Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Traditions

It's that time of year when the world falls in love.  Every song you hear seems to say, "Merry Christmas...."

I absolutely love this time of year.  There is a sense of magic in the air.  People are a little bit nicer.  Giving is at an all time high.  And almost everyone (with the exception of an occasional Scrooge) is just a tiny bit happier.

Another fun part of the Christmas season is that everyone celebrates just a little bit differently.  I love hearing about a tradition I had never heard of before...or something that is extremely unique to just one family.  We have our own traditions and one I'm sure no one else shares.  ;)

One of my favorite traditions, and one shared by many, is to go pick out our tree.  In previous years we have just gone to a big box store and chose one.  Which I still enjoyed.  But this year we went to a tree farm.  Since Baby Girl is still so tiny, we just chose one from the lot.  But I know we will be going back for years to come.  Why?  Because the experience was phenomenal.  They had a cute little Christmas shop set up with tons of ornaments and other Christmas decor.  You could get hot chocolate, hot dogs...snack bar type stuff.  Santa Claus stopped by!  And if you wanted to pick a tree out of the field, there was a horse drawn wagon to take you!  There you could either cut your own or they would cut one for you.  I am very much looking forward to going as a family in the years to come.

After we pick our  tree, we go home, turn on Christmas music, and decorate!  I love going through our ornaments and picking just precisely where they belong on the tree.  Speaking of ornaments....have you ever heard of Patience Brewster?  She has designed gorgeous ornaments which you can see here.  Anyways....back to our ornaments....

After getting married, Hubby & I decided to decorate our tree in our favorite colors: green & blue.  We added silver as well to bring it all together.  The trend has continued and I absolutely love it.  Someday we plan on having a "fun" tree for the kids ornaments and the ones I have from my childhood.  But here is where the super strange unique tradition we have began.  The very first year we had a tree for the 2 of us was the year before we were married.  We didn't have any ornaments of our own so my parents sent us a box of the old wooden ones that we used on our tree each year.  Among those ornaments was a little clown, with x's for eyes.  While I know each x was meant to look like stitched eyes, but Hubby and I both instantly thought "dead clown" because in today's cartoons, x's mean the character is dead.  We laughed about the "dead clown" and he has to be "hidden" somewhere in the tree each year.  I say hidden because one day our children will have to find that clown.  haha.  But for now, he just gets a special place on the tree...even if he doesn't really match our decor...

I cannot wait for the traditions we will start in the years to come now that we have a beautiful little one to celebrate with!

What strange, *ahem* I mean, unique Christmas traditions does your family have?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

WAHM Review (+ Giveaway): Skin Deep Naturals *CLOSED*

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 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:


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 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 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 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 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?  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

15 Things I Didn't Expect: Labor, Delivery, and Postpartum

You will never, ever be 100% prepared for labor & delivery.  

I believe that.  Even if this is your 4th pregnancy, odds are labor & delivery will be different than the last or even the one before that.  Even if you've read book after book and hundreds of blog posts (as I had) there will still be unexpected moments during labor & delivery and in the days/weeks to follow.

So because of that I've compiled a list of things that I didn't expect and things that surprised me a bit.  And, yes, there may be some TMI moments here...but I am all about full disclosure.  ;)  

1. Modesty is out the door.  We opted to not have a Doula because I didn't want another person around while I was in my most immodest moments.  We were striving for a very comfortable experience and that would have made me a bit more uncomfortable.  Or so I thought.  Once things started progressing I didn't care who was around.  I wanted that baby out of me and if the stranger walking down the hall saw my hoo-ha I didn't care.  When baby girl finally arrived I wanted skin-to-skin so badly that my gown was open in an instant and I sat there, boobs hanging out, for about 15 minutes.  Didn't even think about it until later.  And then there was the nurse showing me how to keep my stitches and lady parts clean after delivery....  Or the group of nursing students who had to inspect my stitches before we left.... the list goes on.

2. Poop happens.  I had read that before and was prepared for poo.  When I was pushing...  But sometimes it happens before the pushing starts. Eek!  BUT, no one speaks of it.  It will be like it never happened.  Just be sure to let it happen...because I discovered that trying to stop it made my pain worse.

