Dear Daughter, a Letter to You

A Letter to my Daughter

 

Dear daughter, my sweet girl,

At times, the world is going to seem gigantic. At times, you will be lost or confused or feel so small. It’s my job to make sure that you are prepared to face the world head on, bravely and with strength and knowledge.

I want to teach you to see the good in the world, but I also want to teach you that there is bad in the world and how to protect yourself: your heart, your mind and your body.

There is so much I want to teach you, my sweet girl.

Love yourself

Love yourself enough to know that you are enough. Don’t compare yourself to others throughout your life. It will seem impossible at times and there will always be someone prettier, skinnier, smarter, funnier, or braver than you, but that doesn’t take away from you.

When you’re unable to love yourself for any reason, I’ll be loving you enough for the both of us.

Stand up for yourself

I want you to speak your mind. I want you to say no when you want to say no, and to always tell people how you feel.

You will have to learn when to bite your tongue at times, but you, smart girl, will know when that time comes.

Be brave, be honest, and speak your mind when the opportunity presents itself.

Have your own beliefs

It doesn’t matter to us what you believe in, as long as you believe in something. I hope you have your own opinion, even if doesn’t align with mine, Daddy’s, Bubba’s, or your friends.

Vote for who you want, attend whichever church you want (even if you choose ‘none’), be a part of any organizations that you feel passionately about.

Just believe in something.

Be open and understanding

You will meet so many people who are different than you are. Listen to the opinions, stories and voices of others and see their point of view. Be understanding to someone else’s situation or life.

Be open to new ideas or new beliefs. Just because it isn’t what you personally believe in, still try to keep an open mind.

Ask questions / Come to me

I don’t want you to ever wonder the answer to life’s questions. I’d rather you come to me for answers, or for advice, than to seek it out online. Let me be your sound board, let me be your shoulder and your ears when you need to talk. No matter the question, no matter how difficult the conversation, please come to me and I’ll be there for you, always.

Find your passion

Pursue your talent(s). Figure out what you are good at and run with the wind, girl. What makes your heart sing? When you find out what that is, never stop doing it.

Never stop searching for your passions in life.

Find happiness

I don’t care what it takes, or even how long it takes – FIND HAPPINESS. Find the things and the people who bring you joy and hold them close. Discover a reason to smile every day, even on your absolute worst days.

Find happiness within yourself, first. Never rely on someone else for your happiness. Trust me on this one, sweet girl.

“I know a girl; she puts the color inside of my world” – John Mayer

Never stop learning

Always find the time and the patience to learn something new, and never pass up the opportunity to add a new skill to your list.

When you are faced with a new project, pour yourself into it.  Don’t half-ass anything that you do, whether it is a science fair project or a presentation for your job. Do it wholeheartedly.

Be you

No matter who you want to be, or who you become, just be you. Never be afraid to be your true self. I hope that throughout your life, Daddy and I teach you that we will love you no matter what. We will support any dreams that you chase, and we will respect the choices that you make; with your career, your dating life and your friends. (Within reason, young lady.)

Dear daughter, I hope that your life is all that you hope it to be. I hope that I become your go-to person, just as my mom is mine. I hope you learn to love with your entire heart, and that people never take having you in their lives for granted.

You are amazing. You will always be amazing.

Love,
Mommy

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Surviving a Long Distance Relationship

 

After six months of dating, my husband (of course boyfriend at the time) joined the Marine Corps. We were forced to spend the next year and a half in a long distance relationship. Between boot camp, MCT (Marine Combat Training) and MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) school, we spent very little time together. Through our time apart, we conquered and overcame the distance. Here is what we learned, and what helped us get through it.

First, I want to preface with this:

Someone said this to me years ago. Different situation, but it still applies. I love to pass this piece of advice on because I feel that it is so important. Committing to a long distance relationship takes so much time, energy and heart. Make sure your partner is worth the distance, and the kiss is worth the wait.

