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.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

FOMO, the Struggle is Real

I live in a world where parties are abundant and events are weekly.  It's not uncommon to hear almost daily that a blogger is throwing a get together, or people you know are having a photo shoot, and more times than not...I'm not invited.  I wish I could say that I'm not the type of person who gets their feelings hurt or throws a pity party when I'm not on the guest list but...I'm human, I have emotions and feelings, and well, I DO feel left out.  These days it's called FOMO or Fear Of Missing Out.  And for me it's not so much the fear of it all but the feeling.  I simply just Feel Left Out.  FLO isn't the best acronym cause we all know what first comes to I'll just stick to FOMO.

Last night a huge event was held just a few cities away from where I live and seriously everyone and their dog was invited...except for me obviously. And ironically enough, earlier that day my 5 year old came to me crying because she got left out of going to the park with her friends.  How do you teach your child about not getting their feelings hurt when you yourself struggle with the same thing?  I did my best to not care about all the pictures I know I'd see later, or the giant swag bags of free goodies from all the brands that went.  I instead, sat in my bed with my cross stitches and my family and watched Harry Potter. But soon enough the snapchats came rolling in and I couldn't help but let my heart sink a little and feelings of missing out on all the fun came boiling up.

It got me thinking about the big picture of it all.  Sometimes in life we miss out on things.  That's just life.  Imagine if EVERYONE was invited to EVERYTHING.  That wouldn't make much sense right? There would never be feelings of sadness or missing out and all would be hunky dory.  But the truth is this, sadness helps us to grow.  It teaches us what's really important.  While last night I felt like the best thing for me would have been to be at that party and mingle with the local blogger celebrities and brands, what was really important was being with my family and learning to be a big girl and not get my panties in a wad.

Today I scrolled through all the pictures my friends took from the party and I was so happy that they had such great opportunities presented to them.  I may have missed out but they, I'm sure, made connections with so many brands and bloggers that will help them to grow their businesses and blogs.  That right there makes my heart leap for them.  Finding joy in their joy and knowing that their time to shine was last night, while mine might be a bit later in life.

I came across a quote a while ago that I've tried to keep in the forefront of my mind in times like these.

"I choose to surround myself around phenomenal people who are confident and secure enough to know that there is room for all of us to make it to the finish line."

If we could only see past the little parties and invites and view the bigger picture of what life would present to us I think we all would be a bit more accepting that not every event and every photo shoot was meant for us...and that's OK.  Our invites will come and our time to shine will be the perfect time for us to grow and flourish. It's that stick-to-itiveness attitude that will move us to where we want to be, not the wallowing and self pity.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Just Keep Swimming

A year ago you would have seen my little Remee in a pool screaming for dear life.  Her insecurities got the best of her and she just couldn't relax and learn how to swim in the pool.  Her poor swim teachers were so patient with her and really tried over and over again to convince her they weren't going to let her sink to the bottom of the blue deep.  So the other night when she willingly got in the pool with her swim teacher without tears and without complaints I was beaming from ear to ear.  It got me thinking about fear, courage, and pushing forward.
Ironically I kept thinking about Dori's little song from Finding Nemo...'Just keep swimming, just keep swimming'.  What a beautiful message to implement in our daily lives.  I'll be the first to admit that fear and doubt get the best of me...almost daily.  All those insecurities weigh me down and instead of jumping forward in my goals and aspirations, I hide and become complacent...because that's what's comfortable and familiar.

Last year I came across this quote and it basically smacked me in the face.
"If you aren't doing something everyday that puts a lump in your throat or a pit in your stomach, you are becoming complacent."
Now, I don't know about you but according to that quote I'm more complacent than I'd like to admit.  Fear is always what holds us back.  It's not because of lack of knowledge...we can learn.  It's not because of money...that can be obtained through time.  It's not because we aren't good enough...we are all good enough.  It's the basic and fundamental truth that we are all a bunch of wimps.  Ok maybe I'm just the wimp. But to be brave and courageous seems impossible sometimes.  We stand at the edge of the pool with the want to jump in and yet the doubts bubble up and we begin to think that once we jump in we won't be able to swim to the surface.

Watching my tiny Remee get in the water and face her fear not only made me one proud momma but it also filled me with the courage to step out of my comfort zone and to 'just keep swimming' to the goals I so deeply hope to obtain and accomplish.  If a 5 year old can do what scares her the most, I certainly can get on board and face my fears too.  Funny how often our kids teach us such meaningful lessons in life.  They sure can be stinkers but they are worth all the hard days and hard work.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Why the wait?

I realize it's been a long time since I've written on this here blog.  I'm also pretty sure I've said that about a thousand times on this blog, but whatever.  I really can only think of one reason I haven't updated for a while and that's anyone even reading this thing? 

Years ago I started this blog as a way of staying in touch with my family.  I updated with photos and goings on with the family.  I never intended for this blog to be a big hit or was just meant to be within the close knit people in my life.  Now, I feel as though it's more of a journal (which I'm a horrible journal what am I thinking?).  I love that I'm able to write about whatever I feel like and not get backlash from anyone. 

With that said, though, I'm starting to feel like what's the point?  Maybe I WANT people to actually comment and give a crap about what I'm sharing and pouring out.  Maybe I do want to write about things I love and awesome recipes and great advice.  Let's be honest we all want people to care about what we are doing. Ha Ha!! Ok seriously, I just don't want this blog to go to waste.  I feel like I've spent years making this blog feel authentic(because it is) and hopefully feeling connected to what it is that I'm writing.  But, I need to just be better about it. 

