Must-Haves for Newborns

Our daughter is approaching her 6 month “birthday” in a few short weeks… it makes me want to smile and cry, all at the same time! She is constantly rolling over, loves to giggle and squeal, and is seeming significantly older every morning when she wakes up. I wish I could freeze time… but since I can’t, I’m trying to make the most of every single day (and take lots of pictures).

It’s a whole new ball game with Lively rolling over now and coming up on crawling soon. It’s hard to believe she is the same tiny newborn we brought home from the hospital a mere few months ago. I definitely don’t have the whole “mom thing” down (who does anyway?!), but I wanted to share a few of my favorite baby products that were essentials during the first few months of Lively’s life. Thank goodness for the mommy community; many of these items were ones friends with little ones told me about!

  1. Pacifiers and clips: Before Lively was born, I had no idea if she would take a pacifier or not. I never took one when I was a baby, but Duncan absolutely loved his. We offered Lively her first pacifier when she was three days old, and she loved it from that day on! We use the Philips Avent Soothie pacifier (we have 3 of them, so I can rotate them to sanitize and have one designated for bed that’s not attached to a pacifier clip). For the clip, we use these cute ones from Amazon. Lively loves chewing on the silicone beads now, too!
  2. NoseFrida: We got this as a baby shower gift, and it has recently been coming in handy! Lively has been super congested the past couple of weeks, and this has been a lifesaver!  NoseFrida

  3. Rock ‘n Play: Some sweet friends of ours actually introduced us to the Rock ‘n Play and are letting us borrow theirs! Lively has been sleeping in her pack Pack ‘n Play beside our bed since she was born, but I love putting her in the Rock ‘n Play during the day (if she’s on the verge of falling asleep for a nap, it always does the trick when I lay her down in this). She’s getting close to outgrowing it now, which is going to be a very sad day! rock n play
  4. Medela Breast Pump: If you are breastfeeding, a pump definitely comes in handy! I still pumped a lot in the beginning, even as a stay at home mom, because I wanted Lively to be able to take a bottle (for when we go out on dates :)) and so Duncan could feed her once a day. Since he’s busy with school almost constantly, it was special for him to have that feeding time with her once a day! Also, in the beginning when breastfeeding was so new, it was nice to have a break from feeding once a day. I have a pretty basic pump, but it works great. I also love the Medela sanitizing bags (for cleaning the pump parts and bottle pieces)! pump.png
  5. Baby Carriers: I have a WildBird ring sling and an Ergobaby 360 4 Position Baby Carrier. The WildBird carrier honestly took me a lot of practice (and watching video tutorials) to be able to thread properly, but once I got it figured out, I loved it. It’s really nice for daily use. I really like the Ergobaby carrier I have, too! It is perfect for walks, hiking, and even just daily use.
  6. Milk-Saver: Another super helpful item if you are breastfeeding! A kind mommy friend of mine introduced me to this (thanks, Mackenzie!). It has helped me save a ton of milk, especially in the beginning when I was producing the most. milksaver
  7. Boppy Pillow: I’ve loved this pillow for breastfeeding! It makes feeding Lively so comfortable and easy. I got the plain pillow as a shower gift and splurged on a cute cover, because I knew I’d be using it a lot! Boppy
  8. Nursing Cover: I have this Milk Snob nursing cover that also doubles as a carseat cover. I love it and have used it more times than I can count! cover
  9. Shopping Cart Hammock: Okay, this one was a major game changer! I had no idea about these until a friend surprised us with one for Lively. I had a lot of anxiety about grocery shopping without Duncan before this hammock, but now I honestly don’t worry about it at all. Lively loves it! I can buckle her carseat into the hammock or buckle her straight into it. I’d highly recommend getting one of these! IMG_3113
  10. A big, quality diaper bag: Last but not least, a good diaper bag with plenty of room is a must-have. It’s something you bring with you everywhere, and once you have a baby, you feel like you are way over-packing everywhere you go (seriously, a trip to the grocery store requires so many items for your baby- preparation for a blowout, spitting up, and all kinds of other things!). The time you try to go somewhere real quick without your diaper bag is the time you will need it most!
  11. Stroller/Jogger: I love going on walks, so a jogger has been something I’ve used a ton since Lively was born. This Graco Click Connect one works great with her carseat. I can simply lock in her carseat, or use it without the carseat. It is perfect for walks at the park, or even for walking around the mall. img_1706

I’m sure I forgot some essentials or am just missing out on some. I would love to hear any other baby must-haves you’ve discovered! Happy Sunday!

