What To Pack For A Pool Day With A Toddler – Free Printable Checklist

This post is the first in my new, official Packed to Perfection series. Be sure to check back for other posts in the Packed to Perfection Series as they are posted – I’ll be including free downloadable packing lists for each! Print, laminate (this laminating machine is $19.97 on Amazon.com – woo hoo!), stick the list in your bag, and never worry about forgetting something again! You can see other examples of ways to organize and pack for a baby or toddler in these existing posts: Diaper Bag for Baby, Packing Cubes, Working Mom’s Pumping Bag, Infant Daycare Bag, Baby/Toddler Car Kit, and Restaurant Kit for Babies/Toddlers.

Make sure to download and print the FREE printable Toddler Pool Bag checklist at the end of this post!

 

Now, let’s dive into (pun intended) what to pack for a day at the pool with a toddler…

It used to be as easy as grabbing a towel, sunnies and a  suit, sunblock, an issue of InStyle, water bottle, flip flops, then off to the pool for the day. Now that you have a baby or toddler in tow, there is a whole new element to planning and packing for a successful, fun, safe day at the pool. 

I want to show you what and how I pack for a Mommy and Me Pool Day with my toddler. If you’re a first-time mom in the same boat as I was OR a been-there-done-that pro mama, I hope this post will give you some good ideas for things to pack (and what to pack them in!) for a great day at the pool with your toddler.

Swimsuit with built in swim diaper by i play.
Now that we have access to a pool right down the road in our new community, pool days are a part of our weekly routine. Taylor lovingly refers to this special place as the “poooo,” which I find pretty darn funny, but I digress…

Before we moved, I had never taken Taylor to a pool and I wasn’t quite sure what to pack to bring with us that first day. Flash forward a couple weeks and I feel like we have rounded up everything we need with the caveat that, at some point, we’ll probably start bringing some pool toys. Right now, at 15 months old, Taylor is happy to just people watch from her float or splash/walk around in the baby pool. The first few times at the pool for her were about introducing her and helping her become accustomed to the water and new environment.

What to pack for a day at the pool with a toddler:

Tote Bag – obviously, this is a must! The bag shown in the photo above is one I got at our local grocery market because I loved the design, fun color scheme and the size worked perfectly. Here are a few similar and the black mesh tote I am using for a carry on/beach bag for our upcoming vacation (it comes in several colors and is under $10!):

 

1.Babyganics sunscreen stick SPF 50 (for the face bc my fingers on her face is, apparently, torture) and sunscreen in a gallon Ziplock bag – I usually put my own sunscreen on at home and if I need to reapply, I will just use Taylor’s.

2. Skip Hop wet/dry bag with the following inside the dry pouch: the Wet Brush and a change of clothes for a toddler. When we are ready to leave, we rinse off and then I change her into a diaper, put the pool cover up back on her and throw the wet suit into this bag.  I can’t tell you how many things I use these bags for or how many we own!

3. Sunglasses for mama and toddler 

4. Quart size Ziplock bags for electronics

5. Skip Hop cooler for water bottles (I also used this in my Pumping Bag) – Camel Back bottles: mom version, toddler version. If you’re looking to pack snacks that need to be refrigerated I HIGHLY recommend this Freezable Tote by PackIt; you stick it in the freezer and, once frozen, it stays cold for up to 10 hours – no ice packs needed!

6. Floaties – the ones linked are super easy to blow up, well rated, Amazon Prime eligible (as are most items linked in this post) and under $10! If you aren’t yet an Amazon Prime member, you can sign up for a free 30 day trial HERE.

7. Swim Suit Cover Up for mama – I have two pool cover ups I’m LOVING right now. The first is this simple, classy one.The second (shown in the photo above) is by Michael Stars. I got that one as part of the summer Fab Fit Fun box. I’m kind of obsessed with these boxes. Most of the individual items in the box (like the cover up) are worth more than the cost of the ENTIRE box. Use the code TAYLORMADE to save $10, and get your box for only $39.99!

8. Baby or toddler kids sun hat with chin strap (50+ UPF cotton) – I also bring my own hat, similar to this floppy chambray one from Nordstrom.

9. Towels  – I bring one for myself and one for Taylor, but you could probably get by with just one and save bag space.

Tote Savvy Insert = Mom Must Have!
10. ToteSavvy Mini Insert – I use this ToteSavvy insert interchangeably in all my bags these days be it a purse, diaper bag, carry on for a flight or pool day bag;  I love it because I always know where to look for the essentials. To me, this insert is an absolute mom must-have! These days I carry the following inside it’s pouches: Bandaids, mini Evian facial spray (this keeps both toddler and mama cool on a hot day!), a couple small toys, Babyganics Alcohol-Free individually packed hand,face and mouth sanitizing wipes, 2 diapers, pack of wipes, several snacks, keys, wallet and one of the most popular items purchased through Amazon via links on my site – the Munchkin Arm & Hammer diaper bag dispenser and bags:

On Toddler:

  • Swimsuit – I bought a couple of these suits with built in swim diapers by I play on Amazon Prime Day 2017, and we’re loving them so far.
  • Swim diaper to wear underneath a suit if it doesn’t have a built-in. We have been using these disposable swim pants by Babyganics, but there are also tons of non-disposable versions as well.
  • Diaper for over the swim suit in the car ride to the pool because swim diapers tend to leak (or maybe I’m using them wrong?).  When we get to the pool we just take off this extra safety precaution.
  • Swimsuit cover up
  • Sandals – these clear Mary Jane jellies are a toddler girl must, plus they have great grip on the bottom. Old Navy has a huge variety of strap-back flip flops for toddler girls and boys.

