Tykes

Cozy Cool

cozymama1 cozymama2 cozymama3 cozymama4 cozymama5 cozymama6A mom uniform to be sure, but, real talk, leggings and a flow-y shirt are generally all I care to wear these days. The weather in Florida flip-flops from wet + cold to wet + hot. No middle ground. So layers are best on a cool day that may turn into a scorcher. I’m wearing, yet again, the best compression leggings ever from Belly Bandit. I swear I’m working on a post about all things BB, patience grasshopper. My leather jacket is probably my favorite piece in my closet. It’s perfect. So glad I made the splurge back in 2013.

Do you have a daily uniform!? I wanna know!

Baby Numero Dos [0-3]

secondbaby03.001

[one] [two] [three] [four] [five] [six] [seven] [eight] [nine] [ten]

Oh me, oh my. I had baby. Ah-gain. You’d think that would prepare me in some way for going through this mess again… Nah. That would be too easy. I feel like it’s a whole new learning process. You forget the sleepless nights, crying, and being covered in poo and breastmilk. I suppose you have a better handle on certain things like feeding, diaper changing, what products are worth it and what are completely useless. So with baby #2 I’ve found some new things along with my favorite standbys for surviving the first 3 months.

Swaddles. We love, love, love our Ollie Swaddle, it is completely Houdini proof and you can get it super snug!! The material is lightweight and moisture wicking so you don’t have to worry about overheating. We also keep Aden + Anais muslin swaddles around for when little man wants to have a bit more freedom. They are also perfect burp cloths, blankets, car seat covers, nursing covers, their uses are endless. Plus, the patterns are so flipping cute.

All. The. Swings. This go around the Mamaroo has not worked its magic, but a friends Graco swing and Rock n Play aka poop chair(literally takes a poo ERRYTIME he is in this thing) have proven to be a little more tolerable for the little prince, but not enough that they would be worth the money to purchase. If you can borrow things from friends I highly suggest it, all babes are different end you seriously never ever know what they are gonna like.

Exercise Ball. Forget your rocking chair. I good ole exercise ball does the trick nicely. Seriously. Both oh my boys LOVE being bounced and rocked on my labor ball. Lol.

Wrap + Carrier. Especially for baby number 2. You have to get your hands free sometimes, i.e. Making big kid breakfast, etc. I love a good stretchy wrap (Happy Baby) for me is the best way to carry my tiny nuggets for the first 3ish months. A structured carrier is great for larger babies or once they gain neck control.

Sound Machine. This is an absolute must. Like you must have one. If anything it helps me sleep better and not here every little snort and squeak mister lets out. We moms wake up to a pin dropping once we have kids, so this definitely helps. I also think it helps once they transfer to their crib gives something familiar.

Coffee. Self explanatory.

A walk outside. Don’t forget to get out. Even if it’s just for the quickest stroll around the block. It’s good for your brain. It’s good for baby. It’s good for toddler. All good.

Amazing Mama friends who just get it. I think the key to not fully losing your mind is having friends you can vent to who understand what you’re going through who can remind you it’s not forever and this season is so quick in the grand scheme of things. Friends who offer you wine and hold your baby. Friends who pray for you and check in on you.

You’re not alone lady. Newborns are tough and they can easily breakdown your spirit. It’s okay. Vent it out. It’s not all sunshine and unicorns. There are days where you might say shut up more than I love you… #nojudgement Remember the unending grace provided in parenting. You’re doing so good mama!

I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. 

