Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas in Boston :)

"I used to think that being a kid on Christmas was the best thing ever, but it turns out having kids on Christmas is."
Basically just a photo dump for you ... Spending time away from technology and the internet and enjoying our holiday with family and friends and all these new beautiful babies Wishing everyone a very very Merry Christmas and a blessed 2015! 
My beautiful new neice Amelia Paige <3
"Pampa Marcoux" aka the Baby Whisperer
Cousins meeting for the first time
Trying really hard to take a pic of all the 'Marcoux' cousins
And itty bitty baby Ella!
Soon to be baby Cole :) 
10th Annual CliffDoggie Christmas Party
Blair's ever growing posse
Xmas Eve crafts 
Xmas morning!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bits of Life Lately

The face of a child who just told Santa he wants a Lamborghini car for Christmas.
some christmas craftin' with L
& craftin' for B's baby frien's
Breastmilk donation (read more)
Some Santa pics. Poor Bears isn't a fan of the jolly ole man
Evidence of one successful crib attempt. She looks so peaceful looking at her here. But trust me guys, this has not been easy. We don't call her the the Blair Bears for nothin'.
& because who doesn't love a baby butt

Saturday, December 6, 2014

DIY Christmas Garland

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.

Merry Christmas Crafting!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Gift of Giving! - Breast Milk Donation.

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 :)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Small Business Love and Weekend Sales!

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 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!? 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A DIY to Make Your Own Candles!

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.
- Thermometer
- 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!

Happy Homemade Gift Making!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Lil Snapshots of Life Lately

L's room. (faux) taxidermy via Near & Deer
Couple bits of Blair's room
"Cheese mom!" A couple pics taken by Landon. He's so artsy.
Cozy by the fire. (Sweater by Baby Boden and knot headband by The Lil Cupcake)
Pretty typical bath scene. She'll get him back for all his tricks someday. 
Winter walks. Darling head bow by The Lil Cupcake (use coupon code CUPCAKE03 for 10% off)
bundled babe
Sneaky children
New arm candy from Dylan James Kids (Enter our GIVEAWAY going on now for your own custom piece!)
She really likes food now.
Really really love the fact that Landon loves reading his Bible together every night before bed.
My dad just sent me this gem he took when he came out to visit last month. Can't even handle all the sweetness going on here. And is that all Blair's hair blowing in the wind?

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