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Creating a Cozy Outdoor Deck Space with Wayfair

We recently gave our deck a little refresh thanks to Wayfair! Having a place that is comfortable and relaxing for our family to go when it’s nice outside has been such a game changer this spring and summer. We have a beautiful, large, full-grown oak and crab apple tree that shade our deck…it really is a lovely and peaceful place that we enjoy together. When selecting items to decorate the deck I wanted to focus on things that would help the kiddos enjoy it too…the first thing that came to mind was an outdoor rug! A place they could sit and play with toys. Since we’ve rolled out the rug that’s exactly how it’s been used. I also wanted to hang deck railing planters full of geraniums because they help repel mosquitos!

Below is a sneak peek at the items we selected (with links for your convenience!) and photos of the finished look. How do you think it turned out?

Outdoor Gray Throw Pillows | Small “Home Sweet Home” Pillow | Navy Blue Seat Cushions
Large Outdoor Area Rug | Small No-Slip Rug | Deck Railing Planters


This collaboration was sponsored by Wayfair. 

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Spring Unit Study: Backyard Birds

Spring is the perfect time to revisit all that God has so intricately crafted on our earth and in nature. This spring lesson is meant to draw attention to and create awe in God’s creation and in the “birds of the air” (Gen 1:30). Please feel free to use all or some of the ideas below. Search online and find other ideas to boost and add to this unit study – make it your own!

Click Here to learn more about how I used a $36 Lowe’s shelving unit to create a Montessori-style activity + tray learning center that we change out for each unit study. You can buy these simple trays with handles from Hobby Lobby!

Bible Verse
Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? – Matthew 6:26
Steve Green Memory Verse – Matthew 6:26 + Youtube Video

Library Books List
Common Backyard Birds by Doris Dumrauf
Bird Builds a Nest  by Martin Jenkins
A Nest Full of Eggs by Priscilla Belz Jenkins
Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward

Prints + Visuals
(each printable below was fairly inexpensive, in total it all cost under $15! Laminate them and use for younger children or pass on to a friend)
Birds of Winter mini-study
Spring Songbirds mini-study
Printable Songbird Poster
Spring Robin Shadow Matching
Spring Number Counting Flashcards

Display Inspiration + Ideas
Hang up posters/prints – use clipboards or simple thumbtacks
Display library books in easy to reach location 
TY Beanie Baby birds or other stuffed bird visuals
Set out bird ID flashcards 
Birdhouse visual
Birdnest visual
Binoculars
Notebook or sketchbook
Pencil, crayons, colored pencils
Tweezers (bird food) – Montessori skill tray



Bird Songs
Minnesota/Midwest common backyard birds

Outdoor Activities

  • Nature Hike + Bird Watching – pack a backpack with your binoculars, sketch pad, colored pencils, and a book or guide to the birds you might see.
  • Bird Scavenger Hunt
  • Make Your Own Bird Nest – scavenger outside just like the birds would to find items to make a bird’s nest!

Indoor Activities

  • Bird Song Matchfind the song of each bird on Youtube, play the song of each bird out loud, match it to the picture/flashcard and name it! Test your skills during an outdoor nature hike or next time you’re in your backyard
  • Books – read books from the book list above – identify which birds you’ve seen in your own backyard.
  • National Geographic Video – 50 Birds, 50 States
  • Baby Robins Feeding and First Flight – Youtube Video (friendly for all ages)
  • Science Experiment – Bird & Beak Adaptations
  • Outdoor Bird Feeder – set up a bird feeder outside that is visible from an indoor window, make sure the binoculars are handy and keep watch for different types of birds that visit your feeder! A songbird mix is usually the best and brings the most variety.

Letters + Letter Sounds
Baby Bird Alphabet 

Arts + Crafts
DIY Bird Feeder – toilet paper roll, sun butter, birdseed, yarn, hole punch
Coloring Pages
Robin Hand Craft

 

Enjoy! Please tag me at @samanthaecollin on Instagram if you try out this unit study!

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Our Kitchen Update on a Budget

We did it! We finally have our kitchen mostly done! Aside from a few cosmetic updates – we will call it complete. One year later…but better late than never! We love the results and how much brighter it is. It was definitely one of the bigger projects we undertook after moving into our new home. When starting this project we knew that it would need to be done on a budget. We wanted to keep it under $5,000 which in reality, isn’t a lot of money when you’re updating a kitchen (so we found out the hard way). I’ll be sharing tips on how we saved money and what we did below – keep scrolling!

