no cap for how many times you can win. Find the event here

And that’s it for the month! I can’t say I’m expecting to accomplish a whole lot with a new baby. But it’s a perfect season to just love on him, Madeline, and Corey and be grateful for our family! 

What’s on the agenda for you this month? 

Friday, November 30, 2018

Holiday Gift Guide for Men

Raise your hand if all your Holiday shopping is done and those gifts are wrapped and ready under the tree?

I usually start my Holiday shopping mid-November and then try to have it all finished by the middle of December but undoubtedly I still find myself running around at the last minute trying to finish a few things up. Of course this year with Baby Boy making his debut, I have to have everything done before he arrives so that it is off my plate. 

Buying for men can be so hard. I feel like the men in my life are all very challenging to buy for. But, I did manage to round up a few items that are sure to please the men in your life. 

USB Keychain. I love this because most of us are lost without our devices yet its easy to get caught out and about without a charger. I think this leather embossed keychain is so pretty on its on and the lightening cable just makes it extra functional. Drop in a couple charging cubes or a power bank as a stocking stuffer and you can be sure that the man you are buying for won't be caught at 1% ever again. 

Sonos Play 1 Speaker. If you are purchasing for someone who enjoys music then they really need this speaker for their home. The sound quality is just incredible and its a gift that they can build upon if they choose by adding more pieces later on. 

Air Pod Headphones. Corey and I both have a set of these and they are great. I love them for the gym. Corey uses his for everything from running to conference calls for work. Again, the sound quality is great and its so nice to not have the wires of traditional headphones. 

Counterman Travel Set. This is a preview set for Beautycounter's new men's line and comes with a travel bag. The price point is great. Corey just recently started having any interest in skincare products but he really enjoys having a moisturizer for the dry months. It was so easy for me to switch mine and Madeline's products to safer but finding something to replace the products he was regularly using was more difficult. He has been my guinea pig for this set since it launched in October and has been very pleased. I also love that it comes with a travel bag because those are always needed and it makes a much nicer presentation for gifting. 

Tile. Corey received a Tile as a gift a couple years ago and it was such a great gift as he often sets his keys down somewhere in the house other than where he can easily find them the next day. Especially if he is traveling and he puts them down somewhere then leaves for a trip for a week! So the Tile has been really great in helping him locate them quickly without causing a big headache. 

Slippers. There is just something about a really nice pair of slippers. Most people wouldn't splurge on a nice pair for themselves yet appreciate them so much as a gift, especially in the cold winter months. Here is a much less expensive pair that have really great reviews. 

I'm always looking for suggestions for hard to buy for men so I'd love to hear your favorite gifts you've given the men in your life in the comments below. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

A Change in Plans + 38 Week Bumpdate

Leave it to a man to change all of your plans at the last minute.

When I was born thirty-one years ago I was born by c-section and I’ve never had any negative feelings about them. My mom was in labor for four days, nineteen days after her due date, after two failed inductions, before finally having to have one so if anything I feel like she worked even harder to bring me into this world than I did giving birth to Madeline. 

There were times when I was pregnant with Madeline that I even hoped that a c-section would be an option for me. Mainly because I was just scared of the unknown. And even though I know thousands of women do it every single day, I was really nervous for what my vagina was about to go through.

I can’t believe I just typed that word on my blog. So, no one was more surprised than me at how upset I was when I learned at just a few days short of 38 weeks that I would have to have a c-section.

I have never really had the mindset that a traditional birth is the “right/normal” way to have a baby. I didn't have that desire to feel my baby enter the world. In fact, I was actually quite disappointed by how much I was able to still feel during my labor with Madeline after having an epidural. 

Yet, when my doctor told me I would have to have a c-section I cried. Not right away. I waited until I got home. But then I cried. I gained my composure for a little while and then cried some more. I cried about it probably a good six to ten more times over the following days. When I admitted to my girl friend, who is also pregnant, how many times I’d found myself crying over it, I cried some more. 