(This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure.)

Now….

Tips for surviving a long distance relationship:

Communicate

Of course I’m going to tell you how important communication is.

Mix it up

Use various platforms to communicate.

  • Send handwritten letters. I once received a letter from Chris that had bits of sand in it and I loved it so much. I got a little piece of where he currently was.
  • Text. There are so many fun ways to send a text now. Your old fashioned text, a GIF, a sticker, a photo. The possibilities are endless with texting.
  • Talk on the phone. There is nothing sweeter than hearing the voice of the person you love when you haven’t heard it in days. I melted when I first hear Chris’ voice after thirteen weeks of only snail mail.
  • FaceTime/Skype.
  • Snapchat. I’m fairly certain Snapchat wasn’t around while we were apart, or at least it wasn’t very big.

Trust

Another no brainer. I won’t lie, trusting someone while they are hundreds of miles away isn’t always easy. It’s important that you work hard at it every day, and give the other person the benefit of the doubt. Nine times out of ten, if someone is willing to withstand the distance, they’re pretty committed to making the relationship work.

Stay a team

Stay united, work together. It’s 50/50 and both parties have to work together every day. See how I’ve used the word together so much?

You’ll have people rooting for you to fail, waiting for your relationship to just not make it.

Prove them wrong.

Do things together

Even though you are apart, it doesn’t mean you can’t still have dates! Here’s a few ideas:

  • Watch a movie or show together. Fill up your Netflix queue with must-see’s. (We had a date night over Space Jam. Yes, you read that correctly.)
  • Video games, if you’re into it. My husband and I both love to game.
  • Skype or FaceTime over coffee; either at home or your favorite coffee joint.
  • Cook and eat a meal together over the phone or Skype/FaceTime, if you have the capabilities to do so. Obviously my husband couldn’t cook a meal in the barracks.
  • Go hiking together and share your surroundings with each other via pictures or live video chat.

There are a hundred things you can find to do together, while you’re apart.

Find a way to stay with each other

Wear or have something that connects you. Something that constantly reminds you that the other person is loving you despite the distance. It can serve as a little reminder when it starts to feel too hard.

Couples bracelets – Chris and I had “Love knows no distance” rubber ones, but that was years ago when I bought them. Today, I would have definitely bought these his and her bracelets. Trust me, these are much more stylish, but now we just wear our wedding bands! (P.S. Did you know that my husband made our wedding bands out of quarters?)

Pillow cases – I made Chris and I matching pillow cases from one of our favorite songs, so he had part of the lyrics and I had the other. You could buy something like this one pictured above, if you’re not feeling very crafty.

Continue to learn about each other

Take the time to get to know each other in depth. Re-learn forgotten things, re-tell stories or find a list of questions online to ask each other. I sent Chris a mini questionnaire via snail mail while he was in boot camp.

Think of off-the-wall questions to ask, or even really simple questions that you maybe don’t know the answer to.

Plan for the future

Having something to look forward to is key. Talk about your goals for the future, both personal and for your relationship. Discuss trips you want to take together, experiences you want to try, dates you want to go on, new restaurants you want to try, people you want to meet, etc.

And if you’re really serious, talk about a future wedding, kids and/or a future house. After all, he should maybe know what your dream house looks like!

Visit Each Other

Topsail Island, North Carolina

Plan visits to see each other when you are able to, and embrace the traveling and visiting new destinations.

Because of the distance, I was able to visit Topsail Island (and witness Chris get his first tattoo), meet new friends who let me stay with them while I visited North Carolina for MCT graduation, and I got to add South Carolina to my list of visited states when I went for boot camp graduation.

Get Creative

Facebook album – I created a Facebook album titled “While You Were Gone” where I added pictures during our time apart.

Music playlist – My music playlist was also titled “While You Were Gone” and it was filled with our favorite music.