Additional Items:

  • Floating toys – I’m definitely getting this cute  Shark Fish Hunt Game by Melissa & Doug.
  • Float – Tented Float by Intex 
  • Cooler or freezable picnic tote for water bottles, milk and snacks that need refrigerating. For me, this is just too much to carry – I can only manage a baby, tote bag and float when it’s just T and I.
  • Pop Up Sunshade/Tent – optional depending on if there is shade at your pool.

Now you tell me, what are your pool day bag must haves? I’m on the lookout for some water shoes like these from Carter’s for Taylor, but are there some you like better?

Click here or just click on the picture below to access, download and print a copy of the checklist:

P.S.  If you haven’t already, make sure to check out the American Academy of Pediatrics pool and sun safety recommendations including:

  • Stay in the shade whenever possible, and limit sun exposure during the peak intensity hours – between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Wear a hat with a three-inch brim or a bill facing forward, sunglasses (look for sunglasses that provide 97% -100% protection against both UVA and UVB rays), and clothing with a tight weave.
  • On both sunny and cloudy days use a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or greater that protects against UVA and UVB rays.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours, and after swimming or sweating.

 

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Amazon Prime Day 2017  – Toddler and Mama Edition

This post contains affiliate links but, as you already know, I only promote things I am actually into (like anything Amazon.com)!

If you don’t already have an Amazon Prime membership then today is, definitely, definitely the day to become one. If you already have one, are you ready for Prime Day 2017?? 

You can get a FREE 30 Day Trial to Amazon Prime HERE,  just in time to take advantage of all the deals for Prime members only beginning on July 10 at 6pm PT / 9pm ET and runs all day Prime Day July 11.

Why So Awesome, Amazon Prime?

As a side note, my Prime membership easily pays for itself within a few weeks.  I consider Alexa  a bestie (btw, you can get $10 credit on Prime Day for ordering through Alexa).  I save hundreds per year by shopping for everything from the comfort of my home, car (as a passenger, of course), waiting in lines, etc. Groceries, baby stuff, home decor, electronics, clothing, music, movies…is there anything Amazon Prime doesn’t get you access to + free 1-2 Day Shipping/returns on these days ??  Truth be told, I went completely a little crazy on Prime Day last year because deals were just. that. Good. The onslaught of boxes 2 days later totally freaked my husband out, but, #worthit.   So what are you waiting for? Sign up for a Free 30 Day Prime Trial HERE and get to shoppin’.

For a full list of ALL the benefits of a Prime membership check out this link.

Okay, so onto some of the deals I have my eye on for toddlers and their mamas. Head over to my Facebook Page for all the deals I’m finding starting…..NOW! I’ll be posting every chance I get when I find a deal for you:


Let me know if there is something in particular you are looking for and I’ll see what I can find!

 

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The Healthiest, Non-Toxic Products For Babies & Toddlers

 

Call me ignorant, but I did not realize just how much CRAP is put into a lot of the products out there on the market for babies and toddlers. Mainstream baby products contain numerous toxic ingredients that will enter your baby’s body if used or actually ingested, not to mention toddlers who are putting stuff in their mouths ALL. THE. TIME.  I feel like I’ve  been cognizant of trying my best to avoid buying things for Taylor that might be toxic, artificial, and generally not healthy for human beings, let alone little ones, but honestly I haven’t really had the time to do my due diligence on each and every product I’ve purchased… #momguilt

Now That I Know Better

Thankfully, I discovered a company whose purpose is to make it easier for busy moms (aren’t we all!) and moms-to-be to give themselves and their family the healthiest products, at really good prices, while doing all the vetting and research for us on the back end! 21 Bundles is a personalized subscription box service that delivers baby/toddler products that are sustainable, ethical, and most of all HEALTHY while still remaining super cute, relevant and fun. I LOVE mail like this! The best part is that you can rest assured no product 21 Bundles delivers will contain any of this junk:

source: www.healthiest.io

How 21 Bundles Works

  1. Tell 21 Bundles your stage (or baby’s age)
  2. Each Bundle is ta[y]lored (had to!) to your baby or toddlers age with all natural products. Each and every product in the bundles must meet or exceed these stringent regulations before being considered for and curated as “the healthiest” of products out there for little ones.
  3. Every bundle (4-7 full-sized products along with stickers, samples, and coupons) is delivered in an eco-friendly box packed with safe and chemical free goodies! For example, the cute little owl stroller toy Taylor received in her 14-month-old bundle is made from fair trade certifiably organic Egyptian cotton and chemical free dyes!