How emotional I felt over the whole thing really surprised me since I have never felt like I was “anti” c-section and I was pretty terrified of having to push out a baby again anyway after having a postpartum hemorrhage following my first delivery. 

One thing I have learned about being pregnant is that your emotions will get the best of you from time to time and that there will be times when you didn’t even realize you felt a certain way about something until you get to that stage of the game.

I had been having contractions on and off since about 34 weeks. I wasn’t progressing so my doctor wasn’t concerned but said this baby was head down, low, engaged, and ready to come out. I packed my bag and prepped everything I could ahead of time so I could leave for the hospital in a hurry if it seemed that this seemingly eager to come out baby boy was coming faster than Madeline.

I went to an appointment two days before I hit 37 weeks. Baby was still head down but hadn’t been moving as much as he previously had been. My OB said they slow down a lot once they get really low as they prepare for labor and his heart rate and everything looked great so no need to worry at all. 

I left that appointment and went to the dentist and Baby Boy started moving around like crazy when they started the teeth polishing. It put my mind at ease, even in the afternoon when I watched all his limbs wiggle and poke out like a tiny little alien. I felt like I got kicked in the stomach so violently that it made me sick and then he stopped squirming so rapidly and things went back to normal with little kicks here and there. I actually felt better because I felt less, um “pressure” so went on to enjoy my birthday celebration and didn’t think anything else of this until I went for my next checkup a few days later.

I casually mentioned this episode of crazy movement to my doctor just as he was finishing up my checkup and he immediately told me he wanted to do a pelvic exam just to make sure Baby was still in the correct position. Madeline was with me bouncing up and down in the chair watching Toy Story so it wasn’t really ideal timing so he promised it would be just a quick exam.

I got changed and he came right back in. Then, sure enough, he told me he could no longer feel the baby’s head at my cervix so off to have an ultrasound we went. Which showed that, at almost 38 weeks, he had decided to do a flip and was now complete breech. 

Corey and I decided not to try the version procedure to have him manually flipped because it was estimated to be only 40-50% effective for me and carried a lot of risks. I’ve been trying some things from the spinning babies website although most of them are also recommended for babies who are breech earlier on and seeing a chiropractor who specializes in the Webster Method. So far baby still hasn’t turned back and no one seems particularly hopeful that he will at this stage of pregnancy, which leaves us without a lot of options. 

I had to go ahead and schedule my c-section which is scheduled for the same day as Madeline’s first ever ballet recital. Cue even more tears. 

I have a lot of great mama friends who have been offering encouragement and advice and giving me lots of tips regarding the surgery and recovery. I’m not so much afraid of the actual procedure as I am of the recovery and being limited on what I can do - mainly lifting my big girl! 

So, that is a big change in plans for all of us. We go today for my final checkup at my OB office and will be praying Baby Boy has moved even though it still feels like there is a nice round little head right up at my ribs instead of down where it belongs!

Now, moving on to my final bumpdate of this pregnancy - 38 weeks:

Baby is the size of: a pumpkin and likely weighs almost seven pounds 

Weight gain: 30-32 pounds depending on the day 

Symptoms: lots of swelling in my fingers and feet, exhaustion, a great big belly! 

Cravings: Wine! And fruit. 

Eating lately: I haven’t been very hungry since he flipped over because I’ve got all the larger baby parts wedged against my stomach. I’m eating small meals and lots of snacks and just whatever we have available. 

Exercise: I finished exercising last week. I intended to sneak in one more class but my week ended up being busy so I just decided to call it a day and be proud that I made it through 37 weeks of exercise! 

Baby’s Movement: He is moving lots now that he has flipped over. His feet are really low so his kicks are pretty dang uncomfortable since he’s kicking a very sensitive area! But not much longer now so I’m trying to not complain about that.

Wearing: All maternity clothes and leggings with long sweaters are my favorite right now. 

Sleep: A lot better most nights but I’m also anxious so I have had a harder time falling asleep but once I get to sleep most nights I’ve gotten better quality, more restful sleep than in recent months which has been so nice! 

