It’s Cutie Time

We are very grateful to have partnered with Cuties and their 100 Days of Sunshine campaign to share with you our love of kindness and delicious little clementines, of course! Cuties has launched this campaign in the hopes that these little clementines will be a reminder to spread the light and to motivate us to brighten the lives of those around us through kindness. Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Did you know that February 16 is Random Acts of Kindness Day? I did not, but now that I do, we want to celebrate by making something we can share with our friends. The little ladies and I decided that making up a sweet little care package for some friends who have recently had babies would be a fun way to spread some of that sunshine and Cuties love! A handful of Cuties, a few cute baby items and a little something made with love from the ladies and I!

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We could eat a bag of Cuties a week, and sometimes we do, so I asked the girls to start saving their peels in a jar for me instead of throwing them away.  Luckily, Cuties are easy to peel so the older girls can help themselves.

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I share with the girls that we would be making something special with the peels, an all-natural, clementine cleaner, safe enough for the little ladies to help me clean with and one we feel good about gifting to our new momma friends! Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

So, now that Cuties are back in stores, go grab a bag, eat as many as you want, try this cleaner out and share it with your friends!

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All-Natural, All-Purpose Cuties Cleaner

Ingredients

Cuties peels (enough to fill most of the jar of your choosing)

White vinegar (enough to fill up your jar and cover them peels)

Equipment

1 large canning jar with a fitted lid
Strainer
Big ol’ bowl
Spray bottle

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetInstructions

Save your Cuties peels: As you use are saving these, you can share with your children that a lot of things we often throw away can be repurposed and used again and discuss the beauty of recycling and repurposing and see if they can come up with some creative repurposing ideas!

Add that vinegar: Once your jar is halfway full to all the way full, pour vinegar over the peels until it fills the jar. Cover your jar with a lid, and allow it to hang out in a dark place for two weeks. This turns one of my least favorite smells into one of my favorite smells! You can talk to your jar or play music for it, but I couldn’t find any evidence that this would make your cleaner any better:D You know I love me some mom jokes:D

Strain it: After two weeks, strain your Cuties cleaner using a fine strainer and catch that liquid goodness in your bowl. Now you can throw away your peels or add them to your compost or maybe make some fermented Cuties earrings.. Totally joking. Don’t make fermented anything earrings, please.

Pour you Cuties Clean into a bottle: Add your Cuties cleaner to a spray bottle, use it as you would any other all purpose cleaner and gift away! Oh, and if you want it to be extra hip, print off a cute label and give your cleaner a fun name!  We stuck with, Cuties Clean, but I bet you could get creative and name your cleaner something awesome!

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetThe girls and I had a lot of fun making this and had fun conversation in the process. We ate Cuties together, counted Cuties, maybe even tried to juggle Cuties, and learned that we should probably just stick more to the eating and counting part.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetAnyway, I hope that you will join us in blessing someone with a random act of kindness, not just on February 16th, but whenever you think to do it. And as silly as it may seem, let those sweet little Cuties act as a reminder to be the sunshine and spread it around as much as you can!Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

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(Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Cuties by all opinions stated are my honest opinions.)

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Picnicking at Home with ALDI

There truly is no place like home. I actually look forward to winter because it means more cozy moments spent inside our home. Don’t get me wrong, I love going on adventures and getting out, but there’s just something so perfect about hanging out at home, especially during these extra chilly months.

FC3D0431-4AFC-4763-906B-FC3A353D3D05One of the girls’ favorite winter activities to do as a family is to have indoor picnics. Indoor picnics are so easy and fun! We lay down a leather mat and some blankets, spread out, and enjoy a sweet little meal together on the living room floor.

Indoor picnics are wonderful and there are endless possibilities of the foods you can serve and so many fun, even educational, themes you can create within a picnic.

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The girls had been asking us to have a big picnic for a while, so when ALDI reached out and asked us to share some of our favorite ALDI items that have received the Chefs in America American Masters of Taste Gold Medal Endorsements, I didn’t hesitate to say yes! After I read the list of their 46 award-winning Items, I got pretty excited!

Fancy meats, cheeses, and booze?! Yes please! There were several other items to receive the Gold Medal Endorsements in 2017, but these ingredients are basically my love language, so… Let the fancy indoor picnic party commence!
For real though guys, we love ALDI!  I never knew about ALDI until we had been settled in and married for a while, and it makes me so happy. We pay half of what we were paying before on our groceries, we always find delicious, organic foods, and the girls now save quarters around the house for our cart, which we then hand off to somebody each time we go.  It’s only $.25, but it truly does teach our girls and gets them excited about small acts of kindness.

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This time, Dad went all out and made us poached eggs and prosciutto on buttered sourdough toast. SO thankful for this husband of mine!
So, let me share with you what we got to make Momma’s fancy indoor picnic dreams come true. You can get everything pictured here from your local ALDI, so your picnic dreams are only one stop away!

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First you need to get them fancy meats. Appleton Farms Italian Styles Capocollo, Sopressata, and Prosciutto. Guys, if you like meat… just yes.
Then you need some cheesy yum yums! Happy Farms Preferred Apple Smoked Cheddar, Rustic Red Cheddar, and Vintage English Cheddar.  Momma likes her some cheddar! The Rustic Red literally felt like it melted in my mouth and it may or may not have paired perfectly with some sweet red wine for a little late night snack with Dad.

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The girls ask us to have apples and grapes with every picnic we have so we also picked up some red grapes, organic gala apples, Savoritz crackers, sourdough bread and some apple juice for the little ladies.
You put all of this together and, BAM! Perfect winter indoor picnic! I hope you guys enjoy lots of indoor picnics with all of your favorite people and foods this winter!

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(Disclosure: This post was sponsored and made possible by ALDI, but all opinions expressed are my honest opinions.)

ONE MORE MAKES SIX

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I recently got to partner with the lovely Bethany Meysenburg and Artifact Uprising to bring to life some creative visions Bethany and I had, and I am overwhelmed with gratefulness with the end result!

