The holiday blur

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Holy whirlwind! I kind of cant't believe the holidays are already over and I'm sitting here the day after Christmas trying to remember it all. It seems like the older I get and the bigger my kids are, the faster the time goes by. I really don't even know what happened to's almost over and I'm having a hard time remembering all of the highlights. It was a tough year for me personally, what with this crazy PPD & anxiety, but despite that, I tried to still be there for all four kiddos and highlight the special celebrations and moments we had throughout the year. Not an easy task, but I feel like I kept up appearances just fine. That's a win in my book.

Christmas is always magical when you have kids, and I had the privilege of seeing it through my older kids' eyes this year and experience some fun "firsts" with the littles. This was Josiah's first "real" Christmas, since he was just a baby last year and I'm pretty sure we let him sleep through the entire morning's festivities. Harper is 3 1/2 so she was very excited about Christmas this year., and we were super excited to spoil her. Shopping for her was SO fun- I love buying presents for toddler girls because they just love everything. She's currently obsessed with Moana (her & Josiah both- we watch it every damn day- Christmas included!) So she ran around Christmas morning in her new Moana costume and necklace (the heart of Tafiti!) and sang us songs and acted out the movie all day long while jumping around from toy to toy...all while staying perfectly in character. She reminds me so much of Lily at this age- sweet and sassy and lover of all things girly, musical, and princess-like. 
The only picture I got of all 4

The big kids were completely surprised by their gifts. They wanted electronics of course, and we'd had them fooled for months that we weren't going "big" this year now that we're a family of four and have so many kids to buy for. Well, we had no idea what to even get them besides the one thing they each asked for (it's so hard as they get older), so we did end up getting them their "big" gifts they wanted and kept the rest pretty minimal. Ayden finally got his new XBOX One (he's been asking for a few years) and Lily got a tablet loaded with a really nice drawing program for her digital art she's been doing lately. She wants to be an animator and/or fashion designer and recently started using a drawing app on her Kindle, which she quickly outgrew. She's SO talented and this new tablet is already allowing her to do some advanced stuff she couldn't do before. I'm all for her using technology to advance her artistic ability! She's amazing. The XBOX for that's what he's into I'm not going to fight it anymore. I told him as long as he keeps his grades up and does his chores he can play. He's a 13 year old boy- what are you gonna do? At least he's not interested in what I was at 13, which was boys, makeup, and smoking. Sure can play Minecraft until your eyeballs fall out as long as you're not smoking cigarettes in middle school! I am going to start loading him up with more chores though if he wants to game more...I realized yesterday while shoveling the driveway that I have a perfectly capable 13 year old boy I could be putting to work more! That's what all these kids are for, right? Hehe. 

I know the holidays can kind of be a bummer time for some who don't have a lot of family. This year it was just the six of us and it was great- no one was stressed out, we had nowhere to be, and we even got some sledding in. We had a nice ham dinner with all of the fixings and I talked to a lot of friends and family throughout the day via text (isn't texting amazing for the anti-social people like me?) Still, it was kind of sad for me. My family and I have been estranged pretty much since Josiah was born (he's almost 16 months old). It's sad when you have to over-compensate for your other people being absent in your children's lives. It's hard not feeling that twinge of jealousy when you see your friends post pictures of their big, happy families sitting together with 3 & 4 generations of people together, all getting along. I wish I had that, but I don't. We've never been able to mesh our two families together. There are people on one side who just can't get along with anyone, so it's always been weird and awkward trying to do birthdays and holidays together. And then we had our falling out last year and it hasn't gotten any better. My youngest two don't even know what they are missing. The older I get the more I realize how completely ridiculous it is...but what are you going to do? I spent a fair amount of my Christmas day feeling really mad about it. I'd find myself seething with rage while I was cleaning up wrapping paper or putting the ham in the oven and I'd have to force myself to stop thinking about it. Not today. Be happy for the kids. Forget about your own mommy/daddy problems and make the day special for your kids...don't let them know they are missing anything. So that's exactly what I did and will continue to do in the future. At least I know how not to treat my kids and how to not perpetrate the cycle and repeat history. My kids are the most important people in my life and I will not let anyone else make them feel less than. 