Letter wall – I printed, cut, and taped “Dear Love” to my wall and pinned each letter beneath. Today, I would probably opt for vinyl for this project.

Scrapbook – I created a scrapbook filled with pictures, letters, maps, ticket stubs, receipts and any other memorabilia during our time apart.

I know that different things work for different couples. What did you find helpful in your long distance relationship?

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Breastfeeding Essentials

 

During my pregnancy with my daughter, my second child, I was determined to breastfeed. I wanted the bond, the experience, and to provide my child with the best possible thing I could to begin her life.  I grew and sustained her for 39.5 weeks, and I wanted to continue to allow my body to sustain her for as long as possible. Anything for your child, right?

I did a lot of research and honestly, I was more terrified than I was excited about breastfeeding. I read horror story after horror story about Mastitis, and then about Thrush. Engorgement, clogged ducts, the leaking. I was a bit put off, to say the least.

But then she came, and I knew I had to put my fears aside and try with everything in me to make breastfeeding happen for us. Among the horror stories that I read, I also read a lot of positive stories of encouragement and enlightenment and also found many resources and useful items. Breastfeeding is a lot of trial and error and a whole lot of patience and perseverance. These are the items I could not have lived without in the beginning and the items that I continue to use.

(This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure here.)

Breastfeeding Essentials from Day 1

Make sure you have these items on-hand before your little babe even enters the world!

Lansinoh Therapearls

There are no words for how amazing these Lansinoh TheraPearls are.  You can use them hot or cold, and I definitely used both! I used them cold a lot in the beginning when I was sore after a nursing session.  The cold helped relieve nipple soreness. I heated them when I had a clogged duct (only once so far!) to help release it, and any time I pumped to help with a faster let down.

Nursing Nipple Cream

Bamboobies Boobease Nursing Balm saved my nipples, I swear. It’s an all-natural product too, so you don’t have to wash it off before every feed. I applied this stuff liberally, after every single nursing session in the beginning.  It kept my nipples from ever getting cracked or split.

Boppy

I thought that these pillows were so overrated, but boy was I wrong.  I had been using a pillow to prop my daughter up on my lap during feeds, but once I used the Boppy, I realized pillows don’t provide nearly enough support.  I was basically hunching over to feed my newborn, when it made so much more sense to bring her higher.  The boppy is truly a useful breastfeeding item. I am in love with the floral print Boppy from Target, which was definitely on my baby registry!

Breast Pads

I use both the Bamboobease washable/reusable and the Lansinoh disposable.  The Bamboobies are extremely soft and worth every penny.  Unfortunately, I leak a lot still (four months in!) and it isn’t cost effective for me to buy several pair or do laundry every single day. So, I wear them when they are clean, and use the disposable Lansinoh ones otherwise.  The Lansinoh ones are great, too. I tried a few other brands that I didn’t like – either they were too bulky and you could see them through a shirt or they didn’t have the sticky tape to be taped inside of my bra.

Nursing Bras

I purchased this three pack when I was pregnant and busting out of my current bras and they have been all I have worn since then! They are soft, thin (or you can use the padded breast pads that come with them) and comfortable.

Breastfeeding Essentials for Long-Term

In addition to the above items, include these on your breastfeeding must-have list.

Manual Silicone Pump/Haakaa

I actually purchased this off-brand of the well-known Haakaa.  Amazon currently (as of 1/9/18) has a two pack for the price of $11.99 and they include lids.  These are wonderful for two situations; When your baby is latched on one side and your other side has a let down/leaks, this will catch the milk – no more wasted milk and no more soaking shirts! Also, for when you don’t want to get out your electric pump, but really need some relief from engorgement.  They just suction on, and honestly have a pretty good suction to them!

Nursing Cover

If you remember from my Breastfeeding in Public post, this Copper Pearl nursing cover came in super handy when it came to public nursing.  This cover is amazing. I’ve raved about it before and I’ll do it again. It is extremely soft and provides excellent coverage. It folds up pretty small for your diaper bag, too!

