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Left Photo

Middle Photo

Middle Photo

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Right Photo

Friday, February 28, 2014

Moments of the Week | Instagram


My mom is in town so I'm not posting today, but you can bet we're making tons of memories while she is here.  If you want to see what my moments of the week have been, follow along on Instagram.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

With Great Heart Blog Design Giveaway

Don't you just love my new blog design?!

Not only do I love the design, but I love the lady that created it.  Vanessa and I met at the very first Trifabb event I attended and hit it off right away.  In fact, we try to have regular dinner dates.

When she volunteered to help me renovate my little space here, I was so excited.  I love her attention to detail and the way she made sure everything was just the way I wanted it.  If you aren't really sure what you're interested in doing to your own space, she has some great ideas already prepared.
I love the simplicity of the one above.

But, I think this one is my favorite:
I love that you could do anything to it to make it personalized just for you and your blog.

Vanessa is so sweet she is offering up a free pre-made blog design to a DWW reader!  All you need to do is enter via Rafflecopter below.  If you can't wait to design your space, visit Vanessa's shop and see what she has in store or contact her and create something special for you!
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Recent Finds while Shopping

Today CT and I are headed to Charlotte to pick up my mom from the airport!  I'm so excited and can't wait to spend the whole week together.  Just having your mom around is one of the best possible feelings a girl can have.  Don't ya think?

Since I'm busy today and plan to spend my time doing things other than sitting at my computer this week, I thought I would share with you some recent finds I've scored while out shopping.  I've been trying to add some basic pieces to my closet that I am comfortable in now and I can wear later.  You may have seen my previous recommendations here.  This particular list is different because I can't describe to you my surprise at the quality of these pieces for the price I paid.

I've been on the hunt for the perfect, slouchy V-neck tee for what feels like forever.  While shopping with Manda last week, I found it.  Not only did I find it, I paid less than $6 for it!
Forever 21


Forever 21
I was literally walking out of the store when I stopped in my tracks seeing this skirt (in navy) on the rack.  It reminded me so much of the JCrew Factory linen mini I have coveted for some time now.  Ummm, but the price tag on this bad boy is less than $20!  And it's lined.  Score!

I actually threw together a cute outfit for a baby shower I went to Saturday night with my new pieces:
baby shower outfit

baby shower outfit by coachgaines featuring a play comme des garçons® cardigan

Have you scored any great deals lately?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

10 Ways to Save When Preparing for Baby


Babies are expensive!

I think its safe to say we all want to provide the best possible care for our little ones and often times we equate money with quality.  If you know me you know that I'm a huge thrifter and saver.  I love quality things, I just don't always want to pay crazy money for them.

Lucky for you, I've done a lot of the hard work and figured out ways moms and dads on a budget can provide that great quality for their babies without breaking the bank.

Here you have it...10 ways to save when preparing for baby:

1. Stick with gender neutral furniture and "big pieces".  By purchasing gender neutral furniture, you are creating a nursery that can be used for future children.  You can make the nursery special for your baby by adding in special artwork, bedding, and lighting fixtures.  Gender neutral high chairs, strollers, car seats, etc. prevent you from replacing them if/when you have a baby of the opposite sex down the road.

2.  Buy second hand.  I know many people aren't cool with buying used or previously owned items.  I will admit, not everything can be purchased second hand (i.e. bedding and stuffed animals are on my list - other people might not purchase bottles or teethers, etc. if they have been previously used).  You should never buy a carseat used unless you can guarantee it has not been in an accident and you can properly identify the expiration date.  However, many items can be purchased second hand including large ticket items like breast pumps, outdoor toys, strollers, and even clothing.

3. Price Matching.  Stores like Babies R Us and Buy Buy Baby price match.  This means they will give you the same price (and perhaps even a percentage off of that) for a product that any other store is offering including online stores like Amazon.

4. Borrow.  If you're at the baby making phase of life, chances are you have friends in that same stage. If they have already had children and aren't planning on adding to their family for another year or so, borrow some of their baby gear.  Things like bassinets, bottle warmers, and swings are used for a very brief time.  Split the cost  and save yourself some money and space by sharing those items with a friend.

