Friday, May 30, 2014

[Baby #2] Kenley Drew - 6 Month Update

I can't believe my baby is six months old.  It felt like it took forever for Ashlynn to hit the half year mark and for Kenley it flew by.  I remember saying before she was born that it would be May before we know it... she'd be eating solids, we'd have a routine, she'd acquire baby skills likes rolling or sitting and maybe even teething.  Of course, not all of that has happened, but we are getting close.  Life is definitely getting more and more manageable and seems 'easy' compared to those rough newborn days that don't really feel so far away, but are.  I'm trying to soak in so much of this baby and babyhood, because I know the second half goes even faster than the first!

No official stats until next week.  When she was in a few weeks ago she 15lbs 4oz.

I just moved her up to her 6-12m wardrobe last week.  I added a few items she never really got to wear to her resale page along with some other items.  She's still in size 2 diapers. 

More of the same I suppose.  We try to tag team bedtime now, I take Kenley at 7pm to her room to nurse and settle down for the night.  She's usually out by 7:30.  Sometimes she'll cry out, but just needs her paci popped back in.  She's been a side sleeper since we stopped swaddling around two months or so and finally about two weeks ago she's rolled to her belly.  And only now, two weeks later am I finally getting comfortable with it.  Ashlynn wasn't stomach sleeping until about 8 months, which of course worried me then too, but at she was able to sit up on her own.  Kenley rolls all directions and is seriously all over the crib.  She'll normally wake up between 12-2 for another feeding, goes back down and up again for another around 3-4am.  At that point, I'm still bringing her into bed with us (her favorite spot) and we wake around 6am.  She might be the absolute cutest in the morning.   I open my eyes and her big gummy smile and bright eyes in my face.

Naps kind of suck.  She'll usually take a short morning snooze after nursing at 9am when I shower, then maybe again while we are out and about between 9:30-11am.  She's pretty much always awake when Ashlynn is napping, only falling back asleep around 2pm when Ashlynn is waking up.  That's another short lived nap and then she'll usually take another around 3-4pm when we are back out at the playground or running other errands.  Oh and naps, they are either on me or in the carseat.  

She's been doing great at Child Watch at the gym.  She'll cry, but it's only because she's tired and ready for a nap.  In other random social skills, she's noticed our dogs.  She'll watch them play or squeal when they come close to her and always reaches out to pet.

Mama's milk and baby foods!

We started with sweet potatoes, and have since had green beans, bananas, carrots, and avocado.  So far didn't seem to hate any but I think the green beans and carrots might have been harder to digest, and she really wasn't interested in the avocado.  She really loved the bananas and sweet potatoes, just like her sister.  

I'm also wondering if we are in a growth spurt or if my supply is tanking.  It seems like she's nursing more often and while I'm hoping the addition of solids will help, so far it doesn't seem to be.  I'm going to ask the pediatrician about supplementing, although her growth and diaper count seems okay.  She may just be a distracted snacker, but I wouldn't mind cutting down the session count.


Rolls both directions with ease and sleeps on her belly.  Sitting up with support.  And even inch worming her body over to toys or objects she just has to have.

She had her first illnesses this month, double pink eye and an ear infection.  She handle it like a champ and never fought taking her medicine, although she really didn't like the eye drops.   She has since had a stuffy nose and light cough.   She also seems like her eczema is flairing up again.

The WonderWeeks app says we are middle of a 'stormy' period, she's in her 5th leap learning relationships like distance and that things can be on top, under, behind, etc.  Which probably explains her absolute love of Peek a Boo.   Also, loves Frozen songs which is guess means requests for "Fo-man" (Do You Want To Build A Snowman?) are at an all time high.  I was able to calm her in the car simply by singing that over any lullaby.

She's still a mommy's girl, but getting better about being with others, most likely thanks to the gym.  She's so happy and in the perfect squishy kicky baby stage and I LOVE it.  Belly kisses and footie raspberries are her jam. And she's mine.

Happy 6 Month Birthday, Kenley!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Me, Me, Me - Anthro Picks!

So it went unmentioned, that for Mother's Day the Husband (and girls too of course) got me a gift card to Anthropologie.  He had heard me complain that I haven't bought any "real" clothes since before Ashlynn was born.  I went from pregnant to nursing to pregnant to back to nursing over the last 3 years, not to mention I stay home now so some of my old work wardrobe isn't exactly appropriate for doing dishes and changing diapers.  I have bought a new hoodie or two, but really no clothes for looking presentable in outside of Target, Wegmans, and Storytime.  And while my closet isn't bare, I'm getting tired of rotating the few nursing friendly and washable tops I cling to for every outing.

Since Kenley is starting solids and hopefully the spit up episodes continues to dwindle, I'll be less fearful of wearing something pretty and having it ruined. I can only get away wearing my favorite 3 shirts for so long.

