Thanksgiving Tablescape & Menu

I truly love Thanksgiving – taking the time to focus on family and all that we have to be grateful for, with nothing to do other than just be together.  This year, I’m hosting the largest group I ever have: my parents + some extended family that’s traveling all the way from Texas (everyone wants to meet the new baby!). I like to keep Thanksgiving casual and inviting, but want to make it feel special too. A well thought out table, with a few personal touches, and a menu with something for everyone is a great way for everyone to know how happy you are they’re there.

 

via Rooms for Rent

 

The Tablescape

While I do love Thanksgiving, I’m just NOT  a fan of orange, brown, red and yellow together… but replace one or two with a little blush and suddenly I’m in love… I have these great moscow mule copper mugs I plan to use for drinking, simply because of their color – who says you can’t drink water or sweet tea out of a beautifully copper cup?!

 

via Courtney Browning

 

Pumpkins on the table may seem like an obvious choice for Thanksgiving, but when they’re white and have pink ribbons tied on the stem, they become unexpected.

The Kraze made these tapered candles with candle holders at school this week, and I think their precious artwork will be the perfect personal touch to the centerpiece.  To ground the tablescape and complete the look, I’ll be grabbing some eucalyptus while I’m at Trader Joe’s today (which they have a great price) to lay down the center.

 

via Camille Styles

To add to the personal touch, I’m making simple placemats made out of craft paper for everyone to write down what they’re thankful for to read aloud. I pulled out the girl’s lists from last year and they’re simply hilarious – also sweet but so funny!! Take a look…

Zo:

  • Teddy bears
  • My puppy
  • Bunnies
  • Mommy
  • Kitties
  • Daddy
  • Squirrels
  • Butterflies
  • Bacon

KR:

  • Uncle Mike
  • Family
  • Rainbow (stuffed cat)
  • Handy Mandy
  • Candy
  • Living in my home
  • My dog
  • Painting

After looking back on last years’, I’ve decided this needs to become an annual thing that we keep and read again the next year!

 

via Country Living

 

The Menu

Main course:
  • Honey Baked Ham
  • Chicken and dressing
  • Twice-baked mashed potatoes
  • Green bean casserole
  • Baked broccoli
  • Dinner rolls
Dessert:
  • Italian Cream Cake
  • Sweet potato casserole
  • Mini Pumpkin pies – I absolutely love this idea of making bite-sized desserts without the work of baking all those miniature pie crusts!

 

What to Wear

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The Birth of Isaiah Gre

Well, I’ve yet to answer the question “How the birth go?” without tears in my eyes, so thankfully you can read it on a computer screen rather than watching me blush with embarrassment as tears start forming in my eyes as I begin to just babble on and on and give more information than I’m sure was really requested.

On 7/10/17, at 41 weeks, I was scheduled to be induced at 7AM. Over the weekend prior, I became increasingly anxious because I wanted to labor at home for a bit because I would have to be hooked up to the monitors the entire time I was at the hospital and knew having to be induced wouldn’t increase my chances for a successful VBAC.

After the c-section with our twin girls… Not only was the recovery so very hard, but the delivery was so rushed that I was completely overwhelmed. Baby A come out and they put her on my chest for all of 15 seconds before moving her away to deliver Baby B… but she was stuck under my ribs. I needed to be cut more and male nurses came in to hold me down so the doc could really tug to get her out.  They showed her to me, but immediately rushed her to the NICU because she was having a hard time breathing. After this and for many more reasons, I wanted to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarian) this time. Whatever my reasons were, we were well-informed, I talked with my husband and prayed about it.

For several weeks, I had many contractions, some of which became very regular but never turned into labor. At 39 weeks, I was told he was completely engaged and I could go into labor at any moment. This left me quite frustrated (and swollen down there) as I approached 41 weeks and my imminent induction date. Less than 24 hours before my scheduled induction, my magical chiropractor, who you’ve heard me rave about, literally got off a plane from Cuba and came straight to the office to work her magic on me. For an hour and a half, she adjusted me, had me do exercises, defused Clary Sage essential oils and rubbed them on a few pressure points. I’d like to think it was all for me, but she also had a streak to keep alive – she has a 100% success rate for her patients not having to be induced. From here, we went to one of our favorite restaurants in town, Biscotti’s, for a last hoorah family dinner. While at dinner, just 3 hours after leaving her office, I started feeling intense contractions. I knew this was different but didn’t want to get my hopes up again. It was a little awkward when the waiter asked me a question right as one came on and I just had to pause to breathe for a second. My doula had said that smiling and laughing would naturally release oxytocin, so after dinner we walked to get icecream for the girls then went home and watched a movie with the girls while I ate my cake from the restaurant. We put the girls to bed and continued preparing for arriving at the hospital early the next morning. The contractions continued but were very irregular, so we went on to bed around midnight (I was so anxious, I could hardly wind down to go to sleep).

It felt like I barely fell asleep before I woke up with strong contractions at 12:45AM. This wasn’t the first time contractions had woken me up, but it was the first time they made me get out of bed. I immediately found myself pacing and having to pause for each one. Just 6 hours before my scheduled induction, I was in true labor – a huge answer to prayer and a reminder that God doesn’t work on our timeline, but is forever faithful. After about an hour they began to come about every 3-5 minutes, so I called my doula.