So aside from the moments of self-pity and anger about the current situation, we still had a great Christmas, and I'm looking forward to 2018. Today we are dealing with the aftermath- the toy explosion, kids fighting over use of the TV for movies & XBOXing, the abundance of cardboard & paper (too much for the recycling bin), and leftover pie for a mid-morning snack. I'm really going to take this "new year" thing to heart (hopefully) and make some changes in my life. My diet and health have been absolute shit this last year and I'm feeling it. Zero energy, zero motivation. Hopefully I can make some lifestyle changes that will make 2018 better than 2017 was to me. You can't drink from an empty cup, so I plan on filling mine next year.

Happy holidays, friends! I hope you caught a Christmas nap too :) 

Life Lately

Friday, December 1, 2017

Oh my gosh it's been forever since I've sat down & done a "life lately" type of post. There's a few reasons why- 1 of them just that it's been abslolute freaking chaos pretty much the last year, and 2 being that I've been battling technology for a long time now. My laptop (that I swear I just got) crapped out altogether about 6 months ago and I've had to resort to using my husband's computer, which is ancient and slow. It was supposed to be a temporary solution until we found a fix for mine, but after we realized fixing that cheap piece of garbage was pointless I decided to finally bite the bullet and just invest in a MacBook. I'd been eyeing one forever and I knew a Mac would last me far longer than another cheap laptop would, so I'm now a complete Apple convert (I finally gave up my Samsung smart phone just fairly recently too, switching to an iPhone!) Yay for working technology! And the craziest part? My little lipstick business paid for it!

Thanksgiving came and went in a pretty uneventful way this year. I'm not sure exactly what it is about this year, but everything has been feeling slightly "off" for me. Halloween didn't feel like fall or "Halloween" really to me. Thanksgiving didn't feel like Thanksgiving. And it certainly doesn't feel like it's almost Christmas time right now, even though I've been doing all kinds of shopping and whatnot for it. I don't have any decorations up in the house and I'm not even sure what we're going to do about a tree just yet with the baby and the curious toddler. Last year was hard enough just keeping Harper away from the tree (and by the time Christmas Day rolled around I'm pretty sure we had like 2 ornaments left on it). Now we've got a walking, climbing, 15 month old boy to add to the mix. A lit up tree with shiny, sharp ornaments and carefully wrapped, expensive presents probably isn't going to be easy to keep him away from! I've been toying around with the idea of a tree alternative, but who knows if I'll actually execute any of these ideas. Have you ever not done a Christmas tree before? Pinterest has some cute ideas, but I'm not sure I can get my family on board! Can we skip the whole tree part but still do Christmas?

This whole getting dark out at 4:30 thing is totally messing with me and I feel like I've been thrust into hibernation mode lately. We've been doing dinner earlier and earlier, which makes me want to go to bed earlier too. Like right now for instance- it's only 6:05pm and the kitchen is already completely clean from our finished dinner and the kids are fighting in their bedrooms while they "clean" and look for pajamas. 6:05 people, and mom already sent the kids to put on pajamas! The countdown to bedtime is officially on.

Oh, and I forgot. We got new family photos done, and I even ordered my Christmas cards already. Can you believe it? Look- we're all dressed are looking in the same direction! Here's one of my favorites...and yes, Josiah is eating Goldfish crackers, because teething babies are pretty uncooperative! More to come later.

On that note, I have to end this too-short life update because the laundry buzzer is calling, and if I restart it again that would only be about the 20th time I did that today. I need to cross something off my list. It's been one of those days.

The holiday essentials

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The holidays can be a crazy time for everyone. Between cooking, cleaning, shopping, planning, traveling, and everything else that comes along with this time of year, I'm looking for anything that will make my holiday plans easier. I want to be able to enjoy the time with my family, not stress myself out even more! That's why I'm doing pretty much everything I can online this year, including grabbing the essentials that you can't be caught without (especially on a day where the store is closed!) I'm having everything sent directly to my front door with free 2 day shipping from Walmart.

Yes, I'm talking about stocking up on things like toilet paper, paper towels, and tissues. If there's one thing you don't want to be caught without on Christmas Day when you've got a house full of guests, it's toilet paper. Trust me- we've been there. In fact, my family jokes about it now, and we always say "did you get the TP?" while doing our pre-holiday planning together. It's a little inside joke about a certain family member always having to run out and find somewhere that's open on Christmas, Thanksgiving, or New Years Day after we run out of toilet paper (and inevitably forget batteries for the new toys, too). I told myself then that it wouldn't happen again, and this year I'm avoiding it altogether by ordering all of my household essentials on I'm also saving a ton by stocking up and using these great Ibotta coupons and rebates.