5.  Online "outlet" sites.  Sites like Zulilly, Ace & Ivy, Groopdealz, Woot, and Jane are awesome ways to save money on everything from clothing to toys to baby food and decor.

6.  DIY.  Don't be afraid to attempt a good DIY.  There are tons of tutorials out there thanks to Pinterest and most of them are fool proof.

7.  Coupons.  I know a lot of people don't see the worth of coupons because of the time involved.  This is one time a little time is going to pay off.  I've gotten coupons for everything from diapers to formula and it has saved me mega bucks.  Getting $2 off a package of diapers or using the checks you receive from formula companies adds up quick.  There have been times I've gone to CVS (my favorite place to coupon) and literally gotten paid to buy certain items.

Even if you are just supplementing with formula (we give CT formula at night to help with his weight gain/maintenance) it is super expensive.  If you go on and register your address with companies like Gerber, Similac, and Enfamil, they will start sending you samples and coupons in the mail.  *Also have the grandparents do this and they can get you these things as well.*  Often times they send coupons for $5 to $10 off a container.  These coupons work like checks and sometimes you can combine them to purchase containers of formula for absolutely free.  Other times you save yourself $5 or $10.  Win win! Also, Target will often give you a gift card for purchasing 3 containers of formula at once.  Combine that with your coupons and you're saving a lot.

8.  Rewards Programs.  I know Babies R Us offers a rewards program - the more you spend, the more points you accrue.  I haven't seen the fruits of that program yet, but I have benefited from programs like Pampers Rewards, Huggies Rewards, and CVS Bucks.  Every Pampers and Huggies package of diapers or wipes comes with a code.  Punch that code into your account and after so many points, you can redeem them for toys, prints from Shutterfly, more diapers, etc.

I could write a whole post about CVS in and of itself.  In a nutshell, they often run sales on items and offer CVS cash when you spend so many dollars on those products.  On top of the sale and cash, you can use manufacturer's coupons on those products as well.  Recently I purchased $30 worth of Pampers (which was 4 packages after coupons and the sale price of $8.99).  Since I spent $30 on P&G products, I earned $10 in rewards cash.  That $10 I then combined with those formula checks I was telling you about before to purchase $60 worth of formula for just $25.  I ended up going home with 4 packages of diapers, Baby Aquaphor, and 2 containers of formula for just $45.  That should have cost me at least $100 before rewards and coupons.

9.  Purchase items that serve multiple purposes.  Rather than purchasing a changing table, we decided on a dresser and a changing pad.  The pad is one of those items that doesn't get used for very long.  Once baby outgrows the changing pad, the dresser can grow with them.

10.  Bulk Stores and Online Sites.  Stores like Costco and Sam's Club are great places to purchase diapers, wipes, formula, and detergent in bulk.  Particularly, if you aren't interested in couponing, this is the cheapest way to purchase these items.  You can also use sites like Amazon Mom and Diapers.com to purchase these items at discounted prices and they often deliver right to your doorstep saving you on gas and travel time as well.

Like I said before, babies are expensive.  Saving money now means having it to spend making memories later.

How do you save?

Check out my post at Just Hatched sharing baby items I would spend on versus items worth saving on.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Post Partum Honesty



2 months.

It's been 2 months since I gave birth and I find myself listing all the things that I'm still not.
Do you know what I mean?

Like, I'm not
fitting into my pre-pregnancy clothes.
back to my pre-pregnancy weight.
running each day like I said I would.
working out as often as I would like.
comfortable in my own skin.

WHAT?!

Even I think it sounds crazy that I have these expectations of myself.  I mean, 2 months ago I gave birth.  A human being grew inside me and then I pushed him out!  And here I am focusing on all the things I can't do right now?!  I just got done doing something pretty freakin' amazing.

But it's hard.  It's hard when you have expectations and you don't meet them.  It's hard when you see other people leave the hospital looking like they'd never gotten pregnant in the first place.  It's hard when you waited so long to buy normal clothes and all you want to do is wear something without a stretchy band and you're just not there yet.

