Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Top 5 Baby Items I'm Not Going Without This Time

So our sweet baby girl #2 is almost here! 
Name to be revealed after delivery ;) 
A hint though-- it is another E name! 

So there are quite a few things that are different with the 2nd pregnancy, well for me at least. 
I feel so much more peaceful. And relaxed.
I just know what I'm going into (of course there will be things that happen that are unexpected), I'm in a house that does not need any work (which was the case last time-- hello foreclosure!), I have a wonderful community around me with church and girlfriends and my parents will actually be here for 5 months this time (living across the street!). We are just in a good place! 

That being said, there are some items that we didn't have when we had Eden and I am pretty sure they would have been awesome to have! I made sure to make these a priority when it came to registering/purchasing. So excited to meet our sweet girl in just a few weeks! 

Do you have any other recommendations for me? Things I can't live without? I would LOVE any input! xo



I can't even begin to tell you how many times I took a monthly growth picture of Eden that was LATE because I had to do the work of numbers and editing via PhotoShop (yes I'm lazy and with a newborn things that are convenient are essential). I was never opposed to the monthly stickers, but I never could find any that I liked. My friend Jenna introduced these to me when she had her daughter Henley! I'm in love :) 

I was hesitant to get this last time because it just didn't seem necessary-- we were given Joshua's childhood bassinet and that seemed like enough. But in all seriousness I would look at Eden in that bassinet and think "Boy that does not look very comfortable!" It is soooo flat. I've had way too many people tell me this is a lifesaver to not go without it this time. I'm just crossing my fingers that it won't cause any problems when we transition baby #2 to the crib (which we had no problems with with Eden). 


Also highly recommend, especially by my friend Ruthie, this was another on the must-have list. I remember countless times where we wanted to throw those nasty nose-suckers that you get from the hospital or Target or wherever at the wall! They just did.not.work.for.us! I am so excited to have this item on hand this go-around.


So a girlfriend at church sold me her never-used Medela (above) for $50! Score! I had a horrible pump when I had Eden and I will be honest that I used it a few times and just gave it up and became an exclusive non-pumper :) I knew that a good pump was essential this time. I really hope to go 13 months of exclusively breast feeding like I did with Eden, but I also have realistic expectations that it might not go as well and or be harder with having a toddler to chase around. I'm trying to just enter into it with a flexible attitude. But that being said, I'm pretty confident that this pump is going to be a lifesaver! 




We will have had two summer babies and it gets so hot here! So finding sleep sacks with velcro that help us cheat in the middle of the night for easy swaddling but that are not TOO much material is essential. With Eden we used the Aiden and Anais swaddle wraps-- which I ADORE-- but I need something a little bit more sturdy. I still have all my A&A wraps and use them as light blankets for Eden, car seat covers, blankets, nursing covers, etc. Love! 

P.S. I also wanted to add that a nursing cover was essential this time around, too! It is something I just had to add, so it's my #6 ;) I bought this one on Etsy. It was kind of pricey but it was essential for me. I never nursed in public because Eden would pull my shirt or the cover and half of me was exposed! The rectangular style just did not work for us. This is a 360 degree cover that I am hoping will really put me at easy with nursing in public. It is super lightweight and can also be used as a scarf and carseat cover :) 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Our Essential Oil Journey

Unless you live under a rock, essential oils are the "trend" of the moment. Fully swarming the blog and celebrity world, as well as influencing moms, grandmas and men alike, people are obsessed. And I'm one of them. 

Back in January, a blog friend of mine started telling me more about essential oils and I was immediately skeptical-- I'll be honest. 

If there's one thing I have always said I would do on my blog, it was be honest. I don't want to lure anyone into something that I don't believe in. And in my blogging journey over the past three years, I've started using things, and one time even selling products that I wasn't "in love with." For one, I can't be passionate about something I don't believe in and two I certainly can't look my friends and family in the eyes and sell them on it. That's why I choose to not do a lot of product reviews here on the blog.

