Friday, 19 December 2014

3 Free Christmas Printables

Three Free Christmas Printables

     This holiday season I have been singing Christmas carols. As a matter of fact, I have been singing them quite a bit. For the most part that is because I know all the words, and when you have an infant, singing kinda becomes part of your daily routine. I also LOVE Christmas music, and we certainly have our favorites in this house! I sing during play time, I sing during dinner, and I softly sing her to sleep at night.
    Last night, while humming the all too familiar tunes while she drifted off on my lap, I came up with an idea. I designed some printables for my little one’s nursery; my favorite lines from the three Christmas songs I sing to her at night as she drifts off to sleep. I love the idea of seeing the words of these lullabies every year that I sang to her while she slept in my arms her very first Christmas.
    I figured the best thing to do would be to share these with everyone, so I do hope you enjoy them! Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays!

Away In A Manger Free Christmas Printable

Oh Holy Night Free Christmas PrintableSilent Night Free Christmas Printable

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Why Mommytard is my Hero.

Why Mommytard is my hero.
    For those of you who haven’t heard of the Shaytards, this might be a little confusing. For those of you who follow Colette Butler, aka Mommytard, aka Katilette on YouTube, I’m sure you can understand and appreciate what I am writing about.
    Mommytard is one half of the Shaytards parental units. Her and her husband Shay Carl post daily vlogs showcasing the crazy adventure that is their every day. They started with nothing, and let us watch as they struggled and succeeded in their career, and life as a family. For over five years now she has shown the female audience of the Shaytards how she works to be the best mother and wife she can. I have watched this lady parent three, four, and five kids, and do it all with style and grace. I don’t mean to get all fluttery and lovely about the topic but I can honestly say she is a role model when it comes to mommyhood. From food to fashion to fitness, she’s entertaining and inspiring. Here are the top reasons why I have chosen Colette Butler as a personal role model:

  • She is so full of energy. For a lady who doesn’t drink coffee, she has pep in her step, and I admire that in a mommy. How she manages to keep up with the needs of all the people in her life and still find time to haul her butt to the gym or curl her hair I’ll never know. Mommytard if you ever read this, tell me your secrets!

  • She’s genuinely humble. You can see in the videos just what I mean when I say genuine, too. Her religious upbringing has instilled in her an understanding and gratitude for what God has blessed her with, and because of that she is reluctant to gloat about things. I love that about her. Speaking of religion, that brings me to my next point:

  • She isn’t afraid to speak up about her religion. This is a bit of a hot topic in their comments section (especially for the trolls), but that doesn’t stop them from talking about it anyway. Not in a shove-it-in-your-face conversion attempt either, but in more of a dialogue way. She has said before many times that she understands many people believe the Bible is a made up story, and she is fine with that. All she asks is that others understand that she believes that story actually happened, that’s all.

  • She tries to eat healthy, but doesn’t always succeed. I love that I can (and have) gotten some great healthy recipes from her. (Quinoa salad has probably been my favorite so far!) For the most part there are always veggies and lean healthy foods on her family table, but I also love that she’s been caught more than once with a chocolate milkshake in the cup holder or a take out bag full of tacos, or even package of Fudge Covered Oreos in her cart. Makes me feel less guilty when I have the occasional indulgence.

  • She is still learning as a parent, but is also a fountain of knowledge. For those of us who are just getting our feet wet as parents, I just love watching how other mothers raise nice kids. This one is probably one of the bigger reasons I love Colette, her mothering abilities. She is a wonderful, loving mother. She teaches wise lessons to her children but makes sure life is fun all at once. At the same time however, she admits that she is still learning, and afterall, she is. Her oldest (Gavin, age 11) is a perfect example of a terrific child, but he is far from grown up. And with 4 more so far, she has lots of years left to go.

    Do I sound like a fangirl yet? I guess in so many words, I look up to her as a person, because I see her struggles and triumphs as a mother and wife. The honesty and openness of her and her family’s daily blogs are a positive outlook on life, and an entertaining way to spend 15 minutes of my day. I’ve come to really admire her!

Monday, 8 December 2014

5 Questions From a Brand New Blogger

5 questions from a brand new blogger

    All of you out there have been in my shoes. I’m new to the world of blogging, and I’m blindly posting and linking and sharing and making what I hope are half decent graphics. I suck at photography and in fact, I don’t even currently have a functioning camera other than my cell phone, let alone one of those fancy DSLR cameras. I’m finding my niche, posting what I hope everyone will enjoy and praying to the blog gods for a shot at going viral. I did purchase a domain name but have no idea how to use it on Blogger. (I read many instructions, but still can’t seem to make it happen.)
    I have been using Blogher to promote my blog (which I write on Blogger), and after taking a week off (due to Christmas decorating, a fussy baby and a little frustration that I can’t manage to get more than 10 pageviews) wasn’t I shocked (and delighted!) to see that my last post had in fact been selected as a feature post on the family section of Blogher! Over 600 views and 10 comments! That lit my fire and now I want to know how to make this happen. How do I do it. How do I become a professional blogger, instead of someone who pours her heart and soul out to roughly 6 people, including my husband. Although I would like to monetize my blog, I’m not doing this for big bucks. Just some form of payoff for a job well done:)
    So now I throw it out there to other bloggers. The questions I’m sure everyone has asked at some point. Heck, maybe there’s even one or two of you who might find the answers you are looking for here (if anyone answers, that is!)

