A Simple Guide to Mom Proof Meal Planning

Cooking has always been a struggle for me ya’ll. Until the last year or so, I rarely cooked at home (my poor husband). I have always dreamed of being the mom in the neighborhood with the best cooking. You know, the mom that EVERYONE wanted to come home from college to visit, just so they could get one of her home cooked meals. Yeah, that’s who I want to be. The only problem is, I’m no Giada when it comes to the kitchen. I like to think of myself as more of a Chef Boyardee 😉 I never really cooked much as a kid, and was struck with a slap of reality in college. I made your basic pasta dishes and a mean grilled cheese. But calling myself a ‘great cook’ still seemed so far out of reach. Fast forward 5 years – and before having our daughter, I worked in food service and literally was around food 9+ hours a day. So naturally the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was cook. This led to a lot of eating out, and wasted food in our fridge. It took the birth of our daughter, and becoming a stay at home mom for me to finally embrace my inner chef and really embrace cooking at home. Mainly because of our now one person income, I was forced to strap down in the kitchen. I created the resources I’m about to share with you for myself, and have been using them for the last nine to ten months or so. I have found a system that really works for me and my family, and we have finally found our groove when it comes to cooking at eating at home! I am SO excited to share with you my latest project – A Simple Guide to Mom Proof Meal Planning.

Before we get started, I would like to say this. Every family is different and functions differently, so take from this what you will. I’m going to share the steps and simple tricks that help myself and my family, however they may not work for you and that’s ok! Take these resources and use them however you see fit! I will say, that a lot of what has helped me stay on top of meal planning is keeping everything in one location and easy to access. It does take some work up front. Successful meal planning takes some effort and yes – planning. However if you’re like me, you’re tired of eating out, not knowing what you’re going to eat and wasting food. This system has helped my husband and I so much, I can’t wait to share it! And yes, I’m going to make you scroll all the way to the bottom of the post to find the freebies 😉

Alright, before we get started I just want to share to real pictures with you. Here are two photos of our fridge and pantry, un-edited, not cleaned up, nothing. I just wanted to share with you how a little ambition and staying on top of things can work to your benefit! Our fridge used to always be full of pyrex containers with old yucky leftovers, expired eggs and overall filth! Our pantry was in a constant state of disarray, had little organization, and the shelves were literally overflowing with expired products and old boxes. Since I have started meal planning, Our fridge naturally cleans itself out, we finish all of our leftovers, and the pantry stays at a manageable chaos 🙂

 

The Recipe Box 

So my first tip to successful meal planning is this – find a simple way to store your recipes! For me, that’s a recipe box. A lot of my recipes have came from Pinterest and various cookbooks/magazines, so at dinner time I was always stuck hunting for the right recipe. Ten minutes later, and I’m already cutting into precious cooking time! It takes some time up front, but sit down and convert ALL of your recipes to cards or in a notebook, and store them in one location. If you want to, you can even go all out and alphabetize them – you do you girl!

I found this recipe box in the Target dollar spot (which is where 75% of my house is from) and I am SO glad I found it! I was storing my recipes in a notebook that I kept beside the fridge, but it just wasn’t functional enough for me to pull out and use while I was cooking. This little box is so simple and cute, it will match any of my future kitchens, and it’s small enough to not take up too much precious counter space.

Like any good recipe box should, this one came with several pre-printed recipe cards and dividers. If you can’t find a recipe box with pre-made cards, I gotcha girlfriend 😉 Just hold out to the end of this post! I labeled all the dividers with the appropriate labels for my style of cooking, and boom! One centralized home for all of my recipes.

Here’s a quick glimpse at the recipe card. You can print it on your own index cards, or just print several on one sheet of paper, whatever suits your fancy. I included the prep time and cook time right at the top of the cards, because to me that’s the most important part. Whether you’re looking for something to whip up quick, or you have more time to labor in the kitchen you know what you’re looking for. Step one of our meal plan, complete!

The Master Grocery List

Now I will admit, I’m sort of skipping a step here. In between the recipe box and these lists, I would add in the master grocery list (again, see bottom of this post)! However I have been using this system long enough, I no longer use my master list, and it’s empty 🙂 So I figured it would be useless to include a cute photo of an empty list, so instead I will briefly explain it to you.

The master grocery list is designed as your ‘build to’ list. If you’re newly married, or just moved out on your own, you’re probably still working on building an arsenal of recipes. As you do this, take the time to sit down and write common ingredients together on a list for yourself. You can also add in typical items that you buy weekly like eggs, milk, your favorite cereal etc. Once you have the master list compiled together, you have a basic grocery list outline to shop off of! This is seriously one of the easiest ways to control your spending, help your meal planning, and feel like a total boss in the kitchen. You won’t be walking into the grocery store empty handed, and walk out with a cart full of junk food. The master list will help you nail down your pantry staples, so you always have what you need to cook with on hand! I suggest printing it out and sticking it on your fridge so you see it frequently. That way it is easy to add items to, and easy to remind yourself of what you need to pick up in the store.

The Fridge Fancies

Next up we have the real bread and butter of this meal planning system. I am a visual learner, and an overall visual person. I have to see something and physical write things down if I want them to stick. That is why I decided to create these lists! Now I will also note, these have been MUCH more effective to me as dry erase boards, instead of just printing a new sheet every week and putting them in a binder. The binder gets stuck under a pile of junk and never gets looked at again, you know the drill. So my tip to you is to stick these bad boys up on the fridge where you can see them every day!