Breast Pumping Essentials

Breast Pump

I personally don’t pump for a few reasons:

  1. I hate pumping
  2. My daughter doesn’t take a bottle well
  3. I get to stay home with her, so there’s really no need

I have pumped, and I do have four bags of milk in the freezer from the few times I had no choice but to pump (clogged duct, engorgement).  I received a free breast pump through my insurance company, which was pretty neat. I wish I would have gone with a different brand, but I don’t really use it, so it’s no big deal to me. My advice to you: do your research on the best pump if you’re planning to pump at all.

Breastmilk Storage Bags

I’ve personally used both the Lansinoh ones and the Target brand, but like I mentioned above, I don’t use them regularly. I never had a problem with filling the bags after a pumping session, any leaking, spilling or busting. Make sure you lay them flat in your freezer though, for maximum storage!

Microwave Sterilizer Bags

These Medela bags are amazing for quickly sterilizing your pump parts. I also stick my manual silicone pump in here, as well as pacifier’s and bottle/bottle parts. Each bag can be used 20 times!

The Most Important Essentials

Support System

I could not have been successful without my support system.  My husband was extremely supportive, and even the one who originally pushed me to try breastfeeding. He stood by me through the pain, did his own research and even did a store run to pick up some of the items that made it to my list above.

I also had a lot of family members and friends who had breastfed in the past, or who were currently breastfeeding, who offered advice, resources and tips.  They were very responsive with any and all questions or concerns I had, and still have today.

I couldn’t be where I am today in this journey without my support system.

Lactation Consultant

I got lucky, in that one of my good friend’s happens to be a Lactation Consultant and she works at my kids’ pediatrician’s office.  I remember my first visit to see her, a week after my baby girl was born, and she made all the difference.  She taught me new positions to try (I used cradle on one side and cross-cradle on the other), how to properly use a Boppy pillow, and taught me some other tricks like making sure that you baby’s lips aren’t tucked in. This is a serious piece of advice! I spent (and sometimes still spend) every nursing session, pulling my daughter’s lips out.

Breastfeeding is such a beautiful thing.  It is an indescribable bond between you and your baby, and I hope that everyone who tries it is successful and enjoys the journey as much as I have with my daughter.

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Chicken Salad Recipe

 

I don’t even refer to this recipe as chicken salad because to me, it’s more than just boring ol’ chicken salad. I call it chicken salad with grapes. Bet you can guess why! I first had this on a croissant in West Virginia, in my grandpa’s kitchen. My step-grandmother had made it and I was in food-heaven. I just had to have this recipe!

We (because even my husband and son love this recipe) eat this chicken salad with grapes on anything. Our favorites are spread on a classic croissant, on crackers or in a lettuce wrap. YUM!

You can use fresh cooked chicken breast, rotisserie chicken or even canned chicken if you’re in a hurry.  I’ve used all three chicken variations, but my favorite is definitely rotisserie.  I recently picked up an oven ready rotisserie chicken in a bag from Wal-Mart and it was excellent to use for this recipe!

Also, I highly recommend using only light mayo, or using Kraft Olive Oil Mayo (my favorite). I’ve made it with Hellmann’s regular mayo before and it didn’t quite have the same wonderful taste.

Speaking of Wal-Mart, you can pick up all of your ingredients with Wal-Mart’s grocery pick up. Have you used this before? This service is so perfect for basically anyone. I use it at least once a week to do all of our grocery shopping, for several reasons: I don’t have to drag my kids in, I don’t have to interact with a lot of people, and I feel like we save money because I’m not adding extra things to my cart while browsing the aisles. Use my link and save $10 off your first order! You won’t regret using it!

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Chicken Salad

Chicken salad with bits of grapes, walnuts, onion and celery

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2.5 cups diced or shredded chicken (cooked)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup seedless grapes, cut into fourths
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp minced red onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup light mayo

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients together in a bowl. Chill or serve immediately on crackers, croissants, or in a lettuce wrap!