Stretch Marks: Not yet! Still applying my oil and belly butter 2-3 times a day. 

Belly Button: I’d say it’s half way in, half way out! Turkey timer is done! 

Highs/Lows: the high has been just knowing he will be here very soon! And spending some time getting ready for Christmas with Madeline before baby gets here. We went to see Santa and decorated  the Christmas tree as well as the other areas of our house. Then, we celebrated a great Thanksgiving with family. 

The low was obviously finding out that Baby Boy turned breech. It wasn’t a surprise I expected at the last minute and having him flip so late was a really helpless feeling because I feel like I had few choices/things to try. I know in the scheme of things it doesn’t really matter and as long as he is healthy, I won’t care how he got here six months from now. But it still feels like a big disappointment to me for right now. 

Looking forward to: Meeting our baby boy! And drinking a big glass of wine. Cheers! 

Here's a little side by side. I feel like I look pretty much the same - just swollen and worn out! Check out the final bumpdate from my first pregnancy here or read all pregnancy related posts here

Did you catch the items I’m buying for Baby #2 and my letter to Madeline for her last days as an only child? You can also see what I packed in my hospital bag in this post. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

What’s in my Hospital Bag for Baby 2

Let’s take a little moment to think back to the end of my pregnancy with Madeline, shall we? Ten days before her due date my water broke in the middle of the night (just a few days after recovering from bronchitis and a sinus infection) and I immediately had to do some very important things like paint my nails (Ha!), steam her curtains, install the car seat, and finish packing our hospital bag before heading out the door.

While I can be super Type A and organized a lot of the time, I can also be a major procrastinator at other times. I did have a lot of things completed and ready when I went into labor but this time I decided to prep a little more ahead of time, especially since when baby is on his way this time my first priority will have to be making sure Madeline is taken care of. You know, instead of making sure my nails have a fresh coat of lacquer. 

Having done this before, I also have a better idea of what I need this time around and what is not necessary. I want to have everything I need but I also don’t want to overpack because then that is just more to lug in and out of the hospital and clean and put away when I get home.

What’s in my bag for me:

Nursing pajamas. I purchased these recently and they are so soft and flattering. I've enjoyed wearing them during my pregnancy and they’re also nice enough that I won’t mind visitors seeing me, full coverage enough, yet still allow easy nursing access. I also have a three-piece pair from before Madeline’s birth and I love that they come with a robe. You can find a similar pair here.

Clothes for mama. Leggings, a nursing bra, nursing tanks, and flowy cotton cardigans are a must. I packed two of each - one set to wear in the hospital and one for the trip home. I packed my favorite maternity leggings as well as these one-size high waisted ones that I know I'll wear a ton postpartum. These nursing tanks are my favorite and I love this style nursing bra for the early days when your boobs are changing rapidly! I have one of these cardigans and think they are so great for nursing and looking covered up and put together while allowing you access when you need it. 

Shoes. I packed flip flops for the shower and slippers to wear around the room. I also threw in a pair of gripper socks in case I want them during labor and my Uggs to wear home. Your feet can swell from the fluids they give you while in the hospital so packing shoes that are forgiving is a must.

Entertainment. Don't forget to pack your phone charger with an extension cord so that it will reach your bed. Also, depending on your labor, you might have some down time so this time around I tossed in a few magazines and my tablet. I hope to sleep if the start of labor is slow this time like it was last time but I know it will be nice to have these just in case.

Toiletry bag. Since I’m really picky about my products and only use personal care items with safe ingredients, I went ahead and packed my shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, deodorant, facial cleanser, moisturizer, facial oil, a foundation sample, and a tube of mascara. For the larger items, I put a little inside travel containers and ordered this set and this set from Beautycounter's holiday line since they were the perfect size. Lip conditioner is also a must because your lips can really dry out in the hospital.  I’ll probably also toss my full makeup bag in when I go into labor but I do want to make sure I have the essentials just in case it’s chaotic and I forget. I thought I wouldn’t want my makeup when Madeline was born but I was actually so glad I had it because it felt really nice to take a few minutes for myself to freshen up while Daddy and the grandparents loved on my newborn. I also put a razor in because I loved shaving my legs for the first time without a big belly in the way the day after Madeline was born.