At 3 AM she arrived and immediately got to work on making the environment peaceful to labor at home for the next few hours. Since I was scheduled to be at the hospital at 7AM already, we would just ‘enjoy’ the time at home until then. She placed candles all around the nursery, diffused essential oils in the air and started coaching me through the contractions. Before we left, I even got in a warm bath for a bit, which was nice because it was the only showered I’d have over the next 3 days!

I’m not one to have a very specific birth plan because I understand that things are going to go the way they’re going to go and am willing to do whatever is best for the baby. The only two pieces of the birth process that I cared about were to have a successful  VBAC and to let me say when/if I felt I needed the epidural. I wasn’t trying to be superwoman, but I wanted to experience it this time. I felt that if it was offered to me, I might just take them up on it before I really needed to.

So we got to the hospital around 7 AM and my doula continued coaching me through different positions and breathing techniques to help with pain management. *For anyone considering having a Doula, it’s worth it! My husband even loved her because she had sent him back to bed while I had her at the house during the night so at least he would have rest to be there for me as things progressed throughout the day. And let me tell you, he was.  As soon as we got settled in the room and I was all hooked up to the monitors, he turned on our praise music and never left my side. He rubbed my back, he held me, he danced with me, he sang in my ear. I don’t know if I’ve ever loved him more or felt more loved by him. This was one of the most beautiful parts of our journey bringing our baby boy into this world.

Fast forward to 10 AM. My midwife came in to check my progress and things were moving slowly but progressing. Up to this point, the contractions were intense, but I was able to talk and even smile a little in between. If you know my husband, he’s always trying to make me laugh.

A couple more hours go by and the contractions became so intense that it required my full focus. I began having intense back labor. My doula had me try a few positions to change the baby’s position to ease the back pain. This helped for a while, until baby decided to totally flip on us and wouldn’t move back into position. My contractions started coming one right after the other, only 1.5 minutes apart and lasting 45-60 seconds each. I could hardly catch my breath in between. My midwife comes to check me and there has been no change. She grabbed my hand and began to pray – praising God for the miracle inside of me that we would soon meet… asking Him to fill us with his presence and to space out my contractions. An answer to prayer walked in the room when, again, in stepped my wonderful chiropractor… She did her “voodoo magic”, as my husband calls it, and baby boy flipped back into position and the contractions began to space out again, about every 3 minutes apart.

I continue to labor like this for several hard hours and my midwife checks me again. Still no change… 7 hours without change. I immediately started crying. I just didn’t know how much longer I could go on. She decided to place a foley bulb to help move things along. This immediately caused my contractions to start coming one on top of the next – the contraction before hadn’t fully descended before the next one would begin. Zach literally held me up during each one while my legs gave out, but lying in bed was just too uncomfortable. After an hour of this, I wanted to be checked again to see if these contractions were making progress… still no change. I immediately grabbed Zach and sobbed “I can’t keep doing this.”

My team knew my experience with the girls and wanted to give me the birth experience I longed for this time. My doula asked, “What is more important to you – to do this naturally or to have a successful VBAC? I’m afraid you’re going to wear yourself out to the point you won’t be able to push when it’s time.” She was right… at 16 hours in and less than an hour of sleep, I was exhausted, so I requested the epidural. They wanted to give me a bag of fluids before placing it, but my IV was pushed too far in my arm and kept getting blocked. After several attempts to fix it, they needed to redo it in my other arm. This took over an hour to get the epidural placed and I am now screaming into my pillow with tears streaming down my face. I had reached my breaking point. Zach held my hand and whispered in my ear during each one, “Just focus on this one. You can do anything for 60 seconds.” After 17  hours of true labor, I finally received the epidural. Within minutes, I looked over at Zach and said “I’m having a contraction” then smiled really big and we both laughed.

Within one hour of receiving the epidural, I progressed 4 cm. My midwife said she thought I had just been in too much pain for my body to relax enough to allow for dilation. We still had a way to go, so we decided trying to get some rest was best. In spite of the uncontrollable shaking, I fell asleep for a few hours when the nurse came in and said, “You’re having a lot of contractions and the baby doesn’t seem to like it. His heart rate has dropped, so let’s have you change positions.” I rolled to my side and he didn’t improve. She put me on oxygen and said to focus on my breathing. My mom had arrived at the hospital at this point, so I asked her to please come pray with me. The Lord filled me with peace as I put all of my trust in Him and the baby’s heart rate immediately started to rise. We decided I would keep the oxygen on the remainder of labor.

Early in the morning of July 11th, after only one hour of pushing (and 28 hours of labor), our baby boy miracle was born at 5:08AM with praise music playing in the background. It was hands down the most surreal moment of my life. Everyone in the room immediately said, “He’s a big one!” He was placed on my chest with his head full of dark hair while daddy cut the cord.

 

He gave us a little scare because he wasn’t crying at first, and when he did try he couldn’t get much out and started turning purple. The nurse scooped him up and put a tube down his throat to really suction him and then that cry was loud and clear! Relief and joy came flooding back in.  We all anticipated his weight, while I was being sewn up (thank God I got that epidural)! After his series of checks, the nurse placed him on the scale and announced, “He’s 10lbs 4oz!!” Word spread and for hours, I had nurses coming into my room saying things like, “Wow! Way to go mama!!”

 

She brought him right back over to me and he went right to nursing, which was something else I didn’t get to experience with the girls being preemies. He was so strong and my heart immediately grew by a 3rd.

 

My rockstar doula – Her shirt says “Cesarean” crossed out!

 

After a few hours of bonding, we had the grandparents bring the girls to the hospital to meet their baby brother for the first time. This was the moment I dreamt of for months!

