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11 Gifts that Give Back

(I recieved some of these products for free to share with my followers. I would never share a product that I didn’t have an actual love for!)

The holidays are here and I don’t know about you but I am feeling the Christmas joy! Some of you may be trying to wait until Thanksgiving comes and goes for your holiday shopping to begin, but with six children and 10 siblings to buy for, we always start our holiday shopping for gifts early.

Much to the chagrin of my mother, we do a very simple Christmas when it comes to material gifts. I love gifts that include time, thought, and helping my children understand the real point of this glorious holiday-to live and give in Jesus’ name.

As we approached this holiday season, I found my heart really pulling me to try and highlight small, local businesses and businesses that give back to those in need. We use Christmas as a time to really nail in the reminder of what we teach our children year round-give, give, give until you cannot give anymore. The best way to show our children that is through our actions!

The best gifts are the gifts that give back!

I put together a list here for you of businesses that give back to various charities or that exist only to give back to or world. It includes a few different kinds of gifts, organizations, and can work for someone on your list! While you’re buying gifts for those you love anyway, why not give?

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Collectively Caitlin

Are you am inspiring small business owner? Or do you know a someone who is an entrepreneur? Caitlin is an awesome business assistant who is currently giving 20% of any one-on-one packages booked in November and December to Reece’s Rainbow and Show Hope I asked Caitlin why she chose these specific charities and she shared with me that her parents used Show Hope for their adoption and someday there’s a possibility of adopting a child with special needs in their future, so she chose Reece’s Rainbow, which helps children with Down’s Syndrome be placed with their forever families. A beautiful woman after my own heart!

SisterGood

Self care is a huge thing right?! This company allows you to order a bunch of self care things, including an awesome “giving box” and two dollars of every order goes towards providing a box of self care materials for a recent survivor of sexual abuse or assault. YES PLEASE.

The Life Inbetween

I’ve been following Tawni for awhile on Instagram and she recently reopened her print store! This print store helps her and her family to live as missionaries in Vienna…and they’re super cute! Know someone who loves inspiration or crafting? This is a great place to get some of those things

Faucet Face

Guys I found this site while browsing around and I am in LOVE with what they do. My pastor visited India at one point and since then has been huge on educating us on the clean water crisis. This program gives back 2.5% of their profits from their adorable glass water bottles to help provide water and even more importantly filters to create clean water! I also love that they focus on some of the health benefits of glass water bottles!

Damn Handsome Grooming

The entire website Damn Handsome Grooming is on (Society B) is about giving back and doing good. This one stood out to me however, because in my searches I found a lot more options for female/children’s gifts than ones for men. Behold-Damn Handsome Grooming! Of course this beard loving wife found one that has products for her bearded man. This company gives back a bar of soap a child in need of hygienic help for ever purchase made. Joshua may or may not be getting something from this shop for Christmas!

Hands Producing Hope

Hands Producing Hope was suggested to me by a fellow blogger and man am I glad she did! The products are handmade, with local resources, and help to train those in poverty ridden areas a trade. The jewelry made is gorgeous. They also have a super cute handmade veggie set…just a suggestion if you’re looking for my kids!

Life is Good

Did you know the Life is Good company is actually really good?! I just learned recently that they have a program called Playmakers Initiative Kids Foundation, a program that helps train adults that work with our most vulnerable youth-ones who are healing from the impact of childhood trauma. If you know anything about me and this blog, you know how intensely our life is touched by the lasting impact of childhood trauma every day. This is such an amazing foundation! Plus, who doesn’t love a little positivity? I love my “Life is Good” shirt!

Support in Breastfeeding: Stories of Nourishing Wisdom

Are you a mom or a to be mom? Does someone you love look forward to breastfeeding in the near future? A blogging friend of mine, Maranda, has written a book Support in Breastfeeding: Stories of Nourishing Wisdom, a book about breastfeeding and supporting others through it! She’s got stories, support, and love for all breastfeeding stories in this book—even adoption breastfeeding! The sales of this book are giving a portion to Owens Milk Money, an organization created to help mothers receive nursing products, in honor of their sweet boy Owen, who loved breastfeeding and they sadly lost as an infant. I’m not sure if I made the stories cut, but I totally submitted a story!