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Several months ago, I was looking at the ol ‘gram and stumbled upon a crazy beautiful feed! I soon realized that this was a photographer named Bethany Meysenberg and then realized she lived close by!  Bethany’s photos are so moody and romantic and once I realized she lived close by,  I knew I wanted to work with her!  After visiting, we decided to work together as a creative collaboration, and I am so thankful we did!  Some of the belongings that I value the most are the photographs we have been so blessed with by our sweet friends who happen to be incredible photographers and have chosen to bless us with their passions and talents!

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Photos are one of those things that I have learned to treasure so much.  I don’t think I ever thought too much about photography until my father and sister passed away.  The photos I have help me to keep the memories I have of them and even sometimes remind me of a memory I had forgotten or tell a story I still didn’t yet know about them.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 presetI am able to share photos with our daughters photos of the Grandpa and Aunt they don’t get to meet in this world.  I get to share my childhood and my memories with our daughters so well because of photos! When I say I treasure these moments captured, I truly mean it.  We’ve only done a few family photo sessions and usually only when we welcome a baby, so about every year:D, but I’m going to try and be more intentional about taking and printing more of the daily moments we capture.

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Sometimes I have been teased for taking so many photos, especially of our daughters feet or photos where they’re not facing the camera, but I know all too well that these moments and tiny details that I love so much, might one day be forgotten if not for the sweet photos that I will have to look back on and remind me.

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The way Norah looks at her little sisters, how she takes being a big sister so seriously; Charlie’s pigtails and the way she almost always has a collection of toys, make up brushes or art tools in her hands; The concentrated stare and little tongue Ada sticks out and presses onto her upper lip while reading and building blocks or how she’s climbing on everything lately; Frankie’s itty bitty toes, her dark little locks and pouty lips; The way our girls jump on the bed and dance together.

DSC_9934The way they look at their daddy with this look that lets me know they understand how treasured and valued they are; And the way he looks at them that reminds me just how blessed I am to be married to such an incredible man! Oh, and Chris’ sexy beard and luscious hair that may be receding a bit more each day:D These are things I don’t ever want to forget…

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Maybe one day the girls will look back and think, “I remember you reading us that book mom!”, or “look at dad and that guitar he still plays!”  I want them to have their childhood captured in photos so that they one day can share their childhood and memories of us with their children and grandchildren.

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Because photos are so special to me, I knew I needed to start printing them. I’ve been terrible at this and have felt a lot of conviction to print more photos as there is just something so special about having a tangible photo to hold. There seems to be so much more life in printed photos.  I recently had some lovely prints made from Artifact Uprising and the quality was amazing!  When I saw these new Flatlay Photo Albums , I knew I wanted to get some of our favorite photos captured by Bethany  printed in one of these. And I am so glad we did!!! This book is definitely a treasure! I already am working on another one!

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The girls and I went through it several times and I maybe just wept because I am so thankful for the blessing that these photos and this book are…

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This book is super special. My Grammy gifted this to the little ladies and it is one of the books they always choose when I ask them to pick out a book to read. In it, Grammy wrote a scripture, one she has written in all of my books that she gifted to me when I was the girls’ age.  Proverbs 3:5-6. My mom saved all of these books from our childhood and recently gifted them to me. Another thing I truly treasure!

So, with that, I’ll leave you with a few more photos! If you live in Kansas and are looking for a photographer, please check out Bethany Meysenburg and if you’re looking to get some photos printed, books made or some unique and meaningful gifts to gift, check out our friends at Artifact Uprising!

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DSC_9697DSC_9640DSC_0158Here’s a little slideshow that I discovered after inserting the photos above:D!

 

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Also, without printed photos, I wouldn’t be able to share these gems with you:D Think of this as a thank you for reading!

(Disclosure: This blog was made possible thanks to a partnership with Bethany Meysenburg and Artifact Uprising, but every word is my honest opinion.)

How we Holiday: Traveling with 4 babes & a little help from Philips Avent

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I love this special time of year! I love the weather and the decor and the music and the smells and the food and the fashion and, especially, the Holidays that gather us together with friends and family! My family is in Colorado and my husband’s family in Nebraska so the Holidays usually mean traveling for us! I remember feeling so overwhelmed traveling with our babe as a first time mom.  I almost always forgot to put diapers and wipes in my diaper bag and I thought I needed to pack the entire baby section from Target as well… Turns out you don’t need all of Target, but diapers and wipes are a MUST! I don’t want to call ourselves experts by any means, but we have learned a few tricks along the way to make traveling with babies, toddlers and little ladies a little bit easier!

So with the Holiday season upon us, we have partnered with PhilipsAvent to share with you a few of our favorite products to take on the road with us to make traveling and Holidaying a bit easier!

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We have a 5 year old, a 3 year old, an almost 2 yr old and a 2 month old. This might sound stressful, but it is amazing! In fact, traveling as a family is one of my absolute favorite things to do!

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The girls love it because they get to watch some of their favorite movies along the way, and I love it because it means sipping coffee, long talks with my husband and listening to our favorite podcasts together while the littles sleep. Car rides are actually one of the most refreshing things to me, so I greatly look forward to road trips whenever we get the chance!

As much as I love traveling as a family, there are a few things that I have found make our trips a lot more comfortable for everybody. I will share with you some of the things we bring in the ol’ swagger wagon and what I pack in my mom bag to make for a smoother ride.

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It seems like wherever we go anywhere, the girls start yelling to the front of the van, “We’re thirsty!” After waaayy too many spilled drinks, we have found these PhilipsAvent Straw Cups work wonderfully! They’re leak-proof, easy to hold, BPA free and the straw doesn’t fall off and get lost in the liquid abyss! The big girls seem to really enjoy them and since they’re leak proof, I’m not afraid to stash them in my diaper bag! Philips has several different leak-proof sippy cup options but the little ladies picked out these sweet ‘matchy matchy’ pink ones.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetThe big girls are pretty much all set to travel with a drink, some snacks and a little throw blanket, but newborns can be a bit more particular.  One thing we have learned 4 babies in is, ALWAYS pack extra pacifiers! Always! Somehow those bad boys have a way of disappearing. Chris and I used to joke that we should buy stock in pacifiers because we were buying so many! Now we know, put a clip on it if you can, and always bring extras! Frankie really seems to like these Soothies and they are BPA free and have a little hole to slip a pacifier clip through! And let’s be honest… they’re super cute:D

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Don’t worry… I take her bonnets off when she sleeps…