 

After just 36 hours, we all got to go home as a family.

 

She decided immediately that she wanted to call him “sweet cheeks”

 

To every mama out there, you are a super woman. You deserve to be celebrated. Regardless of how you brought your child into this world, you. brought. a. human. being. into this world which is nothing short of a miracle.

 

Isaiah Gre born 7/11

Isaiah 7:11 – “Ask for something special to see from the Lord your God. Ask for it to be as deep as the place of the dead or as high as heaven.”

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38 Week Update + Big Sister Announcement Box

Not only are we hoping this will be a smooth transition for The Kraze when their baby brother actually arrives, we wanted the idea of becoming big sisters to be so great that maybe they’ll be ok with him demanding a lot of my attention and all the other ways he’ll “take away” from them when he gets here… and what if he cries a lot?! I ordered the. cutest. big sister gift from their baby brother, to give them in the hospital after he’s born, I’ll share soon , but this box is all about how we made the big announcement to them to get them excited about becoming big sisters!

 

 

  • First, a book all about being a Big Sister. There are tons of options out there, but I really loved how positive this one kept it, although it has a healthy dose of honesty, like dirty diapers and needing to be quiet when baby is sleeping… I mean I don’t want them to be completely shocked at the reality of having a baby in the house.
  • Next, we included a couple gender neutral (again we didn’t know the sex at the time) baby toys like this and this so they would have their own toy to turn to to play with the baby
  • Baby doll bottles to practice how to feed their baby brother or sister with their baby dolls… Every. single. time. they ask, “Is this how I do it?” “Am I holding the baby the right way?”
  • And even a picture of the baby, which looked more like a bean, but helped us explain why the baby was too small for us to tell if it was going to be a boy or a girl yet and that it would be a long time before the baby was ready to be born.

Nothing over the top but a few items they’ve used over and over to practice becoming “the best big sisters in the world” (their words)… I’ve said it before, I really think they’re as ready as one could hope for. How seriously they’re taking their new role already is absolutely heart melting!

 

38 Weeks…

 

 

Emotionally: Carrying this baby boy has been one of the biggest blessings of my life – to have the chance to experience this all over again, but in a totally new way with only one baby in there this time. I’m to the point that I know he could come any day now which has me pausing (when I can) to soak in the moment when he starts rolling around and gets those cute hiccups. However, I am getting quite anxious to meet this little guy. I can. not. wait. to lay eyes on him and breathe him in. So I guess I’d say I’ve come around to accepting that this is not a season that can last forever, but I’m so grateful to have been chosen to be this boy’s mommy that I’m feeling emotionally read for this chapter to end and the next to begin, which is good timing! read ‘Symptoms’ below

Big step this week:  Hospital bags are packed! And I finally have all his clothes & blankets washed and hung/folded and organized in his room. Now that all the essentials are in there, I’m focused on getting all the details put together.  I totally understand that he could be here any day now, but all they really need in the beginning is your boobies and a place to sleep right?!

Craving: My appetite actually seems to have gone way down and I’m not that hungry anymore… although the nightly hot, fresh cookies over ice-cream are still going strong. I used to have a glass of wine almost every night, so I guess this is my ‘nightcap’

His size: He’s about the size of a winter melon or a toolbox, depending on who you ask (but seriously, a toolbox inside my belly?!). I’m thinking, whatever they say, he’s probably a little bigger because we have big babies (I was 10.5 lbs & Zach was 9.13 lbs – I know, woah!) plus how he was measuring a few weeks ago at our 4D. Not to mention, I had the twins a month early and they were 5.13 & 6.4… which is big for twins!

My size: I gained my weight back at my 36 week visit from the previous weigh-in, but didn’t gain anything at 37 weeks, so I’m at a total of 30 pounds gained so far… we’ll see in a couple days after our indulgent weekend of cake and donuts!

Symptoms: Contractions… lots of contractions. I’ve been having Braxton Hicks for weeks now, but this weekend they started coming more regularly and stronger. After I clocked irregular contractions for 6 straight hours, they eventually became more and more irregular and eventually stopped.  The thought of giving my husband his son on Father’s Day was so exciting to me… needless to say, I was quite disappointed by the end of the day, but remaining grateful for every day of this miracle and knowing God’s timing is best.

Wardrobe: Now that I’m down to my final days, I realize that it’s become somewhat of a pride thing for me to creatively piece together outfits without purchasing any maternity clothes.  Actually, I’ve purchased exactly three: a casual dress, a baby shower dress and a swimsuit.

Favorite Moment: One of the girls screamed in excitement the other day and he literally jumped! It just reminded me that there is in fact a real baby in there that is hopefully getting used to his wild sisters before he’s even born.

Big Sisters: When we thought things were happening we asked them what they thought about baby brother coming today (yesterday) and they both screamed in excitement. When they came into our room this morning, KR said, “Why wasn’t he born yet? Maybe if I could just talk to him, he’ll want to come out!” My heart totally melted as I sat on the side of the bed and let her talk to him!

 

I didn’t mean for the baby updates to take over the blog, but who knows if I’ll get to post another baby update or not. I’ve loved getting to document it all here and am so glad it’ll be here to look back on one day!