  1. What platform do you use, and how do you link it back to your favorite blog network? I’m all about Blogher. It is a terrific place to network, but I’m not sure how you ladies do it. Do you only use one platform? I’m guessing many of you use (and will swear by) Please explain how you cross promote from one platform to another, or if you even bother to use more than one.
  2. How much time do you spend on your blog every week? I’ve read the average is about 10 hours, and I’m curious if there is a correlation between the amount of time spent working on your blog, and your success.
  3. What do you consider successful in terms of views? When I saw my post got over 600 views, I felt like the most successful blogger on the planet! I would love it if all of my posts could get that kind of attention. Unless the norm is 10,000 views, in which case I’ve got a lot of work to do.
  4. Google Adsense or other? I understand (or at least I think I understand) that on Blogger, you must be careful how you make money, since Google owns the rights to your blog. I am very interested in Google Adsense, but I understand Blogher also pays for ad space. What is the best one? Can I do both?
  5. How long did it take to see results? I know success doesn’t happen overnight (Unless you’re Grumpy Cat). How long did you work to see results?

    Okay, I realise this is less of a blog post and more of a Q&A, but hopefully I can gain a better understanding about monetizing a blog, so that when I am ready to sign on the dotted line so to speak, I will make the best choice for me:)
    Also, please feel free to leave and tips or questions of your own in the comments, I hope we can get a great discussion going!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Please Go To Sleep!

Please go to sleep!
    We are going through a growth spurt. Little Miss, that is. Or maybe she’s teething? I don’t know, but I can say that since putting her to bed at 7:00, a mere two hours ago, she has woken up three times crying. Last night was no better, waking up at 12:30 and not falling back to sleep until 3:30 in the morning. No doubt, this is hard. You are sleep deprived, and your once perfect sleeping angel baby is now a screaming ball of tears every time her precious head touches the crib mattress. As I type this she is upstairs, crying into her daddy’s arms after waking up alone in her room. These times are some of the most trying times a parent goes through with their infant.
    That being said, they are also some of the most precious moments (although I hardly felt that way last night!) simply because it is a reminder that your child needs you. Only you. She isn’t hungry, she is hurting, upset, and needs the comfort of your arms to fall back asleep. I have to admit, last night I was frustrated. I have been trying to eliminate my part time co sleeping, and it had been going very well. A little too well… After three hours of rocking and nursing and laying down and picking up, I brought her into bed with me and she was asleep in minutes. I spent three solid hours trying to get her into the crib when all she wanted was to feel me next to her for comfort. she slept well after that, waking only once for a few minutes. She slept until 8:00, which is sleeping in compared to her usual 6:30 wake up.
    As I lay in bed this morning with her head resting against my arm, I counted my blessings. Through the grace of God I have been given the joys and trials that come with being a parent, and if that means a few sleepless nights and plenty of tears, then brew me a pot of coffee, because I will go through it whenever my little girl needs me. It’s my job as a parent, and I am happy to do it, because it makes her happy.

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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

How I am NOT Spoiling My Child

On how I am not spoiling my child

      Okay, time to rant a little. If you aren’t into the rant thing and don’t want to hear it, click here for a much nicer, not angry post. If you are into the rant thing, please continue!

