Here is a really great festive and educational craft you can do with your kids and have the outcome really be for yourself - win win ;) This DIY Christmas garland is especially great to do with kids who might have some OT or fine motor planning issues, or just to practice on those areas with them, through cutting and lacing.
All you need for this is some baker's twine, paper straws (got mine on eBay for $2 bucks), beads (check out dollar store or Michaels), and bluntly tipped children's scissors. Have your child practice cutting with scissors by slicing up the straws, (which is easier for them to do than cutting paper as all it requires is one quick cut). Then alternating between the freshly cut straws and beads, lace onto the twine until you reach the desired length of garland for your tree.
There's so many different ways to personalize your garland depending on your tree and desired look you're going for. Since our tree has a silver and gold theme, I used silver and gold striped paper straws along with silver and gold beads, but some other ideas I love are the wooden beads with various colored paper straws, or varied shaped and sized crystal beads with white straws for a more elegant look.
There are so many ways to make this craft even more of a learning experience for them - the most obvious is through the concept of a pattern - you can discuss how you are developing repeat pieces/colors and have them pick out the next piece in your garland as you go (this is more of a higher level/4-year old skill). You can also discuss other concepts and vocabulary such as comparing lengths of the cut straws, ("taller than", "shorter than", "the same as") and introduce or practice other descriptive words like round, shiny, smooth, hard, thin, fragile, striped, etc.
The most valuable gift I gave this year -- worked extra hard the past several months to donate just over 300 oz of breast milk! It was shipped via overnight delivery to a hospital in Southern California to give to premature and critically ill babies in the NICU.
Adding in a couple extra pumping sessions a day over the past several months was definitely not easy but I am soo happy I was able to do this, and this little chuckers is clearly happy to share :)
If you have ever thought about doing this, or if you are now thinking of ways you can give back this holiday season, I honestly can't think of a more valuable, precious, and rewarding gift to give to a fellow mother and baby in need. Breast milk donation is the only way a premature baby can receive the proper nutrition through an exclusive human-milk diet. Even if a mother is able to produce her own milk, preemie babies need more protein and nutrition than what her body alone can give. By supplementing with donated breast milk, they can up to triple the amount of protein they receive. (Milk fortifier made from cow's milk or formula can cause problems for premature babies because they are not natural human proteins and the baby's underdeveloped systems cannot always handle the cow protein).
Breast milk donation is also used to help mothers who have problems producing milk, or who are taking medications that her milk unsafe for baby, or if her own milk is otherwise not available in the NICU.
The World Health Organization now recommends that babies are given breastmilk for the first TWO years of their life. For the entire first year of life, the Organization recommends babies receive their mother's milk, donated breast milk, or formula, in that order, as the primary source of nutrition.
I worked with National Milk Bank to give my donation, and I highly recommend going through them if this is something you're interested in -- they were truly incredible to work with, answered any and all questions I had about the process and throughout the screening process, and really made you feel like you are making a huge difference in the lives of these little babes :)
I know I'm not the only one already chipping away at their Christmas shopping this year. Last Christmas was a lil cray cray with a newborn, (our Christmas cards didn't even go out until after Christmas!) so I am ON TOP of my shit this year. Since I really now despise crazy crowded malls (really - shopping anywhere with two small children), I have learned to love the ease of online shopping. (Scouring eBay during nightly nursing sessions has become a sick obsession).
But I am all about supporting local and handmade small businesses so in honor of Small Business Saturday this weekend I have a few sales going on from a few of my faaavorite small shops to share with you guys! Check 'me out!