3. You might not act like yourself.  I am a pretty reserved person (some of the stuff I'm writing today would never come out of my mouth...haha).  But in the heat of the moment, when you are in pain and your life is about to change....all bets are off.  For one, I screamed while I was pushing.  A few times.  Not so much out of pain but out of frustration and exhaustion.  I was a little overwhelmed with everything and was trying to do my best.  That energy erupted in a couple of unexpected screams.  I also got a little feisty with the nurse at one point.  I had a horrid, horrid leg cramp (also while pushing).  I kept trying to stretch out my leg and she wouldn't let me until I snapped at her.  After that...I just kind of tuned her out.  She had no bedside manner.  :P

4. The part you think will hurt the worst doesn't.  I think any girl that wants to one day have a baby dreads the pain.  And I'm talking about the pain of pushing a pumpkin out of an orange sized hole.  Yeah.  That.  Well, it didn't hurt that bad...and I had a 3rd degree tear!  The contractions were much worse.  In fact, the pain that I felt as my baby girl entered this world was a relief.  It was over.  My baby girl was here!  And I had no clue that I had even torn at all. 

5. It might not be love at first sight.  I have never told a soul this...but it took me a little while to fall in love with my baby girl.  Don't get me wrong.  I loved her from the moment we found out she existed.  But I didn't get that gut feeling when they gave her to me.  I think I was in shock for a bit.  I watched my husband fall in love with her first and I thought something was wrong with me.  But at some point in the next 24 hours when I had some time alone with her, I fell head over heels.  And the world was right again.  Apparently, however, this isn't all that abnormal.

6. You forget the pain the moment that baby is in your arms.  I know I noted my lack of emotion immediately after birth.  But I was still overwhelmed with joy.  I would have done it all over again in the next minute if I had to...just to have that precious little girl in my arms.  It was so worth it!

7. Ice diapers are the greatest invention known to man.  Remember that bit about pushing a pumpkin out of an orange sized hole?  You just did that!  And it may not have hurt horribly in the moment.  But it does eventually hurt.  And you will be hitting that call button for a new ice diaper the minute you can tell it is melting...    

8. You will bleed for a loooooong time.  I knew that postpartum bleeding lasted longer than a menstrual cycle but I didn't expect it to last more than a month!  There were days I thought it was over and the next day the flow would pick back up.  It felt like it was never going to end.....

9. The emotional roller coaster isn't over.  It might actually be worse.  It was for me.  Your hormones are everywhere after delivery.  In the first few weeks we were home, I thought I was crazy.  I cried for no apparent reason, got angry super easily, and could go through more emotions that I knew existed in a matter of minutes.  Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde have nothing on me!  I was never that bad throughout my pregnancy.  Never.  But it does even out eventually so hold onto that hope!

10. The fist time you shave your legs will be amazing!  Remember that huge bump that was always in the way?  The one that prevented you from seeing your toes or bending easily?  It is gone!  It is heavenly to be able to reach your entire leg without any issues!

11. You will be amazed.  Speaking of shaving....  Once I could see my lady parts again I was appalled at how unkempt I looked even though I had tried to keep shaven and trimmed... talk about a jungle!!!  Don't get me wrong, I'm not a perfectionist and I have never had a bikini wax.  But when I know I'm going to the lady doctor, I at least try to look a little cleaned up and a little less "au naturale."  ;)

12. You will heal faster than you think is possible.  3rd degree tear.  There are some parts of your body that should never have to see a thread and needle.  And when it takes the doctor almost a half an hour to stitch you up....yikes!  I wasn't sure how I would ever walk again let alone think of doing anything else....if you catch my drift.  ;)  But after just 2 weeks, I felt pretty good.  And by 4 weeks, I felt almost normal.  Still waiting for the doc's okay for a few things....but I feel like nothing ever changed down there so I think we'll be okay.  ;)  Still amazed that I'm not limping around the house any more.

13. You can function on 2 hours of sleep for days.  I might be exaggerating a bit.  But you will be amazed at how little sleep you get and how well you feel.  

