Thankful Thursday: Motivation, Family, Happiness, and Songs

By bri {

It’s about time to start reinstating Thankful Thursday around here.

I keep meaning to post my daily gratitudes on Facebook, but since I try not to be on my phone when I’m around my girls, it’s been difficult.

It’s been surprisingly difficult to keep with this 21-Day No Junk Food challenge that JT and I have been doing. I knew it would be hard, but when I came into work on Monday and saw homemade baklava from my co-worker… I realized that it was going to be darn near impossible.

You don’t realize how addicted to sweets you are until you give them up for a few days.

Speaking of sweet… JT and I had our first Date Day in awhile this weekend:

thankful thursday | All's Fair in Love and Words

Don’t we look so… kid free? LOL!





  • For a husband who supports and joins me in bettering myself.
    I think it would be pretty impossible to be successful in achieving my goals if my partner wasn’t 100% supportive. Though his “goals list” is never nearly as long as mine, he still has one and he supports every single random goal I come up with. He pushes me if I need it and understands when I don’t quite reach them.
  • For a family that loves my children as much as I do.
    And that my girls love them just as much as they love me. Maybe more. This makes me feel nearly guilt-free going to work every day, knowing that my sister or parents are taking care of my girls. I love that they have such deep connections to them. I love that my neices and nephew all play with the girls even though they are quite a bit younger than them. I love that the girls have two sets of grandparents who spoil them and adore them. I can’t think of anything better that I could possibly give my girls than having such a strong, stable foundation in family.
  • That Roree has been bonding with JT’s parents more and more as she gets older.
    It makes me so happy to see how happy my girls are when they are around their Granny and Grampa, and vice versa. They get them the best gifts and are willing to share fun and memorable experiences with them. They travel to see the girls all the time, even though it is a bit of a distance and despite health issues. It takes a very long time for Roree to warm up to people, even if she sees them semi-regularly, and lately, it has taken her less and less time to warm up to them when they visit. She even asks to leave with them.
  • For a sweet, smiley, happy, if drooly, baby girl.
    I can’t even tell you how much I am loving Violet at 4 months old. She smiles and laughs all the time. She is so sweet and cuddly, yet independent. She’s strong and smart. I love that I get to wear a little baby again, hold her sweet sleeping body, bond by nursing her…all the things that entice women to crave having more babies! This is my last little one, so I am savoring evey moment.
  • For early morning songs in the car on the way to RiRi’s house.
    A tradition that I’ve had for awhile is to sing in the car to Roree on the way to dropping her off at RiRi’s house before I go to work. I sang to her when she was too little to sing along, but now that she can, the drive is even more fun. Violet sits and listens as Roree and I sing. I hope these are the memories that will stay with her as she gets older. Yes, I may have been gone a lot working, but when we were together, I hope she remembers how much fun we have.

What are you grateful for this week?

The Sisters Meet: Violet’s Birth Story Part 2

By bri {

The Sisters Meet | All's Fair in Love and Words

Violet was born at 6:42am and less than an hour later, Roree saw her new baby sister.

I was a little nervous when Roree first met Violet because Violet was nursing when my dad brought in Roree. I’m pretty sure both of my sisters and mom were nervous as well because we all knew how much Roree loves nursing. She covets her boo :).

I think Roree was a little confused when she saw me nursing Violet. She looked at her with WTF written all over her face, but my mom geniously said, “Look, Roree! Your baby is here! Do you want to hold her?”

Roree’s face lit up.

The Sisters Meet | All's Fair in Love and Words

She had a real, live baby doll to play with and hold. Of course she agreed to holding her.

And so, for the first time, with Roree in my lap, she held her baby sister. Or Roree’s baby as we all told her.

It was surreal to have them both there, in my arms.

After Roree held her, Violet was passed around as I nursed Roree in the hospital bed where I just had Violet.

My brother came with my niece shortly after and everyone was sure to pay Roree just as much attention as Violet was getting.

Roree went back home with my parents soon after and my siblings went home, likely to get some sleep.

The Sisters Meet | All's Fair in Love and Words

The next couple of days JT and I stayed at the hospital – as long as they let us – with Violet. It was our time to bond with just her for awhile.

Roree visited every day, but only for an hour or so at a time. She was perfectly happy spending time with Pop Pop and Grandma.

The days at the hospital were a lot less scary with Violet than they were with Roree.

The Sisters Meet | All's Fair in Love and Words

I wasn’t as worried about getting Violet’s latch right, even though it actually took longer to get it corrected than it did with Roree. I had a lot more confidence in breastfeeding this time.

Roree was a spitter from Day One and it freaked me out the first time she spit up amniotic fluid. I remember freaking out and asking the nurses if it was normal. Violet didn’t spit up at all the first few days.

Roree slept a lot more than Violet did and Roree also was really hard to wake up to nurse. Violet nursed NON-STOP every hour for 40+ minutes all day for the first few days (except for a few occasions where she slept for 2 hours), giving me only 10-20 mins between sessions.

This also didn’t worry me because I knew that she was getting enough milk and that her nursing sessions would shorten and lessen as she got better and better at it. And they did.

