Friday, July 30, 2021

Our Cranial Band Journey + a little nursery update

If you follow us on social media, it's no secret that we recently started our cranial band journey with Liam. At our 2 month pediatrician appointment, our doctor noticed Liam was beginning to get a slight flat spot on the back of his head. She mentioned it very casually at the end of the appointment and suggested we place Liam in the crib in different directions with the goal of getting him to sleep on both sides of his head. She said this was a common occurrence in good sleepers, and that babies typically find something like a light or shiny object in their room that they focus on before falling asleep, so positioning him differently for each nap would encourage him to look in both directions and the issue would likely "self correct" itself. The conversation was so casual I didn't think much of it, we took her advice and began placing him in different directions and continued moving forward with our sleep training schedule assuming this was all we needed to do to resolve the issue. 

By 9 weeks old, Liam was sleeping 12 hours through the night. We felt like we were crushing it in the sleep department, until our 4 month well check back at the pediatricians office when all of a sudden the flat spot was no longer a casual mention, but now a referral to a physical therapists office to have it evaluated for moderate to severe Plagiocephaly. In all honesty, Shane and I both felt pretty misled. We heeded the advice of our pediatrician, but because the conversation was so non-chalant we didn't look into the subject any further. Fast forward 2 months and we were meeting with a physical therapist who diagnosed Liam with not only Plagiocephaly, but Torticollis as well. All of this was brand new to me. None of my close friends have kids, and I had no prior experience with anyone whose child had to have a helmet. Our PT explained that this is more common than we realized, and that 1 in 4 infants get Plagiocephaly now that the "back to sleep" movement is a priority. Along with looking at the different types of Plagiocephaly, we also learned that this is not only common in good sleepers, but also in babies who are breech in utero which was the case for our little Liam. Measurements were taken, and ultimately Liam fell at the end of the moderate range so we opted to begin with 4 weeks of Physical Therapy at the end of May. If a babies skull is soft enough, counter-pressure can sometimes correct the flat spot without the need for a helmet. We were still in the "early intervention" timeframe so opting to start this way was recommended. 



In early July we remeasured after the 4 weeks of counter-pressure and physical therapy, and unfortunately Liams flat spot had not gotten worse, but it also had not gotten better - meaning that his skull had likely hardened to where counter-pressure alone would not be enough. We were advised to move forward with the helmet. At this point, as much as I wanted to avoid this route - I felt like we had to do it. My worry was that as he got older glasses wouldn't fit him correctly, he may be more prone to ear infections or jaw issues, and from a cosmetic standpoint I didn't want him to hate how his head looked - especially because boys tend to have shorter haircuts. 

After our first helmet fitting, the guilt I felt was overwhelming. There was something about seeing him with the helmet on that just crushed my mama heart. I burst into tears the second I walked out of the PT's office. I felt like I should have taken the initial mention of this with our pediatrician more seriously and that if I would have invested time into researching it back then, that I could have prevented this from happening. A support system in those first few days is essential, and I'm so thankful I chose to share our story on social media because it was everything I needed and more. If you're in this season just know that it is harder on us than it is on them! Liam was uncomfortable for a day or two and we experienced some initial skin irritation, but babies are so adaptable, and the band has become part of our day. Another plus is that it serves as a form of protection now that he is mobile and on the go! 

We are still in the beginning of this journey, but I know time will go by fast. It's already been almost 2 weeks and we should start to see change with each appointment at Carolina Kinder Development. I'm sharing our story today to not only bring awareness to the topic, but also in the hopes that it provides comfort to anyone else going through this. The process is common, you are not alone, your feelings are valid, and while it feels challenging at the time - our babies will be just fine. They are strong and resilient, and will come out of this with the most beautiful round noggin' you've ever seen. 

In other news, we also made a little update to Liam's nursery this week! The toys and baby gear seem to be filling every crevice of our house lately, so I opted to try and streamline a place for them to live. In an ideal world we would build out a playroom, but that would require me to kick Shane out of his man cave and something tells me that's not happening. So, I found this 8 cube storage organizer from Walmart along with coordinating indigo storage bins and placed it on the empty wall in his room. It looks cute while serving an incredibly functional purpose and goes easy on the wallet, too (hello under $70)! Not to mention, it was also fairly easy to put together and it comes in different finish options. We've had such great luck with Walmart's home furnishing's lately! I also picked up these bowls for the kitchen at a steal, and recently decorated our deck with this Walmart Home bistro furniture set