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Sometimes, our babies will sleep for the entire trip! While this can be great for the whole family, this breastfeeding mom needs a little relief on the long trips! I have traveled with my double electric pump, but have found that it is much easier for me to just travel with a small manual pump that I can use while we drive. It’s small, doesn’t need a power source, there aren’t a bunch of tubes, it’s discrete, easy to use, and allows me to pump and store a few ounces that I can use to feed Frankie at another time, or use to mix in her probiotics. Oh! And it’s silent, so it doesn’t interrupt our podcasts or the girls watching Elf on a continuous loop:D

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetThe manual pump comes with the perfect sized travel bottle for collecting a couple ounces of milk along the way.  I try to use glass over plastic whenever I can and so I’m thankful PhilipsAvent also carries these natural glass baby bottles ! I can store any milk I pump in one of these bad boys and feed Frankie with one if I need to!Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

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I hope some of you traveling mommas will find this little piece helpful for all of your road tripping adventures in your future! I feel like I’m forgetting something… Maybe that’s just mom brain or because I almost always forget something:D

FED80974-657A-44A3-A02C-3E96A15A7A2C.jpegAlso, I shared a detailed rundown of what I bring with me in my diaper bag about a year ago and not much has changed. I added a few new things, but if you’re wanting a few more details about what I have found helpful to have in my diaper bag when we travel, you can check it out at https://amandapahls.com/2017/01/13/whats-in-my-bag-today/

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Thank you PhilipsAvent and, from our family to yours, we wish you a Happy Holiday and Merry Everything!

(Disclaimer:  This post was sponsored by PhilipsAvent, but all opinions expressed here are my own, personal and honest opinions.)

 

 

Welcoming Our Frances Grey

I almost can’t believe I am snuggling with a little newborn and already writing another birth story.  I feel like it was just last year that I was writing Ada’s:D Probably mostly because it was:) We are truly so grateful for another beautiful daughter!  I almost cry every time I stop and think about how awesome it is that we get to parent these FOUR little ladies!

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Frankie is 4 weeks old today!!! That doesn’t even seem possible!  We have heard her cry only a handful of times, and that even includes mild fussing!  She is just super content and has the sweetest temperament!  The big sisters are absolutely smitten with her and she loves snuggling with her daddy! Her favorite things include boobs, naps, blankets late night snacking and snuggles galore, so I guess you could say she takes after her dad:) #momjoke. Aside from me being freaked out that she doesn’t poop as much as her big sisters, she might be our easiest baby yet! So, with that, I am so grateful and so excited to share another beautiful birth story with you!

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Ok… So let me start with 2 weeks before we met her.  I started to feel “ready”, even though my original due date wasn’t until the first week of October. I went to see my midwife on the 7th and told her I totally felt like I had dilated quite a bit already.  Before I share more, I should give you a little back story.  My body might be jacked up:D  Well, it kind of is for sure, we’re just not totally sure why.  When I went into labor with Charlie, I was dilated to a 9 before I ever felt my contractions. My water broke and a few minutes  later, 2 pushes and she was here!  With Ada, I was dilated at a 10…for 2 days before I felt my contractions!  SO WEIRD!  I couldn’t really feel my contractions with Ada until my water broke and once my water broke, it was time to push; 4 or 5 pushes later, she was here!  Norah’s labor was the only one that was kind of normal except kind of not either.  You can go read those stories under my birth stories if you guys want to!

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetAnyway, I share this because for some odd reason, my body works a little differently and labor is probably a little different for me than most…  I’m not bragging, but I’m also definitely not complaining! So, back to the 7th.  When I told Rebecca that I felt dilated she kind of giggled at me like she does often. Side note: We love Rebecca like a lot! We’ve gotten to know each other on so many different intimate levels and can joke about anything and everything and it’s just awesome to know your care taker and have your care taker know you so intimately. It makes for such an incredible experience! So she kind of teased me and then I asked her to check me and, yep! I had dilated to a 5, was 80% effaced and all of babies suture lines were feeling just right! I told her I knew I wouldn’t carry Frankie to October.  It was like this weird momma instinct, the same one that told me I was having girls each pregnancy:D

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Ok, so… Jump to two days later and I started having this really weird and specific kind of cramping, which I’ve learned is me dilating.  I don’t really know how to describe it except for I felt it with Charlie and Ada and feel like I was tuned in and aware of my body more than ever this round and as soon as I felt it, I knew what was happening. I started losing my plug and, remember that this is a birth story, but I mean, I was losing A LOT!  I lost more and more all day and continued to the next few days.  This made me a little nervous because I knew I was dilating more and in my previous pregnancies, I lost my plug only days before meeting our daughters.

Rebecca and I decided it was best if I took it really easy, like bed rest style, just to make sure we kept Frankie nice and cozy!  Chris and the girls were incredible during this time!  Actually, Chris was beyond incredible this whole pregnancy.   For those of you who know me, you know about my back… but for those of you who don’t, we have learned that my tailbone is broken 3 different times and in 3 different directions! When I’m pregnant, my tailbone and sciatic nerve basically try to become one with one another…NO BUENO! It is extremely painful and any kind of intervention we have tried has only provided temporary relief.  By the time I was 6 months along, I couldn’t walk some days.  Chris did all of our grocery shopping, prepared most dinners, did laundry when I couldn’t carry any or walk down stairs, and basically carried the many loads that I physically couldn’t.  If you see that guy, tell him what a stud he is!  I’ve always known I was so blessed to be his wife, but Chris serves us girls and I so selflessly and sacrifices so much for us in a way that I can’t even comprehend sometimes. Thank you so very much husband!

When I had to take it easy, he had the girls join him on a mission to help me out and they called themselves ‘team home birth’. 😀 He taught the girls different ways they could help out, and it was just incredible. They started folding laundry, emptying and filling the dishwasher, working harder at keeping their toys picked up AND nobody complained, well, at least in front of me:D They just loved me in such a way that I definitely don’t deserve but am so grateful for! Chris literally got them pumped up to clean:D He is the best, like for real!

