Thursday, December 18, 2014

WAHM Review: Skin Deep Naturals

SkinDeep Naturals provided me with free product in exchange for an open & honest review.

I am SO excited to be bringing you another fantastic Work At Home Momma!  Jessica is her name and clean cleansing is her game.  hehe.  But seriously...in her own words, "As a licensed esthetician (and as a wife and mother), it’s important to make sure my family and I use clean, natural products that will help keep our face and bodies healthy and beautiful. Scanning the seemingly endless shelves of natural skin care products left me underwhelmed - effective beauty solutions produced using eco and socially responsible practices at a reasonable price point were scarce. That’s why I created Skin Deep Naturals. I formulate each product using ingredients you can pronounce....

A few years old...but still super precious!

I absolutely love Jessica's Etsy Shop!  She has so many fantastic products.  This is what she sent for the review:


Cute little package right??
Spearmint Lip Butter
This little tube of heaven is why I stumbled across Skin Deep Naturals in the first place.  We are, little by little, trying to cut out chemicals from our every day products.  My lips are horrid in the winter and I have an awful habit of picking at the dry skin.  Eek!  If I don't have something to put on my lips it ends in a travesty and my lips look awful.  Skin Deep Naturals is where I ended up when searching for something natural.  And it is awesome!  I love that I can pronounce all of the ingredients, how delightful it smells, and how wonderful it makes my lips feel!


A sample of Daily Exfoliating Facial Cleanser
This stuff is AMAZING!  As soon as I opened the package I loved the smell.  It was invigorating.  And I could feel the exfoliation and cleansing.  After rinsing, my skin was wonderfully soft, smelled delightfully, and I felt....well...renewed would be a good word.  And I'm not exaggerating.  I swear.  I can't wait to wash my face again tonight.  And the awesome part?  My skin was still wonderfully soft this morning.  Almost as soft as Baby Girl's cheeks.  ;)


Eye Make-Up Removal Pads
I have been looking for ways to cut down on our waste.  And recently I had thought about looking into reusable "cotton" pads for eye make-up removal.  These work great!  Jessica noted that her best seller is the sherpa.  While much softer, I actually think I prefer the terry cloth (both organic by the way).  I had a pretty clean face the day I used the terry cloth.  I hadn't worn make-up the day before and was using it to apply toner.  But the terry cloth managed to remove mascara from two days before that I didn't even realize was left!  I was impressed!  But I did really enjoy the softness of the sherpa.  :)  A nice perk?  I can just toss these into the hanging wet bag I have for our diapers!  To give you an idea of what size these are - I actually thought these were nursing pads at first....they are the perfect size!  With an added layer of eco-PUL these would be great for that purpose!


Super-Size Cleansing Pad
She also sent a larger style cleansing pad (also available in terry or sherpa).  I have used this to wash my face - great texture, nice & gentle on your skin.  And I have used it for a steam facial compress!  She gives the instructions of her Etsy page but basically you get a bowl of warm water, add 10-15 drops of essential oils, soak the cleansing pad, gently ring most of the water out, and lay it on top of your face.  I tried it with a mixture of Tea Tree & Grapefruit oils since both are good for your skin & energizing!  It was heaven.  As I was laying there I thought it would be perfect with some peppermint oil for when you are congested.  I'll definitely be using this again.  These would also be terrific for cloth wipes if you cloth diaper!

Skin Deep Naturals offers a ton of other great products.  For the other cloth diapering mommas out there:


Cloth Diaper Safe! (photo courtesy of SkinDeep Naturals)
Jessica's goal is to one day be able to make her products outside of her home so that she is able to be certified as gluten-free!  I absolutely love her ambition.  Here is just a peek at what else her shop has to offer:


Love her branding!  Simple, authentic, & natural!  (photo courtesy of SkinDeep Naturals)

Interested in purchasing?  Use code "FREESHIP14" for free shipping!  

As a thank you, it would be great if you could add Skin Deep Naturals on social media!  