Ames and Oats

This website gives 10% of their sales to Pencils of Progress. Pencils of Progress helps to build schools and educate teachers in impoverished areas. This site has some amazing gifts that can be found by category, price range, and occasion! This is another great place to check out for the men in your life-they have an adorable “Drink Local” Pint glass!

cuddle + kind

cuddle + kind is a family run business that makes ethically produced hand knit dolls. For every doll they sell, they give ten meals to a child in need. The dolls are adorable and my amazing friend Laina can attest for the wonderful quality of these!

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J.C. Pets!

This company right here is actually what inspired me to do this list! One day while browsing on Instagram, I checked out J.C. Pets and was in love with their message right away. They’re a Christian run, American based, ethically created company that makes these adorable little angel plushes. I fell in love right away because they had a Lily lamb and a little secret? Lily is The Princess’ real name! They actually ended up contacting me and I was blessed enough to get sent their four little angels!

A portion of their income goes to Children’s Villages USA, which works with displaced and vulnerable children. They also have their “Share His Love” program, where you can buy these angels and send them to children who are in vulnerable positions, both in hospitals and children’s homes. J.C. Pets works with all kinds of programs that help foster and adoptive children and as you know-that’s my softest place in my heart! Within the “Share His Love” program, you are able to write notes of encouragement and love-something that could change the lives of a child in need.

Plus? These lions and lambs are absolutely adorable! As I said, we got four of them and Bear has stolen two as his own! Princess is in love with her lamb and if you follow my Instagram at all, you know Monkey has renamed his Liam after himself…he wasn’t sure why Princess had one that shared her name with her and he didn’t! They’re durable, soft, (if you follow my Snapchat, you witnessed my total surprise and love for the lions mane!) and with a great mission like Axel and Joseph are doing? Sign me up for more!

Do you guys know of any companies that give back when you buy from them?!

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To The Mama Loving a Child Afraid of Love

To the Mama Loving a Child Afraid of Love,

You stop it. You stop it right now. I see you sitting in the background near tears, knowing that showing the weakness of tears would only reassure the child that they are winning this time. Knowing that hurting you is the goal, so you can’t show that weakness.

You stop that thought right now. You’re wondering if you’re a good mother. You’re wondering if you are a good enough mother. You’re sitting there, beating yourself up over how terrible you are, how your child would be loved and taken better care of anywhere else. You don’t think you can do this one more night.

You might have bruises right now; your child might. The walls have been kicked, the floor has been kicked, your face has been kicked. It’s not the first time you’ve had things thrown at you, their body has been rammed into yours, your night has come to a screeching halt. This isn’t the first time what you thought was a good day was trashed because the tiniest little incident. This isn’t the first time you had plans for fun or rewarding things and they decided to throw a wrench into to it. It probably won’t be the last time either.

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They’re screaming that they hate you and in the same breath begging you to love them. They’re breaking their most prized possessions and with the same hands reaching out, asking for you to give them more. You’re feeling hated, you’re feeling worthless, you’re feeling like a failure.

Don’t do it. Don’t you dare entertain those thoughts for a moment.

Mama, you are not the worst mother. You are not a failure. You are hanging on by the grace of God and holding to His promises right now. This parenting time may be that time when you can’t do all-but you have to rely on the only One who can. It may be a day when you have to set it all before your Father’s feet and give it all up to Him.

I know those days so well, sweet mama. I truly do. The days when your sitting next to a door, listening to your sweet child sobbing, knowing that going in and comforting them will take away any progress the past hour has made. I know the prayers you’re praying, desperate and broken.

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You are not a failure mama. You are fighting a big demon; one that is exhausting, one that tears apart souls, one that doesn’t believe anything is winning. But you’re not fighting it alone. You have the Rock and Redeemer of this world on your side.