Depends. This is one of those things that you really don’t know you need unless a girlfriend is just brutally honest with you but I found these much more comfortable than the mesh undies the hospital provides and they thoroughly protect your clothing during those first few days. I also put Dermaplast spray and Tucks pads in my hospital bag but for my last delivery they gave me both of these items in the hospital. My been there done that tip for expectant mamas is to order these items on Amazon. Also, the hospital will provide you with some personal care items like a little squirt bottle for after you go to the restroom and some other personal care items. Bring these home with you after because you will want them for a few more days. 

Nipple Balm. This is a safer more natural alternative for sore nipples than lanolin and I was really pleased with it when I was nursing Madeline. Coconut oil is also wonderful and the bonus is that you don't have to wash it off before nursing. 

Dulcolax. I am so glad someone told me to bring this last time because some of the fluids and medicines they give you during labor can really, um, slow you down and you do not want that when your nether regions are swollen and sensitive. I started taking it as soon as I was up moving around after Madeline’s birth and had no problems thankfully. 

Essentials. The hospital gives you pretty much everything you need for baby but I packed a pack of water wipes, my Beautycounter Baby bundle since I only want to use a safe baby wash and the hospital used Johnson and Johnson last time, a little gown, and his coming home outfit. When Madeline was in the hospital she just wore the tiny little shirt they give you, the newborn hat, a diaper, and a swaddle the whole time. I tend to believe less is more when packing for baby because they will have everything they need. Why create more laundry before you even get home? 

Paci. We did not take one for Madeline and she cried for hours and hours in the hospital. Nursing didn’t help. Swaddling didn’t help. Skin to skin didn’t help. White noise and swaying didn’t help. She was pretty much just like that for several hours a day the first six weeks of her life so this time I don’t feel guilty for bringing a pacifier in case we need it. 

Muslin Blanket. These things are the best and can be used for absolutely anything from a carseat cover if you have to run an errand on the way home to a nursing cover when visitors come to the hospital to a swaddle while baby naps.

Boppy. I so enjoyed having my Boppy at the hospital after Madeline was born so I packed it again this time. It makes supporting baby while nursing so much easier and more comfortable, especially after labor. 

I also added a gift for Baby Boy to give Madeline (I chose a Cuddle + Kind doll) and you might want to include your baby book if you want baby's footprints stamped directly in the book. 

Don't forget to toss in a few things for Dad, too. Clean underwear, a pair of sweatpants, a clean t shirt and toiletry essentials (deodorant, toothbrush/toothpaste) and a few snacks and bottles of water are what I included for Corey. Corey will come home to check on Madeline at some point so I know he will get the opportunity to shower and change. 

You may also want to consider a small gift for your nurses. You will likely have at least two or three who are assigned specifically to you. I did not know before Madeline’s delivery how much those labor and delivery nurses really did and I was so thankful for them. This time I am bringing a few Starbucks gift cards. 

A final tip is to put a post-it note on top of your bag once it is packed with a bulleted list of those things you’ll want to grab at the last minute so you don’t forget essentials when you are excited and in a hurry. For me, that was my phone charger and makeup bag. 

I’m a big believer in using what they give you at the hospital (diapers, personal care for mom, etc.) because you will be billed for it anyway and it saves you from having to overpack. 

Seasoned mamas, what am I missing? 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

To Madeline, on her last days as an only child

Dear Madeline,

Tonight as I lie in bed I find myself thinking about another night almost three years ago. I awoke knowing something wasn’t quite right and realized my water had broken and you were on the way. I remember waiting on the doctor to return my message pacing back and forth in our home looking at my sleeping husband - your Daddy - while I hurried to make sure everything was ready (your room, my bag, my manicure) and realizing that our lives would change forever in just a few hours.