 

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33-34 Week Baby Update + How I Stay Feeling Good + The Best Thing I’ve Done this Pregnancy

Well, I’m actually 34 weeks now, but I wrote the majority of this post last week, and life got in the way plus I had a few days that I just didn’t feel like opening my computer, so I’m combining the two…

Emotionally: I’m feeling about 50/50 right now. At least half of me is getting pretty anxious to meet our baby boy, daydreaming about the moment The Kraze become big sisters, the moment my husband holds his son for the first time, the moment I can see that full head of hair (more on this below). The other half of me literally cried last weekend (and again last night) because we’re nearing the end of this journey, of doing only what I can do and sharing these intimate moments only he & I can experience.

What’s new this week? Nesting! The last couple weeks I’ve gotten this new-found burst of energy… like I don’t know what to do with myself because I can realistically only do so much. I want all the things done and I want them done now.  I’m going crazy making list after list and am constantly distracted with thoughts flying in my mind ”O yeah… that too!’ I was already feeling much this way beforehand, but after the info we got, I’m really feeling the pressure! (More on that below… I know – I’m getting there!)

Craving: The cravings pretty much went away in the 2nd trimester, but I’m feeling pretty strongly about Mexican food these days.  Like, I want a tamale and cheese dip every day of my life right now.

Favorite snacks: (To balance out all the Mexican) Avocados – especially with greek yogurt in the pit, drizzled with salsa (wait that’s also a little Mexican, but HEALTHY), honey-sesame almonds from Trader Joe’s + dried cranberries + gouda cheese and raw veggies with hummus

His size: Although they say he’s about the size of a chihuahua and I’m measuring right on target, he himself is measuring almost 2 weeks ahead and over 5 pounds already (this was the day I turned 33 weeks)! For a mama who is set on attempting a VBAC, pushing out a big baby makes me a liiiittle nervous.

My size: Lost 2 pounds from my last checkup = 25 pounds gained so far.  Not sure why those 2 pounds disappeared but I remember the same thing happening last time and carrying twins, my doc wasn’t too happy.  What I really think, is that I’m SO hungry from day one, just eating all the things, that I gain more of my weight in the beginning, but then my appetite lines out as my pregnancies continue to develop – maybe because there just isn’t as much room to eat like I was!

Symptoms:

  • Braxton hicks are coming on pretty often these days.  Some are stronger than others, but nothing regular, although it makes me question how much longer he’ll stay in here.
  • Because of the diastasis recti (separation of my ab muscles) from the twin pregnancy, my uterus has fallen forward, meaning I don’t have an abdominal wall to hold it all in where it ‘should’ be. It isn’t painful in any way, just makes me look like a turtle stuck on my back when I’m trying to roll out of bed.  It also makes me look like I’ve “dropped” significantly. Probably why I get asked daily, “Due any day now?!” Again, let’s remember we don’t know everyone’s situation and there are much better things to say or ask than making assumptions! 🙂

Favorite comfy item: wearing my husband’s long-sleeve henley t’s around the house (wearing one right now as I type this), although I did keep it on to drop the girls off at school the other day – anybody else ever wear their PJs to carpool?!

 

Wardrobe Secret: I bought this knee-length, high-wasted skirt one size up so it’ll fit comfortably over my bump… now I can wear just about any of my pre-maternity tops! I’ll be wearing a version of this basically every day for indefinite future because it’s just as cute with sneakers as it is with with a pair of wedges & did I mention comfortable (especially with the right support – see below)?!

Favorite Moments: When he gets the hiccups… and when I’m lying in bed and he’s kicking and rolling around. That’s when he seems most active and I usually don’t want to get up because I just want to soak in every last kick and movement inside of me we have left with just the two of us.

Big step this week: We hired a doula! Honestly, this isn’t something I ever considered myself doing.  With the decision to have a VBAC this time around, we don’t want to be calling any audibles on our own (how my husband would put it).  She came to the house for a personalized class “Stages & Phases of Labor” and helped me to understand how to progress my labor along more comfortably and quickly once it begins and when I need to get to the hospital (which is sooner if you’re having a VBAC because you need to be monitored).  She also helped me formulate a birth plan specific for my situation and our desires. I’ve never been the type that is dead set on a plan and can’t deviate as needed, but I do like a plan and with the twins, I didn’t even have the option.

 

Ok, So the best thing (my favorite) thing we’ve done yet…

 

 

We finally gave in and had a 3D/4D ultrasound done at a 3rd party since this isn’t something my doctor (or apparently most doctors when you’re only having one baby) offers.  I just can’t believe we had about 20 ultrasounds with the girls but only 2 for our boy (1st ultrasound and the 20 week anatomy scan), so I was afraid I’d regret it if I didn’t do this with him. Still, my husband was quite skeptical about spending extra cash to do this, but when we left he was saying it was worth every dollar! It was done so well…  45 minutes of watching our little man and getting a glimpse of his little personality already (having twins first really opened my eyes to how much insight you can get into their personalities while in utero). We took in his sweet little face as much as possible since he kept his hands AND feet in front of it most of the time, but those lips! Something tells me he’s going to act more like Zo (a little stubborn because the tech would prod him & he would kick at the camera but put his hand/foot right back where it was), but look like KR (I swear he has her little button nose).

We measured every bit of him including how long his hair is, which measured right at an inch already!  This really shouldn’t surprise me because his sisters both came out with heads full of hair, but woah! As I said above, he’s measuring almost 2 weeks ahead, which means a) He’s gong to be one big baby to deliver OR b) He’s going to come early, which probably has a lot to do with kicking my nesting into overdrive! You watch, he won’t come a day before 40 weeks! And that tiger you see… they placed a recording of his heartbeat inside it. The girls squeeze his belly over and over to listen to it – it’s the sweetest sound!