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetAnd by white, I mean pearly white shiny smile. I used to pride myself on my sparkly white teeth, but due to increased coffee consumption and decreased me time, my shiny white smile has since faded to an interesting apartment beige like color. I’ve never been one for smiling with my teeth… It’s usually because of my ptsd from braces, but lately I’ve been increasingly more bummed out by my less than brilliant smile… Boo.

fullsizerenderEnter Smile Brilliant Professional Teeth Whitening. Everything you need sent directly to your front door. Ummmm YES. YES. I definitely think I will. The kit arrives with all your goodies, I am using the sensitive kit. Everything you need to make molds of your teefs, Rocco’s preferred pronunciation. You simply mix the catalyst paste and the base together until they are a solid blue, pop goop in the tray, and pop in your mouth. I have to admit, I was sweating bullets, but they give you enough goop to do 3 impressions incase you jack one up. And it’s really pretty easy. Throw those in the mail and shortly thereafter your perfectly fitted whitening retainers are in your hands. Do we see a trend?!? EASY. And I when you’re a mom. Nothing seems easy. This is ACTUALLY pretty stinking easy!  Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Need a last minute Christmas gift?!? Use coupon code “blissfulhappenings” for 5% off of your purchase!!!

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetOh and it wouldn’t be Christmas without some presents!!! So I’m excited to announce a giveaway with Smile Brilliant click www.smilebrilliant.com/g/blissfulhappenings and leave a comment below to enter!!!! We will announce the winner in 2 weeks, plus debut my whitening progress!!!

Clean up, clean up everybody, everywhere…

Excited to have Kelsey here today to talk cleaning! Safe, non-toxic and actually works. Yes please!! Enjoy. Lo 

When it comes to cleaning we all often roll our eyes, take a deep sigh, and ready ourselves for the arduous task of removing the ick, the stink, and the germs from our homes to give our families a safe pleasant place to live and grow. In most homes, we do this not just daily, but seemingly ALL. DAY. LONG- often leaving us sore, tired, and downtrodden. Yes, there is that short-lived victorious moment when it is finally all done and we look around for a split second at our accomplishment before someone destroys it but on the whole, lets face it cleaning is the never ending pits! 

Unfortunately the task gets worse, cleaning with mainstream chemicals (yes, even some of the “green” ones) isn’t just unpleasant it’s actually unhealthy! According to the American Lung Association VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and other chemicals released when using cleaning supplies contribute to chronic respiratory problems, allergic reactions and headaches. Products containing VOCs and other toxic substances can include:
  • Aerosol sprays in health, beauty & cleaning products;
  • Air fresheners;
  • Chlorine bleach;
  • Detergent and dishwashing liquid;
  • Dry cleaning chemicals;
  • Rug and upholstery cleaners;
  • Furniture and floor polish; and
  • Oven cleaners
Recent research has found that even natural fragrances in cleaning products, particularly in air fresheners, may react with high levels of ozone from indoor sources or from outdoor air to form formaldehyde and dangerous fine particles indoors. Ozone is a harmful, but invisible, gas that worsens asthma and other lung diseases. Both ozone and particles can be life-threatening. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen The National Institue of Health’s National library of health has a whole section referred to as Tox Town where it describes the harmful effects of many of the chemicals found in the average family home. For example, at home you can be exposed to solvents in cleaning products, personal care products. Some solvents are listed as human carcinogens or “reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens” in the 13th Report on Carcinogens published by the National Toxicology Program and can cause cancer. Regular exposure to solvents can cause memory and hearing loss, mental illness, depression, fatigue, confusion, dizziness, feeling drunk or “high,” lack of coordination, headache, nausea, stomach pains, skin rashes, cracking or bleeding skin, and irritated eyes, nose, and throat. Exposure to solvent vapors can cause hoarseness, coughing, lung congestion, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.