Great news!  Jessica has kindly decided to offer a giveaway for you all as well!!  Enter below:

SkinDeep Naturals Giveaway

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Life Isn't Fair

Have you ever looked at the world and thought things were unfair?  If you haven't, I applaud you.  

I remember growing up and constantly thinking that things weren't fair between my brother and I.  He would get something that I hadn't and I would go running to my dad, "But that's not fair!"  And my dad would calmly turn to me and reply, "Life's not fair."  And he was right, life isn't fair.

It isn't fair that good people, genuinely good-to-the-bone people, get cancer and die before they are old.  It isn't fair that the people who step on others to get to the top strike it rich.  It isn't fair that innocent children are left on the side of the street because they are unwanted.  It isn't fair that careless people seem to have it all.  It is completely unfair that good people cannot get pregnant but that millions of babies are aborted murdered each year.

This life isn't fair.

I could go on and on with one million other reasons why.  It just isn't.

Psalm 73:1-3

Surely God is good to Israel,
To those who are pure in heart!
But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling,
My steps had almost slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
As I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

The writer of this Psalm saw how unfair life was.  And it caused his faith in God to falter.  This happens.  Often.  You see, ""The faith even of strong believers may sometimes be sorely shaken and ready to fail them.  There are storms that will try the firmest anchors" (Henry).

The pastor who did our pre-marital counseling was a very good friend.  While we were living in Oklahoma, away from family, Jamie took us in as her own family.  We spent any holiday we weren't home with them.  They were our "Oklahoma family" as I still lovingly refer to them.  She even offered to allow me to live there for a short time since my living arrangement at the time was less than ideal.  Though I didn't take her up on the offer, I remember her son mentioning how much that meant because she wouldn't have offered that to just anyone.  Shortly after we moved back to Pennsylvania, they discovered that Jamie had pancreatic cancer.  Within months, she had passed away.  It isn't fair.  Jamie was a good-to-the-bone person.  She served the Lord with fervor and her kindness was infectious.  

My faith faltered at this.  If only for a brief moment.  There are millions, probably billions of people that deserve to die: child molesters, murderers, the list goes one.  Yet, good people die of cancer every single day.  It isn't fair.  Jamie shouldn't have died.  Some days, it still doesn't make sense to me.  I don't think it is supposed to.  But a mutual friend of ours shared something with me: when Jamie was asked if she ever wondered why she got cancer.  Her response was, "Why not me?"

Even though she ended up with cancer and passed away, Jamie was blessed beyond belief.  As am I.  No matter what this life may bring.  And the Psalmist pointed to this.  Before he even mentioned his faith wavering, he noted what he had learned through the experience: Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart."  Goodness does not imply outward prosperity, which is what we tend to get caught up with in this life.  Goodness is much more spiritual.  We, the pure in heart, are blessed because we have God!  The truth is as simple as that!

He alone is our source of joy.  He is our wealth.  This life is unfair.  And to be honest, our life with the Father will be unfair...but in a good way.  If we got what was fair, what we deserved, none of us would be given His eternal joy & life abundant.  We would all be doomed to eternal destruction, weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

Thank goodness that the life He gives is unfair.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Our Story (Part 2): The Proposal

After a full school year of dating long distance, Hubby decided to move to Oklahoma to be near me since I still had a year of school left.  That was in June.

I expected him to propose at any time after that.  But he took his sweet time.  ;)  Summer ended and school began.  I had wanted a fall wedding.  We could go home over fall break and it would be gorgeous - autumn leaves, crisp air, you get the picture.  Once night while we were watching a movie at his place, he came around the corner, got down on one knee, and asked, "Bri, will you (*Insert longest pause of my life here*) give me some popcorn?"  I about killed him.  October quickly arrived and our fall break plans included.......nothing special.  Or so I thought.  He told me on Friday that I needed to prepare for a special day on Saturday.  I knew he was going to propose.  I kept asking him how to dress.  He eventually told me casual in the morning and fancy for the afternoon.  

