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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How To Deal With Criticism About Your Decisions On Working As A Mom (& why I’m choosing to stay at home, for now)

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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Building A Breast Milk Freezer Stash On Maternity Leave

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At my daughter’s two month check up, her Pediatrician asked if I had started working on a “freezer stash” to prepare for my return to work and the inevitable dip in my milk supply that would go along with it. I thought, ‘ummmm what the heck is a “freezer stash”?’ but replied, “no not yet, but I will soon.” I knew going back to work in 7 weeks would be an emotional rollercoaster anyway, but I hadn’t yet begun to worry about how to mitigate a potential dip in my supply when I initially returned. I have a goal of breastfeeding Taylor for her first year of life, and I didn’t want those first few days back to work to sabotage that goal. The minute I got home I commenced a frantic Pinterest search for how to create a back stock of breast milk while I still had time on maternity leave. My worry fueled me to make the time for and routine to create a freezer stash over the next 40 days or so and, little by little, I ended up with just shy of 100 ounces by the time I went back to work.

I’m so glad that I took that time, even though pumping when you’re home with your baby is super annoying (my hat is off to you if you’re an exclusive pumping mama!), because it alleviated the pressure to pump enough when I first returned to work – that transition was stressful enough already! Fortunately, with the help of my AMAZING and delicious lactation cookies I have been able to keep up with Taylor’s demands thus far, but the stash has come in handy for other reasons I hadn’t thought of:

  1. when my husband and I have gone on a date night a couple of times and my mom has watched her. For me, it’s nice to have that freedom every once in a while.
  2. my hubby has fed her a bottle of my milk at 3AM and so that I could get a full night’s sleep when I was on the edge of total exhaustion during the 4 month sleep regression
  3. to mix in with the homemade baby food I’ve been preparing. I’m only able to pump just enough for the next day at work.
  4. when Taylor had a particularly hungry day and my mom, who is a saint and watches her when I’m at work now that she is no longer at daycare, needed to give her an extra bottle beyond what I’d pumped the day before at work. I’m definitely a “just enough” pumper!

You can read more about my workday pumping routine here, and what I pack in my pumping bag here.

I’m not an expert, but if you are going to be returning back to work soon, I hope some of my experience and resulting advice will help you build up your own freezer stash and have the comfort of knowing you’ve got a backup while you’re getting back into your work routine. We mamas have enough to worry about, right?!

Tips For Building A Freezer Stash

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Pump in the morning after putting baby down for 1st nap –

Milk supply is at it’s highest in the morning hours, so this is the time I noticed I would get the most bang for my buck. I usually kept the bottle of pumped milk out until I was certain she would stay down for her nap for a while. If she woke up hungry, I didn’t want to be “out” of milk. No one wants to be tapped out with a cranky, hungry baby! As a side, but very important note, do NOT pump during a growth spurt as your baby will need all the milk you can supply (unless you have an over-supply of breastmilk).

Pump in the evening after putting baby to bed –

Each night I would strap on my handsfree pumping bra, settle down into our comfy couch, and watch a show with my hubby whilst pumping for 20 minutes, or until both sides had emptied. Often I would feel discouraged because I would get so little in the evenings (1-2 ounces), but trust me it adds up! You can always leave that milk in the refrigerator to combine with the next session’s liquid gold before freezing.

Label your storage bags before pouring in the pumped milk –

I label my bags with a Sharpie, noting the date, time and ounces. Some people note the exact time, but I just delineate between AM and PM. This is important so that you know which milk to use first.

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Store the milk in 2 and 3 ounce increments –

Storing milk in 2-3 ounce increments limits the potential for waste. If you fill each bag up to capacity and then thaw it out when needed, but your baby doesn’t eat all of it you can’t re-freeze or refrigerate it and it goes to waste. I froze a few 4-5 ounce bags, but mainly in smaller amounts. Here is a useful link I reference for how much milk to feed at what age.

After filling the storage bag, lay it flat to freeze –

After you make sure the bag is TOTALLY sealed (I put that in all caps because I’ve lost milk to a false closure – R.I.P.) lay it flat to freeze. Once frozen it is much easier to line up your little milky soldiers:

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Store the milk storage bags in reverse chronological order –

You want to be using the oldest milk first. Breast milk can keep in the freezer for up to 6 months, so you’ll walk to keep track. Here is a link from KellyMom.com that gives great guidelines for storing and handling breastmilk, including how long it can keep in the freezer.

That’s how I built up a freezer stash while on Maternity Leave!

I’m definitely not a lactation consultant or expert by any means, but I thought I would share my experience with you in case you find yourself in the same situation (returning back to work) and with the same goal (maintaining your breastfeeding relationship) and want to start your own stash. I know that having one definitely decreased my anxiety about returning to work, and has continued to feel like a safety net for us over the last few months.

If you’ve been through this already, I would love to find out what worked and didn’t work for you in building up your own freezer stash. Or, if you have any questions – I’m here for you!

Thank you for reading.

xo, Ashley (1)

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Packing a Daycare Bag – For an Infant

Daycare bag contents

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I’m back at work now, fortunately only part time this year. 1-2 days per week Taylor attends a wonderful daycare/infant center right down the street. Do I wish I was with her instead? Yes, with all my heart. Do I feel confident that she is getting good care, socializing and developing without me a couple days per week? Absolutely. They do tons of developmental activities, she has an assigned “caregiver” who feeds her and puts her down for naps, and she gets a chance to socialize with the other infants which is nice for Taylor since she doesn’t [yet] have a sibling around. The other days she is with my mom, her Grammy, and my husband who works from home – huge blessings for our family.