One of my favorite movies is Julie and Julia.  In the movie, Julie's friend has a successful blog, and Julie (who's a writer) is talking to her husband about her frustration with feeling unsuccessful as a writer and replies to this blog mumbo jumbo with "I HAVE THOUGHTS!"  Well, I'm feeling just like Julie!  I have things to say, things to review, and of course loads of pictures of my adorable children.  So it's time to get real.  I'm revving' up the blogging juices...get ready...whoever you are that reads this!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Exterior Before and After

True story...I just gasped in horror at how hideous this house used to be.  I honestly look back at these pictures and still see potential but I also think to myself...what in the hell were you thinking?  So here it is people.  This is the house we bought 6 years ago in hopes to fix it up and make it beautiful, and by golly we did that for sure.  Let's start with the siding.  Yikes!!! This white siding was turning yellow, chipping right and left, and was covered in I don't know how many years of dirt.  As you can also see, the shutters needed some help(hahaha I mean whatever was left of them).  I'm not really a fan of most shutters so ya... they just had to go!  The landscaping was our worst nightmare.  Every plant was overgrown and weed infested.  The grass was more like a field of dandelions and those poor trees hadn't been pruned in like a decade.  So we basically ripped almost everything out and started new.  New sod, flowers, shrubs, and to top it all off, we moved around those giant boulders.  Because really?  Who puts 5 giant boulders in the very middle of the yard?  Here are the before pictures...


This house of ours got a major re-haul.  I was really going for something that reminded me of the northwest.  I loved the two tone and contrast between the siding colors and styles.  The new windows really open up the front of the house and the roof is just so crisp and clean.  When we moved in, the house didn't have any gutters and I am so amazed at how just adding gutters made the house feel so updated.  As for the landscaping, I went with an organic feel.  I didn't want the yard to look super polished.  I wanted the shrubs and flowers to feel like they had been there forever.  They create a bit of privacy and noise blocking from the road.  I'm more than pleased with how it all turned out.  I'm also pleased that it's the sexiest house on the block!  If you want to see more of our house before and afters check them out here, here, here, and here

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Finding "home"

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet Gabrielle Stanley Blair of Design Mom.  She was having a book signing of her book 'Design Mom: How to Live with Kids: a Room-by-Room Guide'. She was just beyond fantastic.  I've been reading her blog for a while now (thanks for introducing us Pinterest) and I fell in love with her style and insight. 

It wasn't until today that I realized I never read what she had written to me when she signed it.  I flipped open to the page and there it was, 'wishing you luck on finding "home"'.  Seriously?  How more amazing can this lady be.  Here we are selling our "home" and in search of new one and I read this!  So now I'm stuck in deep thought about "home".  What is home? How to we define home?

I'll be honest in saying that when we first bought our house it took a while to make it feel like home.  Yes, it's where our stuff accumulated and our house started to resemble our 'sent' (I'm not talking body odor, people, I'm talking that defining sent that your personal house just smells like.  you know?).  But what made our house a home was memories.  The more memories we added to our house the more and more it felt like "home".  The place where our emotions can run freely, laughter is heard, tears are shed, and joy is felt.  This house of ours is HOME and soon we will be saying goodbye to it and making a new house our home. 

I'm not one who holds on to objects. I'm the 'I haven't used this for a while I'll toss it out' kinda girl.  So when selling a home I'm not worried about purging more than half of the crap we own.  But what I'll struggle with is looking around those empty rooms that are full of so many memories.   I'll see in that empty room a cradle that held my babies while they slept, and in another, a table where we ate our favorite foods together. 

"Home" is brought with us.  Home is in our hearts.  It's the special memories we make with one another, wherever that may be.  So, here's to our new home...whichever one we choose...that is too can hold many precious and special memories we will create. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Kitchen Before and After

Here we are selling our house and I'm just now getting around to posting these before and after photos.  But, if I'm being totally honest, it's because the kitchen has had a 'projects to finish' list for like 5 years. It's funny looking back on it now.  Most of the projects we wanted to get finished only took a couple of hours to get done and a few bucks here and there but when life gets crazy busy all the to-do lists get pushed aside.  Good thing we got these done before putting our house on the market though. 

So, when we bought this house the kitchen was one of the worst rooms of the house.  It was the only room that had a sink in working order, but the floors had barely any covering (seriously just subflooring) and the cabinets were super old and flimsy.  Honestly, there really wasn't anything in this kitchen we could salvage.  It was a total tear down.  And so, that's what we did.  We gutted the entire kitchen and started all over again.  We rearranged the set up a bit by moving the oven and fridge and all the gas plumping and electrical to go with it.  We also got rid of all the windows and got new ones in a better arrangement.  It brings in so much more light now. The whole reno was insane!  But worked out so well. 

Here are all the before pictures!!

Here are all the after pictures!!

I really went with an earthy look in the kitchen.  With slate subway tiles and a butcher block countertop it brought in a lot of natural textures and colors. I kept the cabinets white to brighten the kitchen but to also allow for easy spot cleaning.  The color on the walls is from Valspar and is called Brown Buzz...which is weird because it's green. The red accents were for a little pop of bold color, and I always make sure to add living plants to the mix.  They not only clean the air but bring in a bit of the outside in.  The kitchen is always a congregating space, so I always make sure to have things for the kids to do at the table while I make dinner or clean up.  I keep a rug and basket by the door for easy shoe removal (although I am always having to remind the kids) and some coat hooks to collect all jackets, bags, and whatnots that need to be off the floor. 
Though this kitchen is a bit tucked away from the center of our house, its inviting and spacious.  We spend a lot of time in this area of our I'm sure you all do in your kitchens.  Hope you enjoyed!  More to come soon.  If you're wanting to see of few of the other areas click here, here, and here!