Always and forever,

Alex

Lively Mae Bow Co.

I haven’t written a blog post in forever! While I’ve been away from the blog for the past couple of months, I’ve been working on a new endeavor, and it is finally ready to share with all of you! As you may know, our daughter was born in October. We love watching her grow and seeing her little personality develop more every day. I adore her smile, laugh, snuggles… I could go on and on!

Since she was born, I’ve been having a lot of fun making hair accessories for her: bows, headbands, and hair wraps. A couple of months ago I decided that in addition to making these accessories for sweet Lively, I would love to make them for you and your little ones! I love all things baby, and I have so many friends who have young babies, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to start making these hair accessories for girls and bow ties for little boys!

My Etsy shop is called Lively Mae Bow Co. (inspired by Lively, of course!). I also have an Instagram page for my shop: @livelymaebowco. if you’d like to follow along with our new journey!

This shop is a fun project for Lively and me, as well as a great way to help support our family during Duncan’s schooling. If you or anyone you know has a baby/toddler and are looking for cute hair accessories or handsome little bow ties, head on over to Lively Mae Bow Co. (click on the link to head directly to my shop).

I’m new to this whole Etsy shop thing, so if you have any advice, I’ll gladly take it! 🙂

These are a few of the products in my shop:

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Tropical Pineapple Mini Classic Bow: comes either on a nylon headband or an alligator clip.

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Blue and Gold Head Wrap

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White and Gold Polka Dot Sweetheart Bow: comes on either a nylon headband or an alligator clip.

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Jade and Ivory Chevron Knit Headwrap

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Tropical Pineapple Bow Tie: comes on an alligator clip, so you can slide it between the buttons on your little one’s button-down shirt.

Thank you for blessing our family! We really appreciate your support. I hope we can bless you and play a small part in your family, too!

 

Always and forever,

Alex

The Value of Reflection

As I sit here on this cold January evening, I can’t help but reflect on how thankful I am for where God has me. 2016 brought about some huge, life-chaging milestones in my life: graduating college, moving, my husband starting medical school, and becoming a mom. It was a year I’ll never forget, and in a way, it was a little sad to see it come to a close; however, I find much comfort and joy looking ahead into this year and the ones to come. I agree with C.S. Lewis when he said, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

One of my favorite parts about reflecting on the past is seeing and proclaiming the Lord’s faithfulness. It reminds me of how He has always taken care of me and answered every prayer. It’s not always easy in the moment to remember He is in control, but reflecting on all He has done for me and how He has never, ever failed me, helps keep things in perspective and enables me to live full of gratitude, hope, and genuine peace.

One of the best parts of Duncan still being in school was the fact that he had a Christmas break. It was the first time since Lively was born that we were able to spend that much quality time as a family (no studying for tests, no being preoccupied with thoughts of school or needing to study). In the midst of him being in rigorous schooling, a Christmas break was such a sweet blessing. How special it was to spend Lively’s first Christmas as a family and be able to soak in every second.

Here are some of my favorite memories from Christmas break:

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We brought Lively to church for the first time. Bloom Church will always be a special place to us!

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Lively’s first time in the mountains & seeing snow!

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We went on our first sleigh ride (sidenote, this is not the actual sleigh :)).

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Lively’s first Christmas!

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We went out to lunch at the beautiful Dogwood Canyon.

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And Lively got to spend lots of quality time with her daddy. She loves him a whole lot!

 

I love reflecting on these cherished memories, and I’m excited to see what 2017 brings!

 

Always and forever,

Alex

 

 

Crunch Time at Christmastime

Christmas is by far my favorite holiday! My family grew up with lots of Christmas traditions, with my favorite being our “25 Days of Christmas,” where my parents had a festive Christmas activity for us each day. Some of the activities were more grand, like a carriage ride through Christmas lights or the Dixie Stampede Christmas show, while others were simple, like a family snowball fight with paper snowballs or making our own snowflakes out of printer paper to hang in our entryway.

