In the Early Stages of Toddlerhood

I really can’t believe we have a toddler… how is Lively already that old?!

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Toddlerhood is totally different than having a baby; it’s a different type (and level, haha) of exhausting, but also full of so many laughs and teaching moments every single day.

Lively is about 2 months into walking and is fearless; she gets more daring each day, which is kind of scary. She runs around the house (and has already fallen too many times), climbs on everything, and would jump off any surface if we didn’t watch her like a hawk.

She says “dad,” “mom,” “ball,” “bye,” etc., but not much else is enunciated clearly yet; she does watch us super closely when we talk and is starting to try mimicking what we say. She blows me away with how much she already comprehends, though! She loves to blow kisses, wave at everyone, and give “knucks.”

Lively is in a pretty consistent sleep routine (finally). She naps around 1:00 pm every day, usually for about an hour and a half. She falls asleep much easier now, and I no longer have to nurse her to sleep. If I turn on Disney lullabies, her little aquarium sound machine, and rock her, she typically falls asleep pretty quickly. She does still wake up once or twice most nights, and she is frantic until I nurse her. She is weaned other than waking up during the night, so hopefully I’ll be able to help get her past those soon. Weaning her has been a little harder than I expected, because she never wanted to self-wean, but it was getting to the point where she would try to pull my shirt down in public… so I am glad to be past that!

It’s quite a bit more difficult to feed a toddler, because she’s not getting all her nutrients from breastmilk and simple jars of baby food anymore. When I first tried to switch her to whole milk at a year old, she got little bumps all over her skin and her stool became runny, so I waited a couple weeks to try again, and when I reintroduced it, I started with tiny amounts, which went much better! I offer her whole milk with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks (she drinks a total of about two cups a day). Some of her favorite snacks are apple slices with peanut butter, grapes (cut up, of course), cheerios, cheese and wheat cracks. For breakfast she loves eggs, wheat pancakes, bananas, etc. For lunch she usually eats turkey, cheese, peanut butter toast, some baby food veggies, etc. For dinner, she eats whatever we’re have, which is usually some kind of baked chicken with vegetables, spaghetti, quiche, and other pretty simple meals. Cheese is her favorite food right now… she would eat it for every meal.

Socially, she’s not having as much separation anxiety from me. This past week was the first week she didn’t cry being dropped off at the nursery, and it made this mama heart so happy! She loves playing with other kids (she’s walked up to kids we don’t know at the park and held up her arms for them to hold her on multiple occasions…). We’re trying to work on sharing. She signs “please” when she wants something (especially food) and is really in tune with other people’s emotions.

She loves to push boundaries (like a typical toddler), and disciplining/setting boundaries is tougher than I thought it would be, but I know it’s necessary and will help her so much in the long run (and even now).

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She is obsessed with the movie “Sing” and would watch it all day, every day if we let her.

All of our cabinets and outlets are baby-proofed. She is now officially able to reach the countertop, so that’s a new challenge (but thankfully can’t open doors yet).

She never sits still (so if we somehow get her to sit and smile for a picture, it’s a miracle!).

Trips to the store are pretty challenging at this stage. She’s not really old enough to reason with yet, so if you let her out of the cart, she’s runs the opposite direction like a crazy woman pulling everything off the shelves.

Lively is super goofy and has such a funny sense of humor. She knows how to make us laugh and really plays off of it (if something made us laugh once, she’s quick to do it again). It is such a joy watching her grow and develop more and more into her own little person. Toddlerhood is tough, but also such a fun and special time as a parent!

 

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Always and forever,

Alex

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DIY Smash Cake

Sitting here on this chilly, first day of November, I can hardly believe it’s been a month ago exactly that our little Lively turned one! We had her party in Branson, where most of our family lives, a couple weeks later and enjoyed spending a Saturday evening with everyone celebrating Lively’s life. The theme for the party was pink, white, and gold/jungle animals (I know, seems so random, but I love the girly pink, it was Lively’s golden birthday, and she loves animals, so I decided to combine them all, because why not?!)

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For Lively’s smash cake, I decided to make our own, because I really couldn’t justify buying her a custom cake I figured she wouldn’t even eat (thank goodness… because she didn’t eat hardly any of it… she was way more interested in all the people, running around, and her toy car).

I made a simple, two-layer white cake with vanilla buttercream frosting. I got this 6-inch cake pan from Kroger for less than $4 and used the Pillsbury Moist Supreme box of cake mix.