One thing I promised myself when I started this journey was that I would be honest about what I was experiencing.  And this is it.  It's a struggle.  Others make it look easy and its not always easy.  For some it comes quickly and for others it takes time.

And, it's okay.

I'm going to keep walking and eventually I will be able to run.
I'm going to keep making healthy choices and avoiding the Oreo aisle.
I'm going to purchase some clothes I feel confident in and arrange my closet so I don't dread visiting it.
I'm going to give myself some grace and understanding because I just did something pretty amazing and I deserve a break while I come back from what my body did.

And it's only been 2 months.



Friday, February 21, 2014

Moments of the Week | Like Daddy

Polo, Shoes: Carters


I know these pictures aren't fancy (we were getting ready to go meet Manda for the first time and I just snapped them with my iPhone), but I love them.  Particularly, the hint of CT's first smiles.  He's dressed like his daddy in a polo and loafers gifted by friends who know us all too well.

We met up at CrabTree Valley Mall in Raleigh and did some eating and some shopping and just had a great time.  Of course, CT couldn't let her leave without spitting up on her  - initiation I suppose.


Earlier this week one of my best friends in the whole wide world came to stay with us.  She spoiled me and let me sleep in on Sunday while she cared for CT and she made us some veggie lasagna that I could just throw in the oven one night this week.  Which turned out to be perfect because the beginning of our week was pretty busy.  (Hence the lack of posts this week.)

CT got his 2 month shots and had a great report.  The doctor is so pleased with his weight gain.

We also started working on a really special project that is going to be part of Mother's Day this year and that's all you need to know about that.  (Grandma and Mamaw read these posts.)

We are anxiously awaiting a visit from Grandma starting Wednesday of next week!

Linking up with Lauren and Katie

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

2 Months


Dear Carson,

For a while I've been praying and wishing and hoping and praying and praying some more that you would start gaining weight.  We struggled for a while, but we figured it out!  Look at you.  You are such a big little boy and I couldn't be happier with how much you have grown.  That little double chin and those rolly-polly thighs...

Now that you are growing, you are growing so fast.  You've started making happy sounds and cooing.  We've caught glimpses of smiles and I can't even explain to you how that makes my heart swell.  

You know my voice.  When I'm in the room and you can hear me, you just keep watching me.  I love it.  You sure know how to make a momma feel special.  I love the special bond we share.  There is no feeling quite like the one I have when you wrap your arms around my neck and rest your head on my shoulder.

I said it before and I'll say it again, I love you more than you will ever know.  You are the apple of my eye and the light of my life.  It amazes me that the best parts of me and your daddy came together to form you.

You really are a rockstar.  Even the doctor was impressed that you are rolling from tummy to back already (that's a 4 month milestone!)  I can't wait to see what else you have in store for us.  

I love you, little man.

Love,
Mommy



2 Month Update

Weight: 11 pounds even
Length: 22 inches
Nicknames: The Milkman, Milk Monster, Big Boy, CT, Hungry Hungry Hippo (are you seeing the trend here?)
Sleep: Consistently for 3-4 hour increments and he slept in his crib all night for the first time last Wednesday!  He is a champ.  
Eating: Every 3-4 hours, roughly 4-6 oz. at a time
Clothing: NB and 0-3 month sleepers
Loves:
  • Snuggling
  • Tummy time
  • Laying on Mommy or Daddy's belly
  • Bath time
  • Riding in the car
Dislikes:
  • Being naked
  • Lotion massages
Exciting Moments:
Carson is still rolling from belly to back during tummy time
He slept in his crib starting 2/10/14
He has started making cooing noises and there are signs of smiles
Momma's Milestones:
I am still trying to incorporate workouts throughout the day.  It's hard to figure out what to do in the house since we have all this snow and I'm still not entirely comfortable doing high impact yet.
The nursery is almost complete.  I'm being featured by a mommy magazine and can't wait to share it with all of you!  I understand it may seem odd if you're new around here that the nursery still isn't finished, but we still had almost 6 weeks to make finishing touches before CT surprised us and I had plans for those 6 weeks that just haven't gotten completed until now.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The New Normal


Cardigan: GAP old (similar), Chambray: Belk (similar, love this), Jeans: Old Navy, Shoes: TOMS, Sunnies: RayBan
I was reflecting on life the other night as I watched CT's eyelids grow heavy.  After his 3 a.m. feeding.  (Is it weird to call it a feeding?)  I was thinking about how quickly our version of normal changes.

