$5 Windup Doll Costume DIY

Monday, October 29, 2018

This year, we decide to keep things simple! I wanted a cute, easy costume and came across this idea for a Wind-Up Doll.

Total Cost- around $5

I simply made a key to add to a cute dress we already had. If you're looking for a quick and easy costume, this is it!

You'll need

-- Foam Board or Cardboard
-- Cardboard roll from Paper towels or toilet paper (Paper towel roll is thicker)
-- Pencil
-- Exacto knife
-- Hot Glue & Hot glue gun
-- Ribbon or Elastic
-- Gold or Silver paint

To start, I googled some vintage key images on Google and found one that I liked. I used that for inspiration and estimated how large I wanted it. I guessed 8" wide would be best for my one-year-old.

I created a template on a regular poster because I knew I would want to cut two pieces out of foamboard to create a sturdy "key" because toddlers are not the most graceful lol

I traced my design onto foam board and cut out with an Exacto knife. Your design can be much more simply OR way more elaborate! I like frilly, girly things so I tend to err on the side of more detail haha

Once I cut my two key shapes out, I cut a paper towel roll about 3.5" high.  Then cut out a circle of foam board and cut slits for my key to fit through.

Cut a simple rectangle base to attach everything to. I made mine tall (not wide) so the key would stay upright on her back. (No saggy key for us!)

I used foam sticky squares to put my key pieces together. And then hot glued everything together.


And then you are ready to hot glue your elastic arm bands on!

Monthly Baby Photos with Flowers

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Watch little Reese Willow grow! 

Reese Willow 7 Months Old!

I cannot believe it. My baby is now 7 months old. SEVEN.

How on earth did that happen?!

I've been using an amazing app to help document her life. Some of the BEST advice I got when I was pregnant was to make sure I took VIDEO of her. Photos are wonderful but nothing compares to hearing her little noises and giggles.

Seven months in and I haven't missed a day yet!

Draw the Circle: 40 Day Prayer Challenge

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

I owe a HUGE debt of gratitude to a beautiful friend of mine for sharing her heart and guiding me in uncharted territory.

[[It feels like a YEAR ago]] but TWO WEEKS ago,Lindsay Stay shared a book that transformed her prayer life.

"..... my relationship with Jesus has changed, opportunities have opened, epiphanies have been had and mostly, I feel like raising my arms in worship at the mere thought of Jesus' name."

When you hear someone with that much EXCITEMENT and conviction, I immediately thought "I gotta have that!"
To be totally honest, a big reason why I ordered it was because I was awake with Reesey girl at 1am- my MOST VULNERABLE online shopping window!

I usually have a rule that I CANNOT BUY ANYTHING after 10pm lol
Especially Amazon!! With a clickety-click you can get just about anything, so I've been known to go a little wild with that "Add to Cart" Button.

But this is one random Amazon purchase I will be forever grateful for! 

Since getting these books, I don't even feel like the same person. Something has finally CLICKED for me. Not just in my brain...but in my heart. You can read about my experience here

Ideas keep popping into my head and I've had this continual thought that I need to host a GROUP for anyone who wants to join me for a 40 Day Prayer Challenge. I'm ready to listen, learn, share, and soak it all in with whoever wants to pop in.


So if that sounds intriguing to you, grab a copy of "Draw the Circle - 40 Day Prayer Challenge" and tag a friend

I have my link bookmarked in case anyone wants to PRIME it: http://amzn.to/2Dpb7ym

Or I believe you can get it from your local library?

I also got the prayer journal (http://amzn.to/2DCi3FT) so I can write everything down. Totally optional but it's a great way to track your prayers so you can give God the Glory as Mark B. says!

Being a "Good Person" Isn't Enough: Why I'm no Longer a Lukewarm Christian

For me, there is life before January 12, 2018...and life after....

If you've followed me for awhile you might be just as surprised to be reading this as I am to be writing it! 
A bit nervous to share this, but I always end up sharing everything because as scary as it is...I know ultimately my story will find the right people and inspire change.

I want to preface this by saying three things:
  1. I am SO glad I immediately typed it out after it happened because as time goes on, I know would have forgotten details. 
  2. It was the strangest thing and I’m fairly certain most people will think I’m CRAZY haha 
  3. I am no expert...I am just now learning and growing in my own personal journey
I grew up with religion but have pushed away from it basically my whole life- and while I believe in God, I just never considered having a real relationship. I would just think, "Oh that church stuff isn't for me."
Looking back, God has been calling my name. There have been SOO many invitations to get to know Him better.
I've seen other people or friends who LOVE Jesus and will unabashedly raise their arms in praise. That was never me. I could never understand it...and I wasn't even sure I would believe in it. I would always say... "It just doesn't make sense to me. I don't understand"

Instead of learning more, I've just gone about my day...trying to be a good person and believing in the power of the “universe”. In conversations, I would give the "Law of attraction" all of the credit. I would tell people to make goals and put them out there for the universe to fulfill. I might even say "I believe in God, but I just call him/it the universe"
Which I now realize is such a cop-out to giving God the glory

I was raised Catholic, which for a lot of people that represents old oppressive views, lots of guilt, fire and brimstone, and long boring church services.
So when people have asked if I go to church, I say “wellllll I was raised CATHOLIC....” and we’d have a good chuckle. As if that was my “get out of church-free card”

I've also seen a lot of hypocrites go to church and I basically decided that "The only people who go to church are the ones who REALLY NEED it." I'm made a lot of negative assumptions about religion, church & seeking God.