I only bought two shirts, a tank and blouse, and decided to hold the remainder to put towards something for Fall or maybe a cute accessory.  During my online search (no way I could shop in store with two kids in tow), I realized I haven't even online window shopped for myself in ages.  If the gift card was a bit larger, here's what I would have stocked my closet with!

1 | 2 | 3 | 4
5 | 6 | 7 | 8

What store has been on point for you for this sumer?  Are you a mommy with style or are in the mommy style rut and borderline an audition away from What Not to Wear?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Bag Lady

I have a secret.

I have two children, two and under, and I don't use a diaper bag.

It's true, and it's amazing.  I use my now four year old, Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Q Hillier Hobo.  I used the diaper bag I purchased before having Ashlynn, a Nest Hudson diaper bag, until she was around 8 months old and then pulled the switch-a-roo.  I'm pretty sure it all happened the same time we switched from the infant carrier to the convertible carseat.

I still have deep feelings for my diaper bag, really the only drawback in my opinion is that it's big.  Which is also it's greatest highlight.   You can see it's size on me here.  I think once I was carrying her to and from the car seat to shopping cart, I asked myself why am I carrying this giant bag to the grocery store, when I never need any of it's contents other than my phone, wallet and sippy cup?  I soon realized a smaller bag with just the need-now essentials could get me by.

Of course, that list of need-now essentials changes every few months, but I've been able to manage the change from baby to toddler and even the addition of a newborn to infant all without having to add a giant bag back to my routine.

The contents of the bag I actually carry looks like this, give or take a snack trap of gold fish, a few band aids, and an extra pair of contacts that I keep in the zippered pocket with a contact case and eye drops.

Of course, this picture is missing my phone, but honestly thats usually in my pocket and not technically in my bag. My keys, wallet, pen, chapstick, and sunglasses are pretty much my only needs.  

For the toddler, her water, a small toy like her Minnie Mouse keys, sunscreen stickhand sani, hair things, and her sunglasses.  She has some other toys in the car that we keep there permanently and my one cup holder is filled with bow clips... since she usually takes them out mid trip and I get a "mommy take it" and then they live there until I hit Starbucks twice in one day and actually need the second holder.

For the baby, two diapers, wipes, paci, a bib or burpcloth, and a teether... and her sunglasses too. 

I know, you are probably asking "What about diapers for Ashlynn?  What about a change of clothes?  What about tissues? or First Aid?"  ...not to mention anything related to dining out.  So, how do we manage?

I keep my diaper bag fully stocked, in the car.  If Ashlynn were to need to be changed during a Target run or while at the playground, I would never actually change her right there on the spot, so no need to keep those items on me, we'd most likely be doing that in the car.  Even if at a friend's for a playdate, I can just run out to the car to grab her bib or diaper, or a change of clothes for the baby.

More burp cloths, an extra swaddle blanket for warmth or to block the sun (and also doubles as my nursing cover), diaper cream, tissues and boogie wipes and snot sucker, change of clothes, sun hat, an extra paci just in case we lose the other, bib for Ashlynn, and some more toys. And of course, more diapers and wipes for back up. 

This is probably overkill, but I also like to have a separate bag for when utilizing the gym's child watch.  The baby room has numbered cubbies when you walk in to leave items - bottles, milk/formula, toys, diapers, the general necessities that baby might need while your gone.  I wouldn't want to leave my handbag since I have items like my wallet and I wouldn't want in a public storage area, so I use a separate bag.  I could use my regular diaper bag, but it's stocked with so many items that either aren't for Kenley or applicable to the hour that'd I'd be gone so I pack a separate bag to drop off with her on gym days.  

Diapers, wipes, the wipeable change pad that came with the bag, teetherpaci, her favorite crinkle book, and a change of clothes and socks.  She really wouldn't need anything else except for milk and that I would pack with us, along with my own water and snack.  Otherwise this bag stays just like this in my car so I don't have to bother unpacking and repacking each trip.

JJ Cole was so sweet in offering to send us the backpack bag for our review and overall, I think it's a great bag.  With two kids, it's so much easier having the backpack option since there is always at least one child on my hip, or the times I'm wearing the baby and a cross body or shoulder bag isn't practical.  It's spacious and has pockets for everything!  Unfortunately, the biggest drawbacks are that my husband refuses to use it because of the print (another reason we keep bags stocked in the car, so he doesn't have to worry about packing a bag) and I also prefer a less "babyish" baby bag.  If it came in solid black, I'm pretty sure it'd be the only bag we'd use. 

Lastly, I keep the above items in our stroller's basket.  Our JJ Cole Agility wrap, which has been a life saver at the playground more times that I can count.  Some sunscreenhand sani, and a JJ Cole travel changing clutch for the necessary on the go changes.