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Ok… So, fast forward to the 18th.  Everything was looking great and I was now measuring right about 39 weeks.  I had been measuring ahead for quite some time and I really felt like I was further along than we had initially thought. I was still having that cramping and losing plug and so I ended up asking Rebecca to come visit me and check me.  She came over and YEP! I was dilated to an 8! Everything was looking great, but I was dilated to an 8! She wasn’t at all worried but it is a little strange to dilate this far without having contractions and without having an incompetent cervix.  My body just doesn’t mess around I guess. Rebecca headed home and the game plan was to just wait and see what my body did over the next few days.

The next day I felt so weird. Like, almost scared.  I started to think about what might happen if my water broke because if this labor were to be like Charlie or Ada’s, I would probably have ended up delivering a baby on my kitchen floor by myself.  I don’t feel my contractions until my water breaks, but by that time I’m at a 9 or 10 and ready to push, and my longest pushing record is 6 pushes.  With Chris working more than 5 minutes away and my midwife being over an hour away, I knew if my water broke, this would be an unassisted delivery…Chris and I talked and we both were in favor of us delivering Frankie WITH our midwife over me alone:D

So… I asked Rebecca if she felt comfortable coming over and helping me get labor started.  We weighed the pros and cons and decided that in this situation, this was a good idea. So on the 20th, Rebecca came over at 10 am and here is where the fun begins!!!

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The first thing she did when she arrived was check me… and I was stretching to a 9!  It was the weirdest thing because I woke up feeling so amazing and had 0 back pain! It was the first morning in like 9 months that I hadn’t woken up in pain! It was like my body was just as ready as my mind was! She measured me once more and I was right at 39 weeks. Rebecca gave me a little contraction encouraging herb that we thought would take about an hour or two to get contractions started, but within 10 minutes, I was having them! They kept getting stronger and stronger and stronger until the point where they almost started to hurt! And then at noon, they just completely stopped. I wanted to cry because this is what happened with Ada and it was so emotionally exhausting! I was complete, as in dilated to a 10, and as soon as my contractions would get going, they would stop.  I did not want this to happen again… Rebecca had me go walk around the yard for 15 minutes, and while I felt a heavy type of cramping, I wasn’t having regular contractions anymore.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetWe made some sandwiches, ate lunch together and then I took a little more of the contraction inducing goodness. Rebecca told me she felt like I just needed peace, quiet and rest. We had Ada go with a friend at this point, put a movie on for the big girls and Chris and I came upstairs to our bedroom to rest.

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Rebecca’s daughter came to help assist us and is just amazing! She plays with the little ladies and the girls have grown to love her and Rebecca’s other children so much! Did I mention she has 11 children! All whom she home educates! AND, from what we can tell, they’re totally normal:D Talk about #momgoals!

Rebecca helped get me into bed and into a position that would allow me to relax but would also help baby get settled a bit better.  She asked me to stay put for an hour and almost exactly an hour later, I was having strong, regular contractions and felt ready to get into the birthing pool!!!

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By now, my friend Olivia had arrived and I was feeling ready to go. Norah was SO ready! She had been asking me every day when Frankie would be here and reminded me every day that she wanted to be there with me and cut the venible, aka, umbilical cord:D Once I was in the tub, I started having what I will call “normal people” contractions! They were so strong and powerful and I just knew Frankie would be coming so soon!  Norah and Charlie got measuring cups and would rub my shoulders and pour warm water on my back through each contraction!  Charlie would lay her head by my head, touch her forehead to my forehead and hold my hand. I won’t ever forget it…. It was absolutely precious!

F10Norah would say things like, “take it easy, listen to your feelings, you’re doing so good, relax yourself”. It made us all giggle each time which made labor feel so easy. There wasn’t any stress or tension or fear. Just peace and joy and sweet giggles. At one point Norah asked me if I was having any “uh oh” feelings and proceeded to tell everyone the things in life that give me “uh oh” feelings:D It was the perfect comic relief!  The girls would bring me my water and tell me to take a sip and were just so encouraging! I just felt completely loved and safe.

After being in the pool for about 10 contractions or so, I felt Frankie coming!  I remember feeling more in control of my body than I ever have in labor before.  I felt complete peace and it was so amazing.  I remember holding Olivia’s hand with my left hand, Chris’s hand with my right and knowing we were all about to meet Frankie! I didn’t fight contractions like I’ve maybe wanted to in the past, I didn’t tense up and I just felt more relaxed than I have in previous labors. I began pushing and then looked over at Rebecca and told her I was pushing.

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The last photo Chris captured before welcoming Frankie!

 

I asked Rebecca to support me, which basically just meant make sure Frankie was not coming out with a hand on her forehead like her sister Ada, and I’m glad I asked her to, because she was! One of the things Rebecca does an excellent job at is supporting my lady bits so there is no tearing.  I tore a little bit upwards with Norah in the hospital but have never again had any damage to my lady biz!  I actually haven’t even been a little bit sore after delivering Charlie, Ada and Frankie!  I think some of that has to do with the water, preventative care, but also just how well Rebecca does at assisting, but not unnecessarily intervening with what’s happening during the birth process.

F7After the first push, Frankie’s head was born! I reached down and felt her head and just felt so grateful.  Norah yelled, “I can see Frankie! She’s coming out!” She yelled for Charlie to come back over to the pool, as she had left the room for a moment. I heard her little pitter patter run towards the pool and got so excited! I was on my knees with my arms and head draped on the side of the pool and felt very comfortable.  Everyone was silent, a Bon Iver record playing in the background, which I maybe had Chris play too many times, and I remember just knowing that I would be holding our baby the next time I pushed… A minute passed, and with the start of my last contraction, we welcomed Frankie!

F15As soon as I pulled Frankie out of the water, Norah started crying and exclaimed, “I can’t stop happy crying! She’s here!” When I pulled Frankie to my chest, the first thing I noticed was her super dark head of hair.  A few days before, Charlie crawled into our bed and shared about having a dream about Frankie and that she had pretty, dark hair. Man, she was so right! Talk about happy tears! My heart was SO full! I remember looking at Chris and Olivia and just thinking, “YEAH!!!” I thought I might be emotional this birth with Chris and I feeling like Frankie might be our last baby, but I was the opposite… I just felt so incredibly happy! And I still do! I just feel really content and beyond thankful! That moment felt like a lifetime but also like it went by way too fast!

