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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Cozy Cardis

I can feel fall creeping in, FINALLY, and that means it's sweater weather! Cozy cardigans are staples in my wardrobe, perfect for the end of summer to fall transition. Cool morning layers peel off for warm afternoons and then go right back on for evenings outside. I've linked up my current faves that I'll be wearing on repeat and styled a zillion different ways. Cozy is the new black!


Monday, August 27, 2018

Breastfeeding Bravely

This post is sponsored by Kindred Bravely. I was compensated in exchange for an honest review. As always, all opinions stated are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible.

If someone told me 3 years ago that I would breastfeed two babies, mostly exclusively, I would have genuinely laughed. I never thought I'd breastfeed at all let alone this much. And actually enjoy it. I fully supported my friends who breastfed before me, never batted an eye at women doing it at the park or at a restaurant, and have always found it to be perfectly normal and natural. I just didn't think it was for me. 

When I was about halfway through my first pregnancy something just changed. I knew without a doubt I was going to try to breastfeed. I still can't tell you why but I like to think it was all part of the plan to prepare me on some level for the way my daughter would arrive into this world. You can read her birth story here, but let's just say it was quite dramatic. I found myself not only willing to breastfeed but desperately wanting to be able to. We struggled hard in the beginning. Every day was a fight but that little voice inside me said to just keep going. After 6 weeks of putting my all into it, Fallon and I found our groove. So much so that she only wanted me from there on out. I fed her with my body alone for the next 13 months when she decided she was ready to move on. 

There is nothing anyone can tell you that will fully prepare you to be a mother or for the journey that is breastfeeding. Each story is so beautifully unique. But so many of us struggle in silence. Breastfeeding is tough! It's natural but does not always come so naturally. You and baby have to learn to dance together, find your very own rhythm. It's a brave thing to do. It's also just as brave to recognize your limits and do what is best for you and your child. Whether you breastfeed exclusively, pump and bottle feed, a combination of both or simply bottle feed with formula, you are brave for following your heart. But if you plan to breastfeed, there are definitely a few ways to help make it the most enjoyable experience possible. 

Get nursing clothing you love. Let me repeat that. Get nursing clothing you love. The first time around I didn't ask around. I didn't buy quality items and I didn't replace them when I realized they weren't very helpful. My second breastfeeding experience has been vastly different from my first. Axton latched immediately after birth and we didn't struggle in those early weeks like I had the first time around. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't easy peasy. There were tears and frustration, a lot of nipple cream and even more persistence. But what a world of difference it made to have a nursing bra I actually like! 

If you've been following along with my story you know that this time around I have talked about only one brand of nursing attire that I actually felt was worth sharing. Kindred Bravely is a company that believes living every day as a mom is an act of bravery. And I whole heartedly agree. So when I was contacted for the post, I jumped at the opportunity to work with a brand that I already loved and want to continue to support. The Marvella Luxe bra is my hands down absolute favorite nursing bra ever. It doesn't even seem like a nursing bra. It's very comfortable and supportive, looks great under all my clothes and easily folds down out of the way with one simple motion. I'm also loving the French Terry Racerback bra to sleep or lounge around in. Comfort is key, especially in those early days and I barely even know I'm wearing this bra, it's so light and soft. And the most versatile piece I own is the Simply Sublime tank. I can sleep it in, throw a cardigan or jacket over it to wear out or wear it underneath not so nursing friendly tops that I may not even wear otherwise. 

Breastfeeding is beautiful. However you do it, wherever you do it. You do you mama. But allow yourself to feel all the feelings that come with it. And don't be afraid to share your struggles! We all need a tribe to support us through those lows and cheer with us during those highs. You do not have to do it alone and whatever you're struggling with, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. 

Make your breastfeeding experience as good as it can be with comfortable nursing wear by Kindred Bravely. You can use code HILARYKB20 for 20% off your first purchase either here or here. We want to hear your story! Share it on Instagram using #breastfeedbravely and tag @hkpfeff523. You are so brave mamas!


Thursday, August 2, 2018

Summer Staples

I know a lot of you have back to school on the brain, but summer is still in full swing around here. And being home all day with two little ones means I've learned exactly what we need to survive these dog days. A good bag is absolutely key to being prepared for all of our summer outings whether we're hitting up the park, the pool or the sunflower fields. I've been loving this oversized carryall that's completely wipeable and fits all of our stuff! And if you know me it's no surprise that I always have one of our favorite play matssunscreen of course and something soft for the baby in there. I linked these and the rest of our summer staples right here for you! 


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Motherhood Unplugged

I love being a mom. I'm grateful for 2 healthy + amazing kids. I fully appreciate how hard my husband works so that I can stay home with them as my full time job. But I'm losing my mind and I've got to tell someone about it.