14. You will forget what life before was like.  A few weeks in and you will feel like this has been the normal forever.  You can't imagine what life was like without the precious miracle that keeps you up late and brings endless smiles to your life.

15. It goes fast.  Okay, I know people tell you this all the time.  So maybe it shouldn't be on the "unexpected" list...but, Good Night!  It flies.  I can't believe how big my baby girl is already.  I can't believe she was any smaller.  But she was.  And it was just a month ago but it feels like a lifetime.  So expect it to zoom past and make every single second count.  

What would you add to the list?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Aelah Grace: 1 Month

An entire month (plus a few days) has gone by since the birth of our precious miracle!  I can't even believe it!  When everyone tells you how time flies, they really, really mean it.  I want to rewind and go back to the hospital so that I can treasure each moment again, relive every single second, write it all down so I can soak it all up at a later date.  She will never be that tiny again.  Her skin will never be quite that soft.  And her eyes...they change 




Ah...but enough of that for now.  For now, I must take joy in every little thing she does.  Live in the moment.  

I am a few days behind with this post but I wanted to wait until after our first well-child visit to see just how much our Aelah Grace has grown!

This basket may not work for as long as I had hoped...  ;)

How am I growing?

Aelah weighed in at 9 lbs and 12 oz yesterday!  She has almost gained 2 lbs since birth...just one ounce away!  :)  Her weight is pretty average, 50th percentile.  But her length, that is an entirely different story!!  At 23 inches (and I'm fairly sure they measured a little short with all of her squirming) she is in the 95th percentile!  We have one tall little lady on our hands!  But that isn't a surprise since Hubby and I are both fairly tall.

What's new?

The first month outside the womb has been an interesting one.  We went from smiling in our sleep the first week or so to smiling when she is awake!  And laughing in her sleep.  Which is one of Mommy's favorite things!  :)  If she is being held, she will lift her head and look around for as long as she can.  Lights can be VERY distracting - even when she is eating.  haha.  

How are we sleeping?

Sleep the first few weeks wasn't too bad - up every 2-4 hours to eat.  Then somewhere between that 3 and 4 week period she decided she was going to be a night owl.  She LOVES to be awake anytime from 9pm - 2am for at least 3 hours.  And she usually isn't very happy that Mommy and Daddy want her to sleep.  So, we have started sleep training.  A bit early, yes, but a must if I am going to survive.  

And by sleep training, I just mean having a nap/bed time routine.  When Aelah starts to get sleepy we go read a story, sit quietly for a bit, swaddle her up, and lay her in the bassinet before she falls asleep.  During the day she wakes to eat every 3 hours and we follow the Eat/Wake/Sleep pattern.  Lots of lights and brightness from 7am until about 7:30 and then we dim the lights.  At this point we don't worry much about noise because we want her to be able to sleep through "the static" so to speak.  But if it comes to it, we will try to be more quiet in the evenings.  We've been trying this for 3 days and 2 of those 3 nights have been splendid!  Asleep by 9-9:30 and up around 7, waking every 3-5 hours to eat.  The night it didn't work we had gone grocery shopping and she took an extra long nap which messed things up I think.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Baby Stuff: Dear Husband

I wrote this a few days before my due date and planned to give it to Hubby the night our baby girl was born.  I actually forgot about it in all of the excitement but gave it to him at some point the next day.  ;)

I wrote this letter to show my husband that our marriage was still and will be a priority in my life.  Yes, we have started another chapter, but adding a member to our family will not change the way I feel about him!  

Dear Hubby,

Today will forever change our lives.  Today our Baby Girl was born!  I still can't believe we are parents!  Us....parents....even though this is something I've wanted since the day we said "I do," it still terrifies me.  We are officially responsible for another human being.  Ah!

Anyways, that all isn't the point of this letter.  There are actually two things I desperately want you to know.  And never forget.

First, you are going to be an amazing father.  And I mean that with all of my heart.  I have no doubt our little girl is going to have you wrapped around her finger.  I know you will want to give her the world.  I love that!  I also know that you are going to teach her how she should be treated as a woman as well as how to ride a bike.  You will dread her first crush, her first date, and the day you walk her down the aisle.  And because she knows how much you love and walk with the Lord we will be able to trust her decisions when it comes to guys anyways.  But when they break her heart, because they will, I know your shoulder will be there for her to cry on every time.  I also know I'll have to convince you to not strangle those boys, no matter how truly terrible they might be.  I hope you know how much I believe in you when it comes to this 'dad thing.'  You are going to be amazing!

