Father’s Day Gift Guide – Amazon.com Prime

Are you a last minute shopper (like me), not wanting to spend a ton of cash, but still want to give your baby daddy (or your own Dad!) something to make them feel extra special on Father’s Day this year? Then look no further – this is the gift guide for you! All of the gifts listed are under 100 dollars and have FREE 1-2 day shipping, if you’re an Amazon Prime member.

If you aren’t one already, definitely hop aboard the Prime train – you won’t be disappointed. My Prime membership easily pays for itself within a few weeks. I save hundreds per year by shopping for everything from the comfort of my home, office, car (as a passenger of course), waiting in line, etc. My husband thinks I’m crazy for how many boxes arrive on a daily weekly basis, but it works for our busy lifestyle.

If you don’t have Prime yet you can get a free 30 Day Trial HERE, just in time to purchase a gift from this list. Orrrrrrrr you can just trust me and go ahead and sign up for Amazon Prime HERE. “Once you go Prime you never go back,”  doesn’t really have a ring to it, but it’s still totally true. Check out ALL the cool stuff you’ll get access to with your Prime membership, in addition to free 1-2 day shipping and free returns, here.

Now back to what you came here for: The Ultimate Amazon.com Prime Gift Guide for Guys (all items are under $100, and many are on super sale!):

  1. Echo Dot (439.99) and a customized Case ($19.99) to suit his style.
  2. Oster Cordless Electric Wine Bottle Opener ($12.46)
  3. The Wire – The Complete Series ($72.80)
  4. Sharpest Tool Socks ($16.92)
  5. Homebrewing Craft Beer Making Kit ($49.99)
  6. Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada, by Jimmy Fallon ($12.84)
  7. All Natural Beard Conditioning Oil ($14.99)
  8. 1st Father’s Day Onesie ($21.00)
  9. Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife ($24.99)

  10. SENSO Bluetooth Headphones Wireless Sports Earphones ($37.97)

  11. Daniel Wellington Men’s Watch w/ Black Leather Band ($89.99)

  12. Slim Minimalist Genuine Leather Front Pocket Wallet ($12.99)

  13. Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote | Streaming Media Player ($39.99)

  14. Vintage Leather Canvas Travel Toiletry Bag Shaving Kit ($18.99)
  15. YETI Rambler 20 oz Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Tumbler with Lid ($24.99)
  16. Bevel Shave System Kit ($75.95)
  17. Dad’s Playbook: Wisdom for Fathers from the Greatest Coaches of All Time ($7.67)
  18. Oversized Canvas Genuine Leather Travel Weekend Bag ($46.99)
  19. Dad Mug ($19.98)
  20. BBQ Meat Branding Iron with Changeable Letters ($15.97)

What are you getting your honey for Father’s Day this year? How are you celebrating?!

xo, Ashley (1)

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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!

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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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Why I’m Leaving My Career To Be A Stay At Home Mom

Working Mom. Stay At Home Mom. Work At Home Mom.

An unfortunate truth is that, no matter what your decision or family circumstance in regards to work and motherhood, there will always be people who question, criticize or judge.

Since making the choice to put my career on pause to be at home with Taylor most everyone has been amazingly encouraging (i.e. the overwhelming, positive response on Instagram when I originally shared our news in this post). However, I have also had people ask directly – or behind my back – why I’m making the decision that I am, why I’m leaving what I’ve worked so hard to achieve over the last 10+ years…

Well, my answer is this: it feels right to my heart, I want to be the one to care for Taylor every day of the week, and it’s what is possible & best for our family. I know I will be the best version of myself as an individual, wife and mom because of this choice. Not to mention, I am also confident that my skills and drive will not simply vanish because I choose to stay home for a season of life.

Trust me, I can hold my ambition AND my baby. 

Not every mom feels like I do. Not every mom is wired the same. Not every mom has the same family circumstances and/or opportunities.

There are moms who absolutely love to work outside the home and would go crazy staying at home every day. They enjoy their work. They wouldn’t be the best version of themselves as an individual, wife and mom staying at home.  If that is you (I thought I would be you), be proud in your ability to balance work and home life in a way that feels good and right for you and your family; Although you may hear differently, there is nothing “wrong” or “selfish” with working outside the home because you want to. I know you know this, but you don’t love your career more than your child because you choose to work.

I know working moms who would love nothing more than to stay home with their babies, but are not able to do so. If that is you, please know that you are giving everything you can to contribute to raising and sustaining your family, and you are simply amazing. I feel your heart – being a working (outside the home) mom isn’t easy to begin with, but it’s downright hard when your heart wishes you were elsewhere. 