THEN something happened...

I watched a video from my best friend. At first, I watched it to support her. Then I continued watching it out of curiosity... then I continued watching it because I was intrigued.

That video has changed me. For me reason, it just clicked

It prompted me to look up video from people who have had Near-death experiences & gone to heaven (or HELL!)   For some reason, it has LITERALLY NEVER occurred me to that someone could have gone to Hell and come back to talk about it.

In fact, there are so many TVs...books....Movies...that make light of Hell. Everything from cartoon devils, portrayals that it's the "party place" and that Heaven is uptight and boring.

As I am watching people pour their heart out and tell their stories and experiences of Hell, the gravity of the situation quickly hit me.

Suddenly I felt this RESOLVE to build a relationship and truly accept Jesus into my heart. It was such a new revelation like WOW!! Why haven’t I ever done this before?!
I felt as if I had been living in the dark (literally?)

Now here is where things get a little crazy....

But once I felt that strong resolve, I started feeling extreme fear, doubt, confusion...under attack...as if demons are lurking. Literally, like scared that if I turned around I would see one. It was scary!!

I started to pray and it felt like a battle within my body. Chest pain, weird pain, sensations, heat, chest tightening, shaky hands. Pretty much scared the sh** out of me

I’ve NEVER felt such crazy sensations and it was like I was getting a TINY glimpse into the torment that one might feel if they were cut off from God

Needless to say, I could not sleep all night

I was scared to fall asleep and kept praying that I would NOT see anything in my dreams

Then around 6am, I was laying with Reese, feeding her, and I dozed off. Had THE most disturbing dream/vision whatever you want to call it.

Basically, I’ll spare you the deets....but two tall male figures boxed me in. I was thinking- “No! Get away” but it seemed they wanted to sway me. I had the realization that they could be not as they appear...they could be in disguise...trying to trick me. As soon as I had that thought, they morphed! And slinked away

Then I was back in my bed - a small black bull ran across the headboard and the words “Read the good book” appeared in gold script. 

I could have sworn I woke up- I was confused. And a voice literally GROWLED “read the f*cking Good book”

Heart pounding and shaking. I could feel that growl vibrate my body- it was NOT JUST A DREAM.
But this wasn’t like a ...”I watched scary things and can’t sleep”

It felt like a battle for my soul. Again, crazy sounding but it was very real to me


I theorize that the “reading the effin book” was an attempt to scare me off. To say, oh yea I DARE YOU to read it and challenge me.  I felt very vulnarable and almost as though I opened a can of worms and was tryiong to be scared off of learning more

I’ve realized something VERY IMPORTANT. Being a “lukewarm” Christian is perfect for the devil. You’re lured into a false sense of security. And slowly over time he digs his claws in. You go about your day...your life...not really thinking about it... and I cringe to think what would happen to {my} soul if I kept on that path.

Being a good person is NOT enough.

It's about faith, love and obedience
Repenting (daily) for our sins
Accepting God into our hearts and Jesus who died for our sins so that we can be forgiven.

My friends who have inspired this journey! 

A week ago, if I would have heard this story I would have said
... you’re crazy
...you’re just anxious
...you’re imagining things

But I’m choosing to believe God has finally found a way to WAKE ME THE HECK up. Honestly, I hate even sharing it and remember those feelings...but I know there is a greater purpose here. And I now know that I MUST pursue this.

Trust me, I know this is shocking to be coming from me. But I sincerely hope that I've said something to encourage you to research it more ad grow closer to God.
I finally understand so much of what I could not grasp before. And if nothing else, I would much rather err on the side of being a "crazy Jesus person" than be a fair-weather Christian.

I know this is crazy and out of the blue...but I could not go another day without sharing. I've had my "Come to Jesus Moment" and I hope you have yours xo

So yea... if anyone still wants to be friends...love ya! Hah

If you want to watch my friend's video, here it is

Draw the Circle: 40 Day Prayer Challenge


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

One of the most powerful realizations I've ever had:


Let me share a little story so you understand what I mean: 

"This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have."

Pre-Beacbody and all of the personal development... I would see a problem with the world and think, "MAN! SOMEBODY should do something about that." ....and sit back to wait for the change to happen.

Then I realized...I AM SOMEBODY. And unless SOMEBODY steps up...NOBODY will.

While Beachbody is a HEALTH & FITNESS company...it has given me an incredible platform to create a life of FREEDOM.
A life where I can see a problem...and then DO SOMETHING about it.

My dear friend Linda Trusky messaged me about some homeless pups (who are without food, medical care & love) in Punta Cana.

Linda and I go wayyyy back to High School (Go Bulls!) She's always been a STUNNING beauty with an incredible figure...so people would automatically think she'd be a total BE-otch haha
That could not be FURTHER from the truth- she is even MORE beautiful on the inside, has always treated others with respect, she's incredibly spiritual and has a HUGE heart for all of God's creatures.