I'm sure it seems like a lot to manage, but it's so much easier to travel with well prepared cargo rather than a well prepared carry on!  With 40lbs of children to carry, a lightweight bag with the bare essentials keeps me from needing a weekly trip to the chiropractor or spa - though I don't think I would complain about weekly trips to the spa!

Do you use a diaper bag with a child over one year?  Multiple kids?  Share your organizational tips!!


JJ Cole was kind enough to provide backpack diaper bag and changing clutch  for our review, but all opinions expressed are solely my own.  All other products mentioned were purchased with my own money and their brands are unaware of this post.  

If you'd like to learn more about my sponsorship policies and opportunities, please click here!
Affiliate links may exist in this post, thank you for your support. 

Interested in learning more about products by JJ Cole?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial and Memories

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend (here in the U.S.).  We had the most beautiful weather and couldn't have had a better unofficial kick off to summer ending with time celebrating and remembering our troops.  Without their sacrifice, we'd never be able to bbq and eat ice cream to our hearts content, we couldn't be more grateful for their service.

We started by ordering a pizza Friday night, naturally we were off to a great start.  Saturday morning the Husband had some work to do so I took the kids for a run and ended with a trip at the playground.  After we came back played, got the younger crowd down for naps, and then the older crowd tag teamed the yard work.  Husband mowing, me weeding.  After we took a trip to the outlets which ended up being a giant mistake because they were insanely crowded and we were using the BOB duallie which I left in my car after my run.  Not the best stroller for shopping.  We took a advantage of a few deals to update the husbands work shirt collection and bounced.  We ended that night with a wagon ride around the neighborhood.

Purring Percival c/o Lamaze 
(available at Buy Buy Baby and Babies R' Us)

Sunday we woke up and continued with our Panera Sunday tradition for the second week in a row.  Can't beat an $8 family breakfast.  Did a family trip to the grocery store and came home once again to play. We took turns going for runs, and then headed to our friends for a BBQ after naps were over.  Ashlynn had such a blast playing on her friends swing set and would not stop riding the Little Tikes rollercoaster.  I'm pretty sure all she did was ride the rollercoaster and eat the entire plate of cheese.  We on the other hand stuffed ourselves with homemade Old Bay and garlic parmesan wings, crab dip, and Brie and turkey burgers.  After we let the kids make their own strawberry/blueberry shortcakes which resulted in the youngest taking spoonfuls from the tub of cool whip and stuffing her own face with cake like it was her wedding day.  I'll never stop saying it, toddlers are amazing.

Monday with started with a visit from Nany and Pop and a breakfast of french toast and baked kale and turkey bacon egg cups.  When we finished we headed over to our town's Memorial Day parade.  It was  a great parade with a local high school band, dogs, children on bikes, tractors, antique cars, "princesses" (local 'miss' winners), some floats, bag pipes, and of course our veterans. Ashlynn really loved it and even more when a local politician gave her a gold medal "necklace". 

stars flower clip | dress (baby gap last year, love this one)

We ended the day with getting ice cream for dinner, and we are officially the best parents on the planet. 

Until tomorrow morning when she won't get ice cream for breakfast.  You win some, you lose some.

I hope we can continue these traditions as the years go on, nothing like creating memories with family and friends.  I hope everyone had a great weekend! 

Friday, May 23, 2014

[Five] I am a Tommee Mommee!

I am so excited to announce that I have recently partnered with Tommee Tippee as a Tommee Mommee!  If you've been following us for awhile, you already know we are big fans of the Tommee Tippee brand having used a variety of their products with Ashlynn and now with Kenley, too.
As a Tommee Mommee I'll be able to share our love with all of you with exclusive brand updates, newly released products, and giveaway opportunities!

For my Friday Five,  I'm sharing my five favorite products we love from Tommee Tippee.

1 - Truly Spill Proof Drink Cups.  I think this may have been one of the first Tommee Tippee products I purchased last year when trying to get Ashlynn to learn to drink from a regular sippy instead of a straw cup.  I was replacing damaged straw cups way too often and this was the first sippy cup she had no problem drinking from AND didn't leak!  We use them now for milk because they are our only cups that won't randomly leak. You can read more about why we love them here.

2 - Pacifiers.  I tried so many different pacifiers with Kenley when she was a few weeks old and entering her fussy stage.  I tried Tommee Tippee's new every day line, but she rejected them too.  Finally, about two months ago I tried again for laughs and she took it!  Like her sister, she's addicted to it and needs it to sleep.  Luckily, unlike her sister, she figured out how to put it back in herself!

