Saturday, October 22, 2016

Soon, I'll Be 30 Years Old

In just two short days I'll be turning 30 and this past week I've been in a bit of a funk.  I've found myself looking in the mirror and not liking what I see.  I've had negative thoughts of not being accomplished enough.  I've felt alone and exhausted.  It sounds silly to say that turning 30 has effected me in this way.  I mean, I'm a huge birthday celebrator.  In years past I've made the whole MONTH of October my birthday, forcing anyone and everyone around me to celebrate.  This year, though, that hasn't been the case.

This morning I took some time to be alone while Daisy napped and the girls played to write down some goals and thoughts on why I've felt so down.  My main conclusion...turning 30 means I'm really an ADULT.  Call me crazy but I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who still feels like they just graduated from High School.  And even though I have children, own a home, and have a small business I see myself as a young 20 something still figuring out life.  No one has life figured out but I'm no longer a young 20 something.

I'm going to be 30.

All of a sudden I look at myself and see lines and wrinkles that weren't there before.  I find myself tired and lacking energy.  I don't want to get ready anymore because...really who cares?  I'm a mom of three kids and who do I need to impress?  The reality worth isn't measured by my age or beauty.  I'm an honest friend, a hard worker, a valiant mother, and a fervent lover.  I give give give more than I'm capable, at times, and I continue to grow and learn through others examples.

So, I made goals to help myself feel as though I'm progressing in life and age to bring myself up.  These goals aren't anything crazy or out of reach.  They're simple, honest, and realistic goals that I know will lift my spirits along with my overall well being.  So, here they are in all their beauty...

- Eat a salad everyday.
Sounds dumb, I know, but a while ago I went a whole week doing this and my, oh my, what a difference it made.  Not only in my energy levels but in the digestion part too...if you catch my drift.

-Write a thank you note to someone once a month.
We are all grateful, there's no doubt about it, but how often do we really sit down and write out our thoughts to someone who've made our lives better and shown them some honest thanking?  I don't do it enough, so I'm making it a priority to thank those around me more often and to, more specifically, write out a note to someone with more detail.

- Finish a good book once a month.
Because I don't read enough...

- Drink 60 oz. of water everyday.
Why is it so hard to drink water.  It's near impossible for me, anyway.  So I'm upping the auntie to not only feel better but improve my skin and all that goodness.

That's it people!  Nothing too overwhelming, nothing that's impossible to accomplish.  Just simple goals that will help to realign my feelings and allow myself some peace and love.  Turning 30 doesn't have to be so bad.  In fact, I'm starting to think it'll be one of the best years yet!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Maui Travel Tips

A year ago we planned a trip to Hawaii to relax and enjoy a little one on one time.  Little did we know that our Daisy girl would make a surprise into our lives a month after planning our trip. Ha ha...I guess that's life right?  Due to breastfeeding she was invited on our trip.  So everything in this here travel tip post is ALL baby accommodating and family friendly.

I feel like I spent hours and hours researching activities to do on Maui and things to eat.  After all the research, we put it to the test and tried so many of the things suggested, and I have to admit that most of them were a huge hit!  So I've broken it all down in hopes that it makes it a bit easier to plan your Maui vacation and hit up all the wonderful, and beautiful, things the island has to offer.  First most important. *wink wink*


The food on Maui is more than delicious.  The seafood is usually caught that morning making it the most fresh and tasty.  So even if you're one who doesn't like fish, I dare you to just taste it while you're on the island...cause you might just change your mind.  Here are a few restaurants we absolutely loved...

Barefoot Cafe,  Hana Maui

While Driving the road to Hana we took a wrong turn and ended up at a cute little beach off the beaten path.  Locals were enjoying the sun with their families and having a bite by this small cafe...which is the epitome of a "whole in the wall" restaurant.  Don't let that deter you though.  This place was YUM!  Above is a picture of what I sadly had to share with the hubs.  I seriously wish I could've licked the plate clean it was that good.  Nothing beats a Wasabi Tempura Mahi cooked to order and eating it right on the beach.