That is why I fell in love with Norwex which stands for the Norwegian experience. Their mission to improve the quality of life by radically reducing chemicals in our homes has lead to the development of an impressive line of completely non-toxic, waste reducing and money saving cleaning products. At its core is the micro-fiber cloth. To be legally called micro fiber each strand of the cloth must be 1/6th of a human hair but Norwex took this further, WAY further, than whats available in a retail store and took their fibers down to 1/200th of a human hair. Each cloth contains thousands of miles of fiber , if unraveled it would stretch from Canada to New Mexico! All of those tiny fibers knit together and combined with JUST WATER allow you to mechanically clean your surfaces rather then chemically.  Yes, you read that right- no soap. no chemicals. Not even baking soda and vinegar. The fibers actually lift and remove the dirt, germs, and residue from your surfaces and trap them deep within the cloth. Don’t believe me? Check out this link (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mKQMIcnTy8) where a local news station in Tennessee put this claim to the test in a real lab with real E-Coli bacteria. They not only tested Norwex’s claim to remove the germs but also compared it to other leading cleaners and the results were astonishing- Norwex removed 92% of the bacteria from the surface, a store bought micro fiber cloth removed 84%, and the leading all purpose cleaning spray with paper towel 0%! But what really makes Norwex incredible is that the tiny fibers lock the germs inside the cloth instead of spreading them around or cross contaminating. Just google Norwex chicken test and see the numerous videos where users cleaned up raw chicken and then rubbed the cloth on a clean surface swabbed it with a protein test strip and found no evidence of protein (which would contain the bacteria) on the rubbed surface! But the best thing of all- cost comparisons (I will share specifics in a bit) show that over the 2 year warranty period of the micro fiber products Norwex can save you hundreds of dollars. 

I know this sounds too good to be true and probably like a big ole sales pitch so let me share with you the one thing I can’t stand about Norwex- I miss my clean smell!!! I know, I know the truth is “clean” doesn’t have a smell, but the leading cleaning product manufactures have done a pretty good job of brainwashing us into thinking that if it doesn’t smell clean it isn’t clean. To put it simply I am a little leary of having people over when my house doesn’t smell fresh! Thankfully we have essential oils to not only bring back our beloved “clean smell” but actually improve our health instead of destroying it. But enough theoretical yammering- lets talk practical applications to clean your home into your safe haven!

1. The enviro cloth is the work horse of the Norwex product line- From this little cloth other variations have developed to help us better clean all the surfaces of our home from THE most incredible mop to the kitchen cloth and a whole lot of awesomeness in between. We already discussed how the micro fiber works and does a better job then its chemical counterparts but how to bring back the beautiful clean smell? Simply take a few drops your favorite essential oils such as orange, lemon or even tea tree for an extra cleaning boost and add them to a small spray bottle. Sprtiz your enviro cloth, mop pad or kitchen cloth and clean those surfaces leaving just a wonderful aroma and nothing else. But what about the cost? At $16.99 for an enviro cloth and $14 for a bottle of oil it may seem like an unfavorable trade off. Lets take a closer look- On average just in our kitchens we would use approximately 5 disinfecting wipes a day (wiping counters after each meal prep, our table once a day, and cleaning up at least one spill- some days way more a day sometimes less). The average cost per wipe is $0.04 X 5 times a day = $0.20 a day. $0.20 a day X 365 = $73 a year, $146 over 2 years. Replacing those disinfecting wipes just in your kitchen with an enviro cloth and a bottle of oil costs $31 saving you $42 a year, $84 over 2 years!

2. Organic material such as dead skin cells, germs, pet dander and dust mites often take up residence inside our upholstered furniture, mattress and pillows – items we either can’t wash or can’t wash often. Frequently we turn to products like air fresheners to cover this smell. Not only does this rarely work, it adds more allergens and harmful chemicals to our air space without removing or cleaning anything! Norwex has an amazing product called simply Mattress cleaner (though it can be used on pillows and upholstered furniture) that is enzyme based and actually removes the organic material that leads to allergies. Google it! Diffusing essential oils is a far better way to lightly scent our air space giving us that fresh scent we crave and unlike the chemical air freshers, essential oils actually improve our health, supporting our bodies immune system rather than harming it.