Our first bundle was truly loaded with goodies relevant to Taylor’s and stage! Her favorite from the get was definitely the Rainbow Sensory Ball; much to my dismay her delight it has a very, shall we say, distinctive squeak to it; it’s a go-to toy for her now, but at least I don’t have to worry when she mouths it!  Personally, I am anxious to use the Monkey Mat (as seen on Shark Tank!) for backyard and park picnics/concerts this summer, and I’m definitely stashing the non-toxic surface sanitizer in my Toddler Restaurant Essentials Kit.

You can learn more about any product sent to you in your own bundle, or order other healthy family and baby products by visiting the parent site to 21bundles, www.healthiest.io.  From here on out, I’m definitely saving myself the trouble of researching on my own and using this site as a resource.

What do you think of this concept? Pretty awesome, right?  Would you try something like this out for your own babe or as a gift?You can get a coupon for $10.00 off your first bundle (that makes it only $29.99!) by entering your email in the field on this page.

Hope you love your experience with 21 Bundles it as much as we did!

Thanks to 21 Bundles for sponsoring today’s post.  Please know that I only recommend products and resources I truly believe in.

“Pin Me” on Pinterest for later:

 

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How A Baby Changes Everything

This post is sponsored by Carter’s; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Although they are little, babies sure can create BIG change in our lives.

From the day Taylor was born until today SO much has changed for us. If you follow us on Instagram you probably already know that we moved to our new home/city last weekend and that in about a month I will be leaving a 10+ year, successful career to stay home with Taylor. If interested, you can read more about that decision HERE. The reason for mass amounts of change in a relatively short timeframe? An itty, bitty newborn baby who has grown way too quickly into an {almost} full blown toddler.

Our move represents the incredible way that a baby can change your internal + external priorities and reality…

Before and even during pregnancy, I thought I wanted to be a working mom of 1 child only, and my hubby and I had our life planned accordingly. We certainly didn’t think that, within a year of T’s birth, that we would reorganize our financial and physical life in order to allow me to stay at home with her. Nor did we imagine we would search for a home that would be able to (hopefully, someday, no I’m not pregnant) accommodate another baby! But, as I am sure you have experienced in your own way, a baby can be quite the catalyst for change.

As we packed up the home we spent our first year as a family in I couldn’t stop thinking of all the memories we made in those rooms and how much growing we all did in different ways. However, I’m super excited for this new chapter in our lives. It will be one with undoubtedly less “me time,” but filled with so much more “us” time and for that, I’m incredibly grateful.

Luckily, through all of the change, Carter’s has us covered.  Taylor has grown up in their zip-up playsuits (hello, easy diaper changes!) and I may or may not have spent WAY too much money during their Memorial Day sale on tons of the cutest swimsuits and outfits for Taylor’s summer.  Carter’s has compiled some of their most classic, tried & true styles (including the zip-up playsuits) to comprise the Little Baby Basics Collection.

Little Baby Basics baby clothes are sized newborn through 24 months. As your baby – and you –  go through all the changes (and growth spurts) involved in the first 1+ year of their life this is a line of baby boy clothes and baby girl clothes that you can count on for consistent quality, affordable prices, comfort and – very importantly – cuteness! I mean, look at the elephant detail…those pant ruffles… *sigh*

The Original Body Suits from the Little Baby Basics Collection, like the ones Taylor is shown wearing throughout this post, are must-haves in any baby wardrobe. They are sold (for incredibly reasonable prices) in packs of 5 coordinating patterns + designs which also makes them an adorable baby shower gift.

Carter’s has offered a generous coupon to my readers, available now through July 4th, 2017. With this coupon, you’ll receive 20% off their already great prices if you spend $40 or more, in store or online. Stock up for now, later or even a future baby shower gift:


Not sure where your local Carter’s store is? You can find the nearest store by clicking here.

Happy Shopping and remember to savor each and every moment with your little one/s – it flies by too quickly not to!

Like what you read in this post? Please share THIS LINK on Facebook, or PIN the image below:

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LipSense Lip Color – A Mama Must Have

A lipstick that is kiss proof, smudge proof, water proof and lasts up to 18 hours?

Seems too good to be true, right? No way those claims are actually legit.

That’s exactly what I thought every time I saw LipSense pop up in my social media feeds over the last year or so. However, the idea of being able to put on lip color in the morning, kiss Taylor and my hubby goodbye/drink way too many cups of coffee without leaving a mark,  and not have to think about reapplying throughout my entire work day sounded really appealing. When I initially connected with my girl Shana of Montana Lips and More, who offered to send me a Lip Kit to review and potentially share with you,  I was cautiously optimistic to give LipSense a try.

She sent me a Lip Kit which included a super pretty natural lip stain (Bella), clear Glossy Gloss, a pot of Lip Scrub and an Ooops Lip Color Remover. The first day I tried LipSense I could not get over how cool it was. It takes a little longer to apply than a regular lipstick, but no more than a minute for the whole process.  I definitely think I demoed how I could drink out of my coffee cup and not leave a single trace of lip color behind to way too many co-workers that day. I mean, check out this picture taken right before I left work the other day – after drinking multiple cups of coffee, yapping my way through several meetings, and eating a burrito for lunch – with color still clearly in tact:

 

 