So to make these lists super functional, I purchased these simple document frames from Wal-Mart (make sure you get the document ones, that fit an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper) and glued magnets to the back of them. Stick your lists inside and – boom! You have yourself a reusable weekly meal planning and grocery list. Having these front and center on the fridge has been so beneficial to me. I can look and see what we have planned for dinner the next day, and thaw my meat and ingredients accordingly. My husband gets paid bi-weekly, so we go grocery shopping on pay day and try and make the trip last for two weeks at a time. We buy our meat in bulk, freeze the majority of it and thaw it as needed throughout the week. This is where the problem always came up. I would forget to lay meat out the night before, and we wouldn’t have anything to cook by the time we got home from work. Seeing our nightly meals in front of the fridge helps remind me what I need to lay out!

I will also note, take into account the week’s events when it comes to your meal planning. My husband has softball games on Friday nights, so he usually will grab dinner on his way home – meaning we don’t need a meal that night. Taking a few minutes to plan your families meals and events will help save you money in the long run!

Beside of the weekly layout, I also have a re-usable grocery list printed up! This is a serious game changer ya’ll. Meal planner’s exist all over the place, and you can even get cute pre-made ones in Target. But can you find a cute and re-useable grocery list to match? I don’t think so 😉 Keep this wherever it will be easily accessible in your kitchen, and for me that’s right beside the meal planner.

To keep things as functional as possible, this awesome little basket lives underneath my lists. I actually got this several years ago in the school supply section. It’s one of those locker accessories that we all just had to have in middle school – but it also serves a great purpose in my kitchen! I keep a few pens, sharpies and my dry erase markers in it for easy access. And this is where the functionality comes in! As your cooking or snacking throughout the day, when you run out of an item – write it down! Instead of just tossing it in the trash can and forgetting about it, take the extra few seconds, grab your expo marker and add it to your grocery list. When it comes time to grocery shop, your list is ready to go – no more scrambling at the last minute to sort through your shelves and decide what you need. This has been SUCH a huge help to us, and we don’t buy extra items and things we don’t need.

When it comes time to go shopping, you can do one of two things. You can either snap a photo of your list on your phone, and you have your list with you in your pocket! Or if you’re like me and a little extra OCD, you can transfer your list to a traditional paper.

I also will pull out the recipe cards for the week, and place them in the basket as well. Instead of shuffling through my box at dinner time I have everything I need at the tip of my fingers.

The Grocery List

I always have notepads on the side of the fridge, ready for random scribblings and grocery lists. Call me old school, but I somehow shop quicker and more effectively if I have a paper list that I can cross items off of! So when it comes time to go grocery shopping, I simply transfer all the items on my dry erase list onto my notepad.

This is where the OCD really kicks in ya’ll, so bare with me. However I have learned that staying organized and planning ahead is key to saving money when it comes to grocery shopping!

My husband and I do our grocery shopping between Aldi and Wal-Mart. Most things we purchase in Aldi and LOVE, however there are those few things you just can’t skimp on and need the name brand. That’s where Wal-Mart comes in.

So when it comes to fashioning my lists, I start off by going through my recipe box and pulling out anywhere from 10-12 meals for the next two weeks. I’ll write all those meals down on a list, along with some sides, desserts and snacks for us throughout the two weeks. Then on two other lists, I’ll write down what items we need from both grocery stores. I’ll go through the meals I have planned, and make sure we have all necessary ingredients, and add anything if necessary. Ten minutes later, and I have my lists ready to go!

And there you have it ladies and gents, my quick and simple routine when it comes to meal planning. It’s nothing fancy and extremely simple, but I’ve found it works perfect for my family. Below you’ll find a free download for the resources that I use! I left them as plain and simple as I possibly could. They’re neutral so they’ll match any decor, and spacious enough for your own writing. They’re plain enough and you can be as detailed or as simple as you want with them, so I hope you enjoy!

Freebies

Download the Master Grocery List here.

Download the Weekly Grocery List here.

Download the Weekly Meal Planner here.

Download the Recipe Card here.

DIY Pink Lemonade Birthday Party

It was your average Tuesday, and my daughter Emerson and I were on our usual Target run. We went in for diapers, and walked out with $40+ in supplies for her birthday party … that was in three months. That folks, is what the Target Dollar Spot does to a girl. It pulls you in with bright colors and cute patterns, and sucks you dry until your husband won’t let you in Target by yourself anymore. Anyways, that was the day I decided on the theme for my daughters first birthday party – a Pink Lemonade Stand! Now we all know how the Dollar Spot in Target works. The good stuff goes quick, so if you see something you like you have to pick it up quick or it will be gone! I immediately called my husband and asked what he thought, (true story, he’s allergic to lemons :D) and he gave me the go ahead. From then on, it was operation DIY Pink Lemonade Birthday Party!

Several weeks and even more Hobby Lobby trips later, I got to see everything come together. I realize I am totally that mom that may have gone a little overboard, but your child only has one first birthday and I wanted to have beautiful pictures for her to remember it by! I am so pleased with how everything came out, so let’s dig right in to the details! Everything was either purchased from Target’s Dollar Spot, or created on my Cricut Explore Air.