A few contractions later, I birthed my Placenta.  This time, a little more blood than usual filled the tub and my midwife gave me a look that made me think, “uh oh” in a scooby doo type voice. She acted fast and with a little uterine massage, which I will compare to some kind of ancient form of torture, she had the bleeding stopped! Thank you Rebecca:D

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After that, we all headed upstairs to get cozy in bed and spend some time getting to know one another!  She was, she is, just perfect!  7lbs, 4oz, and 20 inches of absolute sweetness! She started nursing right away and I nursed for about an hour and then it was time for Frankie’s newborn assessment! Everything checked out at Frankie being a full 39 weeks!  Chris went and picked up Ada and I was a little curious how she would act when she saw Frankie had joined us.  She ran into the room and yelled, “Hi Mommy!” Then saw Frankie and squealed, “OOOHHH! Hi Baby!” in the sweetest little baby voice I have ever heard!  She was and is smitten with her little sister!

F59Aside from seeing the extra time mom spends nursing as the perfect opportunity to empty out any essential oils or coffee she can find, she has adjusted wonderfully! Norah and Charlie have done amazing and are two of the best helpers I can imagine! They’re right by me helping me with anything they can. Filling up my water jug, throwing away diapers, bringing me this or that… Norah actually started changing Ada’s diapers for me, but only pee diapers per her request:D

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Getting a little baby holding practice done:D

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I promise she was looking at me! Or maybe staring down those goods:D Either way, she was looking at me!

Thank you so much to everyone who helped with our girls, brought us meals, coffee and extra hoppy beverages, for the prayers, encouraging words and congratulations, for the sweet intagram messages and late night conversations and for everyone who has loved on our family during this whole process!F48

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Chris, thank you for using your sexy man skills to capture this special day, for making all the babies with me and for taking such good care of us! You’re truly the most incredible man I know! Olivia, thank you for doing all of this mom biz with me! I am so grateful for your friendship! Rebecca, thank you for this last 4 years that you have loved me and supported me in a way that I can never say thank you enough for!  You have been so much more than a midwife to us and we are truly blessed to have you in our lives and to be apart of yours! A special thanks to In His Hands Birthing Supply Co. for partnering with us and blessing us with our home birth kit.  Oh! And did I mention we had a GoPro in the tub! The footage is incredible and I’m so thankful to have been able to watch one of my deliveries this way! If you have a water birth, put a GoPro in the tub! Thanks again, Rebecca! So cool!Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetOn that note, I’m going to go nurse! Thanks for reading friends!

If you are interested in why we choose home birth or would like more information on this topic, please feel free to reach out!

Mogging: When Motherhood meets Blogging. It’s a word now:D #TheMomBlogCollective

Welcome to the fourth installment of The Mom Blog Collective: How to Balance Motherhood and Blogging.
If you’re new here, here’s the scoop. Once a month, our group of amazing and inspiring mamas will answer the same set of questions to do with blogging, Instagram, photography, collaborations, sponsored posts, balancing it all with motherhood, and more. We each have different perspectives and different opinions, so this is a fun way to learn from one another. We hope you’ll join along!
Check out the hashtag #themomblogcollective to see everyone on Instagram, and I will also link you to all of the amazing blog posts here at the bottom of my post!

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I am so excited to be a guest on #themomblogcollective” this week!

Blogging is one of those things that I really enjoy, something that I want to be better at and is an area that I want to grow in many different ways. The world of blogging and Instagram have introduced me to many friends, have offered me so much inspiration and encouragement and has opened me up to a world full of opportunity that I didn’t even realize existed just a few years ago.

When I first started blogging I was just doing it to kind of journal our days and share a few thoughts on motherhood as a brand new mom. I had no idea that people were paid to blog, I didn’t know what a collaboration was, or that this was a career for many and I definitely had no idea that blogging would one day be a way I helped support my family! Fast forward 5 years and, while I have so many areas I need to grow in, I want to answer some of the questions often asked when it comes to blogging and using Instagram.

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When & How often do you blog/ post? Remember that whole, ‘areas I need to grow in’ thing. Consistency is one of those areas I really want and need to grow in.  I post much more on instagram than I blog, mostly because blogging is much more time consuming, and in this season of life, scheduling time to blog has been a bit difficult. So when do I blog? I blog when I think about it and have time, or when I have a deadline. Deadlines help me a lot and force me to sit down and accomplish a task.  I have found that even creating deadlines for myself, will help me to get things done.  Even if I do it at the last minute, I am more likely to get it done!

Blogging happens when the babes go on a trip with dad to the store, when the girls are napping, when they’re content coloring, painting or watching an afternoon movie. I used to work a little in the evenings but now those are prime binge drinking hours for Frankie and I want to sleep as soon as I get a chance to now… #momlife.

Time management is another area that I find myself struggling. Like, I maybe put on a bra while peeing because I forgot I wasn’t wearing one and we were out the door to leave for our weekly church cell group and maybe I’m typing this line while in the bathroom while at the group. #momfail. So… yes. I definitely have room for growth in the area of balancing motherhood and blogging!

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How many collaborations do you take on and how does that number work with your schedule as a mom?

When it comes to collaborating, I am learning when to say no. When I first started taking on collaborations, I basically said yet to everyone. Then I learned how time consuming that could be! Even now, taking on less collaborations, I still find myself  playing catch up lately.  I have been so fortunate to work with such kind and patient people but I’m working towards accepting fewer collaborations while in the “catching up” process. I love partnering and collaborating with both small and large companies but want to be better about creating blogs, photos and content all together for companies faster and, about to use the C word again, more consistently…

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetI am always amazed by the generosity of some of the companies we work with, and I want to return the generosity by providing high quality content at a fast turn around time. I have about 5 blogs I need/want to do this month and I am learning that I have to give myself deadlines to get them done.  Collaborating has been a wonderful way to provide for our family and a super fun hobby, but its also a job. And, again… I am learning how to create more routine and manage my time.

I also only collaborate with companies that I feel I can honestly represent well and I think that’s an important thing to consider when blogging and collaborating. I’ve turned down a few high paying partnerships because they were for products our family doesn’t use and as much as I wanted those moneys, I believe as an “influencer” you need to be honest first.