I hope you enjoy this chicken salad as much as we do! Did you add or remove any ingredients for your own personal spin?

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Staying Organized

 

“Strong organizational skills” was always at the top of my resume when job-hunting. I take pride, and even comfort, in staying organized in my life, whether it be with simple day-to-day tasks, work, or my home life.

(This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure for more information.)

Physical Product Organization

 

Calendar

I keep a calendar on our refrigerator at home to jot down important dates, such as appointments, birthdays, and deadlines.  This is especially helpful because it catches my eye daily, and other people in my household can see any upcoming events.

Mail System

I have a wall mail organizer where I keep all of our pending documents.  This holds any paper statements/bills, receipts and any other important documents that need to be filed away and/or dealt with. It’s similar to this one, but mine has three slots. I purchased it a few years ago at either Ross or TJ Maxx.

Filing System

I use plastic file storage boxes to keep documents in place.  I use one box to house important documents such as: auto (insurance, maintenance, licenses), home/mortgage, credit card agreements, user manuals (stored under ‘household’), medical information, taxes for previous years, etc.

I use another box for my son’s papers, art, school pictures and report cards for each year.  It helps keep me cut down on clutter with items I save, while still being able to hold on to a few items throughout his childhood.  I use one hanging file folder per year.

Apps and Electronic Organization

Wunderlist

I utilize the Wunderlist app and am a true believer in all that this app has to offer. Best part? It’s absolutely free! I keep lists and folders for:

  • Bills – which creditor is due and when
  • Grocery shopping list
  • Meals for the week
  • Monthly blog post ideas

Notes

I use Apple’s Notes on my iPhone nearly every day.  I have a few folders where I keep documents such as: password protected list of logins, a few favorite recipes stored for quick and easy access, and jotted down blog ideas that come to mind. I also have a folder labeled “baby” which contains documents for milestones from my pregnancy, delivery and my daughter’s life that I still need to record in her baby book.

I also have a note for my blood type. Does that make me weird? I’m A+ by the way.

Reminders

In my Reminders app on my iPhone, I keep a few things like weekly trash take out (because we would forget otherwise!) and to ‘skip a month’ on a subscription site that I’m too lazy to call and actually cancel. I’ve been ‘skipping’ for almost two years now. And now, I have a reminder to to remember to take my daughter’s monthly pictures on the 28th.

What products or systems do you find the most useful to keep you organized?

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Year in Review

This year has been nothing short of amazing. I warmly welcomed 2017 and hate to say goodbye. This year has been so good to me and mine.

We went into the new year with some of the most exciting news: we were pregnant! We found out Christmas Eve, but we didn’t announce to the world until February. Our announcement went like this:

On Christmas Eve, two lines appeared

We cried, we laughed, we smiled, we cheered

Our world, home and hearts are growing

And soon, the proof will be showing

With love and joy and before our hearts burst,

We’re here to announce ‘baby Reinmiller is due September first!

My pregnancy flew by and on August 28, we graced the world with our beautiful baby girl, Hadley.

Although that truly takes the cake of the year, many other wonderful things happened:

Isaiah

My son started second grade and turned eight years old. This year has by far been the best school year we have had. His teacher is wonderful and he really enjoys being in her class. For the first time, we aren’t feeling pressured by a teacher to put him on medication (which we are strongly against). He has grown so much in his big brother role. He loves his baby sister more than I ever thought possible.

His creativity has grown and evolved as he’s tried new things; mastered some and failed some. He’s a great kid, with a humongous heart. I’m so incredibly proud to be his mama.

Christopher

My husband and I celebrated our one year anniversary of marriage and seven years of being together. It was another wonderful year of loving, respecting, and cherishing one another. He has truly stepped up and become husband and father of the year, with me being out of work for the birth of our daughter.