I co-slept with Violet from the very first night. Mostly because she nursed so often, it was pointless to put her in the bassinet. Roree, however, slept fine in the bassinet.

Despite this, I slept way better with Violet the first several weeks than I did with Roree. Why? Co-sleeping.

I would wake every 2 hours to change Roree’s diaper and nurse her, then burp her, then put her back to sleep, getting only 40 or so minutes straight of sleep at a time since I woke fully and sat up to nurse her.

With Violet, aside from the first couple of days when her days and nights were mixed up, I co-slept with her and side-lay nursed her, barely waking myself as she nursed.

There is definitely a big difference between the two, yet enough the same that I feel like I have my feet under me a little more.

Having two children is a whole new ballgame (and a whole different post topic), it is both what I expected and nothing like my expectations, but either way I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Toddler Color Bingo – Free Printable!

By bri {

Toddler Color Bingo - Free Printable! | All's Fair in Love and Words

Roree absolutely loves printable puzzles and workbooks, so I’ve been creating little puzzles for her to play with lately.

My in-laws gave me a laminator for Christmas this year for this very reason.

Needless to say I’ve been laminating all the things.

Recently, Roree sprained her ankle and hasn’t moved from the couch much, so puzzles and games have been a life-saver.

In an effort to come up with things for her to do while sitting, I decided to try out an easy Bingo game that helped her with her colors.

And thus, Toddler Color Bingo was born.

Toddler Color Bingo - Free Printable! | All's Fair in Love and Words

This game goes quickly for short toddler attention spans, it is easy for toddlers who are learning their colors to do and get familiar with the words, and toddlers can even call out the colors while others play or just play themselves.

The first time Roree played, I wasn’t sure if she would get the hang of it right away, but she totally did!

The rules for Toddler Color Bingo is similar to those of regular Bingo: To win, you must get a single row filled first (horizontally or vertically).

What I’ve provided you with here, are 4 Bingo cards that can be printed on 2 sheets of paper.

One of them you can cut up into tokens to be used to call out the colors (or you can print an extra page for this, if you want 4 total Bingo cards).

I laminated mine, but you definitely do not have to.

The only thing you need is a pair of scissors and some sort of Bingo tokens to put on top of the colors that are called.

We used glass stones (or “Dragon Tears”) from the dollar store.

To store the game, I simply put them in plastic bags. I keep our Dragon Tears in a pickle jar (Roree likes to pour them out and drop them back in because she likes the noise it makes.)

Toddler Color Bingo - Free Printable! | All's Fair in Love and Words

Download the free printable here.




What are some of your favorite toddler games?

Welcome to 2015: New Year’s Resolutions

By bri {

There is something exciting about the first of the year and implementing New Year’s Resolutions.

I’m a total list-maker and goal-setter, so this is the perfect time for me to implement goals that have been slowly coming together in my head over the past few months.

It is the perfect boost for me to get things together and do what I’ve been intending to do all along.


I always separate my goals into the following categories:










This helps me figure out and organize my priorities and goals.


Here is an example of some of my resolutions and how I’m keeping myself accountable:


  • Meditate every day for at least 5 minutes
  • Read at least one book a month


  • Cut out the junk, up the good stuff, exercise, drink more water


  • Read or write in journal every night

If you are religious, this is a great place to add your religious goals.


  • Spend quality one-on-one time with the girls. No phones!


  • Have date nights with JT at least once a month
  • Focus time on fostering important friendships


  • Blog regularly
  • Create printables


I’m actually doing a version of the debt snowball. I made a list of our debt and put it in order based on total owed and interest rate and will be paying a little extra each month toward it.


  • Make and maintain cleaning schedule
  • Get rid of 1 grocery bag full of stuff per week for at least a month (donate, sell or throw away)


Obviously you would flesh these out a little more, but for list-making sake, this is the first tier.

For a long time, before babies came and took over my free time, I kept a journal specifically for goals. I would write in it every morning with updates about my progress. That is far less feasible these days, so instead, for accountability, JT and I have our goals posted on the refrigerator.

Though I have a perfectly good bulletin board in my office, it made more sense to put the printouts on the fridge since we see it every day.

There is no avoiding it.

I scoured Pinterest for printables that I could use and I came across this fantastic one from My Love for Words.


I love how you get to check off the box for every day that you reach your goal. It is really motivating!

I also used this as our “cleaning” checklist and customized it a bit for things that are only done a few times a month by simply highlighting the days. I also added week days above each day of the month to help with weekly and bi-weekly items.

Since work out time is extremely limited due to both of us working full time and wanting to spend as much of our at-home time with the kids, we decided to start doing some of the Fitness Challenges on Pinterest.

We chose two for this month, printed them out and hung them on the fridge. Every day that we complete the challenges, we can cross them off.

These are the challenges we chose:

  1. Easy Push Up Challenge
  2. Abs and Squat Challenge

These only take a few minutes, and we can do it in the same room as our kiddos, so no time is lost with them.

We also plan on going on bike rides more often, and I plan on continuing attending FITDance classes twice a week while wearing Violet. Again, time still spent with my kiddos while they are young.