One of my favorite elements of the party was this sweet area we had set up for our guests to sign a keepsake for Emerson. The chalkboard frame and decor came from the Dollar Spot, and I simply wrote a quick little message with a chalk marker. My husband cut up an old palette for me to stain, and fashioned a farmhouse frame for everyone to sign! My Mother-in-Law bought us a sweet frame for our wedding that everyone signed, so I knew I wanted to do something similar for Emerson’s party. I am so pleased with how it turned out!

I really put my Cricut to work for this ya’ll. The fabric pennant banner came from the Dollar Spot, and I cut out everything else with my Cricut! I thought this was the perfect way to display her monthly photos, with a lemon in each corner. I glued each photo and the extra lemons to strands of fishing line and simply tied them to curtain rod – so easy! I was so pleased with how this turned out.

Throughout Emerson’s first year I’ve also been taking photos of her with my Polaroid. I found this cute pink fringe ribbon in you guessed it – the Dollar Spot – and tied it in between our bookshelves for a simple banner. Add a few cute clothespins, and you’re good to go!

Next up we have my favorite part of the whole party, the lemonade bar. Because what’s a lemonade stand without lemonade?! Pretty much everything here came from the Dollar Spot. I absolutely love the treat bags so much, I didn’t even use them to give away 🙂 I simply hung some twine and clipped them on with clothespins!

The handy old Cricut and some vinyl made the cutest personalized beverage dispenser too!

To top off the lemonade bar, these cute paper straws just had to happen. Who can say no when it comes to cute straws? The chalkboard lemon sign was such a sweet addition too! Add a little personalization with a chalk marker, and you have yourself a sweet lemonade bar!

And of course, what’s a party without the cutest scalloped napkins. Target gets me with these every time ya’ll. Every time!

This sweet little station was home to goodie bags for our guests to take home. I made some royal iced sugar cookies (which I am now realizing I never got a photo of) and bagged them up in cellophane treat bags for people to grab on their way out! The ‘one’ balloon topped everything off perfectly!

And next we have the center of attention for most of our photos – the highchair! I knew that I wanted a cute little spot for photos of the birthday girl! For the backdrop, I bought five colorful tablecloths and cut them into about 2 inch strips. We stapled some twine across the archway and tied each strip to the twine. The backdrop came together much easier than I thought it would, and didn’t take too long to assemble!

For the high chair banner, I found a few themed ones on Pinterest that I liked and tried to re-create them. All it took was some cardstock, my Cricut, and some fabric and I was all set! I bought 1/2 a yard of the pink and yellow polka dot fabric and cut them into about one inch strips. After they were all cut, I simply tied them onto the twine, just like the backdrop! I absolutely LOVE how it turned out. We threw a plain white table cloth on top of the high chair as well, to even the colors out for photos (and to protect it from the potential cake flinging 🙂 )

I chose to go very simple on the dining room table, because I wanted to be sure people had enough room for their food! The cute striped table cloth came from the dollar spot, and brightened up the room so well. Then I stuffed a plain cylinder vase with pink and white table cloth, and placed the pinwheels on either side of the vase. Add some little decorations on either side of the vase, and we had a simple and cute centerpiece!

To top everything off, we placed a few decorations on our walkway outside. My Mother-in-Law found the sweet little lemonade stand at Hobby Lobby, and it made the perfect little welcome piece to all of our guests! The yard stakes were a sweet addition as well. All in all, I am so pleased with how Emerson’s first birthday party turned out. Even without all the decorations, we would have had a good time with our friends and family, but I wanted to throw a sweet little party for her that we could look back and show her photos of! We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, let alone the idea of having another child – and she only turns one once! That’s why to me, it was worth all the work and time spent to throw a beautiful birthday party for her. Happy Birthday my sweet babe!

Why a Closet Declutter is Important for your Self Confidence

We’ve all been there. You’re already running late. Your toothbrush is hanging out of your mouth while you sort through hanger after hanger, and you can’t find anything to wear. Everything in your closet either doesn’t fit, or makes you long for your body in college – so you wear the same exact outfit you wore the last seven times you went out. This makes you feel bad about yourself, so when you do put on that outfit that fits, your self image has already plummeted to the floor. That my friend, is how you know it’s time for a closet declutter.

Now I’m going to start this post off with a real sucker punch to the throat for you. If you know me in real life, you know I am petite. I am an overwhelming five feet tall, towering over all the little kids in Target. (You get the picture. I’m tiny.) HOWEVER – It is COMPLETELY possible for petite girls to have issues with their self confidence and body type. Let me say that one more time for the people in the back.

IT IS COMPLETELY POSSIBLE FOR PETITE GIRLS TO HAVE ISSUES WITH THEIR SELF CONFIDENCE AND BODY TYPE.

Alright, I’m going to go off on a little rant before we start to talk about the whole closet declutter thing. If a petite girl goes shopping with her friends, and makes a negative comment about her own body, she likely is immediately met with comments like “oh please, you’re so skinny” or “yeah right, you can wear anything you want!” Now tell me – how is that being a supportive and uplifting friend? Yeah, it’s not. Just because petite girls may not have the same issues as their beautifully curvy friends doesn’t mean shopping for jeans is all unicorns and rainbows. Because let’s be honest – it’s a real shot to your womanhood when you can wear a dress from the girls section in Target.