3 - Bottles. Like the Tommee Tippee pacifiers, Tommee Tippee bottles were the only bottle we've been able to get Kenley to take. The wide mouth design of the bottle is more closely designed to mimic nursing. They also recently debuted a color line, Colour My World, which can be found exclusively at Babies R Us.

4 - Milk Feeding Bib. Another product I already, shared my love for when writing about my excitement  about the Tommee Tippee bottles (see #3).  These bibs are so great that milk (and spit up) doesn't get stuck in little newborn or small infant chin and neck rolls.  They are must for bottle feeding time around here.

5 - Chewther. Kenley might have more chew toys than our dogs, but this one is perfect for her current stage.  She's just about six months and loves grasping toys and objects and putting everything in her mouth.  This is teether is easy for her to hold and gives her plenty to chew on, they even tote that it helps develop muscle coordination and jaw development.  Beats the crinkle book she's always trying to eat.

Do you have a favorite brand you find you love product after product?  Are you a brand loyalist, or just buy whatever gets your attention first?


This post was written on behalf of Tommee Tippee, however all opinions expressed and love for specific products mentioned are solely my own!

If you'd like to learn more about my sponsorship policies and opportunities, please click here!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Picnic for my Pixies

Our routine is pretty routine.  Breakfast, playroom time, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while I shower, errands or activities, snack, nap, lunch, playground, independent play that usually turns into a toddler torturing a dog and then sitting in front of the TV while I try to prep dinner, dinner, bath, books, and bed.

The other day, instead of playground time, I promised Ashlynn we could have an outside picnic for lunch and dress up like fairies.  Unfortunately, when she woke from her nap it was drizzling and cool outside, so we did it inside instead.

As you might have noticed on my instagram feed, Ashlynn is fully embracing the dress up phase.  Usually after breakfast each morning she puts on her Princess Anna's dress and insists I put on Princess Elsa's, despite how many times I try to explain it won't fit. She got a pair of fairy wings in her Easter Basket, so I'm usually asked to wear those instead and to be Tink.  So naturally she flipped when I showed her new dress up outfit.

A purple butterfly fairy.

Instantly, I was Ashlynn's Oprah-fairy godmother.  I mean could we have smooshed anymore of Ashlynn's favorite things into one adorable outfit? She's pretty obsessed with every piece from Just Pretend Kids.

The tutu is vibrant and quality made (no fraying tulle).  I also love that the satin bow isn't actually hand tied because I would never be able to redo it so perfectly.  The elastic waist band is sewn for reinforcement, the headband doesn't dig in,  and the wand is lightweight and hollow so I'm not too concerned about it turning into a weapon to taunt our dogs or her little sister.  She has a size 2 bodysuit and I while it fits her perfectly and I know it will stretch, I would say it probably runs on the smaller side and to size up if your child is in the higher percentiles, so you can get more mileage.  The wings are probably her favorite part, purple glitter will cause a bias around here.  And there is some slack in the straps so she won't outgrow them.

We are very thankful for the opportunity to try out one of Just Pretend Kids costumes and I am set to place an order for a friend turning two this summer.  A tutu plus accessories will run you in the same ballpark as just a Disney Princess dress before the add-ons, and the quality definitely doesn't make your wallet bleed tears of taffeta.  Nothing worse then buying overpriced poorly stitched polyester dresses that get their share of wear and tear. They even have a great selection of animal costumes, so don't think it's just for girls!

Children's Place tutu (old hand me down) | Headband

As soon as I laid out the picnic blanket for our indoor party, Ashlynn grabbed her tea set so we skipped the real food and played pretend.  My favorite way to play, inspiring that imagination to grow, grow, grow.

Tea, coffee, and cocoa and cakes.  We had quite the little party.  Ashlynn even added in some "Elsa magic" trying to cast off fairy dust from her wand. I love watching what she remembers and the things she comes up with, little minds are amazing.  Not mention watching her play alongside her sister offering her a tea cup to teeth on, so thoughtful that toddler of mine.

... now, pass me that wooden scone!


Just Pretend Kids was kind enough to provide the costume shown for our review, but as always, all opinions expressed are solely my own (and Ashlynn too)!  

If you'd like to learn more about my sponsorship policies and opportunities, please click here!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

[Featured On] Photography for Moms!

I am so excited to share with you guys that Sara asked me to guest post on her Photography for Moms series over at Running from the Law.  This might be my favorite blog series out there and I am always excited when a new guest poster is sharing their tips and tricks specifically for us moms and how to best capture our children.

I was actually a little surprised she asked me to contribute since I felt like I should be on the other side of the virtual classroom, but she asked me to share my experience and tips learned documenting monthly (and weekly) milestones, something I'm clearly all over.

Here's a tidbit I shared....