Which leads me to my next highlight:

New Job Title: SAHM

We were able to make the decision for me to become a stay at home mom with our baby. It made a lot of sense and I so badly wanted to be present in her life, and more in my son’s. I wanted to be with my kids more because as I have witnessed with my son, time goes by too fast. You blink and your babies aren’t babies anymore. This is time I’ll never get back and I am so lucky to be able to spend this time with them. I am so grateful that my husband has blessed me with this opportunity.

Etsy/Blog

I started my Etsy shop, A Cup of Cozy, which provides ceramic campfire mugs with various vinyl sayings on them. Opening an Etsy shop and starting a blog have always been mini dreams of mine, and with getting to stay home, I’ve been able to explore both opportunities. Although both have been slow starts and it truly takes a lot of time, effort, and research, I’m planning to continue to pursue both in the coming year. I’m really, really excited to see where both take me in 2018.

As you can see, 2017 was a year worth celebrating.

 

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Hospital Bag Must-Haves for Delivery

 

Like many other moms-to-be, I spent hours and hours each week researching what items are on the “must have” list when packing a hospital bag for delivery day. I had so many pins pinned on Pinterest, lists made in Wunderlist, and my iPhone notes packed with ideas. When it came down to it, I realized the items that I truly did need and the items I could have done without. So, here are three categories: mom, dad and baby!

(This post contains affiliate links. Please read my disclaimer for more information.)

Must-Haves For Mom

  • Robe. This was basically only really nice when we had visitors, because my hospital gown had convenient openings for breastfeeding, but that also meant my boobs showing to potential visitors.
  • Slipper socks
  • Hair ties and bobby pins
  • Extension cord. You’ll thank me for this one later.
  • Chargers for any electronics (phone, iPad, etc.)
  • Small toiletry bag with deodorant,  hairbrush, toothbrush and toothpaste, face wipes and face lotion.
  • Comfy clothes to wear home (yoga pants and a tank top for me!)
  • Nursing bra – These are my absolutely FAVORITE. I ordered them when I was pregnant and outgrowing my current bras. I only took one to wear home from the hospital.
  • Boobease nipple cream and bamboobies nursing pads. I received these as baby shower gifts and they are both a tiny slice of heaven! I also used the disposable Lansinoh nursing pads.
  • Sleeping mask – if you’re lucky enough to be able to doze off for a bit!
I packed and did not need the following:
  • Make up (I had no time and no care to be concerned with my looks.)
  • Shampoo, conditioner, hair styling tools. See above. I did try to shower, but the water was taking ages to heat up and I got impatient standing next to it after just having pushed a baby out, so I said forget it. We also went home about 36 hours after delivery, so I got to enjoy my shower at home.
  • Dermoplast, underwear (yeah, you read that correctly), Tucks pads, pads, ibuprofen, prenatal vitamins. The hospital provided all of these items. I didn’t actually need to buy my own Dermoplast or Tucks because I didn’t even use up what the hospital provided.
  • Camera.  I took all photos on my phone.

Must-Haves For Dad

Hospital bag for dad

  • Comfy clothes (pajama pants and a t-shirt) *except my husband stayed in jeans, so personal preference per man!
  • Small toiletry bag
  • iPad (my husband totally binged on The Sopranos while in the hospital)
  • Change for any food. I saw a lot of posts for change for vending machines and I’m sure that our hospital had them, but they had this nifty program where we could pay for a coupon and apply it to the patient’s (my) room service order. It worked out really well for us, and if I’m not mistaken, $20 covered his food.
  • Pillow and blanket. Ladies, I get that you’re about to give birth, but think of your husband’s comfort as much as you can. My husband didn’t complain once, but the couch he had to sleep on was pretty rough. It was tiny and hard. We had packed an extra pillow and blanket from home to try to help him out.
  • Sleeping mask.