Right now my “body” goals focus more on eating right than working out because my kids are so young and I want to spend as much time with them as possible, which means altering work outs to when we can do them with the little ones with us.

One thing I couldn’t find a good print out for was my one book a month reading goal, so I decided to design and print my own.

A Book a Month Free Printable | All's Fair in Love and Words

It’s super cute, simple and just what I need. Download the printable here for free. :)


So, those are my resolutions and how I plan on keeping up with them. Hopefully it works. I’ll let you know next year ;)




What are your New Year’s Resolutions?


A Book A Month Goal Sheet – Free Printable!

By bri {

A Book a Month Free Printable | All's Fair in Love and Words

Gone are the days in which I could devour 3-4 books in a week.

Now, I’m lucky if I finish 3-4 books in a year with 2 small kiddos and a full time job.

But that is going to change, my friends!

One of my New Years resolutions is to slowly hack away at my ever-growing To Read list – I seriously have an entire room in my house full of book shelves containing books that I need to read. That doesn’t include my 21-page Amazon Wish List, either.

Let’s not talk about how if I only read 12 books a year, I’d have to be immortal to read all the books on my list.

Anyway, after I decided to hold myself accountable by printing out my New Years Resolution goal sheets and hanging them on my fridge, I found myself searching for a printable that would help me with my read a book a month goal.

When that search came up empty, I decided to go ahead and design my own.

A Book a Month Free Printable | All's Fair in Love and Words

I’m really happy with how it turned out, and I’m excited to share it with you!

A Book A Month Goal Sheet

A Book A Month Goal Sheet Free Printable | All's Fair in Love and Words

Just print this out and start filling in the title and author of each book you finish per month. I also included a small box at the bottom of the page for extra books you finish.

This print out is good for the whole year, so no need to print multiples right away.

Click here to download the A Book A Month printable for free.

Feel free to share this and use as much as you like. I only ask that you please don’t claim the design as your own.


And for those who have time to read more than one book a month, once I get over my raging jealousy, I may just design one for you, too. ;)



What are some books on your To Read List?



Violet Jayne’s Birth Story

By bri {

The Birth of Violet Jayne

3 months later and I’m finally updating about the birth of one Miss Violet Jayne.

Violet Jayne’s Birth Story

At exactly 39 weeks pregnant, I decided that it would probably be best for me to start working from home until Violet came. I had a feeling she was going to come early, but I didn’t know just how spot on I was!

Working from home

That Saturday, August 23rd, JT and I laid in bed as he massaged my seemingly ever-aching back. My siblings had come over to hang out earlier in the day and I went to a movie that afternoon with my sister.


For the past few weeks I’d had Braxton Hicks contractions on and off and the past couple of days I had inconsistent cramping.

As he and I laid there, I wasn’t feeling any cramping, but I was more uncomfortable than usual.

At around 10pm or so, JT headed into Roree’s bedroom to go to sleep (where he had been sleeping since we moved her into her room). Almost immediately after he left my discomfort turned into consistent cramping. 40 minutes later, it was obvious that I was having contractions, so I started timing them on an app on my phone.


My contractions were around 4-5 minutes apart and lasting about a minute.

It seemed like they started off with a bang.

With Roree, the contractions went from uncomfortable cramping to HOLY CRAP I WANT TO DIE in several hours, but I was at the OMG THIS SUCKS point as soon as the discomfort started coming in waves.

At around 11pm, I decided that a shower might help with the pain, so I tore off my clothes and jumped in to a nice, steamy shower. While it did calm me down and relax my body, the pain still increased and I was starting to feel pressure. To top it all off, the contractions got A LOT closer together.

They went from 4-5 minutes apart to 1-2minutes apart, still lasting about a minute long.

I don’t remember feeling any pressure with Roree until it was time to push, so I started to get concerned.

I remember thinking that I SO did not want to leave the shower, but I also knew I couldn’t yell loud enough for JT to hear me all the way across the house in Roree’s room …and I wasn’t planning a homebirth!

I finally mentally prepared myself to get out of the shower and get dressed. Along with the outfit I had picked out for that very moment, I slipped on the beautiful diffuser necklace that my good friend made for me and dripped some doTERRA Serenity and Balance onto it, to help ease my anxiety that had been such an issue or me when I was in labor with Roree. I also put a drop of peppermint under my tongue to help with the nausea that was beginning to creep up on me.


Once I was properly doused in oils and in comfy laboring clothes, I woke JT up. There was no hesitation this time. I knew I was in labor.

I had him call my sister and the midwife to tell them it was go time and that we were heading to the hospital.

Though I was sure I was in labor, my last experience had me a little worried about my progress. With Roree, my contractions were more gradually increasing than this time around and my progress was so slow, likely due to my anxiety.

Though these contractions were much more intense, I was still worried that I wouldn’t have progressed enough to warrant staying at the hospital and I was really dreading the drive.

“I don’t care how far along I’m progressed, I am getting admitted and I’m getting the epidural,” I remember telling JT at one point.

My sister arrived, half asleep, at around 11:45pm. My family just loves that I like to go into labor in the middle of the night.

I was pacing around the house as we waited for her arrival. There wasn’t much to do since my car had been packed and ready with our hospital bags since week 36.