1. The Lil Cupcake! You may know Blair is a brand rep for this small shop. It is owned and everything is handmade by probably one of the sweetest women on the planets too. Crystal hand makes every single item in the shop by herself, using the best quality organic cotton fabrics, trendy prints, and functional style. Her headbands are all made with 100% organic cotton, perfect for your little one's often very sensitive head. From now through Monday, Dec 1, Crystal is offering 25-50% off her ENTIRE SHOP! AND you can also type in promo code CUPCAKE03 for an additional 10% off your entire order! -- What the what you say? That's beautiful handmade organic cotton headbands, wraps and bows for less than $5.00 a piece!! And so much more too -- from bibs to teethers to infinity scarves to diaper straps. Get those babies checked off your Christmas list now!
2. We are absolutely in love with Landon's new faux antler mount from Near and Deer. They have so many cool faux animal and taxidermy mounts to choose from, are unique and trendy, handmade, and of course animal friendly, which makes them pretty much just amazing all around.
I am hosting an Instagram giveaway right now for you to win your own custom faux antler mount!! (Winner gets to pick their own custom color combo!) Ends on Monday so head on over to my IG post and enter now!
And you can visit their site www.nearanddeer.com and enter promo code "SANTA20" for 20% off your entire order from now through Tuesday Dec 2!
3. Dylan James Kids jewelry!! We are so in love with this shop and if you are bummed you didn't win our recent giveaway, fret not! They are offering 30% off your entire order with promo code MUMMAS30! Go get some!
4. Freshly Picked! They are having a huge sale where you can get all mocs for 25% off! That's $45 down from $60!! They almost never have sales so don't walk - RUN over to Freshly Picked and stock up! As always, they offer free shipping on orders over $100. And have you seen their new Crib Moc? It's smaller than a size 1, made for thise fresh newborn babes - what a sweet touch these would add to their 'going home from the hospital' outfit - would be a super cute gift for a baby shower or new baby!
5. Last but not least-- My Extract Shop! I am offering a 30% discount on all orders placed with my shop on Saturday the 29th only with promo code "SMALLBUSINESS30" at checkout. So if you are thinking about trying an ALL NATURAL way to cleanse and moisturize your skin and you are tired of wasting money on OTC and prescription skincare products that are actually not helping your skin, try one of my custom oil cleansers, made specifically tailored to YOUR own skin, comprised entirely of 100% organic cleansing oils and the finest pure grade A therapeutic essential oils. Want clear, balanced skin this holiday season?? Order yours now! I offer a 100% Satisfaction Back Guarantee so what's stopping you!?
You know I love giving handmade things so I thought in the spirit of the season I would finally get up this DIY post on how to make your own container candles! I have made these for so many gifts the past year - I think a nice candle is a gift everyone loves and will use and you really can't go wrong with. I just made a new batch to add into some Christmas gifts and for Landon's teachers' Christmas gifts, so these ones are holiday-themed, but you can totally use different scents and ribbon and make them perfect for any occasion - housewarming, new mommy gift, Mother's Day, teacher appreciation, thank you gift, a just because I love you gift, or just for yourself ;)
Here's What You Need:
- Candle wax - I use soy wax to make my candles, a little bit more expensive than the regular paraffin wax, but it is longer lasting and much more environmentally friendly. And plus if you've got new babies laying around breathing in these candle fumes, make them safe! (Side note - I bought a huge ass bag online but you can get smaller ones if you aren't going to make a lot and craft stores typically carry too).
- Double boiler (I found mine cheap on ebay but I would imagine they aren't hard to find at any store. If you don't have one you can make a fake double broiler with some metal canning rings)
- Metal pouring pitcher. You can find these cheap on ebay, here's an example of one I just found on amazon so you get an idea.
- Wick assemblies and tacky wax (again, got mine online at Amazon, but can be found ay any craft store. You don't need a lot of tacky wax - 1 oz pk is more than enough!)
- Candle scent (I used essential oils because I really wanted my candles to be completely free of any dyes and artificial scents. My favorite essential oils for these candles are peppermint, or a peppermint blend, lavender-mint or rosemary-mint).
- Candle dye (Optional, if you don't want white candles).