So when she approached me about possibly going to Punta Cana and rescuing these pups...the FIRST thing that came to my mind is...
"This is a job for SOMEBODY"
Linda stepped up...and it inspired me to spring into action.
We booked our flights, took the pups to a vet for medical care and boarding, and went back for them a month later when they were allowed to enter the US. They now are in loving homes!

So I guess my message for you is this...

You don't have to book an international flight to instigate change... but the next time you find yourself muttering, "Wow, somebody should do something..."
...BE THE SOMEBODY...even if it's a baby step. Every little bit counts   

Homemade Dog Food

Friday, December 22, 2017

My poor Winston has been through a lot. I swear there is something about purebred dogs having health issues (smaller gene pool?)
Regardless... Winston has been regurgitating his dry food since he was about 1 yr old.  We tried everything from switching food-to food-to food... and even resorted to VERY INVASIVE surgery. I am STILL upset about all of the tests & procedures we put him through.

Despite everything we tried, we could NOT figure out the issue and every vet came up blank. Hours and hours of research, talking to other dog owners...and nothing we tried seemed to help.

Fast forward to 2016, Winston develops glaucoma and loses his right eye. In the midst of trying to diagnosis him and prevent the loss of his vision, we took him to a holistic vet.  He started getting regular acupuncture treatments. I really started digging into his health & nutrition.
I've always believed in giving my pups high-quality food (PS Check out dogfoodadvisor.com to get the rating on your current dog food.) 

Our holistic vet recommended a homecooked meal plan for Winston...and voila! Just like magic, he stopped regurgitating food!

He is an 80+ lb dog so once we got him into a good place, I started experimenting with half dry food, half home-cooked food. We discovered he does really well on Orijen.  It's nice to know we have a dry food backup. It came in really handy when we had to evacuate due to Hurricane Irma! I packed his cooked food in coolors and had a bag of dry food to serve him as well.

COMMON SENSE: But I am not a vet, doctor, or certified in any type of dog nutrition. I am simply sharing Winston's meal plan that we formulated by his vet and not endorsed or approved by AAFCO. 
ALSO NOTE: If you choose to cook your dogs food, I highly recommend you read, research and educate yourself. Dogs need vitamins and minerals just like humans. I would hate for you to cook their food and think you are doing everything for them...but miss out on some of the vital things they need to thrive.


I use two crockpots to cook his food.
Once you have done this a few times, you will start to create a process for yourself. At this point, I know how much meat to buy and how many veggies I'll need to go along with it. At first, it was VERY MUCH trial and error.

Once it's cooked, I portion it all out in meal prep containers and freeze. We typically keep 3 days worth in the fridge so they are thawed and ready to serve. 

We now have a freezer in the garage so I can really go crazy and make him one month's worth at a time.

For prepping VEGGIES...I like to buy FRESH. I will spend one afternoon washing them and SHRED them in the food processor.  Then I measure them out into 1/4 cup or 1/2 cup bags and freeze. That way I can just get the amount I need and throw it in the crockpot.
This is a HUGE pain in the butt however it will save you so much time down the road!

RECIPE Breakdown
50-75% Meat (Ex: 1 Cup)
25-30% Starch (Ex: 1/4 Cup)
10-20% Veggies (Ex: 1/8 Cup)
1-2 tsp Spices

MEAT 50%-75% (ex: 1 cup)


  • Turkey
  • Bison 
  • Quail 
  • Beef
  • Venison
  • Rabbit 
  • Dark Meat Chicken (no fat or skin) 
  • Oily Fish (Mackerel)
  • Whitefish (Mix another protein source with whitefish) 
  • Clams
  • Egg
  • Organ meat of Beef, Bison or Venison (should not exceed 5% of diet)

STARCH / LEGUMES 25%-30% (ex: 1/4 Cup)

  • Barley
  • Millet
  • Yucca
  • Teff
  • Quinoa
  • Sweet potato
  • Purple Potato
  • Sweet rice 
  • Butternut squash
  • Oats
  • Kidney Bean
  • Adzuki Bean
  • Lentil
  • Mung Bean

    If you choose beans, soak overnight with several water changes, boil beans and discard used water before adding them to crock pot or cooked food

VEGETABLES  10%-20% (ex: 1/8 cup)

  • Carrot
  • Kale 
  • Corn
  • Orange/ Red pepper (small & sweet, not spicy) 
  • Green Beans
  • Asparagus 
  • Zucchini
  • broccoli (most any green vegetable)
  • Shiitake/ Mitake/ Enokitake mushroom (not button) 
  • Celery 
  • Winter squash 
  • Organic Baby Greens- do not cook, add small amt raw
Chop the vegetables finely, they should be fresh or frozen but you may use canned vegetables as a last resort.
Add at last 20 min of cooking (heat off) or blanch and add separately.