*Thank you to Walmart for sponsoring todays post. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Monday, July 12, 2021

2021 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Top Picks

It's that time again, the 2021 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is here! If you're not familiar with the #nsale, it's one of my favorite sales to shop because Nordstrom offers brand new Fall styles at deeply discounted prices for a few weeks. Hot items tend to sell out within the first few days, and quantities are limited so I recommend taking this time to stock up on staple items like jeans, pajamas, hair and makeup favorites, and pricier items like shoes and booties. It's also the perfect time to grab gift options that are nice to have on hand for the holidays (I also grab a few things to keep for housewarming gifts). You'll find tons of name brand/designer items that don't typically go on sale outside of this timeframe, so if you're in need of some good basics - now is the time. I own all but a couple items in the graphic, and personally vouch for their quality!


Monday, June 21, 2021

How To Make Life Easier While Traveling With an Infant

Walmart+ Must Have Baby Items For Travel

With several road trips and one flight under our belt with baby Liam, I feel pretty well acquainted with what it takes to travel with an infant successfully. To be honest, traveling with him has been surprisingly easy as long as we are well prepared. I think the hardest part is the amount of preparation that goes into making it a smooth trip. It's shocking knowing how much one tiny human needs to live! 

My biggest and best piece of advice is to travel as lightly as possible (especially if you're traveling by air) - insert Walmart+. I've talked about my Walmart+ membership several times over the last year, but it comes in especially handy with a baby and travel! We are currently preparing for an 8 day trip to Rosemary Beach and will be flying, so I am planning to place a quick free delivery order from the local Walmart store with the above items (35$ minimum, restrictions apply). Walmart offers Walmart+ free shipping, (excludes freight items). Trust me when I say you will thank me later for this tip! It only costs $98 a year, or $12.95 per month and includes a 15 day free trial period so you can see if you like it! To sign up for the free trial, click here

Bottles // 3-4 bottles on each trip have been fine! Dr. Browns are our favorite.
Diapers // We travel with around 8 diapers in the diaper bag, and will order a pack at our destination.
Wipes // We travel with 1 pack, and then have another pack delivered when we arrive.
Baby Shampoo // We love the Johnsons Tearless Gentle Baby Wash shampoo.
Formula // Make however many bottles you need to travel with, and have a canister delivered for the rest of the trip! Saves so much space and weight.
Bottle Brush // bottles are tricky to clean while traveling if you don't have one of these on hand.
Pacifiers // Believe me when I say you will lose or misplace a few of these en route, have a couple delivered to your destination - you always need more of these than you think.
Pacifier wipes // Since you have a limited number of paci's while traveling, and may not always be at home to wash them, wipes come in handy. They also double as bottle wipes.
Gripe Water // Typically over 3 oz so you have to pack it in a checked bag, and if it busts its super sticky. I opt to just have one delivered for a longer trip.
Aquaphor // Everybody is a little out of routine on vacation so you don't want to be caught in the middle of a diaper rash unprepared. 

Honorable mentions would be sunscreen if you're destination is beach based, and ziplock bags if you're staying at your destination for a little while. They're so helpful for soiled clothing when you aren't near home but a whole box full isn't ideal to travel with. 

*Thank you to Walmart for sponsoring todays post. As always, all opinions are my own. 

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Liam's Nursery Reveal













I'm so excited to share this space with you guys! This was my first attempt at a masculine yet classy room, and I'm so happy with how it turned out. We started working on this room back in September and finally completed it January 5th - the day baby Liam was born. I'm someone who wants everything completed as soon as possible so I can feel prepared, but as I'm sure you've heard, the pandemic has slowed the furniture industry down tremendously so the lead times were crazy, but we got his room done in the nick of time and it was so worth the wait! 

I love to pull images from Pinterest and home decor accounts I follow on Instagram as color inspirations, so I knew I wanted to use a grey toned navy on the walls, and dark wood furniture with gold accents as the base for the room. I love that those colors feel boyish without looking "young", and I felt like it had longevity for when Liam is older as well. I started with that color palette, and then began with the acacia wood dresser and crib. I always have a good eye for what I want, but I struggle with bringing it all together. So, I took my little self made mood board to New South Home and asked them to help me source options to make my vision a reality. If I've learned anything over the years, it's that working with an interior designer actually saves us money in the long run because I get exactly what I want from the jump, versus me trying to make it happen on my own and never truly loving the end result. Not to mention, they have access to so much more than the average consumer, and they can work within your budget. If you remember from this post, I had an amazing experience with them over the summer when they designed our outdoor living space, so I couldn't wait for them to work on the nursery as well. 