Anyways – whatever your reason is for dreading getting dressed in the morning, it’s time to tackle it and get rid of it. For me, that means going through your clothes and finally getting rid of those things you’ve been holding on to for three years that “might fit again one day.” I find the easiest way to do this, is to empty out all of the contents of your closet, and go through each piece one by one. As you put items back into your closet, make sure they actually fit your body today – not last year.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment with all your old clothes. You were so much smaller when that cute maxi dress fit, but now it’s more like a tube top on you. Your thighs didn’t rub together when you used to wear that pencil skirt, but now you can’t zip it all the way. That peplum top fit you so well until you started breastfeeding, and then your boobs said otherwise.

Whatever your reason, whatever the memory – get rid of it. It can be so depressing and a huge blow to your self confidence to wake up in the morning and look at the same closet full of clothes that don’t fit anymore. They serve as a constant reminder of what was, instead of what you are today.

Now I am preaching to the choir in this post ya’ll. Like I said earlier, I still am a fairly petite girl, but pregnancy took my body out back, beat it with a stick, and left me with a jiggly mess. I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss my pre-pregnancy body. However I’ve come to love my body the way it is today. My flat stomach is now graced with a beautiful mom pudge that hangs over my pants – and that’s ok. It’s a reminder that my little body GAVE BIRTH to a 7 1/2 pound baby girl. My thighs are much thicker than they used to be and are covered with stretch marks. But that’s ok, because they helped support my ballooning belly for nine months. Because of these things and many others, so many clothes in my collection don’t fit anymore.

Let’s even go beyond the fit of your clothes. Chances are, you aren’t going to wear that sequined tube dress that you always wore on your GNO’s in college. If you’re a working professional now, you probably don’t want to wear that tube top to the office. If you work from home or are a stay at home mom, you may not need quite as many dress slacks and blouses. It’s ok for your style needs to change as your stages in life change. Don’t hold on to pieces just because of the past.

Anyways, every time I got dressed, I would pick out the same cute little tank top and think to myself “maybe today’s the day it will fit.” And every time I was met with the same result. It hugged my belly much tighter than it used to, and it would be impossible to nurse my daughter in. Today I decided to stop being so hard on myself and remove the temptation for those negative thoughts. I purged my closet of all the clothes I’ve been holding on to for the last year and a half that “might fit again one day.”

Now when I open my closet doors, I am met with satisfaction. I can see all the pieces in my wardrobe that fit my body today, not tomorrow, TODAY. Is my wardrobe as large as I would like it to be? Of course not. I will hopefully add new pieces to my collection over time. And that’s ok! Our wardrobes should be like our stages in life, constantly changing and evolving to keep up with one another. Don’t let your closet become a place of despair and harsh thoughts. I challenge you to go home, declutter your closet and leave yourself with a little bit of happiness when you get dressed in the mornings.

PS – anyone else find the number of Target hangers in their closet disgusting? 😀

 

A Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mothers day gift guide

Alright friends, Mother’s Day is only a week and a half away! We’ve all graduated from the days of macaroni necklaces and artwork with our handprints. It’s time to step it up and get mom a gift she’ll truly love! If you’re still wondering what to get your momma, look no further. I’ve rounded up some of my most favorite things that would make a beautiful gift for mom! Consider this your one stop shop for the perfect Mother’s Day gift!

Lisa Leonard Stackable Rings

Lisa Leonard Jewelry

Ya’ll. You if your momma wears jewelry, you can just stop right here – you’ve found your gift! At $59, this beautiful hand stamped sterling silver ring is a real winner. You can choose from a variety of metals, and they are fully customizable! My husband got me this sweet ring with our daughter’s name on it, and besides my wedding ring it’s the only jewelry I wear every day. You could even have your siblings pitch in, and get your mom a ring with each of your names since they’re stackable! These are seriously so so sweet and I can’t say enough good things about them. If mom isn’t a fan of rings, they also have custom necklaces and bracelets to choose from as well! Shop the rings here.

Custom Watercolor Family Portrait

Watercolor Photo

These portraits are absolutely perfect for the momma that loves her family photos. If I had to pick one item off this list, this would be the one. If you’re mom is anything like me, they likely have photos throughout the entire house. (I even have photos in our guest bathroom. No shame). So instead of getting another enlargement framed, why not get a beautiful watercolor portrait made of her favorite photo? Aubrey at September Ocean creates the most simple, beautiful pieces from any photo you like. You can choose either a 4×6, 5×7, or 8×10 print size and the prices depends on how many are in the photo. She’s even running a special promotion for Mother’s Day, and offering 20% off her whole site! Head over to her instagram page to check out her work, you won’t be sorry!

A Beautiful New Cookbook

Magnolia table cookbook

Let’s be real. Even if your mom doesn’t like to cook, this cookbook would look gorgeous just sitting on display in her kitchen. The Gaines empire has done it again, and Joanna has released a beautiful cookbook full of yummy recipes (and I’m secretly hoping this is my Mother’s Day gift 🙂 .) Also – does anyone else feel like they could just sit down with Joanna, eat her yummy biscuits and jam, and instantly become BFFs? Or is that just me 🙈. Seriously though, everything about this book is beautiful. It’s crafted well, looks and feels beautiful, it’s easy to follow along with, the pictures are descriptive and the recipes are to die for.  I know lot’s of momma’s that would love to receive this as a gift!