9.5 hours later, LipSense still hanging on!
Gloss, Dusty Rose, Heartbreaker and Bella.
I’m not even kidding when I say I don’t think I’ll  ever go back to traditional lip color.  After the initially LipSense experience, I contacted Shana right away and ordered two additional colors to add to my collection. I wore Dusty Rose, a slightly darker yet natural looking color, the day of Taylor’s first birthday party and never once had to reapply. I also wore Dusty Rose  to a friend’s wedding celebration out of town. and had to wait until the next day  to take it off as I had forgotten my Ooops Remover! How’s that for long lasting?!  Lastly, here’s an admittedly ridiculous picture of me in the middle of a work day sporting Heartbreaker, a fun spring/summer color:

Duck face for the sake of showcasing Heartbreaker.
This stuff is a total Mama Must Have, and I wouldn’t be posting about it today if I didn’t think it would be worth it for you to try out. LipSense would also make for a great Mother’s Day Gift, and Shana can hook you up with a Gift Certificate just in time. Check out the colors she has in stock now HERE. To order, comment “sold” on the photo of the item you would like in the in-stock album or just message through her Facebook page. Between now and 6/7/17 you can save 10% with Shana using the code TaylorMade.

What other beauty hacks am I missing out on? Please do tell!

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Toddler Girl Fashion – Must Haves For Spring & Summer

Almost all of these toddler girl fashion must haves for Spring (and Summer!) are on sale right now so if you see something you like, snag it today.

Here are my favorite pieces for little ladies this season:

1.LIGHTWEIGHT NEUTRAL CARDIGAN – on sale for $13

A staple for transitioning from warm spring days into cooler evenings when you’re out and about with your little lady. This one goes with everything, and I think it’s a steal at $13.

2. SUNGLASSES – $5.90

3. FLOPPY STRAW SUN HAT – on sale for $13.50

Taylor won’t allow me to put anything on her head at the moment, but I’m hoping that changes soon (or I can figure out an effective way to coerce her) as it makes shielding her from the Spring and Summer sun when we are doing something outdoors so much easier! Perfect hat for a day at the beach or a picnic in the park.

4. LACE TRIM KEYHOLE TANK – on sale for $9 (4 color options, including basic white) OR

LACE TRIM TANK BODYSUIT – $14.95

Taylor wore the bodysuit versions all the time last summer as a newborn, and I just took advantage of Gap’s Last Days of Spring Sale to grab her two of the white lace tanks, and one pink. These are also a great staple as they can be paired with pretty much any shorts or skirts your babe may have.

5. MULTI-STRIPE SHORTS – on sale for $19.99

I love that these shorts have several different colors highlighted throughout the coral base. These over even a plain white Onesie would be adorable.

6. THE POCKET SKIRT -$12, or $11 each for 3+

If you have been a reader for a while, you already know about my affinity for Primary Clothing for kids and babes, but their fitted tanks (#8) and pocket skirts are definite warm weather staples for a little miss. Super soft and a price making it inviting to stock up on several colors.

7. EYELET PEPLUM TOP – on sale for $16.99 (3 color options)

Isn’t this top the sweetest?

8. THE TANK -$9, or $8 each for 3+ (15 color options!)

9. PINEAPPLE ROMPER – $29.95

For those warmer spring days we get here in California, I love dressing Taylor in a quick, easy and comfy one piece. This romper is the perfect blend of function and fun for play time!

10. RUFFLED BACK BIKINI – on sale for $10

I am dying over how cute this little itty bitty bikini is. At only $10 I’m sure these won’t last long!

11. RUFFLED CHAMBRAY SHORTS – on sale for $10

Every little lady needs a pair of feminine jeans shorts in her Spring wardrobe. I had these for Taylor in a 0-3 month size last year and she was in them nearly every day!

12. JELLY SANDALS – $24.95

I feel like Jelly sandals are a rite of passage for little girls in a way. Did you wear them growing up? I know I did! I’m definitely snagging a pair for Taylor to sport on summer days at the pool in our new community. I can’t believe we move in a month!

Where are your favorite places to shop for your little one? What colors do you tend to go toward? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE. Subscribers are automatically entered to win bi-monthly Mama Must-Have Giveaways!

xo, Ashley (1)

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This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. If you utilize a link to make a purchase, I make a small commission at no cost to you. THANK YOU!

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Weaning After 1 Year of Breastfeeding – A Bittersweet Experience (Featuring Bun Maternity)

This post was sponsored by Bun Maternity, the most comfortable nursing apparel I own! All opinions (and emotions) in this post are 100% mine.

From the outset of this post I want to affirm that every mother has her own personal journey with feeding and then weaning her baby. I believe wholeheartedly that “fed is best” and that every mom should do what is best for she and her baby. We each “mom” our own way, and I’m just here to share mine.  

My experience with weaning after one year of breastfeeding:

Before having Taylor, and even while I was pregnant, I was actually kind of uncomfortable with the whole concept of breastfeeding. I saw posts of mothers nursing their babies on social media with hashtags like “#normalizebreastfeeding” and I couldn’t imagine that being me. I didn’t think I wanted that experience. I read about the health and bonding benefits and felt,  if it were possible for me to provide that for her, that I wanted to do so. Despite my discomfort and questioning on the outset, I made a commitment to breastfeed Taylor for as long as it was possible for me to do so, and for as long as she showed interest.

