A Modern Day Fairy Tale: August 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Instagram Baby Love

It's been a little while since I shared an Instagram post...August seems to have flown by with little man's birthday, prepping for baby and finally her arrival...and this mama didn't take many pictures early in the month at all. Of course, once Finley arrived that all changed so here are a few pictures taken since her arrival!!

39 Weeks, 2 Days.
Our very last belly picture, taken the morning of her arrival!!!

Miss Finley's First Photo

My Loves

This was taken at about 5 am the morning after Finley was born...Shaun was missing us and wanted to come to the hospital first thing (he'd never been away from us overnight). Thankfully, we were already awake and were able to squeeze in some early morning snuggles! We were only gone two nights, but it seemed like forever being away from my little guy!!

Already a great big brother!

Time to go home!!

Loving snuggling with BOTH my babies!

Nothing sweeter than baby milk dribbles!!

The. Sweetest. Picture. Ever.

Big brother is already teaching baby sister to use the iPad...she seems uninterested!!

A few days old in her first cloth diaper!!

And already loving our Babyhawk carrier too!!!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I Said I Would Never... {52 Weeks of Blogging With a Purpose}

When it comes to motherhood, there are many things that we all say we will not do. We will not allow our child to have junk food...ever. We won't bottle feed. We won't breastfeed once baby has teeth. We won't co-sleep. We won't allow our child to cry it out. We won't wear mom jeans. We won't allow our kids to watch TV. We won't mess anything up, we'll always go by the book and do everything right. The lists go on and on and on...

And then we actually become mothers, and EVERYTHING changes. Suddenly you find that those things you said you would never do actually work. You find that occasionally allowing your kid to have a little treat or watch a little TV won't kill them and perhaps you might even get a little work done. You find that mom jeans are actually comfortable, and that's okay every now and again...at least around the house anyway. You realize what you thought would work, doesn't work for your family and your child.

Personally, I cannot think of any real specifics that I really ever said I would NEVER do, but there are certainly things I did not imagine myself doing. Two major examples that come to mind are nursing past the first year (for a full 3.5 years) and co-sleeping. When I became a mother, I'd never heard of 'attachment parenting' and certainly didn't set out to fit that description. I knew I would attempt breastfeeding and give it my best effort but I never dreamed we would continue as long as we did, or that I would become so passionate about the topic. When it came to sleeping, we had a bassinet and a crib before our little man was born and had absolutely every intention to use them. We soon discovered that Shaun had other ideas. He was a horrible sleeper and would wake every time he was moved to the bassinet (forget the crib, we never made it that far). After many sleepless nights, we discovered co-sleeping was the only thing that worked for him and never looked back. Again, these aren't things we set out to do, but that just happened naturally and worked out well for our son and our family.

You see, I have found that in motherhood what works for one child and one family does not always work for another.. When it comes to all those hot topic motherhood issues, there really are no rights or wrongs...just differences. As long as baby is being cared for in the way that works best for them, that is all that matters and only we as mothers know what that means for our individual families. You can say you'll never do something all you want, but when the time comes you might just surprise yourself. When it comes to motherhood, never say never!

Monday, August 26, 2013

You Nursed How Long!? {Breastfeeding Awareness Month}

When I share our breastfeeding experience with others, many are often shocked to discover that my little guy nursed for just over 3.5 years. Yes, 3.5 years! It is a topic that many feel very strongly about on both sides and something that many (particularly it seems here in the US) are extremely uncomfortable with- as we saw last year with Time magazine's 'Are You Mom Enough?' cover. Much of the reaction I saw stated that nursing a child past infancy was disgusting, wrong and even made the connection to pedophilia! Wow! The reality is- it is none of those things and honestly, I believe it is becoming more and more common, many just choose not to talk about it. So today in honor of Breastfeeding Awareness Month, I wanted to share a little bit more about nursing past a year and child led weaning.

Why nurse beyond a year? What are the benefits?

First of all, the actual recommended *minimum* age for nursing according to the World Heath Organization is two years old. I am not certain where the idea that the cutoff be a year, I only assume because this is when formula fed babies make the switch to cows milk and away from bottles. Breastfeeding is completely different! First of all, you don't have the issues with teeth troubles, which is why bottles are not supposed to be used past a year. Second, formula doesn't change to meet a baby's nutritional needs so it would make sense that as a baby grows they would need something different to supply those needs...breast milk on the other hand is always changing to provide just what baby/toddler needs. It continues to provide nutritional value and immune support throughout. But it's not just beneficial for baby, it's beneficial for mom too- reducing risk of breast and ovarian cancer! Basically, many of those same benefits breastfeeding provides in the first year continue to carry on.