But first….a before photo! I have never loathed green countertops so much in all my life.

Solid Surface Countertops:
The photo below is of the new countertops going in! Putting in the new countertops was the most expensive part when updating the kitchen. It cost us roughly $2,300 for the countertops alone. We went with Solid Surface countertops. After reviewing the pros and cons of not going with a granite or a quartz…it was clear to us that we really would get a much better deal going with solid surface and it would keep us within our budget. Unlike granite or quartz…you can’t cut on solid surface countertops with a knife or put anything hot on it, however, the similarities are quite comparable. This info from the solid surface website can help you out! We ended up getting our countertops from Home Depot! Our new white castiron double sink came as a special offer with the purchase of the countertops. Keep an eye out for deals and specials at places like Lowe’s, Menards and Home Depot! The new kitchen faucet and garbage disposal were roughly $200 total.

Ta-da! Below images are the “finished” product.

Cement Tile Backsplash:
For the cement tile backsplash, we worked with Riad Tile and got their Emma Grey Tile. It was delivered fast and really is the show stopper in our kitchen. The cement squares are beautiful, durable, and add a fun style to this space. Riad Tile offers the lowest prices in the country! We highly recommend them! We measured out roughly 34 square feet and the cost for the tiles and all of the installation supplies was roughly $600. We saved on labor and had my dad do the install and use his wet saw for cutting and fitting the tiles. We also updated all of the light switches and outlets and changed out the ceiling boob light!

Painting the Cupboards:
Installing completely new cupboards would be quite a costly undertaking so to save money we decided to sand and paint them! Err well… my dad was the hero again for this project and helped us out a lot by doing most of the grunt work! We went with Behr Paint and the color Whitewash Oak. We paid roughly $150 for the one gallon of paint that we needed, brushes, and primer. We bought new hardware for the cupboards – handles and hinges to match the faucet. We went with the color Brushed Nickel. We paid about $125 for all of the hardware! Around the island, we put up wainscoting which was super inexpensive and easy to install. It gave our otherwise very plain island a nice updated look.

 

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5 Tips for Styling Open Shelving for Under $20

I am not an interior designer by any stretch of the imagination and I don’t claim to be one! I actually have a hard time with interior decorating and design things – I can never make up my mind. This little space used to be an open square hole in the wall that dated back to the 70’s – I’m not even sure what it would have been called or what it was used for? I had my dad close it in and put shelving inside so that I could put some little items in it to help create a spot to show off some of our own unique style (aka another place for little plants)!  I wanted to share how I went about styling this shelf for under $20!

1) Thrift Stores
I love thrift shopping. It’s a fun way to find unique items that have character and the price point typically doesn’t break the bank. On this particular shelving space, I have two faux greenery items that I found at a thrift store – the little sprigs in the round jars. I think they might have been 50 cents each! I have a little tub in the basement that contains little thrifted things I like to put on shelves throughout my home.

2) Use What You Have
The two photo frames are things I had up in our old home and didn’t have a specific place for here in our new home – until I needed something on these shelves! I dug them out and was elated to find that they fit perfectly. So go digging in your boxes, tubs, etc…and check out what else you might have around the house and change it up – take something that was in the bedroom on your dresser or nightstand and give it a new location in your home…simple little things like this make things feel brand new without spending the money!

3) Shop at the Dollar Store or Target Dollar Spot 
We’ve all done it. We’ve all walked into Target and spent more time perusing the Dollar Spot than we anticipated – and we likely took home a few things. Thankfully…the items are at a good price and usually pretty darn cute! They always have pretty seasonal vases, candles, and other items that fit great on open shelves. Just don’t go overboard! Another great place to visit is your local Dollar Tree or General Dollar…they usually have some fun things to play around with and make your own. On this shelf the little round vases, home sign, and two little mini succulent plants were Target finds most of which were in the Dollar Spot section. Each item costs roughly $5 or under and in total was roughly $20! (the only money I spent)

4) Personalize it
Rowan and I did some watercolor paintings recently (he created the top one) and mine is of the palm branch. We played music, did some painting, and ate snacks together…then I got to show him how once our paintings dried – we could put them in frames on the shelf. Now he likes to point them out to Dusty and when people visit and say “look, mom and me painted those!” 🙂 They are cute and add a special and personal touch to for the space. I’ll have fun switching them out with new paintings we make. Homemade items or artwork is a very inexpensive and personal way to make a shelf unique and special!