From the first moment she was laid on my chest, I understood that this is what I was made to do for her and all my previous discomfort (mental, not physical, because that i$h HURT the first 6 weeks!) melted away as a bond I can never put words to began.

Flash forward 354 days and our sacred, stressful, beautiful, and at times even painful journey with nursing has come to an end. To be honest, there is a sadness that’s come over me which started during the last couple weeks of our weaning process. I didn’t recognize the “down” feeling I had as being connected at first; For so long, I had been thinking of all the positives that would come along with being done with nursing (freedom!), but there it was. I didn’t understand how to go about the whole weaning process, so we kind of just started… Right away I saw that she was ready physically and emotionally and, even though I thought I would be, I wasn’t so much. From start to finish weaning lasted less than 3 weeks for us. I cradled her to me in the wee hours of our last morning and tears streamed down my cheeks as I felt her little body relax and flashes of the thousands of times I held, comforted and nourished her in this way passed through my mind.

Bittersweet. That’s the best word to summarize how I feel about the nursing chapter of my relationship with Taylor coming to a close. Bitter: a feeling of loss of something special between just she and I, and missing the baby that I can’t expect to stay small forever.  Sweet: a sense of freedom, pride in (barely) making it this far, and gaining back time in the day and my body as my own.

Taylor reaped benefits from nearly twelve months of breastfeeding but, unexpectedly, it was also the best thing for me.  My days at home and work were planned around when to nurse or pump. Although (very) frustrating at times, this broke my selfishness and gave me a sense of connection to her even when I was at work – both were things I needed. Although the emotional bond still remains, the end of breastfeeding is a loss of a connection between a mother and child that will never be there again. That’s hard to let go of, and just another sign that my baby is growing up right before my eyes. However, I know that just because she needs me less physically, does not mean she needs less of me. Even though I now have my body back to myself, I will still be 100% there for her in whatever ways she needs me now.

Bun Maternity – Perfect Apparel for Breastfeeding & Beyond

Mirroring the bond that carries over from breastfeeding to independence, the clothing I have from Bun Maternity are also pieces I can continue to wear beyond my breastfeeding days. Bun Maternity has the most stylish, comfortable and convenient, nursing friendly  apparel I’ve come across. I only wish I had known about this clothing line sooner. I’m sure I’ll be stocking up when (if we are so lucky) Taylor gets a sibling… Bun Maternity is affordable anyway, but they also offer FREE shipping on orders of $50 or more, and right now you can save 15% on orders over $50 using code SWEET15.

The design and versatility of these ponchos, hoodies, wraps, tees and tanks make it really easy to incorporate breastfeeding easily at any time. No one would guess that these are nursing tops. Plus, they are super comfy and soft, which are musts for me. The three pieces I own are fantastic for times when we’re on the go and I’ve needed to discreetly nurse in public – shopping, going out to eat, rushing back from the gym to a hungry baby, etc. 

So Soft Breezy Nursing Hoodie (Navy) – Even though I’m now done with nursing, I will continue to wear this breathable, light-weight hoodie for casual errand running and trips to the gym.

High Low Swing Tank (Kale) – This top comes in several colors, but I couldn’t resist the green/kale. The material is very soft and it looks just like a regular tank but with “secret” side panel access for baby; the ideal tank for a busy day of shopping:

Cozy Nursing Hoodie (Black) – Seriously the most comfortable hoodie I own. If you’re in the market for nursing apparel, definitely snag this one! It is perfect for discreet nursing and the shoulder snap is actually hidden by the hood – you would never guess it’s meant for breastfeeding. I’m definitely continuing to wear this staple beyond breastfeeding. Am I the only one that will wear the same, fav sweatshirt every night for like, a week straight? I may or may not be wearing it right now as I edit this post….

For reference, I am 5’ 10” and wear a size Medium in Bun Maternity apparel.

Check out the entire nursing friendly line at www.bunmaternity.com.

If you were a nursing mom, I wonder if you can relate to the thoughts and emotions I sorted through during weaning. How did you feel when you were done with breastfeeding? If you’re still nursing, do you have a plan for when and how you’ll wean? I’d love to hear about your own experience in the comments.

Thank you so much for reading. 

P.S. If you’re still nursing, make sure to check out all my posts on breastfeeding & pumping.

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“You Look Tired” – and other phrases no tired mom wants to hear (featuring Juice Beauty)

This post was sponsored by JuiceBeauty.com.  All opinions are 100% mine. 

Let’s cut to the chase – I absolutely do look tired – like I’ve aged five years in one even, but with good reason. I had a newborn who slept through the night from 6 weeks to 4 months old, and thought I had it absolutely made…then her sleep patterns suddenly changed. Since 4 months old, she has essentially woken up anywhere from 2 -5 times a night, and she will be one year old in a week. That’s nine months of solid sleep deprivation. Sure, there have been a handful (3 4, but who’s counting) of nights when she has slept from the time we put her down until somewhere between 5:00 and 6:30 AM, but that certainly doesn’t make up for the hours upon hours of dark-circle, puffy-eye inducing lost sleep. Oh, and “sleep when the baby sleeps” is great in theory, but very hard to practice when you’re at work from 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM or just trying to get things done around the house, am I right?