Just three months ago, normal was waking up 15 times a night to waddle to the bathroom.  Before that, it was drinking a bottle of wine on the weekend and ordering too many sushi rolls.

Normal now is sleeping in 3 hour increments, showering in 5 minutes or less, changing outfits not out of preference, but due to spit up.  And if I'm being honest, I love it.  I love the new normal.  I'm not going to sit here and say it is always easy or that I'm never too tired, too stressed, or too flustered.  It's just that this normal is so much more rewarding than any sushi roll or glass of wine could ever be (or ever was).

I'm pretty much tired all the time, but as long as I'm not "hitting a wall exhausted" (yes, that's a thing - my husband and I decided) I feel pretty good.  I'm not working and I'm not going to school, but yet my free time is practically non-existent.  I do way more laundry now than I ever thought I would and I had the nerve to complain before.  Brushing my teeth has become a treat and blow drying my hair?  Not even an option most days.  I rarely wear makeup, but somehow...I've never felt more beautiful.

2 cups of coffee is the new standard.  That number may or may not increase in times of desperation.  Also, coffee is not just a morning routine any more.

Caffeine no longer keeps me awake at night.  Nothing could keep me from catching some much needed shut-eye.  Except, of course, a 2 month old (today!) sweet baby boy needing loving from his mama.

Normal is never going to be normal again.

Linking up with The Pleated Poppy, Because Shanna Said So, and Fitness Blondie


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

2 Month Musts for Mom and Baby

I thought I would share the things that I've found to be most beneficial for me and baby the first months he's been home with us.  I've seen these lists before, but I wanted to add must-haves for mommy as well.  After all, we need to take care of ourselves, too!

See my 1 month must haves here.
2 month mommy must haves




1.  Under-eye roller: This thing makes me feel more awake.  I don't know that I look any different, but it's like a little dose of caffeine for my eyes.

2.  Moisturizer: This is my favorite brand.  It is super moisturizing.  My skin is soooo dry.  I'm using this night cream as a day time moisturizer right now.

3.  BioSilk: Along with my skin, my hair is super dry right now.  Not to mention, I just don't pay much attention to it so putting this in protects it against the wear and tear of a pony tail holder and keeps it silk, smooth.

4.  Aquaphor: Dry. Skin.  Need I say more?

5.  Running shoes: Finally!  Cleared for exercise!  A new pair of kicks are extremely motivating and well deserved.  New moms have recently undergone a great physical feat.  Getting back into the exercise groove may not come easy so it needs to be as comfortable as possible.


2 month baby must haves




1.  Soothies by Nuk: These are the pacifiers the hospitals use.  CT didn't care for a paci the first month, but now it helps him to fall asleep at night and keeps him content while waiting for a bottle to warm.

2.  Dr. Brown's bottles: These bottles are the best.  They prevent gassiness and spit up with very few parts.  They are the only bottles we use.

3.  Changing pads: We use these things everywhere!  They are so handy.  We line the pack n play, the gym mat, the bed if CT is laying with us...  When changing him, they protect whatever surface we are using, but they also prevent any leaks or diaper malfunctions from ruining bedding or other surfaces.

4.  Terry cloth bibs: These are not the most adorable bibs, but they are the most absorbent.  Maybe those cute ones will work better when we introduce cereal and food, but for milk, these are best.  Not to mention we go through 5-6 per day so they get washed a ton.