- Containers (I used these Ball Mason jars - 8 pks at Target for only $8.00)
1. First step is preparing your jars. You can use anything that will withstand heat. As mentioned above, I used mason jars and think they look amazing. Put a dab of your Tacky Wax on the bottom of the wick piece and stick it to the bottom of your jar nicely in the middle. If you're using a large jar like these mason jars, using scissors or butter knife helps to press it down there hard so it sticks and doesn't move around when you pour the wax in.
2. You're ready to cook your wax. I used a medium-size stainless steel pot as a base pot. Put my double broiler down, and a cheap metal pitcher on top of that. (Don't have a double broiler? You can fit three wide-mouth canning rings at the bottom, creating a makeshift rack or fake double broiler to set your pouring pitcher on. Heating wax over direct heat can cause overheating and possibly a fire, so don’t do it! Make sure you have a double broiler or makeshift one).
3. Pour water inside the base pot and heat the wax to the degree directed for your specific wax. There's no need to stir or break apart chunks. As the wax melts, it will all come out on its own. I actually didn't even check the temperature of my wax - once it completely melted I took it off.
4. When the wax reaches its pouring temperature, or whenever it completely melts, you can add your candle dye, which comes in liquid or solid form. (The dye package will direct how much to use). If you’re using solid dye, you can cut it up before adding it so that it will melt faster.
5. After the dye is mixed in, turn off the heat and quickly add the scent. You can use one scent or a combination to create custom scents. I used essential oil combinations to make cinnamon-vanilla and patchouli-lime, and lavender-mint and rosemary-mint. All smelled amazing! If you do use essential oils, you will need to add in a lot to make your candle actually smell when you burn it.
6. Pour the wax into the containers (reserving some extra wax for topping off later). Be careful to keep your wicks centered. - I used knives positioned across the tops to keep the wicks in place until the wax set.
7. Let cool for 30-45 minutes. Reheat reserved wax to pouring temperature then top off the candles to fill in any air bubbles or unevenness.
It's worth mentioning now that the color of your hot melted wax will not look like that color when it's dried. I didn't add in any candle dye to mine because I like them white and they look like a really ugly yellow until they completely dry and harden:
8. You're done! You can personalize with a label or ribbon and gift away! I used baker's twine (can find at any craft store) and some jingle bells (50-pk at Dollar Tree Christmas section).
It’s fun to play with dyes and scents, and you can make your candle scent as strong as you like by adding more scent. You can also alter the color by adding more or less dye (or even mixing dyes). I'm thinking about buying some candle dye and experimenting with different color candles, (actually making an ombre candle!) next time. And I also think I am going to purchase some candle dye, as you really need to use a lot of essential oils to make the scent strong enough and I 'd rather save my precious oils for other needs.
So there you have it! I hope you guys try these - it sounds intimidating but once you do it I promise you'll think it was so super easy and you're going to want to keep making more!
Oh my gosh you guys we are soo in love with this shop and am so excited to be hosting a giveaway for Dylan James Kids' adorable, handmade jewelry for your little boy OR girl!
We love wooden everything in this home (especially for the kids) as well as monogrammed everything, so we are head over heels in love with this custom wood bead bracelet for Blair with a beautiful pink flower and letter B. (It totally reminds me of Rifle Paper Co!) We also got her a little baby flamingo necklace because this one day at a zoo in Florida Landon likened her to a little baby sister flamingo and I never got over it. Although Landon has sort of claimed this one as his own.
I love how they have cute stuff for boys too! A lot of their items are actually totally unisex, so perfect if you have one of each or want to keep as a hand me down. These pieces are also so special because they can be customized with either your child's name, their initial, birthdate, horoscope sign, or something they love (milk, juice, candy, mermaids!). They would be such a great one-of-kind, special birthday or Christmas gift to give out. But the best thing about Dylan James Kids is that the shop owner, Melissa is so sweet and carefully crafts each and every piece handmade with love for your little one. All this being said, I was so excited that Melissa teamed up with me to offer one of you guys to win one of your own Dylan James Kids piece!!