 

Dress is non-maternity from Who What Wear’s collection for Target (the back of it is the best part – soon…).

Comfort + Looking Good = Feeling Good

I might be a “unicorn” for saying this, but I absolutely love being pregnant. I’m not saying it’s easy but it’s possible to find beauty in hard things. I seriously love my bump – it’s my favorite accessory right now.  It doesn’t come without it’s challenges (which is why I confuse my husband daily with how much I love it yet I’m lying on the bed crying because “I don’t have anything to wear”. As we near the end, comfort is key, but I also want to stay looking good, which is why having these few pieces are key to me feeling good all the way through.

Bra extendersThese allow me to wear my same well-fitting, sexier bras, rather than maternity/nursing bras that seem to never give me the support I really want & tend to look like my grandma’s. Which leads me to my #1 maternity/nursing wardrobe secret… The first thing that happens in my pregnancies is my boobs go up 2 sizes, so I went to my favorite lingerie store and was refitted. I can wear the same brands that worked for me before, just in a larger cup size and as my band size goes up with my growing belly, I can attach the extenders on. Now here’s the REAL secret… at these specialty lingerie retailers, there is often a seamstress on staff and guess what she’ll do for you… cut & sew your straps to convert your bra into a nursing bra!!! After baby is born and you’re headed back to your pre-baby body, you can still feel sexy all through your nursing journey!

The right support – Mama Spanx has every pregnant mama’s dreams of feeling comfortable and looking good at the same time all rolled into one undergarment. They aren’t restricting, just smoothing, and best of all, they help support the bump and lower back, which makes them a must-have piece in my maternity wardrobe every time!

 

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Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links.

 

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Beauty Brunch – Celebrating the Beauty in Each Other

Spring is in full swing again, so I’m sharing a little get-together I did with my long time friend, Lillie Mundie, just in time for Mother’s Day! With everything in full bloom and the temperatures rising, this is the perfect time of year to gather your girlfriends for an al fresco brunch & bubbly and celebrate all things beauty . After the long winter days, spring is kind of like New Years for your skin, so I partnered with her to bring a personalized skincare prescription for each guest to take home to start the season off with naturally beautiful skin. Keep reading for how we incorporated beauty into every aspect of our brunch including the menu (beauty starts on the inside – in more ways than one), the abundant blooms, and a little more about the different skin care lines and get inspired for how you can celebrate your girlfriends with a glow-inducing Beauty Brunch!

 

Included on the RSVP card, we asked each guest what she wanted most for her skin so everyone could take home a skin care regimen that was personalized just for their goals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since we had a fairly large group (about 20 of us) with multiple tables, we had a separate food table for our guests to serve themselves. If you’re having a more intimate gathering, keeping the food on the table is always great so no-one has to leave to get seconds!

 

 

 

 

 

Mixing the floral dinnerware patterns kept it interesting and gives it a laid back feel.

 

I’m no floral expert, although I wish I were, but I’ll share a little flower arranging secret weapon with you guys…

 

I had actually tested one of the products before and really wasn’t all too impressed…  My lovely friend here filled me in on a little secret (which is probably not a secret to many at all)… it only really works if you use the whole line together, not just a single product! Once she gave me my own regimen to try, I was a believer and wanted to share it with my friends!

 

The Redefine regimen helps defend against and reduce the visible signs of aging for noticeably firmer, smoother, flawless-looking skin. The Reverse regimen visibly brightens and evens discolored skin for a more radiant, even complexion. The Unblemished regimen penetrates pores and eliminate most acne blemishes. The Soothe Regimen calms dry, chapped, cracked skin and reduce visible signs of redness.

 

That beautiful shade of pink drink is actually blood orange juice which we used as the mixer for mimosas.

 

 

 

I pre-filled the tea cups with greek yogurt and tied mini spoons to the handle.  Then we had our choice of skin-enriching berries to add in some sweet goodness. Strawberries are high in vitamin C, folic acid and fiber. Raspberries which are also vitamin C powerhouses and pomegranate seeds are tiny little superfoods that help reduce collagen breakdown. Blackberries are high in vitamin A, K and C (see a common theme here?), have a higher level of antioxidants than most other berries and omega-3s helping to fight free radicals, hydrate and rejuvenate skin.

 

 

On the menu

Food:

Drinks:

  • Sparkling water (Pellegrino is my drink of choice)
  • Strawberry Mint Infused waterso refreshing!
  • Coffee – what’s brunch without it AND you know it has antioxidants right?!
  • Blood orange juice and champagne for mimosas

 

 Whether you’re looking for a way to spoil your mama or celebrate your girlfriends, I hope you find beauty in the season and perhaps a little inspiration here.
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My 10 Favorite Products for Baby’s 1st Year + 10 Week Countdown!

We got to check on baby boy yesterday (yay for finally reaching 2 week appointments – this is such a big deal for us previous twin mommies who are used to checking on our babies every two weeks or even every week) and everything seems to be just perfect – I’m counting my blessings as we speak I write this!! He’s measuring right on target, although he seems to be a good size boy. He’s head down and my midwife tends to think he’ll stay that way, so now all we got to do is grow baby grow… and basically everything else you have to do to prepare for a new baby, including painting the nursery… we’re way less ‘prepared’ than we were with the girls.  Here are a few more specifics that I don’t want to forget.