At some point, JT asked me a question as I was in the middle of a contraction and I immediately snapped, “ARE YOU SERIOUSLY TALKING TO ME RIGHT NOW?!” I heard my sister smother a chuckle.

We headed out to the hospital just after 12am.

The drive REALLY sucked.

However, I was far more calm than I was during labor with Roree. My anxiety was not an issue at all this time around. I was able to focus on getting through the contractions despite the discomfort of being in a car for an hour.

We arrived at the hospital at around 1am and were able to get checked in and into Triage fairly quickly.

I remember being so nervous that I wasn’t progressed at all as the nurse checked me. To make matters worse, after she checked me, she didn’t tell me how progressed I was, instead, she told me that she had to go get someone else to double check for her.

I waited impatiently for a good 20 minutes, desperately wanting to pace, but I knowing that I couldn’t until they were done monitoring me. This time around, I HATED contracting while laying down. With Roree, it was all I wanted to do.

Finally, the other nurse came in, checked me and said, “Yep, 6cm with bulging waters.”

Cue the flood of relief! I couldn’t believe I was already 6cm! With Roree, I’d gotten the epidural at 3cm.

My parents arrived shortly after I was checked and they notified both of my sisters of my progress.

At around 1:30am or so we were admitted into the delivery room where it took 2 nurses and a good 30 mins to get the IV in my arm for fluids.

I found myself moaning through contractions and desperately wanting pressure on my back during each one.

I had back labor with Roree, too, but I didn’t want ANYONE touching me.

My Daddy somehow managed to become my masseuse during contractions. I leaned hard on him, so much so that I remember hearing him groaning trying not to fall over LOL!

My midwife was amazing and very calming, as usual. Not overly intrusive, but also very present. She was an awesome cheerleader as was my mom and JT.

At some point, the nurses asked what my birth plan was, to which I quickly said, “Avoid C-section, get epidural ASAP.” Talk about a difference in birth plans this time around vs. last time!

My midwife reminded me that I still could get a room with a birth tub or go into the shower if I wanted to try the natural route. She didn’t check me yet and didn’t want to because she didn’t want to break my waters, but she told me she thought I was pretty far progressed.

At that point, I didn’t care. I remembered the epic relief the epidural brought last time and I really wanted to rest before pushing since I hadn’t slept at all. She, of course, abided by my wishes.

The anesthesiologist arrived shortly after I finished my IV fluids. As soon as she walked in, I greeted her with a, “HELLO BEST FRIEND!”

My parents left the room and my dad met with my sister to take Roree as my sisters came into the hospital and waited in the waiting room as I got the epidural.

I loved the anesthesiologist, not just because it didn’t take her 2 times to put in the epidural and not just because she was bringing relief from the pain, but because as I had a contraction while she was prepping my back, she gave me an awesome massage to help counter the pain. She was awesome.

Relief came quickly and my midwife checked me.

I was 9.5cm.

No wonder I wanted the epidural so badly! I was in transition!

And, HOLY CRAP, I’d went from 6cm to 9.5cm in 2 hours! With no pitocin!

I started sensing that something was wrong, though. My midwife was making small talk with me, but she didn’t say that I could sit up or that my family could come back in yet.

It turned out my blood pressure had dropped because of the epidural and my pulse was racing. When she finally told me that was the problem, I assured her that my racing pulse was very likely anxiety because I knew something was wrong.

I loaded up on more oils and tried to focus on calming my racing heart.

When my pressure started to stabilize, she asked if I wanted my family to come back in.

“Definitely,” I told her.

Later, my midwife told me that one by one as my family walked in the door, she watched my pulse slow.

The essential oils are amazing, but the affect my family has on me cannot be matched.

My mom and sisters entered the room and insanity ensued. We laughed and joked as we did when I was in labor with Roree, but I was also able to relax and prepare for the pushing phase.

I thought for sure that I wouldn’t have a lot of time to rest since I was already so far along, however, the hours slipped by and I was able to relax.

My sisters and mom took turns giving me massages, I listened to the playlist I’d made for labor and I drifted in and out of sleep as Serenity and Balance diffused on my necklace and in the diffuser I brought.

At one point, Taina decided she needed to “warm up” for my pushed phase and a series of hilarious pictures ensued.

Around 6:15am, I started feeling some pressure and the urge to push. My nurse and midwife came in, along with all the exciting Here Comes Baby gear.

I had plenty of energy to push and absolutely no pain again this time. I felt pressure and I could even feel Violet, but it wasn’t painful at all.

This time, I agreed to have a mirror so that I could watch and I asked Marissa to take pictures. Taina held one leg (something she was really proud of – we even have a picture of me in the middle of pushing giving a thumbs up), JT had the other leg and my mom stroked my hair.

Pushing took a little longer this time. Violet wasn’t as far down as Roree was when I started pushing and she was also bigger.

At some point my water broke and somehow curved past Marissa and hit JT. Hilarious.

Then, at 6:42am, I saw the top of Violet Jayne’s head and then just cheeks.

Next thing I knew, she was on my chest and the world melted away. It was just me and this baby with huge cheeks, a crease on top of her nose and red hair.