Don't leave your guests hanging! I have 3 bathrooms to stock, so I grabbed a couple of these Cottonelle toilet paper packs (and used this Ibotta rebate!) I also stocked up on these cute little holiday themed Kleenex, because 'tis the season for germs and runny noses. I love how compact the little canisters are and they don't take up a lot of room on the bathroom counters, plus, they're so pretty. You better believe I have one in just about every room in the house! Use this Ibotta rebate for Kleenex. 

Ordering all of this stuff was easy. Walmart has all of the household essentials in one easy place to find everything you need to prepare for a house full of guests this holiday season. Once loaded in your cart you can select the free 2-day shipping (orders of $35+) or if you're short on time you can save some extra money and pickup at your local Walmart store. They actually give you a discount if you pick it up. Your order will be ready and waiting for you when you get there! How cool is that?

Make sure to check out all of these great Ibotta rebates before you get your house stocked up. Save some money and beat the holiday rush by avoiding the crowds and lines altogether- order it online, snag your free shipping, and enjoy your time spent with family this year! I'm much happier now knowing I'm not forgetting anything. 

Holiday appetizer with goat cheese + prosciutto

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

There's almost nothing I love more than sharing delicious food with some of my favorite people. It's one of the best parts of the holidays. Family, food, and friends. Whether it's at my house or theirs, as long as we have good food and good conversation I'm happy. I've been dying to share this yummy recipe and I'm definitely serving it the next time we're entertaining. 

Cheese is definitely a weakness for me. I love all kinds of cheese! On everything. Who doesn't like cheese? I would be so sad if I couldn't eat do you live without cheese in your life? Anyway, it's a great food to serve when you need a yummy appetizer to pair with some wine. I'm a big fan of cheese trays, cheese spreads, cheese on crackers, on bread, I said before, I love cheese! As I've gotten older I've branched out and experimented with all kinds of cheeses and my tastes have become a bit more refined. Goat cheese is one of my new favorites, and it's the centerpiece of this yummy appetizer I'm sharing. Here's the easy recipe:


4 oz goat cheese 
1 loaf of French bread, sliced
1 package thinly sliced prosciutto
olive oil
herbs, fresh or dried
salt & pepper 


Preheat oven to 350. Lightly brush slices of bread with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake them in the oven for about 3-5 minutes, just until bread is warmed and starting to get crispy on the edges. Remove from oven and let them cool slightly before handling. 

Once the toasted bread is cool enough, spread on a generous layer of goat cheese. Roll up the slices of prosciutto and slice them into thin pieces. I did the same thing with some fresh basil- roll it & slice it thinly, and then put some of the prosciutto and basil on top of the bread with goat cheese. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and give them a generous sprinkle of sea salt and fresh ground pepper. 

Arrange on a serving platter and garnish with fresh herbs. Serve with other meats, cheeses, crackers, and charcuterie. 

This recipe is so versatile and you can mix and match the goat cheese with all kinds of other savory or sweet flavors. You can also add whatever herbs and spices you'd like. I just used what I had on hand, but there are so many other ways to change up goat cheese.

Joan of Arc has been my favorite brand of goat cheese that I've tried so far. It's rich and creamy with a fresh, light, tangy taste. I found mine at my local Winco with the rest of the artisan cheese selections. You can find all kinds of appetizer recipes using goat cheese here for your next holiday get-together. I'm sure your friends and family will love whatever you're serving! 

Preparing for a new baby

Monday, November 6, 2017

Pregnancy. It can be one of the most special, joyful, exciting times in a woman's life as she takes a giant step towards motherhood (or adds more children to her growing family). It can also be a very nerve-wracking, stressful time, depending on your personality and how your pregnancy goes. It's a lot to prepare for! Having a plan and support is essential. Enfamil, the #1 pediatrician recommended formula brand, is here to help new moms and dads with their Enfamil Family Beginnings® program. 