Right now, in the middle of it all, I want you to remember that. Jesus is fighting with you. He has you and your child in His hands. I know too well that today is a fight; I was in that fight just a few hours ago. And I want you to remember that in the midst of this storm, you have the One who calmed the storm with his voice alone, telling your soul to Be Still. Be Still, my friend. This moment will pass I promise.

And you are a good mother through this moment. You are loving a child who doesn’t want your love, but so craves your love-a child who rebels against it and at the same time begs for it. This will not be the last argument, meltdown, or fight. It’s the hard and sad truth. But you are a mother who is relying on the Father to love His child whole heartedly. You are amazing. You are strong. You are worthy and you are not failing.

Rinse and repeat that.

Love,

a mama who gets it.

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Helping Your Anxious Child (And Friends!) Through Hard Seasons

As the new year begins, we have been dealing with high emotions-again! My daughter has some anxiety-I’ve talked about that before. One way it really affects her is during transitional periods and on special occasions(think holidays and birthdays.) I call these her “trigger filled” days; or days and weeks that everything and anything can trigger a meltdown and fit the size of Massachusetts.

As I know many foster and adoptive parents out there deal with this, or possibly biological parents who are raising children with anxiety, I wanted to share some of the things we do to help her through these seasons. As an adult with PTSD, a lot of these are things I use on myself as well; traumatized brains are the same over a large age gap, ya know?

I am so not a licensed therapist or doctor and please don’t think we have it all figured out-because we don’t. But I have been living this life in my brain for almost ten years and I will continue to mom it for another…well forever!

Here are some of the ways we try to make the hard seasons better.

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Avoidance and Distraction. During the two weeks that the school year ends and begins, the week surround Christmas and her birthday, I put on my kiddy gloves with Princess. We don’t let her get away with things necessarily, but I do take notice to approach it less intensely if something does come up. During those times, something as small as saying “It’s bed time” in the wrong way can trigger a full fledged meltdown. The battles are loud and exhausting; so I try my best to avoid them. If it’s something small, like she wants to take her shower after Monkey, I let it happen. Giving small allowances can change her entire day and in turn change the entire families day. I also use a lot more distractions during these times. It’s the time of year where I may stop her from getting emotional or distraught by offering a treat or a family hike or movie. I am one of those people who loves to let their child work through their emotions on their own…but triggering seasons are one of the times to not do that.

Preparation and Discussion(And possibly prayer). Oh man, this is life changing, y’all! We do this especially for Princess when it comes to changes in her life(moves, school year starting, camp, etc). For weeks before school starts, you will hear us talking about the fact that it’s coming; that life is changing in a few weeks. We discuss every part of it-how she will get there, what will happen after school, the basic schedule. If you know me you know I hate schedules. A lot. To the point where I dislike doing extra curricular activities because it makes me follow one. Instead of a schedule though, we go over the simple routine our lives will take most days. That way, she knows it’s coming when it does. W discuss how holidays will be spent(this helps with my Monkey’s special needs with structure as well!) and what our plans are for birthdays. And we pray. Princess has a beautiful little heart for Jesus and we spend time praying before days and changes, that it goes well and things work out. We also try to keep that door open, so if any feelings during the season come up, we can pray with her and Jesus then too.

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Acceptance. Here’s the thing-this might be something that is always hard on her. The beginning and end of the school year mostly because of her anxiety over not having a schedule and changing her days around. We hope that will get easier as time goes on. But the end of the school year is also very close to their placement day, which will always be a memory to her. Holidays are joyous and beautiful; but as an adopted child who knows her biological parents are out there, she may always deal with missing them on those days. Part of dealing with her anxiety and these seasons is accepting they are there and they may always be there. I want Christmas to be wonderful and beautiful and make it through the week without being told that she hates me…but right now, her big emotions in that little body of hers are still healing from the life before and comprehending this thing called life after. We as parents have to accept that. As she gets older, I will encourage her to find the good in these transition and holiday times. I will also continue to put in place guidelines that she should follow so it’s not a hard season on everyone. But I can’t take away her emotions, trauma or anxiety surrounding these times-I know, I’ve tried to do it with my own mental health stuff.