Violet Jayne's Birth Story

I couldn’t believe I was finally holding my second daughter. 39 weeks felt like 39 years, but every second waiting was worth that moment and all that followed.

Violet Jayne's Birth Story

Unlike Roree, she didn’t poop on me and she didn’t latch right away, though I tried. She just didn’t seem interested, so I let the nurses take her away after JT cut the cord, and weigh her.

Violet Jayne's Birth Story

My sisters and I were all saying, “She’s so little! I thought she’d be bigger!” It turns out, she was actually bigger than Roree! 8lbs 10oz.

I told myself this time around I would pay attention to my family around me, wanting to see what their reactions were, but it is amazing what holding your baby for the first time can do to you.

Violet Jayne's Birth Story

What to do If Your Child Sees A Woman Breastfeeding

By bri {

World Breastfeeding Week wrapped up yesterday and during that week the amazing Tampa Bay Birth Network shared educational memes about breastfeeding on their Facebook page.

I had submitted a photo I took of Roree and they used it with this caption:

Allow children to witness breastfeeding

I do not know how many times the argument against nursing in public arises in relation to other children witnessing a mother breastfeeding her child. One of the most common things I hear is, “I don’t want to have that conversation with my child at the park/restaurant/etc!” or “How am I supposed to explain that to my child?”

For those that share such concerns, let me help you.


How to Explain to Your Child the Act of Breastfeeding

Child: “Mom/Dad? What is that lady doing?”

You: “She is feeding her child.”

Note: The conversation could very well end here, but just in case it doesn’t…

Child: “Why is she doing it like that?”

You: “Because that is why a woman has breasts, to feed her baby.”

Child: “Did you feed me like that when I was a baby?”

You: “Yes.” or “No, I was not able to/chose not to, but that is why they make formula and bottles.”

The end.



I’m proud to say that Roree only associates breasts and breastfeeding with comfort, love and nourishment. In fact, whenever she wants to show affection toward something, she nurses it. Including, but not limited to: baby dolls, pictures of people she loves, DVDs, and stuffed animals.

I’m not sure why some parents think that the sight of a mother nourishing her child naturally will turn into a sex conversation when a woman’s breasts’ purpose have nothing to do with sex. This is a learning experience for your child if they don’t already know what breasts are for.

In other words, to those whose children witness me breastfeeding in public… you’re welcome. 


Things I Heart: Middle of the Night Wake-Up Call

By bri {

Things I heart


Last night, Roree woke up at 3am asking for “boo.” Since we night weaned, I’ve been pretty strict about only nursing her in the morning (anytime after 5am), during the day and in the evenings before 7:30pm.

Sometimes, denying her what she wants like this results in endless crying fits all night and into the early morning. This happened only a few days ago, actually, so I was expecting the worst.

Instead, I offered her milk from her sippy cup and she accepted. I asked her if she wanted to cuddle and she said that she did, so I held and rocked her as I do in the evenings before she goes to bed, until 4:45am.

This may seem like it would be stressful, but after that night where she woke at 2:45am and screamed/cried on and off until after 5am, I considered it a success.

Especially after I finally was able to lay her down and she scooted close to me and wrapped her arms around my neck as she fell asleep. We both laid on our sides and she dozed off.

I was uncomfortable and I had to pee, but the feeling of her breath on my face and feeling her chest rise and fall was worth it.

Eventually, she rolled over and into her crib where she proceeded to fall asleep and didn’t wake up until 7am.

I loved this night, despite the middle-of-the-night wake up call.

Here are a few more things I heart:


Items I ♥

Diffuser Necklace and Laundry Sorter

Oak’s Tribal Essential Oil Diffuser Pendants

My good friend (and Roree’s back-up babysitter) Lori just opened up an amazing shop that sells beautiful, handmade essential oil diffuser pendants.

I can’t even tell you how life-saving this product will be for me. As someone who suffers from panic attacks and crazy anxiety, the ability to diffuse doTERRA Serenity oil blend at any time, and being able to wear it on a beautiful necklace, is amazing.

I also plan on using it during labor as she made me a pendant that says, “So tiny, so small, so loved by all.

Right now she is selling them at a discounted rate for testing purposes, so grab one soon before the deal is off!

Visit her Facebook Page here.


Triple Mesh Laundry Sorter

This is totally the ‘nesting instinct’ part of me talking right now, but I’m so excited about my new laundry sorter. It was a great price (under $20) and it has made my laundry life so much easier.

We do a load of laundry every day, which has saved us so much stress! It’s nice to never have an overflowing pile of laundry.

However, I’ve never been much for sorting whites and colors, which has taken a toll on our clothes. I also tend to just throw clothes out that have stains on them.

With the sorter, I am able to easily sort lights and darks and have another bin for stained clothes for me to treat before they go in the wash!

Buy the laundry sorter here.