5) Neutral color palette
I’m pretty predictable when it comes to color palettes. I like neutral tones and warm hues. Whites, creams, beige, and wood textures make it easy to switch things out with each season without having to completely swap everything out. Keeping the items in that color family will help you keep costs down when it comes to decorating your shelf!

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My Five Minute Mom Make Up Routine

I recently did an IGTV video that shares my make up routine that I’ve been using for quite some time now. When…and if I do wear makeup these are the go-to items that I use pretty fast and effortlessly. I don’t like a super full face of makeup – these items help accentuate what I feel is more of a natural look 🙂 Scroll down to watch the IGTV video of my routine using the below items.

Primer: Milk 
Concealer: Bye Bye Under Eye (light)
Bronzer: Tarte (park ave Princess)
Blush: theBalm INSTAIN Blush (Swiss Dot)
Mascara: Pixie Lash Lift (black)
Eyeshadow: Urban Decay (Virgin)
Eyebrow Pencil: L’Oreal Paris Brow Stylist Definer (brown)

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10 Ways to Wear a Black T-Shirt

I’ve been wanting to try some items from Everlane for a while now! I love their mission and that many of their items are easy to mix and match and can work together to create a cohesive wardrobe. In the images below I show you how the Everlane Easy Raglan Tee can be so versatile! I am all about finding pieces that can go with anything at any time – I’m wearing a size Medium in this blog post and that is the typical size I buy in tops. I’d say it fits pretty accurately! I also recently purchased their Cheeky Jeans and was gifted their Summer Jean – both of which I’ll do a more focused style post on soon! Links to items in each outfit are below each photo. You can also watch the IGTV style video by clicking HERE. Enjoy!

Everlane Easy Raglan Tee | Hi-Rise Button Fly Denim AE | PUMA Tennis Shoes | Blush Gwen Button Up – Shop Arlo

Everlane Easy Raglan Tee | Black Platform Espadrilles (similar) | Black Hi-Rise Madewell Denim|
Cheetah Print Twisted Headband | Katie Dean Necklace

Everlane Easy Raglan Tee | Green Utility Skirt (similar) | Vionic Wedge Slip On Espadrilles | Denim Jacket (similar)

Everlane Easy Raglan Tee | Denim Old Navy Shorts | Two Strap Black Sandal | Cashmere Grey Crew Neck (similar)

Everlane Easy Raglan Tee | Everlane Cheeky Jean in Light Wash | Vionic Wedge Slip On Espadrilles | Dooney and Burke Bag

Everlane Easy Raglan Tee | Lulu Lemon Speed Up Tight | Puma Tennis Shoes
Old Navy Green Scout Jacket | Adidas Hat (similar)

Everlane Easy Raglan Tee | Leopard Print Midi Skirt (similar) | Suede Kitten Heel (similar)

Everlane Easy Raglan Tee | Everlane Summer Jean in Vintage Wash | Rust Twist Headband (similar)
Sling Back Black Pointy Toe Flats (similar)| J.Crew Sophia Open Front Sweater Blazer

Everlane Easy Raglan Tee | Old Navy Hi-Rise Rockstar Skinny Jean | Brown Loafers (similar)Katie Dean Necklace

Everlane Easy Raglan Tee | AE Tomgirl Denim| Cross Band Brown Sandals| Leopard Twist Headband

 

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Baby Q’s Nursery

I’ve been wanting to share Q’s nursery for a long while now but haven’t had the time to snap the photos! There are still some small decor things I want to incorporate – an adorable handmade kite banner from my friend, a few other smaller wall art items, and a plant for the ceiling plant hanger. All in good time! I was too eager to wait any longer – done or not! And Q made a little cameo appearance for a few photos that I will treasure forever. Disclaimer – she was ready for her nap when I snapped these quick so she’s not in the best mood 🙂 hah! Scroll to the bottom of the post to shop links from items in her room.