But essential oils.
They just made sense to me.
I researched them and there was not a lot that seemed "off" to me. 
It wasn't like some magic pill that was supposed to help me shed 10 lbs overnight.
It was oil that was bottled up from a plant
This article from the Huffington Post fascinated me. 
Oils were more than just for the immune system though-- they could be added to my beauty regimen (frankincense?), cooking (lemon, oregano?), home fragrance (lemon? purification?) and more. 

My first "oil" post on Instagram
_findingbeautyintheordinary

I trusted YoungLiving for several reasons-- #1 being their SeedToSeal quality commitment
I knew that what I was putting on and into my families bodies was safe.
It made the most financial sense and it came with a diffuser which was what I wanted for Eden's nursery (used as a multi-purpose diffuser/humidifier/germ eliminator) so I made the jump and it arrived on my doorstep in about 5 days.

After I bought my kit, friend after friend of ours that we had been around the week before got sick. 
I started diffusing Thieves in my house and putting it on the bottom of Eden's feet.
She never got sick. 
We had so much success that I started letting my friends borrow the diffuser and use my Thieves and I risked getting sick by dropping it off at their sick household's doorstep. Didn't happen.

I fell in love with the diffuser for several reasons. 
I can not stand super sweet smells. My biggest problem with candles is the hot wax and having a little one around. I never joined the Scentsy club. I wanted something that would make my house smell awesome AND do something at the same time. Help eliminate germs in my house? Create a relaxing, spa like experience in my home and not make it smell like a bottle of Sweet Pea? Awesome. One of my piano students walked in the other day and said, "Mrs. Heather, your house always smells nice and peaceful." Bam. 

I use Purification in my washer machine for gross smelling towels. I've used Lemon on my floors in spots where there is a little bit of left-over residue from the new tile placement. It's lifted the grime right up. I've used Lavender to help treat diaper rash on Eden and diffuse Peace and Calming in her room to help her sleep better during nap time. We've been recently obsessed with Cedarwood as it has helped us fall asleep faster and better with crazy, inconsistent schedules. Also helps with postpartum hair loss. Oh and how can I forget Lemongrass for fluid retention these last couple of weeks of pregnancy? So many uses.

I bought my kit in March and have been using my oils ever since with no intentions of stopping. We are so happy to have found relief/help for our family.

I'll be teaching an online oil education class next Friday, July 18th, on Facebook! It's so convenient-- learn more about oils from the comfort of your couch! Information will show up in your feed/"Events" calendar. Please email me at heather.findingbeauty@gmail.com if you'd like an invite or have any other questions about oils. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

35 Weeks


We have arrived at 35 weeks and boy do I feel like I have been pregnant forever. 

I feel her right now, moving and jabbing me with her elbows and knee kicks, her hiccups making my belly shake back and forth. She is in there, perfectly formed; breathing, growing, healthy. Her little fingers have fingernails and her head has hair; her eyes can open and shut and are sensitive to light. 

She is just perfect. 

It took me a long time to... well, connect with her. 
I have been pretty honest about that
Once I finally wrote that post, and released it to cyberspace, it was like complete acceptance of myself and my feelings. And then I started to connect. I started getting excited. I think it was honestly just coming from a place of complete exhaustion and feeling overwhelmed after the move (another move during a pregnancy), really bad morning sickness, and chasing around a busy toddler.

I was so confused after I found out she was a "she." 
I dreamt of her as a boy. 
We prayed for her as a boy. 
Not like we hope for her as one, but that's just how I truly felt her to be.
A son.
I think it took me a good two weeks to come to terms with the fact that I was having another daughter. It was just the opposite of everything I felt from the get-go of this pregnancy.

But a sister? A sister for Eden. 
Oh my goodness.
Bliss.

I never had a sister and I remember going through this phase when I was like 6 or 7 and I would cry at night and beg my parents to give me a little baby sister. I am so excited that my girls will have one another. We would still love to have more children, Lord willing. But even if I just have two, knowing that they have one another, that brings me such peace. 

Two sweet, beautiful girls. 
Two best friends for life.
Two little women that I get to cook with and help foster into little ladies that hopefully love the Lord and want to be mommies to their own one day. I daydream often of Thanksgiving dinners with us all cooking together and lots of kids-- our grandkids-- all around our table. It makes me giddy.