I know a lot of moms go into their pregnancy with plans of breastfeeding, but let's face it, sometimes plans change, and that's OK. I experienced the need to supplement with formula for baby number four (something I've never had to do) and I was totally unprepared. Enfamil Family Beginnings® can guide you through all of the options available! Not only will you receive free formula samples from Enfamil, but you'll also get valuable coupons, special offers for your new baby, monthly emails, expert advice, and you'll be entered into the Free Formula For a Year Sweepstakes. *See full rules below

Signing up for Enfamil Family Beginnings® is easy. Just fill out this online form and your welcome kit will be on its way. Every mother's journey is different and the kit is tailored to you and your baby's needs, so everyone's will be slightly different. Mine came with a very generous tub of powdered formula, some premixed, ready to serve bottles of newborn formula (great for on the go), and some individual, pre-measured packets of powder formula as well. I also got some bottle nipples, a bunch of formula coupons, lots of offers, and a great little feeding guide that I enjoyed flipping through. Plus, I've got a chance to win the Free Formula For a Year Sweepstake. Wouldn't that be nice? By joining Enfamil Family Beginnings®, you're joining a community of parents looking for the same answers as you, and you're gaining access to a great wealth of knowledge from their experts. 

The opportunity to win free formula for a year ends on December 31st, 2017, so hurry now and join Enfamil Family Beginnings® before it's over! Official rules below. 

*NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Open to legal US residents 18 or older. Void where prohibited. Promotion ends on December 31, 2017. Odds of winning depend on the total number of eligible entries received. For full Official Rules, visit Sponsor: Mead Johnson & Co., LLC, 2400 West Lloyd Expressway, Evansville, IN 47721

An easy way to give back this holiday season

Friday, November 3, 2017

The holidays are quickly approaching, and soon enough everyone will be caught up in the hustle and bustle of finding the perfect gifts, hitting up the biggest sales, deciding what to wear to their office Christmas party, or making the perfect dinner for their family. Sure, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate during the holiday season, but wouldn't it be nice to give back this year? In a meaningful way?

The Children's Cancer Institute at Hackensack University Medical Center started an amazing program, Tackle Kids Cancer, to raise funds and awareness for pediatric cancer patients. 100% of the donations made to TKC benefit the essential clinical care, unique support services, and groundbreaking cancer research needed to find a cure. Did you know that only 4% of government cancer funding is directed towards pediatric cancer? Childhood cancer is the number one cause of death by disease in children! They need so much more than just 4%. Go read some of the stories on Tackle Kids Cancer and you will be moved to tears and want to do something!

Take Joshua, for example...a teenager who was diagnosed with a rare soft-tissue sarcoma back in 2015. He's a lover of science and co-founded the Robotics club at his high school. My 13 year old son is also a proud member of his own Robotics club at school, so I know how fun and important it is to the kids involved in the club. Josh's club was only in its second year of existence when they placed at the state championships and he was diagnosed. He describes the kindness of the nurses and specialists who worked with him during his chemo treatment, who all made sure he was still able to keep up with the robotics competition. Reading his story of cancer as a teen and his fear of missing out on "normal" life really hit me and I couldn't imagine my own precious 13 year old battling cancer and still wanting to just be a normal kid and attend his robotics competition. 

These stories truly touched my heart and really made me want to help in some way. It made me realize how incredibly lucky and blessed I am, and it really makes you realize that giving back is essential. These families are going through so much and need all of the support they can get. This holiday season my family will be showing our appreciation for our health and wellness by donating to Tackle Kids Cancer. Remember, 100% of all donations go directly to the cause, so the funds you give we be put to good use, no matter the size of your heartfelt donation.

Please, I urge you to read some of these stories and find it in your heart to give to Tackle Kids Cancer this holiday season! 

5 minute 5 product "no makeup" makeup look

Monday, October 16, 2017

It's been a while since I talked about makeup over here on my little ol blog, which is kind of crazy, because makeup is a huge part of my every day life now. Back in January when I started this whole LipSense thing, I had no idea really that there was actually an entire makeup and skincare line that came along with it. I was just super excited about this magical lipstick that I'd fallen in love with. The rest of the makeup and skincare? Sure, I'd check it out eventually & see what it was all about. If only I'd known back then what I know now...which is that this brand, SeneGence, would be life-changing and totally take my makeup game to a whole new level. 