5.  Ubbi diaper pail: Hands down, this is the best diaper pail out there.  You can use regular trash bags in it so you aren't buying refills all the time.  It is made of stainless steel so that no odors can escape or become absorbed by the pail.  And it has a lock on it so that little hands can't find their way inside.  Now that the diapers are getting bigger, this is a must.

We're still using our 1 month must-haves as well.  Anything you would add?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole Recipe


I found this recipe floating around online and I'm not sure who to give credit for it.  I tweaked it and made it my own.

Ingredients:
3 chicken breasts
12 oz. deli ham
16 oz. pasta (I used penne)
8 oz. cream cheese
12 oz. swiss/gruyere blend shredded cheese
1 Lipton onion soup packet
1 1/2 c. milk
8 oz. butter
1 c. bread crumbs

Steps:
1.  Boil chicken until cooked through.  Boil pasta until el dente (approx. 10 minutes).  
2.  Cut deli ham into smaller pieces.  Allow cream cheese to soften.
3.  Drain pasta and put back in large pot.  Add cooked and cubed chicken and ham.  Stir to mix well.
4.  In sauce pan, stir cream cheese, milk, and onion soup packet over medium heat until it becomes a
     creamy mixture.
5.  Add to pasta and stir thoroughly.  Stir in cheese blend.
6.  Pour mixture into baking dish.
7.  Melt butter and mix with bread crumbs.  Top pasta mixture with bread crumbs.
8.  Broil on high for approx. 4-5 minutes.  Serve warm.

You could serve this with a vegetable and call it dinner or even garlic bread.  It makes plenty and would be a fantastic dish to take to a pot luck or make when hosting a group of people.

We liked it so much we both went back for seconds!  Enjoy.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Moments of the Week | Little Fella

Outfit: Baby Gap

Should I bring up the obvious and say the Superbowl may have very well been the most boring football game I've ever witnessed?  Thankfully we had good neighbors and family that came so we had tons of food to eat and distract me from the lack of entertainment on the field.

Monday we went and weighed CT (unofficially) and it seems as though he has gained 4 pounds!  I could tell he was gaining (if you're new here, we've been struggling since he was a preemie) by the way he was outgrowing clothes, but didn't realize how much he had gained.  

I'm finally putting finishing touches on the nursery - can't wait to share that soon!

I spent a good afternoon or two organizing our linen closet and de-cluttering our bathrooms, kitchen cupboards, and other areas of the house after buying out the basket/tote/bin aisle at Walmart.  It's amazing what you can get done when you have the mojo to do it.  Next on my list: our bedroom.

Unfortunately, Justin has been sick the majority of the week with pneumonia so poor thing has been laid up all week and hasn't been able to hold or really interact with CT.  Here's to hoping he starts feeling better this weekend.  I can hardly stand to see him so sick.  


Hope you had a good week!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The value of time

My mother in-law sent this to me last week and it really touched me.

All too often we are so busy counting down, looking ahead, and wishing away...

Here is what her email said:

To realize
The value of a sister/brother
Ask someone
Who doesn't have one.

To realize
The value of ten years:
Ask a newly
Divorced couple.

To realize
The value of four years:
Ask a graduate.

To realize
The value of one year:
Ask a student who
Has failed a final exam.

To realize
The value of nine months:
Ask a mother who gave birth to a stillborn.
 

To realize
The value of one month:
Ask a mother
Who has given birth to
A premature baby.
  
To realize
The value of one week:
Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.
  
To realize
The value of one minute:
Ask a person
Who has missed the train, bus or plane.

To realize
The value of one second:
Ask a person
Who has survived an accident.

Author Unknown

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wide Angled Lens and a Winter Scene


Top: Old Navy, Jeans: Old Navy, Boots: Steve Madden (similar)
Sunnies: RayBan, Bracelets: Alex&Ani

I took these pictures last week on the one day that it wasn't bitter cold, snowy, and gusting with winds.

I was setting up my tripod when two older ladies walked by.  Do you ever talk to people who don't blog about your blog?  It typically gets a little awkward - they just don't understand.