30 week update:

Baby’s Size: The cool list says he’s the size of a garden gnome.  Haha – I can visualize that so much better than a zucchini!

My size: I’ve gained 26 pounds so far…. thanks to cardio, squats and the chocolate chip cookies (with ice-cream – only sometimes) Zach makes for me!

Emotionally: The 10 week countdown is cueing up all the emotions. I’m trying to savor every kick and every elbow rolling across my belly. I mean having life inside of you is just incredible isn’t it?! The reality that The Kraze won’t be my only much longer and thinking of how I’ll balance my time is pushing me to be as intentional as possible (like taking them to the nail salon) in these final weeks.

Symptoms: I’m really feeling great, except for scratching my belly like an overweight drunk man – it itches so bad!! I’m constantly putting on cream and raw coconut oil, so I feel like I smell like cocoa and coconut all the time, which isn’t as appealing as one may think! Also, I just want to sleep on my stomach so bad!!

Relaxation: A warm bath is my favorite… preferably alone.  What is it that every time I go to get in the bath or shower, they both want to get in too? This is why I typically have to do it by 6AM or after 9 PM. #momlife

Wardrobe: I finally broke down and bought a maternity dress for everyday wear. It’s SO comfortable, basically like a t-shirt and hugs the bump just right! Also, my baby shower dress(es) came in (both maternity)   I’m still trying to decide which one! Next on the list are some maternity tanks to get me through the hotter days to come.

Big Sisters: Zo kisses my belly multiple times a day and tells him how much she loves him and gives him his own goodbye hug and kiss when we’re parting. KR says “He’s always having a party in your belly!” and feels for him to kick & when he does she says, “I think he just can’t wait to meet me!”

 

10 Favorite Products for Baby’s 1st Year

 

 

 

I’m so blessed to have already made so many great friends in the short 10 months we’ve lived here.  They are such a blessing to me and my family and have offered to throw baby boy a shower!  You’d think we have pretty much everything after having to buy two of everything the first time around, but we had a little thing called a house fire a couple years ago (nothing we did – a bad electrical wire in the attic) and many of the baby things we were keeping for the next were ruined.  Anyhow, the baby shower is coming up in a couple weeks and as I put the registry together, it had me thinking about all my favorite products for their 1st year, so I’m sharing the list with you and why I love each one.

 

 These are all 100% based on my own personal experience and are in no order:

  1. mamaRoo – This fine piece of machinery is so fancy, but let me tell you…. The girls loved it SO much, we ended up buying a second one so they could each have one.  The different motions seriously work like magic! The built in sounds are soothing, but we also loved being able to plug in the music we had played for them while they were in the womb. Do you do this? Do you play music for your unborn babies or even read or sing to them?

 

2. iCandy stroller – They’re based in the UK and since we purchased ours, are unfortunately no longer sold in the states, but they’ve been gracious enough to ship me all the pieces I need replaced or accessories to add on (parasol for this hot Florida sun).  The Peach pushcart is the model we purchased and it’s seriously beautiful.  It was simply amazing for having twins, and now we can use it as a single or even with the baby in either his carseat or carrycot (bassinet) plus one of the girls in the toddler seat because it can easily be converted from single to double with the simple click in converters.  The carrycots are even safe for overnight sleeping, so we used them as the girls’ bassinets (unfortunately this was one of those items that didn’t make it).

 

 

3. Double Bob – If you want to be an active family, this is rated #1 for jogging strollers for a reason. The seats recline way back and the shades come down really far, so it’s actually a super comfortable ride. The Kraze has taken many a nap in this – to this day.  Also, it easily collapses down in one (big) piece for convenient travel.

 

 

4. Kirkland Baby Wipes – These are a good size and strong, so they don’t tear and all you need (unless it’s an up the back kind of diaper) is one wipe to get the job done.  They’re scent-free, chlorine free & hypoallergenic and made with aloe and vitamin E, so I always felt comfortable using them on the girls hands & faces too.

 

5. Boon tub – It has two positions to help baby sit up a little or lie flat/sit up all the way unassisted, plus a drain hole for easy, complete draining. My favorite part: it’s collapsible and has a hook, so it can easily be stored away without taking up much room in the bathroom. Note: it’s rather large, so this is not your sink bath kind of tub.

 

6. Maxi Cozi car seat – First, it’s super lightweight and is adaptable to fit our iCandy stroller. Most importantly 😉 it comes in a variety of beautiful colors and designs, like this amazing Rachel Zoe collection!

 

7. Rocktivity Table – this was just about the only toy that was stable enough for them to pull up on when they reached this stage and has some seriously jamming music, including the Jackson 5’s ABC!

 

8. Bitsy Bags – New website coming soon and when it does, I’ll have a little gift for you guys because we used both sizes of these with the girls – they couldn’t sleep without them… and this was one of my first purchases for baby boy!!

 

9. Sound machine – This could also be categorized in my top 3 ways to get your baby to sleep all night, which is clearly the most important feat to accomplish with a new baby!

 

10. Aiden & Anais swaddling blankets – These are on the larger side of what most swaddling blankets are, which is so important to get a good swaddle, which is also key to that important night’s sleep or calming a fussy baby!  I also love how the muslin is so breathable, making these great for regulating baby’s body temperature and not making them too hot. I used these as swaddlers, breast feeding covers, blankets, carseat covers and I’m sure more… it’s been over 4 years – I feel like I can hardly remember a thing about caring for a newborn!