First off- let me give you the quick rundown of SeneGence and why it's so freaking amazing. LipSense is just one product in their makeup line. It's their number one seller and for good reason- this lipstick has taken the world by storm and the rest of the line is just as amazing as the lipstick, I promise! What makes it so awesome? Let's's all long-wearing, water-resistant, vegan, cruelty-free (no animal testing or animal by-products), gluten-free, lead-free, wax-free, anti-aging, and is made in America! These are some huge key selling points here! We all know that LipSense basically stays on forever, right? But the foundations, eye shadows, liners, mascara, blush, etc...everything is made to last! Everything is either waterproof or water-resistant, which means it's not going to smear, run, smudge, or sweat off. When you apply it in the morning it's going to stay put and look just as good when you go to wash it all off at the end of the day. 

And on top of all of that, all of the SeneGence skincare and the cream based makeup products contain our potent anti-aging complex, SenePlex Complex. This incredible kinetic enzyme is kind of magical, and it's unique technology that is only found in SeneGence products- there's nothing else like it on the market. SenePlex Complex rushes new skin cells to the surface of your skin 23% faster than normal- a rate never before seen in the cosmetic and skincare industry! I mean, seriously, look at these statistics! When you're wearing SeneGence makeup you're also taking care of your skin at the same time...something you can't say about other makeup brands! I've completely switched to all SeneGence skincare and makeup and haven't looked back. My skin has never looked better  (plus I get everything 50% off, so that's pretty cool too. Let's chat if you want a wholesale account). 

So now that you've got the skinny on why SeneGence makeup is so amazing and why everyone in the world should be wearing it...let's talk about HOW to use it! I want to show you my quick and easy, 5 minute, 5 product makeup look without looking like you have a bunch of makeup on. You'll have gorgeous, flawless looking skin that glows from the inside out (because that SenePlex Complex is working on your skin while you're wearing it all day!) These are my top 5 must-have products for gorgeous, glowing skin and a quick and easy flawless face.

OK, so here's me, 100% makeup free. I took these photos at night, so the lack of natural light paired with my super bright ring light kind of makes my face really washed out and white when I was snapping these quick, in-progress photos. So excuse the bright lighting and ghostly skin tone:

Candlelight ShadowSense. SeneGence's cream-to-powder eye shadows are one of my favorite multi-tasking makeup products and they can be used for so much more than just eye shadow. After doing my skincare routine, I use this shade, Candlelight, first under my eyes to cover my dark circles, as a concealer for any blemishes or dark spots I have, and on my eye lids to even out any discoloration and veins on my lids. (I dot it right where I want it and blend it with my finger, or you can also use a brush with it- it's totally a personal preference! I use my fingers for certain things and then I use regular eye shadow brushes for others).  Sandstone Pearl is another great light, matte option for concealer too- it's a bit lighter & less peachy than Candlelight. ShadowSense has a primer built right in to it, so it stays right where you put it with no creasing. And again, it's loaded with SenePlex, so it's going to help ward off lines and wrinkles, moisturize your skin, and do all of that good SenePlex stuff to your skin while you're wearing it. If you're going to be using makeup on and around your eyes, it might as well be anti-aging, right?
Put a few dots of Candlelight where you want it & blend with fingers or brush!

This is me with just Candlelight around my eyes & to conceal blemishes.

Color Correcting Tinted Moisturizer. Next, I use a damp beauty blender and dot this creamy CC cream all over my face and quickly blend it into my skin. I know I just gushed about ShadowSense, and this product might be tied with it as my number 1 SeneGence makeup product. I love this CCTM! Since I've been using SeneGence skincare I just don't need the coverage of a foundation anymore and our tinted moisturizer is seriously perfect! It's sheer, lightweight, and magically adapts and blends in to your skin tone, all while counteracting any redness or discoloration in your skin with it's natural mint undertone (because green cancels out red). This product can actually take the place of your daytime moisturizer and has an SPF of 15 in it, and of course it's also full of SenePlex complex too, so it's got the skincare built right into it. If you wanted fuller coverage you could follow this up with a foundation too, but I find the color correcting tinted moisturizer to be just the perfect amount of coverage I need without looking like I have anything on. I wear light, and it also comes in medium (and there is a rumor that a deep shade is coming out soon, too). I cannot say enough about this stuff- every woman needs to try it! If you wear a moisturizer, try this. If you wear foundation, try this. Just try it & you'll love it!
Before Color Correcting Tinted Moisturizer