    You know what really grinds my gears? The seven words I’m willing to bet every mother on here has heard at some point or another: You are going to spoil that child. Only it’s not just the words that tick me off. It’s the fact that other mothers are saying it. It’s also the fact that they are saying it over something as simple as cuddling and rocking my seven month old to sleep. That’s right. The most recent event to spur this discussion (because yes, it has happened before) was from a mother who witnessed me rocking my baby girl while she dozed in my arms. I have heard this from others (friends, family, strangers I just met…) but for some reason I felt the need to defend myself this time. With my fur bristled and my claws out (metaphorically of course) I informed the woman that this isn’t an all the time thing, that my little girl is going through some kind of growth spurt and has been fussy all day.
    Only here’s the thing: that was a lie. I defended my actions by saying it didn’t happen every day when in reality it does. I love nursing my daughter to sleep, I love rocking her, holding her, baby wearing her, and spending my days giving the vast majority of my time and attention to her. This mother overstepped her boundaries and criticized the way I parent. People say over and over again not to create these bad habits, to start early in creating an independent child. But here’s the thing: how is holding my daughter now going to spoil her in the future?
Sure, I can understand if I’m giving a toddler candy every day. I can understand if I never make her do chores when she is older, or let her skip veggies and go straight to dessert, or if I buy her things all the time. But giving love and creating a special bond with an infant is NOT spoiling a child. Especially at these young ages, children know only a handful of things. Making sure they understand mommy loves them and is always there to make them feel safe and secure cannot possibly be spoiling them. Will my child be a brat because we cuddle together for naps? I don’t think so. Will she be a torment because I choose to walk her around the nursery rocking her when she is inconsolable? I highly doubt it.
Finally, I plea to mothers out there: Stop it already. Stop judging how other mothers choose to parent. Am I hurting her? Am I causing psychological damage? NO. I am doing the best I can as a first time mother, and while I appreciate the advice, your accusations that I am
“spoiling” my child are ridiculous. Glass houses, people. Shall I tell you what kind of damage you are doing to your child with your parenting methods? No?

Shut up. Rant over.


Monday, 24 November 2014

Breastfeeding Advice From a First Time Mom

breastfeeding tips and advice from a first time mom
    Okay, I realise I’m no expert in breast feeding. I’m not a lactation consultant, or medical professional, but I am a mom. A mom who (until starting solids at six months) exclusively breastfed Little Miss, and still does. I love it! Thankfully she was pretty easy with it (we had some issues but nothing dramatic), and I feel bad for any mother who tries to breastfeed and struggles in any way, from a lip tie on a child to supply issues. I wanted to share my experiences with it, and offer tips that I hope will help other mothers who wish to breastfeed their baby.
  1. Find support. I went online, but most places offer local help. I joined what is referred to as a Birth Board, where thousands of mothers with babies the same age as you converge to both seek and offer help to other mothers. The best part about these boards (or maybe the worst to some) is that there are all different kinds of women on here, and they all are sleep deprived and full of hormones. It’s funny sometimes, and other times it’s absolutely ridiculous, and sometimes it’s super helpful and informative. Every board is different.
  2. Drink water. You’ve probably heard this before but drink a crap ton of water. This is the single most effective way to help, as your body is using water at a very rapid pace, and without it not only will your supply suffer, but you will too, with headaches and constant thirst. Try for 100 ounces of water every day.
  3. Don’t get adventurous with your eating. Little Miss can tell when I eat certain foods, even if I just try to casually slip it into my meal. It usually involves super garlicky foods or spicy foods, and certain veggies like cabbage. But on the other hand, don’t try to always be perfect, either. Things like coffee are part of this too, as many mothers swear caffeine makes their child wired or fussy. I have found no such problem, as long as I’m reasonable. Many mornings I’ll have a coffee with my breakfast and then feed her before a nap and she will sleep for an hour or two (yes, I nurse her to sleep. That is a conversation for another post lol). I have heard through the grapevine (but don’t know for sure) that by eating a variety of foods while breastfeeding your baby becomes accustomed to different tastes and will be a less picky eater. Here’s hoping, right?
  4. Co Sleeping. I know this one isn’t exactly recommended by many professionals for safety reasons, and I limit my co sleeping to a part time basis (2-3 hours a night), but I try to do it safely and with purpose, such as when baby is teething or going through a growth spurt. Co sleeping allows your baby to cluster feed and comfort nurse. The constant sucking tells your body that baby needs more milk, and since this is a supply and demand situation, more demand naturally means more supply. It also allows mommy to get more sleep. Little miss and I have taken over the spare room for our co sleeping.
  5. Keep your phone handy. I can’t tell you how crucial this is for me, because when I nursed Little Miss to sleep or needed something and couldn’t get up it was like a life line. Nothing like texting Hubby that I’m thirsty or need a snack, or seeing what time it was or just for entertainment. Often I would turn on soft music or use a white noise app to help baby sleep. You might even be surprised to know that when pumping or nursing, looking at pictures of baby and thinking about the happiness they bring to your life will actually cause you to produce more!
  6. Eat Oatmeal. Most mornings I have oatmeal for breakfast, and not only does it help fuel me in the morning, it naturally increases milk production. There are other products too (teas and herbal supplements), but they aren’t as tasty.
  7. Supply equals demand. If you are worried about supply issues, pump in between nursing sessions. I did not do this as I nursed on demand (and hated every second of pumping), but in retrospect it might have been beneficial in order for me to produce more to have a “freezer stash”. Again, more demand means more supply.
  8. Try not to worry about it. Lots of moms worry that their baby isn’t getting enough when they nurse. True, you don’t know how much they eat (unless you weigh baby before and after on a baby scale), but trust in your baby’s satisfaction after eating and weight gain. Your baby should have at least 6-8 wet diapers a day. Don’t think that pumping is an adequate measure of how much your baby is getting either, as your baby is much more efficient at getting to the milk than your pump. They could be getting as much as double what you see in the bottle at the end of a pump session.
  9. Don’t skip a session. Leaving your little one at Grandma’s so you and Hubby can get some alone time? If you are, and you’re leaving your baby with a bottle of pumped milk, it’s super important that you pump when your baby would normally feed. The reason is simple: if your baby misses a feeding, your body thinks the baby doesn’t need that feeding. Then it stops producing the great results you worked so hard to achieve. Also, if you do miss a session (it does happen, we aren’t perfect) you will become engorged. Not only is this painful and could potentially cause mastitis (yikes), but it is hard for a baby to drink from an engorged breast. Not only is latching harder, but the force of the let down makes them choke on the milk, or spit up from drinking too fast. The only time this doesn’t apply is when baby starts sleeping through the night (which still has not happened for us, 7 months in). Once baby learns to sleep through the night, it’s okay to give up the night feeding. If you’re really motivated to build a freezer stash this is the perfect time to do so. Baby won’t miss it since they are sleeping peacefully, and your body naturally produces more milk at night!
  10. Don’t supplement if all is going well. If your baby’s doctor is satisfied with the weight gain of your child and everything is going pretty well, don’t introduce formula. Again, supply and demand comes into play, and every feeding you supplement with formula is a feeding your body thinks it doesn’t need. Also, the back and forth of formula and milk may upset your baby’s tummy. Of course there will be times when you think you aren’t possibly making enough milk. This is especially true during growth spurts, when it seems as though your baby is glued to your boob. Don’t worry. Your body knows what to do and all that time your baby is cluster feeding tells your body to start producing more, this kid is hungry.