On another note, I know that a baby, now matter how precious she may be, will change our relationship.  And while I am pretty sad that our 'just the two of us' chapter has come to a close, I know our marriage is strong enough to weather any change - no matter how small or how big.  ;)

I want you to know how much I truly love you - with all of my heart.  

I am going to do my best to always put you first.  You deserve it.  Our family deserves it.  You might need to remind me from time to time.  And while I may get mad at first, I will eventually remember you are right.  Every day I will strive to love you more.  Then someday, far from now, when we're empty nesters, we will be even more in love than today.  I know that watching you be a dad will make that easy.  But I want to be more intentional about 'dating' and keeping that spark alive because you are so worth it!  I never want to lose what we have - our affection, our silliness, and our willingness to follow where the Lord leads.  At this point in our marriage I am so proud of us, so proud of you!

I am so excited for our future.  I can't wait to watch our Baby Girl grow and change every day.  I can't wait to see how we grow as a family.  God is before us so we cannot fail!  Here's to another chapter on our journey - the start of a new adventure!

I love you!!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Aelah Grace: What's in a Name?

Naming a child may be one of the most difficult decisions people ever have to make.  Do you want the name to be original?  But not weird.  Or maybe you want a family name?  But can it be turned into a horrible nickname?  Do you want the babies name to be able to be shortened?  Or maybe you aren't a fan of nicknames.  What about meaning?  Do you want a name of significance or does it not matter?  And then you find a name you like but your spouse absolutely hates it.  Or at least isn't sold on it...

As I'm sure many other women have done - I had a list of names I loved long before we got pregnant or even started trying.  However, unlike most, I had an actual list on my computer.  Yep...I may be a little crazy.  Over the past few years, if I heard something I liked, I would add it to the list and find out the definition or basic meaning.  Hubby knew of my list - and, justifiably, thought I was a bit nuts.  

Once we found out we were expecting I pulled out my list and we looked it over.  He quickly eliminated probably 75% of the names I had written.  Throughout the coming months we added a couple of others and then narrowed it down to two boy names and two girl names.  And after discovering that we were expecting a beautiful little girl, it was on!

And the winner is....

Aelah Grace Sherman.

Grace was Hubby's grandma's name.  He fought hard for Grace to be a first name.  But I had my qualms and we finally agreed on using it for a middle name.

So where did we get Aelah?  Elah is the Hebrew word for "oak or terebinth tree."  We added the "a" to help with pronunciation so she wouldn't get "Ella."  It has helped a bit but, as with anything different, pronunciation has been a bit difficult.  To clear things up - it is a long a sound - so it is prounounced "A La"  We debated whether or not to spell it simply "ala" but I desperately wanted to keep the original Hebrew.  Spelling took us longer than picking a name I think.  ;)

But anyways, back to the meaning.  We loved that 'Aelah' brought together the passions of Hubby and I.  Hubby, simply put, is a landscaper and has a sincere passion for all plant life - especially trees.  I love to study the word of God, especially the original Hebrew and Greek.  Neat, right?

Bur the significance doesn't end there.  When we were still debating names, we decided to look a little more into meaning.  It was then that I stumbled across this blog post from The Road Less Traveled.  To briefly summarize - the terebinth and oak trees both have a lot of Biblical significance.  First, the Valley of Terebinth is where David defeated Goliath.  Which is pretty awesome.  But the thing I love most is that these trees, because of their strength and long lives, Biblically signify a place of belonging, a place where God is, a place where you meet with God.  

Beautiful isn't it?

Once we read those words, we were both sold.  Our baby girl's name would be Aelah.  I can't wait to one day share the meaning of her name with her.  And I hope she thinks it is as beautiful as we do.

You really should go here and read the full post that we stumbled across.  She really did her research and there is SO much that I left out for the sake of simplicity.  ;)

How did you choose your little ones name(s)?