For our second year I went to the more attainable monthly shot.  We got Ashlynn an Anywhere Chair for her birthday and I decided we'd use that as the prop.  We keep it in our family (TV) room, but I would drag it in our playroom once a month for the photos.  Having the chair in a new space was enough to interest her to sit on it if I asked her to.  Of course as we drew closer to 2 years, items and toys from the playroom would distract her and they'd make their way into the photos, but I found it charming.  It wasn't until 23 months I actually had to bribe her with goldfish to sit for a picture.

Tip:  Find a distraction to keep them where you want them.  In her weekly photos as a baby, to keep her from rolling and crawling away, I'd place things in her hands. Hair bows or smaller (non-choking hazard) toys that wouldn't take away focus if visible in the shot.  If I was able to take it away after a few minutes and shoot her looking at me, score, if it not oh well.   Generally, it would at least get her to lay still for a few photos as opposed to just resisting from the start.

Full post HERE!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

[Little Foodie] Nummy

My last little baby is officially all grown up!  Kenley had her first "solid" over the weekend.  Homemade steamed and pureed organic sweet potatoes with a generous amount of mama's milk mixed in to make it closer to soup then actual solid.

Okay, so, she's still totally my little baby and just ten days shy of only being six months old, but man has time flown by at lightning speed the second time around!  I blame the toddler for always keeping me busy, although I'm sure my Husband would disagree as his fondness lies in the toddler stage and is pretty adverse to crying infants so he feels as if this phase is dragging.  I just can't believe we are starting to check off "firsts" for the last time from the milestone list.

Of course, with that twinge of sadness is a giant fireball of excitement for all we have to look forward to, and we haven't even hit a lot of big milestones with our first born.  Potty training, big girl beds, and two best friends who converse in full sentences, read books to each other, and brush each other's hair.  Not to mention the soccer games, first day of kindergarten, and learning to drive.  

Yeah, I jumped about ten years right there.  

So while, I fear these next eighteen years of my life (no doubt my favorite ones) will fly by in a blink of an eye, I know there is so much to look forward to each day.

And tomorrow it's green beans. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Pajama Party

It's no secret, we love pajamas.  And while I don't allow those who can walk to leave the house in them, we keep them on until we do.  Some days that's until after breakfast, others until after nap, and the rest until we take a bath and put on a fresh clean pair for bed.

(1) | (2) | (3)
(4) | (5) | (6)

We've grown quite the collection in our jammie drawer and our stash ranges from high to low, we don't discriminate.  Some are incredibly warm for winter, others light for hot summer nights, and our favorites incredibly soft.  Which if you want to snuggle or lounge around cooking up some fake pancakes and watching Frozen for the 800th time then soft is definitely the way to go.

We are absolutely loving our Skylar Luna pajamas, they are made from 100% yarn dyed organic cotton (no stiff and scratchy screen printing) and come in a variety of cute, but thankfully non-cheesy, designs... which works for me when I can only manage talking her into get half dressed.

Did you really think I could manage dressing my toddler in clothing other than pajamas every single day?  You must not have a toddler yourself!  Or I suppose this means our days are numbered until the Target runs escorted by my very own Princess Anna begin.

Each pair comes in their own drawstring pouch, like some of my favorite moccasins and good karma canvas kicks, which we use around the playroom storing puzzle pieces and little mini minnies.  

We previously owned another organic cotton pj and I never ended up purchasing more since they were expensive but the quality seemed to rival the lower end sets we owned.   There is a significant difference with these organic cotton pajamas and even after two months of use, they still feel brand new.  Price per wear is something I always factor in my purchases.  I have no problem spending more for something that will be worn often and last a long time like shoes, pajamas, and outerwear.  I'm sure these will be the few sets that actually make their way to Kenley's closet one day! 

Do you buy jammies by the bulk?  Your little one refuse to wear real clothes too??


Skylar Luna was kind enough to provide two sets of pajamas for our review, but all opinions expressed are solely my own (and Ashlynn too).  All other products mentioned were purchased with my own money and their brands are unaware of this review.  

If you'd like to learn more about my sponsorship policies and opportunities, please click here!
Affiliate links may exist in this post, thank you for your support. 

Interested in learning more about Skylar Luna?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday... random posting

It's been a long week... one of those week where I constantly think we are day ahead, like, why is today second Friday?

 You know, like second breakfast, or second lunch....

Not sure I'm going to hit five, but here's my obligatory catch all post for the week (yes, I know I had one on Monday, too)

Turns out Kenley did have double pink eye, and by the time we headed to the doctor on Monday it was obvious.  I was so glad I put the call in that morning when it was borderline maybe it's just a cold or allergies.  Some antibiotic drops and they were clearing almost immediately.