Kihei Caffe,  Kihei Maui
Breakfast was a rough one for us to find...especially with baby Daisy.  Having her with us meant we woke up at 4:00 am everyday and we were all starving.  Thankfully we stopped by a local grocer to pick up some breakfast snacks to hold us over, but after we found Kihei Caffe we were all a bit bummed we hadn't eaten there every morning.  They open at 5:00 am for all us early birds and serve some of the yummiest and filling goods to start your day.  From sweet to savory it was a win.  Our recommendations include eggs benedict, pork fried rice and eggs, and huevos rancheros.

Wow Wow Lemonade, Kihei Maui
Another perfect breakfast stop.  Super fresh lemonade and the yummiest of acai bowls.  Piled high with fruits found on the island. Make sure to buy a glass tumbler to take home with you as a souvenir.   I've been sipping on ice water from mine since our vacay.  

Sadly I was too busy eating all the food to get any more pictures but here are a few other awesome places we ate that you HAVE to check out while you're there.
Mama's Fish House, Paia Maui
Paia Fish Market, Paia Maui
MonkeyPod, Walea Maui
Pita Paradise, Walea Maui
Now on to the adventures.  I'm sure if you're planning a trip to Maui you've already heard about traveling down the windy road to Hana.  Well, I will happily agree with the rest of the world that it's something you can not miss.  It allows you to see the infinite beauty that lies on Maui.  Traveling from jungle to tropical, african desert and volcanic terrain, you see it all.  It's literally awe-inspiring.  We all stood at turn offs to take pictures and the only words that came to mind were "Holy Canoli". Ha ha. We were just that baffled by the beauty(and the beauty of my friend Kayti...amiright).
Before you head out on your adventure, keep in mind that there are soooo many stops you can take along the way on the road to Hana.  Look through the list HERE and pick and choose what you want to see/do.  Some of the stops require an entry fee so bring along enough cash just in case they don't take card.  Due to having Daisy with us, we skipped some of the hikes because the bugs are out of control. So first tip...bring bug spray.  We forgot this very important tip and got eaten alive at our first stop...bummer.  Don't make the same mistake we did. Also, here's tip number two, if you suffer at all from motion sickness, take some Dramamine an hour before you head out the door.  You'll thank me later for that one.  A few of the stops we loved, followed by their mile marker and cost (if any), were

Twin Falls (2) This was out first stop and we were devoured by mosquitoes.  Spray before you hike! There are two different hikes to the falls.  One is basically a small walk up to the first falls.  Then there's a longer hike up to the falls at the top.  Since we got eaten alive we skipped the second hike but after seeing pictures online of what we missed out on we wished we would have seen the upper falls.  So, definitely hike the rest of the way.
Upper Waikani Falls (19)  This waterfall is right off the road, so no need to stop if you don't want to but it's beautiful.  You'll pass it on your right but keep driving and you'll see a small parking area on your left. Take a few minutes to hike down to the bottom and bring a camera.  Also I've been told by the hubs that the water was really nice, so don't be afraid to swim a bit.
Lava Tubes (31) $12 per person.  The Lava Tubes don't open until 10:00 am so make sure you take enough stops so you aren't just sitting around waiting for it to open.   
Black Sand Beach (32) The beach is pretty rocky in most parts so wear water shoes if that bothers you, and the waves are pretty intense.  If you aren't the best swimmer I'd just stick to chilling on the beach. Bring a towel and sunscreen and keep in mind that it's WAY hotter than you think it'll be due to the back sand. 
Seven Sacred Pools (42) $20 per car. Our last stop on the road to Hana was the seven sacred pools.  You have to pay to get into the Haleakala National Park and it's whopping $20!  So here's another tip for ya.  If you're planning to drive all the way up to the Haleakala Crater to see the sun rise plan your trip within three days of each other and keep your receipt, that way you don't have to pay twice for entry into the National Park.  You're welcome.  All along the road are great hiking areas so plan ahead and bring good hiking shoes and clothing.  Some of the hikes take a while so also plan on bringing some kind of backpack to bring water and snacks if you desire.  We also just wore our swimsuits the whole time in case we wanted to hop into any of the waterfalls or swim at the beaches along the way.