I drove to his apartment the next morning fully anticipating that night to be the moment I finally said yes.  After hanging out at the apartment for awhile, me anxiously awaiting the surprise agenda for the day, we headed out.  Hubby had decided we were going to eat lunch at one of our favorite places - Big Truck Tacos (mmmmm) so we headed to that part of the city to waste some time.  One of his job sites was over that way so he drove there to show me around.  We happened to drive past our favorite coffee shop, Cuppies & Joe, which I just happened to notice was closed.  

After driving around the job site, we headed back past the coffee shop.  He pulled in the parking lot.  I told him they were closed but he insisted we get out.  There were a couple of girls who were walking down the sidewalk ahead of us - they walked up to the coffee shop door and turned away because they were closed.  I looked at Hubby, "I told you so."  But he pulled me forward.  Despite the "CLOSED" sign hanging on the door, he opened the door and walked in like he owned the place.  The shop is an old house.  And they left it very "homey."  Each room is set up with pieces of furniture - tables, sofas, big comfy chairs.  It's adorable.  Well, one of the rooms had a vase of flowers, a chai tea (my personal choice since I don't like coffee), a coffee for Hubby, our favorite cupcakes - red velvet & german chocolate, and a picture of our official first date (the trip to Falling Water).  I realized in the moments it took us to walk in the door and into the room that the proposal was not going to wait until that night.  It was happening now!

Hubby read me a poem he wrote that detailed our very own story and ended with popping me the question!  I quickly said yes!  My ring was perfect.  And he still managed to surprise me by asking me in the morning instead of in the evening.  He did say later that he completely forgot to get down on one knee because of his nerves.  But I confessed that I hadn't even noticed.

Unbelievably Happy...with scrumptious cupcakes!  :)

They tweeted about us!!

We did still go to lunch at Big Truck...which was scrumptious!

That afternoon was spent on the phone with family and settling on a tentative date.  My parents were set to have a wedding in December.  But with school, I thought that was just a little too soon.  So we planned to be wed over springbreak in March.

We ended the evening with a very romantic dinner at Benvenuti's Ristorante, which, as Google Maps describes, is "Gourmet Italian Fare in Romantic Digs."  They have THE best truffle french fries!  

Very much wish this restaurant was in PA.  :(

It was the perfect day.  One I will never forget.  And one I can't wait to tell our daughter someday.

Were you surprised by your proposal??  Or did you see it coming?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Types of Cloth Diapers We Use (WAHM Update)

**I received a free item in exchange for this review.  All opinions are my own.**

When we decided to cloth diaper, I had no idea how many different kinds were out there.  And to be honest, it was a bit overwhelming.  Not to mention all of the crazy abbreviations. I was going to give a list of all the different types of diapers and abbreviations but realized I wasn't up to par on some of them.  So instead....if you need a brief run down in that area check out this post from Viva Veltoro.

I had originally planned on using pocket diapers.  A lot of people in the cloth diaper community rave about them because of their absorbency and flexibility.  I have quite a few pockets.  But after reading this post from The Anti June Cleaver I thought I should probably look into AI2's (All-in-Two's).  I ended up doing reviews for a couple of different AI2 systems.  And I realized how much easier they would probably be.  But I held off purchasing until after we got a chance to actually use our OS (one-size) diapers.

Fast-forward to a month after Aelah's arrival and I was head over heels for the WInk diaper I had reviewed previously (Check out the original review here).  The pockets were great, super absorbent - but I hated having to reach into the diaper to pull out a soaking wet insert.  With the AI2 I can just dump it into the diaper pail.  :)  Then the cover can be reused if it wasn't soiled.