I love Christmas traditions, and having a daughter now makes me want to start some traditions of our own even more. Last year Duncan and I didn’t have the chance to put our tree up, since we were planning to move to Grenada just 2 weeks later (funny how God keeps us on our toes and how this Christmas looks so much different than I’d imagined). I’d come to terms with the fact that we probably wouldn’t be able to get our tree up again this year, as it’s crunch time for Duncan in his schooling, but Duncan was so kind to set aside a little time to grab our tree and a piece of garland out of the attic last weekend!

My family always grew up with a real Christmas tree. Each year we went and picked out a live one, which I would love to do with our family someday! This year, however, I am just so thankful we were able to get a tree up. It’s pretty bare, with only a handful of ornaments (less than 10 to be a little more exact), the lights that came on it, and is lacking a tree topper, but in my eyes it’s beautiful and perfect for the season we’re in.

I hate to admit it, but I’m one to get pretty wrapped up in expectations. With having Lively now, I’d love to start some special Christmas traditions. It can be hard not to compare or stress out when I see countless families all over Instagram and Pinterest doing all kinds of family Christmas traditions all December long, like elaborately decorating the tree together, going ice skating, and a variety of other Christmas activities seemingly every night. I don’t mean to complain or seem like a victim; it’s humbling and reminds me to cherish the little moments we do get together, like a quick run to look at tree ornaments or watching part of a Christmas movie as a family, instead of focusing on what we don’t have/do.

There’s nothing wrong with traditions, and even though we’ve had minimal time together this past week and the next two weeks, I can’t complain because Duncan will take a short break from school  for Christmas break, and I really appreciate how hard he’s working and finishing out the semester strong. He has some big tests in the next couple of weeks, so if you think of us, please be praying for him!

While we haven’t had tons of time with the three of us, I am thankful to spend my days with sweet Lively! She makes my daily Hallmark movie marathons even more enjoyable and loves dancing around the kitchen to Christmas music (“A Pentatonix Christmas” is currently our favorite!). I think we’ve almost marked every Christmas Hallmark movie off our list :). “Let It Snow” and “A Royal Christmas” are our favorites so far!

On a not-so-Christmassy note, I have had quite a bit of time with Duncan in the past couple of days as his practice patient. By the time Duncan finishes his degree, he’ll be a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, and I’ll basically be a professional patient… is that a thing? Anways, I’m so proud of Dunc and cannot wait for a week and a half from now, when Lively and I will have him all to ourselves (no studying allowed! :))

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{Even though we didn’t get a real tree this year, we did get to go with my family to help pick theirs out at Sycamore Creek Family Ranch!}

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{LOVE this view: Lively with our Christmas tree}

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{Despite with demanding schooling, Duncan is still the best daddy to our girl}

 

Always and forever,

Alex

Calling all Leggings Lovers

Leggings are most definitely one of my favorite parts of fall and winter; they’re comfy, warm, and can be worn when working out, or dressed up for a more casual/cute look! On a crisp fall morning, I’d much rather put on some comfortable leggings than a pair of jeans (not saying I don’t love a nice pair of jeans :)). I’d heard of LuLaRoe before and people raving about their “butter” leggings, so, naturally, I was ecstatic when I recently received a pair of my own!

The leggings come in numerous fun patterns, as well as classic solids, making them ideal for mixing and matching! I absolutely love the flower pattern I have. They also have some perfect-length tops to go with their leggings, so they are modest and wearable in a variety of settings (the top I’m wearing is LuLaRoe, as well).

I can’t wait to add more of these leggings to my wardrobe. Nothing motivates this new mommy to get back in shape like some new workout gear! I’m especially looking forward to continuing to wear them on my regular walks at the park.

If you’re interested in purchasing a pair of these leggings or any of the other clothing items LuLaRoe sells (they have a variety of dresses, shirts, skirts, etc.), find LuLaRoeHopeCureton on Facebook!

These are a few pictures from one of our walks at our local park, which is one of our favorite parts about our new city!

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Always and forever,

Alex

Lively’s First Halloween

This past Monday Lively experienced her first Halloween… well, “experienced” being used loosely; really, she slept most of the day and only woke up to eat and take a few pictures in her costume. It was also Duncan’s and my first time passing out Halloween candy in our own home; seeing all the little kids in their costumes was precious!