A Sweet Mug

coffee mug

Like usual, Target knocks it out of the park when it comes to those cute and trendy coffee mugs you see all over instagram. In store right now they have so many sweet momma themed coffee mugs! If your momma is a coffee lover, pick one of these up and fill it with some sweet treats for her. Maybe some fancy chocolate, her favorite coffee, hot cocoa, whatever! If you’re looking to make it a bigger gift, why not pair it with a new coffee maker?

Mommy & Me Tees

Mommy and me clothes

Matching Mommy + Me tees are such a cute trend right now, and Ooby Dooby Baby is such a sweet little shop to get them! I’m all about supporting small businesses and ‘mompreneurs’ (if you can’t already tell) so I would be amiss if I left this awesome company out. Their sizes range from newborn to adult and everything in-between, and every style can be found in every size. Their t-shirts are even unisex, so dad can match too!

That’s all I have for you today folks! Whatever you end up getting for your mom, she’ll love it anyways because that’s what mom’s do. Spend the day together and make memories!

Your Self Image as a New Mom

The Duchess of Cambridge has done it again, and gifted the world with another beautiful baby heir to the Royal throne. Here in America, we are so drawn to British culture and find ourselves counting down the days to Royal events. The addition of a sweet baby boy to the Royal family is no different.

While watching the Today show this morning, coverage of “baby watch” had begun when Prince Charles and the Duchess were spotted on their way to the hospital. It would be a matter of hours until the little royal’s arrival! Here’s the kicker. Hours later, the Royal hairdresser was spotted entering the Hospital – which meant the baby had arrived. Not long after the hairdresser’s arrival, the Prince and Duchess of Cambridge made their first appearance on the hospital stoop, announcing the arrival of their new baby boy. This was a mere seven hours after she had given birth to an 8 1/2 pound baby. And. Kate. Was. Stunning.

Of course she was stunning. She had her own personal hairdresser tend to her after giving birth. Heck, I don’t even think I brushed my hair until I had been home from the hospital for three days. This is where, as a blogger, I get to be a little sassy and share my opinion.

Now I am fully aware that the Royal culture is in a league of it’s own, and there are many rules and traditions to follow. And I applaud the Duchess for doing so in such a graceful manner. But let’s get real for a second and talk to each other, mum to mum. Can you imagine getting dolled up and addressing an entire Nation (or really world) just hours after giving birth? Forget an entire Nation. Even just your visitors in the hospital.

For the superhuman strong women that labored in a face full of makeup and hair extensions, I give you a standing ovation girl. For the women that don’t touch a tube of mascara for weeks after having a baby, I raise my mug of cold coffee to you. The expectations we place on ourselves and other women during the postpartum weeks are absolutely absurd. We scroll through instagram and see our friends posts from the hospital or birthing center, and their faces are glowing with the perfect highlight and their lashes are curled to perfection. Me? The only glow I had going on came from the happiness of my epidural, and my lashes were crusty with three day old mascara.

That is the reality of postpartum life, and it is beautiful. Yes, the day will come when we find our new normal and remember how to apply winged eyeliner (it’s like riding a bike, you never really forget). But until that day comes, soak it all up and love yourself. Love your bare skinned face and greasy mom bun. Because from here on out, your priorities have shifted.

Your tiny little newborn will only be this small for just a few weeks. That sweet newborn smell will quickly be replaced by the smell of poop and smushed bananas. And the best part is? That squishy little newborn is going to love you with or without mascara. You are their world right now. You are their source of nourishment, love and affection. Those first few weeks are so crucial to building that sweet mommy baby bond, and it is so hard to not let anything get in the way. But I’m here to simply say this. You are beautiful mama. You just gave life to a sweet little babe, and you have just risen to a whole new level of beauty. Don’t let your surroundings set the standard for your happiness. Be patient with yourself and let yourself heal. If I had to guess, there is no Royal press awaiting your arrival, so just embrace the moment and learn to be comfortable in your mommyhood.

Babies First Easter Basket

Let’s be honest guys. Every first holiday with a new baby is so exciting – but it’s really for us, the parents. There is no way our little ones will remember their first holidays, and maybe even the second or third ones. Now this is where I feel conflicted. We want those sweet photos of our babies first Christmas surrounded by presents wrapped in pretty paper. We want cute spring pictures of our little one sitting next to their first Easter basket – but they’re less than 12 months old. What in the world do they need? This Easter, I’m doing my best to create a cute and practical Babies first Easter basket for my daughter!

The Basket

Let’s start with the basket itself, and where better to look for one than our faithful motherland Target.

If you want a traditional wicker Easter basket, I think these are absolutely adorable. Target has so many different baskets to choose from this year, but I love the simplicity of this one! It has a very Pottery Barn feel with the added monogrammed liner. My husband and I wanted to buy a nice basket that we could use for as long as possible with our daughter, and I just think this one is so sweet and timeless! It will definitely be used for the years to come. You can find the basket and liner here.