When it comes to children who are traumatized or struggle with anxiety, some times, days and seasons will be harder than others. Parents out there-remember this isn’t forever. Hold your babes through it and care for yourself as well! Plan some extra loving with friends, take an hour for yourself, give yourself grace for the times you don’t do it “perfectly”.

And for your friends, you can do these three things and help them as well! Offer them distractions when you know things are going to be hard-movies, dinners out, drinks on you. Discuss it if they need to-and pray for them and with them. Accept they will have these rough times and give them extra loving. As a woman who deals with PTSD and anxiety, I have so much respect and love for people who do those things for me through my hard seasons.

What would help you through your rough times?

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Tot Learning: Colors

Hey y’all! As most of you know, our school year started back up about two weeks ago and with it, I began Tot School-out homeschool system for the little kids! While the big kids are in school, I have a “lesson” plan of sorts, following Bug’s lead for what we learn about.

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Our first week of Tot School was last week and we started off with colors! I want to share our simple, yet effective ways of helping my toddler learn his colors. This week I had six lesson ideas down and we managed to finish 4 of them! Bug still struggles with his colors a bit, so these will be ongoing lessons, but he is doing much better than he was a week ago! And the added bonus? Even without retention, he had activities to do that kept his mind busy and his body still for a moment-a plus for him and a plus for his mama. (You can decide which is the plus for which!) I’m a big fan of anything that incorporates sensory exploration, as well. And if you can do it for cheap or near free? Perfection!

Now, for the juicy details you’re actually here for; what did we do?!

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The first thing I introduced to him was a book to read and use to begin to really point out the colors. The book we used was “My Box of Color” by Lorianne Siomades. I’m not sure if this is out anymore, as it’s one that my husband had, but if it is I truly recommend it! It’s a fun little book that goes through the colors of different things kids would know about. Bug and I read it through and I would point out what color each picture was.

For a sensory and practice in recognition of colors, I cut up a bunch of foam triangles to sort out. This can also be used in the future if you decide to do a lesson on shapes(that’s actually coming in the next month!). Th foam gives him a chance to bend and play with them. If you’re like me and have even younger ones hanging around, make sure the toddler doesn’t try and feed the foam shapes to the baby.

We wanted to incorporate some movement, because he is a two year old, so I created a scavenger hunt for colors. I got simple brown bags and painted a dot of each color on a bag. Then off we went! I walked around with the house with him and also allowed him to find things for each color bag. I encouraged him to say each color out loud as he put them into the bags.

Our final activity was to paint our own rainbows. I drew out a rough rainbow on white paper and wrote the color in a gel pen of that color in each stripe. This art craft may be a better choice for an older child. Bug enjoyed finger painting, but his rainbow definitely didn’t stay the right colors-it pretty much ended up completely brown rainbow. But hey, sensory play with finger paints is totally not a negative!

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(As you can see, didn’t work well!)

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(Concentrating so hard)

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(The aftermath…)

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(Our little cheering section!)

Stay tuned for our updates in tot learning on here and on Instagram with the hashtag #bellowshomeschool2016! It probably won’t be a weekly blog update but I will be sharing our successful weeks.

 

What do you do with your toddlers to teach colors?

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A Birthday and 9 Traditions to Try!

 

Hey y’all! I don’t know if you’ve noticed it’s been a bit quiet over here on the blog and especially on my Instagram. That’s because I am currently without a cellphone and my camera had been down as well! I’ve been taking a bit of a break while doing some branding finalization thoughts as well as losing a pretty essential parts of my blogging life. I’ve also been updating and changing up some older posts! Stay tuned for all of this!

I however did want to jump on today to share and celebrate my little lady’s birthday! The Princess turns 8 today…8! I can hardly believe I’m the mama to an 8 year old. I feel so very old.