I ♥ JT

Roree and Dada

  • We are on the same page when it comes to parenting.
    I can’t emphasize enough how important this is when it comes to parenting consistently and not confusing your child!
  • I love how patient he is with Roree when she’s having an epic meltdown.
    Whether he actually is feeling patient when he’s talking her through big emotions or not, he definitely comes across as though he is, and that is what matters. To her and to me.
  • He has really stepped up these last few weeks of my pregnancy – when I need it the most.
    My ankles have been swelling a bit and I’ve been getting sharp pains in my pelvis since Violet dropped, which has made parenting a toddler very difficult. Thank goodness for JT, because he has been picking up the slack and allowing me to put my feet up in the evenings for a couple hours!


I ♥ Roree

Roree holding a lizard

  • She sings along with me when I am belting out silly songs…even if she doesn’t know the words.
  • The way she says, “YEAH!” when I finally understand her requests.
  • She loves feeding the dogs – one of her daily chores – and how she does it with careful consideration.


Links I ♥


A Surprisingly Effective Alternative to Punishment from Parenting Beyond Punishment
Love, love, LOVE this article. If gentle/attachment parenting feels right to you or if you are intrigued by the idea, then this is a fantastic read.

Fine Motor Skills Activities with Clothespins from LalyMom
OMG! These are so simple and perfect for Roree, I can’t believe I never thought of using all the clothespins I have laying around for this!

How to Create Beachy Waves (With a Flat Iron) from A Beautiful Mess
I don’t know how long I have been trying to figure out how to add beach waves to my hair! This seems very simple and the fact that she has short hair and it works, really gets me motivated to try this out.

Three Clutter Traps You Can Change Today from 30 Handmade Days
My intense nesting instinct loves this post and will incorporate it soon.

The only thing you need to do to organize toys from Clean Mama
“CONTAIN the toys. It sounds so simple and you probably are already doing this, but keeping the toys organized and giving them a ‘home’ is key. How does this work? Group like toys together and use what you have or purchase boxes, bins, baskets – whatever works for your space.”
This is exactly what we did for Roree and Violet’s playroom and it has been working out REALLY well!


Quote I ♥

Beautiful and Terrible Things


Random Things I ♥

When JT says, “You’re a monster!” in his best Gingerbread Man from Shrek voice and Roree immediately responds, “RAWR!” LOL!

That you can create calendar events from the Google Search Bar.

Act Like a Girl Video From Always

The Honest Company

My sister’s incredible birthday cake and cupcakes for Roree and my niece:
Chocolate Rose Birthday Cake

Chocolate Rose Cupcakes

My Breastfeeding Rollercoaster – The Best Ride of My Life

By bri {


For me, there was no option besides breastfeeding.

When I first got pregnant with Roree, I never even considered using formula. I had nothing against it, but it just didn’t make any sense to me whatsoever.

Why would I pay so much money for something I could produce for free?

Both my sister and my mom have always been breastfeeding advocates. My sister nursed both of her children full term and my mom used to give talks and teach breastfeeding classes for the Health Department when I was younger.

Actually, I remember, as a kid, sitting in the back of the room, coloring while she spoke.

Also, she nursed me.

Until I was 3 years old.

None of this was ever weird to me.

Breastfeeding was never anything but natural, in my opinion.

And that is exactly how I believe it should be for everyone.

As someone once said (I wish I could remember who) there shouldn’t be breastfeeding or bottle feeding… It is just feeding.

Why does it matter how it is done? Why should one way be offensive or scandalous or sexual?

But, I digress.


I’m here to talk about my breastfeeding story for World Breastfeeding Week, and here it is:

I never wanted kids, and then, 4 years into our child-free marriage, my husband and I found out I was pregnant.

After a brief freak out, I did what I always do when life throws me curveballs.

I learn how to play catch.

I threw myself in, full-force and never looked back, because if I was going to bring a human being onto this earth, I wanted to make damn sure that human being never felt like the “surprise” that she was.

Serendipitous, maybe, but never an accident.

I researched all sorts of things. Attachment parenting, babywearing, cloth diapering, etc.

Breastfeeding, I thought, didn’t really need to be researched, initially. I mean, it’s natural, we all can do it, how difficult can it be? (ha!)

But the more I researched about other topics, the more breastfeeding came up and I decided to read up on it, anyway.

That was when I realized it, maybe, wasn’t as easy as I thought it could be. And if it wasn’t easy, then that means I could possibly have issues … and OH MY GOD WHAT WOULD I DO IF I COULDN’T BREASTFEED?!

Forget college funds! How the hell would I afford FORMULA?!

And so, I started reading all the breastfeeding articles and books I could get my hands on, I started going to La Leche League meetings at around 20 weeks pregnant, because gosh darn it, I was going to be PREPARED.

Yet, I still had vivid pregnancy nightmares constantly that I wouldn’t be able breastfeed my daughter.

And then, 2 days after her due date, Roree arrived.

I brought her up to my chest
said, “Hello, Roree!”
she pooped on me
got cleaned up
and I brought her to my breast

World Breastfeeding Week: My Story

She nursed for a long time on one side, then switched to the otherside and HOLY CRAP IT HURT!

But, I was determined.

I’d donated 80,000 samples of formula I’d received in the mail during my pregnancy, so in my mind, there was no freaking way this was not going to work.

I talked to a lactation consultant in the hospital as soon as I could. She peeked over my shoulder while I nursed, shrugged and said, “Looks like she’s latched on, fine.”