 

Thanks for following along and allowing me to share a little piece of our journey!  I hope these were helpful for any of you mamas trying to weed through all the never-ending baby ‘necessities’.

 

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Phrases Pregnant Women Hear & A Few More Encouraging Alternatives + 28 Week Update

Real talk… When you see me, it is obvious that I am pregnant. I get that. A little dose of honesty… I’ve even found myself comparing my bump to other baby bumps I see on IG, thinking things like “I look bigger than she does and she’s 6 weeks further along than me!” More honesty… that’s ridiculous! Our bodies are all different… I happen to carry very narrow, which makes me carry further out. Regardless, our bodies are all amazing, doing amazing things!

The thoughts, fears & anxieties that may be running through a pregnant mama’s head are something that can’t be seen. All we want is to have healthy babies. More than physically draining, it’s emotionally & mentally draining to decipher when to get all the things done (hello, we’re preparing for another human to come into our world that we’re totally responsible for) and when to rest, when to say no (the birthday party I cancelled to attend over the weekend), what’s truly necessary and what’s not… especially for someone who wants my girls and husband to see me as strong at all times. I in no way am looking for pity – this is no comparison game – we’re all doing our best to grow healthy little humans. Since we’re in this together, I know you feel me with the comments people make to pregnant women that are quite shocking and seriously not helpful, so I compiled a (humorous) little list of phrases pregnant women hear along with a few alternatives.

 

Here are a few ways to have a hormonally driven woman break down on you. Every single one of the below comments have been said directly to me, seriously:

  • “Well that baby is about ready to come out!” Wait! Are you a doctor?!
  • “Are you sure you aren’t having twins again?!” Modern technology is pretty good at answering that question – I literally said that to someone
  • “How much longer do you have?” Me: “12 weeks”  Them: “Bless your heart!” – we all know this is the #1 Southern way of patronizing someone
  • “When are you due?… Are you going to make it?!” Are. you. kidding me?!

 

What is happening inside of every pregnant woman’s body is nothing short of a miracle.

Even the challenges that have come along with this pregnancy (hello contractions), can’t take away from the beauty of this experience for me at all. Above everything, I love having life inside of me. To feel my child kick inside of me is something that never gets old, even the second time around. You won’t see me sharing bare bump pictures because on the outside it doesn’t look so beautiful (thank you twins), but what’s happening inside of me is truly beautiful.

Since I really don’t believe people mean to be offensive and that they probably just don’t know what to say (although pregnant women have been around for a really long time), here are a few ideas to try to help change the conversation:

  • “You look great!” Lie if you have to!
  • “You’re a rockstar.” Because we are
  • “You got this mama!” Straight up encouragement!
  • “I hope you’re getting the rest you need. Is there anything I can do to take something off your plate?” – We probably won’t take you up on it (gotta maintain that ‘super mom’ status) but the offer alone will make you a God-send.

Just know, regardless of how “big” the bump is, her body is hard at work & a little encouragement could go a long way.

 

So while we’re here, a little 28-week update:

Baby size: The standard fruit comparison is an eggplant this week. For fun I looked up a couple other options: bigger than a burrito with the works or about the size of a giant banana split.

Symptoms: Last week I started having contractions that became more and more regular, getting to 3 minutes apart consistently.   Thank God for amazing friends/neighbors who took our girls in so Zach could get me to the hospital. After every other effort to make them stop, I ended up having ‘the shot’ that makes them stop immediately. Good news – I showed no signs of preterm labor (in spite of the contractions) and I’m super grateful I was put on bed rest for only 24 hours. Not so great – it was Zach’s birthday… Wife of the year right here!

What I’m loving: I’m feeling more and more connected to this baby boy of ours.  I freak Zach out because I randomly talk to him when he’s dancing around in my belly and he doesn’t know who I’m talking to. When it’s just me and the baby, I sing to him – typically Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star because..

Wardrobe: Still fitting into my regular pants (completely unbuttoned with belly band), but almost none of my tops are covering the belly completely anymore. I’m feeling like I may just have to break down and buy maternity clothes

Nursery update: The crib and glider from The Kraze’s nursery have been set up and a couple items I’ve ordered specific for him have arrived – will be sharing soon!

Big Sisters: They talk about/to him as if he’s already here. If they bump my belly (which isn’t hard to do), they say “Sorry baby brother!” and pat my belly.

 

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A Colorful Nursery for Two

 

Before we even knew the gender of our twins, I fell in love with this rug and knew I wanted it regardless of what the sexes turned out to be. I never wanted a typical baby pink or blue nursery, so when I came across this playful, colorful rug, I decided to base the entire nursery around it. I’m pretty sure we bought it when I was just barely out of the first trimester, but I knew I could pull any colors from it I wanted to make it work for the space. Finally that wonderful day came along, and I excitedly grabbed the beautiful shade of pink from the rug to use throughout the room.

 

Many pieces were either custom made, like the bedding, bench cushion and name letters hanging above each crib or one-of-a-kind finds from antique stores, such as the orange nightstand and vintage birdcage hanging in the corner.

 

I’ve seen this light fixture in many nursery designs since, but considering this was 5 years ago, I like to think we were one of the first trendsetters! 😉 Which is also why I don’t have any other high quality photos to post, so I’ll spare you the half-decade old Instagram filtered photos and just leave you with the one… plus this is probably the only time their room was this clean.