For us personally, while these other factors were very important of course, I think the most important factor was the emotional support it provided. I have said before that in his first few years of life, Shaun experienced a LOT of changes. His daddy deployed when he was just 9 months old- we moved cross country to stay with family for those 6 months, then back again...that's two cross country moves before he even reached 18 months old. Add in multiple trips back to the midwest within a short time frame, constant training and field ops for daddy and all the uncertainty that comes with military life- it would be a lot for any young child to handle...especially one with Autism who we now know does not handle transitions well. Nursing provided comfort and consistency that he so desperately needed and I truly believed helped make all of these transitions a little easier. I truly felt like he needed that support longer, and was happy to be able to help him in that way.

Is it weird to nurse an older child?

Honestly, I had the same thought initially as well. When you're nursing a baby, its hard to imagine nursing an older child. It was pointed out to me that each day past a year old is just that...one more day. It never reached a point where it felt weird or uncomfortable or wrong because to us, it was just one more day. There was never some magical cutoff where suddenly he seemed to old. Again, I'll add that with Shaun's developmental delays did make him seem younger in some ways, so would I have felt the same if he was on track with his peers? Given our experience now, I don't believe it would change anything, but I really cannot say since it has been my only experience thus far.

How do you handle negative responses?

Honestly, I feel for the most part I was extremely lucky that those close to us were pretty supportive. Sure, we'd get a few remarks here and there about him still nursing or asking when we intended to stop, but for the most part did not have any major backlash. Again, I'm not sure if his developmental delays made it easier to accept...after all, one common argument is that a child who is old enough to ask is too old. My little guy was still unable to verbalize that at 3 years old. Unfortunately, I know many others are not so lucky and receive a lot of negative responses. My best advice is just to educate yourself and stick to your guns. It seems many people think you're doing it out of convenience (easier than weaning) or don't know the benefits themselves. When I did come across negativity, I found it was much more effective to share the facts and all the research I'd done than to become defensive. But in the end, you'll never change everyone's minds and really it's no one's business but your own. You do what you know is best for your child, and ignore the naysayers!

What is child led weaning?

Child led weaning is exactly what it sounds like- allowing your child to decide in their own time when they no longer need to nurse. Typically speaking, most children will wean themselves between the ages of 2-4 years old, though some may wean sooner and others later. For us, this was the best option because again, I truly feel like Shaun needed to nurse longer than many kids might have. For a kid who doesn't deal well with transitions, I can only imagine that weaning before he was ready would have been extremely difficult on him emotionally. But because we let Shaun decide in his own time, it was incredibly and shockingly easy and painless. He went from nursing several times a day one week, to completely giving it up the next week...he knew he was ready and that was that. I was beyond shocked that it happened so quickly as I'd truly started to wonder if he ever would stop on his own...I do believe our case is perhaps not the norm, as most kids will gradually cut back naturally until they're no longer nursing at all and not just out and out quit...but regardless, they will eventually make that decision!! I am certainly glad we went that route with Shaun!!

These are just a few of the many common questions on the subject. I don't claim to be an expert or know every last detail about the subject- I can only share our own personal experience and why it worked for us. My hope in sharing our experiences is to help bring up the conversation and let others know that it truly isn't that uncommon, and to encourage moms who may be interested in trying it themselves. As with many hot topic parenting issues, it's definitely not something for everyone, but it was the right thing for my son and our family.

Do you have questions about extending breastfeeding or child led weaning that I didn't cover here? Please feel free to leave a comment, or if you're more comfortable e-mail me directly at randi.amoderndayfairytale@gmail.com. Again, I'm no expert but I am happy to offer any encouragement and support that I can!

If you breastfed your child past a year, any tips for moms considering that route? How long did you nurse? Clever ways you handled naysayers? I would love to hear your experiences as well!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Introducing Miss Finley Grace!

Finley Grace

Our sweet girl finally made her arrival on August 19th, 3:45 pm!! 

She weighed 7 pounds, 10 ounces and was 20 inches long!!
She is absolutely beautiful and such a content baby!

Mommy is doing well, just sleepy!!
More on the birth, big brother, etc coming very soon!!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Big Brother in TRAINing Tee {A Personally Yours Review}

*Product received for this review.
Back in May, I brought you a giveaway from a wonderful company owned by a friend of mine, Personally Yours in the Totally Toddler giveaway hop!! Due to scheduling, sickness, etc...I did not actually have the shirt firsthand to fully review at the time. Now that we have it, I wanted to take a minute to share a few photos of my little man in his custom creation big brother t-shirt.