After CCTM

Moca Java ShadowSense. Another product that is multi-tasking! Not only is this a gorgeous, matte brown eye shadow color, but I also use it for my brows and some basic contouring as well. I use a small eye liner brush to lightly fill in my brows (for darker brows try our Garnet or Onyx ShadowSense, or a mixture of these colors). Again, this stuff stays where you put it, so your brows won't just wipe off or smear- ShadowSense is long-wearing and water-resistant. I also apply just a little bit of Moca Java to my eye lid crease with a fluffy shadow brush, just for a bit of natural looking contour and definition around my eyes to help "wake them up." Then I apply two very small dots of Moca Java right under my cheekbone and blend it with a medium sized fluffy brush to contour my cheeks, around my forehead, my jawline, and sometimes I use a small shadow brush to contour my nose ever so slightly. Moca Java, along with Candlelight, are two of my must-haves for my everyday makeup routine. So versatile and quick!
Moca Java ShadowSense on brows, in crease, & to contour.

Mulberry ShadowSense. Again, with the ShadowSense! This creamy, mauve-pink shadow color is gorgeous on your eyes, but can also be used as blush for your cheek color. I use just a little dot of this right on the apples of my cheeks and blend it with a small stipple brush until it's blended. Pink Posey ShadowSense is another great color that doubles as blush, so either one is great to have in your ShadowSense aresenal if you're looking for multi-tasking products (which has really helped me cut down on the amount of products in my makeup bag!)

LashSense mascara. LashSense is SeneGence's waterproof mascara, and it's the only waterproof mascara that I can use and recommend to people. My usual complaint is that waterproof is clumpy, thick, crumbles and leaves fallout under my eyes throughout the day, and rips my lashes out when I'm trying to take it off at the end of the day, but LashSense is nothing like that! It goes on thinly- I like to apply 2-3 layers of it if I want extra volume and length, allowing it to dry between each coat. For a quick and natural look, one coat is perfect for definition and for making your eyes pop. It doesn't budge either, and it never crumbles off or leaves flaky mascara pieces under my eyes like other brands. It also hasn't caused me to lose any lashes when I remove it either, which is amazing. I don't think I can go back to "regular" mascara now, because LashSense has been with me when I cry, sweat, or swim! 
With 1 coat of LashSense in black.

Finished off with a little Sand gloss to moisturize my lips!

That's it! These five products take me no more than 5 minutes to apply and I've got all of my bases covered- flawless looking skin, under eye circles gone, brows lightly filled in, a little color on my cheeks, and my lashes are on point. It's the perfect "no makeup" makeup look that makes you feel beautiful and confident without looking like you spent a bunch of time getting ready. If I wanted to change this up and look a bit more made up I might add some more ShadowSense eye shadow colors (we've got 21 colors available), eye liner (I use our black Onyx ShadowSense as liner), and some LipSense for a little extra color. I threw on just a little bit of Sand gloss to finish up this look and still keep it light and natural, plus our glosses are super moisturizing because they are full of shea butter and vitamin E (so toss the chapstick and switch to LipSense's gloss!) I have all of these products in stock and ready to ship. Everything comes with a 100% money back guarantee, so if you don't love it you an return it or exchange it for something else!

Here's the quick 5 minute before & after:

If you're interested in these products or want to learn more about SeneGence makeup and skincare (including LipSense!) I'd love if you'd head over to my Facebook group and join me! I update it daily with makeup looks, LipSense colors, specials I'm running, games, events, etc. It's the best place to stay up to date on all things SeneGence and you can watch all kinds of how-to's and live videos! I love interacting with my group so feel free to pop in and say hi or ask a question. You can also purchase products there. Just tag me and/or message me and I'm always down to talk about makeup or skincare with you!!! 

I'll be sharing more makeup looks and some of my favorite makeup and skincare products here on the blog too! 