Some low grade fevers and a rough Tuesday night where she cried, like cried like a newborn again, from 3-5am mainly over what seemed to be gas.  By 6am she vomited and thankfully seemed happy as clam after that.  When she woke that afternoon (Wednesday) and had a fever of 100.8, I gave her some Tylenol and checked in with her pediatrician since I thought fevers should be down by now and not rising back up.  She had warned that pink eye can sometimes lead to ear infections, even though her ears looked good on Monday.  We went in and she was diagnosed with an ear infection... her first two illnesses at 5 months and my first ear infection as a parent.

Of course, now when we give Sissy medicine to get healthy, Ashlynn requests "ashie medicine", so she gets a mouthful of water.   Whatever keeps these kids entertained, looks playing "check up" just got messier.

Root Pretty.  I'm sure a lot of you have seen other bloggers or friends on instagram share their love for Root Pretty make up, but I'm joining in.  I ordered some samples of the pearl powder foundation - for $2 a pop each - two months ago, and after finding my shade ordered a full size pearl powder foundation (I'm a 3) and a vegan kabuki brush.

I used to Smashbox Halo powder years ago and loved it.  I stopped when I was experiencing (hormonal) breakouts that were leaving behind dark spots and needed more coverage.  Since having children, two years ago, I pretty much only use my Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage to cover the circles under my eyes and any uneven skin tone.  If I'm going out I use a sample of Bobbi Brown BB creme I got at some point.  I used the blogger loved Garnier for a hot second, but prefer the Bobbi Brown.  Of course, I'm not in love with any of these products.  After seeing some of the side by side shots on Root Pretty's IG account, I took a look at the site and figured why not, the price is totally affordable, $15, and I used to love powder foundations.

Well simply put, it's amazing.  I don't even use concealer anymore!  I wear it daily with some blush, mascara, and my brows filled in.  Probably a 2 minute process, which is all I have time for these days.  I was a little weary of the brush quality, being vegan (synthetic) and only $12, but nope, it applies the make up perfect, doesn't shed, and is really soft.  Big fan, definitely check it out!

Baby food!  We are most likely starting this weekend, so plan for a lot posts soon that will be reminiscent of November 2012 when Ashlynn started solids.  It will definitely be interesting seeing what Kenley's habits are like compared to Ashlynn. 

Off to break out the Beaba Cook!

Happy Weekend

Thursday, May 15, 2014

[Review] Radiantly You

About a month ago, I was contacted by reader Kiara.  She reached out to see if I would be interested in trying a sample of products by Radiantly You.  A company started by a mom (to 3 under 3!) to provide high quality, chemical free products at a reasonable price.  They focus on organic and natural healthcare, cleaning, beauty, and baby products.

To be totally honest, for some odd reason, I have some sort of unfair bias against direct marketing companies and products.  I guess it's not that odd, but my mom became involved with one during the 90s and it wasn't the greatest ride.  One of those "get rich quick, work from home, and drive a Lexus!" deals that clearly didn't end that way. Granted, I realize now a lot these companies today have really superior products, but for whatever reason, I have greater confidence in buying make up from Sephora, my home goods from Home Goods, and avoid jewelry parties because I always get suckered into buying things I never end up wearing.

I'm sure you are all probably thinking, "Wow Erinn, what a great way to start a review post" or "You're insane, I've been buying/selling XYZ and it does work and do drive a Lexus!"  I guess I just want to lay it out there that I started this experience with a spoonful of skeptism and almost declined the offer to review.

My decision to say yes started when I looked at the ingredient lists and could recognize every ingredient. Over the years, I've "greened" up different areas of my skincare, beauty, and household cleaning products, but still have some products I'd love to replace if I can find a worthy option.  I'm all about being green, but it's got to still work!

Kiara sent me a handful of samples and here are my thoughts...

Lavender Vanilla Sugar Scrub 
(Cane Sugar, Pomace -Olive Oil, Glycerin, and Lavender and Vanilla Essential Oils) - $12.50 8oz

This is a delicious smelling scrub.  It is pretty coarse, so I only needed a little and I would gently massage it on my face before following with the face wash.  I never used it more than two times a week   and it definitely left my skin feeling soft and fresh.  Areas I had flaking dead skin would be cleared up.  I usually stick to sensitive skin products even though I don't truly believe I sensitive skin.  I would think anyone who truly is prone to sensitivity might only want to use it once a week and used very lightly since I would imagine the coarse texture could be irritating.

Dead Sea Mud Whipped Face Wash
(Expeller-Pressed Coconut Oil, Sustainably Harvested Palm Oil, Pomace - Olive Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Unrefined Shea Butter, Water, Dead Sea Mud, Tear Tree Essential Oil, Vitamin E) - $11.50 4oz

Another winner.  I used this almost nightly until I ran out.  Again only using a small amount, I could get a really nice foaming lather, which is something most soaps and face washes lack when omitting sulfates from their ingredients.  It left my face "squeaky" clean, which I learned in the last few years as a negative... meaning it was harsh ingredients stripping your skin.  Instead, I had that super clean (squeaky) feel, but skin felt soft and moisturized after.  Not dried out.   I also like the smell, but could see why others might not dig tea tree oil.