If you missed it the first time around, here is a little more info:
Personally Yours is a wonderful little business ran by a friend of mine, Dory! She offers a little bit of everything- vinyls, t-shirts, sign, personalized gifts- she does it all! And everything is made to order, if you don't see something in her shop, just ask!! It's truly all about creating something special just for YOU!

For this review, Dory created a custom shirt just for my little man. She incorporated his love of trains, and his favorite colors to create this adorable one-of-a-kind big brother t-shirt just for him. Shaun loves it just because it's all about trains...Mommy happens to love the fun play on words, 'Big Brother in TRAINing'...cute and clever! Dory is super creative and very easy to work with too...honestly, I just told her a little about Shaun's likes and that I wanted something to do with being a big brother...and the rest was all her creation!! The quality is wonderful too! Shaun has already worn his shirt several times and it has survived many washes!! (And a boy who is quite rough on clothes!) If you're looking for a unique design for your little one, or yourself...be sure to check out Personally Yours!!

Aside from offering these adorable custom creations, Dory is also a fellow blogger! She writes a wonderful blog called The Doyle Dispatch where she writes about life, DIYing and everything in between. Be sure to check it out as well!! You won't be sorry!!

You can find Dory/Personally Yours at the links below:

Personally Yours Website
Like Personally Yours on Facebook
The Doyle Dispatch
Like The Doyle Dispatch on Facebook

Disclosure: I received the above mentioned product in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

10 Survival Tips For the Expecting Mom {52 Weeks of Blogging With A Purpose}

At the time of writing this post, I am 36 weeks pregnant...hopefully by the time this post goes live, I'll have my sweet girl in my arms, instead of my belly!! Either way, if you are an expecting mom reading this and wondering how you'll survive the pregnancy...believe me when I say, I understand completely. Pregnancy is a beautiful thing in many ways. There truly is nothing more beautiful than bringing a new baby into this world...but that doesn't mean that all parts of pregnancy are sunshine and roses. I am the first to admit that my body doesn't handle pregnancy so well. So what tips would I give to moms to be to make it through?

  1. Start early. To be honest, I started shopping and preparing things for baby pretty well as soon as we found out that we were expecting baby #2...mostly small things and things that would work for either a boy or girl. But we also already had all the nursery furniture bought and put together before the first trimester was over! (We had bought it from a friend of my husband, or it probably wouldn't have been quite that soon!) You don't have to go quite that far of course, but it definitely helps to pick up things here and there. Personally, I'm easily stressed and I liked knowing that we weren't going to be rushed at the list minute to get everything we needed...or if baby decided to come early, that we wouldn't have it all together. It also meant we could stretch out the expenses over time, which has been really great too!!
  2. Take all advice with a grain of salt. Even mine! It seems as soon as you become pregnant, the advice starts flowing in...most of it well intentioned of course but it can be overwhelming and contradictory! I always try to respectfully listen to any advice given, but at the end of the day it is your pregnancy, your baby, your decision. Do your own research and you will find what works best for you and your family!!
  3. On the same note, be careful about searching Google as well... somehow it seems that every little pregnancy symptom can be a life or death situation on Google! I'm still an avid Google-r myself, so I'm really not saying not to Google at all, but again just be mindful of the source and try not to stress it too much! 
  4. Trust your instincts. If you feel that something is not right, call your doctor. It's always better to be overly cautious...I'm pretty sure our doctors are used to it! This advice will follow through after baby arrives as well.
  5. Consider joining an online mommy group. While I did not do this this time around, I did participate in a 'Due in' group when I was pregnant with my son and it truly helped me through the pregnancy. At the time I didn't have friends who'd had babies or were expecting, so it was great to have someone to turn to who was going through the same thing. It also introduced me to some great friends! Though our little ones are now six/turning six, we have remained in touch throughout the years!!
  6. Drink your water. I know, I know...you've likely had that one drilled into you by the doctor as well, but truly it does make a huge difference!!
  7. Maxi dresses are your friend...when it comes to maternity fashions, maxi dresses have definitely gotten me through this pregnancy. They're cute, comfortable and you don't have to worry about size nearly as much! And they'll work great after baby comes as well!!
  8. Capture the memories! As you may already know, I'm a huge picture person. With my son, I didn't have a great camera and could not take weekly photos as I have this time around. It was a big regret with him, and I hate that I don't have those to look back on. Even if you keep them only for yourself and never once share, take those pictures- you won't regret it!
  9. Try to enjoy it! Again, I know that pregnancy can take its toll on our bodies...morning sickness, back pain, swelling...all that not so fun stuff that goes along with it...but there are some pretty great things too, so try to focus on those things- the feeling of your little one kicking, the anticipation of baby's arrival, the baby shopping, having the excuse of eating for two... these are the things you might find yourself missing once baby has arrived!
  10. Remember the light at the end of the tunnel. At the end of it all, we get to meet our precious babies...and while it may be difficult to reach that point and some days we may feel it will never end...it WILL and we will have a beautiful baby to show for it!