Spices to Add to Crock Pot:

Sprinkle Small Amounts of 1-2 choice (s) (1-2 tsp)


  • Chen Pi (VHA)
  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Tuneric
  • Cumin 
  • Cinnamon bark 
  • Bay Leaf
  • Garlic or Ginger may also be used in very small amounts (¼ tsp fresh)

FINALLY, you will want to add: 
  • 1 small white turnip (cut into chunks) to the crock-pot
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Apple cider vinegar (Bragg) 
  • 1-2 Tbsp of coconut or olive oil (mix in well)
Cook at least 4 hours.


  • Citrus fruit 
  • Apples (no seeds ever & no skin if not organic) 
  • Almond 
  • Clam 
  • Anchovy 
  • Seaweed 
  • Walnuts
  • Shrimp
  • melons 
  • cow tendons (Bully sticks)
  •  Baked sweet potato 
  • Persimmons
  • Cucumber

  • Atlantic Sea Kelp= Kombu (1-2 large leaves per crockpot chopped into small pieces)-add before cooking, cut into small pieces with scissors, soak well with many water changes
  • Non-Animal based Calcium (900mg-1100 mg per Pound of Meat/Day) (1 pound of meat is about 2 cups)- Add at end of cooking to crock pot 
  • Vit-C (Bioflavenoid) –Work up to 1000 mg per daily. Start with 250mg and work up weekly
  • Vit-A – Give 10,000 IU Daily
  • Vit-E (Mixed Tocopherol)- 200 IU Daily

This diet is based on TCVM Food Energetics and is not proven to be balanced or complete by AAFCO

25 Favorite Baby Items Under $25

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

25 of our favorite baby items (for 3 months and under because Reese is only 3 months old lol)
  1. My Brest Friend Adjustable Foot Stool $25
    Our calves were getting a serious workout before we stumbled across this stool! You never realize how much WORK it is to hold a baby. When you are nursing, your back, arms, legs all start to get tired. You will be much more comfortable with this simple little stool. It's great if you have a glider with an ottoman, but if you want to sit in different places around the house...this is a great little footrest that is easy to move around. We use it DAILY!

  2. Comotomo Bottles $19
    I didn't discover these bottles until recently but I've started to stock up! They are supposed to mimic breastfeeding- great if you are transitioning your baby. Made of a soft, non-toxic silicone which is super easy to clean and comfortable to hold. I find that they are a bit heavier than our other bottles, but oddly more comfortable because the silicone squeezes to fit your hand. I also like the Tomme Tippee bottles.

  3. Boon Grass Drying Rack $15
    This is the ultimate Baby must have. Whether you are drying bottles, pump parts or anything, it's holds even the smallest most awkward little pieces. I love that the "grass" sits on a white tray. You can dump out the water/wash it all

  4. Baby Nail File $5
    I was a little surprised to find the most effective way to keep Reese's nails short was a simple emery board. No fancy nail clippers needed. I alternate between these and the Zoli electric nail trimmer ($27) The electric one is great because it's quick and I've tested it on my skin...totally safe!

  5. Letters to My Baby $11
    For the sentimental momma! I really love little things like this. It's a really sweet (quick!) way to preserve your memories and how you feel in the moment. I can't wait to give these to her when she's older!

  6. OXO Tot Bottle Brush with Stand $4
    Under $5 and such a great brush! The stand is invaluable. I'm not a germaphobe by any means, but I do like to know her bottle brush is sanitary!

  7. Gel Puppy Pads $10
    We ALWAYS change Reese on top of a puppy pad. We learned our lesson quickly when swapping diapers and she peed on her mat...which ran all around her and soaked her clothes. Inexpensive way to make cleanup a breeze in case of accidents.
    Why gel? It absorbs very quickly right were she pees so it doesnt travel all over the place. These are also great to lay your baby on to "air out" every once in awhile lol
    Random Side note to dog owners...Poop bag rolls work great for dirty diapers on the go!
  8. Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle $10
    I love this toy because it's super easy for her to grab and hold onto.

  9. Costco Baby Wipes $15
    I remember seeing Costco wipes in many pinterest articles and would always think...We won't use those... We will onllyyyy use Water Wipes.  We love water wipes- they are great. But where Costo wipes come in handy... When you are by yourself dealing with an explosive diaper. They are the only wipes we have found that you can pull out one-handed. With every other brand, half the package comes up when you try to grab one.  The Costco brand is nice and thick/sturdy. Great for holding under your baby while you make a run for the sink/tub.  Get a membership or find someone who has one!

  10. Dr. Brown's Formula Pitcher $11
    This was a total surprise. When you have a baby, suddenly your counter is completely covered with bottles, pacifiers and all sorts of little things. So I wasn't exactly thrilled to by one more kitchen accessory.
    This thing is worth like $50...at least! haha We bought a Baby Brezza to quickly prepare bottles. That was a waste of $180.
    I've read the instructions, I've read the troubleshooting guides, I've researched and tried/retried that machine...but for some reason her bottles never have the appropriate ratio. My theory is the Florida humidity makes the formula clump?
    On the other hand, for $11... I can prepare an entire day of formula and keep in the fridge. It mixes it so nicely- no air bubbles or clumps.
    There is a reason this thing has some many positive reviews.

  11. Rechargeable Clip On Fan $22
    I was 9 months pregnant in Florida in August. So let's just say I got my money's worth out of this fan before Reese was even born! haha This is the perfect little fan to attach to their stroller for walks and I love that it's rechargeable. Who has time to deal with batteries?!