You have brought the most amazing changes to our lives and you fit so perfectly into our little family that it seems as if you have always been there.

You are the answer to so many prayers and you know you are our “favorite girl” and a perfect combination of myself and Daddy. You are silly and loud like Daddy but also sensitive and affectionate like me. You have Daddy’s expressions down to a tee but my coloring.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Coffee + Conversation

Happy Monday, friends.

It’s been a little quiet around here lately. I have been busy getting ready for baby boy to make his debut. Those intentions I had of not doing any more projects didn’t really pan out...but in a great way that is making me feel SO accomplished.

Today is my birthday and at the very last minute I decided to broach the subject with Corey of doing a few projects that we had been putting off, like having the downstairs trim painted, the stair risers, the bannisters, and installing crown molding in our secondary bedrooms as my “gift”. I just got it in my head that I wanted this done now and off our plate instead of in the spring as planned and once my pregnant horomones got involved we had to get moving right away. 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Third Trimester Workout Routine + 36 Week Bumpdate

Today I thought I would hit two posts in one and share my workout routine for the third trimester and my thirty-six week bumpdate. This was the point with my first pregnancy where I felt like things started to change and I could tell the end of pregnancy was near. The end of my prenatal workouts are also near so it seemed an appropriate time to share an update on that too.

It was such a huge goal of mine to stay active during my pregnancy. I gained a completely acceptable amount of weight during my pregnancy with Madeline but just didn’t feel strong or healthy afterwards so my goal was to exercise appropriately the whole way through this time and try to maintain my strength and just overall health this go round. I have gained more weight this pregnancy but do really feel stronger and more physically prepared for all the changes my body is about to go through so I will call that a win.

Even though I’m including my 36 week bumpdate in this post I’m actually closer to 37 weeks and will hit that milestone tomorrow. I'm hoping to squeeze in one more barre class on Sunday and then I’m retiring my yoga pants for however long the rest of this pregnancy lasts. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

5 easy swaps to “clean up” your makeup routine

For me the decision to “clean up” my skincare routine and swap out my favorite products in favor of safer ones was an easy one. We are a very health-minded family and having a daughter, I feel a lot of responsibility setting a good example for her.

Making the switch to safer makeup was a little more difficult, though. I had a favorite blush I had been wearing for years and finding that perfect concealer or mascara can be a surprisingly personal choice. Sometimes ignorance becomes bliss in terms of our favorite makeup and it is easier to not dig into the safety of our products in favor of being able to still use those that we've grown to love. At the beginning of this year I decided to start switching out my makeup products in favor of safer choices. It has taken months to totally clear out my makeup bag and feel confident in the safety of all of the products that are in it now but I can say that I no longer cringe when Madeline reaches for my blush brush to swipe some across her own little cheek or begs for a dab of lip gloss. 

I am so happy with the swaps I’ve made and even happier that I have not had to sacrifice performance. Beautycounter is just as committed to our products working, well, beautifully as we are to them being completely safe and free of questionable ingredients. 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

One Room Challenge | Week 6 | THE REVEAL

The day is finally here! After six weeks it is One Room Challenge reveal day and I am so excited to share with you the final product of Madeline’s big girl room transformation. 

This was such a special project for me as putting this level of attention to detail in a space for her was never something I’ve been able to do before. I really can’t believe this room is real and that it will really be all hers to enjoy for many years.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

5 Goals for November

November is here and it finally does feel like fall in North Carolina. As I was drafting this post last night, I was covered in a cozy blanket, wearing an oversized sweater, and sitting in our living room with the fireplace on. I just love this time of year!

I did not accomplish everything on my October goals list unfortunately but it was a busy month. I fell short on planning a baby moon (because my doctor vetoed it!) and I did not try out any new recipes. I did a lot of cooking, though, so that’s something! 

The big project for October was Madeline’s big girl room. I’ll be giving you the full tour on Thursday and I am so excited to share! It turned out so cute and just so Madeline. 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

One Room Challenge | Week 5 | Making the Bed + Gallery Wall

Here we are at Week 5 of the One Room Challenge. Madeline's big girl room transformation is almost complete. I barely got this post ready in time and was working until the last second she was at preschool yesterday to finish up hanging things and getting photos taken. 