I also knew I wanted an accent wall with wallpaper. I had a wallpaper picked out, but remember when I mentioned budget above? It definitely was not in our budget. Melissa with NSH sourced the Thibaut 1886 paper we ended up using and I'm obsessed with it! I actually think I like it better than what I originally picked, and it was less expensive without sacrificing quality. The gold veining tied in with the animal theme we went with beautifully, and I love that's it is a textured paper. 

Because inventory was so low in stores, I didn't have the opportunity to go check out rockers in person - but comfort was something I really wanted seeing as you spend many hours rocking baby in it. Melissa sent me the rocker pictured above as an option (unfortunately I can't link directly to it, but New South Home can source it for you), and she was able to vouch for it's comfort level. I trusted her judgement and went with it, and am so happy we did. It's the most comfortable chair in our house!

For the ottoman, I had a particular image saved from Pinterest that I wanted to replicate. We weren't able to find anything retail wise that matched my inspiration image, so New South Home reached out to a contact of theirs and had it made for us. Another reason why using a designer is worth it! I got exactly what I wanted, and didn't have to settle for something I didn't love as much. I never would have known who to reach out too for that, and even if I did - many of those vendors only work with designers.

We repurposed my custom drapes from my old office in the townhome for the nursery. Our ceilings in that home were much shorter than this house, and my current office has way more windows so I need more than two panels for it. I loved these drapes so I didn't want to do away with them, and we had the option to release the hem to make them the perfect length for this room. Lucky for us, they match the wall color we chose perfectly!

Baby Liam was gifted lots of books, so I wanted to hang a bookshelf somewhere lower on the wall in his room so he can reach them when he gets older. I ended up choosing the acrylic ones from Pottery Barn Modern and love how they turned out! 

The paint color is Benjamin Moore Hale Navy at 50%. We actually painted the room in another color initially, and for whatever reason - It didn't look like the samples we painted on the wall and I hated it. Lighting in a room can completely change the color of paint, so I highly recommend painting a sample on each wall in the room prior to painting the whole thing so you don't make the same mistake I did!

Overall, this has become one of my favorite rooms in our house! It turned out exactly like I pictured and we love spending time with Liam in it. The only thing I would add to it is a chandelier (this is what I have picked out), but for SIDS prevention - we are keeping the ceiling fan until we no longer need to worry about that.  

If you need help sourcing anything as some of these items are only available to designers, please reach out to New South Home here.

SOURCE LIST:
Rug 

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Monday, December 28, 2020

Shane's Brown Butter Pecan Cookie Recipe









Okay, these have been the star of the show over on stories multiple times since Shane first made them a year ago. They're probably the most requested recipe post I get from you guys, so when I had a craving for them earlier this week I got Shane to agree to make them again if I placed a quick free delivery order from our local Walmart store for the ingredients with my Walmart+ membership ($35 minimum, restrictions apply). This membership has come in so handy more times than we can count, and they just launched a new benefit starting this month where Walmart offers Walmart+ free shipping, no order minimum for Walmart+ members as well (excludes oversized/freight & marketplace items). Members also receive member prices on fuel at Walmart, Sams Club, and Murphy gas stations, and access to tools that make in-store shopping faster. Our store has same day delivery, so it's easy to convince hubby to make these when it doesn't require either of us to have to leave for the ingredients -- and I'm sure it'll only become handier once the baby is here. 

As for the cookies, these are hands down my favorite cookie ever! Shane has become quite the baker during the pandemic and the extra time at home, and I think he sort of has a secret calling in the kitchen. Everyone we've shared the cookies with has also been impressed (and addicted immediately) so if you need something fun to bake that's a sure fire hit - these are it!  

Brown Butter Pecan Cookies 

INGREDIENTS:

- 1 cup of unsalted butter
- 1 cup of brown sugar
- 1/2 cup of white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp of vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups of flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp salt
- 2 cups (approximately 1 bar) chunks of chocolate (not chips)
- 1 cup chopped pecans 

DIRECTIONS:

In a small sauce pan, boil butter until browned. It should smell nutty and have a caramel color to it. Remove butter from heat and place in the refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes. Next, mix the butter and sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla, and mix. Add in the flour, salt, and baking soda. Mix together. Next, add in chocolate chunks and pecans and fold into a dough. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover dough and set for 30 minutes. Roll dough into balls and cook for 9-11 minutes, they should be fairly moist still. Let cookies cool for approximately 8 minutes after you remove them from the oven. We like to take a fork and press down on the top of them, and sprinkle a little Pink Himalayan Sea Salt on top!