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Awhile back I received several e-mails from someone who was very angered by my collaborating.  They used phrases like, “You’re a giant walking ad”, “You tag so many people in your photos”, You’re so fake”,  “Isn’t your family worth more than things”, and “You Instagram moms are all alike”.  While these things could be hurtful, I have to understand that this person does not understand that this is a job for me and for many of my “Instagram Mom” friends. Yes, I do partner and advertise for many companies as that is how I provide for our family right now while our girls are young and before I head back to work as a Therapist.

In response to these comments and questions, I do tag many companies in my photos as this is how most of my collaborations work. Just as someone may be asked to wear a company shirt while representing their company to an event, I am asked to represent my partnerships via social media by sharing how we incorporate different items into our day via tagging and blogging. While I do not believe I am fake, in order to represent certain things best, I do curate and style certain photos to achieve a certain aesthetic, just like a photographer would do.

Also, my family is more important than any material thing and they are very aware of that. They also are aware that they have nice clothes to wear, cozy beds to sleep on and well-made toys to play with because of momma’s job that provides these things along with extra money for groceries, education supplies or those unexpected bills we all love so much! Being a wife and mom comes first, but just as with any job, there are commitments and deadlines that have to be fulfilled.

And yes, there are many of us “Instagram moms” who share a specific aesthetic. I like to joke that “who cares if we like white walls and baskets”:D That’s totally ok, and just as ok as someone else’s style! While Instagram and blogging can create amazing opportunities to connect, journal and capture moments most of us genuinely do not want to forget, it is also a way for us to receive products we could normally not afford (#PastorsWife) and provide an income for our family’s AND we are able to do it from home AND in a way we really enjoy! I am genuinely confused as to why these things would upset people, but I am happy to converse with anyone who wants to about this topic.

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I hear a lot of friends say, “I want to start a blog but I don’t have a lot of time and I don’t think I would be very consistent”.  While these things are very important, you can still get started! So, if you’re thinking about starting a blog, my advice is to go for it!  You might not have a ton of time, you might not be able to post as consistently as you would like, but there is room for you to grow and a lot of opportunity to still experience while growing! I’m still learning many things and balancing motherhood and any job or responsibility can be difficult. It’s truly all about learning what works best for you and your family and finding the little ways to make the things you want to do come true! Some days you might put your bra on while peeing… and that’s ok. ☺️

Check out some of my amazing “Instagram Mom” friend’s blog posts here!
occasionallyperfectstyle.com | @occasionally_perfect
mrsseacannon.com | @mrsseacannon
britthavens.com | @britthavens
koleimpressions.com | @steph__pollock
cultivatemotherhood.com | @cultivatemotherhood
www.ashleynoel.life | @_ashley_noel_
hellobabybrown.com | @hellobabybrown
henaandcompany.com | @henaandco
momwifefoodie.com | @momwifefoodie
Thank you guys for reading!

You had me at Apple Fritter Monkey Bread:D Partnering with ALDI to make some delicious fall goodness!

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If you have been following us for awhile, you know we love to bake together as a family! You also probably know then, that we like to purchase things as inexpensively as possible. After shopping in our little Kansas town for awhile, we have learned that we can get some of the best quality foods for the lowest prices at our local ALDI store!

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We have learned that we can literally double our regular shopping list without doubling the price once we started shopping at ALDI!  For a growing family of 6, this is wonderful! We can get all of our favorite foods, all of our baking ingredients, fun seasonal items and delicious organic produce all in one place and at incredible prices!

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ALDI also offers a slightly different shopping experience that our family has grown to love! You bring your own reusable bags, which cuts down on having to spend extra money just to collect plastic bags that you’ll keep forgetting to recycle and is way better for the environment!

You also rent your cart!  You put a quarter in and get it back when you return the cart. This was new to me but has actually become a beautiful opportunity to teach our daughters about generosity, kindness and blessing others.  When our shopping is done and unloaded, we just leave that quarter in the slot for someone else to have, walk our cart to somebody else going to get one or give a quarter to someone going to get a cart. It’s just a quarter, but it is the act of doing something to bless someone else that we want the girls to enjoy and grow to do more and more selflessly every day!

 

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With Fall right around the corner, I have been craving one of our favorite easy-to-make together breakfast treats!  So, with that, I give you one of our favorite fall breakfast recipes.

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APPLE FRITTER MONKEY BREAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 (12-oz.) cans of refrigerated Bake House Creations Buttermilk Biscuits or Bake House Creations Crescent Rolls. My husband maybe accidentally got crescent rolls this time, so we learned both will work great! 😀
  • 6 tbsp. Countryside Creamery Butter, melted
  • 1 apple of your choice. We used delicious organic Fiji apples from ALDI!! Peel, core & finely chop those bad boys!
  • 4 tbsp. Baker’s Corner Brown Sugar
  • 4 tbsp.Baker’s Corner Granulated Sugar
  • 4 tbsp. Stonemill Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. Baker’s Corner Powdered Sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp. milk- Friendly Farms Organic Whole Milk. We use Almond sometimes as well when making the glaze.
  • Extra Cinnamon & Sugar incase your dough needs a little more love

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 8×3” round cake pan with coconut oil or butter.
  2. Tear, or let your toddlers tear the biscuits, or cut each biscuit into little 1-inch pieces.  Dunk the little pieces in the melted butter then toss them in cinnamon-sugar until evenly coated. Lay your lovely biscuit babies in an even layer in your pan.  Sometimes we’ll add more cinnamon and sugar if it looks like some of the biscuits are too naked.
  3. Toss apples with brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon. Scatter as much or as little of them apples on top of the biscuit babies.
  4. Drizzle the rest of the melted butter over the biscuits and apples.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, until the biscuits are a deep golden and the apple mixture is bubbling. Cook a bit longer if the dough in the center is still too gooey. Let cool for about 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, make that magic morning glaze! Whisk together powdered sugar and milk until nice and smooth.  You could substitute this step with a butter & brown sugar glaze or honey, but we chose this scrummy glaze this time!

Remove from oven, allow to cool for about 15 minutes, then drizzle that glaze on top of the bread. Spoon out generous servings & serve warm.