This post  isn’t a plea for pity because, A) I know you may be feeling just as tired as I am, and B) I know that being a mama is 100% a blessing, no matter how many hours of sleep I lose. The post is also not about sleep training – what we have tried, what we have been too tired/scared/lazy to stick with, my thoughts/feelings on ‘Cry It Out’, the monthly colds that thwarted our efforts, etc. This is a post about the things well-meaning people have said to me about looking tired that were just not helpful, followed by wishful thinking of things could be said instead. The last thing a tired, emotionally vulnerable (thanks hormones) new mom wants to hear is that she looks as tired as she feel. We already know, but it’s just not fun to be reminded.

Below are some of the things people have said to me about looking tired over the last year, for real:

  • “I can help you with those perma-bags.” (NOT a good sales tactic…)
  • “You look SO tired.” (multiple iterations of this one)
  • “Are you sick?”  Me: No, just tired. “I was going to say…you have that look to you.”
  • “Nursing does that to your face.” (really???)
  • “Is your baby letting you sleep?”  Me: No, not really. “I can tell.”

You know what?

I do look tired. I do have bags and dark circles under my eyes. My skin has become more dehydrated and wrinkled from devoting 99.999% of my physical and mental being to another life over the last year…But, catching up on sleep isn’t really an option in this phase of life (and neither are other chemical laden, anti-aging products when you’re nursing) so comments on looking tired are both anxiety producing and impossible to treat/solve.

I’ve been thinking up some alternatives to, “you look so tired,” that come from the same place of care and concern, but would actually be helpful or even music to a new and/or tired mama’s ears:

  • “Let me come over and do a couple loads of laundry/watch the baby while you nap for a few hours.” Instant angel status, for sure.
  • “I can’t believe you have a baby, you look way too well rested.”  Just full-on, unabashed false flattery is actually welcome, sometimes.
  • “I’ll come sleep over and give your baby a bottle when he/she wakes in the night; you just put your earplugs in and get a full night’s sleep – I can imagine you haven’t had that in a while!” – My mom has actually offered to do this multiple times and, while I haven’t taken her up on it, it’s seriously one of the most appreciated gestures a new, tired mama could receive.
  • Just send me this article to read, written by the amazing, Jena Lee Nardella
  • “I found this amazing, anti-aging eye and skin care line that’s safe to use while nursing, and it’s  made my eyes and skin look a lot more refreshed and vibrant than I actually feel – wanna try it out with me?”

Seriously though – I really do use an anti-wrinkle eye and skin care line that is not only effective (and smells DELISH), but all natural, organic and safe for nursing moms like me – Juice Beauty.  I think you’ll love it as much as I do.

The Stem Cellular Instant Eye Lift Masks and Perfecting Concealer are my cheats to looking more refreshed on days when I’m running on 3 hours of sleep and copious amounts of caffeine; the eye masks are a bit pricey, but they truly do work and I only use them every once in awhile when I really need an extra confidence boost (date night, blog photo shoot, etc.). Juice Beauty even has an apple-based peel that is safe and made specifically for pregnant and nursing mothers to exfoliate, brighten and tone your skin. I wish I had know about that product sooner (next time, God willing, it will be on my skin care rotation).

My go-to under eye concealer.
Vials of activator.
Activate the instant eye-lifting goodness!
Wait ten minutes then, voilá, refreshed!

I also had the opportunity to try out the Anti-Wrinkle skin care line over the last couple of weeks and so far I’m really liking it. Clinically Validated Results from a 4 week trial revealed that 95% of women who used the product reported smoother, younger looking skin and 86% reported a significant improvement in the appearance of lines & wrinkles! I hope I can say the same myself in a couple more weeks. I feel like I’m looking less tired already, and it’s certainly not because T is sleeping better… The Anti-Wrinkle regimen is also completely safe to use while pregnant or nursing, whereas many similar lines are not. Juice Beauty uses a combination of fruit stems cells infused into Vitamin C and organic grapeseed to help promote younger, smoother looking skin. Here is a quick run down on each product in the line:

  1. Booster Serum – I noticed a tingly sensation as soon as I put this on my skin, which automatically made me feel like it’s working it’s magic. I also worried a bit that it would dry my skin out, but that has not been the case at all.
  2. Eye Treatment – The eye treatment is applied with a built in applicator so as to avoid any tugging on the eye area. I have been using this eye treatment at night, and my other eye cream during the day.
  3. Moisturizer – I am loving the fresh, citrus smell of this moisturizer. It also creates a tingling (borderline burning) sensation on the skin, yet provides ample hydration. I’ve been using this morning and night.
  4.  Exfoliating Peel Spray – This is BY FAR the coolest skin care product I’ve tried! You apply a small, pea-sized amount all over your face, neck and decollatage, rub for about 15-20 seconds and the top layer of dead skin cells begins to pill up. It’s kinda creepy, but obviously effective. Rinse with warm water, and you’ve got a fresh face. I only use this product twice per week because of it’s strength.

Giveaway!

I’m partnering with Juice Beauty to giveaway a 3 product Anti-Wrinkle Solutions Kit.  The kit includes Juice Beauty’s anti-wrinkle booster serum, moisturizer, and eye treatment. It is an over $100 value, that is actually on sale for $50 right now, in case you want to go ahead and snag one for yourself. 