Keep me posted if you make these! We would love to hear how they turn out, and don't forget to check out the Walmart+ benefits in your area! It costs $98 a year, or $12.95 per month and includes a 15-day free trial period so you can test it out and see if you like it (but trust me, you will)! To sign up for the free trial, click here. 

*Thank you to Walmart for sponsoring todays post. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Our Maternity Photos + A Third Trimester Update















We are officially 3 weeks away from our due date! Honestly, time is flying by. I know most everyone tells you the last few weeks crawl due to anticipation, but I'm not experiencing that. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the holidays are also around this time, and that we are still working on getting our new home furnished and ready for our parents to visit long term. I'm so busy with work (holiday season), buying and wrapping gifts for everyone, decorating the house, getting little man's nursery organized, ordering the last of what I need for postpartum and what we are still missing for this little peanut etc. that life.is.busy. I never want to forget this time, so it's helpful for me to write out all that I am feeling and experiencing, and while I'm at it - maybe it'll help you too. So here's a little update on the homestretch!

HOW I'M FEELING PHYSICALLY

I honestly feel really good! I was prepared for the worst after hearing everyone else's 3rd trimester stories, but like I've mentioned with other pregnancy topics, you really can't (and shouldn't) compare your story to others, because each pregnancy is so unique and different. I also strongly believe that mindset and staying active has so much to do with how you feel in these last few weeks. I've always been a regimented person, and sticking to a routine is what's keeping me sane. I'm still waking up at 6 AM daily, starting my day with a workout - yes, even at 37 weeks - although my workouts look a lot different, I'm proud of myself for staying committed to moving every day. I do a 20 minute Peloton walk on the treadmill, followed by 30-40 min of weights, and Shane and I take a walk in the afternoons with the dog 3ish times a week as well. I'm also still riding the Peloton if I'm not walking (about 2-3 times a week). I'm hoping that by staying active, my body will be more prepared for labor. We will see! 

EMOTIONS 

I feel fairly level headed. To be honest, I think everyone around me would say I've been super "normal" in the emotions department this entire pregnancy. Of course, I have my days here and there. I think it's fair to say that most of those days have been triggered by things that are out of my control, like Covid. I miss my family tremendously, and have truly let myself mourn the loss of the idea in my head of what I always thought pregnancy would look like. For example, having my family around for the milestone moments like the gender reveal, the baby shower, putting together the nursery and shopping for baby items together. Just writing this out bring tears to my eyes because it feels so unfair. I'm constantly reminding myself to focus on the things I can control, versus what I can't control, and to be grateful for a healthy growing little boy. I'm a firm believer in that everything happens for a reason, and God chose this timing for our family for a much greater purpose than we can physically see today. If you are going through this same season, just know your feelings are valid and that you are not alone. On the other end of the spectrum, I am so excited to meet our son. We talk about what he will look like and his personality daily, and it's been so fun to imagine life with him earthside. Our bodies are capable of so much, and I feel so grateful for such a huge blessing during a year like this. He has given us so much to look forward too, and the love we feel for him is already exponential. 

 SLEEP

Sleep is something I've struggled with most of my pregnancy. Around 32 weeks I started getting this intense itchy feeling all over my body at night which was really keeping me up. We were worried about Cholestasis so I went in to get tested, and thankfully did not have it. The doctor thought that the itchiness was most likely due to hormones as they are at their peak around this time and suggested Benadryl at night, and Allegra during the day to help with the symptoms. Well, the Benadryl has provided the best sleep I've had all pregnancy, and for the most part doesn't make me drowsy the next morning (I only take half the dosage). As of this week, I am starting to feel more tired later in the day but that's all part of the game. I can really only sleep comfortably on my right side with a king size pillow in between my legs so that's where I land for the most of the night. The belly sort of makes moving from side to side a whole project, and don't even get me started on getting up from the bed - haha! 