After the seven sacred pools there aren't many stops left so you can choose to turn around and drive back or be the risky type and drive all the way around the bottom half of the island.  My the rest of the way.  The scenery alone is worth the drive.  So stunning!  I'm still amazed that people live out there and every morning they wake up to such beautiful views of Maui.

Haleakala Crater

By far this is the most flattering photo ever taken of me.  I mean duh. Ha ha. Our first morning on the island we woke up SUPER early and drove up to Haleakala Crater to see the sunrise.  We were TOTALLY unprepared I might add.  I'm talking the windiest road ever (enter motion sickness emoji) and we didn't do our research as to just how freaking cold it was going to be up there. I'm talking mid 40 degrees.  Of course we grabbed some blankets on our way out of the hotel to bundle ourselves up with but that was it.  My advice...pack a jacket and some warmer shoes if this is on your "must see" list. Sadly, luck wasn't on our side.  We got up to the top of the mountain just minutes before the sunrise and BAM!!! Just like that the clouds rolled in and we saw nothing but wet fog that drenched us all and had us shivering to the core.  The good news is that up on that steep mountain is a tiny little visitors center that has toasted macadamia nuts and dried bananas.  Sure they cost an arm and a leg, so forget about your child's college fund, but these macadamia nuts are pure deliciousness!  Buy like 5 bags.  For REALS and then send some to me!!! K thanks...Also, I will mention, once again, that to enter the national park it costs $20 per car. Save your receipt and make sure to hit up the seven sacred pools within three days as to not pay an additional $20. Again, you're welcome.

While on Maui we had our fare share of rain...and flash flooding.  This, as told to us by the locals, isn't common so don't you fret.  However, even with a bit of bad weather and some cancelled plans, we still had such a wonderful time.  I basically lived in my swimsuit, drank more shirley temples than  I can count, and showed my nursing boobs to too many passersby...sorry...ok totally NOT sorry.  

A few things that saved us, as far as traveling with baby Daisy?  First off we borrowed this City Select stroller and bassinet attachment from our friends and I don't know how I've been able to be a parent without it.  Daisy slept in comfort in that little bassinet at the pool, beach, and restaurants.  She isn't a fan of her car seat (can you blame her?) so this honestly made our entire trip so much more enjoyable.  

I also couldn't live without my Stekki Bebe wrap.  The fabric is soft and stretchy but still holds baby close to you.  It's also WATER SAFE!! Whoop Whoop!  Take a dip in the pool with just doesn't get any better.  We carried Daisy in it while we hiked, took walks to the beach, and around town to be hands free. 

Another must have is a stroller fan.  I mean what baby doesn't want a light breeze while they travel around or take a snooze?  The one we loved came with a clip and we attached it to the bassinet cover to give Daisy a cool down while she napped.  

I truly hope this info is helpful in planning your Maui getaway.  There's no doubt that even if you decide to sit by the pool at your hotel you'll still have the most wonderful and relaxing time.  As they say in Hawaii...Mahalo and Aloha!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Diaper bag essentials

There are a few items on my list of things I hate about having a baby.  That list includes car seats, diaper bags, spit up and blow outs...oh and sleepless nights.  But I'm not kidding when I say that I can now check diaper bag off the list.
It's taken me two kids and countless amounts of diaper bags to finally figure out what I need IN my bag and what I need my bag to do for me.  At first I started out with one of those giant hideous diaper bags and it was chocked full of an endless amount of what nots that I never used.  Plus it was like a black hole in there.  I'd empty it out about once a month and would find a slew of things I thought I had lost. Ha ha ha.  It just didn't work.  Then I thought I'd try out one of those name brand diaper bags that looked super cute and had an over the shoulder strap cause it was stylish and cute and yet it didn't function at all the way I wanted it to.  It constantly fell over spilling all of my essentials all over the car, dirty floor, and store cart.  It was so frustrating that once I was out of the diaper bag stage I immediately donated it so someone else could suffer through the awfulness of that bag.  Maybe that was mean of me?  Now that I have my Kiki Lu diaper bag I feel like I'm not driving myself nuts by having to carry around all the goods my baby needs.  This bag is amazing!! It's not only stylish and beautiful but it's completely functional for all of my needs.  It's made from a durable faux leather that's easy to clean and it has ample amounts of pockets and zippers to keep things in their more black hole.  It has straps to wear as a backpack, which is one of my favorite things because, hello, hands free!! But it comes with a strap to wear as an over the shoulder option too. Anything that has more than one option is fine by me!