To enter the Giveaway, become a subscriber by entering your name and email in the fields below. If you are already a subscriber you will not be subscribed twice:

  • This Giveaway CLOSED on Sunday April 9, 2017 at 12:00AM PST.
  • The winner will be contacted by email on Monday April 10, 2017.
  • The winner must respond within 24 hours, or an alternate winner will be selected.

Good Luck!

Has a well meaning friend or colleague  said anything to you about looking tired that bugged you? Alternatively, what have loved ones done for you to help you at your most tired?

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Fab Fit Fun Spring Box Review: An Easy & Affordable Splurge

 

 This post is sponsored by fabfitfun.com. All views and opinions are 100% my own.

When was the last time you did something just for you?

Do you incorporate self care into your days, weeks or months? Trust me, I know it’s hard to find the time to take care of, let alone spoil yourself. Luckily, one thing I’ve found during this first year of motherhood is that little splurges can go a long way in the self care department: a 15 minute lavender scented bubble bath, a 20 minute walk around the block listening to a favorite podcast, taking the time to give yourself a mani/pedi with a fresh polish color, getting up before the baby to read a chapter of a soul-filling book with a hot cup of coffee (before you have to reheat it 3 x), or receiving a package in the mail you’ve been looking forward to. I think it’s important to our well being to do little things to take care of and treat ourselves regularly when we devote so much of our time, energy and selves to caring for others.

A week ago I received a package I was really looking forward to, full of self care goodness, from Fab Fit Fun. You may have seen Fab Fit Fun advertised all over social media, and with good reason: this box is seriously awesome.  There are a lot of subscription boxes out there, and I’ve had the opportunity to try out a few, but none come close to the quality and value of Fab Fit Fun.

As busy woman we don’t often have the time to go out hunting for the latest and greatest in beauty, fitness, health and wellness products. Fortunately, Fab Fit Fun delivers a box of full-sized, premium products to you four times per year, with each new season. Boxes contain everything from health food products, to skincare, to hip travel coffee mugs, to the latest eyeshadow palette – whatever is in demand and in style for the season! As soon as I opened the Spring Box I felt instantly spoiled and couldn’t wait to share this positive experience with you. I think you’ll really like it! The value of the box is worth well over $200 for only $49.99, or $39.99 using the my discount code: TAYLORMADE.

Although part of the fun in opening your first Fab Fit Fun box is discovering all the fun goodies inside, I wanted to give you a sneak peak of what is in the Spring Box and some details on each product, in case you are considering a splurge for yourself. Don’t forget, you can get $10.00 off of your first box at fabfitfun.com using the code TAYLORMADE at checkout.

What’s In The Spring Box:

  • Emerald Duv “Josua Tree” Cage Bracelet (retail value: $80) – This lovely cage bracelet is a classic. It will compliment and add an elegant flair to just about any look.

  • Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion Age Defying Exfoliator (retail value: $79) – Free of parabens, sulfates and phthalates (yuck!), this natural exfoliator polishes away all dead skins cells and leaves you with a healthy glow. I have a tendency to break out after using scrubs if they are to harsh, but this one is gentle and I’ve had no issues so far. In my opinion, this product is worth the cost of the whole box if you’re looking for a good exfoliator! Younger looking skin? Yes please!

  • Karuna Hydrating Face Mask (retail value: $28) – Perfect for a quick 10-20 minute self care sesh! This box comes with 4 deep-conditioning sheet masks made of all natural wood-pulp fiber, recommended for weekly use. I popped one of these on, set my iPhone timer for 20 minutes and indulged while editing photos for this post (self care + productivity for the win!). Karuna states that the mask will improve hydration by 40% after 1 use and, while if would be hard to stick a percent on it, I do have to say that my skin looked a lot more hydrated afterward! I’ll definitely be ordering these again from Amazon (linked here). My one complaint would be that I could not for the life of me get this mask to lay flat on my skin as shown on the packaging (see picture below for a good laugh). My face definitely didn’t fit the masks as intended…

Not exactly pretty, but effective!
  • Nature’s Bounty Hair, Skin & Nails Gummies (retail value: $15) – I’m loving the strawberry flavor so much that I have to utilize willpower to only eat the daily dose of 2.  I have never taken a Biotin supplement before, but I’m looking forward to incorporating these guys and hopefully improving the health of my hair, skin and nails.

  • Briogeo Rosarco Milk Reparative Leave-In Conditioning Spray (retail value: $20) – This is perfect for dry, brittle, color-treated or postpartum hair like mine. In your hair needs some extra TLC this is a great product to have on deck. It both nourishes split ends and protects hair from heat and UV rays, plus it smells super yummy! I’m glad it was included in the Spring Box as I wouldn’t normally have thought to use it.

  • REALHER Lip Kit in Deep Red (mine), Deep Nude, or Neutral Pink (retail value: $48) – The creator of REALHER is a dad who made this entire brand in honor of his daughter as a way to empower her and all women to be themselves and start their days in a way that makes them feel great. There are motivation quotes and affirmations on each, all natural product. I LOVE the heart and message behind this brand. Now, on to it’s color and staying power: while I would have preferred to receive the nude or neutral kit (and will probably purchase on my own), I have to say that this is by far the most easy to apply and longest lasting lip product I have ever owned. Without the gloss overlay it is also kiss proof!