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I followed the directions on the cake mix box, then put 1 1/2 cups of the cake batter in the 6-inch pan at 350 degrees for 35 minutes (make sure to insert a toothpick and see that it comes out clean). I cut off the top (so the cake was a flat surface) and let it cool, then baked one more for the second layer. Once both layers were cooled, I put them in ziplock bags overnight in the fridge.

I made the buttercream frosting the day of her party and followed this recipe. Since it was a layered cake, I spread some frosting between the two layers and used a knife to cover the whole outside of the cake.

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This dark pink, sparkly cake topper was the perfect finishing touch! And these mini gold animals tied in the jungle animal part of the theme perfectly (they came in a set of 12, so the rest we used for decorating the gift table).

A DIY smash cake is totally doable, saves a little money, and hopefully this acts as a nice guide!

Click here to pin this on Pinterest!

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Always and forever,

Alex

DockATot Review

I have lots of friends who have told me what a miracle worker the DockATot is, so I was super excited to try it! Lively isn’t one of those babies who slept through the night from early on or who you could just lay in her crib and her instantly fall asleep for her nap. I actually still nurse Lively once or twice in the night when she wakes up most nights. I’m no baby sleep expert; we’ve just recently gotten Lively to where she can be rocked to sleep listening to Disney lullabies, instead of having to be nursed to sleep for nighttime and naps.

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Lively recently received the DockATot Grand, which is for babies 9-36 months old, but I think it REALLY would’ve made a difference in her sleeping (and ours!) had we invested in the DockATot Deluxe (the smaller size, for babies 0-8 months old) in the first few weeks of her life (I totally plan on doing this when we have our next baby in the future). The DockATot is a pretty simple concept (designed in Sweden and made in Europe), but such a good one; it definitely makes babies feel more secure and snuggled, which helps them sleep more soundly (and it’s made of all natural, 100% cotton). It’s been tested for breathability, as well!

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One of the other major perks of the DockATot is how helpful it is as a transition piece for moving your little one into a toddler bed. I plan on using our DockATot Grand for this purpose in the future, as it makes the “big girl bed” not seem quite so big and overwhelming.

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There are multiple cute patterns the DockATot comes in, but we have the Pristine White one. It looks very clean, and the cover can be taken off and washed in the machine… which anyone with kids knows crucial!

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You can use this link to get $10 OFF your DockATot now through November 20th!

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If you’re expecting or have a little one, you’re going to love this multi-functional lounger, co-sleeper, and playtime lounger.

 

*DockATot was received in exchange for this review, however all opinions are my own.*

 

Always and forever,

Alex

 

 

 

 

Connecting with Other Mamas

Being a mom is special gift and has brought so much light into my life. But being a mom can also feel lonely, discouraging, and exhausting. I had my daughter two months after we moved to a new town (I’d never moved from Branson before) and my husband started medical school. I didn’t know any other moms when we moved here, and in the first few months after having a baby, it’s difficult to get out and about (literally your life revolves around feeding, changing diapers, and a sleeping baby… not saying those are bad things- I love love loved the newborn stage and have always adored babies).

I’m realizing more and more how life-giving it is to learn from other mamas and talk with ladies who just get it, don’t judge, and laugh with you. If there are any new mamas or mamas-to-be, know you are not alone and there is such a sweet mom community out there. These are a few of my favorite ways to connect with other mamas:

  1. Being in a small group or mom’s group: I recently started attending Bible Study Fellowship (a few weeks ago) and feel so refreshed being poured into and hearing other mamas vulnerability. Bible Study Fellowship is an interdenominational Christian Bible study with locations all over the world. I’ve linked their site here for you to see if there are any locations near you! They also have an amazing children’s program, which is so nice knowing Lively is able to interact with other babies in a safe, loving environment.
  2. Instagram: I’ve met so many amazing moms through Instagram. It’s encouraging and reassuring realizing other mamas all over the country (and world) are going through the same obstacles and triumphs in motherhood. Social media can become a trap for comparison, but it can also be a place to connect with others and be reminded to find joy and purpose, even in the day-to-day, seemingly insignificant moments. It’s easy to scroll through and feel like everyone is living these extravagant lives that we’ll never be able to compete with, but I guarantee when you reach out to other moms, you’ll find that there’s so much more to others’ lives than “perfect” pictures. Don’t be afraid to message other mamas, ask questions, encourage them, etc., because Instagram is a perfect platform for it. I just love that even if you don’t know many mamas yet where you live, this is still a way to get to know ladies in similar places in life.
  3. Play Dates: Lively loves having play dates with friends, but honestly, I think I love them more, haha. It’s good for the soul to exchange funny stories, have a safe place to ask advice, and just get to know other women who are on the same crazy journey called motherhood.
  4. Typical Daily Outings: This may sound silly and I may just be a weirdo, but I almost always encounter other mamas in my nearly daily trips to Kroger and/or Hobby Lobby. Those are two of my favorite places to bring Lively when I just want to get out of the house, and the smiling faces, friendly waves, or simple conversations with other ladies often make my day. One of my biggest pieces of advice for not feeling alone in motherhood is to get out of the house every day, even if it’s just walking around a store or a quick trip to the park.
“As moms, we are in it together- raising the future. We are a tribe of future makers. So let’s support each other.” -Marissa Hermer