Work from home moms…I seriously don’t know how you do it. I can’t even get anything with this little side job blog of mine done from home now that Taylor’s down to one nap on my Friday off… If you’re pulling off the work at home mom life, my hat is off to you.

Then there are moms who have always envisioned being a mom and who couldn’t wait to quit their day job when they became one to stay home and raise their babies. In a world where so many moms do work outside the home by necessity or choice, you might feel like the minority (again, maybe that’s just the area where I live?). You may feel isolated, and even find yourself wondering if the 24/7 job you are doing is even noticed. Well, it is by those of us who “get it” and, most importantly, by your kids/family every day. Don’t ever feel less than because you are “just” a mom. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Finally, there are moms who make the difficult (and expensive) choice to leave successful careers to stay at home at some point in motherhood. Co-workers or others around you may not quite understand why you’re leaving the workforce to be “just” a mom. You’re letting down women who paved the way before you. You’re wasting your degrees.  Even some friends and family may question why you’d walk away from a job, salary and potential career opportunities you’ve worked hard to earn – and expensive mistake…Although I can only hope you have loved ones who are nothing but supportive.

Why I chose to put my career on hold to be a stay at home mom

I know that I am a very girl to have the choice to make between working and staying home with Taylor. Staying home is a luxury. I recognize that having a parent at home not every family’s reality, especially given the insane housing market (or is that just where I live?).  For me the decision to move toward Stay At Home Mom-dom was made after making the initial choice to return back to work after Taylor was born. I thought that’s what I wanted to do. I envisioned that as being my perfect reality of having “it all”. I did have my version of “it all,” but I couldn’t balance it. At least, not in a way that took away the ache or made me feel at peace in my heart.  Even working part time, and having my mom and husband watching Taylor in our home while I worked, the anticipation of needing to go back to full time eventually provoked an anxiety in me. I wasn’t expecting to feel that way, but there it was.

Long story – full of prayer, worry, life changes, thought and decision making – short, my husband and I are now changing up our entire life to make this happen because it is what we want and what works best for our family.  Over time, my parenting and work life will both ebb and flow, but neither will end; For this season, I am afforded the precious, irretrievable gift of time with Taylor, and any other babes we may be blessed with. Work can wait.

Criticism about your choice to work, stay home or somewhere in between?

What I want to say to you – and myself – is this:  

If you decide to continue or start working outside of the home when you have kids, even if you don’t financially need to…

If you decide to leave a successful career to be a stay at home mom…

If all you’ve ever wanted to be in life is a mom, and now you are one, happily at home…

There will always be people (even friends and family) – for reasons of insecurity, jealousy, selfishness, ignorance, or boredom- who will criticize the decisions you make in your life. Trust me when I say that it will only serve to bring YOU down and/or drive you crazy if you let the opinions of others influence the way you feel or cause you to question what you know to be right. So, whatever your #momlife looks like, remember that only you and your family truly know what works, and believe that your mama heart is just a committed as the next. And, if you’ve made it to the end of this very long post – thank you : )

Have you ever felt judged for the decision you’ve made to either work or stay home? I’d love to hear about your experiences and answer any questions you have about my journey. 

If you related to this post, I would appreciate if you would share it on Facebook with THIS LINK!

P.S. If you are considering making the decision to leave a job you like/love to stay at home for a season like I was, I encourage you to be confident, brave and just take the plunge. Do I have worries and some anxiety about making the transition? Do I worry about how, when and if I’ll get back onto my career path some day? Sure. Although I know the transition won’t necessarily be completely smooth sailing, I can honestly say have not felt any regret and my heart is at ease. I hope the same for you!

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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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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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How To Create A Bedtime Routine For A Baby

Thank you to I See Me Books for sponsoring this post.

Do you want to help your baby have a smoother, less tearful transition to sleep at night?

Do you wish your baby would STAY asleep longer once they do drift off? 

There are so many different methods to get your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep on their own (AKA “sleep training”) out there, which I know can be a bit overwhelming. However, one foundational element almost all sleep training methods include is developing and sticking with a bedtime routine.  

A peaceful, predictable bedtime routine is an important part of helping a baby to wind down and sleep well at night; baby who knows what is coming next is more relaxed, and therefore more likely to fall and stay asleep. Getting your baby used to a nightly routine from as early as 6 to 8 weeks not only has benefits for them, but also for you as a parent. It is nice to have special time, that you don’t have to plan or think about, set aside to connect with your little one at the end of each day.

Establishing a bedtime routine early on can also set you up for future successes in getting your little one to to brush their teeth, use the potty and complete other before-bed musts when they become a toddler. There are numerous benefits to creating a consistent bedtime routine for a baby, and it’s a critical component to helping your baby to be a better sleeper. So, why not start there?