Soothing Baby Whipped Body Butter
(Unrefined Shea Butter, Expeller Pressed Coconut Oil, Lavender and Vanilla Essential Oils) - $14.50 4oz

This baby lotion is more of a cream.  It's fluffy and whipped and not liquidy like Honest or Burt's Baby Bees lotions.  Because of the coconut oil it rubs in very easily once warmed up in the heat between your hands and baby's body.  I liked it, but wish the price per ounce we a bit more competitive with the other brands mention which provide double for less.

Calendula Booty Balm
(Unrefined Raw Shea Butter, Expeller Pressed Coconut Oil, Calendula Infused Pomace -Olive Oil, Lavender and Vanilla Essential Oils) - $7.50 2oz

I actually liked this better than the body butter and used it on some of Kenley's dry patches (both girls get eczema flairs and also on the corners of my lips when they were dry and chapped.  My favorite booty balm ever is CJ BUTTer and this does rival it.  Again, I wish for more than 2oz was given for the price (which is still very reasonable), but there are just other products out there that offer more for less.  

RY Deodorant
(Aloe Vera, Beeswax, Expeller Pressed Coconut Oil, Raw Unrefined Shea Butter, Bentonite Clay, Tea Tree, Sweet Orange, and Peppermint Essential Oil) - $6.50 2.5oz

Okay, so I've been dying to find THEE natural deodorant that would work for me. Granted, I fully disclose I'm not really a sweater or one to get stinky on the run of the mill day being a stay at home mom.  However, I've used Secret for years and just have become accustomed to the formula - texture, scent, etc. I tried Toms all natural in the past and was less than impressed.  I've been meaning to try Lavanila, but $14 for a stick of deodorant is hard to swallow.  

This option is totally in my price point, I really liked the smell, and for the month I wore it, I felt like it worked!  Because it's more of a gel (coconut oil), as opposed to the "invisible solid" I'm used to, I had to make sure it was dry and absorbed in before getting dressed.  It did leave a stain on a white tee that I point too soon.  And now that the weather is nearing the 80s, I find myself grabbing my old tried and true soley for the "invisible solid" formula that goes on dry.  I will probably start using it again when the weather cools down in the Fall.

All- Natural Tub Scrub
(Super Washing Soda, Baking Soda, Castile Soap, Tea Tree, Sweet Orange, and Water) - $8.50 16oz

Another winner.  We try using all natural cleaners when we can, do we break out the chemicals once in a blue moon to deep clean, sure, but for the in between maintenance I like to avoid bleach and harsh (stinky) chemicals.  This was a bit nicer than my own attempts to use baking soda and vinegar, but didn't clean the way chemicals would.  I really liked being able to use in the baby tub and Ashlynn's bathroom.  I also feel it's priced well for the amount you need for an all natural product.

Overall, I was really pleased with the products.  Everything from the ingredients, effectiveness, and textures were positive in my book.  I also think the majority of the products offered are priced fairly and I love the company's mission, something I love to support over the giant big business. I have been officially swayed!

Thank you so much Kiara for allowing me to test out some of these items and have my skeptism thrown out.  I will definitely be looking into more products to try!

If you are interested in trying some products, check out Kiara's Radiantly You page!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

[Child Style] Lavender Love

With the girls born in opposite seasons I lacked the right sizes for winter gear and summer rompers to pass down from Ashlynn to Kenley.  And now that Kenley is weeks away from packing up all her 3-6 month clothing for good, I used last week's 40% regular price items at Baby Gap to stock her up for summer.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Luckily, we have plenty of jeans, leggings, sweaters, pajamas, and longsleeve bodysuits in 6-12 months since Ashlynn was pretty much in that size from October through last summer.  I had only bought most of her summer rompers and dresses in 12-18 and stopped using onesies as soon as she could walk.  Kenley will be set for fall, but until then, I got her a handful of cute lightweight bodysuits to get her through those hot summer days.

Actually, Ashlynn still fits in her denim 6-12m shorts, so looks like they'll be sharing those.  I knew my girls would one day share clothes, just didn't realize it'd be so soon!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Kindle Fire Apps for Toddlers

We were lucky enough to receive a Kindle Fire HDX as a family gift from my mom this past Christmas.  We had been waffling between different tablets, but leaning towards the Kindle mainly for the price and options (screen size, pixels, etc), so it was a very welcome and appreciated surprise.