  12. NoseFrida $20
    Sounds gross, works like a charm.

  13. Windi $15
    When your baby has gas pains, it feels like your soul is dying. You will quickly get over the weirdness once you realize how amazing this thing works!

  14. Gripe Water $9
    I dont think we would have survived the first month without this! Helps sooth tummy troubles!

  15. Infantino 4-in-1 Carrier $24
    We have the Lillebaby Airflow ($124) which is really beautifully made and we love it...but there is a LOT to be said for this simple $24 carrier. We used it while we were researching more expensive carriers and it worked great. Since it was so inexpensive, we've used it while going on little hikes because I'm not worried about it getting dirty/ruined.

  16. Kick & Play Piano $25
    Fun for baby...some ME time for mommy! I'm in a pregnancy group and nearly every baby is obsessed with this!

  17. DishTowels $14
    You're probably going to ignore my advice on this one if you are a first-time mom...because everyone tried to tell me and I ignored them haha So go ahead and buy the super soft Burt's Bees Burp cloths or the cute ones you found.
    At the end of the day, the best thing that works for baby drool and spit up is a nice dishtowel. Grab a pack at Home Goods or TJ Maxx. Every pretty/fancy one we have has shrunk in the wash. I know how to do laundry but when you have a million things going on, you're not exactly paying attention to what gets thrown in the dryer.

  18. Baby Bling Bows $9
    Cute, high-quality bows that don't leave a mark! Enough said. Nordstorm carries these in their baby section if you want to check them out in person first. Forewarning: They are addictive! haha

  19. Subscription to Hulu $12
    This is pretty much a breastfeeding/pumping must. When you are stuck in a dark room at 2am feeding, you can't exactly read a book. And while it's absolutely incredible to stare at your baby...you might find that you need a little light-hearted mental break while they are nursing/dozing off.

  20. Haaka $18
    Breastfeeding/pumping mamas get this! It works like magic and sometimes I would get more milk using this than I would by using the pump. A lot of mamas will put this on the opposite side that they are nursing and will get ouncesss of milk!

  21. Pop Ya Tot Natural Rubber Soother $15
    We don't use a pacifier often, but this is my favorite. She is able to hang onto it a lot better than the other ones we've tried...and it doesn't leave any marks on her face

  22. Swaddle Me $20
    VELCRO.  That's all I need to say about this. For the other parents who suck at swaddling, you literally cannot mess this up!

  23. Alaffia - Everyday Coconut - Moisturizing Shampoo & Body Wash $10
    omgoshhhh I can't even tell you how much I love this soap. I am obsessed with smelling her after baths.

  24. Baby Wet/Dry Bag $11
    If you're on the go and your baby has a blowout, these are amazing for storing dirty clothes. We used this while traveling as her little laundry bag.

  25.  Baby Car Mirror $20 - This is the only mirror I've seen that doesn't give your baby the fish bubble look.
Bonus Items:
Andy Pandy Diapers
Hands down my favorite diapers. Bamboo, Soft, Super absorbent, ecofriendly, and the best fit!

Baby Car Mirror - This is the only mirror I've seen that doesn't give your baby the fish bubble look.

Favorite Place to find baby clothes... H&M! Can you believe it? They have the cutest stuff and I like their sizing.

PS This is my personal blog and I simply share what I love/what's working.  This post may contain some (but not all) affiliate links. It doesn't affect your shopping experience at all but it does help me stay at home with my baby and manage my blog. Yay win-win   To read my disclosure policy, click here

For more recommendations, check out my Top 10 Splurge-Worthy Baby Items!

10 Splurge Worthy Baby Products

Okay, so if you're anything like me...You've read about a dozen TTC books, another dozen pregnancy books...but still have no clue how to prepare for the little person that is coming.
I scoured blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, questioned friends/family...hoping to compile a list of  MUST-HAVES
Everyone is so different! Some people like all of the gadgets and fancy baby accessories...and others will tell you that all you need is a crib, diapers, and wipes.
Sure...I will agree that babies don't need a lot of fancy and pretty things....but WOWZERS some of our pricey gambles have PAID OFF! (Can you really put a price on great sleep?!)

Every baby is unique. Every family is different. So don't feel like you absolutely have-to-have anything on my list. I'm simply sharing what has helped make newborn life a little easier.
Right now my group of friends is experiencing the biggest baby boom! If you're in the same situation, it's not a bad idea to borrow, swap, resell some of your baby items.  Or test out your friend's baby gear with your little one to see what they prefer before you buy.
Also, I recommend checking Facebook MarketPlace! You can find a lot of really great, gently used baby items! I'm ALL about quality but also getting a DEAL. (Make sure you shop with Ebates for cashback. I thought this was a scam but I've actually made a couple hundred back for my normal shopping).

Since Reese was born in September, I knew I wanted to wait on a few things so we could get to know her and shop the Black Friday deals! SO glad I waited to purchase a crib and a Glider (found one on CLEARANCE for $161!! Ummm yessssss!)
My biggest piece of advice is not to go crazy and buy everything before the baby arrives. Buy a few key items to start and then add on as needed. Get the essentials, get your breastfeeding accessories and pump, along with some clothes, a bathtub, VELCRO swaddles...and then buy as you go! (All of the planners might be cringing at that but I promise it's a helpful strategy!)