So perhaps these aren't anything new or life changing...perhaps not even vital to surviving pregnancy, but again, when it seems like pregnancy is never ending, just remember that in the end it will truly all be worth it!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

My Breastfeeding Essentials {Breastfeeding Awareness Month}

*Code mentioned in this post is an affiliate code.

When it comes to breastfeeding, it seems there are a ton of products on the market intended to make breastfeeding easier. For a new mom who truly has no idea what to expect, this can all be quite overwhelming! So today, in honor of Breastfeeding Awareness Month, I wanted to share with you my personal must haves for a successful breastfeeding experience. 

  • Lansinoh Lanolin. This is most definitely the #1 must have for those early days of nursing. I don't want to scare anyone away, but I have to be honest when I say that initially nursing can be quite uncomfortable while your body gets used to it. The good news is that this stage (at least for me) is fairly short lived, but still I know in those early days with my son, Lanolin was my best friend and I cannot imagine getting through them without it! It did wonders to ease the pain! Lansinoh is not the only option available of course and you might find another creme/treatment that works better for you, but it is what I found worked for me personally- and in my research for alternatives seemed to be agreed upon by most moms as well. A tip that I did find (that I wish I had known with my son, but am happy to have found for my daughter) is to warm the lanolin between your fingers before applying. The one downfall I had found with my son is that it is extremely thick and can be quite hard to rub in, but this is supposed to help with that greatly. Regardless on if you choose to go with this particular brand or another type of creme, you will definitely want to have something on hand!
  • Nursing Pads. Again, in those early days while your supply is evening itself out, leaks will be common and you will want something to contain them so they don't leak through your tops! There are many options available for nursing pads and really it all comes down to personal preference. With my son, I solely used disposable and found of the many varieties I had tried, the Lansinoh brand nursing pads were also my favorite. They seemed more absorbent, more comfortable and just all around seemed to work better for me. You might find something else works better for you, I'd recommend trying a few small boxes of a few varieties before buying a ton of one kind. This time around, while I do still have some disposable on hand, I will primarily be using washable nursing pads. While you may not need them throughout your entire nursing experience (I honestly don't recall how long I truly needed them- but I do believe it was past the first year...but definitely not the entire 3.5 years we nursed...of course, everyone will be different as well), the cost of disposable can seriously add up so I like the idea of being able to save some money by using washable nursing pads! Not to mention they're much more comfortable and softer on that already super sensitive skin! I have a few different types purchased, but I am most excited about my Bamboobies, so incredibly soft and much thinner than disposables (so no worries of showing through your tops). But again, it all comes down to what your personal preference is!
  • Nursing Bra. To be honest, I actually debated on if this would really be a must have or not. The truth is, for the second half of our nursing experience, I found a regular bra that could easily be pulled down worked just fine. Still, in the earlier days when you are still getting the hang of things they most certainly are much easier...plus they seem to have more give and take in the size department which is important in those early days as well. I suggest buying just one or two before baby arrives, then more after baby comes and your supply has evened out a bit more! I also suggest a sleep/sports type bra for those first few days! With my son, I had a La Leche League bra worked well for me. This time around I am loving my Cake Lingerie bra for every day wear and an Anita Maternity/Nursing Bustier that is incredibly comfortable for sleep and around the house, etc.
  • Nursing Pillow. Now, I know there are some out there who really didn't find a nursing pillow to be a necessity for nursing so perhaps you'd prefer to nurse without one as well, but for us personally, we LOVED it. During the newborn/baby days it made nursing much easier and more comfortable for us both. After we no longer needed it for nursing, we also found it to be extremely useful for lounging and when Shaun was just learning to sit, it added some protection from falls. Not only is this one of my nursing must haves, it's a general baby must have as well! Again, there are several options. We have a classic Boppy which I love and worked really well for us as well. The mombo nursing pillow is supposed to be really great as well- it has a soft side for lounging and the firmer side for nursing...as well as a vibrating feature to soothe baby! We have not yet used it personally, but it definitely seems like a great option. And if you're on a budget, you can purchase a nursing pillow from nursingpillow.com and use the code 46DFB1 to get it free...you just pay shipping. I personally have not purchased this one myself, but have heard that although not as firm as a Boppy, it's still a good option...especially for the price!
  • Nursing Cover. Personally, I have no problems with moms who nurse in public without a cover, but for me that just wasn't something I was comfortable with, so a cover was a must for me. Blankets will work as well, but covers are certainly easier in my experience! Again, there are so many great options available...I cannot even begin to mention them all! If I had to choose my two favorites, I'd have to choose my Dria Cover and the Bebe Au Lait Hooter Hider. To me, these provide more coverage than some of the other options available out there and being super modest, I definitely prefer that. I also really like my Udder Covers, and again are a very inexpensive option for moms on a budget. (You can use the same code- 46DFB1- on uddercovers.com to get this for free, just pay shipping as well). They don't cover quite as large an area as the other two mentioned, but still offer plenty of coverage and again, at a great value!
  • Baby Carrier. Okay, okay...you CAN successfully breastfeed without a carrier...but I HIGHLY suggest you have one anyway. When it comes to nursing on the go, they make things so much easier! There are many styles and many brands to choose from...I'm still in the process of figuring out all the options myself! Personally with my son, I preferred our wrap carrier, but this time around I intend to try out some more varieties (stay tuned!) so my preference may change. Anyway, when my son was a baby we were always on the go and not only was wearing my little guy easier than lugging around a stroller, it also allowed me to nurse him while we were out and about without having to stop and find a place to sit while he did his thing. We could throw a cover over and just continue shopping! Even around the house during those periods where it seems baby wants to nurse all. the. time. I could use it to nurse while still getting working done around the house. I know having a very active 6 year old now to keep up with as well as a baby who will need nursed often, our carriers are going to be even more useful!!
Of course these are just a few of the many great nursing products available, and you may find that you don't need all of these yourself...or you many find there are products you need even more. (For example, I didn't list a breast pump because my son refused a bottle when I pumped for him...being a stay at home mom, there really isn't a need for me to have one personally. If you work outside the home, or want to have the option of giving baby a bottle, you're probably going to want one! I also didn't find nursing tanks or nursing clothes to be 100% necessary...handy, sure...but a cami and v-neck tops, etc worked well for us too!) Again, I am only sharing what has been the most useful for us personally!