 





If there’s something in these images not listed below – please feel free to email me for a direct link – samanthaelizabethcollins@gmail.com

cardigan (similar) |Bows |  leggings | Sandals | Faux fur rug | Large Floor Rug | Round Basket (similar) | Babyletto Crib | Crib sheet (similar)| Wicker Rocking chair (similar) | We Are the Gardeners Book | Cotton Pouf | Noahs Ark Wooden Set (similar) | Wall Decals | Porcelain Hexagon Air Plant Hangers | Changing Station ShelvingSquare baskets | Round Mirror | Accordion Peg Rack | Plaid Hooded Coat (similar) | Pink Dress (similar) | Purse Basket (similar) | Burts Bees Striped Changing Pad Cover | Wooden pull toys (similar)| Wipe dispenser | White Noise Machine | Dresser (similar) | Floor Lamp | Hanging Bullet Planter| Lollipop Baby Cam | Table-side Night Light

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What Others Wish They Had Known About Cesarean Births

I recently shared what I wish I had known prior to a cesarean birth – I also asked my readers what they wish they had known! Below is a compiled list of their responses. Some of their responses resonate SO much. I love having this community and women who are willing to share their thoughts. You’ll find in the list below that everyone’s experience varies and can be so different! I hope this offers more of an understanding of the unique experiences we all go through. To read about what I wish I had known before a cesarean birth – click here!

  • Having a cesarean birth is not as terrible as everyone makes it out to be. Recovery time is pretty short overall, especially if exercising. And you get to see the baby right away.
  • That they constantly come in and press on your belly/check your fundus
  • Noise-canceling headphones or earplugs 🙂
  • You will smell like a teenage boy again because of hormones!
  • Remind your family to be vaccinated before coming to see your baby.
  • It’s ok to say no to some visitors.
  • Get a boppy pillow for the hospital to help hold the baby up off my c-section area during breastfeeding and snuggling.
  • A raised area for baby to sleep so I didn’t have to bend down as much, whether it be a bassinet next to the bed that’s higher, a pack n play, or the crib! Just make sure they are on the highest level.
  • When getting my c-section I was extremely nervous and tired, I wish I would have done more research about what could be offered during the c-section (clear drape, skin to skin, breastfeeding, etc) this obviously can’t be the case for everyone because of emergencies but if it’s a planned c-section, know your opportunities!
  • I guess this isn’t for everyone, but if you’re not opposed to it—I’d say take the drugs at first to stay ahead of the pain. I didn’t take my drugs on the third day until it was too late (was trying to be a hero), and I was in so much pain that I honestly wasn’t being an effective mom. I could hardly take care of LO because I was so sick from the pain, so my plan backfired. It is major surgery, after all, so taking some Motrin is probably not the worst thing you could do (again—I get some people don’t want to, and I respect that).
  • Your healing time is longer, with the inconveniences of recovering from surgery. You’ll have fundus checks AND incision checks and you’ll never be so scared to poop in your life and high waisted underwear are the best invention in the entire world. Bottom line, birth, regardless of how it happens, is pretty darn amazing!
  • I wish someone told me that my “parts” were learning to back to their normal place.  I wish someone told my husband that a c-section is a more difficult recovery than a vaginal birth! He expected me to “bounce” back and that didn’t exactly happen ?
  • I wish someone would have told me to use a postpartum belly band! It made all the difference the second time around.
  • I didn’t realize what a MAJOR surgery it was … ? that first time getting up to walk in the hospital was painful. You don’t realize you use your abs for everything until you have a c-section!
  • How constipation can happen and to take stool softeners asap!!!
  • I had a c-section due to a failed induction. I didn’t even consider a c-section an option while I was pregnant so when it happened I wasn’t prepared for the recovery afterward especially in the hospital.
  • I found out there is such a thing as a clear drape for those of us who are claustrophobic, and if you find the right dr. You will still be able to experience skin to skin with the baby directly after the baby is born.
  • Make sure to get up and move as soon as possible and keep moving the more you do, the sooner you do -the quicker and better you recover.
  • How weak everything feels! How swollen everything gets! To ask For a hospital belly band ASAP. That it’s much easier to sleep on the couch with the baby in a bassinet if you’re bed is upstairs or too high off the ground.
  • While my anesthesiologist was amazing and he was so attentive, I wish I knew to speak up and tell him I maybe had too much. I could barely keep my eyes open and have a very faint memory of the whole day that my daughter was born ? I also want people to know that cesarean recovery isn’t always as bad as you might think/hear.
  • Delayed cord clamping!
  • How to care for your incision, yourself, bending, picking heavy things up, using stairs, etc.
  • Although I wasn’t in pain I knew I wasn’t fully good to do things how I used to. I knew it was a big surgery but didn’t really process that you have to care for your body internally too.
  • I know that this is silly but I wish I had bought button down aka nursing friendly nightgowns…pants including sleep pants were too uncomfortable the first week or so….and that your a mom no matter how you deliver!! So much is said about a mom that delivers all “natural” without any pain medication etc. Its hard work no matter how your baby arrives!!
  • If you are nursing, find the most comfortable nursing pillow possible. I have three different ones because wiggly babies and an incision while attempting to breastfeed can be difficult. I was able to prop the baby up and cover my incision with the pillow. Not to mention, the light pressure from the pillow felt nice as well.