 

 

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Atlanta Travel Guide: The Local’s Hidden Gems

Even though we lived there for 9 short years, we consider Atlanta our hometown. Our girls will probably grow up not remembering that they were born Georgia peaches, but this place holds such a special place in our hearts.  There are so many fun things to do that Atlanta is famous for, like attending a Braves game, going to Centennial Olympic Park, and of course we love the aquarium and zoo (we had memberships to both as long as we lived there), but I want to give you guys the scoop on a few of our favorite places to eat and play that might not be on your radar. So if you want to explore Atlanta like a local…

 

Eat Here

R. Thomas

Founded on the “You are what you eat” expression, it’s a 24-hour health food restaurant.  I mean, that almost sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it?! No doubt, this place is as funky as it gets, with exotic birds in cages along the entrance and multicolored neon lighting inside, but with everything on the menu made with high quality, fresh ingredients, you can rest assured that any choice you make here is good. Our favorite is the breakfast menu, which is a good thing considering they serve breakfast all day! *Fun fact: this is where Zach took me to brunch the day he proposed, over 8 years ago!

Recommended item: The Mr. Rogers

 

Taqueria del Sol (Westside & Decatur locations)

This was our fave long before The Kraze was even born. Maybe it’s the amount of Taqueria cheese dip I ate while pregnant with them, but they love it just as much as we do. The line out the door every time you go will tell you we’re not alone. One of the best parts is grabbing a drink at the bar and socializing (and letting the kids play) while waiting in line – we’ve seriously met lifelong friends in this line! The made-from-scratch Southern Mexican dishes are truly original and the specials change every week, which is a big reason why we hardly missed a week! We’ve literally had tears more than once since moving to Florida because they just want Taqueria! A few weeks ago when we visited, the girls went straight to the owner and asked him personally if he would please bring Taqueria to Florida… here they’re literally hugging it goodbye!

Recommended item: Westside Margarita & cheese dip (made with minced jalapeños – it’s spicy!)

 

Henri’s Bakery (on-Ree’s)

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This Buckhead gem has been around for almost 100 years, and this enormous case of assorted pastries and sweets is only the beginning. The variety of breakfast sandwiches are all amazing and will cost you a whopping $3 a piece. With their full service bakery, sandwich counter, espresso bar and grab-and-go options, plus I’m a sucker for good outside seating, it’s seriously good any time of day.

Recommended item(s): French vanilla muffin,  ham, egg & cheese croissant / Kid favorite: Thumbprint cookies

 

Antico

A little fun-fact: A couple years ago, Antico was named one of the top 10 pizzerias in the country! When the weather is nice, the ambience is seriously just as great as the pizza – the whole experience is just about as authentic as you can get, I would imagine. You can bring your own bottle of wine (make sure you bring your own bottle opener too) and they provide the clear plastic cups & napkins, but no plates – it’s all about community here!

Recommended item: The Diavola & Margherita DOP + pepperoni (and be sure to go to the back by the kitchen & pick up some peppers and fresh parm)

 

A few more favorites:

Sun in My Belly

Homegrown

Universal Joint

 

Play Here

Chastain Park

 

 

 

This park was just renovated a couple years ago and is unlike any other park I’ve ever been to.  It’s nestled in one of Atlanta’s nicest neighborhoods and is the nicest playground in the city (with clean bathrooms!).  There’s plenty to do for kids of all ages with so many engaging things and inspiring features like the spaceship-like tree house, the “rolly slides” (what we call them) and musical features such as drums, windpipes and piano for all to play! I think the swings are my favorite!

 

Ponce City Market/ Beltline

 

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I think Ponce City Market is the coolest renovation I’ve ever seen unfold.  It was so highly anticipated, as I used to drive right by the historic building on my way home from work every day, and now it’s considered a landmark, placed right in the middle of some of Atlanta’s most prominent neighborhoods.  It’s a full marketplace with the best shopping, eating and hang out spots. You can even grab yourself a pretty cool pad if you’re looking for an urban apartment in the heart of Atlanta.

The BeltLine is a huge pedestrian trail that will eventually make a 22 mile loop, connecting Atlanta’s inner-perimeter neighborhoods. All along the trail there are renovated parks, unique and tasty restaurants, and can’t-miss events happening every day, as well as really neat artwork all along the path (see above).  Our favorite stretch runs right past Ponce City Market, from Piedmont Park to Krog Street Market, which you can make a whole day out of – playing at the park, strolling down to Ponce City for shopping, then continuing on to Krog Street for dinner.

 

Atlanta has so much to offer – I hope you’ll consider checking out these spots if the ATL is ever on your destination list.

 

Happy Travels!

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Style Roundup – Transitional Outfits

It’s March and that means spring is just around the corner!!  I thought I’d wrap up this cooler weather with a little round up of transitional outfits that have gotten me through this “winter” we have in Florida, which is basically like spring for most of you.  None of these items are maternity, although all work well for a growing bump.

 

I wore this dress for a rare date night with my hubby. It’s a super comfy sweater dress that can be dressed up or down.

 

 

This is one of my favorite combos for the cooler months … Skinny jeans + sweater + over-the-knee boots. Such an easy look and I can be ready for anything from an event at the girls’ school to an impromptu lunch date with a girlfriend.

 

A more casual date night look… this was for Valentine’s Day, but I love this pink blazer year-round.

 

This white dress is another year-round piece for me. And these boots again… I just love them because they go with anything from jeans to a dress. I wore this to brunch where the hubby and I found out the gender of baby #3!

 

Here’s to the sunny days ahead and all the good times that come along with them!

 

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