Are you currently nursing? Nursed in the past? What were your breastfeeding must haves and what could you have gone without? Any great products I should look into? As always, I love hearing your feedback, so please feel free to share in the comments below!

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post, however the the Udder Cover and Nursing Pillow code mentioned above is an affiliate code. All thoughts are 100% my own.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Room Fit For A Princess {Nursery Reveal}

I am so excited to finally be able to reveal the finished nursery!! As some of you may recall, even though I got a head start on the nursery with the furniture and bedding- finishing was a bit of a struggle! I absolutely could not decide on a theme! It was between cupcakes and princesses, but both had sentimental value and I could not choose one...so finally I left it up to big brother who simply told me that Finley was a girl, and that girls like princesses...and that was that! We already had a color scheme started- green and brown, and decided to add some pink in to make it more girly...to be honest, I was a little concerned I wouldn't be able to pull that off...I also wanted to be very careful not to take the princess theme too far. One of the big cons for it in my indecision is that it is so overdone, so we definitely wanted to do our own take on it! Now that everything is finished, I have to say that I'm extremely happy with how it all came together! It is nothing fancy of course, but we like it and I'm certain she will too! So, here we go: 

The hardest part of decorating this room was the limited space and figuring out how to arrange the furniture that made sense while still making the most of the room we had! I cannot tell you how many times I rearranged the furniture before I finally settled on this layout!

My favorite area in the nursery is the changing table...even though, to be honest I wasn't a huge fan of the changing table to begin with. We bought all the furniture together from a friend of my husband, and while the crib and ottoman were exactly what I wanted, the changing table is probably not the style I would have gone with had we bought it separate. Still, after everything came together, I'm happy with it! Our WallArtsy decal truly makes this area so special and beautiful. Perfect!

The glider and ottoman placement was truly the most difficult thing to figure out...honestly, I'm still not 100% sure that visually its the best spot for it anyway...BUT when it comes to function, I love having it right by the crib! Finley will be in our room for awhile anyway, but when we do eventually move her into the crib, this will be convenient for those late night feedings...or even during nap times!

This afghan was made by my mom and was probably my favorite shower gift...or one of them at least! Aren't handmade gifts the greatest!? I also thought it really helped to bring all of our colors together...I cannot wait to snuggle under it with baby!

Obviously, the center print here needs redone! Unfortunately, when I first had it printed, Finley's name was cut off! How annoying! So, I'll be changing that one out, but you get the idea! The color of this photo is actually off as well, the frames are closer to the pink of the boppy cover in the previous picture! 