THE BELLY

Baby has definitely dropped! I'm not 100% sure exactly what week this happened, but I want to say I started noticing it most around 33 weeks. My weight gain slowed way down in the 3rd trimester, but I can tell when baby boy is growing because there's a noticeable difference in my belly size and the scale reflects the gain too. He is also head down now! It's incredible being able to feel where his body parts are as he gets bigger. The kicks are a lot less frequent now that he has less room, and his movements tend to feel more like wiggles at this point. He likes to shove his butt right into my ribs and shifts from side to side daily. Sometimes I feel like I need to stretch my arms above my head to get him to shimmy down some because the rib situation is rather uncomfortable and cramped. My appetite also seems to be the biggest it's been to date these last few weeks, although, I tend to feel full fairly fast since there is less room so I eat lots of smaller meals throughout the day. I think the most noticeable difference for me now that he's in position is the amount of pressure I feel, especially if we are walking or I'm doing leg day. I also still have the lower back pain almost daily, but with a giant belly and a 6 lb baby down low inside of it - I guess that's to be expected. 

CRAVINGS

I really haven't had a ton of cravings. I talked about this in my first trimester recap, but I experienced more aversions than anything. I will say, I still want fruit nonstop and as of late - I could eat 3 bowls of wheat bran cereal with blueberries a day and be perfectly happy. I'm definitely indulging in sweets more than I've ever let myself in the past, but overall - I've been fairly balanced with fueling my body, but also letting myself enjoy this time a little.

SIGNS OF LABOR

I've been keeping my eyes peeled for early labor signs. I noticed I started feeling lower back pain that feels more like the back pain you get right before your period (vs the back pain from weight - it feels different) last week. It comes in waves throughout the day, and as experts say, that's typically a sign that your body is preparing itself. I've had a little cramping here and there as well, which the OB said is normal around this timeframe and again - is a sign your body is preparing for what's to come. Other than that, there have been several days recently where I feel what I think* are Braxton Hicks contractions - they tend to take my breathe away for a second and then go away. We both feel like he will be here early, but then again, what do we know!? As excited as we are to meet him, I am hoping my body will start the process naturally when it's ready.  

I think that's pretty much everything there is to report right now. I am planning on trying to take a little time off in January to be present with him and my family, and to adjust to our new life. The only caveat to this job is that it doesn't come with paid time off, or any type of maternity leave, which gives me a little bit of anxiety as I would love to not feel the pressure to work.  But, we will figure it out as we go and I feel confident that my gut will lead me in the right direction when the time comes. 

Is there anything I left out that you'd like to know about!? Planning to write another post on what's in my hospital bag soon - stay tuned. 

Photography: Anchor & Veil
Dress c/o: Sexy Mama Maternity 

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Monday, November 23, 2020

2020 Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers She Actually Wants


Invisibobble Hair Ties | You can never have too many hair ties, and these protect from breakage and creases while also being sweat proof for the gym goer in your life. 

Beautycounter Clean Deoderant Minis | A great option for the clean beauty lover! I just ordered these, and can't wait to try them. The set comes with four mini deodorants so they're easy to split up into stockings if you have more than one stocking to fill. 

Bolt Lips Protective Face Mask | What's more appropriate and practical than an edgy face mask these days?!

Tula Cooling & Brightening Eye Balm | One of Tula's best selling products, and a favorite in my collection. This eye balm hydrates, cools, and helps reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles. I like to apply this before the gym in the morning on a bare face, as well as over my makeup for a subtle highlight. 

Klavuu Lip Sleeping Pack | Hands down the best lip mask on the market and it is currently 30% off with code BRIGHT30 making it $10.50. These sell out quickly! Moisturizes lips long term, and feels silky and smooth upon application. 

Too Faced Lip Injection Plumper | This gloss dramatically increases the look of lip volume.

Tula Beauty Gummy Vitamins | Not only do these taste good, they work! This comes with a two week supply of beauty gummies that support healthy skin, promote hair and nail growth, and include pro/prebiotics to calm bloating. Use code THECHEEKYBEEN for 15% off.

Knee High Butter Socks | The perfect cozy and warm winter gift for relaxing around the house.

Ivory Leopard Face Mask | I get so many compliments on this mask! For under $20 this makes the perfect practical stocking stuffer gift. 

Miracle Face Eraser | An Amazon find and a great gift option for the sustainable one in your life. This cloth washes away a face full of makeup by simply adding water. Rinse, wash, and repeat - making it a more environmentally friendly option than makeup wipes. 

One Step Makeup Remover Wipes | Perfect for the girl on the go! Gentle enough to use on your face and eyes every day, oil and fragrance free, and another clean beauty product. These also provide hydration and are a great starting point for people who aren't regimented with a skincare routine yet.

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