PS This is my personal blog and I simply share what I love/what's working. 
 This post may contain some (but not all) affiliate links. It doesn't affect your shopping experience at all but it does help me stay at home with my baby and manage my blog. Yay win-win   To read my disclosure policy, click here

Let's get started! Before you faint from sticker shock, keep in mind my top 10 must-haves are things we use EVERYDAY.
E V E R Y  S I N G L E   D A Y  Not even kidding! 

  1. Snoo
    How did we have a newborn sleeping through the night? The SNOO!
    How do we settle an overtired baby? The Snoo!
    How do I rest knowing my baby is safely swaddled and securely on her back? The Snoo.

    Reese is currently 3 months old and has been sleeping through the night (*knock on wood*) since she was about 1 month old. Admittedly, we did co-sleep with her in the beginning...but to be fair, we had to evacuate for Hurricane Irma the week she was born. So I was a bit of an emotional wreck  haha
    The snoo is a smart bassinet, created by Dr. Harvey Karp (Author of The Happiest Baby on the Block).  It gently lulls your baby to sleep by mimicking sounds & movements from the womb. You velcro/zip them into the attactable Sleep sack and off to dream land they go. There is even an app you can use to control it and see how long they've been asleep. Yay technology!

    I agree with many of the amazon reviews-  The snoo isn't a babysitter. You (obviously) need to pay attention to make sure your child's needs are met. The Snoo does have "Soothing modes" in which the motion and white noise increases if your baby is crying. After 4 min, it will shut off, I never let it go above level 2...because at that point I know she isn't just being fussy. She needs a diaper, food, comfort etc..

    I absolutely think it has been instrumental in her sleeping through the night. As she gets older and closer to transitioning to her crib...there is a Weaning setting you can use to turn off the rocking motion after the baby falls asleep.
  2. Dock A Tot
    Honestly, I'm not sure why this is so expensive but we love it. (It's basically a mini baby mattress with a pool noodle like surround haha) It was a gift from my bestie at our baby shower and was THE single most used item our first couple of weeks.
    It was the perfect little bed to put her in for naps or just to lay while I ran to the bathroom lol

    When Reese was 4 days old, we had to evacuate Florida because the hurricane was projected to travel literally right over our house. Eek! The Dock A Tot was easy to pack up in the little carry back and take with us! We had to stay in hotel rooms along the way so she slept in the Dock A Tot between us in bed. (Pretty sure that goes against safety recommendations on their website, but we made it work).
    Now we use it for playtime, lounging and occasionally a nap.
  3. Nanit Baby Monitor 
    This is a newer item. OVERHEAD baby monitor that shows an entire view of the crib! The view doesn't get any better. The video quality is great, it shows temperature and humidity as well.  The app gives you a lot of insight into their sleeping patterns,  that shows how long they've slept throughout the day and night, their sleep efficiency, how many times you've checked on them... We just hired some help (so I can work) and it's been great. She's able to log on to see Reese's sleep patterns. Rich & I can log in to check on Reese, even from afar.
    I love technology! Seriously love all of the features...at the end of the day...my favorite thing is I can see an overhead view (no crib bars!) and that we can check in anytime.

    Our other monitor is great on the go...but I have to set it up, the cords are messy, I have to charge the monitor. (I do use it for naps sometimes but I wish I would have just gotten the Nanit from the start)
    The Nanit I don't even have to think about.

    LESS EXPENSIVE OPTION: My sister has Infant Optics and raves about it! You can pan/tilt/zoom the camera for better baby viewing. Her son is 9 months old and on the goooo a lot! haha This is a great option for mobile babies!
    Note: Right now we are using it with her bassinet but the view will be much better/closer when we set up her crib. Rich keeps saying I need to go straighten it because I have it sideways...but I don't mind as long as I can see her! haha
  4. 4Moms Play yard   I feel like this is a great item because of it's versatility and it's SO easy to set up/breakdown / carry in it's fancy little bag.  Right now, we use the optional bassinet as our "changing station" in the living room.  We have it in a corner of the room and it looks very inconspicuous.  I love the clean lines and it doesn't scream baby-baby-baby.  My nephew came for a visit and it made a great travel crib for him. And then of course, as Reese becomes mobile, it will be her little play area.
  5. Lovevery Play Gym Cannot say enough about this play mat. I am obsessed.  
    I actually talk about it SO much in my insta stories  that the company took notice and gave me a coupon code to share. 
    I don’t get any commission or compensation for sharing that- I am just legit in love with it ahah 
    Reese's first playmat/mobile was terrible. Take a moment to lay on the floor and look at your baby's view. All she could potentially see was the yellow square bottom of the hot air balloon. BOR-ING! 
    I started a search to find the best playgym that was not only fun for her but actually helps with brain development.  I almost spent $135 on a pretty playmat but didn’t do a third of what this one does. It comes with a beautiful guide book on how to use it and play each month with your baby and even turns into a little tent for when they get bigger.  Each fold down section focuses on a skill
     If you want to research it, this video is what sold me. It explains it way better than I can https://youtu.be/I-noViZh-ec
    I debated buying it for weeks and I’m glad I finally did because we use it multiple times a day.