  • Deborah Lippmann Nail Polish Set in Shape of My Heart + Like a Virgin (retail value: $19) – Perfect hues for spring that will look great on any skin tone:

  • Gypsy 05 Roundie (retail value: $50) – This was the item I was most excited about when I initially opened my box as I’ve always wanted a roundie for picnics, beach trips, park days, etc. I really like the pattern that came in my Spring Box, but there are several other options that are just as cute, including a blue hue tie dye!
  • The Milly Zip Pouch (retail value: $45) would be perfect to tote around disposable utensils, napkins, sunscreen, wipes or whatever you need to pack for a day out. I honestly don’t love the saying on the zip pouch that was sent to me because it is a play on a cuss word (although it is cheeky for a beach trip). However, there are several other options you may receive in your Spring Box( i.e. “Slay All Day,” or “Haute Mess”).

Is Fab Fit Fun a box you would consider trying out? Even if you don’t go for the Spring Box, I still encourage you to find little ways to take care of yourself each day because you definitely deserve it. 

Have a wonderful day and thank you so much for reading!

xo, Ashley (1)

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Must Have Baby & Child Wardrobe Basics

I can’t believe Taylor turns 1 year old in less than a month. Like, I can’t even…

I’ve been busy planning her first birthday party (more to come on that) and reminiscing on what an amazing experience it has been to be her mama these last 11+ months. Despite the unplanned, drug-induced haze after her delivery I so vividly remember the first time I saw her face (and those dimples!) as she was laid on my chest. It was a face that my heart instantly recognized and felt I’d known my whole life, yet I knew nothing about her at the same time – if that makes any sense. From that moment on I’ve been absolutely obsessed with loving and learning all about this precious gift I’ve been given.

Watching her literally grow up before our eyes is absolutely amazing, but bittersweet knowing that she won’t be little forever. Taylor’s not the only one who has been growing and developing this year; we parents experience immense growth during the first year, through the joys and the challenges of figuring out how to do this whole parenthood thing. I am forever a different person than I was before April 15th, 2016.

Today, I want to share about the clothing company that has been “with us” throughout Taylor’s first year of life, from the white beanie she wore at the hospital to the body suits, hoodies and leggings she currently wears to “run around” or explore at her Little Gym classes every Friday afternoon – Primary.com.

Taylor in the baby hoodie in lilac.

Here are 10 reasons we love Primary.com (and think you will too!)

1.A variety of styles – personally, I am absolutely obsessed with their hoodies, leggings and zip romper pajamas, but there are so many cute styles to choose from for both boys and girls. Here are just a few of my other favorite pieces:

2. Vibrant colors that don’t fade  – You can choose from the following array of colors for almost every item in stock, making it easy to coordinate with existing wardrobe pieces:

I’ve washed and washed Taylor’s Primary pieces, because she wears them multiple times per week, and they still look like new. We used a bright orange baby suit as a part of T’s Halloween costume this year:

3. A great price point every item on Primary.com is under $25, starting at only $8! There is even a discount for buying 3+ of an item.

4. The softest fabrics – seriously, the cotton feels like butter; they’re basically the Lularoe leggings of baby/child apparel. So, so comfortable for babies sensitive skin. For the price, I honestly haven’t found anything that beats the quality of Primary.com clothing.

Taylor in the baby dress (mint) and leggings in spruce.
5. No logos, tags or slogans – this is another reason the clothing is super comfortable, and also easy to pair with any other pieces in your babe’s closet. Primary.com is a great place to stock up on your baby/kiddo basics to build a comfy wardrobe around.

6. Digital gift cards – even if you don’t have a little one in the home, the digital gift card option would be a GREAT gift for new mom friends, kid’s birthday parties, etc. Check out this post for some other great gift ideas for new moms.

7. Sizes from Newborn through Kid’s 12 – I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve bought the gray hoodie and black baby leggings for Taylor in 3 sizes over her first year – they’re staples! Primary.com can grow with your family.

T wearing a zip romper in petal
8. Versatility – kiddos can crawl/run/play around in these comfy clothes, but the pieces can also be accessorized for a more dressy occasion – a bow and sparkly cardigan over the swing dress or pocket skirt, the polo shirt with a pair of boys’ slacks to give you a couple of ideas. So many of these comfy basics can be worn casually around the house or for a dressed up (yet super comfy) look.

9. Free Shipping on orders over $50 – I bought $50-75 worth of Primary staple pieces before each size jump Taylor has gone through this year, which kept us perfectly stocked on all the basics she needed. 

10. 20% off of your very first order (click the link below) – So, what are you waiting for? Happy shopping!

Primary_Kids_Clothing_20_Percent_Off

This month, the Mama Must Have Giveaway includes a $25 gift card to Primary.com as part of an Emergency Baby Car Kit (my most popular blog post to date!). If you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe in order to be automatically entered to win.

As always, thank you for reading and let me know if and what you buy from Primary.com in the comments below!

xo, Ashley (1)

P.S. This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. If you utilize a link to make a purchase, I make a small commission at no cost to you. THANK YOU!

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