My little nightstand. The Scentsy warmer was one of the inspirations for this room...it was one I already have, since I love princesses myself, but I was thrilled to finally be able to actually have a place to use it! This adorable frame was a shower gift from a group of wonderful online friends, and I look forward to being able to put our own photo inside! I found this 'F' at Michaels for just $3 and could not resist buying it, too cute! And again for those late night nursing sessions, my little basket of nursing pads, etc right there handy!

The crib...part of me wants to add something simple above the crib, as it looks a little plain to me...but the worried mommy part of me thinks its best to leave it be...we don't want Finley pulling anything down once she is big enough to stand, right? Hmm...

These stunning curtains were another handmade gift from my sister in law! I'd fallen in love with a similar set at Pottery Barn Kids, but unfortunately, they just weren't in our budget (not to mention, did not come in the right color anyway). So, my sister in law helped me out and made these for us...and I could not be happier with hour they turned out! The photos truly don't even do them justice!! They are the perfect finishing touch!

Changing Table Organization. All the baskets were gifts (the brown from the same group of online friends and the pink from one of my best friends). They work perfectly to organize the changing table! The top shelf has our cloth diapers and accesories (wet bags, etc)....I still have some I need to wash and prep...not to mention more to buy once baby arrives and we can try out some different types, so these will soon be overflowing eventually I'm sure! On the bottom shelf we have socks, blankets and headbands!

And of course, every little girl needs a great closet right!? Finley's closet also doubles as Shaun's quiet TV area (he likes to sit in here with the doors closed when he needs space), but we tried to make it work! Hanging in the closet are her newborn and 0-3 months clothes, then on the shelves are the larger sizes- already seperated by size so we can switch them out easily as needed! Our baby girl will certainly be well dressed!!

As many of you may also recall, I was trying to decorate this room on a tight without spending a whole lot, since we are on a tight budget. I am happy to say that overall, I spent probably somewhere between $250 and $300 (the bulk of that being the furniture which cost us $200 for EVERYTHING!). This was accomplished through a combination of thrift store finds (such as the Breathable Baby bumper at just $2.50!), clearance/outlet deals (such as the bedding for just $11), DIY projects (the frames/prints on the wall), repurposing items we already had (the Scentsy warmer, brown rug, green frame on the wall), gifts (baskets, afghan, curtains) and blog reviews and giveaways (wall decal and Boppy cover from reviews here on my blog and changing pad cover won from a giveaway on another blog). So not only do we have a super fun/unique (I hope) nursery that I love...it also didn't break the bank, which makes this mommy love it even more! Now, we just need a baby to bring home to it!!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Nursing is Style with the DRIA Nursing Cover {A Preparing For Baby Review}

**Product received for this review.

When it comes to preparing for baby, one of my absolute new mom must have items is a nursing cover! If you plan to nurse, and want to do so modestly it is an essential! There are many great options available out there, and today I am excited to share with you what is perhaps my new favorite- the DRIA Cover!

For this review, I was sent the DRIA Solana Nursing Cover. The first thing that struck me when I opened the package was how soft this cover was! It is created from a fabric called Modal, which is made from beechwood...not only is it incredibly soft, but it's environmentally friendly as well. (You can read more on their website here!) But seriously, let's get back to the softness...it is like your most comfortable t-shirt, but even better! I truly wish I could let you feel this through the computer screen, because there truly is no great way to describe it. The quality is evident, and it's lightweight and breathable enough for use year round! Forget nursing, I want to wear this ALL. THE. TIME! And the good news is, it's fashionable and versatile enough to do so! Unlike many typical breastfeeding covers that are basically more like a blanket with a strap attached, this nursing cover is more of a poncho style. Between it's unique style and trendy patterns, you truly can wear it even when you are not actively nursing and still look super cute and fashionable! This design also makes it great for use as stroller or car seat cover!

I have mentioned in the past that with my son, I would often nurse him on the go while in his carrier. Being extremely modest, I preferred to have the added comfort of a nursing cover while doing so, but found that most typical covers weren't ideal for this- really covering only the front unless you were sitting down. While the sides of the DRIA cover are open- making it easy to check on baby, etc- the poncho style still offers plenty of coverage, and I don't feel like I will be worried about it sliding forward and accidentally exposing more than I would prefer...a huge plus in my book!

But again, I have to say that my absolute favorite feature of this cover is the fashionable style! I actually have this packed in my hospital bag, and know that it will be the perfect cover for those early days when baby is nursing all the time. There will be no need to keep putting it on and taking it off at each feeding as I might with a typical cover. Instead I can wear it all day long and be ready when baby is ready saving both time and hassle! And with friends and family coming in and out and photos being snapped left and right, it still looks like a fashionable piece of clothing! (Not to mention will be a great camouflage for the post baby belly!) And as any mom can tell you, comfort is key during those first few days and the DRIA cover is all about comfort! It truly is the ideal cover for the brand new mom!