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Side note, this long sleeve from PinkBlush is a perfect addition to your fall momiform!

 

Always and forever,

Alex

Postpartum Leggings and Nursing Tank

Figuring out what to wear after having a baby can be difficult; your body has changed, nothing fits the same, and if you’re nursing, you need to wear easily accessible tops. After having Lively, I wore athletic shorts, big t-shirts, and leggings for the longest time (actually, I still do most days!). But I just discovered the most comfortable and practical postpartum leggings and nursing tank from BLANQI!

I love them because they’re perfect for working out (what better motivation to exercise than new workout clothes?!), but they can also be dressed up! My favorite part about the leggings (aside from how comfy and supportive they are) is that they are opaque, so they’re not sheer/see-through like so many leggings I’ve tried on. They are highwaisted, so they gently hold that postpartum belly in place, making you feel more comfortable and confident.

The pull-down postpartum + nursing support tank top makes breastfeeding so easy and secures this mama’s belly. All mamas and mamas-to-be… you’re going to love BLANQI’s products! They also have maternity leggings and tank tops, so I’m for sure going to get those when I have our next baby someday.

Becoming a mom is the most beautiful thing, and we should be proud of all our bodies are capable of (growing and delivering a baby is a miracle and such a big deal!), regardless of what we’re wearing. But, let me tell you, these comfy leggings and tank top will help you feel your best and be inspired to be the healthiest version of yourself.

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Always and forever,

Alex

 

*BLANQI attire was received in exchange for this review, however all opinions are my own.

Friday Favorites: Favorite Places to Shop for Baby Clothing

One of the (many) fun things about being a mom is dressing my daughter! I know, I know…. she’ll outgrow letting me pick out her outfits… so for now, I’m just soaking it in and loving dressing up my little baby doll.

While it’s fun picking out baby clothing, it’s super hard to justify spending much money on them, because they outgrow everything so fast! So I’ve compiled a list of my 3 favorite clothing stores to shop for little ones that are both cute and affordable:

  1. Old Navy: This is where most of Lively’s clothes are from. Their clothes are always so adorable and stylish. Their clothes definitely fit Lively the best (the most true-to-size). And the best part about their clothing… there’s always a sale going on. Old Navy is definitely at the top of my list!
  2. Gymboree: This is another one of my go-to stores when looking for clothes for Lively. Their clothes are classic and well-made, and there’s oftentimes good sales, too. Like Old Navy, their clothes seem to be most true-to-size.
  3. TJ Maxx: This one is kind of hit-or-miss, but I’ve found a few really cute things here (i.e. I found Lively’s first pair of hot pink Nike tempos here, some trendy little sweatshirt and legging combos, etc.). They have some of the best prices for name brand clothing. A lot of the brands they carry seem to run a little small, so Lively does tend to outgrow them faster.

One of the biggest ways for me to not overspend on baby clothes has been to buy pieces that are easily mix-and-matched. Dressing little babes is so fun, and by no means has to “break the bank.” What are some of your favorite shops to purchase clothing for your little one?

These are some of my favorite outfits of Lively’s to-date from the stores I mentioned (and just a fun excuse to go down memory lane :))

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(this one is actually from Target, but I love it, too!)

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Take a look at some of my friends’ Friday Favorites this week: Arin, Lauren, Alex, Jenifer, and Jackie!

 

Always and forever,

Alex

 

 

Train Travel with a Baby

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We just got back a couple of weeks ago from our train trip out west. We traveled by Amtrak out to Glacier National Park in Montana for a few days, and then on to Santa Barbara, CA for a week. Total, we spent 110 hours on the train over a 2 and a half week span. It was beautiful, so much fun, and we learned a lot of valuable information on the way, so I thought I’d share some of the things we learned with y’all and some basic information about train travel (specifically Amtrak) in general:

– Get the Amtrak app on your phone. It tells you if your train is delayed (which happens often). Our first train was delayed 5 hours; although most trains probably aren’t delayed that long, it’s common for them to be at least a little behind schedule.