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There are lots of ways you can mix this recipe up, but we hope you make this and enjoy this on a beautiful Fall morning! And, if you’ve never been to your local ALDI go check it out!  You’re in for a treat!

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It has truly been a pleasure to partner with ALDI to share some of our favorite items and a recipe containing ingredients that can all be purchased from ALDI. Check out https://www.aldi.us/ to see your local weekly specials and gain some mealtime inspiration!

 

(Disclaimer:  This post was sponsored by ALDI, but all opinions expressed here are my own, personal and honest opinions.)

An Interview with Vitruvi

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With three little girls in tow and a fourth on the way, Amanda Pahls recognizes that spare time is becoming an increasingly rare commodity in her home. To make sure that she and her little ones stay happy and healthy, she’s chosen to simplify her daily routines by incorporating natural products into everything from bathtime to bedtime. Below, we chatted with Amanda about the challenges of motherhood, which are well worth it when she watches her daughters show kindness and love to others. She also shared her go-to dinner with us, and, based on the sounds of her perfected-over-7-years guac, you’d be lucky to snag a seat at Amanda’s dining room table any night of the week.


What are the daily rituals that keep you grounded when things get chaotic?
My most special ritual: coffee, but for real, it’s spending time with our daughters, watching them play with one another, and spending the evenings with my husband—these are the little things that keep me sane. I enjoy wearing and diffusing essential oils in our home throughout the day and using them to help with everything from needing a little grounding to an energy boost.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetTea or coffee?
I actually love both! I enjoy homemade iced americanos most days, but my husband makes THE BEST honey and earl grey tea lattes!!

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How has becoming a mom changed your outlook on the products you use for your children, your home and yourself?
Before I had children, I didn’t really think about the quality of the products I used. I got whatever was cheap and easy, but after getting pregnant with our first daughter, I became a lot more conscious about what I was putting on my body. This lead to not only wanting to use products that were better for me physically, but I started wanting to use products that supported companies I could really stand behind as well. We have 3 daughters under the age of 5 and are expecting our 4th daughter any day now. That being said, spare time is becoming much less spare :)️ I want to use products that are high quality, crafted with care, convenient and not very time-consuming.

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Go-to dinner?
Homemade street tacos are basically a love language in our home! Grilled veggies, slow cooked high quality meats, vegetable slaws, my husband’s delicious homemade tortilla chips and a guacamole that I’ve spent the last 7 years perfecting! Our family loves this meal and it’s one of the best ways to get our daughters to consume lots of delicious vegetables and spices!

What object/space in your home is most special to you?
Our dining room table is probably my most-loved object in our home. We spend so much of our time in our dining room. Baking with my daughters, making essential oil play dohs, making arts and crafts, home-education, eating meals with dear friends and as a family, coffee and great conversation with my husband…all of these things take place sitting at our dining room table. These moments I will truly cherish forever.

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Hardest part of being a mom?
Man, the challenges of motherhood continue to surprise me. The emotional challenges are probably more difficult than the physical demands of motherhood for me. Mom-guilt, fear, feeling unqualified…these are a few things I battle constantly as a mother. Sometimes I stay up at night going over our day and thinking of all of the better ways I could have reacted to my daughters and different situations or more productive ways I could have spent my time with them and taking care of our home. Then I remember how much I love our daughters and how much they love me and I tell myself I will do better then next day. And some days I do, and some days I don’t. You need a lot of grace and forgiveness as a mother, but it is truly the most wonderful thing I have ever known.

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Best part of being a mom?
So many things I truly cherish about motherhood. Watching our daughters learn something new, seeing them show kindness to others, hearing them say, “I love you”, and knowing they’re learning these things from my husband and I. It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever experienced. Sometimes I just watch them play and wonder how I got so lucky to get to mother these sweet little ladies!

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Favourite essential oil and why?
Do I have to choose just one?! I love so many for so many reasons! If I could only have one oil it would probably be lavender for its versatility. However, I love citrus oils, peppermint, bergamot, cedarwood, and so many delicious blends made up of these oils!

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How do you weave essential oil products into your day?
We’ve started using essential oils from morning to night. Frankincense in my facial moisturizers, diffusing oils throughout our home, using them in homemade play dohs, using them on myself and our daughters for energizing, calming and grounding purposes. I use essential oils in our baths, as perfume, in specialized rollerballs, in homemade cleaners, homemade toothpaste, homemade hair and beard oils, chapsticks, body balms and other homemade things my husband and I make and use in our home.

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Favorite quote?
It’s not a famous quote, but more of a philosophy or a conviction a friend shared with me: ending our ‘to do’ lists with “and do these things with a happy heart.” So often we do things because we have to with a frustrated or ungrateful attitude. I’m trying to remember, from laundry and dishes to errands and deadlines, to accomplish the tasks I have before me with a happy and grateful heart. I don’t always succeed at this, but I’m trying to be much more intentional about it as we go about our days. I want to model gratefulness and joy to our daughters, and reminding myself to do the little things with a happy heart is a way to model just that.

 

Learn more about Vitruvi and check out other interviews here: http://basenotes.vitruvi.com/.

Real Moms, Real Talk: Interview with Bundles of Health

Looking back on the pregnancy and birth of your first child, was there anything about the postpartum period that you thought would be different?

I had no idea the range of emotions I was going to experience after welcoming our first daughter. I had imagined joy and happiness but along with that came an insane fear, so many tears, and many emotions I didn’t even know existed. Everything I ever wanted or had worked towards at the point in my life, changed in a matter of seconds. I never imagined that happening. I also grieved the birth I had wanted and planned for. I cried every day for months over having medical choices made for me during our birth that I begged not to have. As strange as it may sound, I felt violated and robbed of an experience I had been anticipating so much. While this was definitely overshadowed by the excitement and love I had towards our daughter, it was very unexpected and took some time to process.

When you prepared for your second and third children, did you do anything different from preparing for the first?

We did A LOT differently. We went a holistic route with our last 3 pregnancies, had a much stricter diet, saw a midwife and had and will have home water births. We researched and educated ourselves much better and our pregnancies and birth experiences have been incredible! Going this route gave us everything we wanted and so much more. With our second birth, my husband and I became advocates for things we didn’t even know existed with our first birth!  We have incredible relationships with our midwife and her family, felt so much love, support and empowerment and had birth experiences that involved almost no pain, recovery periods and experienced so much joy! My body responded so much better physically and emotionally to going a holistic route!