 

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What I Wish I’d Known About Cesarean Births

I sort of …kind of… had an idea of what a cesarean birth would entail. But like many moms to be with uncomplicated pregnancies – I “planned” for a vaginal birth. To be honest and clear, I wasn’t one who had a huge birth plan typed up with specifics and details, etc. I had a general idea of what I wanted but overall our ultimate goal = healthy baby, healthy mom. Whatever it meant to meet that end goal was enough for me. But, never-the-less when it came to preparing for birth I bought all of the things and researched all of the information I needed to care for myself after vaginal birth. I did little to no planning on what I might want to know or need after a cesarean birth. So when the time came for my son to be delivered and I had reached just around 9 centimeters dilation but things turned into a “failure to descend”  I was wooshed away to the operating room and delivered a happy and healthy baby boy via c-section. I was fine with the outcome – my goal was met. We were both healthy and fine. BUT, I had little to no idea as to what to expect in the following hours or even days after my c-section. So here’s a list! Of course, this list is specific to me and may vary from woman to woman – ALWAYS check with your provider before taking my word for anything – I can’t stress that enough.

Part 2 will be a compilation of things many of my readers who had a cesarean birth wished they had known!

The photo on the left is R – photo on the right is Q.

What I Wish I Had Known:

  • Shaved for incision – I didn’t realize this would happen! It makes sense that it does…but at the time…I heard the words “we are going to have to shave you” and buzz it was done. Just the top. No biggie. But not something I was aware would happen! I have heard however that some may not shave. So it could vary from hospital to hospital.
  • Epidural + Spinal – With R, they used the IV from my epidural to give me enough numbing medication for the c-section, but with Q, I had a spinal. The hardest part of the actual spinal was crouching over for a long period of time uncomfortably around my big belly! The spinal poke itself was nothing but a little pressure, warmth, and a poke. Easy peasy! I was a little worried I’d have a spinal headache which some women mention (my mom had it) but I did not get one.
  • Skin to Skin – After R birth (my first) I had labored for hours and was really really tired. Because of this, I was a bit more “out of it”. Thus,  I was a little shaky and not well equipped to hold or do skin to skin for long following his delivery. Dusty was able to take R and do skin to skin while I was stitched up. The photos from this are some of my favorites of the two of them. The bonding for them was as special as it would have been for me.
  • Feeling Pressure During Operation – With R birth, I remember feeling some pressure but overall it was pretty uneventful in terms of operation discomfort. With Q birth, during the operation, I had slight pressure g0ing up into my diaphragm and right shoulder (I did not have this with R) it sort of felt like someone was taking their fist and pushing up into my ribs… if anything it was more uncomfortable and distracting. It didn’t hurt and went away as soon as they were done. I later learned it was the phrenic nerve! Totally normal, totally fine.
  • Stitching – The stitching up after delivery can take time. So don’t be alarmed if it feels like forever!
  • Post-operation – I had no idea that they’d have to lift me onto a different hospital bed! While it went just fine…it was a bit unnerving to be lifted by a team with just a bedsheet under me – I felt like a whale being transported back into the ocean!
  • Eating after – Once comfortable in my hospital bed I had the ability to order food if I felt up to it. With R, I was starving. I had labored and hadn’t eaten in over a day and a half. I immediately ordered a sandwich and soup. I could barely get it down, I ate too fast and felt like I was going to throw up! So when it came time to eat after with Q…I took a few bites – stopped, drank some water and waited before eating more. Slow and steady!
  • Changing Pads – (pre-warned, TMI!) After a little while in the hospital room, I started to feel a warmth and then a gush. Well…this was the most mortifying part of birth for me…the blood and fluids that come out post-birth. Dang! And when your lower part is numb…the nurses have to help. They are angels on earth and make you feel so at ease…but being wiped and having your pad changed by another human is perhaps the most humbling experience I’ve ever experienced in body care. It’s not fun. And I heard myself on many occasions saying “I am sorry – this is the worst part.” and they’d smile fluff it off and do their job with grace. Angels on earth I tell you! As the numbing wears off you’ll be able to start cleaning yourself. But don’t be afraid to let them know if you need help being changed -you want to be comfortable!
  • IV’s – Afterward they still need to monitor you closely so you’ll have to leave a couple of your IV’s in…it’s really no big deal…just annoying. The one at the top of my right hand was my least favorite because it got in the way of the movement of my hand. I remember asking regularly “can I take this one out now?” 🙂
  • Inflatable Shin Guards (aka SCD’s or sequential compression devices) – They were fine…but just obnoxious because of the noise they’d make when they would inflate. Basically…they are like inflatable life jackets for your legs. They inflate and then slowly release air…their purpose is to help massage your legs to make sure to help avoid any blood clots. Genius little things really… it wasn’t until I was up and walking on my own more regularly that I was allowed to take them off for good.