My Princess is by far the most challenging child I parent, but she’s also the sweetest soul around. Her heart sings with joy for the Lord, she loves to read her bible and share His love. She’s fiercely intelligent and she loves people. I am so proud of who she is becoming-this is the third birthday we’ve celebrated as a family for her and every year I’m astonished to see how much she has changed and grown.

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Birthdays are such a big deal nowadays for kids. We see all the Pinterest ideas for parties and first birthday craziness around and it’s easy to get lost into the intensity that parties have become. I don’t know about you, but with six kids, 6 siblings and some pretty crazy schedules, it’s far too much to do over the top birthday parties for each of our kids. Instead, we’ve opted to go along with a smaller family party for them and then some fun birthday traditions. I recommend this; it makes birthdays more personal and less insane.

Some ideas for fun birthday traditions to do or start?

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  1. Special birthday breakfast or dinner. We opt to do a special dinner-we make what their favorite food is! For Doodle, we had corned beef and cabbage and Princess wants pancakes!
  2. Decorate the bedroom. I’ve never done this but you can see a bunch of ideas for this on Pinterest!
  3. Special dinners out. We discussed doing this but with Josh working it wasn’t going to happen.
  4. Movie of their choice. Let them pick the treat, the movie, and then enjoy as a family!
  5. Pick their own presents. I think this is such a great idea! I have yet to do it but you can’t go wrong.
  6. Birthday Praises. I just came up with this idea actually, and I can’t wait to start it! Each child has a notebook and you write the year on it and have people write comments or messages of love on it each year. I can not wait to start this up! It goes right along with my love language.
  7. Their own birthday notes. Have them(or help them) write their own birthday cards for themselves to open on their next birthday! We are also starting this one this birthday!
  8. Give back with them. In honor of their birthday(and probably new clothes/toys if your family is like ours) go through older clothes to donate. Or talk about donating money they may receive to charities that are important with them and why that specific charity is important.
  9. Have a special prayer you share with them. My great grandma, GG, prayed a special prayer over us every year. My mom posted it on Facebook a year or so back, and I’ve shared it with them on their birthdays since. It means so much to us since it’s a family thing.

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What do your families do for birthdays?! Any special traditions?

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5 Quick Hiking With Kids Tips

Five Quick Hiking With Kids Tips!

Hey, hey, hey! August is here, full swing, and I am praying for an easier month than the last few weeks of July. Our current situation is totally a laid back end of summer….but I have so many more things left to do on our summer goals list! We have a few fun Fridays picked out and I want to desperately go on a nice little day trip to the ocean still.

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(A half way smile from the 13 year old?! No way!)

While the summer is still going, and since you can hike well into fall here, I thought I would share with you five quick tricks I use to make hiking easier on this mama. Whether you’re a fellow mom to many, a daddy, or a babysitter, these tricks are fast ways to make hiking easier and in turn more fun for mama. Because we all know-if mama isn’t happy, nobody is happy.

  1. Use small bags, like these Ipsy make up bags, for packing snacks! I started Ipsy about two months ago and so far I’ve loved the actual make up sent. I’ve also really loved the bags, but I quickly realized I wasn’t going to be using them all for make-up; I have a large make-up bag and while these ones were super cute, I don’t travel often and wouldn’t have a use for them in that sense. I thought about giving them to the kids, but they are so cute, I didn’t want to send them to that abyss(though I did hand off this graffiti one to Doodle for a pencil bag!) I found out the bags are actually the perfect size to carry a few snacks while hiking! They’re essentially weightless unlike the containers, but they are not wasteful, unlike the regular plastic bags! If you have any extras hanging around, wash them out and use them to hold snacks in.
  2. Make the kids carry their own things. I can already feel a few judgey eyes, but hear me out. I have five kids. When we go hiking, they each have their own water bottle. I don’t think asking them to carry that bottle is that bad, especially when I’m also carrying my 20 pound 4 month old! Plus, they love the chance to carry their own things. Monkey begs me to carry the regular bag, despite it possibly weighing as much as him.
  3. Sunscreen needs to reapplied every few hours. You may roll your eyes at me, but I know far too many people who don’t. This isn’t a parenting tip, it’s a safety tip. Bring that with you! Also a safety tip? Have an emergency box set and bring it with you. Even just a band-aid can take away a half hour of crying, because it comforts your babe who just fell.
  4. Know where you’re going or at least have an idea of how hard it is. My kids are seasoned hikers by now. We’ve hiked plenty of miles this summer. I write the posts on what the trails are like for each age because I want people to see what they are like and how hard they are or are not. It’s dangerous to start a trail with kids and have no idea what you’re in for. I try not to take the kids on hikes places where I haven’t been or the oldest hasn’t been!
  5. Have hair pieces! (If you have children with longer hair, or you have it yourself!) I swear by these so much, I may or may not keep five in my emergency pack at all times. If you’ve seen Spy Kids, you know, an elastic is the most important spy gear!