  6. Soft Tiles - My bestie got these for us as a shower gift. At first, I wasn't sure how much we would use them...but as soon as we started tummy time, it was clear this is a must have. I've looked at a lot of different foam tiles but this is by and far the best. (Side note: I really like the look of Little Nomads! We have them and I love the look but they aren't as squishy/comfy as these). If you have hardwood or tile floors, I highly recommend having a nice soft area to hang out with your little. The major perk of soft tiles...they have a SLOPING EDGE...meaning you don't trip over it.
  7. Ubbi Diaper Pail It might seem a little crazy to spend $80 on a diaper pail, but a very KEY feature sets this wayyyy above the rest. You do not have to purchase Ubbi trash bags...you can use any trash bags. It does a great job of sealing in the odors and it's very easy to remove the bag. We bought this in Ivory and it blends in beautifully with her nursery.   (Tip: Usually you can find a Bed, Bath & Beyond or Buy Buy Baby 20% off coupon to use on these)

    I do feel I should mention that we use a small, regular stainless steel garbage pail near her changing station in the living room. We throw a grocery bag in there as a liner and take out the diapers before bed. So no, you don't need a diaper pail...but it's nice to have when you are changing stinky diapers at all hours of the night lol
  8. Mamaroo  At first I was skeptical. I kept calling this our overpriced baby seat lol  But one day. Reese was screaming her head off...what the heck...let's give it a try.  To my surprise, she calmed down and has loved it ever since! Not sure what clicked, but I'm happy to say she loves it. Kind of neat that it has an app so you can adjust the 5 motions and speeds but I've only used the app a handful of times. I love that it has some white noise options.  It's nice to have a safe, entertaining/calming place for her to hang out while I fold laundry or get my workout in.

    Side note: We did purchase the Infant Insert. She only fit in it for about 2 months, but it made a big difference when she was small.  With the price of the Mamaroo, I personally feel like they should include the infant insert...but alas!
    PSS this is the great item to look for gently used- it only lasts until they outgrow it (about 6 months).

  9. Barefoot Dreams Blanket  This blanket is life changing. Marshmellowy squishiness!  Be forewarned- if you buy one - everyone in the house might want one. We have quite the collection going over here haha It's the most incredible thing...ridiculously soft and it's somehow warm but breathable. I've never had a blanket that you can use in the summer and the winter that gives you the perfect amount of comfort and warmth. Perfect for snuggling on the couch with your loves! We keep one on the glider at all times.
  10. A Great Camera (Canon Rebel T6)  Phone cameras are amazing now. Really amazing. But nothing beats capturing some really high-quality pics of your little one. We bought the Canon Rebel T6 before we even thought about having a baby and it's really such a fun thing to have!
    We set up the tripod for family pics & use the timer or the phone app. My favorite thing about our camera...WIFI! You can download the pics directly on your phone through the app. Because let's be real, what MOM has time to put the SD card in the computer, download pics and then post them?! Umm no haha 

    Sidenote: If you are obsessed with capturing memories, I cannot recommend the "1 Second Everyday" app enough. Take video of your life- its way more special than pics. This app will then let you pick 1 second segments from everyday of your life. I've used this to create a mini movie that shows 1 second from everyday of Reese's life so far. By Sept 1st, I will have her entire first year in a snapshot. 

    This list might give you a little bit of sticker shock, but we've gotten so much use out of everything. Like I said before, don't buy everything at once. You're much more likely to get what you want and truly need or will use if you space out your baby purchases. 
    Don't be afraid to wait for deals/coupons/promotions. 
    I also LOVE deals (We bought our brand new Glider for $161!!). My next post is going to be about our favorite finds for under $25!

    BONUS Item!

    We just got this Breathable, washable, organic Mattress.  I shoved my face completely into it
    (mouth and nose into the mattress) and I could still breathe. WHATTT!? Seriously amazing! If baby girl is anything like me, she will be a stomach sleeper...so this puts my mind at ease.
    It's the Newton Crib Mattress. Peace of mind!  

Reese Willow's Birth Story (Gestational Diabetes & Hashimotos Pregnancy)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

VERY pregnant. In August. In FLORIDA. I do not recommend it!  haha
Just in case I've made pregnancy look too glamorous....here is a behind the scenes look into my life hahah 
My Last official Pic before we left for the hospital! 

Last Picture with the Fur Babies! 
As I took my Last official preggo pics, I kept thinking... Everything I do today will be the LAST time I do it WITHOUT a baby" 🙃👫

SIZE ESTIMATION: 7-8 lbs! Between boobs and belly, I felt like I might topple over sometimes 😛
Reese is about the size of a watermelon, red panda, or a beach ball! 🐼

We headed to the hospital on a Wednesday to be induced and entice her to come join the world! 🏩

She was veryyyyyy happy to stay snuggled in there!


:::The Birth Story of Reese Willow:::

The nitty gritty deets!