The fit of the Wink diaper is great!  We started wearing the cover around 2 or 3 weeks.  So I'm guessing she was around 8 lbs.  There wasn't any leaking!  After using all of our diapers - multiple different pockets, a couple of AI2 systems, and a few covers - the Wink diaper was, hands down, my favorite.  I can choose what inserts to put in.  Thanks to the front and back flaps, every insert we own fits and stays in place.  I haven't had a single leak with these either!  Which is saying a lot because Baby Girl is quite the heavy wetter!  Plus, since I can use whatever inserts I want, I can get a pretty trim diaper!  

As noted in my first review, Wink Diapers sells bamboo inserts and hemp inserts.  I love both!  And I usually use them together - which makes for a good night time solution.  Her bamboo inserts are the best quality of all the ones I have.  You can tell just by holding it in your hands.  Impressive right!?!

Here are a few pics of the fit on my little one...who is now 12 lbs!!


My little Chunk-a-Munk - LOVE her "Wink" tags...

Fluffy Butt!

Awesome double gussets!

So I actually decided to order more!  At the time we were getting by because Baby Girl fit in some of her OS (one-size) diapers as well as her newborns.  But I knew once she outgrew her newborns and size S diapers we were going to need more.  I am beyond glad that we ordered more Wink diapers.  They are phenomenal.

Hubby actually came in while I was changing her the other night and said "I really like these diapers," pointing to the colorful rainbow of Wink diapers, "they never leak."  Any time Hubby comments about liking anything cloth diaper related I do a little happy dance.  Yet another reason why I am very glad most of our stash is now Wink!

Full disclosure - I did have an issue with the gusset elastic relaxing in our original diaper a few weeks ago.  I am unsure if it was something I did (supposedly Oxi-Clean can affect elastics) or if it was just a bad batch of elastic.  However, since Wink Diapers have a one-year warranty, I have a replacement diaper on the way!  :)

Here's a couple pics in yet another Wink diaper, just for fun!


Love her chubbiness!!

:)
The best part?  Wink Diapers are extremely affordable!!  You can get a six pack for $59.99!  Or a 12 pack for $107.99!!  You can also buy them individually. She also has AIO's, cloth wipes, custom diapers, and more!

And guess what???  She has given us an exclusive code for 25% off!!!  That means you can get six AI2 covers for just $45!!  Awesome right?!?  Head over to her website page here and enter code "LearningToBe31" at checkout.  But hurry, because this offer is only good through the 19th of December!  

If you would, take some time to follow Wink on these social media outlets:

Facebook
Etsy
Twitter

P.S.  I just stumbled across a giveaway for a Wink Diaper at All About Cloth Diapers.  If you want to enter, head over here and check out her review.



Monday, December 8, 2014

Our Story (Part 1)

Boy Meets Girl.

Insert long romantic walks on the beach, late night chats, and an extravagant proposal here.

And they live Happily Ever After.

If only every story were that wonderful right??

But we don't live in a fairy tale world.  And I'm glad.  Our story might not be one you would find in a story book or watch in theaters.  But it is our story!  It is unique.  No one else can claim it.  And happily ever after is a little boring isn't it???  ;)

Hubby and I pretty much grew up together.  I don't remember meeting him.  He just always was.  We went to the same church and my memories of him probably start around 6th grade or right around the time I started youth group.

He was a grade ahead of me.  I didn't like him much.  Hubby was the "it" boy in youth group and, in his terms, I was pretty geeky.  He did date quite a few of my friends and that in itself told me that he wasn't anyone I would be interested in dating.

Fast forward to New Year's Eve my freshman year of college.  We both showed up at the party we'd all been going to for a few years.  And he was different.  A couple of years out of high school had done him good!  I felt like he was a lot more mature and well-rounded.  And he apparently thought I was a lot more good lookin'.  ;)

The night was fun - full of flirtations and cheesy one liners.  Unfortunately, I was home in Pennsylvania on Christmas break and had to head back to Oklahoma just a day later.  We sent texts and silly Facebook messages and one day he called.  I was ecstatic.  But then everything was adding up.  I couldn't start a relationship with a guy who was half way across the country.  And, besides, I was still hung up on a friend at school.