And she left.

I dropped my head in defeat and kept on (painfully) nursing the rest of that night.

The next day I called for a different lactation consultant because all the hundreds of articles I read told me that nursing should not feel like your newborn is a zombie and your nipple is brains.

And, dear God, was that a BLISTER ON MY NIPPLE?

So, the next LC came in and pretty much said the same thing as the first one.

I wanted to cry, but I kept on nursing.

The day we were going to leave the hospital, I was a nervous wreck. All I could think about was how in the hell I was going to nurse this child until she was 3 years old if it hurt this bad… and how in the world was I going to be a PARENT? Could I just put her back in my belly? It was WAY easier then, swollen ankles and all!

So, I tried one last time, to talk to yet another LC.

It was only a couple hours before we were going to be discharged, when the latest LC finally came in. (We’d been waiting for hours).

She asked me to go ahead and nurse Roree so that she could watch. As she peeked over my shoulder, I dreaded the inevitable, “Looks fine to me!” comment, but she didn’t say that. Instead she looked from a couple different angles, then asked me to unlatch.

“Do you see how your nipple looks kind of like lipstick right now?” She asked.

“You mean in that it is bright red and bleeding?” I asked.

“Well, yeah, but also the shape. Her latch is very shallow.”

And then, she explained to me how to fix the situation.

It turns out, I was being a little too gentle when latching Roree on. It had always felt awkward to balance her little head in the crook of my elbow and try to aim my nipple into her mouth.

The LC taught me to hold the back of her head in my hand, football style, point my nipple upward so that she’d have to open her mouth wide and basically shove her on there.

And oh. my. god. What a difference that first, new latch made!

Suddenly, all my parenting fears faded away.

Yes, it still hurt to latch her initially because of the initial damage to my nipple, but the difference was obvious.

She didn’t leave right away, either. She stayed to watch another nursing session and taught me how to tell when Roree was swallowing. She gave me more pointers and then, after sitting with me for over an hour, she left.

And I wanted to cry with relief.

I’d love to tell you that from that point on, breastfeeding was simple and easy and I never, ever, ever had a problem again!

But, like, well, life, breastfeeding has its bumps in the road.



When my milk came in a couple days later, I thought I was going to die.

My boobs were like leaky boulders and they hurt SO BAD to the point where my entire body ached and I had chills.

Roree had trouble latching since they were so full, and she would often choke on my fire-hose-force let down.

At one point, she unlatched just when my letdown occurred and I shot my cat square in the head with milk.

He was across the room.

He also deserved it, but that’s besides the point.

Anyway, everything I read told me not to pump because that could worsen the problem, but I didn’t care. I would be going back to work in a couple months and I needed the extra milk, so I pumped before I fed Roree and had an extra pumping session at night.

It actually worked for me.

Soon, my supply regulated, I didn’t have boulder-boobs and I was building a nice stash of liquid gold.


Nursing Strike

At around 3 months old, Roree had a nursing strike.

I cannot even tell you the sheer panic I felt when my daughter would not accept her only source of food and scream bloody murder any time I tried to nurse her.

For her to go from nursing every 1.5 hours, to skipping 5-6 hours at a time, terrified me to no end.

I was at a loss. For a good week, it took me at least an hour to finally get her to latch on.

My resolution was to try every weird and odd position I could to get her to latch on. At one point, I would stand with one foot on the bed, my torso turned, Roree at an angle and my boob in her mouth… and that was the only way she would nurse.

For that session anyway.

It was hell, but it only lasted a few days, thank goodness, and it wasn’t every nursing session… it was just most of them.

I’m pretty sure that is the point in my parenting journey which I went partially deaf.

My daughter has quite the set of lungs on her.

From the time she was 3 months old, until now, (she is a couple weeks away from her 2nd birthday) breastfeeding has been a breeze

Better than a breeze, it has been amazing.

I wouldn’t trade a THING, not even the sleepless nights and the epic nursing sessions, for the breastfeeding relationship I’ve had with her.

For the ease with which I can soothe her.

For the way I can nurse her when she’s sick and wouldn’t eat or drink anything else.

For those moments when she is looking up at me with those giant blue-gray eyes as we share an irreplaceable bond.



And then, there was another stick that was peed upon… and another plus sign.


Pregnancy Nursing Aversion

I’m currently 36 weeks as of today. When I first got pregnant, nothing about our nursing relationship changed.

And then this happened. So, we night-weaned.

And then, my nipples started getting REALLY sore around 20 weeks or so, to the point where nursing Roree kind of made me want to rip out my eyeballs.

I felt so guilty, but I, for the very first time in our breastfeeding relationship, started redirecting her when she’d ask to nurse, or down right telling her, “Not right now, but later.”

She is down to nursing about 2-3x a day when I work, and on the weekends when I’m home with her, about 4-5x a day.

It hurts every. single. time. And, worse than the pain, which I can grit my teeth and handle, is the agitation.

For whatever reason, my nipples are so sensitive.

Like… blow on my nipple softly…while I’m wearing a sweater…and I will feel it kind of sensitive.

This makes the entire nursing session feel like nails on a chalkboard for me.