And once your nursing days are over, you're left with a super cute poncho, a fun carseat cover, or whatever you decide to use it for...so many baby products we purchase have such a limited time of use, so the versatility makes it a great investment!! Overall, I am completely in love with my DRIA cover, and would love to own more styles too! You can check out the other gorgeous styles and learn more about this awesome company at the links below:

Disclosure: I received the above mentioned product in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. I received no monetary compensation for this post.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

My Goals For Motherhood {52 Weeks of Blogging With a Purpose}

This weeks theme in the 52 weeks of Blogging with a Purpose challenge- My Goals for Motherhood was surprisingly a tough one for me...to be honest, I'm not sure I had ever really sat down and truly thought about or set any specific goals as a mom. Oh sure, there are plenty of things I want to accomplish as a mom, I'd just never really put those thoughts into words, or any organized thought even. But after giving it some deep thought (and staring at a blinking cursor for far too long), I was able to come up with a few:

Goal #1: To not pass along my insecurities to my children. I have briefly talked in the past about my struggles with perfectionism and the unrealistic expectations I often put on myself. As a mom, this is something I am working on and will try my best not to pass along to my children- particularly my daughter! Girls seem to be under much more pressure to look a certain way, dress a certain way, be a certain size...all insecurities I have and still deal with, and it is not something I wish for her at all!!

Goal #2: Raise Awareness for Autism and my Son. As many of you reading this probably know already, this is a huge one for me! I will NEVER stop fighting for my son and others on the spectrum. He is brilliant, amazing and my world...and I refuse to stand by and let him be looked down upon or judged because of his diagnosis. I will do everything I can to educate others on Autism and the false stereotypes that go along with it...to show the world that Autism does not make my son stupid, bad or inferior in any way!

Goal #3: To be the best mom I can be. I know there are going to be times that I fall short and not accomplish things that I wish I would have...I may not always cook the best meals, plan the best parties, etc...I may lose my patience and make mistakes, but I will strive to do the very best that I can, learn from those mistakes and try to improve upon them. I may never be a perfect mom, but I will give it 100% regardless.

Goal #4: To make sure my kids know how much I love them. I'm a firm believer that you can NEVER say I love you too much...I probably say it at least 100 times a day...our days start and end with an 'I love you'. I never want my kids to question my love for them. Aside from saying it, I show them as much as I can as well- showering them in hugs and kisses and snuggles as much as they will allow. Too much love? I don't think so!

Goal #5: To have happy kids. Again, I will never be the perfect mom or have it all together 100% of the time...honestly, does anyone? But I will take the time to play with my kids, show them support, help them grow and just be there for them when they need it. They might not always have the newest toys, or the fanciest clothes or even the cleanest faces...but I will do everything I can for them to be happy...and in the end, isn't that the most important thing?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Party Planning Made Easy with Birthday Express {A Review}

*Product received for review.

My little guy recently turned six years old and to celebrate, he wanted a super cool Thomas the Tank Engine party! If you've ever planned a birthday party (or party of any kind), you know that they can be a lot of work! Especially for a perfectionist like myself who wants everything to look just so and coordinate well. This year my son's 6th birthday party also just so happened to land on the exact day that I hit full term during my pregnancy! Talk about exhausting...honestly, I wasn't sure how I was going to pull this one off! Enter Birthday Express to save the day!

As I said, when it comes to party planning I like everything to be just so. Typically that means shopping around, finding matching decor at the best prices, figuring out what we really need, how much to buy, the list goes on...quite honestly, I just didn't have the energy to put into it this year but I still wanted my little man to have the perfect party! The Party Packs from Birthday Express were the perfect solution!! For this review, Birthday Express sent me their Thomas the Tank Engine Deluxe Party Pack for 8, as well as a few add ons such as a scene setter, party game and tattoos. Even without those add ons, the party pack had absolutely everything we needed to have a great party: 8 dinner and dessert plates, cups, forks and spoons, 16 lunch napkins, table cover, centerpiece, foil balloon, 18 balloons in coordinating colors, 3 colors curling ribbon and crepe paper rolls, 16 cake candles, 8 thank you cards, 8 cone hats and an 18"x16" personalized banner. Everything was perfectly coordinated to go with the theme and truly took the guess work out of party decorations! Rather than going through the store or website finding each item individually, it was already all done for me! And if you want to add on extras, they make that easy too, showing all the coordinating supplies on the same page making it super easy to add on anything else you need! And all great quality items too (the same as you would likely find at your local party supply store). The other downside of planning birthday parties is the cost! Party supplies are EXPENSIVE! Birthday Express is actually very reasonable. The Party Pack that we received costs just $48, a savings of $28.60 over buying each item individually! I know even with my bargain shopping ways I have easily spent over $100 on decorations alone...add in the food, location rental if you do it outside the home, birthday gifts...that's enough to break anyone! A well decorated party for just $48!? Yes, please! Even with the add ons, it would not have cost much at all! And as you can see, it was a very well decorated party:

This scene setter was a hit at the party!
It truly transformed our dining room into the greatest Thomas party ever!!