  • Blood pressure cuff – the blood pressure cuff was on my arm for a while after having both Q and R, it went off automatically and would take my blood pressure regularly to ensure all was safe and good!
  • Pulse ox  – This little gadget is on your finger and monitors oxygenation saturation, which ensures you’re properly receiving enough oxygen. 
  • Bellyband – after R birth a nurse handed me a belly band. I didn’t know what it was – but once she helped me put it on I was like “ohhhhh.” it was amazing! So if they don’t give you one…ASK for one immediately. It made all the difference.
  • Walking Afterwards – After R, I remember feeling so nervous to walk so soon after the delivery but it’s so important to do it. I did get up, shower, do my hair and make up for our photoshoot with him as a newborn (so it couldn’t have been TOO bad).  I remember being surprised at how it felt to shuffle across the floor to the bathroom and how much I appreciated the guidance of the nurse and the belly band for support. After having Q…it was a lot easier and didn’t concern me nearly as much. I was able to shuffle unassisted and really didn’t have much of a problem or hesitation. I will admit that I think it was harder afterward with R because I had labored so long and my uterus and abdominal muscles had been worked to the max for so long – and then to undergo surgery on top of it all – makes sense! My planned cesarean was hands down easier than my emergent one.
  • Catheter + Peeing – Since things moved so rapidly with R I didn’t even realize I still had a catheter in after he was born. It wasn’t until I saw it hanging next to my bed that I realized it was still in! Taking out a catheter is a piece of cake and didn’t hurt at all – the nurse will do this for you…but trying to reconnect my mind to create the sensation to have to pee post-operation and post-catheter was hard!!! With R it came more easily – but with Q, I had to sit and focus on it for a while. They want you to pee within a certain time frame and have a specific amount of output to be sure that all is well with your bladder after surgery.
  • Stay Ahead of Pain Meds – Dusty was a great advocate and helped me so much in watching the clock and ensuring that I was on top of pain meds…about 20-15 min before my next dose he’d call in a nurse because by the time they came, got the meds out, entered the info into my chart …it was time for me to have them. Have your spouse/significant other keep track of your medication schedule and what you should take when. Can’t stress this enough!
  • Tired, Very Tired – you’ll be tired no matter what type of delivery you go through. It’s hard to sleep when you have a new baby, people coming in and out, your inflatable leg things going off every so often…with Q, I finally had Dusty stand at the door and ask people to come back so I could sleep for 2 hours uninterrupted. I know that medical professionals have to do their job and they are only looking out for Q and I…but it was tough to find a long period of time where Q and I both could sleep – if she was awake my instinct was to be awake in case she needed me…it didn’t matter if Dusty was holding her or not.
  • Showering – Taking a shower for the first time after both deliveries was amazing and one of the best things. It was a slow shower…slow getting ready. I remember even needing to rest a little in between brushing my hair and blow-drying it. But overall taking some time to care for yourself and revisit your body and what it needs was really healing.
  • Enjoy the Food and Service – Little did I know how much I’d appreciate hospital food being delivered to my bedside. Yes, I wanted to get home more than anything but…there is something to be said of bedside meal delivery!
  • Ingrown Hairs – As my incision healed I’d occasionally get painful ingrown hairs along the incision line. Sometimes they’d get red and hurt a bit but would clear up on their own. If yours doesn’t, or you see drainage – let your Dr know!
  • Skin Puckering at Incision – I had a little bit of puckering skin at the end of my incision with Q, at first I wondered if my skin was going to be like that forever it looked strange! But…after I healed… it disappeared and everything smoothed out.
  • Uterine tears – I didn’t find out until we went to make the decision about doing a planned cesarean with Q …but after laboring so long with R and then going into a c-section…your uterus is thinner from contracting…and more wear and tear on the uterus makes it a bit more pliable…so when it came time for my c-section the uterine tissue was more delicate (makes sense right?) while removing R via the c-section I did have a uterine tear on my left side (which now explains the pain I felt post-op). I did not tear with Q…so I did not experience more pain post-op. Having this uterine tear also created more risk for me when considering a VBAC. Just good info to be aware of!
  • Post-op Dr Visits – I wasn’t aware that you’d have to take your baby in to see their Dr or Pediatrician so soon after delivery for their first initial well-child check. I want to say it is within the first week or so. This is tough no matter what kind of delivery you have but was especially hard after a c-section. Leaving the house was rough! Make sure to have a game plan on someone coming with you and if you have multiple children have someone on deck to watch the other(s) at home so you can just go with the baby and your spouse/significant other. Make it as easy on yourself as possible!