All You Need To Do to Enter:
1. Leave a comment on this post, telling me which item you would choose if you're the lucky winner. To Gain Additional Entries: 1. Share a link to this post on Twitter (Easy way to do this is just to hit the "share it" button at the bottom of my right sidebar)
2. Share a link to this post on Facebook. 3. Follow Mumma's Corner (either via google friend connect, bloglovin', or subscribe to posts by email) 4. Share this giveaway on Instagram by taking a screen shot of your favorite item, tagging @lisab3 and include the hashtag #DJKMCgiveaway
*Please leave a separate comment on this blog post for each additional entry, letting me know your Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram username if applicable, and be sure to leave your email address on each post so I know how to contact you if you're the lucky winner!
**Giveaway will run for 1 week from today and will officially close at 12:00pm cst on 11/23/14.
Am I really going here? I have never once posted anything about my body, let alone post-partum body, but let's be real, a woman's body image, and specifically post-partum body image, is something she probably thinks about, if not obsesses over, every single day.
I am going to be completely honest and say that I definitely struggled with my post-partum body image after Blair. Although I gained 20+ more lbs throughout my first pregnancy with Landon, I was also 26 years old. After his birth, the weight just seemed to naturally fall off without much thought or effort on my part and after about 3 months I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight. And that's also how I measured everything back then, by the numbers on the scale. Now, exactly one year post-partum from Blair's birth, and I am still physically feeling the aftermath of her pregnancy and birth. I still have serious lower back pain every day. I still have the dark line that runs down from my belly button. Even my belly button has not completely turned back 'innie' yet. My breasts feel and look saggier, due to her (still) constant nursing and grabbing and suckling. With breastfeeding, (due to many allergies and acid reflux when we attempted to start solids -- an entire 9 months of exclusively breastfeeding), my appetite was, and still is, absolutely ravenous. They say you burn 500 calories a day nursing, so I thought the baby weight would fall off even faster and more naturally than when it did with Landon. Boy I could not have been any more Wrong! For every calorie burned I think I would stuff my face with about 100 more. In an extreme sleep-deprived, starving Ethiopian, zombie-like manner. I'm sure my husband thought it was super sexy.
During these many, many accumulated dark quiet hours nursing through the day and night, I needed an outlet. As any mama knows how much more difficult it becomes to go out with friends, let alone talk to friends or family on the phone post-pregnancy - especially with an exclusively nursing baby who wakes at the drop of a dime. So - bored, and longing to stay connected with the outside world, I would, and still do, scroll through my phone during these long nursing sessions. I'd say 99% of my blog posts the past year have been drafted during these quiet times on my phone nursing. I'd blog, go through my photos, answer text messages from earlier, and I'd scroll through Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. I had been following some "fitness"and "women's health" Instagram accounts, in an effort to stay inspired and curb some of my post-partum breastfeeding binge eating. (I put "fitness" and "women's health" in quotations, as most of their borderline pornographic images are really not honest representations of a female or post-partum body). I'd see these women's accounts post a side by side photo of a very pregnant body with one a couple weeks later holding their newborn with a flat tummy and toned everything. I'd see these self-proclaimed "fit moms" showing off their abs 2 weeks post-partum and their visible ab progression throughout their post-partum weeks and months. Pictures they also made sure to capture their baby in, captioning, "no excuses!" I'd watch videos of these women doing crunches, holding their little baby up in the air with each crunch ....planking and push ups with their toddler on their back. Captioning things like, "What's your excuse?" It just made me want to throw up all over their picture-perfect square post. But I'd also see subtle posts, of new moms in a very flattering angle, in a bikini or short shorts or back in their skinny jeans just a couple weeks after having their baby, probably after editing and cropping and finding the perfect filter and light contrast to make their muscles pop and look more defined. Maybe you have not seen these particular type posts on your feed, but you have surely seen the same on magazine covers of celebrities "getting their bodies back" immediately after having a baby.