If you want more of a trendy basket, I absolutely love this rustic wire one. It’s smaller in size than the wicker, but sometimes that can be better! It all depends on how full you want your basket to look. We won’t be using this one as our daughter’s basket, but it makes the perfect centerpiece on our table!

The Goodies Inside

Now comes the hard part. You don’t want to waste tons of money on things your baby won’t use, so what in the world do you put in their first Easter basket? They’re too young for chocolate eggs and can’t appreciate a good Easter Egg Hunt, so you’re stumped. Well let’s get creative! Think of some things your baby needs now, and might need in the coming months.

Books

No matter your babies age, books are the perfect big items to put in your little babes basket. My daughter will be 7 months old this Easter, so these thick board books will be perfect for her chunky little fingers.They’re all Spring and Easter themed as well, so they’re the perfect addition!

Socks

Now I know. This totally makes me the uncool practical mom, but oh well! Socks get eaten in the dryer and left behind in grocery stores – babes can never have to many. This sweet little socks are in fresh springy colors, and will fit my daughter through Spring and into Summer!

Something Educational

I’m totally that mom who is convinced her child will be the next Albert Einstein, so I am always up for the opportunity to teach my little one – even when she’s still little! Target has these sweet little flash cards in their Dollar Spot right now, and I thought they’d be absolutely perfect.

Food Food Food

Since my little can’t eat Cadbury Eggs yet (my favorite), we’re tossing some of her favorite food into her Easter basket. She absolutely loves all of these puree blends from Happy Family Foods. I picked out a few of her favorites, and she’ll probably eat one for lunch Easter Sunday 🙂

And there you have it! A quick and easy to put together babies first Easter basket. Will my daughter remember what was in it? Absolutely not. But she will have some sweet photos to look back on of her first Easter!

What about you? Did you make an Easter basket for your babies first Easter? What did you choose to include?

How to Build a Postpartum Recovery Kit

Ah, the necessary evil of postpartum recovery!

If you’re here you either

A – Just gave birth

B- Are preparing to give birth

C – Are one of the 7 people that read my previous post about my Postpartum Survival Guide

Either way, hello! And I’m glad you’re here. You’re either about to or are currently embarking upon those early days of motherhood. If you’d like some more tips and tricks on postpartum healing that aren’t super gory, check out the aforementioned blog post. If you want the nitty gritty, gloves off, how am I supposed to pee details of postpartum recovery, keep reading.

*Disclaimer* The following can get a little hairy and TMI, you have been warned.

If you had a C-section, I’m sure there are a few things you can add or omit from this kit, a few of these items solely will help vaginal birth recovery.

Anyways. Ya’ll. No one can prepare you for recovering from a vaginal birth, you just have to go through it yourself. I highly highly recommend you educate yourself as much as possible about what happens to your body postpartum. So much of our pregnancies are spent getting prenatal care, and while that is necessary, I don’t think we place enough stress on postnatal care. Your body is stretched and pushed to limits it never has before, and it’s going to take a while for things to get back to normal – and that’s ok! It only makes sense – it took 9 months for you body to get into the shape it’s in now. It’s not going to get back to normal overnight, or even in a month for that matter.

To help you along the way, here a few things I think are essential to help your downstairs heal as quickly and easily as possible.

First, go to Target and get yourself a cute little basket to fit in your bathroom, and fill it with the following goodies.

Tucks Pads. Tucks Pads. Tucks Pads.

I was a naive little girl and thought to myself “It can’t be that bad, I’m not going to spend my money on those.” WRONG. SO WRONG. I tore pretty badly in two places, and tucks pads were my best friend. I didn’t have any prior to giving birth, so needless to say we stopped on our way home from the hospital to pick some up. I think by the end of it all, I went through at least 4 jars of them. There are tons of posts about creating your own tucks pads and keeping them in the freezer, but let me tell you. The absolute last thing on my mind was pouring witch hazel and aloe on a pad, and sticking it in the freezer. I was more than happy to spend $5 on that little jar of relief.

Your Handy Dandy Peri Bottle

The hospital will more than likely give you one during your stay and let you take it home. If not, be sure to buy one and treasure it – keep it close to your heart.  Before every bathroom trip, fill it up with warm water and your potty breaks will be so much easier. Be sure to keep it clean and germ free, you don’t need to expose your already sensitive parts to more bacteria!

Baby Wipes

Steal a pack of wipes from your little ones nursery, and keep them in your basket. It can take a few weeks for things to calm down in the blood department and toilet paper will not be your friend for a while. Baby wipes may not even be your friend for a while to be honest. You can however use them to clean surrounding areas, and freshen up in between showers.

Super Soaker XL Pads

Whether you choose to use disposable underwear or regular pads, stock up on them. Buy what you think you will need, and they buy one more box. It’s also important to note, many women find the material of their pads to be very important. Soft cotton materials are much more sensitive on your lady parts, and tend to tug less if you have any stitches. I usually use Always pads, but after having my daughter I switched to Kotex ones. I found them to be much softer and was never afraid of them getting stuck *ouch*.

Granny Pannies

You know what I’m talking about. That pack of bright pink and purple Fruit of the Loom underwear your mom used to buy from Wal-Mart? Girl, go get you some. Personally, I’d buy them a size up from what you usually wear. Things are swollen, you’re stuffing them with pads and tucks pads, you’ll want the extra room. And if they get sacrificed to the postpartum war gods, you won’t feel bad about throwing them away.