Overall, both of my birth experiences were unique and lovely in their own way. They truly go by SO FAST.

 

 

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Round Up + Spring Cleaning Tips

I took to Instagram to ask my lovely readers what tried and true house cleaning tips and routines were out there! And many of you wanted me to share my findings. As a busy mom of two littles and a husband that works A LOT – I’ve been eager to find routines that fit our crazy life. The fact is that I have minimal time in my day to dedicate too much to cleaning. I’ve been terrible at finding a good routine that I can keep consistent with – and one that’s manageable with kids underfoot. Many of you mentioned having someone come to clean – yes, this is a great idea and when I worked a full-time job I had a cleaner come every two weeks but in this case, as a stay at home mom, I wanted to see if I could create a routine that would allow me to save the money we’d spend on a cleaner and instead, develop a system I could maintain on my own. Sounds easier said than done – but I wanted to give it a try – and then still look into maybe even a monthly cleaner to help with the deep clean work 🙂 I’m still in the process of figuring out exactly how this will look for me but I’ve used bits and pieces of all of the amazing advice I’ve been given to start creating this cleaning routine. I hope some of this advice helps you too!

First, I had two ladies recommended to me who are pros when it comes to cleaning and both have awesome templates and such to use and follow – and since I’m not about to re-invent the wheel I wanted to share links to their info here The Case for Simple and Clean Mama. Below is a list of all of the great ideas many of my readers put into use! I hope it helps in your effort to create a system that works for you too!

Tip Round-Up:

