Wednesday, June 13, 2018

3 things I'm still learning as a mother

This post is sponsored by Cord Blood Registry ® (CBR ®), but the opinions expressed here are my own.


As a seasoned mom I like to think I know it all. I mean, with four kids over a span of 12 years, I've learned a ton. I've read stacks of parenting books (in those pre-internet days!) and pinned countless motherhood blog posts over on Pinterest. I've always felt super informed on all of those big parenting choices I had to make, whether it be feeding options or the decision to use disposable or cloth diapers. Anything to make me feel more prepared. 


As my youngest baby boy quickly approaches his 2nd birthday though, I'm realizing more and more that I'm still learning as a mother. It's kind of thrown me. He's my last baby...the final one, and he's been my biggest challenge so far. I find myself scouring the internet once again, reading all of the mommy forums and googling parenting questions because I realize I just don't have all of the answers all the time. I'm still learning, I'm still growing, and I'm still trying to figure out how to be the best mom I can be to each of my kids individually.


Here are 3 things I'm still learning as a mother:

Embrace the mess

I'm sharing this one because it's a big source of stress for me. I admit that far too often I tell my kids "let's do something else" or "maybe later," or often times just flat out "no, we're not doing that," all because I want to avoid a big clean up. As a former self-professed clean freak (who has now decided to let the little messes go) I admit that things like making mud pies, playing in the dirt, finger painting, or whipping up a batch of slime used to make me cringe. They were just too messy, and I'd drive myself crazy trying to micromanage the kids while they "played" without making a gigantic mess for me to have to clean up.

It wasn't until recently that I realized how un-fun I was being, and my kids were missing out on experiences because of my unwillingness to just cut loose and let them play. So I'm finally letting them. The toddlers have been obsessed with this little patch of dirt in our backyard and have been happily showering themselves with dirt every single day since I've decided to stop trying to keep them out of it. And you know what? They love it. It keeps them entertained for hours. They dig, they fill up buckets, they find "special" rocks to bring me, and they rarely bicker or fight with each other when they are in the dirt. Is it a pain in the behind when it's time for them to come inside? Yep. But is it worth those hours of care-free toddler bliss? Totally.


You have to pick and choose your battles with motherhood. And I'm not fighting the mess anymore!

Embrace technology

Technology is one of those things I really try to keep up on, but it's challenging because new advancements are coming out all the time it seems. There are so many new studies, procedures, and ideas nowadays versus when I had my first baby, and it is so interesting to look back and see how far things have come in the 12+ years since I started having children.

Recently a dear friend brought up the topic of cord blood banking. She told me that she'd opted to have it done with her last baby and that she wished that she'd known more about it when she first started having kids. After talking with her about it I felt the same way, since I trust and value her opinion on this kind of thing. 

About Cord Blood Stem Cells
Your baby's umbilical cord contains blood and powerful stem cells, and preserving them may give your child or an immediate family member, depending on the condition and other factors, the opportunity to use this resource for current cord blood therapies. Today, many conditions may be treatable with cord blood as a part of a stem cell transplant, including various cancers and blood, immune, and metabolic disorders. In the future, there may be other potential applications, like regenerative medicine. It's pretty incredible what they are doing these days! (https://www.cordblood.com/stem-cell-research/cord-blood-uses-and-research)


About Cord Blood Registry (CBR)
Cord Blood Registry (CBR) is a newborn stem cell preservation company. They offer affordable payment plans as well as a gift registry (so family and friends can help contribute towards the cost of banking. How cool!) Their Newborn Possibilities Program® assists families with qualifying medical need by covering all costs for preserving their child's newborn stem cells and storing them for five years. With CBR you have access to their team of Certified Genetic Counselors who can discuss your family's medical history as it relates to stem cells, and who can educate you on your options to preserve them for your family's future. CBR has a wealth of knowledge for you to dive into over here, so check it out! 

CLICK HERE to get a promo code for $200 OFF enrollment fees for cord blood banking with CBR by filling out your information.

If you're at all interested, don't delay...I so wish I'd known all of this when I was expecting!