-To go along with my previous point about the delays, don’t make any super time-sensitive plans (you really can’t be in a rush). Thankfully we had an overnight layover after our long delay, or else it would’ve really complicated things.

-But with that being said, do not be late getting to the train station, because the train waits for no one! The train station in Chicago is really busy, and we actually almost missed our train leaving from there. They tell you to get to the train station about 45 minutes early if you’re wanting to check bags, which we did in Chicago, but for some reason the baggage check line was super long, and by the time we got to the front of the line, our train was leaving in less than 5 minutes. The lady working the baggage check told us it was too late to check our bags at that point and we’d better run if we wanted to make our train. We literally sprinted to our train with with our stroller, 4 suitcases, and diaper bag and barely made it on in time!

We had a roomette during our time on the train. If you’re traveling with a baby or young child, I would totally recommend getting a roomette or a bedroom (the next size up). The next few tips are specific to people traveling in roomettes:

-Each roomette has two chairs, which fold down into a bed. We actually kept the chairs folded into a bed the whole time, because it allowed more room for Lively to be able to crawl around. The roomettes also have a top bunk that can be folded up during the day and folded down when you’re ready to sleep. *Just a forewarning, the roomettes are small (the size of a small closet), so when the bottom bunk is down, it takes up the whole floor (so there’s no standing room).*

-If you have a baby with you, he/she is going to need to sleep on the small bunk with you. Duncan slept on the top bunk, while Lively and I slept on the bottom. There wasn’t a lot of room, but it was still nice to have a bed to sleep in.

-When you have a roomette, there are 4 bathrooms and 1 shower in your sleeper car that you share with the other roomettes in your car. The showers are actually pretty nice, and towels are provided. Make sure to bring flip-flops, though, since you’re sharing a shower with so many other people.

-There is a luggage storage rack on the lower level of the sleeper cars. You have access to your suitcases there, so you don’t have to bring your big suitcases into your roomette with you (saves at least a little space).

-Each sleeper car has a train attendant. Your train attendant will answer any questions you have, make up your bed every night and take it down in the morning, etc. Make sure to bring cash to tip your train attendant at the end of your train ride.

-Meals are included, which is huge, because the meals typically range from $10-$40. They have a menu with 4 or 5 options to choose from for each meal. Most people eat in the dining car, but you can request to eat in your room if you’d like (just make sure to ask your train attendant). When you eat in the dining car, breakfast is first-come, first-serve, while lunch and dinner are done by reservation.

-Each person is allowed to bring 2 personal items and 2 carry-on items (be sure to look at their website for specific details). A stroller, car seat, and diaper bag don’t count toward those, and you can either carry them on with you or check them through to your destination if you won’t need them/don’t want to mess with them until your final destination. You can also check your 2 “carry-on” bags if you’re not going to need them until your final destination. Most of the time we checked our 2 biggest bags (except for when we almost missed our train in Chicago), so we made sure to have our toiletries and enough clothes in our smaller suitcases.

-If you’re staying in a sleeper car (either a roomette or bedroom), check to see if the stations you’re leaving from have a Metropolitan Lounge (I know for a fact Chicago, Portland, and Los Angeles have them). They’re basically nicer waiting rooms you can relax in while waiting for your train to arrive. They oftentimes provide free snacks and drinks, and you can store your luggage in there if you want to go out and about for a couple of hours. It was so helpful being able to know our luggage was in a safe spot while we explored Portland during our 4-hour layover there so we didn’t have to carry it around with us.

Traveling by train with a baby is quite a bit of work, but it’s also such a fun adventure and a memorable experience. If you have questions, I’d love to answer (I’m sure I left out some important information)!

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Always and forever,

Alex

Tips for Traveling with a Baby

Since Lively was born, she’s been to the mountains (a 15 hour car ride), the beach (a 10 hour car ride), and on a few flights. Traveling with a baby definitely changes things, like making car rides longer and adding extra luggage, but at the same time, it makes trips so much more special seeing your little one having fun exploring new places! Our little family is leaving on a train trip out west soon; I’m super excited, because we’re going to be visiting places we’ve never been before (I’m excited to share it with y’all, so stay tuned :)), and it will be Duncan and Lively’s first time traveling by train!

In honor of our upcoming trip, I wanted to share a few helpful tricks we’ve learned that’ve made traveling with a baby a little bit easier. I know some seem super simple and common sense, but I know as a mom, sometimes I forget the most “simple” things… mom brain, I guess!