Her room is pretty much complete now and I can't wait to share with you the finished product next week during the reveal post. I have put so much time and thought into this space and it is one of my favorites in our home - especially since it really just seems to fit her.

I shared the painting project of Madeline’s big girl bed a couple weeks ago and today, I am sharing a little bit about her bedding and wall art. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

30-34 Week Bumpdate

Here we are - getting so close to the end! This was the point with Madeline that I started doing updates every other week so I will try to do that this time, too, to document as things start changing more rapidly. How amazing (and terrifying!) to realize he will be here in just four to six weeks!

How far along: 34 weeks 

Baby is the size of: a cantaloupe and weighs about four and a half pounds 

Weight gain: 28 pounds per my last appointment

Symptoms: My oh my how things have changed since my last update. I’m still exhausted but have been having a lot of backpain, some nausea again, pelvic pressure (ouch!), and contractions. I had to go in for some fetal monitoring due to the contractions (more on that below). Also, I had some random swelling last week but thankfully it went away. I’m sure it’s a sign that more is coming, though! 

Monday, October 29, 2018

Coffee + Conversation

Happy Monday, friends. I hope everyone had a great weekend.

Friday was Corey's birthday so Madeline and I baked him a cake. His two favorite cakes are this coconut cake and just a boxed yellow cake with chocolate icing. Even though the coconut cake is amazing and will totally blow your mind if you bake it, we went the yellow cake route this year so that Madeline could be more involved.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Third Trimester Thoughts

As I approach the end of my pregnancy, I find myself a little baffled as to how we got this far along. It seems like just days ago that I was sharing the news with my closest friends and writing this post to share the news with all of you.

This second pregnancy has truly flown by, which leaves me feeling a lot of things at the same time. I am thankful that aside from some nausea it has been a fairly easy pregnancy. I feel grateful to be able to carry this sweet babe. I alluded to our struggles with secondary infertility in this post but didn’t go in to detail. (And honestly I probably won’t.) Staring at negative pregnancy test after negative pregnancy test seems a life time ago now but the significance of being able to carry a baby is not lost on me and as we near the end of a second healthy pregnancy I find myself feeling overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunity to carry this baby. Both of my babies really.

But there are other feelings, too. I feel overwhelmed with things left to do and check off the list. A closet to finish organizing. Baby gear to wash and finish re-assembling. Bottles and pump parts to clean and sterilize. A kitchen cabinet to organize so that I have a place for bottles and such. A hospital bag to pack. 

I feel large, which is proof that baby is growing but something as women we just don't like to feel. I feel achy and sore and tired. And short-tempered and out of patience. Bless my husband.

I also feel anxious about the changing dynamic in our family. With Corey traveling so much Madeline and I have our routine down pat. We are used to spending most of the week just the two of us. Having our coffee and milk on the couch under a blanket in the morning just us girls. Making easy dinners and going on outings together. Ordering a nonfat, 3 pump PSL with a birthday cake pop on our weekly Starbucks runs. When Corey returned to work after Madeline was born I was absolutely terrified, starting ahead at five long days with just the two of us. But, we have gotten used to our routine now and the girl time while she is so little is so sweet albeit exhausting at times. Yet, I feel my heart start to race when I think about adding a tiny, very needy little person into that routine and wondering how will I possibly take care of everyone. How will I keep everyone alive and happy and give them all that they need. That has me feeling a little terrified all over again!

Then, selfishly, I wonder how in the world I will ever have time for the things I need and enjoy just for myself ever again. Barre classes, mani-pedi's, a really good workout, this blog, a business I enjoy that sends a check home with my name on it.