Keep all of these items on your bathroom counter, right beside the toilet within arms reach. You may be like me and think you won’t need any of the items, and while that may be true, I bet you’ll benefit from at least one of them. It is so much nicer if you’re already stocked at home instead of sending your husband out to the feminine care aisle. In the meantime, I promise – you will pee like a normal human again. But until then, keep your arsenal stocked.

Alright momma, go forth and raise you babies. We are all in this motherhood thing together, and know that I am here for you! Motherhood is a crazy ride, and we need to grab our fellow moms and hold tight. Let’s get to know each other! Share your childbirth stories below!

A Millenial Mom’s Postpartum Survival Guide

*This post is rated PG-13 for graphic real life content and tons of TMI’s. You have been warned.*Congratulations! That sweet little bundle of joy you have been oh so anxiously waiting for has finally arrived after nine long months. You are on cloud nine, pure bliss, nothing can kill the natural high you are experiencing. Until you’re discharged from the hospital and on your own. You walk (more like waddle) into your living room and are suddenly hit with the reality of postpartum. Not only are you now responsible for keeping that tiny little squish alive, but your body is recovering from one of the most grueling experiences it can go through. The emotional aspects of postpartum recovery can be even more taxing than the physical ones, but we’re going to save those for another post. In order to make your postpartum recovery as easy as possible, here are a few things you should have in your arsenal before coming home from the hospital.

An Extension Cord

Even if you are lucky enough to be able to sleep in your bed at first, you’re probably going to be spending a good amount of time in your living room. And if you’re living room is anything like mine, outlets are placed in the most inconvenient places possible. To keep from having to awkwardly bend over while your phone is charging, do yourself a favor and have an extension cord ready for action.

The Big Comfy Couch

No, not the classic 90s TV show with Lunette and Molly. A pillow fort worthy couch. If you’re a super human woman, ignore this one. My tiny 5 foot nothing body birthed a 7 1/2 pound baby – AKA – I stretched and swelled up in places I didn’t know were possible. Add this to our humongous bed frame that comes up to my chest – and I couldn’t even think about launching myself into bed. My husband and I camped out on the couch for the first 5 or 6 days we were home with Em because I literally couldn’t get up into the bed. I made sure to cover the couch with blankets I didn’t mind ruining, and propped up with lots of comfy pillows. Em slept in her pack n play right in the middle of our sectional, and I was SO much comfier.

A Warzone Kit for your Bathroom

I feel that this is so important – I dedicated an entire post to creating your warzone kit. Whether you deliver vaginally, or have a C-Section, you likely have a long and uncomfortable road to recovery ahead of you. Within my first few days home after having my daughter, I had accumulated several staple items that I just left in a pile on my bathroom counter. Check out my post here to find out what I kept at arms reach.

A Cute Reusable Cup

It is no secret that breastfeeding can be incredibly difficult. In those early days it’s best you stay as hydrated as you can, and replenish your body! Personally, I found that the reusable cups with lids and straws worked perfect for me. I would rotate between two, constantly filling and refilling them with water and juice throughout the day. Keep it sitting beside you at all times, and let it be a constant reminder to you to stay hydrated!

Drugs and a Timer/Alarm

Don’t be like me ya’ll. Fill that prescription for your extra strength pain killers, and buy a bottle of laxatives. Even if you don’t end up using them, it’s better to have them on hand instead of wishing you did. I cannot stress the laxatives enough. When you think you’re finally back to normal and don’t need them anymore – keep taking them for another day or so. Your booty will thank you. Keep whatever medicine you’re taking on your coffee table, and set a timer on your phone to remind you of your next doses.

 

Now I know what you’re thinking. If you haven’t had children yet, or are expecting your first, you’re probably terrified. Recovering from childbirth may be one of the most uncomfortably difficult things you go through, but I promise you will get through it. I’m simply sharing these things with you in hopes of making your transition into motherhood a little easier!

What was one item you couldn’t live without those first few weeks after giving birth?

5 Things You Don’t Know About Miscarriages Until You Have One

Three things you aren’t supposed to talk about at the dinner table: Church, politics, and miscarriages. Wait, what … miscarriages? You’re not crazy, I said miscarriages. Even more taboo – miscarriage recovery.

The conversation topic of miscarriage seems to be right up there with politics – it’s a topic that almost never is brought up, and when it is it’s in hushed tones. Miscarriages aren’t necessarily a controversial topic, they’re a sensitive one. 1 in 4 pregnancies today end in miscarriage. To put it in perspective, think of your 3 closest girlfriends. 1 of the 4 of you are likely to have a miscarriage – if someone hasn’t already.

So if miscarriages are so common today, why does the room fall silent when we bring them up? I’m writing to you today to do my part in starting the conversation. Miscarriages are tough, emotionally and physically draining, disheartening and stressful.  My husband and I miscarried our first child in the Summer of 2015, and the rest of that year was the roughest of my life. I would have loved to have found a post like this one during that time, so I’m writing to you in hopes of helping YOU. Whether you’ve gone through one yourself, or you’re trying to help a friend, let’s talk about it.