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(What I see during hikes. Man, I love his face.)

And a bonus tip? Always have your cell phone charged! As an amateur mom-tographer I love to take photos of my kids and the scenery on these hikes. But honestly, it’s a pain to lug my nice camera out there. It adds to my list of things to carry, there’s no waterproof or fall proof container for my 600$ DSLR. My phone is a fair trade off to capture these moments. And emergencies. I know I harp on this a lot, but as a mom of 6, I’ve had our fair share of emergencies. It’s so important to always be prepared.

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Any other hikers out there? What tips and tricks do you have? I’m always looking for more!

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Four Ways To Cover Without a Nursing Cover

Breastfeeding is a wonderful journey to take, no matter how it looks when you take it. For some mamas, it looks like exclusive breast until a year. Others mix in bottles here and there, of formula or breast milk. Some exclusively pump; others nurse until their baby’s stop. Some go for years…others only breast feed a month.

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Whatever steps a person takes on their nursing journey, I support. Personally, I’ve always been about breastfeeding until my kids are done(which is why I’m still nursing my two year old!) and nursing pretty openly. As a mother, I’ve never felt the need to use a nursing cover.

I, however, have had moments when I am nursing among people I know are less comfortable about simply “flopping” it out and I’ve had to nurse around people I personally feel more comfortable covering in front of. To me, that’s what breastfeeding is all about-feeling comfortable whichever way you choose to nurse.

In my time nursing two little ones, I’ve found three great ways to cover without actually going out of my way to buy a nursing cover. These three ways are things you have right in your arsenal, all the time!

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Double Shirt-ing It!

I use this technique all the time now, even if I probably won’t be nursing out in public. It’s as simple as it sounds; wear an extra shirt underneath the shirt you’re wearing for an outfit. You just pull the top shirt up, lower the underneath just enough to latch, and voila! You can nurse without showing off almost any skin.

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An Infinity Scarf!

I love to use infinity scarves to cover up my chest in shirts I’m not completely comfortable in and when nursing, it’s no exception. I prefer infinity scarves because they won’t fall off as the baby moves around. Scarves that aren’t connected fall off much easier than the ones that are. These are also stylish and popular nowadays, so wearing one is totally in the normal look. This is my preferred way to cover when we need to dress up for things such as church events or extended family dinners.

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A Simple Baby Blanket!

Now, we all have these on us. If you’re like me, you usually carry more than one on you. These provide very little cover, but totally work in a pinch. Plus it’s something you almost always have, so it’s an option in any moment of desperation. Even more desperate, but works? A burp cloth, laid right over the side you’re nursing on. It’s not perfect, but it works!

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And my bonus? Nurse the baby in your wrap! I love to nursing Bear in my Moby and Bug in the Mei Tei; I’m actually breastfeeding Bear as I write this! It gets more conducive once the baby can latch on completely on his own, but it’s a great way to nurse hand free and cover up as you’re nursing. I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of nursing Bear in our mei tei, but I’ve heard of people nursing in every wrap and carrier out there, so it’s an option. This is one I highly recommend practicing at home before trying to do it hands free out in the real world, because it is something that takes a bit of practice and can be tricky the first few times.