Nowadays I feel like a total bag lady – my diaper bag, pumping bag, gym bag and now a daycare bag all have to be organized and prepared for each day before leaving the house. I posted about what I pack in my pumping bag HERE. I always make sure everything is ready to rock before I go to bed at night – if I leave that until the morning it’s highly likely I’ll forget something. If your mornings are anything like mine, there is way too much going on to with too little time to be sure everything makes it in the bag and out the door.

If you’re a new mom with a baby who will be in day care for part or all of the work week, I hope this post gives you some ideas for packing up your own bag before heading back to work.

A lot of the bags I looked at for Taylor’s daycare bag [like this one from Skip Hop which was a good price point] didn’t have quite the dimensions I needed to fit her milk cooler in the bottom. I purchased this bag by Bebamour because it a) had TONS of pockets and storage space, b) could be worn as a backpack [essential for getting out of the house with all those bags AND a baby/carseat!], c) a very reasonable price for the quality, and d) almost exactly the right amount of room to fit the cooler for her milk in the bottom. Plus, I think it’s super cute:

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Now, on to the contents of Taylor’s daycare backpack:

Daycare bag contents

1.The “Just In Case” gallon ziplock bag:

In this Ziplock I have a tube of Vaseline, MAM pacifiers [the only kind she’ll occasionally take], butt paste [this smells INFINITELY better than Desitin, IMO], mini hand sanitizer [I buy these in bulk and stash them everywhere] and disposable diaper bags.

2. SleepSack Swaddle

3. Bottles of milk and cooler

4. Warm weather spare outfit in a Ziplock

5. Cold weather spare outfit in a Ziplock

6. Wet/dry bag for bottles or clothes with spit up on them [darn you acid reflux!]

7. Comotomo Bottles:

We tried several different kinds of bottles, and this is the one Taylor took to consistently. The other brands that were recommended for breastfed babies may work for your babe, so I’ll link them here in case you need reference: Tommee Tippee, Lansinoh mOmma and Breastflow.

8. Wipes

9. Bibs [I adore these by Copper Pearl] & burp cloths [we use cloth diapers because they’re cheap and very absorbent!]

How does it all fit? Well, it was hard to get a good shot but you can hopefully see that I put the empty bottles in the front compartment [when I pick up Taylor + bag, the bottles are in the wet part of the wet/dry bag], the “Just In Case” ziplock is in the other front pocket, the cooler sits at the bottom, and all the other compressed ziplock bags +swaddle + wipes are in a stack turned sideways to the tight side of the bag. The wet/dry bag is wedged between the cooler and the side of the bag for easy access.

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That’s about it! If you’re sending your babe off to daycare for the first time like I am, I hope you both have a smooth transition.

Am I missing anything I could add to make my/Taylor’s life more organized? 

xo, Ashley (1)


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Working Mama’s Pumping Bag

Working Mama's Pumping Bag (1)

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T minus 5 days until the bliss that is Maternity Leave ends, and I return to work. True to the OCD that is within, all my bags are packed and ready to go: gym, daycare, meals, work/computer, and the subject of today’s post – the Pump Bag! I’m a complete amateur at this working mama thing, so preparing ahead of time makes me feel more confident about the transition back.

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Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump with On the Go Tote

These days, most insurance covers a free breast pump. I chose to purchase my own because I wanted to have it from day one after Taylor’s birth, in case I needed it. Also, I liked the Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump {not the one covered by my insurance} because it included a spacious tote that was also conspicuous enough for me to bring anywhere I needed to. It has a nice amount of space to store all the gear I need:

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The contents of my Pumping Bag.

 

1.Wet/Dry Bag: These bags are über convenient. I also have one for my daycare and diaper bags as well.

2. Extra Pump Parts: I bought an extra set of pump parts so that I don’t have to necessarily wash the parts after each pump. I can just put the used set in the Wet/Dry bag to wash when I get home and use my second set for the next pumping session at work. I also keep two extra bottle lids and filters in the dry pouch.

3. Breast Pump & Accessory Wipes: This is another convenient way to keep everything clean and sanitary, without having access to a sink when you’re on the go. If I’m not on the go, and at my office, I’ll wipe off my pump parts before putting them in the wet/dry bag and put the bag in the refrigerator to keep it sanitary until the next pump. At night, I wash everything with soap and warm water at home.

4. Nursing Cover: In case I need to pump in my car or other non-private location.

5. Disposable Nursing Bra Pads: Because, leaks.

6. Snacks! – Power Crunch Protein Energy Bar: These protein bars are seriously delish – they have tons of flavor options and taste just like a wafer cookie, I swear.

7. Mini hand sanitizer – I like this alcohol free version.

8. Cooler and extra bottles

9. Hands-free pumping bra: This is an absolute must have item. I can still work on my laptop or make phone calls, while taking care of my other business : )

UPDATED 8/27/2016:

After being back at work for a month, and temporarily not having a private office to take care of business, I decided to transfer all the contents of my Medela tote {see above} into a larger, more inconspicuous, purse-looking bag. As I move throughout the office to whichever destination I end up in for the particular pumping session, no one is the wiser that I’m not just carrying a purse.  I found the perfect one on Sole Society:

I also came up with another time saver {and reason for needing a larger bag!}. I now store my pump parts in this Skip Hop cooler in between sessions, essentially utilizing it as a mini fridge. This saves me from needing to wipe down and sanitize in between pumpings!

I hope that this post was helpful for any nursing mamas preparing to head back to work, or gave ideas to add convenience for those who already have returned!

What do you pack in your pump bag? I can’t be the only perma-hungry nursing mama out there – what are your favorite healthy, go-to snacks?

xo, Ashley (1)
PS The tote I use for my pumping bag is this one by Sole Society, but here are several others that would be super cute:

If I could go back and do it again, I’d snag this tote for my pumping bag/purse!


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