Opening up about infant feeding

Friday, October 6, 2017

I loved breastfeeding. Is that a weird thing to say? As a mom of four who's nursed all four babies, I can honestly say that breastfeeding was one of my highlights with each baby and it's one of the things I looked forward to most after each subsequent birth. Maybe it was because it always just came easy to me. My milk came in quickly I had an abundant supply, I could switch back & forth from nursing to pumping with no issues, I always had a freezer stocked full of extra milk by the time my kids were all 3 months was one of the best feelings in the world! My body was doing exactly what it was intended for and I was feeding my baby liquid gold- the most nutritious, natural thing I could give them. I had plump, chubby, healthy babies at the top of the growth charts and I shrunk back down to my pre-pregnancy size in no time...with all four kids. Win win for everyone, right? 

With each pregnancy I knew I would be breastfeeding. I didn't even pause to think about it when asked at the OBGYN for my prenatal check ups. Of course I'd be nursing! Why wouldn't I? After the baby was born I always declined help from the lactation specialists. I've got this, I'd think. Each baby latched right on from day one and we never had any major issues after that (besides the occasional clogged milk duct). If only I'd known that baby number four would throw a wrench in my feeding plan. 

When Josiah 5 or 6 months old my milk supply plummeted. I had to break into my frozen milk stash in the freezer because he was becoming so impatient at my breast that he was having a hard time nursing. Once he got the  bottle of milk that was it- he didn't have the patience to nurse from that day forward. I quickly blew through the frozen milk and was pumping just an ounce or so at a time. I couldn't keep up. I was so distraught and depressed. My baby was going to starve because I couldn't make enough milk. My husband suggested getting some formula and I think I almost bit his head right off! Formula was not an option in my mind! But why was that? I had already tried everything to bring my supply back up nothing was working. I felt ashamed when I finally agreed to try some formula. All of the websites and forums I read said not to give up, and here I was doing just that.

I hate to admit, but I look back on my breastfeeding journey now and I realize how naive I was, and also how unknowingly judgmental I was towards formula feeding moms. I guess I always secretly thought they just weren't trying hard enough or something. I felt absolutely sick when I realized that I'd been silently thinking these kinds of things about my friends and was quietly judging them when I'd hear they had stopped nursing. But now the tables had been turned- I was the one struggling. I had tried everything I could! I really, truly did. I agonized over it, and literally put my blood, sweat, and tears into feeding my baby the best I could. I could now sympathize with all of those moms out there who chose to end their breastfeeding journey, for whatever their reason. All of my frustration, guilt, and shame melted away as soon as my baby boy drank that first bottle of formula. Josiah was happy, fed, and perfectly healthy, and I felt like a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders! The day he switched to formula was truly one of the happiest moments I'd had in a while. 
He just turned 1! Look at that milky grin :) 

Open conversations about infant feeding is so important. I look back on that very stressful time in our lives when I was struggling with the decision to continue breastfeeding or supplement with formula and wish I'd had more support. The Happy Family's Infant Feeding Resource Center offers new parents direct and free access to Cornell-Certified nutritionists and lactation consultants, the Happy Mama Milk Mentors, as well as educational materials on a variety of feeding topics. It's a great place to get support for your feeding decision and have all of your questions answered when it comes to feeding your baby. I'm definitely passing this on to all of my expectant mom friends! 

Happy Family is a brand I already know and trust because they make the Happy Baby Stage 2 Organic formula that I feed Josiah now. This is a great formula option for babies over 6 months old and supports their changing nutritional needs. It's modeled after breast milk too and includes premium, organic & Non-GMO ingredients so I can feel confident about what I'm feeding my baby boy. It also contains key vitamins and minerals found in breast milk, as well as DHA/ARA, Folic Acid, and a prebiotic mix to help support digestive health. 

Wherever your feeding journey takes you, know that I'm with you in solidarity! It's hard being a mama. We try to make all of the right choices, but really, whatever the choice you end up making- that IS the right choice for you and your family. Every baby is different, every pregnancy is different, and every feeding journey is different. I want every new mom out there to open up and reach out if you need support, and know that you are not alone in this. Happy Family has you covered with their free resource center and amazing line of organic formula for you and your baby, should you need them! 