What was your biggest challenge as a first time mom?

Probably processing through my emotions and separating myself from my daughter. I had absolutely no desire to ever put her down. I held her, wore her in various baby wraps, slept with her…  I just didn’t know how to put her down. I was a full time graduate student and also went back to work part time after Norah was 3 months old and I remember how painful it was to separate myself from her for even a few hours…  I didn’t experience any postpartum depression with our first daughter, but very surprisingly did with our second. I had a full year where I felt a bit foggish and in a funk and it wasn’t until I was coming out of it a year later that I realized what I was experiencing. Although mine was not as intense as some mothers experience, it was a strange challenge that I was not expecting…

What is your biggest challenge to a mom of 3 going on 4?

This was so unexpected. We planned for one baby and are about to welcome our fourth! So unexpected, but so amazing!!  Probably my biggest challenge is battling the thought of going back to work. I finished my masters in counseling and love being a therapist but now motherhood has consumed so much more of me than I have ever imagined. If I didn’t have student loans to pay back, I probably would not go back to work, for a long time, as I love being at home with my daughters so much. We’re educating them at home and I guess my biggest challenge is the thought and fear of not having this time with them but also understanding we have a heavy financial burden to take care of now. When I started grad school we didn’t have any babies… by the time I finished, we had 3 and my heart had changed so much. So if you know of anyone looking to pay off someone’s loans, send them our way please😂😂😂 The emotions that come with wanting to be with your children and fearing not being able to has been very challenging for me.

0-18How did you overcome those challenges?

I’m working through them right now. My husband is amazing and supports us so well in so many areas but I feel I will have to work eventually. We’ve gotten creative with side jobs, providing some child care, collaborating with various companies and trying to make a little income through our passions while we are in this transitional period. I’m really hopeful that somehow we will make a way where I won’t have to work for some time but also a realist in the sense that I understand this is something I may have to do and will do so with a grateful heart because I’m supporting my family.

How did your self care routine change over time?

I have always been pretty laid back and never really had much of a self care routine aside from the normal wake up, shower, brush your teeth go about your day and repeat before bed… but now, some days all of those things feel like a luxury😂 I’m a big believer in dry shampoo, easy make up and long showers these days! I think I’m lucky in the sense that I’m pretty low maintenance but it still is a challenge to make sure I’m taking care of myself even in the little things. Self care really is so important! I try to get out with friends for coffee, good conversation and a little thrifting as this refreshes me big time. My husband and I also try to spend every evening together and that is so awesome to have that to look forward to and to help us unwind! Netflix and chilling involves a lot more Netflix and chilling than it once did before almost 4 babes!

What did your family and friends do to support you after having a baby?

We are blessed with some awesome friends! My best friend and I attend each others home births and are very like minded and she’s been so helpful and supportive the last 3 years! She understands the physical and emotional aspects of child birth and parenting and sometimes just having that person who understands what you are feeling and is open to listening and sharing can be so helpful in the time after welcoming a baby. Definitely helps me feel less lonely.  People bringing meals, encouraging us through kind words & listening to us… oh, and surprising us with coffee are always some of the ways we feel most loved and taken care of most after welcoming a baby!

What have been some of the most memorable ways that they have shown their support?

I mentioned my best friend Olivia. She was there for the birth of our third daughter, will be at my next birth and I was blessed to be at her two previous home births. Having her there to hold my hand, speak affirming things to me and just love me meant so much to me. I’ve never had a friend like this. Having friends stop by with an unexpected lattes makes me feel so loved and cared about! Honestly, people letting us share our birth experience helps me, especially, process through the experience and is therapeutic for me. Really, as cliche as it sounds, our friends & family just assuring us that they are here for us after having a baby helps us so much. Even if we don’t ever take them up on their offers, knowing that we have a community around us who loves us and wants to help us extremely helpful to us.

What is one piece of advice you would give to other moms who are expecting?

First, remember to enjoy your pregnancy. Pregnancy can come with difficult emotions, physical pain and discomforts but we are truly lucky to experience it. I have friends who struggle with infertility and it’s so painful to watch the way they long for pregnancy and a child. Whenever I’m finding myself thinking negatively during pregnancy, I remind myself how blessed I am. You won’t be pregnant forever no matter how much it feels that way… Second, research the birth choices you have… Research the choices you will be making for your baby when they’re born. If you have a partner/spouse, research these things together and discuss these things while you’re pregnant so that you are in confident agreement about the choices you will be making together before and after your child arrives! And be kind to yourself. Your body changes, your heart changes, your desires and priorities change and all of those things are ok. Don’t try to compare yourself to other moms or to what you imagined you would be like pregnant or as a mother but just embrace the new you and try to be the healthiest person and mother to that baby or babies as you can be. And if you find you’re struggling emotionally in ways you weren’t expecting, seek out and talk to somebody you can trust to help you walk through it all!!

3 little monkeys jumping on the bed

You know how sometimes you just have those days where you’re emotional and grateful and looking at your family and wondering how you got to where you are in life?  My Grammy texted me this morning just to share that she was proud of Chris and I and I just wanted to cry because this is the life that I prayed I could have one day but genuinely didn’t think I could have… I don’t deserve it, but I grow more and more thankful for it. Even when I’m tired or stressed or as I listen to our 3 & 4 year arguing over the ideal spot to have their picnic right now… I am just so grateful. The word Redeemed rings in my ears often and when I look at Chris and our daughters, the ring feels more like a shout!

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I’m just feeling extra grateful for that shout today…

My friend Robyn was so kind to do a little extra shoot and capture something we love just as much as baking around this house! Bed Jumping!!! I just had to share these sweet images! Thank you so much Robyn! These are truly the moments I know I will think back on, smile and cry about when they are grown. I hope they will be mothers who will love their children fiercely, that kindness will flow from their hearts and homes and that they will be filled with the joy that comes from watching their babes jump on the bed…and maybe jumping with them when they’re a little less pregnant:D

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Products Featured:

Pajamas: G. Nancy from Baby Donkie 

Momma’s Top: LoveWinnieJames

Photography by RobynBunch