So how do I solve the problem?  I stopped answering my phone, stopped responding to texts, and ignored all comments, messages, and 'pokes' on Facebook.  No explanation.  

Fast forward another year to that same New Year's party.  The party had shrunk this year.  By far.  I think there were 6 of us there.  My & Hubby included.  I hadn't spoken to him since I started ignoring him.  I was embarrassed and beside myself.  But things quickly went back to normal.  No one brought up the awkwardness and all was well.



I went home that night (or rather the next morning...it was New Year's remember) and quickly took the coward's way out.  I sent him a Facebook message apologizing for the past and wishing him well.  He laughed about it and that was that.

We spoke on and off for the next few months.  Nothing flirty.  Nothing serious.  Just friendly conversation via Facebook.  I dated another guy for a few months but it ended quickly since I couldn't see a future.  

Summer came and Hubby asked me to go to the movies.  We were both home and bored out of our minds and he had to meet a friend to pick up some things.  It would be nice to have company come along and then we could go see Night at the Museum 2. I agreed but swore up and down to my parents that it was NOT a date.  And I made that clear to him as well since I sat with my arms crossed and leaning away from him the entire time.

We hung out quite a bit.  But the entire time I swore up and down that we were NOT dating.  And then my family went on our annual beach vacation.  And I hated being away from him for so long.  While I was gone Hubby made plans for us to go to Falling Water - the house built by Frank Lloyed Wright.  



When that day arrived, I knew it was a date.  I couldn't deny it any longer.  It was that very day we made things official.  

And the cheesy one liners didn't end there...

Tune in next week to hear the story of our proposal!  :)


Thursday, December 4, 2014

My Cloth Wipe Stash - WAHM Update

I was given free product in exchange for an open & honest review.  
Post also contains affiliate links.

My cloth wipe stash consists of Sweet Bobbins wipes, GroVia wipes, Buttons flannel wipes, and those tiny baby wash cloths that you get like 500 in a pack (haha, okay, I might be exaggerating a bit...).   

To get a thorough overview of what I thought of the wipes Sweet Bobbins sent me before baby came, go here.  But, the short story is, I loved them.  I thought they were much better made than the wipes that I already had and so much softer.  I still stand by that.  In fact, they are, by far, my favorite wipes!

As noted in my initial review they are SO soft!  And much thicker than the other wipes.  If Hubby has his preference, he always grabs these ones....just to be sure he doesn't get his hands messy.  They just aren't always on the top of the stack.  :P

The GroVia wipes are also fairly thick, they just aren't quite as soft.

The Buttons flannel wipes aren't soft or thick.  But because of how thin they are...it makes it fairly easy to get in all of those cracks and crevices.  ;)

And those baby wash cloths.  Honestly, I started using them because I had an extreme excess.  I got like 3 packs of 20....or something like that.  There was no way I was ever going to use 60 wash cloths.  So I thought I'd stick them in our cloth wipe stash.  They are super thin...and a bit smaller, so good for cracks and crevices.  But I particularly like them for the diaper bag!  They are small and a little less bulky than actual "cloth wipes."  

But back to Sweet Bobbins...
The only negative thing I have to say about these awesome is that they are adorable as well!


Seriously cute right?
I end up only using one side of these wipes because I don't want to get the prints all stained up and messy.  But I could use both sides if I needed to...so I suppose it's no big deal...  ;)

Angela & Rene of Sweet Bobbins gave Learning to Be 31 readers an exclusive discount code for their Etsy Shop.




And son't forget about all of the other awesome things they make:

(and this is just a peek....)

I would love it if you would show Sweet Bobbins some love and follow them one way or another:


Facebook (Fabric Page)

Monday, December 1, 2014

7 Things I Didn't Expect About Breastfeeding

I knew the minute we found out we were pregnant that I wanted to breastfeed.  But it was extremely intimidating.  You hear so much about everyone having this difficulty or that.  And then there are the stories of nurses or doctors pressuring you to supplement or just switch to formula for some not-so-legitimate reasons.  So, just like with labor & delivery, I did a lot of reading and preparing.  I even went to a class.  And, no, you do not pull your boobs out and lay them on the table for all to see...as my husband assumed would happen.  haha.