Just follow these 5 steps:

Enroll with CBR online at cordblood.com/enroll or call 1-888-240-1996
CBR ships you a collection kit
Bring your kit to the hospital on your big day
Call the medical courier after your baby is born and the cord blood has been collected by your healthcare professional
Relax. CBR handles the rest and will notify you when the kit has been received.



Understand the seasons of motherhood

You can go through many different seasons in your time as a mom...some of them are amazing and some of them are gut-wrenching. Sometimes you'll feel like you're Supermom. You make dinner every night, stay on top of the laundry, pack lunches, cross everything off your "to-do" list, and you're just on top of everything.

Other times you might feel like a total failure as a mother and you wonder where that person went who could once juggle it all. Every day might be a struggle to get up, you're irritated, the pile of laundry is never-ending, and you've got your local pizza delivery on speed dial because you can't bring yourself to make dinner again tonight (or get to the grocery store regularly).

I'm here to tell you that it's OK. It's taken me years to understand that my own seasons of motherhood ebb and flow, and it's constantly changing. I wouldn't be the mother I am today without the experience of them all...the good and the not so good. Seasons don't last forever. Embrace the positives you can find in them and lean on friends and family when you need some extra support.

Motherhood is ever-changing. That's a big one. It's the most challenging yet most rewarding job on the planet and I'm just trying to my part to raise my little humans to be good people. I don't have it all figured out just yet, but I'm still growing and learning every day.

What's the biggest thing you're still learning as a mom? 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Dry shampoo tips for amazing second day hair

This post is sponsored by Dove Hair Care but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

When it comes to my beauty regimen, dry shampoo is definitely on my list of must-have, can't-live-without hair products. For someone with thick, curly hair like me, dry shampoo is a total game-changer. With it in my arsenal of hair products I can typically go three to five days without washing my hair. Yes, you read that correctly- three to five days! I've had people say they can't imagine going even a single day skipping the shampoo, but with a little practice and the right dry shampoo you can definitely extend the length between your wash routine and rock some amazing second and third day hair!


Third day hair- I heart my dry shampoo!

First, here's what my typical wash routine might look like for the week:

Day 1- wash/condition hair. Blow dry & either flat iron or curl with styling wand.
Day 2- touch up w/ flat iron/wand- wear down.
Day 3- dry shampoo & touch up w/ flat iron & wear down or put up.
Day 4- dry shampoo & wear up or w/ headband
Day 5- wash/condition hair. Blow dry & flat iron or curl & wear down.
Day 6- touch up w/ iron or wand & wear down.
Day 7- dry shampoo & touch up.

Keep in mind- just because you're not washing your hair every day doesn't mean you're not showering or bathing regularly. If I'm showering and skipping the shampoo, I simply throw my hair in a top knot with a nice and stretchy, wide headband on so that my hair doesn't get wet from the water spray. Shower caps are another great option if you want to keep your hair completely protected from the water and humidity in the shower to tub. 

New to dry shampoo? Whether you're using it for the first time or if you're obsessed like me, it's important to use it properly for best results. Here are a few tips to keep in mind for getting the most out of your dry shampoo:

Shake, shake, shake. Be sure to shake the can before and during use. This one is important and keeps the contents mixed and evenly dispersed. You don't want all of the good stuff settling at the bottom of the can, so shake before using and shake again while you're using it. 

Don't use too much. Hold the can 8-12 inches so that it sprays out in a fine mist. You don't want to saturate or blast the hair! You can always add more if your hair still looks oily. Too much product is going to leave your hair feeling stiff and looking dull. 

Focus on your roots. Don't spray the dry shampoo all over your head. Instead, focus on the root area- all the way down your part, around your hairline, with special attention to the bang area and around your ears. If you're going to be putting your hair up don't forget to get the back nape area. Lift the hair and spray near roots and just the first few inches of hair. 


Let it sit. Don't just spray and go- let it sit for a few minutes and really suck up all of that oil. I like to do my dry shampoo first, before I do my makeup, and let it sit until I'm completely done with my face so it has time to do its job.