You Probably Already Know Someone that Has Had a Miscarriage

Since miscarriage rates are so high today, I would almost guarantee that someone you know has gone through a miscarriage – you just don’t know it. My husband and I chose not to “go public” with our miscarriage, and just shared the news with our close family and friends. We hadn’t publicly shared the pregnancy, so it wasn’t too difficult. Once we shared the news, it’s like people started coming out of the wood works. So many sweet ladies texted, sent messages and offered a listening ear – because they had gone through the same thing. They shared their experiences with us so graciously, letting us see a deep part of their heart that few other people had seen. My husband and I were absolutely dumbfounded with the number of friends that had experienced loss, and had we not gone through it ourselves we probably would have never known. My advice to you, is just to simply listen to those who have gone through this before you. Whether or not you take anything from their kind words, you are likely helping them heal too. If you do find healing in sharing experiences with another women, then that is absolutely wonderful! Find your “people” and hold them close. However if you don’t find comfort in them, that’s ok too.

Everyone Heals Differently

I’m not talking about the physical healing – we will get there in a second. I’m talking emotional healing. Losing a child you never saw takes a toll on your emotional well being. But just like every other human emotion, every person is going to handle this situation differently. Some people may curl up and not leave the house for several days. For others, they may get right back up and jump right back into daily life to distract themselves. I’m not here to tell you how to heal and how not to. I will just say to do whatever you feel is right. And if something feels right one day, but not the next – that’s ok too. There will be people with the best of intentions, trying to help you and tell you how to feel better. That is what we do when our friends experience hardships, isn’t it? We offer kind words, meals and prayers, and a shoulder to lean on. Accept everything your friends have to offer, and let them know you appreciate them. 

You’re Not Done With the Doctor Just Yet

Ah yes, now for the physical healing. So if you’re like me, you hate going to the doctor already. Well let me tell you, you’re about to hate it a little more. After that initial visit to confirm your miscarriage – you have to keep going back to get your blood drawn – and that’s if everything happens naturally. Some women have to have an outpatient procedure to ensure their body fully heals and recovers from the miscarriage. Thankfully I did not have to have a procedure, but I was still miserable. Now of course, your recovery time is going to vary based on your body, and how far along the in the pregnancy you were – but the follow up process sucks just the same.

Doctors like to see your HCG levels return to a normal pre-pregnancy level, which means you have to tote your miserable self to the doctor once a week until you get the doctor’s ok. I myself wasn’t terribly far along, but it took 9 weeks for my HCG levels to return to normal. 9 weeks of a painful reminder of loss. As if getting blood work done isn’t miserable enough, the simple fact of why you’re in the doctor’s office is enough to take a toll on a girl. If I were you, I would try and take a friend or spouse with you to each appointment. You won’t feel as lonely in the waiting room, and they can help you take your mind off things. Personally, I think it’s much easier for that emotional healing to begin after this is over.

You May See a Side of Your Significant Other that You’ve Never Seen Before

Now yes, I realize everyone is different and grieves differently. I feel like I’m beating a dead horse with this. But everyone’s relationships function differently, and they handle stress in their own ways. However at least some sort of grieving happens – even if it’s completely hidden. Women are typically very up front with their emotions, while the men take the backseat and grieve internally.

And this is why Husband’s deserve an Olympic medal in this situation. They provide emotional support all while dealing with their own emotions. I’m not saying that women are not supportive to their spouse in tough situations. I’m not saying women are such an emotional mess that they can’t function without their partner. I’m just saying that in any sort of emotional distress, women often turn to their spouses for guidance and support.

For my husband and I, our miscarriage was the first emotionally draining experience our marriage had been exposed to – and I saw a side of him I had never seen before. The idea of fatherhood already had him on cloud nine and it was quickly ripped out from under him. He was vulnerable, hurting, and dealing with loss like I had never seen before. Thankfully we were both there for each other, and understood each others needs during that season. There were many nights we fell asleep sharing our hearts, in a vulnerable way like never before. But that is the beauty of marriage – for better or for worse.

If You Get Pregnant Again, it May Be Scary

Just kidding – it WILL be scary. I would be lying if I said pregnancy after loss is all sunshine and rainbows. Pregnancy alone is such a roller coaster of feelings and emotions. But pregnancy after loss? You haven’t even tapped into your emotional range until you’ve been through that.

On one side, you are absolutely elated about being pregnant again. On the other side, your mind immediately sends you back to those thoughts and fears of miscarriage. You will look forward to every single doctor’s appointment, simply because it will give you reassurance that everything is ok. I would like to tell you that the feeling goes away as your pregnancy progresses – but again, that would be a lie. It really won’t go away until you’re in the labor and delivery room and that baby is placed in your arms. All I can say is try and find peace. It’s so hard, but don’t live in fear of what may happen. Enjoy every single day that sweet little life grows inside you.

All in all, miscarriage is something that I wish my husband and I had never gone through. So many women in the world have gone through it without having the support of a loving spouse and family like we did. Some women experience multiple miscarriages, each one bringing new scars and emotions. I’m just hear to tell you that you are not alone, it’s ok to grieve, and if you have a relationship with our Lord and Savior – you WILL have the pleasure of meeting your sweet angel one day! If you or a loved one has been through a miscarriage, feel free to share your story below.