We have an oldschool kindle and while, at least my reading has dwindled to almost nil post children (blogs count right?), we were really excited to have an tablet that would let Ashlynn play children's apps while on long car rides or places where she might need to be kept quietly entertained, like the time I had to go last a minute eye doctor appointment and had to drag both kids along.

While googling "Toddler Apps" will usually bring up a gazillion recommendations, they are usually geared toward the iPad.  I had a really hard time finding recommendations specifically for the Amazon Fire their android appstore.  Don't get me wrong, plenty articles and blog posts exist, but it's hard to gauge what is popular for one toddler will work for another since 18m and 3years are totally different, yet both are classified as toddlers..  Either way, here are some of Ashlynn's favorites.

I actually let her play about 15 minutes most mornings while she has some milk and I feed Kenley (and drink some coffee and watch the headlines on Today).  I can get hung up on guilt over screen time, but I have actually seen her learn new skills from these games.  I figure fifteen minutes of technology as a (fun for her) teaching tool isn't the end of the world, and it's better than another episode of the same Mickey Mouse.

Also, I should note, I like apps that are FREE or have trial versions that are free before I get suckered into paying for something that is not really educational/right for our age and abilities.

by - $4.99
She loves this game and the silly monsters.  It teaches the sounds of each letter while the child places them from scattered about correctly on the word.  Right now, it's just working letters and puzzle placement/recognizing shapes for her, but an older toddler could learn some vocabulary (some of the words are quite big) after the word puzzle is complete the app says the word and gives a definition while the monsters act out the word.   It could also help school age children with spelling.   

Animal and Trains, Planes, and Sea Vehicles Puzzles for Toddlers
by Pixel Envision - Free (samples)

These apps are only FREE in the sense that they give you about four puzzles and the option to unlock more by forking over some cash.  I let Ashlynn play for a month or so, maybe longer, with the free versions and she hadn't really seemed bored.  She does toggle between apps each morning, so she'd do a few puzzles then move on to another game.  I credit this app completely for encouraging her to complete real puzzles at home.  She had almost zero interest in doing any of our wooden puzzles, even the extremely easy ones.  She'd try here and there when I'd bring them out, but if she couldn't spin the piece correctly into the hole, she'd get frustrated and quit.  After using this app, I noticed she looked at the puzzles a bit more methodically, spinning pieces in the right direction to match their pictures.  And finishing the easy ones within seconds.

I've since 'unlocked' more and they do become more difficult.  I see her having to work a littler harder and occasionally she'll ask me for help, but if I encourage her she'll figure it out and beam with pride.

Baby Animals
by WonderApps - Free

Basically the old school Memory game with pictures of baby animals.  Maybe it's just coincidence or luck, but it seems like she does remember where she last saw some of the animals.  Either way, I hope it's working her memory.  (It was my favorite game as a kid).

Alphabet Toddler
by Russpuppy - $1.99 (there is a Free Lite version too)

Another great alphabet app.  Each letter has its own page with a little activity.  For "A" you place three apples from an apple tree into a bucket.  For "C" you blow out (touch) candles on a cake. Very simple,  brightly colored, and perfect for toddlers. Ashlynn has a few favorite letters she repeats over and over because she likes the activity.

by Disney - $3.99

We love Disney Jr, it's really the only channel we watch so any Disney Jr character is recognizable to Ashlynn.  There are few different games within this app, Ashlynn's favorite being the Mix Up game.  There are toys that are assembled incorrectly - Teddy Bear legs on the Knight's body with a ballerina head.  She has to pull off the wrong body parts and create the correct toy.  This works her fine motor skills with matching, but also some critical thinking with which arms and legs belong to which toy.  Let's say I've even made the mistake of confusing the robot and knight's armor legs.  

Apps by 22Learn

These apps are generally free with the option to unlock more with little payment.  They aren't the most genius apps and I find a lot of the music on them annoying, but they are simple enough for Ashlynn to get (we've been playing them for at least four months and she just turned 2 remember) and I know there are perfect toddler level skills worked in.  Identifying colors, numbers, shapes, animals, letters, etc.  All the general basics and nothing too complicated for them to complete.  For a free app, it's worth having for variety. 

by Toca Boca - $2.99

Ashlynn's Nany has a Toca Boca tea party game on her iPad that she loves, unfortunately it's not available for Kindle.  However there are some other Toca Boca games and Ashlynn loves this one, she pretty much plays it every day.  I don't have much to say in terms of being truly educational, but she likes it and it's not Angry Birds, so I'm okay with that.  

We have a handful of others, but these are probably the most used with the inclusion of Strawberry Shortcake's Bakeshop (another app that I only allow her to play the free version since it really isn't that educational aside from following steps and fine motor skills - pouring /tilting the tablet, stirring, buttering the pan, etc)  The rest we have she really usually passes over so no reason to recommend something that doesn't work for us.  I would love to hear what works for everyone else!