Now let's talk about what's IN my diaper bag.  Once again, because this is my third baby I've narrowed my needs down to a few essentials.  One of the reasons is obviously because I don't actually need a million things in my bag.  I used to have 3 or 4 burp clothes, bottles...even though I was breastfeeding, like 5 diapers, 2 outfits for baby, a water bottle, toys, and the list goes on and on.  It was seriously ridiculous and my bag got so stinking heavy.  

I've narrowed it down to just a few essentials that I know I need and baby needs and that's it!  First off is the obvious...stuff to change diapers.  I like to keep either a onsie or a cute romper at hand in case baby has a blow out.  Depending on how long I'll be out of the house is how I determine the amount of diapers I'll need.  For a quick trip to the store or a meal out I pack 1 to 2 diapers, longer trips mean more diapers.  I also have been loving my gathre mat.  A friend gave me this mat and it has made changing baby girl while out and about so much easier.  I don't have to lay her on the nasty changing station in the public restroom cause I have this mat as a barrier.  It's easy to wipe down and sanitize and it folds up to about the size of a diaper.  I'm a lover of Huggies wipes and these new wipe holders are awesome.  They used to have the hard cover ones and they just didn't work well and would sometimes not seal and then you were left with dry wipes.  No bueno! These bags are easy to refill and have super cute patterns to match whatever your style.  I stuff all of these goodies in a zipper top bag (mine is from Old Navy, pictured in the top photo) and allows all of the diaper changing needs to be in one spot so I don't have to take the whole diaper bag into the bathroom with me.  I just grab the zipper top bag and I have everything I need.  Easy peasy.

Tubby Todd is my new favorite baby brand.  After a bout of nasty diaper rash with Daisy, and nothing was working, we tried the All Over Ointment and in a day it was completely gone...not better but GONE!  This stuff is not only great for diaper rash but we use it for cradle cap, baby acne, and dry skin.  It's seriously a must have for baby!  The Dream Cream is for momma's dry hands, cause we all know how often we wash our hands...they get all dry and nasty and this stuff does the job at moisturizing without leaving an oily feeling behind. 

Lastly, let's talk fabric.  I, of course, carry burp clothes with me cause we all know...spit happens.  But I also keep with me a swaddle blanket.  Now usually it's draped over baby girl's legs in the car seat but on occasion I grab one quickly as I run out the door and stuff it in my diaper bag.  I also always have a wrap baby carrier with me.  When it comes to having three kiddos with me it's just easier to have baby in the wrap so I can have both hands free to shop, grab my kids before they run out into the road, or hold their tiny hands. I may be outnumbered but at least I've got both of my hands free to keep them all close. 

I'd never claim to be an expert diaper bag packer but I will say I've definitely had my fair share of lessons learned and because of that, my diaper bag packing has improved.  Maybe your bag looks a bit different than mine and that's fine but I'm pretty sure all of us moms can agree that all of our kids are different, their needs are different, and our own must haves differ.  Being a momma is rough but now a days these handy diaper bags make life a little easier.  Can I get an AMEN?

Diaper Bag : Kiki Lu Designs
Zipper Top Bag : Old Navy(similar)
Romper : Rad Revolution
Baby Creams : Tubby Todd
Baby Wrap : Stekki Bebe
Baby Blanket : Captain Silly Pants
Changing Pad : Gathre

Newborn Milk Bath Photoshoot

I already feel like my little Daisy is getting jipped in the picture department.  I'm just too busy these days holding her, dealing with house duties, and taking care of her sisters.  So my sweet gal doesn't get her spotlight in the photo department very often.  So when I came across a picture of a milk bath newborn shoot I knew it would be so much fun to replicate it in a way with my Daisy.  Luckily I have a talented friend who I also knew would be so on board for the idea.