Add to that equation that these women probably don't even have email adresses and that conversation got real difficult.  Real quick.

One asked, "What are you taking pictures of?"
Me: "Oh, I have a blog so I set up and take pictures for that as often as I can." (glances in car at son sleeping in carseat *with windows down* and immediately feeling silly - I mean, what must these ladies be thinking about me right now!)
Lady: "Oh, of winter scenery?"
Me: "......yeah."

I mean, my camera was pointing toward a brick wall.  I just couldn't bring myself to try to elaborate.

Lady #2: "Well, don't get us in the picture!  You'd need a wide angled lens anyway."

One time my pastor told me that I laugh at extremely inappropriate moments.
This was one of them.
pleated poppy


The Hump Day Blog Hop

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

10 Items to add to your post-partum closet

Fact: Body after baby is different
Fact: Women like to feel good
Fact: Everyone deserves to be clothed in confidence and comfort

Based on the facts above, I think that everyone deserves to feel good in clothing that keeps them confident and comfortable while their body is going through changes after baby. Yes?

Now, I am still 15 pounds heavier than I was before getting pregnant.  I'm okay with this until I try to put on a pair of jeans or a top.  I can get them on, but I can't button them.  It's just not going to work.

And, to be honest, it doesn't make you feel good and it is nothing to be ashamed of.  So, I decided to set aside some money to go purchase items that I can remix during this transition period.  I chose items that make me feel good, are versatile, and are comfortable and easily washable.

I've come up with a list of items that are affordable and can possibly be worn later as well.

post partum bottoms



I purchased 3 bottoms in a size bigger than my pre-pregnancy size.  All of them have lycra in them for added comfort.  Skinny jeans are a staple in every woman's closet (or they should be) and can be dressed up or down, worn with boots or flats, etc.  The cords are a little dressier than denim and the bootcut jeans provide a more laid-back, hanging around the house (but not wearing yoga pants) option.

post-partum tops



I purchased tops that are forgiving, made of quality fabric that doesn't cling, and can possibly be worn once the weight is gone.  My focus was primarily on tops that could transition from work to play since I will be going back to teaching and that permitted me to nurse or pump easily without staining.


post-partum accessories



My husband purchased me a nice size tote bag to carry for Christmas.  It is perfect for the times when I don't need a full diaper bag, but I do want to carry my diaper clutch in case of an impromptu change.  I know at some points I will require a diaper bag, but that is not always necessary so a tote does the job of both, purse and diaper bag, when the situation allows.  

I'm also living in camis.  I'm wearing them under everything.  They give me an extra layer of protection against leakage and coverage in public.

What items would you add to your post-partum closet?

Like I said, I did not spend a lot on these items because there is a big possibility that they will either a. not fit once you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight or b. get ruined by spit-up, poop, or whathaveyou.

Sign up to win these Milkies products to add to your post-partum collection.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Workout Jar


Perhaps your jar doesn't need to be a Workout Jar.

Maybe your jar needs to be a Laundry Jar or a Bible Verse Jar or a Swear Jar.  

Whatever it may be, you can make it work for you.  We all have goals in our life.  There are things we want to accomplish; perhaps you even set resolutions at the start of the new year.  This jar can help you to achieve those goals.  

This is how the jar works:
My goal is to get back into a regular exercise routine.  

I realize I have a new baby and I'm still recovering/healing from delivery.  I need to set a reasonable goal.  So, I'm not going to assign a weight loss goal or a strength training goal.  Instead, I'm going to focus on moving and being active.  

So, any time I make an effort to be active, I put fifty cents in the jar.  (In the past I've done a quarter.)  This means I could potentially earn $6.50 a week if I exercised each day.  

I don't know how long I will go...a few months.  Maybe until I get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. 

However long I decide, I do know that I will take all the money from that jar and buy myself new clothes that fit my new body when I'm done.  No guilt.  No using it for gas or diapers.  Me money.

Maybe you will take the money and get a massage or go on a trip.  

Whatever you decide, work toward your goal and reward yourself accordingly.

So, what does your jar say?