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I didn’t plan ahead on getting Lively a costume; I didn’t know what size she would be and, honestly, it just didn’t really cross my mind until the weekend before. My lack of planning didn’t leave enough time to buy a costume online, look around at many stores, or make anything elaborate. Duncan and I looked briefly at a few stores, but didn’t see anything we liked or anything Lively’s size. I was getting a little discouraged, because I didn’t want to be that mom who looked back and regretted not dressing up her baby for her first Halloween. Duncan and I sat in the Wal-Mart parking lot looking up costume ideas; when we saw a picture of a cow costume, we decided it was our best bet! We made a quick list of what we’d need and ran into the store; everything we needed for her costume for a grand total of less than $14!

I’m not the most creative or artistic person, so it helped having an idea to go off of. Her costume all came together Halloween day in about 30 minutes during one of her naps (side note: I’m so impressed by all the moms of multiple kids; I don’t know how you manage to get anything done. Lively’s naps are the only times I work around the house, and even during them I sometimes don’t because I want to snuggle with her all the time).

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For her costume, I started with a white onesie. I bought black bandana material, out of which I cut her spots, and hot glued them to her onesie. I also got pink construction paper (to glue the “udders” to and for the inner portion of her ears). The hospital gave me extra bottle nipples, which worked perfectly for the udders! For her cow ears, I got a black hat and cut out both ears from the black bandana material. I hot glued the pink inner portion of the ear to the black bandana material, and then hot glued the ears to the hat. And that was it!

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We can’t wait for many more holidays with our Lively Mae. Every day is special with her, so, of course, she makes the holidays extra special, too!

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Always and forever,

Alex

 

 

Our Guest Room

One of my favorite rooms in our home is the guest room. It’s not “perfect” or elaborately decorated (we still need to get a headboard), but I love how much natural light shines in and how most of the pieces in the room have sentimental value; what I love most, though, is when it’s occupied by our friends and family! The room has been in use since Lively was born a few weeks ago, and I feel so fortunate to have such generous and supportive loved ones in our lives!

Our moms took turns staying with us the two weeks after Lively was born. It was unbelievably helpful having them here to share their wisdom/experience, their delicious cooking, and keeping Lively and I company during the day. This past week, my sister spent her fall break with us. We had a great time watching countless hours of Gilmore Girls, walking at the park, and treating each other to pedicures!

Below are a few pictures of our guest room:

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This quilt was a wedding gift from one of Duncan’s aunts. We love how cozy it is and the personal touch it adds to our guest room!

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I love the big windows, as well as this beautiful scene Duncan’s grandma (Nanny) painted.

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This painting Nanny created has so much sentimental value, and I love that it’s hanging in a place where all of our visitors get to see.

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Duncan made this map for me as a Christmas gift while we were dating. We use different colored pins to signify where each of us have travelled, as well as where we’ve gone together. I can’t wait to see more of the world together (medical school kind of puts our traveling dreams on pause).

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Always and forever,

Alex

 

Branson with our Baby

This past weekend was our first time taking Lively Mae to Branson. It was surreal bringing her to the homes we grew up in and the bed & breakfast my family has owned my entire life! Lively was able to meet more of our cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, as well as spend more quality time with our siblings and parents.

Road trips with a baby are definitely a little different… longer & louder… our normally 4 hour car-ride turned into more like 6, due to a nice stop for feeding and a diaper change… But I still would way prefer having our darling daughter along for the ride with us! She is the perfect addition to our little family, and we can’t get enough of her!

Cannon also loves visiting our family and their dogs in Branson. It was a special treat for him, since he hasn’t had as much of our undivided attention since Lively has been born. He’s been so good with her, though, and it will be fun to watch them grow up together and see them interact more as Lively gets a little older.

Here are some pictures from our weekend getaway to Branson!

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Lively’s first time at the Bradford Inn (my family’s bed & breakfast).

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One of our many attempts at a family photo.

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A successful one!

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Spending some time with my cousin, Carissa, and her daughter at the Carley wedding at Sycamore Creek Ranch. Her daughter, Finley, is only 5 months older than Lively, so we’re excited for them to grow up together!