My next kid-friendly vacation destination

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Vacations are something that don't seem to happen often enough in this household for many reasons. We've had a couple of crazy hectic years, what with adding two new babies to the family, and a family vacation wasn't really an option for the longest time. It's just been chaos, really. Now that the toddler is potty trained and the baby is walking, and both can tolerate longer car rides and do alright with overnight trips out of the house, a vacation might be doable in the near future. 

My older kids have been helping me brainstorm different destinations we'd like to visit, and ideas vary from California (where our extended family lives), to Japan (my son's idea), or Paris (my daughter loves the Eiffel Tower). I'd like to try somewhere we've never been, but that's within the continental US (because the idea of a long, international flight with a baby and toddler still seems daunting to me, and I hate to fly). We finally settled on the Southwest- it's relatively "close" to us, still being on the west coast, and it's a huge difference from where we live right now (a cold, wet, wooded landscape compared to a hot, dry, desert). This place seemed like the perfect spot! 

I've been to Arizona a couple of times when I was a kid and I've always wanted to go back. I do have some family that lives there, and my memory of visiting Arizona was mostly to soak up as much family time as we could with our loved ones (since we'd often go years in between visits). We didn't focus much on exploring the area itself. I'd love to take my husband and kids to Tucson because it has so much to offer for family entertainment and exploration. Here's just a few of the things I'd love to put on our family-friendly vacation itinerary:

Children's Museum Tucson. This is an interactive museum for kids of all ages and provides fun, play-based, hands-on learning experiences for children and families. It features over a dozen exhibits like a butterfly garden, an imaginarium art studio, a pet vet, an investigation station, techtopia, and more. The museum is open six days a week and admission is very affordable for the entire family, and you can check their calendar for discounted days and special classes they offer, so planning your trip is easy and so fun. 

Colossal Cave Mountain Park. Caves have always fascinated me and I know my kids would love this one, plus it's a great way to beat the heat in Arizona (since the cave is always a cool 70 degrees). This 2400 acre park features crystal-filled Colossal Cave and the historic La Posta Quemada Ranch and offers fun stuff like guided cave tours, trail rides, camping, and picnicking. The guided cave tour itself is only a half mile long and takes about 40-50 minutes, so very doable for groups with kids. I know my kids would love to walk around and explore all of the stalactites and stalagmites in the caverns. 

Reid Park Zoo. My kids are huge animal lovers, so they would absolutely love visiting the Reid Park Zoo. Visitors can explore naturalistic habitats housing exotic animals from around the world, including up-close views of tigers, lions, grizzly bears, anteater, & more. When planning your trip, make sure to check out their calendar for special events, feeding schedules, and special activities for kids. They even do birthday parties and special events, so if you're traveling a celebrating something wouldn't this be a fun treat? 

Funtasticks Family Fun Park. My kids would absolutely love to go to this one-stop adventure destination! It's got Tucson's largest indoor laser tag arena (my older two recently played for the first time and are dying to go again), miniature golf, go-karts, bumper boats, Kiddie Land, arcade, and batting cages. This would be a fun "break" from some of the tourist-y stuff you might be doing on your Tucson visit and a way for the kids to burn off some energy. 

The Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food. While researching things to do in Tucson, I knew one of my favorite things to experience would be the food. I absolutely love Mexican food and I had a pretty good idea that Tucson would have some great places to eat. But then I heard about this:
What is The Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food? It’s an adventure of incredible food and a wide array of dining options, from fine to funky. It’s a line drawn in the sand of the Sonoran desert: you won’t find better Mexican food anywhere north of the border. We’re happy to try out the competitors, but we stand by the claim. If you love Mexican food and you haven’t eaten in Tucson, you haven’t tasted the whole story. 

Apparently Tucson is the best place to get authentic Mexican food north of the border! I can't wait to try a fresh, handmade corn tortilla, tacos, pico de gallo, carne esada, guacamole, and basically everything on the menu at every restaurant in Tucson. I'm going to stuff myself as much as I can when I visit. 

Visiting Tucson is definitely on my family's vacation bucket list. If you've ever been before I'd love some inside tips on what to see, where to go, and most importantly what to eat! I'd even love to try to sneak away on a little date with the husband, so let me know if you're up for babysitting ;) Learn more about visiting Tuscon here. Tell me what you'd love to do if you were to visit!  

A big thank you to Visit Tucson for sponsoring this post! And thank you to all of my readers for supporting the partners that make this little blog possible.
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