I feel all kinds of emotional knowing this is likely my last pregnancy. I don't think you'll hear me changing my mind about that but I still feel a wave of emotions knowing that in just a few short weeks I won't ever get to feel those little kicks inside me ever again. I'm at the point over the last couple weeks where pregnancy has gotten less, um, enjoyable, and some of those unpleasant end of pregnancy symptoms have shown up and I find myself wishing it away and feeling simultaneously relieved and guilty about how quickly the time is passing.  

I feel really nervous about the delivery quite honestly. My doctor nixed the idea of a babymoon due to my history and some symptoms that have surfaced over the last two weeks, which left me feeling super emotional and sad about not being able to travel for a little one-on-one time with my husband.  Since he travels for work and is away from us so often I really look forward to our quarterly weekends away and date nights so this news had me in tears. And also wishing we had planned one for earlier in my pregnancy.  It also left my stomach in knots thinking about the delivery and the possibility for a complication. I know I chose the right practice and am delivering at the right hospital and the likelihood of everything being just fine this time far exceeds the likelihood that it won’t. But memories of suddenly starting to bleed heavily and that cold, shaky low blood pressure feeling when I was home alone with my newborn have definitely been surfacing and have me feeling a little nervous.

Corey, Madeline, and I all thrive on routine. We're all pretty regimented, Type A people so I feel moments of panic just thinking about the newborn phase and lack of predictability. Of course, it also seems forever ago that Madeline was a tiny, cuddly newborn so it definitely helps knowing I'm in for some sweet snuggles while all our schedules and routines are being turned upside down.

Change is hard and sweet all at the same time. And having a baby is one of the biggest changes of all. I am getting so excited to meet our sweet boy, to hold him, and to see his sweet face. But can't help feeling a little overwhelmed with all that is to come, too. Mommas of two of more, I would love all your tips for a smooth (as possible) transition. 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

One Room Challenge | Week 4 | Floral Accent Wall

My biggest splurge for Madeline’s big girl room was her wallpaper. I have known I wanted to do an accent wall with wallpaper for over a year. I just wasn’t sure which wall and what type of wallpaper for the longest time. When I decided on bedding for Madeline, I ordered a sample of this wallpaper. It was a beautiful match and I crossed my fingers that she would like it too.

When I showed Madeline the sample she said it was “so pretty” and then carried it around with her for days. I cannot tell you all how excited (and relieved) I was because I was so hoping she would approve. While she is still too young to really pick things out for herself she is very opinionated so I needed her approval step by step through the design process.

This accent wall was definitely a labor of love. The company was severely behind schedule in production of wallpaper yet didn’t communicate that to me until after my order was placed even though I had emailed them prior to ordering to inquire on the turn around time. They were weeks behind on production. Then, it took forever to actually start moving once it was marked “shipped”, which all really delayed this whole project. I lost my place “in line” with our installer because it didn’t arrive on time and it was just a huge mess. I was definitely sweating over whether this aspect of the project would be complete in time to share the result as part of the challenge but it worked out in the end. Once it finally did ship it made it across the country super quickly and while I wouldn't order from the same source for another project on a deadline, I would absolutely order from them again for a project that didn't have one because the quality is wonderful.

I hired out this job to a professional installer and he was able to squeeze me in, even though the paper had been delayed, during Hurricane Michael because we didn't lose power. I love DIY projects but I just couldn’t trust myself with a task I’d never done before using such expensive wallpaper, especially with a task that required climbing up and down a ladder while super pregnant.

What a difference this makes, though! Madeline loved it from the second she saw it, which made me so happy. It adds so much to her room and really brightens up an otherwise boring wall. I really couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

Just two weeks until I can share the final product with you! Check out all the work we've done on this room so far here:

And of course don't forget to check out the room transformations from the other ORC participants here. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Our Fall Home Tour 2018

It finally feels like fall in North Carolina and I couldn’t be happier. I just love getting our fireplace going at night, relaxing afternoons on the porch, and a fall candle filling the air. And, of course, being pregnant I really love being able to wear leggings and long cozy sweaters!

I did not share a fall home tour last year and there are a few things I’ve changed up since the year before. Decorating a home is a never-ending project but so, so fun. So, let’s get started.