  • Never leave a room empty-handed – pick up as you go!
  • Set a laundry day. It doesn’t have to be the only day you do laundry, but do a lap around your house and grab towels, pillowcases or sheets…the bigger things you pass over.
  • Consciously doing daily tasks like making the bed and at night, making sure counters are cleared of clutter and wiped (love a good counter spray).
  • Continuously rinse and load dishes after meals and snacks…kitchen looks clean all day and less overwhelming than if I were to come back to it after dinner.
  • Separating bathroom day and floor day..makes bathrooms extra quick and allows more time to do the shower, etc if you don’t have to tackle floors at the same time.
  • It’s easiest to stay tidy if every item has a home and a place to be put. Clean as the day goes on.
  • Start laundry in the morning and have a goal. “Today I’ll clean the toilet” or “I’ll wash mirrors”
  • At night – every toy is put away! I also vacuum each evening after dinner (just under the table). We have a small house so it’s doable to do a quick once over in the evening.
  • I sweep, vacuum, and steam mop. Once per week (sweep more if I need to). Might be gross but I’d rather spend my energy elsewhere. However, when my child goes to bed I do 5 things: laundry (usually Mondays and Thursdays), any dishes, put all toys in their places, wipe table/high chair, and countertops, and restock diaper caddy. I don’t let myself go to bed unless I’ve done all of those things but they can be done in 15 minutes, with the exception of laundry. Laundry days I pour myself a glass of wine and watch the bachelor or journal. But that’s it. That works for me!
  • Having a vacuum that is cordless and can suck anything, anywhere all the attachments/size, my Dyson is my favorite cleaning product. I seriously vacuum up to 3 times a week and whenever a spot is messy. It’s so easy to do with it and doesn’t even feel like a chore!
  • I stay on top of the dishes. I won’t let them sit more than 24hrs untouched. Sometimes I’ll leave them in the sink overnight, but overall I keep on top of it especially after meals, that way they don’t build up. (And during the day you won’t feel guilty having last nights dishes with today’s dishes).
  • Laundry for me is anytime I have a full load ready to go between all the hampers or just one. I don’t have a specific day, I just do it when necessary and keep on top of it.
  • Once a month or so I take a stiffer duster and wipe Knick knack/lamps/random things down.
  • We do all toilets and kids do too… legit once or every two weeks I clean and wipe down the toilet and avoid letting pee and such build-up.
  • Countertops/dining room table, anything surface space that is always used especially with food- I love my all-purpose spray and I use that with a paper towel to wipe the whole surface down regularly. It helps keep crumbs off the floor and I know I’m using a more clean surface.
  • I use disinfecting wipes to wipe out sinks/faucets/toilets too- and overall handles/whatever else is regularly touched.
  • My biggest downfall and pet peeve is putting things away like laundry/the dishwasher.
  • A clean kitchen is a top priority as it’s center of the home: dishes, wipe down countertops & kitchen table, go through the fridge for food going bad, sweep the floor if needed, light a candle (daily)
  • Vacuum whole house (hardwood floors with rugs), clean toilet, laundry, fresh bath towels (weekly on weekend).
  • Scrub bathroom counter, clean shower/bathtub, fresh sheets & pillowcases (monthly).
  • Dust furniture & scrub floors about 2x a year if I’m being honest. Also, I’m not big on “built-ins” and “Knick-knacks” I see them as junk & dust collectors. Minimal decor = less dusting.
  • I literally cap off at 30 minutes a day, Monday-Saturday for actual cleaning. Divide your home into sections and try to be even in timing. For example, I might group both kid’s bedrooms, their upstairs carpet, and the stairs and landing all together. Those all get vacuumed, dusted, etc on one day, only 30 mins worth. Then Tuesday might be my kitchen. Etc etc. Sunday is reserved for meal planning for the week, then grocery shopping and meal prepping if you do that sort of thing. Do a load of laundry a day, or every other, and designate one day a week for all towels, and one day for sheets. The reason I love it, is between two small kids, one cat, and one dog… I needed to feel like I could have someone stop over unannounced, and I wouldn’t be embarrassed about my house. This way, literally NO space in your home hasn’t been cleaned in over a week! But I work lots and lots of hours, so it was too daunting to try and spend three hours of my day and a half weekend to cleaning!! So this really does work and help and now I’m motivated to get back on track.
  • We like to have a fully clean home at once so we do one big clean a week, usually when our son is napping. We start around breakfast, then take turns watching him and both finish up for his hour and a half nap. We are both really good cleaners so we do fast but thorough. I do all the counters, bathrooms and kitchen, and my husband sweeps, steam cleans and vacuums the floors. We both take bedroom sheets and make the bed together. Then we do laundry every night. It may seem like a waste but I’d rather do a bunch of moderate loads than a few huge ones. We fold right on the bed and put it away that night. I fold and put away pants, underwear, and PJs, and my husband does all of the clothes hanging.
  • The thing that I mostly keep up with is the laundry- every day is a load! I have one of those washers with auto-sensing- so if it’s just a few things it’s ok! There you have it! I’ll be back to the blog soon with the system I put into place using a lot of this advice and piecing together what works for our family.