3. Our skin is our largest organ and it absorbs what we put on it in just 25 to 30 seconds. While we may not drink our soaps, cleansers, and cleaning products we regular consume them through our skin and our airways. Norwex has developed a softer version of their revolutionary micro fiber called the body cloth (and a travel/kid size version called the baby body) that mechanically cleans your skin, removing dirt and grime from pores rather than filling them full of synthetic fragrances and harsh stripping agents. While anyone can benefit from using our microfiber cloths and water rather than soap, this is especially wonderful for those with sensitive skin or those plagued by difficult skin conditions like excema. Essential oils paired with natural ingredients like sugar open more options for exfoliating and toning skin naturally, some oils, like rose hips, even offer antioxidant properties! Skin cleaners and soaps run the gambit in price, but Norwex body clothes come in a set of 3 for just $19.99 – yep add a $14 bottle of your favorite oil and you could be spending as little as $33 for TWO YEARS of skincare! The smaller version, the baby body, is perfect for travel and sells for just $14.99 for 3 cloths. The leading travel disinfecting wipe costs $0.09 a wipe even if you only used 1 a day X 365= $32.85, more than double the cost for just 1 year!

This body cloth IS my skin care regime and my skin has never been cleaner or softer! I also occasionally use an natural organic scrub for a little extra exfoliation.

4. Dryer sheets are one of the most toxic products in our homes- seriously people use them to kill mice! But oh the smell! The fresh smell of laundry! This is one of the areas where Norwex and essential oils really come beautifully together. A few drops of your favorite oil on Norwex’s wool dryer balls allows you naturally and lightly fragrance your clothing all while reducing drying time and clothing ruined from tangles (especially in our HE machines)

5. For many of us our pets are like our children…our often smelly, hairy, dry skinned (dander!) children who hate being bathed. Norwex has taken the fluffy version of its mircofiber cloth (the dusting mitt) and recreated it especially for use on pets. Adding a few drops of tea tree oil (always check with your vet before using oils on pets!) to a spray bottle and spritizing the Norwex pet mitt allows you easily give your pet a daily freshening and brushing with out the struggle of a bath!

Need these amazing cleaning products like right now? Shop Here!!

I got all of this FREE the first week I signed up! Norwex spoils there hostess & consultants like crazy, comment below if you want to find out how to stock your house full of these amazing products FREE!!!

Confessions of a SkinCare Junkie 

For as long as I can remember I’ve been obsessed with skincare. Even as a teen I buying and trying every kind of skincare I could afford. I had moderate to severe acne and literally spent entire paychecks from Pier 1 Imports trying to fix it. I bought all the products I found in my InStyle: La Mer, Murad, Mario Badescu, SonyaDakar, frou frou small batch organic stuff, the list goes on and on… Literally any kind of face junk you can think of, I’ve bought it. I can barely remember finishing a single product let alone repurchasing a skin care regime over and over. Enter Renée Rouleau. I found her in a magazine where Emmy Rossum was singing her praises. So I tried it. I took her skin quiz [in Cali I was a 6, in Florida I am a 2]. It takes into account not only your skin issues, but how much you sleep, travel, the humidity level. And for 3+ years now, I have been using RR products. I’ve adjusted a few for the difference in climate + postpartum dryness, but overall I’ve stuck with the same products. NUTS. I am just obsessed. I love her blog and delightful pink hair. My favorite product is hands down the AHA Smoothing serum or maybe the sunscreen… It’s all so good. They have spectacular customer service and if you plan on spending over 100$ you can get a consult with one of her aestheticians!! 

Oh yeah and the best part! I’ve been told, like a few times, that I have beautiful skin  and I can’t tell you how good that feels. It’s practically tear inducing. Those who’ve battled long term difficult skin will totally understand what I’m talking about. 

Anywho. That’s my time. Comment with your fave skincare lines or products. Have you ever tried Renée Rouleau?! Do you want to now?! Do tell. 

Labor of Love…

FelixBirthSP-3IMG_6246 copyIMG_6248 copyFelixBirthSPFelixBirthSP-14FelixBirthSP-13FelixBirthSP-11FelixBirthSP-9FelixBirthSP-8FelixBirthSP-7FelixBirthSP-5FelixBirthSP-4 copy 2FelixBirthSP-2So I’m just gonna say it, I’m birth obsessed. I love watching births, reading about births, yes yes YES. I love it. I follow dozens of birth photographers on Instagram and I can only say that I am in love with birth. So much so that I truly believe one day I will become a doula… What a difference a few years makes… So maybe you are equally birth obsessed or maybe you couldn’t care less, but I’m gonna tell my story for anyone who wants to hear it. I promise, it’s pretty entertaining.