Catherine I met through my shop on Etsy.  She is a super talented photographer and she is so comfortable to take photos with.  I am so honored that she enjoys taking pictures of my little family and is so willing to hear my wild ideas.  I showed her the picture I loved of the milk bath newborn shoot and she immediately got what I was aiming for.  I wanted all the little details of Daisy.  I wanted to capture the bond Daisy and I have and somehow, through these photos, see how sugary sweet Daisy's personality is.  Well, it's pretty obvious from these beautiful photos that Catherine was able to capture all that I wanted and more.  Enjoy, and if you're wanting these same pictures with your little baby or little ones I'm freely willing to offer up my tub for you!  You can contact Catherine through her Instagram @catherinecallanphoto.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Mom of...THREE?

I was warned over and over again that three kids was going to throw me for a loop.  People had told me that their third was their hardest adjustment.  So when Daisy arrived I was fully prepared to be rocked, but boy was I not ready to be rocked like THIS!

With every baby, I feel like a different lesson was being taught to me.  With my first, slow down.  My second, patience.  And now my third and there's no doubt that Heavenly Father is trying to teach me to let things be.  I'm constantly trying to do it all and it all must be perfect.  I keep my house clean and keep detailed and organized to-do lists.  It's just my nature to want everything to be up to a certain expectation when it comes to how my house is kept.  I can't help it, I just want it all done least in my eyes.  But Daisy's arrival has slowly been teaching me that it's ok to just let things be messy, to-do lists unchecked, and showing up late is A OK.

The other day I FINALLY decided to take time to clean my house.  I nursed Daisy first thing and in the back of my mind I thought 'hurry Daisy quicker, I've got things to do' and it dawned on me that I need to stop and savor these moments with her...and, why in the world am I that eager to clean.  She will soon spread out her feedings and no longer want to be cuddled up close to me and be soothed by the sound of my heartbeat.  She won't be able to fall asleep on my shoulder and my one on one time with her while she eats will be no more.  I think there's a reason why we grow up so fast when we are little and I'm pretty sure it's because God is trying to tell us to pay more attention to all the little and precious moments of parenthood.  If you're a parent I'm sure you've heard countless times how fast time flies.  Before you know it you're kids will be off and married, and while we are still far from that I'm sitting here still in awe that I have a 6 year old.  When did that happen?  I swear it was just yesterday that I was swaddling her up for bed, or at least that's how it feels.  We live in a fast pace world where we are consumed by our phones, Pokemon Go...kill me, and television.  I'm guilty of saying to my kids all too often "hold on just a minute" so I can finish what I'm doing before giving them my full attention.   I refuse to be that absent minded parent.  I'm going to put my phone away more often so when my kids say "mom look at me" I'll be able to quickly and attentively see my children.  There will still be days when I need a break from them.  There will still be times when I hide in the bathroom for a moment alone.  But I know without a doubt that what I want my kids to remember about their childhood is that I was present, not just physically but mentally and emotionally.  My time with them isn't going to be surrounded by big plans, trips, and countless amounts of money spent on their behalf.  It will still be walks to the park and blowing bubbles in the yard, but let's be real kids just want our eyes to be on them and our hearts to be consumed by their cuteness.  

I'm sure the time will come when I get my groove back and things run a bit smoother, but for now things will just have to be hectic and crazy.  I'm not going to get everything I want to get done in one day.  There will be piles of laundry unwashed and dishes in the sink.  Fingerprints on the windows and splatter marks on the mirrors.  The grocery lists will grow and grow before things are crossed off and purchased, but at least I'll know that my time was spent in more important ways.  I'll be cuddling my baby and playing with my kids.  I'll be changing diapers and bathing little bodies.  More time will be spent eating popsicles than wiping down countertops and THAT is what matters most.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Daisy's Birth Story

I've never hesitated when it's come to having a photographer in my delivery room.  There's something so amazing about being able to look back at these pictures and relive the beauty and special feelings that surrounded that day.  We're so lucky to have had Carrie Lashelle Photography there to capture these precious moments and to willingly be on speed dial waiting for Daisy's arrival.  So... on with the birth story...shall we?
At midnight my water broke and I basically quarantined myself to my bathroom because with every contraction came a little bit more fluid..TMI?  I seriously walked around my bathroom with a towel stuffed in my underwear.  My OCD was out of control! I let my hubby sleep while I waited for contractions to get closer together and sure enough about 2 hours later I was starting to feel like things had moved along enough to wake my sleeping prince.  He jumped out of bed and started getting our girls ready to go back to sleep at their Aunt and Uncle's house. We dropped them off and hurried over the hospital. 