 

Must-Haves for Baby

Hospital bag for baby

This is really next to nothing. The hospital provided diapers, wipes, blankets, clothes, bulb syringe, any ointments, etc. I understand that people want to take their own stuff, and I certainly took the following:

  • Muslin swaddle blanket – we like our hedgehog one! In my opinion, it’s very comparable to the popular aden + anias brand.
  • Going home outfit – size NB and 0-3 months. Our girl ended up skipping right over NB weighing in at 8lbs. 4oz. at birth.
  • Baby book. This you must not forget. Why? Because if you ask the nurses, they will go ahead and put baby’s footprints directly in your baby book for you! No ink and messy stuff at home, yay!
  • Socks and hand mitts
  • Baby nail clippers and nail file
  • bonus: baby hairbrush (just in case your baby is born with hair!)
  • Car seat

 

Did your hospital delivery bags include anything that you thought was an absolute must have?

Also , check out my favorite baby items for when you take your sweet bundle home!

 

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Breastfeeding in Public

 

So, I did a thing today. A brave, selfless thing. A thing I thought I would never do. I succeeded at breastfeeding my 16 week old daughter in a public place.

It’s a shame that we live in a world that makes something so natural feel dirty and wrong. I’ll be honest and admit that I wasn’t a complete supporter of breastfeeding in public. I thought there were tasteful and tasteless ways to get the job done. But who cares if someone thinks the way your baby eats is tasteless or tasteful?

Before having my daughter, I was certain I would never just pull out my boob anywhere, anytime, and I would definitely never feed her in public; I’d just go to a public bathroom stall. But why should I take my baby to one of the filthiest places to feed her? Why would I want to? Why should we have to excuse ourselves to go hide away for something completely normal and natural?

My personal preference will always be to have a cover over us, but that’s because I’m insecure and maybe just not brave enough to let it all out. But even so, what is the shame in feeding my baby with my body? Why do I need to feel embarrassed to be giving my daughter the best thing for her? I shouldn’t, but I do because society makes me feel that way. Society makes me feel insecure about everything.

 

But today I was brave. My baby was hungry and I wasn’t going to make her continue to wait. So, I threw on my nursing cover nursing cover, and I fed her. We did it. She was happy, full and fell asleep.

As moms, we so often have to be selfless, courageous and secure. We have to put our child first, even if that pulls us out of our comfort zone. It’s something I’m still learning how to do, but today was a good step in the right direction.

Today I was brave and my baby was fed.

If you’re looking for breastfeeding essentials, check out my post!

P.S. My nursing cover is Bloom by Copper Pearl (affiliate link).

 

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Easy DIY Gifts

 

Crafting and gift giving are my favorite things to do, with wrapping presents a close second! That means I love Christmas time! I love using Pinterest to find new ideas, or coming up with my own.  Here are five easy and cheap DIY gifts that I’m gifting this year. Mom, if you’re reading this, close out now! Same goes for you, husband! (Do husbands even read blogs?)

So, here we go!

Daddy sign.

It was super hard to get my three-month old’s hand print. Also, opt for paint that isn’t super quick drying. We made that mistake and had to do my son’s hand print twice and it still didn’t turn out right. Ugh.

Materials:

  • Wood from Michaels
  • Stain, which I had Rust-oleum Kona on hand
  • Paint/paintbrush and/or Sharpie paint pen (I am obsessed with these paint pens, I’ve been through so many of them)
  • Cameo Silhouette to create a vinyl stencil. This machine is worth every single penny.

I think I still want to add a border to this one, like I did with the teacher sign below, but here is what to do:

  1. Stain your wood.
  2. Create a vinyl stencil (or free hand if you’re good! Me? Not so much.) I used the fonts Ghostwire and PN Housewife.
  3. Apply stencil, outline with Sharpie paint pen. Next, I peeled my stencil off and filled in with a paintbrush and paint.
  4. Gather your kiddos for those adorable handprints!