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(Completely hands free!)

Remember mamas, you feed your baby the best way for you! If that means pumping and giving bottles in public, do that. If you’re totally okay with nursing without any cover, anywhere? You are totally allowed to do that! And if you want to cover, here are four ways to cover when nursing when you don’t have a cover.

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Five For Friday: An Update!

Hey all! It’s been a crazy three weeks since Bear joined our clan and as spring starts back up, I figured it’s time to give you all a little update again. I usually only do these once a month or every other month, but this time around, I think I should try to give you a second update in April! So, five things to be updated on in the past few weeks:

1. Life with a new born is 100% more exhausting this time around. 

Bear is a much harder baby than Bug was. I’m trying not to compare them, but it’s impossible not to acknowledge how different they are. Bug was a great sleeper, he was totally okay with being put down. Bear wants to be held all the time. I’m not exaggerating, it’s all the time. He’s lucky he’s so darn cute, or else I may be less happy. He also nurses great and is mostly docile, minus the screams when I dare to not hold him. His siblings adore him though, and I’m still smitten…even with how exhausted I am.

You can catch his birth story here!

_MG_3588Picture by Heidi Shartrand at Nothing Fades Photography! Facebook// Instagram

2. I got the okay to start exercising again and I am so pumped!

One of my long term goals is to be able to lift well and run quick. While I try not to focus too much on weight and numbers, I do have the goal to run a mile under 10 minutes by the end of the year. My dad’s offered to help me lift correctly and in the best way to healthily build muscle mass and I’m excited to begin both these endeavors. I can’t start real lifting for another few weeks, but as long as I feel okay with it, I can walk as much as I want and start some easy arm exercises. I’m considering writing something about how I let my body heal after a cesarean, since this is the second time I’ve been told I’m a great patient and heal quicker than anyone else knows.

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You can follow my Instagram to see the exercise and healthy moving and eats more often!

3. I’ve been leaning on my village a lot more and it’s been such a blessing to have them. 

Not everyone is as blessed as we are when it comes to family and friends having our backs and being this supportive. The past few weeks have been rough, yes, but we’ve been able to lean on each other in the busyness and craziness of this new life. My parents have sent us a ton of frozen meals, my mother in law is hoping to take Bug for a day this next week so I an do that crazy “sleep when the baby sleeps” thing, my sisters have been stopping by to hang out and our church has been there every step of the way. And I am so thankful for them. I’m especially thankful for our church group and the friends in there who have reached out with all the emotional support and prayers too. We’re all fine; it’s just exhausting! And this mama does not do well with very little sleep.

4. I’ve been jumping back on the blogging bandwagon. 

I’ve missed writing so very much the past two weeks. I had no time and very little chance to. This past week I’ve found my own time to write and brainstorm for the blog. I’m not sure if it will be back to the regular again any time soon, but I’ve been writing and that’s good enough for me for now. I’ve also managed to practice somewhat with our camera, which is an area of blogging I’ve been meaning to get much better at! After all, now I have the perfect subject to practice on.

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5. Speaking of perfect subjects, Josh and I are super proud of Doodle right now.

Not only has Doodle stepped up to help out around the house with this new baby, but she’s become so involved in things she enjoys and it makes us so happy to see. She’s been taking part in Minor’s Combat at Miner Combat, which is a boxing class for her age group. She’s also super involved in our youth group right now and is going to spend her April vacation on a mission trip with them. Recently she told us she wants to be baptized; which is a huge thing to hear! Doodle has been an amazing older sister lately.

That’s pretty much all that’s happening here! We’re sort of boring, despite being exhausted.

What have you all been up to?

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june-july 2016

10 Fast and Easy Nursing Snacks

Eating is superbly important while pregnant, but after pregnancy ends, it’s just as important for breastfeeding mamas to keep their bodies nourished and fed. While honestly, anything is better, I wanted to focus on moving right into healthier eating after having Bear. I let my diet become pretty salt and sugar heavy towards the end of pregnancy and I didn’t want to continue that after.june-july 2016

Getting healthy snacks together while attached to a nursling is much harder than opening up a candy bar or heating up a package of ramen noodles. While I have my love for ramen, it’s not the healthiest food out there to snack on.