At 40 weeks, doctors recommended an induction due to gestational diabetes. 
I was hoping for spontaneous labor (maybe not as crazy as the water breaking moment in the movies), but we decided to follow doctor's recommendation. The further along you get, the harder it is to control gestational diabetes with diet alone. I had been getting some funky-all-over-the-place numbers that week, so it was time! 

My plan (haha!) was to go into labor and stay at home as long as possible while using my hypnobirthing techniques and comforts. Needless to say, it didn't go that way haha 

📌Wednesday Aug 30th we arrived at the hospital to start cervidil
Positive: I was in a huggeee labor & delivery room 
Negative: trying to sleep in a labor & delivery bed is like laying directly on a hard metal rack. 

I was hooked up to the fetal monitors so movement was pretty restricted. My booty and hips were killing me! 
All night I had contractions and tried to breathe through them/listen to my mediation music 

📌Thursday Aug 31st

After sleeping in 30 min bursts all night, I was wiped out! 
They brought me breakfast at 8am which I promptly projectile vomited all over the bathroom. I STILL laugh when I think about it because the sheer DISTANCE was impressive 🤢😜 

Started pitocin at 9am until 4pm ((translates to strong contractions while strapped to a lot of monitors)
At 5:30pm I still was only 1 cm so they inserted a Foley bulb. 

Honestly, this was the most difficult part of the entireeeee process. By far. Extreme cramping and everytime Reesey moved in there...I thought I might literally die. Kidding...but not. 

📌Friday Sept 1st 

Restless all night (my gosh that bed! 👎) At 4am I ate a Gluten free pop tart and it was AMAZING 

6:45am back on pitocin 
9:45am I was 4-5 cm!! 
Doc broke my water 💦(such an odd sensation!!) 
10:30 am contractions started getting stronger. 
I sent Rich on an errand and as soon as he left, I felt like everything intensified 

11:45 Rich made it back and they administered an epidural. Also NOT my favorite part

Originally I didn't want an epidural...but at this point I was so exhausted and just worn out that I didn't feel like I had the strength to go au naturale

Once that kicked in, I could finally RELAX and things moved fast!

((A HUGGGEEE gorgeous flower arrangement arrived from our amazing friends!!)) 🌸🌸🌸

1245pm I was almost completely effaced and told my doula to head on over! 

By 230 I was at 10 cm and ready to go! 
We let Reese labor down and started pushing at 3pm

This was my favorite part because it felt like I could finally do something! 
I had a good amount of time between contractions so I could rest. Since I wasn't in pain, I was talking, laughing and just enjoying the process 
We had a nice window and it was gorgeous sunny outside! It started to rain coincidently right around the time she was ready to come out! 

When she started to get close, they outfitted Rich in a gown and gloves. 

He headed down to the business end 😜

When she was ready to join the world, Rich reached down and received her. He scooped her right up and put her on my belly. 😍

Officially born at 4:09pm!
8lb 5oz and 20" long

Such a meatball! Haha 

No tears! I'm feeling sore and tender but for giving birth yesterday- I feel pretty good! 🙌🏻

The part we didn't plan on... she was whisked away pretty quickly to make sure she was okay. 20 min later she was back on me for some skin to skin... and then off to the NICU for her VIP treatment!
Sad not to have her with us the first night- but we made visits every 3 hours to see her.

📌Saturday Sept 2nd
This morning, she was given the all clear to return to us! Yayyy!

Heart looks great!
Blood sugar looks great!
Cuteness...off the charts 😍hehe

It's crazy to see how much she's changed since yesterday! We've been busy loving on her🍼

Can't thank everyone enough for reaching out and offering support!

I wanted to share a little about her name 🏹🌸

~•~•~•~•~•~ REESE Willow ~•~•~•~•~•~

The amazing thing about being with the person you're supposed to be with...things just click. Whether it's picking out our house or our baby's name, things are easy when you're on the same page. 

I had a few baby name guidelines I wanted to follow...

1. Easy to say 
2. Easy to spell
3. The name is the name 

(Growing up Catherine but Kati (no E) meant constant correcting & explaining when starting the school year, getting a job or anything that involved my legal name/nickname. Love you mom & dad! 😜 
Not the biggest deal...but we wanted simple)

After we found out we were having a girl, I instantly had a list of potential names. Cora, Sloane, Devon, Dakota...the list goes on. 

My top pick was Reese but couldn't for the life of me think of a middle name that flowed. I told Rich...thinking he wouldn't like it or be able to think of a middle name...but to my surprise, he loved it 💗

One night he said, what about "Willow"

Reese Willow! 
Instant love! 

If you know me, I'm all about...soft, feminine, gentle. It has a graceful, ethereal vibe. It's a nod to our love & appreciation of nature. And...my favorite part...

Willow trees have been known for their healing properties.
They are strong but flexible. When things get tough, no matter how bad they seem, she can weather the storm without breaking and bounce back.
They are RESILIENT, beautiful, graceful, strong, whimsical, and offer a magical creative space, and stand in a class of their own 💖

Anyyyywhoo- just wanted to share a little about this peanut's name!!

Next time I post, it should be with her on my outside! Haha

You know me- I love stories! If you have a special meaning behind your baby's name, please share.