    I’m sure I’m missing some good tips. They will naturally come to me after I post this, making me want to kick myself for not thinking of it sooner. I hope it helps you mothers who are struggling with breast feeding, as all these tips helped me to relax and go with the flow. My little girl is now seven months old, and we have no plans on stopping any time soon!

    Thank you so much for reading this long post. Gold star for making it to the end! Please feel free to leave your comments, questions or tips to anyone else reading. Happy nursing!

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The Basics of Baby Led Weaning

Sunday, 23 November 2014

A Little Bit About Me

   Hello there, wonderful readers! I’m sure since you clicked on a link to this page you’re probably looking for a little bit of information about myself, and what my little bloggity blog is all about! (That’s why you clicked on the About Me link, right?)
Me on my wedding day!
    My name is Nicole, and my blog is a look into my life as a mommy, a small town gal, and a DIY florist. I post a variety of things, like learning to be a first time mommy and all the wonderful adventures that come with it. I also like to talk about the wonderful quirks of living in a small town and just for fun I throw in some DIY floristry tips from my past career as a florist.
    Of course, this is all new to me. Blogging is so much fun and I’m learning every day! My favorite part about the experience so far is probably getting to connect with readers like yourself, chatting about any and all kinds of subjects, and of COURSE, hearing what you have to say, and any tips you might have for little old me!
    Obviously these things are wonderful, but incase you’re wondering about the nitty gritty of my life, here are some interesting facts you may or may not know about me! (You probably don’t know any of these facts since you have never actually met me. I think.)

Interesting(ish) Things About Me:
  • I am a first time mommy to a beautiful seven month old little girl. She is the light of my life, and not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for bringing her into our lives.
  • I own four cats. I’m not a full blown crazy cat lady, but I’m getting there.
  • I have a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, specializing in drawing and painting. Completely useless for most jobs, but a total passion of mine and an incredibly fun 4 years of my life so I count it as a win.
  • I love to cook, but I’m pretty bad at it. Most things end up burnt. Or raw in the middle. Or both. The smoke detector is essentially a dinner bell in my household.
  • I love watching Youtube vlogs more than television, for the most part. My favorite Youtuber is Shaycarl (The Shaytards), followed by the Vlogbrothers and Charles Trippy (CTFxC). If you do not know what I’m talking about, check out their channels on Youtube, become addicted and come back here to tell me about your new obsession.
  • I have always wanted to be a stay at home mommy. In fact, my plan is to give up a successful career as a banker at the end of my maternity leave. I will be going back to waitressing in the evenings in order to spend my days at home with my daughter, while I work on starting my own business in online marketing. Many people think I’m crazy for doing this. Sometimes I am one of those people.
  • I am a coffee addict. Not the fancy shmancy latté kind of coffee, but really really good, hot, dark roast with just a tiny bit of sugar and juuuust enough milk to say I don’t take my coffee black. I live for it. I go to bed at night excited that the next morning I get to have coffee.

Questions? Comments? Please, let me hear them! Thanks for reading my ramblings, and I do hope this was as fun for you to read as it was for me to write!