After talking about it a lot with other first time nursing mamas, I realized eating and snacking were things that are hard for most of us. I thought showing some of my go to snacks and how to get them prepared or ready, even when you have a child attached to you for what feels like all the time.

A few of my healthy go to snacks and tips:

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  1. Boiled Eggs. I boil a bunch ahead of time and then peel them all at one time when I have a few minutes to do it. Pro-tip? Roll your egg and then peel it under cold water. Makes the peeling easy and quicker!
  2. Fruit. Some of my favorites are blueberries, apples, blackberries and peaches. Fruits that need no time or hands to prep are the best. I also like to take some time to cut up and peel different fruits that aren’t so easy. I’ve also mastered the act of one handed peeling clementines. Plus, it a helpful option to buy the already cut up one!
  3. Smoothies. Smoothies are kind of perfect, minus how loud they can be to make. I use frozen fruit and almond milk, so I don’t have to prep any fruits for it. Plus it’s all kinds of healthy. Pro-tip? Add in Chia seeds or healthy greens for an extra boost.
  4. Yogurt. Yogurt is such a delicious snack. It’s a healthy and easy snack food. It’s also so easy to eat at any time.
  5. Nut and dried fruits. These come directly from a bag, which is one of the things I aim to avoid, but they’re an easy and quick snack that also carries so many health benefits. I like to mix my nuts and dried fruits together and add in a few chocolate chips…maybe not the healthiest, but sure as heck yummy.
  6. Popcorn. This is not healthy, and that’s okay with me. A bag of popcorn is a great treat and one I have whenever I get the chance. If you throw on some ranch seasoning, parmesean cheese, some chocolate chip cookies added in; the flavors change completely.
  7. Vegetables and Hummus. I prefer to make my own homemade hummus, but for time and mommy purposes, I chose to buy some. I cut up a bunch of veggies ahead of time and keep them on hand. Another tip? Baby carrots are the bomb.
  8. Crackers and cheese. I love cracker and cheese. Cheese is a great boost of calcium and protein. Pro-tip? Buy some of the cheese that’s cut ahead of time! It make it so much easier. You can always put the crackers int the hummus too!
  9. Pretzels. Such a delicious snack food, one of my absolute favorites. This is another one you can dip into hummus.
  10. Peanut butter covered frozen bananas. This is an AMAZING snack. My kids love it too. It’s pretty simple, you cut up the bananas, melt down some peanut butter, dip them in and put it onto a cooking sheet. Freeze it and keep in the freezer! Your kids will love these snacks and you can totally pass them off as dessert if you add chocolate shots to them. High protein from both the peanut butter and bananas; you can always switch out the peanut butter for another nut butter!

Other mamas out there? What are your go to nursing snacks?

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Emergency Car Pack

Emergency Car Box

At my baby shower for Bug, we got an amazing present-an emergency kit for our car! Since then, it has become a bit depleted, so I refilled it today in order to share with all you mamas and dad’s out there what I pack in our emergency car pack! We also have blankets, bottled water, etc in the car, but this is our mini on the go emergency thing that has come in handy quite a few times with kids and sports!

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I’ve been called on a few times for various issues with other mothers on the playground and it’s great to have the ability to help out my fellow parents!

Here is a check list for y’all if you want to pack an emergency box like mine!

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Obviously, if you have anything else you think you will need or anything you won’t need at all, add or subtract it from the list! I have a few more medicinal things in there because we have had a couple issues while on playgrounds that needed gauze right away-the pleasure of raising boys? If you don’t have longer hair or you are a male making this for your car, the pads and hair things are unnecessary. I personally always keep gloves and a mouth guard in mine because I am trained at CPR and want that safety addition if I ever need to perform it.

Even if you’re not a parent, it can be good to have these things on hand!

Do you have an emergency pack for your cars?

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