And it kills me. Not just the soreness or the annoying sensation it brings… but the fact that my beautiful, calming nursing sessions have turned into something I dread.

Thankfully, I found the book Adventures in Tandem Nursing: Breastfeeding During Pregnancy and Beyond and it validated absolutely everything I was feeling.

I plan on tandem nursing baby Violet and Roree, if Roree still wants to nurse, but I still have nightmares about breastfeeding not working out.

This time, though, I’m armed with not only knowledge, but experience under my belt.

For those new moms or soon-to-be moms who want to breastfeed their babies, in my opinion, there are just 3 things you need to be successful and overcome any obstacles.


My 3 Tips to Breastfeeding Success

1. Be freaking determined
Do. Not. Give. Up. No matter what. Ever. Ask for help, don’t suffer in silence. Chances are, whatever issue you are having, there is someone else having that same issue who resolved it.

2. Build an incredible support system
Hopefully your partner is just as motivated about breastfeeding as you are and willing to support you through all the ups and downs. Lucky for me, my husband did just that. He is knowledgeable about the benefits of breastfeeding and just as gung-ho as I am about it. I also had a great cheerleading squad from my sister and mom. I also surrounded myself with knowledgeable, experienced mamas who, even at 3am, could answer my most random breastfeeding question and were willing to come over and help at the drop of a hat.

3. Educate the hell out of yourself
Kelly Mom, La Leche League, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and YouTube videos are just a few amazing resources to dig into. The internet is full of BS, but it is also full of incredibly useful information when it comes to breastfeeding. Use it.

And just because it is so adorable, I leave you with this:


Prepping for Baby #2’s Arrival – A Comparison

By bri {


It’s amazing how different preparing for your second child can be.

For me, it is an entirely different experience.

When I found out I was pregnant with Roree, JT and I knew we had to move out of our cute little 1 bedroom apartment and find something closer to my sister (since she watches her) and definitely something bigger.

So, we started looking for houses.

Little did we know it would, literally, take my entire pregnancy to complete the home-buying process.

We signed the mortgage papers on August 1st and moved in August 3rd. Roree was born August 20th.

Needless to say, there was no real nesting for me, except for those last two weeks in which I had to put together an entire house.

I was restlessly living in boxes for most of my pregnancy, which drove me half insane.

This time around, things are a bit more structured.

I’ve been able to start nesting fairly early on once the motivation struck. And thanks to Asana, I’ve been able to schedule all the things that need to be done easily.

One of the first things we had to do was transition my toddler into her own room.

Since Roree has experienced some big changes recently (please see: night weaning), I didn’t want to even attempt to transition her into her own room by herself.

Therefore, we used part of our tax return to purchase ourselves a much-needed king-sized bed and moved our queen bed into Roree’s room along with her crib.

Our sleep-plan when Violet comes is for her and I to be in the master bedroom while JT sleeps with Roree in her room.

Eventually, when we feel Roree is ready (i.e. when she doesn’t creep over into the big bed from her crib for snuggles/comfort in the middle of the night… and once she is over the shock of having a new baby sister), JT will move back into the master bedroom and Roree will be in her room by herself.

Honestly, I think JT is a little better off sleeping in Roree’s room! He’ll be getting way more sleep than me!

Since Roree’s room was essentially a toy storage area previously, when we moved the bed and crib in there, we also had to convert JT’s office into a playroom and move JT’s office into my office.

This was quite the undertaking, so I recruited my sisters and mom to help out with this.

My office had become a dumping ground for all things we never really got to unpack in the house and all things we had no idea where else it would go.

JT’s office was basically the dog room and needed to be thoroughly cleaned.

Roree’s room was stocked full of a million toys and books that needed to be organized and moved out.

I seriously thought this would take the duration of my pregnancy, but we got it done in ONE weekend thanks to my family.

JT moved all of his stuff and dumped it into my office while I organized all of Roree’s toys and books.

My sisters and mom organized my office and integrated all of JT’s belongings into it.

My sister, mom, JT and I organized all of the toys and brought the changing table station into the playroom.

Prepping for Baby #2 Toy Storage in the Playroom

We didn’t have a big budget for this project, and honestly didn’t need one. All I did was purchase some shelving from Big Lots, plastic boxes from the dollar store, and shelving and fabric bins from Target. And lots of plastic zip bags for toy organization.

We spent around $150 on the playroom/changing room.

Misc New Baby Prep

We assembled the Pack N Play with the bassinet and changing table next to our bed and stocked it with diapers, coconut oil, wipes, extra blankets, burp cloths, extra PJs and swaddle blankets. I also have a My Breast Friend pillow next to the bed.

We installed Violet’s car seat next to Roree’s.
The first time Roree saw the car seat next to hers, she looked at it curiously, so I said, “That’s Violet’s car seat. Your sister will be sitting there next to you.” To which she responded, “No. Roree’s.” Yikes.

We packed our hospital bags (me, JT and Violet’s) along with Roree’s overnight bag and put it in the trunk of my car.

We still have yet to make freezer meals, but that is on the list of things to do this weekend or next!

After that… I think we’re as prepared as we will ever be for Ms. Violet to make an appearance, whenever she is ready!

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