Two sweet, beautiful little girls that are completely wrapped around Joshua's fingers.
That love him like crazy and who think the world of him.
I just know it. 

We are so excited to meet you, baby girl.
We pray for you so often and say your name out loud all the time. 
We are decorating your nursery right now and think of you with each paint stroke as we paint your walls. 

Before we know it, you will be here with us. 
And we won't remember how life was before you arrived.
We love you so much already; see you soon. xo

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Let's Have Coffee


If we were to meet for coffee today, I would probably order a really cold iced drink because it is 100+ degrees here and I am melting. 

I would ask how you are doing? What is going on in your life? How can I pray for you? 

I would tell you that this year has already been so trying for us and so many people I know. It's been a year of loss and of gain. It's been a year where I've questioned God and been angry at him. But yet it's been a year where I have already grown in faith and that's worth it, right? Joshua and I have been talking so much about how the Christian life is NOT supposed to be easy. So I am thankful. 

I would tell you that this year I have gained some of the most incredible girlfriends, friends who strengthen me spiritually and who I can count on to give me good, solid Biblical advice. I haven't had a sisterhood like this in a long time, and it's blessed me so much.

Most likely I would tell you that I have started two small businesses this year and both have been so rewarding on many levels. One is teaching piano lessons, and the other I will be sharing about in the near future. 

We would probably talk a little about politics, and the state of our world right now and how frustrating it is to me sometimes. How I wish I had more time to do something about it and change the way the future looks for my babies. How I am scared to let them out into this big world and often times dream of keeping them in a safe, secure bubble until they are grown adults. Not really, but kind of ;)

I would tell you that the longer I am a mom, the more I enjoy it and yet the more I realize how important my own hobbies and passions are. I am definitely a person who needs to have more than one thing going on at a time. I am thankful that the two previous mentioned routes I am on are merging both my passion for motherhood and work together. I feel productive and I feel like my brain is getting exercised beyond diapers and toddler meals (nothing wrong with those, of course). 

This pregnancy is kicking my butt and I am experiencing exhaustion like I never knew possible. I think I felt more awake during the first couple of weeks with a newborn. I honestly am not enjoying being pregnant nearly as much as I did with Eden, but still I am so, so very thankful for this gift. I wanted this so much, and it's beautiful to be here again. 

I would tell you that Eden is changing so much every day. I have a full-blown toddler. She says new words almost everyday, has the most hysterical expressions, and is super independent. We are going to start potty training soon, and sometimes we just look at her and say to ourselves, "Where did the time go?!" She is so fun. 

Joshua and I are continuing to love our new home and this life we are building here. Our relationships have definitely changed over the years. When we first moved here, it was definitely a lot of work friends with no babies and now it has evolved more into church friends with babies. Seems like a natural transition as we have found a truly amazing church and friends there. We feel very blessed to have finally found this after a good year-and-a-half without a church family when we first moved to AZ. 

I would ask how your coffee is? Do you want to go anywhere else during our time together? Hobby Lobby perhaps? ;) I would ask how your family is, how work is going, and what God is doing in your life? I would tell you that I'm happy to spend time with you. There is something so wonderful about coffee with a dear friend.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

5 Tips Before Building A Home



I have been asked several times during our home building process to share tips about what we learned, what we would do differently, and more. We are so blessed to have had an extremely smooth building process. Would we do it over again? You bet. Are we happy with our decision? Entirely. Would we do anything differently? No. And that's because we planned. I attribute the smooth sailing to a lot of that. I thought I would share some tips that are hopefully helpful before one considers building. 

BUDGET 

Create a budget! You don't want to get in over your head, and when you build, that can happen really fast. Sit down and discuss what you can afford. 

Do you have a house that you currently own that you would need to sell in order to begin the build process? Remember to factor in the cost of making your current home sell-able and then the realtor fees and other fees that will come in to play afterwards. Thoroughly discuss with your sales agent at the new build how much money you will have to put down for a down payment. 