And did you catch that this included a personalize banner as well? While the banner included in our party pack was just a general train theme, not specifically Thomas, it was still the perfect addition to my little man's big day! He loves having anything with his name on it, so a personalized banner with his name on it!? Awesome! A huge hit! And we kept it a general 'Happy Birthday, Shaun!' so that it can be used for years to come...and with the high quality vinyl, I know it will last as well! Honestly, this is perhaps my favorite part of the party pack!!

We will certainly be using Birthday Express for more birthday parties down the road. They make planning and shopping easier for even the busiest of moms, and while keeping it affordable too! If you are planning a birthday party in the near future, I highly suggest checking out Birthday Express for all your party needs! You can see everything they have to offer at the links below:
Shop Their Website
Like on Facebook
Follow on Pinterest

Planning a non-birthday party? You can also check out Celebrate Express for your other party needs, or Costume Express for the quickly approaching Halloween season!

**I received the products mentioned above in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. I received no other compensation.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

When Will Baby Finley Come? Make Your Guesses Now! {38 Week Update}

Now that we are so close to the end...who wants to take a guess at when Miss Finley will make her grand appearance!? How big will she be? Hair color? (Hair, period?) Eye color? Any other predictions?

Some more information to help you in your predictions:

I am 38 weeks, 1 day today (Sunday), due date August 24.
Shaun was born at 38 weeks, 2 days.
Finley is at -1 station, 50 effaced, 1 cm dilated as of last Tuesday.
Next appointment is this Tuesday.

At 36 weeks, ultrasound measured Finley at 6 pounds, 11 ounces.
Ultrasound tech also mentioned that she appeared to have long legs.
Shaun was born 6 pounds, 15 ounces.

Shaun was born with little to no hair, what he did have was very blond.
Mommy and Daddy are both naturally blond, but Mommy was actually born with dark hair. My hair does have a slight red at times...and Matt has red in his facial hair. Both of our dads also have a bit of red as well.
I have had a bit of heartburn this time around, but nothing too serious!
Mommy, Daddy & Shaun all have blue eyes.

So, what do you think!?
Leave your guesses in the comments!!


Now onto the usual weekly update:

How far along?
 38 Weeks... and ready to meet Miss Finley whenever she decides to finally join us! Big brother was born at 38 weeks, 2 days...so here's hoping!! *fingers crossed*

Baby's size: Pumpkin
Again, our ultrasound at 36 weeks measured her at about 6 pounds 11 ounces then.

Maternity clothes: Of course!

Best moment this week: Finding out progress had been made...even if it wasn't as much as we'd have hoped anyway!!
Miss anything?  Being comfortable and being able to get things done. And sleep!!

Movement: Yes, though she definitely seems to be running out of room!

Food cravings: Ice.

Food aversions: Just drinks.

Gender: GIRL

Labor signs: Still lots of contractions, slowly seeming to become more intense as well. At my last appointment, baby was in station -1, 50% effaced, 1 cm dilated ..so again, definitely some progress being made, but we certainly wish there was more and hope there will be come my next appointment on Tuesday! After last week's appointment, I was sent to Labor & Delivery to be monitored for a few hours. My blood pressure was just slightly on the higher than average side, and with the crazy swelling I'd had in one foot, my doctor just wanted to be certain...but everything looked good during monitoring, and again on Friday when they had me in for another quick check so no worries there. They were seeing a ton of contractions on the monitors, but unfortunately was still only 1 centimeter when I left!!

Sleep: What's that!?

Symptoms: Back pain. Contractions. Swelling. General exhaustion. Forgetfulness. See above!

Belly button in or out? Flat

Looking forward to?  Meeting our baby girl!

And while you're here, if you haven't already- would you please take just a quick moment to click this link and vote for A Modern Day Fairy Tale in Voiceboks Top 50 Military Mom Blogs 2013? There is nothing to sign up for, just click the link, select A Modern Day Fairy Tale and then click vote! Super quick and easy! Thank you all so much for your support!