Massage it in- don't brush. Finally, use your finger tips to massage and work the dry shampoo into your roots. I find brushing brings back the oiliness pretty quickly, so skip the brush and just use your fingers to work the product into your hair. Re-style as needed or simply tousle with your fingers and you're done.

Dove's Volume & Fullness dry shampoo is definitely my favorite for reviving my second and third day hair. It's light and fresh and smells divine!


This weightless formula cleans and refreshes my hair by instantly absorbing the oil on days I don't want to wash it (or can't bring myself dry it). All of that blow drying and heat styling is so damaging to my lightened locks, and my hair takes forever to dry and style. Dove's Volume & Fullness dry shampoo lets me go a few extra days in between shampoos and I can skip the daily blow drying and flat ironing, save time, and do less damage to my hair. When I need it, just a few quick sprays transform my hair from limp and lifeless to fresh, clean, and full of volume and body. 


On wash days I've been using Dove's Thickening Ritual shampoo and conditioner. It smells amazing! It's made with lavender and rosemary and it's nourishing yet light at the same time. I found it at Walmart for less than $5 when I went to pick up more of my dry shampoo and decided to give it a whirl. My hair has been through the wringer lately and I needed something to help repair some of the damage and abuse my hair has taken over the last few months. Just one wash made it feel thicker, fuller, and softer. 



Are you as dry shampoo obsessed as I am? I hope these tips help you extend your wash routine and rock that beautiful second and third day hair! 

Monday, June 4, 2018

The essential first food all parents should know about

This post is sponsored by Gerber®,  but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.


First off- do you use Cartwheel? If you're a Target shopper you need to! From one Target-loving mama to another, trust me, you need to use Cartwheel! 

Now, on to the Gerber babies.


Aren't they the cutest? I know it sounds so cliche, but they really do grow up so fast. I feel like it's gone by incredibly quickly with these last two babes especially. They're changing every single day and are learning new skills, experiencing new adventures, and making little friends everywhere we go. All of this growing and learning requires the proper nutrition- something not all babies and toddlers get (for many reasons). Picky eaters, like mine, are exceptionally tricky, so it's important to make every bite count when it comes to feeding your baby early on. 

Gerber Infant Cereal is something all four of my babies ate as one of their first foods. We usually started introducing solids somewhere around 6 months of age, though some parents like to start earlier or may delay solids longer for whatever their reason. It's up to you and your baby and you'll know when the time is right. We usually started with mashed bananas, sweet potato, carrots, and of course Gerber Infant Cereal!


Babies are born with natural stores of iron, but a lot of parents might not know that these reserves can be depleted by around 4-6 months. Iron helps support learning abilities, which is why it's so important to make sure there is a good source of iron in your baby's diet. Gerber Cereal has essential nutrients like iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin C, and six B vitamins for healthy development, and expert dietitians and pediatricians recommend iron fortified cereals like Gerber's, especially if they are 6-12 months old. 

Just two servings of Gerber cereal meets 100% of baby's daily iron needs! 

We especially love the Gerber oatmeal, which I'd mix with a little breast milk or formula. As my babies got older and started eating soft foods we'd add chopped blueberries or strawberries to the oatmeal, or apples and cinnamon is another good flavor combination. Whether your baby prefers it plain or if you like to jazz it up (according to their age and eating ability), Gerber cereal is a great way to add some extra iron to your baby's diet to help support their growth and boost that healthy brain development. 


Gerber cereals aren't made with any genetically modified ingredients and contain no artificial colors or flavors. They're even conscious about the packaging and the containers contain no BPAs.

As always, Target is my go-to for all things baby related. I quickly loaded up their awesome money-saving Cartwheel offer for Gerber cereal and headed to the baby section with Josiah in tow. Pro tip: if you're too lazy to search for Cartwheel offers, use the scanner on the app! Just scan your item and if there's a Cartwheel offer it will pop up load it for you! 



Cartwheel is the best way to save at Target, and this Gerber deal won't last forever, so stock up now mamas! 

What were some of your baby's first foods? 


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