Why do we live in a society that idolizes - and obsesses over -- a fit post-baby body??
I admittedly and frustratingly tried too hard to get my pre-baby body back. After getting the 8-week "okay" from my OB, you better believe I hit the gym. And you better believe I cried when they wouldn't let me back in because my baby was too young for the child center. Still determined to "get my body back," I ordered a high-impact/high-intensity home workout program I could do from home. I went from Cardio Queen / Yogi to jumping up and down with weights in my hands. And I didn't do the recommended one a day, I would sometimes do multiple videos a day. And I badly injured myself not once but twice, setting myself back even more weeks back from my goal on my race to Operation Pre-Baby Body.
So what is the point of this post? It's to take an honest look at a new mother's post-partum body and to take a minute to actually just glorify that. It's to stop idolizing the women on the fast track to 'losing the baby weight'. It's to shed light on some of these "fit mom" posts and quite honestly very sad, 'pre-baby body' obsession. It's to really just encourage and preach a more gentle, kinder and accepting approach to new moms out there. One year after my baby's birth and I can't preach about my abs being back. I can't even tell you that my belly button is back. But I can tell you I am happy with, actually amazed, by my body.
A body that grew two babies. That formed within it, their beating hearts, their little organs and little limbs and soft wispy little baby hairs and tiny little fingernails. A body that has the strength to pick up and hold my baby when the only thing that can comfort her is being held close to my body. A body that has the strength to carry my child for hours on end while unloading the groceries, cooking, vacuuming, and carrying a heavy basket of laundry in the other arm.
A body that completely, by the nature of itself, hassustained and nourished the life of my child for the entire past year. A body that has donated over 200 ounces of breastmilk to critically ill, premature infants in the NICU.
All of these things are so much more beautiful than my pre-baby abs. That is what we, especially as fellow mothers, should be focused on and praising ourselves and others for. Whether our abs are back and whether we can fit back in our skinny jeans (nevermind whether celebrities or other women are) should be the last thing on our mind during the entire first year - if not longer -- let alone those precious first few weeks home from the hospital.
At the beginning of this month, I rejoined my gym and started going back to my yoga classes. I still do the home videos at home (these are p90x3 in case you were wondering) but I don't do them every day, only on days when 30 minutes from home is all I can manage. I've nixed the eliptical and I picked up my yoga practice right where I left off, and feel like a new life has been breathed into me. I haven't owned a scale for the past 6 months, and I let the way I feel judge how I'm doing.
Just to be clear -- I am all for the 'clean eating' and healthy and fit lifestyle, and if you've spent any time here on my blog or with me in person, you've aways known that about me. It just took me the better part of the past year to understand and comes to terms with the notion of moderation and balance being the key. And every so often, going ahead and treating yourself to something nice.
So one year post-partum with my second child, and here you have my "transformation":
These two photos were taken within 5 minutes of each other this morning. Just to shed some light on some of the transformation pics or body pics you see. It's easy to suck it in, catch a better angle, pop a hip, flex your muscles, and bam. I could have even taken this a step further and applied a filter, adjusted the contrast, lighting, or sizing, (and what if I knew photoshop!) but you get the point. Anyone can very easily make themselves look better and make others feel worse about themselves.
If you guys are looking for some good women's health IG accounts to follow, check out where I got this "fake transformation" inspiration from - melvfitness and mamalionstrong and also check out YourGymGF, co-run by one of my best friends from college. They post real videos doing pull ups, push-ups, squats, healthy recipes, as well as post pictures eating ice cream, going out for a drink, funny gym bloopers, & they don't contort their bodies into weird shapes in their underwear so that mass amounts of people will like and follow and feed their ego.