Are there any hidden fees? Make sure you know exactly what you are going to have to shell out at the end. There are a ton of fees that can occur when building-- land deposit and upfront home design gallery fees, just to name a few. Realistically speaking, expect to spend significantly more than what the "base" price is that is advertised by your builder. Just because it says "From the low 300K's," for example, does not mean that's what you will be paying, ESPECIALLY if you do not want to settle for a basic, standard design. In our case, we had two kinds of upgrades: structural and aesthetic.  

AREA + BUILDER

Where do you want to live? Sit down and make a list of what is important to you in your community. Are you a people person? Do you want land? Do you want a gym close by? We've lived in this town for several years so we knew we wanted to stay where we were currently living based on personal preferences like proximity to grandparents and church, overall community, great school districts, active lifestyle and things to do for our kids and kids to come! And lets be honest-- at least 5 minutes from Starbucks! ;)  

Research your builder! As far as our builder was concerned, we knew who we did and did not want to use. We researched builders and asked friends who have built in the past. Some of the things that our house came with at a "basic" level were appealing: standard granite (which we still upgraded but it was not crazy outrageous because we were just adding onto the "credit" they gave us) and great basic carpet and tile (areas we didn't want to sink money into because our goal is to change it in the next couple of years anyways due to heavy traffic areas and having little ones, and aesthetic preference). 

Guard your heart to avoid disappointment! We did consider other neighborhoods and one in particular was at the top of our list because of lot size. Once we started researching the area and the builder, several factors veered us away (flood zone? only electric, no gas? what!) -- and they were big factors. All to say... definitely do you research before you get excited about something only to be disappointed. We had been looking potential house builds since we moved out here in 2011. I really am so happy we took our time to consider each option before just jumping in and eventually regretting something down the road. 

MAKE A LIST OF PRIORTIES

What is important to you? Is there anything you didn't like about your last home and desire to do differently? Before you build, you want to have a clear, un-emotional list of attributes of your future home that matter to you. Joshua and I sat down and literally wrote a list of what was important to us. We made a list of what was important, things we could change down the road, and things we would not budge on. We stuck to it. We upgraded our granite, opted for a butler's pantry, didn't drywall in our loft, opted for a major garage facelift (extended door and width and length), open stair railing, extended outdoor patio, and double-sided gate. Most of the structural upgrades are things we have absolutely no regrets on-- we can absolutely not change the design of our house, but we can change flooring down the road! On an aesthetic level, we upgraded almost everything (faucets, cabinets, etc) except for flooring. We chose to paint the interior house ourselves (saved us about $3K), and didn't do the "extras" like have a surround system installed, etc (we did, however, have it pre-wired). 

Are you planning on moving one day? Another very important factor to consider is resale. If you are not planning on staying there forever, make choices during your house build that will benefit your future sale. We are not planning on moving for a longgggg time (praise Jesus!). We focused on our kitchen and our master bathroom. Both were our areas of highest upgrade cost, but we knew they would benefit us in the long run, if we do ever decide to sell. We also opted for a water softener loop, BBQ gas hookup outside, lots of outlets inside and outside, and many more areas in our home that would be appealing to future buyers. 

OPEN COMMUNICATION

Form relationships! We really had a great building experience and I attribute a lot of that to forming a good, solid relationship with our sales associate and team of people building the home, especially our construction manager. Dozens and dozens of times they would just give us the key to walk through our home when it was being built to just check it out and ask questions. They were always available for us on the phone. They kept us informed on what was going on all the time. We formed a special bond with the crew and they almost became like family during the 6 month long process.

HAVE FUN

Relax! This is SUCH an exciting time. Enjoy every minute. We definitely had our share of stressful moments. I remember one time in particular when we stopped by for a random visit to the build site and one of our rooms was framed wrong. Fortunately it was an easy error to fix, and had we not even stopped by our construction manager would have caught it. Fortunately it was literally just wood and nails at that point, but I got so stressed and worked up about something that was a simple fix. Enjoy the ride and cherish these moments. Have a sense of humor! Building our home was such a special time for our family! I love that no one has made memories in it but us. 
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