I was really unsure how to approach writing this post… I think labor is literally the most beautiful thing on the planet and I had many different, more serious versions of this post in the works, but what it really came down to was that my labor was NOTHING like my first and on top of that, nothing like how I envisioned it. Seriously, it was so far from my plan of “silent and calm” that we just had to laugh because it still ended with the most wonderful gift. Now on to the good stuff.

I was having just a terrible night’s sleep, up to pee ever hour or so and feeling crampy. Nothing alarming, but bleh nonetheless.

[4am] Cramps [Pain Level] .0025

So at 4 I woke up with more intense cramping. My mind started to race. My inner dialogue sounded a bit like this, “Noooooo… No way… Impossible… Definitely Not… Go back to sleep.” There would be no sleep in my immediate, or distant, future.

[5:30am] Consistent Mild Contractions [Pain Level] .050

I was still in a pretty good state of denial when, apologies for the frankness, the poops arrived. I started to have to get up to use the bathroom every 15 – 20 minutes. I knew what was happening, but still hadn’t had any major signs that it was labor, no water breaking, no bloody show… I still thought that there was a possibility it would stop. I decided to time my contractions before I alarmed The Captain or my Midwife, Jenny. Sure enough every 5-10 minutes I had a contraction. I woke up The Captain and asked him what I should do. We decided to text Jenny and get her opinion. I should note, I LOVE my midwife… like, LOVE HER, LOVE HER. I am so grateful we found her during the move. I can’t stress how amazing it is to have a caretaker who’s completely and utterly on your side. LOVE.

[6:45am] Regular Mild Contractions + Poo [Pain Level] .25

Jenny suggested that we give it 30 minutes and see, then meet at the hospital to get checked, she would be in her office at 8:15. So I continued to time the contractions which at this point were like dull period cramps. We called in our babysitting squad to watch Mohawk who was still fast asleep. I showered. Shaved my legs. Put on some makeup. Felt super cute. Our savior, Regen, showed up shortly after. Leaving the house was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done… Saying “I love you” and hugging my son, for possibly the last time as my only child, choked hard in my throat. I didn’t want to put him down. Cue tears.

[8:45] Regular Moderate Contractions + less than 2cm dilated [Pain Level] .75

I continued having contractions while we drove. Once to the hospital, they got us into a triage room where they monitored and checked me. I was barely 2 cm and while my cervix was in the right position I was only 70% effaced. Same as I had been two weeks prior at my visit. Talk about disappointed. But I was indeed having consistent contractions. So I was sentenced to walk. And walk. And walk. I was monitored again and they sent to walk yet again. The Captain and I just strolled the unit floor, held hands, laughed… Now that I’m reflecting on the day, I’m so glad we had this time.

[12:30pm] Regular Contractions + 2.5cm dilated [Pain Level] 4

Around 12:30 I was checked again. This time 2.5 cm. I was epically bummed. My contractions were pretty uncomfortable, but manageable. So I just couldn’t believe that things were moving so slowly, but I was trying to remain positive and praising The Lord for each contraction because it was bringing me closer to meeting my boy. By this time I was joined by Doula Amber who was helping me through contractions and giving me my options of what I could ask, etc. She was absolutely instrumental in keeping both of us calm and relaxed throughout the day. I talked to Jenny from her office and she suggested going to walk the mall or grabbing a light lunch, but because of our drive she would prefer we didn’t go all the way home. I wanted bread and there was a Panera at the mall. Sure. I’d try it. So The Captain, Amber, and I made our way to the mall… Yes, the mall.

FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender_1yes, you are seeing this right… 

[1:15pm] Active Labor [Pain Level] 5-8

We arrived to Cordova Mall around 1pm. I made my way to the Panera bathroom where my contractions took a big leap in intensity. I scared an employee half to death, but assured her I wouldn’t deliver my baby on the bathroom floor. We headed next to Victoria’s Secret because I had not packed undies, nor even wore them to the hospital [they were super unnecessary last time, oops] and if my water broke we didn’t want to leave a puddle. So picture it, if you can, mama swaying back-n-forth picking out undies and eating bread while having pretty intense active labor pains. I made The Captain take pics because, ya know, you can’t make this shit up. With undies in hand we started walking towards a department store and the restrooms. This walk seemed to take 10 years. By time I had my new skivvies on I was certain I was going to give birth in the mall bathroom. I informed my crew that I had to get the hell out of there. As we made our way out, Amber mentioned trying out a reflexology massage place near our exit. Couldn’t hurt to try, right?! So for 20 minutes a lovely Chinese woman rubbed my legs. She was very concerned about my due date and assured me she could help. Well, for the first half I swear I was in heaven. I didn’t have any contractions for nearly 10 minutes. But then they started back… Oh Lord, did they start back.

So we paid and on the way out to the parking lot every contraction was just as intense. I was moaning and thrashing in the mall parking lot. The car ride back to the hospital was the worst. I started feeling like I was going to throw up and somehow just kept thinking about how badly I wanted to hold Mohawk. I was realizing that never again would I only have my first baby. I couldn’t control the tears. Full blown ugly crying. I continued to bawl, dry heave, and painfully contract. The combo of the 3 made for a dramatic hospital parking lot show. Amber got me a wheelchair and we proceeded to make our way to labor and delivery.

[2:45pm] Intense Active Labor + 9cm dilated with bulging bag of waters [Pain Level] 9.

When we arrived at the nurses’ desk the women looked concerned and in a tone I didn’t appreciate said, “well honey, we are gonna have to find ya a room.” I remember smiling at her and thinking, “bitch, I will cut you.” That’s possibly the only negative thing I could say about my entire hospital labor. Luckily. They had saved me a room. So by 3:15 I was in my room. A nurse checked me and things had changed dramatically, she put in a call to Jenny immediately. I had dilated 7.5cm during my time at the mall. The Captain was so amazing, putting my chapstick on, rubbing my back, making all kinds of funny sounds with me… Having him home and there was just amazing. so for roughly 30 minutes, I labored in the quite, peaceful room.

[3:45pm] Pushing [Pain Level] 10.

Jenny arrived and after remarking, that she knew I was going to pull this kinda move, she said “let’s push and meet your baby!” Ummm come again?! She just got there. Shouldn’t she buy me a drink first?! I began pushing on my side. I had the most amazing group of women, Jenny, Amber, amazing nurses, and most importantly, The Captain, cheering me on. But let me just say it, the side push wasn’t registering with me. I was not understanding or connecting the pushing, but to my excitement Felix was still in his bag of waters. So my dream of an en caul birth was nearly realized and the side push is apparently more gentle on baby and mama, but it was NOT working. I ended up scooting on my back and with 2 pushes to go, my water broke.

[4pm-ish] Water Breaks [Pain level] 7 hundred million billion.

But I just absorbed that pain and used it to power my final 2 pushes.

[4:05pm] Baby Felix is born [Pain Level] Non-existent due to state of oxytocin induced euphoria.

And like that, I had a baby. Praise The Lord! After 8 hours of early labor. 3.5 of active labor. And 20 some odd minutes of pushing. Baby Felix was born with zero interventions, not even so much as a heplock or monitor. He was placed immediately on my chest and we all had a good cry!! I still cannot believe he’s here. Even staring at him right now. I just can’t believe. Already a one upper, he was 11 days early, beating out Mohawk’s 10 days early record…

I’m so grateful for everyone that helped welcome F-guy earth side. It wasn’t what I was planning, but it was beautiful none the less. Happy Birthday Felix!!

+A huge thanks to Ashley of Against the Grain Photography for our amazing photos!+