Although there isn’t a prescription for the perfect bedtime routine for a baby (trust me, I looked!), below are 15 soothing elements you could choose to include within your little one’s nightly routine:

How To Create A Bedtime Routine:

To create the routine, my recommendation would be to keep it simple, and follow the process below:

  • Pick 4-6 elements from the list above.
  • Choose the order of those elements.
  • Time how long your routine takes to complete.
  • If the routine takes longer than you’d like, drop 1-2 of the components.
  • Once you’ve determine which elements are most soothing for your baby, and realistic for you to complete each night, continue to follow that same predictable pattern of events beginning at the same time (as much as possible) each night. 

A bedtime routine won’t be effective unless it is, well, routine.

Something important to note is that what works for one baby in a bedtime routine may not work for another. Babies are all SO different! For example, some babies are soothed and calmed by a nightly bath before going to bed. Taylor, on the other hand, gets very excited by a bath (more on her bath time routine and favs in this post), making it completely counterproductive to winding down. Another example from our experience was that ending our routine with a nursing session resulted in Taylor waking up much more frequently in the night than she does now that it comes at the beginning of her routine; However, some babies will sleep through the night regardless of when their final nursing or bottle session occurs.

The Perfect Addition To A Bedtime Routine:

We tried out several different iterations of a bedtime routine, playing with both the length of the routine as well as the components and their order, to find out what worked for both Taylor, her Dad and I. Please continue reading to find out Taylor’s current bedtime routine…but first I’m excited to share our new favorite board book from ISeeMe.com, known for their award winning personalized children’s books. We have loved incorporating this board book into Taylor’s bedtime routine lately:

It’s Taylor’s Night Night Time! is the perfect compliment to a bedtime routine for any baby – of course personalized with your babe’s own name!

Board books are essential for babies this age, and let me tell you that I See Me  has super cute ones to choose from. Each book includes adorable personalization details on almost every page. One of my favorites is the option to add a personalized inscription on the first page of the book; you can even choose to include your sweet baby’s picture to make it even more special. I See Me has personalized books for babies and kids ranging from special occasions (i.e. holidays, birthdays), to fairy tales, to coloring books, and even personalized sticker books, puzzles and growth charts.

Make sure to check out ISeeMe.com to pick up a personalized copy of the Night Night Time book for your little one!

Another adorable book from ISeeMe.com’s collection titled, T Is For Taylor.

Taylor’s Bedtime Routine (10 months old)

We start Taylor’s bedtime routine 25 minutes prior to when I’d like her to be asleep, then complete the following elements in this exact order every night:

  1. Nursing or bottle. Her last nursing session takes place outside of her room on the couch in the living room, so as to separate feeding to sleep as much as possible.
  2. We then move into her room and turn on her night light and white noise machine, and then turn off the main light in her room.
  3. I change her into her nighttime diaper and pajamas.
  4. We walk around the room saying goodnight to objects and prints in her room (e.g. “goodnight crib, elephant rocker, etc”), ending in saying good night to her ABC Poster and singing the corresponding song to her.
  5. Then, I put her into her sleep sack. Right now she is sleep in this Halo Sleep Sack that has openings in the bottom for her feet. She has always slept in some version of a Halo Sleep sack, beginning with their swaddler version for the first 5 months of her life, so this part of the routine is a main sleep cue for her.
  6. Next, we read 2-3 (okay, sometimes 10) books while rocking in the glider.
  7. Lastly, I tell her, “you’re going to go night night in your crib now,” get up from the glider walk over to the crib, give her a kiss/hug while saying a short, silent prayer for her, tell her, “mama loves you so much, have a great sleep,” and place her in the crib to drift off.

Although she can fall asleep readily on her own, Taylor does wake up 1-2 times per night. I wanted to include that as encouragement to mamas who feel like they are doing everything they can, but still have a babe who wakes during the night. I am told she may sleep through the night once we are done breastfeeding, but I’m not too worried about it. I’ll count my blessings with a baby who goes to sleep peacefully/independently!

Well, hopefully this post gave you some ideas to create, tweak or add to your baby’s bedtime routine. I would love if you would let me know the routine you create for your babe in the comments below!

xo, Ashley (1)

Personalized Alphabet Book

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If you liked what you read, please share:

2017 Blog Reader’s Survey

*I originally sent our this survey as an email. However, many of you reached out to me yesterday to let me know that you were unable to submit the survey – thank you so much for letting me know!

Due to this error in processing, I’m embedding the survey below for your convenience.I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and honest feedback by answering the questions in the short survey. It will help me tailor my posts to what YOU want to read about!