They say the days are long but the years are short. I'm sure I'll find that to be true sooner than I can imagine. But right now, I'm in the trenches. Navigating daily life with 2 little ones, mostly still fully dependent on me, is kind of like walking through a minefield. One wrong step and the shit is going to hit the fan. I don't know how many times I've looked at the clock and been floored that it's 2PM and I've yet to get dressed, and not by choice. Or realized it's 9PM and the day is somehow over and I have no idea how I spent the last 15 hours. Because they certainly weren't productive and not really all that fun. It sometimes seems like EVERYTHING is a struggle. Simple tasks that would take me 10 minutes to complete take an hour with the constant interruptions. I can't even brush my teeth without stopping! Someone wants to be held, someone is hungry, someone has to go potty (3 dogs!). My to-do list gets so long that I just start taking things off all together, realizing that there will never be time to get them done. 

I constantly find myself facing dilemmas about how to spend my time. Do I have Chris take the kids while I speed through those chores that have been put off for too long or do something as a family? Work or play? Plan an outing that will most likely sacrifice nap time and my sanity or stay home and feel guilty about it? Exercise or relax? Fallon wants me to play cars with her but Axton wants to nurse. The toddler is sleeping and the baby is giggling when I tickle his toes but the bills need to be paid. And when was the last time I shaved my legs?! There are lots of things that can wait, but they cannot wait forever. I just want to shower in peace, remember to make the grocery order before we run out of food, wear something that doesn't double as pajamas more than once a week. 

There are so many things I've given up on trying to accomplish while the kids are awake because they aren't worth the extra time they take and stress they cause. But I have so little time that both kids are asleep it feels like I'm racing the clock and never using the time I do get wisely enough. I feel guilty if I get something done while the kids are both content, because I should be using that time to play with them! But I'm anxious if everything is left until after bedtime, because that means I'll have to choose between getting it done or taking time to relax. I would actually skip lunch if I wasn't breastfeeding simply because it's one more thing on the list.

I spend all this time planning and packing for a fun day out and the stress of actually getting there already has me exhausted. And it's super hard to chase a toddler who fears nothing and apparently also hears nothing (unless she wants to) while wearing a baby. I can't keep him out in the sun + heat too long, climb on the playground or go down the water slide. Yet I also can't just snuggle my teething baby all day, because I have a toddler who needs my attention too. 

My husband works an odd schedule and long hours. I am the head of household. The mom. The maid. The chauffeur. The chef. The accountant. The wanna be photographer + blogger + social media influencer. I found something that allows me to fuel my creative fire and get paid for it, working on my own terms while staying home with my babies. But I can't justify the time I spend doing it if I'm not making a certain amount of money. And the time and effort it takes to make that certain amount of money is often more time than I have. It's a constant struggle for balance that I've yet to achieve.

There isn't currently much of a "we" as in my husband and me. We're a hell of a team but we don't get to spend much time together just 2 of us. He works long overnight hours then comes home to tag in while I clean the house or does yard work or tries to make progress on one of the many unfinished projects we have going on. One of us has to be with the kids while the other accomplishes something, we can never work on anything together. And by the time either of us has finished, we choose to use the remainder of our time together as a family. He often stays up for over 24 hours because napping would take away more time. There are so many times he takes Fallon up to bed on those nights he is home and falls asleep next to her. And I don't have the heart to wake him just to watch TV together. 

When people tell me to soak it all in, this time with my kids so little, I often want to laugh sarcastically. They mean the snuggles in my arms, the little hand pulling mine, the bedtime stories and the sloppy kisses.  But it does give me hope that once I'm out of this stage I will actually look back and miss it. Because it seems like it's pretty easy to forget how incredibly HARD it is. The stress, the frustration, the eat you alive guilt. Sometimes I'm even angry. How am I supposed to enjoy my kids when I'm too busy just trying to meet their needs? It feels like treading water. Survival mode.

I count down till bedtime. I dream of being alone in a quiet room for just long enough to drink my iced coffee before all the ice melts. I pray for patience, for mercy and for forgiveness daily. Sometimes I actually go into a closet to scream.


I get to comfort my kids when they cry. I get to witness their first milestones. I get to put them to bed every night. I know them better than anyone in this entire world. I'm the one who kisses boo boos, sees those sleepy just woke up from a nap smiles, watches them learn new skills and teaches them to be kind. I have the privilege of being with my children as they grow in real time. 

And every night when they are asleep, I miss them. I watch Fallon cuddling snuggled in her bed on the monitor and Ax so cozy in his DockATot beside me. I may be completely exhausted, feeling totally tapped out with scrambled eggs for brains. Yet somehow I feel happy. Fulfilled. I see those sweet, perfect little faces before I close my eyes and all is right in the world. Losing my mind and living my dream all at the same time. Motherhood unplugged. 


Friday, July 20, 2018

DIY Perfume with Essential Oils

When I was pregnant with Fallon I ran out of my favorite perfume. I thought a quick google search would show me where to find the best deal on a new bottle. But that lead to me an article that scared me straight. I had no idea that I was dousing myself daily in a multitude of toxic chemicals. And, this part really gets me, subjecting my unborn baby to all of them as well. Essential oils weren't even on my radar at the time but I felt strongly enough about the research on store bought perfume to ditch mine completely. 