 

Always & forever,

Alex

The Best Change

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It’s amazing how quickly and drastically your world changes when you become a parent… in the best way! I guess you technically become a parent when you become pregnant, but it didn’t really hit me until I saw our beautiful daughter for the first time. The instant love I felt for our baby took my breath away.

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The last couple of months leading up to Lively’s arrival were a big transition, with moving to a new city and Duncan beginning his journey through medical school. We knew we wanted me to be able to stay home with Lively Mae once she was born, so that left a couple of months leading up to her arrival for quite a bit of free time. It was totally different from the fast-paced lifestyle we lived before, and for the first time in a long time I had to be intentional about finding things to fill my time and pursuing new friendships; that being said, I cleaned the house pretty much constantly, so it was nearly spotless (it was definitely a tangible way for me to feel like I was accomplishing something). I walked every morning with Cannon and a friend and her dog, and other than that, I really didn’t have set plans most days; about once a week I’d have a doctor’s appointment, but that was basically the extent of what I had to do.

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As much as I enjoyed those couple months of rest and being able to get settled into our new home, it made me even more excited for our baby’s arrival. And now that she’s here, my life has changed all over again! I love that my days revolve around taking care of our precious Lively. Even though it’s challenging (I’m sore; I don’t get much sleep, because she wakes up multiple times at night to eat, and even when she’s not awake I check constantly to make sure she’s still breathing… I think I’m a little paranoid since she’s our first; learning how to feed her isn’t as easy as it seems and is a little painful at first), I wouldn’t change a thing! Nothing compares to the sweet moments when she looks up into my eyes or wraps her tiny fingers around mine. I cherish how happy she is in the mornings and the cute cooing sounds she makes.

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Our lives are changing once again, but it is the best change I could imagine. I’m blown away by my husband; he goes to his classes all day (which is hard enough in itself), then comes home and is so intentional with Lively Mae and me. The three of us snuggle up on the couch, while he holds her and talks to me about my day and his. He studies hard, but takes breaks to feed her a bottle in the evening and just spend time with her. He prays over her each night, and I know without a doubt he cherishes this time and our daughter the same way I do. The love we have for our daughter is something we’ve never felt before, and I now have a better idea of what people mean when they say God’s love for you is revealed in a whole new way when you have a child.img_0865

The house isn’t nearly as clean and there are always things left on my to-do list at the end of the day, but I would never want it any different. I would a million times rather have my day filled with baby snuggles and prayers for our Lively (and a fair share of dirty diapers, spit up, and baby cries). We are so grateful to our Heavenly Father and all of the amazing people He’s placed in our lives who support us, encourage us, and who love our daughter. A special thank-you to our moms who took turns coming to stay with us the past two weeks and helped with everything; they’ve made the transition so much smoother! More pictures of our girl and her birth story to come soon!

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Always and forever,

Alex

Date Night

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*Picture from our date night at the fair!*

New seasons can be intimidating and change can be scary. Before Duncan began medical school, countless people told us how much our marriage would change and how difficult it would be. It was really discouraging to hear and made me terrified Duncan would never have time for me.

Instead of allowing the fear to cripple us and the change to create distance between us, it has actually brought us closer. One of my favorite things about Duncan is how intentional he is with communication. He sets aside time every day when he gets home to talk distraction-free about both of our days. We also have made sure we set aside time for a date night each week, no matter how stressful or busy the week is, because our marriage is high priority and time together is our favorite!

Last week the NEA Fair was in town, so we spent our date night at the fair! Even though we couldn’t ride any of the rides (they’re not really made for women who are 38 weeks pregnant), it was so much fun spending time together laughing and walking around… we walked probably 7 laps around the fair for a grand total of 3 miles (apparently Lively didn’t want to be “walked out”). We also enjoyed sharing a refreshing frozen lemonade, playing fair games, visiting the petting zoo, and watching other people ride the assortment of rides.

It’s the absolute best being married to your best friend. Of course, no one will ever be perfect, and we cannot fulfill each other, because only God can; however, it is so encouraging doing life with with my best friend and walking through new seasons side by side.

Side note: our precious daughter will be here a week from today at the latest! We cannot wait to meet her and become parents!

 

Always and forever,

Alex