P.S. EVERYONE THAT COMPLETES THE READER’S SURVEY AND PROVIDES THEIR EMAIL ADDRESS IS ENTERED TO WIN A $10 STARBUCKS GIFT CARD!

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How To Meet Your Fitness Goals In 2017

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The New Year is a time when many of us re-dedicate ourselves to, overhaul or ramp up a fitness/nutrition routine. The gym parking lots are packed (I literally drove around, vulturing for a spot at 24 Hour Fitness this week for what seemed like an hour!) and mamas all over the country are buying dumbbell sets and resolving to complete their home workouts during nap time. Have you ever told yourself you were going to “get in shape” on January 1st but  found yourself in the same place you were then by the end of the year? If getting in shape is a goal for you this new year, how will you make sure you make that happen for yourself?

This where strategic goal setting comes in – being realistic and specific about what exactly you are hoping to achieve and setting a goal that you can actually measure progress toward and accomplishment of.

A specific goal has a MUCH better chance of being accomplished that a general goal.

Nothing motivates me more than seeing measurable progress toward a fitness goal. I’ve dabbled in lots of different forms of fitness over the years (swimming, running, CrossFit, bodybuilding, cycling, etc.) but the part that keeps me coming back for more is setting, meeting and even surpassing goals I set for myself. From college until age 27 I was a runner, and although I was not winning any awards for speed, I was continually motivated by seeing my times on the track or at a race decrease as a result of my training plans.

The cardio years.

At age 28 I found CrossFit and quickly became absolutely addicted to making measurable progress in strength, endurance and gymnastic skills. In CrossFit you keep track of basically everything, from the time it takes you to complete a particular workout, the maximum weight you can dead lift from the floor, the amount of strict pull ups you can complete, etc.

Scary lifting face but, hey, that’s a lot of weight!

Two things I’ve found helpful when it comes to setting and achieving my fitness goals over the years are:

1) Putting goals out there to a friend/s or family (or even on social media!). There is something about others knowing what you are trying to accomplish that creates instant accountability and motivation to stick to what you said you wanted to do.

2) Using strategic goal setting, such as a SMART goal format to develop and track progress toward goals.

SMART stands for:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Realistic

T – Time-based or Tangible

For example, although certainly realistic and achievable, “I will get in really good shape in 2017”  is not specific, measurable or time-based:

  • What does “really good shape” mean exactly? What components does this person consider as part of being in shape?
  • What is the baseline for for each of those components?
  • What would be the indicators of progress toward getting into really good shape?
  • How would someone actually know if they met that 2017 goal?

If I had that goal (“I will get in really good shape in 2017” ) for myself (which I do in fact!) I would want to:

a) specifically define the components I personally consider part of being in shape or that I cared to focus on for the year (body fat %, strength,skill, speed, etc.)

b) find my baseline times/weights/numbers for those components

c) set a realistic goal based on my current baseline and what I know to be possible within a year given any physical or time/schedule limitations,

d)  make sure that the components I choose to focus on can be tangibly tracked so that I can monitor my progress along the way.

Following this formula, a potential SMART goal for “getting into really good shape” could be:

“By January 1st, 2018 I will be able to run an 8:00 mile on a treadmill, do 10 consecutive push ups, hold a plank for 2 minutes,  and have a body fat percentage of 20% or less(the numbers would of course vary based on a current baseline for mile time, push-ups, planks and body fat).

Or even simpler, “I will join a gym and work out 3 days per week” would be a much more specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based goal than ” I will get into shape.”

My Fitness SMART Goal for 2017:

I thought I would increase my chances of achieving my own SMART strength and fitness goal for 2017 by sharing it with you:

1. I want to regain some of the strength and fitness capacity I lost during pregnancy and the past 9 postpartum months during which I have not been able to physically lift or exert myself like I used to. In order to set a realistic, achievable goal, I need to consider my baseline times/weights/numbers and also that I have less time than I used to to workout (read about how I still stay motivated as a busy, working mama HERE!). I chose 6 elements to create my strength and fitness goal, so that I can tailor my workouts toward making progress in those areas. My 2017 Fitness SMART Goal is:

““By January 1st, 2018 I will be able to run a 7:30 mile on a treadmill, do 15 consecutive push ups, hold a plank for 3+ minutes, add 50 pounds to my current deadlift and back squat max lifts, and complete 5 consecutive strict pull ups, and workout 3 times per week.”

So, What’s Next?

Once you have your SMART fitness goal/s established, you can create a plan to help you get there.

What are your fitness goals for 2017? I would love to read your goals in the comments! Could you make your goal a SMART one? 

Try out my  Busy Mama’s Home workout program!

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