 

Lavender bath melts

Materials:

 

  1. Place a few spoonfuls of coconut oil into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave until melted, about 1:30 minutes.
  2. Add 15ish drops of lavender oil to the melted coconut oil.
  3. Pour into silicone molds.
  4. Stick in the fridge to harden back up. (I set my mold on a cookie sheet before pouring mixture in for easy transportation!)
  5. Store in glass jar

Instructions for use: store in a cool place. Pop 1-2 melts into the bath!

Meat rub

I came across this pin with various rubs to create and I chose the sweet carolina barbecue for my husband. I think I’ll make one more, I just have to decide on which one!

Materials:

  • Spices
  • Glass jar ($1.50 at Michaels)

Add your spices directly to your jar and give it a shake!

Teacher sign

Materials:

  • Wood from Michaels
  • Stain (Again, I used Rust-oleum Kona)
  • Border wood from Michaels, cut to fit and painted
  • Wire nails, or any short nail
  • String (0.52/each at Michaels)
  • Vinyl stencil
  • Tacky glue
  • Paint pen and/or paint and paintbrush

This one took the most time and dedication.

  1. Stain your wood. I like to let mine dry at least 24 hours before doing anything else to it.
  2. Add your quote, teacher name, or anything you like. I used my Cameo to buy and cut this quote with vinyl, which I used as a stencil and painted in with a white paint pen. *note: I outlined the quote and then removed the stencil before coloring in just in case of bleeding beneath the stencil.
  3. Create your apple string art. There are a ton of tutorials on YouTubbe!
  4. Paint the border pieces. I let my son do this because it was a gift for his teacher, after all. Once dry, glue on with tacky glue.

Calendar

Materials:

  • Wood canvas (this was $14.99 at Michaels, but I had a 40% off coupon. Never shop there without a coupon, they away have them directly on their mobile app!)
  • Stain (Rust-oleum Kona – can you tell I love this color?!)
  • Calendar (get my free PDF 2018 Calendar!)
  • Pictures (12 4×4 photos from Walmart at 0.18/each)
  • Mini hooks

This one is super easy and super adorable!

  1. Stain your wood canvas
  2. Print and cut your calendar to size
  3. Add mini hooks into the wood
  4. Hang your calendar pages and pictures

 

And there you have it! Five simple DIY gifts for Christmas!

Did you have any DIY gifts this year?

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Travel with Kids Tips

 

We are back in the car, on our way back home to Virginia.  The trip was too quick, as always, but now I want to discuss another travel aspect: how to effectively travel with kids!

I have an 8 year old and an infant.  Both are great travelers (I’m lucky, I know), so my tips may only be for those easy riders.

My three month old daughter slept the entire ride in (four hours!), so we will see if we get lucky on our way back home too!

Anyway.

Tips

  • Bathroom break. Even if my eight year old says he doesn’t need to pee, I know that he actually does, so I make him go before even thinking about getting in the car. But what’s awesome about having a boy is that if he does need to pee on the way, we can pull over anywhere. Whew!
  • Charge all electronics! We never travel far without making sure the boy has a fully charged iPad and/or Nintendo DS. (Daddy picked this new DS up for Christmas – exciting!). We also grab some headphones just in case he wants to watch something or have the volume up on a game.
  • Snacks and drinks. Because kids are always hungry and thirsty, right? Either pack your own or grab some at then gas station when you stop to fill up before your trip. Our favorite trip drink is Gatorade!
  • Grab a pillow! Maybe a blanket too. For the kids, but I suppose you could grab them for yourself too. 😉
  • For  a rear racing baby – add toys to the car seat for her to look at and maybe master grabbing. We are still working on that skill! (If she actually stays awake.)

If you’re wondering what to pack for your infant for a trip away from home, check out my post: Packing for a Baby.

BONUS: if it’s dark and Christmas time, turn off all electronics and enjoy the view of Christmas lights!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try to grab a nap!

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