  • Make a packing list! I’m a check list person anyway, but a packing list is really important when you have a little one, because there are so many different items necessary for daily life with a baby you do NOT want to forget (maybe not all necessary, but at least make daily life way easier).

For long car rides:

  • Bring a handful of books and/or toys to entertain your little one. I’ve memorized a few books of Lively’s that are pretty short and simple, so they’re easy to recite to her in the car; some of her favorites are “Where’s Spot?,” “I Like to Squeak! How Do You Speak?,” “Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You.” Having some of the books memorized means we don’t have to bring as many with us!
  • Sing songs and tell your little one(s) stories. Lively LOVES this and it soothes her best if she’s starting to get fussy on a long drive. I think it helps, because she’s still in a rear-facing carseat, so she gets a little lonely in the backseat, and I like to reassure her that we’re still there!
  • Bring snacks (if your baby is old enough). Little snacks help when it’s getting close to a feeding time, but there’s not a good place to pull off the road for a little ways. They usually help hold Lively over until we can pull over, and I can feed her.
  • Duncan or I usually sit in the backseat with Lively for at least part of a long drive, so she’s not by herself the whole time. She gets so happy when someone is back there talking to her and playing with her!

For airplanes:

  • Arrive with plenty of time before your flight, as everything takes a lot longer with a little one. We had to go through special lines since we had a lap-sitting infant, and they involved long waits every time.
  • We flew Southwest, and they have “family boarding,” which means if you don’t have “A” boarding, you can board between groups “A” and “B” if you have a little one. We didn’t know this for our first flight, and waited until group “C” since that’s what it said on our boarding tickets. It makes it so much easier when you can board earlier!
  • For landing and take-off, I was told to either be feeding Lively or make sure she had her pacifier in her mouth (so her ears didn’t pop). It totally worked!
  • Once again, bring little snacks (in your carry-on).
  • Also, bring a couple of toys and maybe a book or two in your carry-on.

These are just a few of the tips and tricks I’ve learned while traveling with a baby. If you have some more, please share; especially for a train, since this will be the first time we’ve taken Lively on one!

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My dress in these photos: PinkBlush

 

Always and forever,

Alex

Being an Intentional Mom

Becoming a mom is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Period. It is humbling, unleashes a whole new love you didn’t realize existed, and makes you realize how quickly time goes by.

My mom has always been so good about being intentional with me and with her time in general. She makes me feel like the most important person in the world when I am talking to her. I think technology and social media have value, but one of the things I’ve always appreciated most about my mom (especially looking back) is how she never whips out her phone or makes me feel like second priority; when she is with someone, she is genuinely all there and fully present.

That’s been one of the biggest things for me lately- realizing, even though Lively is only seven months old, she’s going to notice and remember how present or absent I am with her. I don’t want to be the mom who is constantly on my phone, who’s prioritizing social media over the people who are right in front of me… I want Lively to know how valued she is and how she is 100% worth my time. I want to show her the beauty in being present and be that living example for her, because it’s true that actions speak louder than words.

Time is fleeting, but I at least want to be able to look back and say I lived in the moment every step of my life and did everything I could to love my children to the best of my ability (not that perfection is attainable, but that I work towards becoming a better wife, mother, and person every single day). It’s an area I’m trying to work on and have been asking Duncan to keep me accountable in 😉 It’s humbling to realize I’ll never be the perfect mom, but I can keep bettering myself and praying for the areas I’m lacking, knowing God will grow me and fill in the gaps.

With Mother’s Day coming up, I’ve been thinking an extra lot about all things motherhood and about how grateful I am for my own mom. If you’re like me, you probably feel like you can never repay your mom for all she’s done, but if you’re looking for a unique Mother’s Day gift for your amazing mom, Jord Wood Watches has some beautiful  women’s watches (and men’s watches) that you can even get as an engraved gift for your mom (engraving is FREE now through Mother’s Day).

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I have this Zebrawood and Navy Frankie Series watch and love it (featured in these photos). It is such a cool watch and goes with everything!

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Annndddddd one of the most exciting parts of all of this… you can enter to win a GIVEAWAY for a *$100 gift code to use on the Jord site*! All you have to do is go to this link and enter your name and e-mail address (super easy 🙂 ).The contest will close May 21st, with one lucky person winning the $100 gift code, and everyone else who enters receiving a $25 gift code.

*The contest will close on May 21st at 11:59 p.m. and gift codes will expire June 30th, 2017*

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Make sure to make your moms feel extra loved and appreciated this Mother’s Day. And Happy Mother’s Day to all you new mommies out there!

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Always and forever,

Alex