But even with all of that preparing, there were still a few unexpected things that popped up.



1. Your milk comes in rather suddenly.  One morning I woke up and all was normal.  Fed Baby Girl throughout the day and all was fine.  Hubby mentioned after dinner that he thought my chest was a bit bigger.  I also happened to notice around the same time that they were a tad sore.  Go to get changed for bed and *bam* it was like I was a new woman!  I gained a cup size in day!!  Along with a bunch of new stretch marks. ;)  I guess I had assumed that it would be a slower process....not so instantly noticeable.

2. There doesn't always have to be a problem.  After hearing so many horror stories and reading of all of the issues that could arise, I kept waiting for a problem.  You see, Aelah and I were very fortunate, we didn't have any major issues at all.  She latched and ate on both sides within about an hour or so of birth.  The only problems we had were minute - she didn't want to wake up every 2 hours to eat like the nurses at the hospital wanted, and her upper lip needed a little bit of adjusting the first couple of days to make sure her latch was just right.  So when we went home, I kept waiting and worrying that something was going to go wrong.  It couldn't be this simple.  I obsessed over her latch and was anxious about her weight.  If her poopy diapers were an odd color, I was trolling web pages looking for something to be wrong.  But there doesn't always have to be something wrong.  If things are going well for you, then great!  Enjoy it!  If things aren't going well - reach out.  There are local chapters of the Le Leche League everywhere.  And most hospitals have a lactation consultant that can help out.  I can call or email ours any time at no charge.  And there is also a breastfeeding support group at the hospital that meets once a month.  

3. It can hurt...even if everything is right.  I read in a few different places that if it hurt, something was wrong (bad latch, etc.).  Not true.  There are a few different reasons why you might experience pain without there being a major issue - toughening up, let down, and hormones to name a few.  You can read a bit more about this here from Anne at Zephyr Hill.

4. Leaking.  I knew most women leaked at least a little bit...which is why they created nursing pads.  But since a few women I knew leaked very little if any at all...I didn't expect a lot.  Boy was I wrong!  I can soak through a typical nursing pad in a feeding and end up needing a new shirt if I'm not careful!  But only sometimes.  Other times I don't leak at all.  Just depends on how long between feedings and what time of day.  I guess my advice here is: just go with the flow. ;)

5. You will plan your outings around nursing.  Or maybe this was just me.  But when we went to the doctor for the first time or when I had to run to the store, I tried to be strategic about it so we wouldn't have to nurse in public.  I still try to do this when I can but it isn't quite as bad. 

6. The first time you successfully nurse in public you will feel like an Olympic gold medalist!  The first time I fed Aelah outside of the car was at a Cheddar's.  I could have stayed in the car for a bit...but it was cold.  And I knew I would have to nurse in public eventually.  So we got a booth and I sat on the inside.  The entire time I kept checking to make sure my boobs weren't showing and wondering how many people had noticed what I was doing.  Odds are, no one even noticed...except maybe our waitress.  But when we were all wrapped up, I felt like a champ!  I had done one of the things I feared the most!  

7. There will be days, as a friend stated, that you will want to cut off your boobs and give them to your husband.  Ha!  Yep....pretty much.  Cluster feeding happens.  Your little one will want to nurse so often you will get nothing done and you will be up all night.  But it will pass.  I promise.

8. Once the milk starts flowing, it takes awhile to stop.  Baby Girl likes to drink fast.  And once my milk lets down, she tends to cough and sputter a little bit.  In the meantime - milk is spraying everywhere - all over me, all over her, and all over whatever else happens to be around.  It is quite humorous actually.  :D

What is one thing you didn't expect about breastfeeding?