I was always the girl who liked to carry a cloud of scent around me, leave a trail in my wake and imprint on anyone I hugged. So when I started using essential oils I absolutely loved being able to wear scents again without worrying about nasty effects on my body. I've now made several of my own natural, safe perfumes that smell amazing! And the best part is knowing that when my babies snuggle into my neck they are not breathing in harmful chemicals. 

What you need:
4oz glass fine mist spray bottle (like these or this)
3oz vodka
1oz fractionated coconut oil (or other carrier oil)
50-70 drops essential oils

Add the essential oils and carrier oil to the bottle of the spray bottle then top with vodka. Shake to combine then let the oils meld together over the course of a few days and allow the alcohol scent to dissipate. You can leave out the alcohol all together and use witch hazel or just carrier oil in its place. The alcohol just seems to combine the scents much better. I also have a few rollers I've made up to throw in my diaper bag and would be great for traveling. I just use a third of the ingredients. 

Creating your own perfume blends can be a really fun process! Commercial scents are created using base (10-20 drops), middle (20-30 drops) and top notes (10-15 drops) and you can do the same with oils. Use one or several of your favorites from each category to customize a scent that's perfect for you. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Tea for Two: Fallon's Second Birthday

My first born is 2!!! We celebrated our favorite girl with a little twist on the traditional tea party and had so much summer fun. I originally wasn't going to do anything more than have a few of our people over for backyard shenangians but I couldn't stay away from a good theme. The ever so talented and shop Glitter Party Co. created Fallon's beautiful cake topper and custom banner. I found a few more cute decorations on Amazon and then used serving items I already had to set up. And what's a party without a dozen balloons?! The party was at 10AM so we just did some sweet treats to go with the sweet tea lemonade of course. A local bakery made the prettiest sparkly pink donuts, my mom made the cake and we had mini fruit parfaits. I thought it would be fun to do "tea cookies" aka animal crackers dipped in white chocolate with sprinkles and "tea sandwiches" aka mini waffles with frosting. The birthday girl stuffed her face and played her little heart out in the inflatable pool outside before crashing into a much needed nap. I hope every birthday is just as fun!


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Our Oily Summer

And every summer there she is, lotioning, oiling, oiling, lotioning. The perfect quote for this post from one of my very favorite movies for summertime. Oils are always in season but there are so many great ways to use them through the dog days. I thought I'd share how we are using them through the next few months of sunshine, pool days and summer nights outside. 

Bug Spray
I walk outside for 2 seconds and get a bug bite without repellent. Last summer I whipped up a homemade spray and wow did it keep those creepy crawlers away! Mix 1/4 cup witch hazel + 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar + 1 tbsp vodka + 5 drops each Citronella + Clove + Lemongrass + Peppermint + Eucalyptus + Lavender + Tea Tree + Rosemary in an 8oz amber glass bottle.

Mermaid Hair
Healthy, shiny hair is great all year round but summer is the time to rock those beach waves. 1tsp of sea salt + 1tbsp of coconut oil + 10 drops each Lavendar + Rosemary + Cedarwood in a 4oz amber glass bottle. Mist onto damp hair and scrunch in your hands then let air dry. 

Deck Hangs
Summer evenings listening to the crickets sing and watching the sunset are so much more enjoyable when you aren't fending off bugs. You can bring a diffuser outside but a cool hack is to use a fan! Just drop your oils onto clothespins and clip them to the fan. A few drops each of Citronella + Lemongrass + Peppermint will smell amazing to you, not so much to the bugs!

Carpet Refresher
We actually call it carpet sprinkles! Living with 3 cats and 3 dogs means summertime is shedding season and we are constantly vacuuming. We keep a jar of 2 cups baking soda + 10 drops each Purification, Lavender and Lemon to sprinkle on the carpet before vacuuming. It leaves the room smelling so fresh and clean!

Smell amazing without all the chemicals! Add 5 drops each of Geranium + Jade Lemon + White Angelica to a roller bottle and top with fractionated coconut oil. 

After Sun Spray
Cool down and relax after a long day out in the sun with a soothing mist. Mix 5 drops each Eucalyptus + Lavender + Frank and top with equal parts fractionated coconut oil and rosehip oil in a 4oz amber glass bottle. 

Fresh Blooms
Keep your flowers fresh longer with a few drops of Purification added to the vase.

Itchy Spray 
Bug bites, peeling skin and fresh cut grass can make you scratch yourself raw. Keep from clawing with a spray that holds the itchies at bay. 5 drops each Lavender + Tea Tree + Purification topped with fractionated coconut oil in a 4oz amber glass spray bottle. 

Diffuser Blend
Even with the A/C running and the ceiling fans going it can get a little stuffy inside with the midwest humidity cranked up. We love diffusing 3 drops each of Stress Away + Lime + Copaiba. Smells like vacation!

Happy Hour
Margaritas and guac are brought to a whole new level with fresh limes and a few drops of Lime oil. Seriously, you'll never go back!
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