We arrived at the hospital at about 3:15 am and there wasn't a single soul delivering when we arrived.  The parking lot was empty and the halls were quiet.  All the nurses jumped to it when we showed up and immediately got us in the delivery room and started to get everything prepped.  One of the nurses checked my dilation and to all of our surprise I was at a 7 to 8.  I seriously was in complete shock.  Thank goodness I took hypnobirthing, otherwise I'm pretty sure I never would have progressed that far on my own.  They gave me the option to get an epidural and because of my hesitation in decision making, it was too late and I had no choice but to deliver naturally.  The Dr. was on his way to the hospital and I sat in the hospital bed still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that I was actually going to push this baby out of me without pain meds.  My contractions weren't painful, just uncomfortable, and with every one I had to concentrate on my breathing and relax. 

When the Dr. finally arrived I was checked again and was dilated to a 9.  That's when things started to get real.  Really uncomfortable, really painful, and it no longer felt good to sit down.  Through the last few contractions, to fully dilate, I stood up.  Mike was my support and I hugged him and tried to relax.  I rocked a bit and hummed and moaned and pretty sure I looked like a complete weirdo to anyone else in the room.  Do what you gotta do right?  

Then it hit...that feeling of major pressure and it was totally time to push this kid out. It was about 4:00 am by this point and there were plastic sheets draped on the floor and the table and the Dr. was dressed like he was about to weld an art project. It was like a scene from Dexter in my delivery room, and I didn't care one bit.  I'm not going to lie, it all hurt like crazy but even more than that I was scared.  Fear overwhelmed me.  Fear that I wouldn't have the strength to get her out.  Fear that I would literally be torn in half, and that in itself made me tense up.  One of the nurses, who was so kind to let me squeeze her hand with every push, told me to push through the pain...easier said than done, but that's what I did.  And with a few pushes that included me screaming like from the movies, everyone in the room cheering me on, and a prayer in my heart, she was out.  All the pain floats away and the only thing that matters is that sweet little babe being placed on my chest.  

There's a peace that consumes a delivery room when a baby is born.  I like to think that Heavenly Father is there watching.  Even though the baby is crying, all is calm.  And just like that your heart grows a little bigger to make room for another little babe that means the world to you.  You don't care that your hoo-haa is hanging out for all the world to see and that your chest is completely exposed so you can get your baby to latch to nurse.  All that matters to you is your new baby and hearing them breath and squeal and fuss.  They've been separated from you for the first time in their tiny lives and yet all you want is for them to be back with you.

Sadly, I hemorrhaged after delivery and lost a lot of blood.  I felt weak and hot and then cold and then hot.  I had no strength.  I was queazy.  The nurses hooked me up to an IV and pumped me full of fluid. My blood pressure would drop and then spike and as much as I wanted to hold Daisy and care for her, I felt so awful that I couldn't.  I wasn't able to stand without feeling faint until later that afternoon.  And that night I received a blood transfusion and 2 units of blood.  Not a fun experience, but it makes me even more grateful that I was in the hospital and under the care of professionals who truly cared for my well being and health.  
Here we are 2 weeks later and I look back at these pictures and I'm amazed that all of this happened.  I'm amazed that my delivery was so quick, that my body had the strength to do what it did, and that Daisy is here in my arms and is healthy and happy.  I'm overwhelmed by the love I was shown from the nurses who cared so much about my comfort and healing.  The delivery was like a dream.  I almost can't even believe that it happened and that my mind and body had the strength to deliver without medication. I owe so much to my husband for standing by my side and hold my hand while I screamed in pain.  He cheered me on and whispered to me how proud he was of what I was able to do.  So much love for that amazing man!

Daisy Blaine Kowallis born Thursday June 9th, 2016 at 4:13 am.  6 pounds 12 ounces, 19 inches long.  We are madly in love and she truly is our miracle baby.