& In case you were wondering where I got that cute yoga gear at the top of this post, it is from Boden's new yoga line, which is hands down the best, most comfortable and movable and flattering yoga wear I've ever put on my body. Anyone go to sleep in the clothes they want to wear the next day? Since we're being real. Well these are also perfect for that. (You guys can use promo code YOGA to receive 20% off your order plus free shipping now through Saturday).
I blogged about cord blood banking about a year ago (here) and am back today with another follow up post to tell you about our experience and to also re-emphasize the importance of cord blood banking. We had a really wonderful great experience using LifeBank USA to donate Blair's cord blood last year. They were awesome to work with, we got our request and paperwork processed super fast, and the process at the hospital to donate the kit was so unbelievably easy. All I had to do was bring the cord blood kit box in with me to the delivery room, and the nurses completely took over with all the instructions from LifeBank. Basically all they did was take 4 vials of blood from me, check off a few administrative notes, package up the tissue, placenta, & cord blood after delivery, and then all I had to do was call LifeBank within 2 hours of her birth to have a representative come pick up the box. I was a little stressed out about the whole process beforehand but everything turned out to be very simple and uncomplicated and very easy on me. If you don't know anything about it, there are soo many reasons to preserve your baby's cord blood, or otherwise donate it. Through cord blood banking, you can collect and preserve potentially lifesaving stem cells, and doing so could one day save the life of your child or a blood relative. The ability of stem cells to save lives via cord blood banking has proved successful for replacing abnormal or diseased cells, and treating life-threatening blood disorders such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma. In fact, 1,988 stem cell transplants have been used to treat some 80 diseases. You can bank even more stem cells by collecting them from 2 usable sources of stem cell-rich blood: the umbilical cord and the placenta. This service is called Placental and Cord Blood Banking and it is available only through LifeBank USA. Whether you choose Placental and Cord Blood Banking or Cord Blood Banking alone, there are still many other reasons to choose LifeBank: LifeBank is the only company that offers cord blood, placenta blood, and tissue banking, and they are also the first to release placenta-derived stem cells for a successful transplant. They have been absolutely wonderful to work with and they will collect cells from anywhere in the US. Another reason to bank with LifeBank? They include tissue banking (tissue from the placenta) for free. Placental tissue contains mesenchymal (MSCs) and MSC-like cells. While stem cells found in cord blood and placenta blood have been used to successfully treat patients, there are currently no approved uses for stem cells derived from the umbilical cord or placenta tissue. Possible therapeutic applications are in early research stages and LifeBankUSA's parent company is actively involved in their development. LifeBankUSA will store the placenta tissue for you as part of their banking package using their cryogenic tanks for long-term preservation. In the event your baby's tissue cells are ever needed for future therapies, the tissue may then be processed and cultured using available technology at the time. Banking with LifeBankUSA will definitely give you peace of mind, knowing that this stem cell-rich blood can be used to treat certain diseases in the future. Along with peace of mind, LifebankUSA is also now giving away THREE Graco 4Ever Car Seats in a random drawing. A $300 value each!! You can enter the contest HERE. Good luck!!
Today I am thrilled to feature these sweet baby headbands from The Lil Cupcake!
When Blair was born this was one of the first things I ordered for her when we got home from the hospital, as all the little headbands I had received for her were elastic banded with some type of flower or jewel at the top, and really agitated her sensitive little newborn head. These Knot & Bow Headbands from The Lil Cupcake are not only more fashionable for your chic boho baby, but completely solve the problem and guilt of that elastic 'red head.' They are handmade with 100% organic cotton and are unbelievably soft and comfortable for your little one's fragile head.
She just added a ton of adorable new winter prints in the shop - a few of my other favorites are this one & this one.
They are also very reasonably priced, ranging from only $12-$14 a piece, and you guys can use coupon code CUPCAKE03 for an additional 10% off your order!
Stock up now for birthdays and those Christmas stockings!