11.30.2015

olivia + penelope's christmas list 2015

For the past two years, Olivia has received one special "big gift" at Christmas and then smaller gifts to go along with it. Last year, we got her a vintage play kitchen and she absolutely loved it. You can find my full post here with all the details, including our favorite kitchen accessories. 

This year, being that we have two little girls to shop for (a mama's dream), I wanted Olivia's big gift to be something that Penelope would one day use too. I found some fun dollhouses online (like this modern pear one), but finally decided it would be the most fun to build our own! Olivia doesn't have a doll house and I wanted something classic, sturdy, made of wood and a piece that I wouldn't mind looking at every day, so Dustin and I designed a four-story one that he built over the weekend. I'll spend the next few weeks painting & decorating it, that's the fun part. I also picked up a handful of my favorite Maileg mice, some neutral furniture {4, 6} and a few other fun accessories for it. I plan to add lots of homemade pieces too! 

 At Christmas we focus on "Something you Want, Something you Need, Something to Wear & Something to Read." The dollhouse takes care of the first category for both of them so all that was left was selecting a few things that I knew would get a lot of use. Pajamas always make a fun and easy gift and I got Olivia a few pairs {2} for less than $5 each when I used all my discounts at Gap + Old Navy. My parents gave her a pair of warm boots as an early gift {8} and Penelope an itty bitty pair to match {9}! I picked up a few fun new bath toys, including this white origami boat {7} from one of my favorite shops, Smitten for the Wee Generation since they take baths every day and quality bath toys are hard to come by. All the favorites the girls have now are by Boon, Inc. 

One of my favorite gifts to give each of my girls is a new dress {1}, whether for everyday wear or special occasions. I chose two from one of my favorite handmade shops, Swallow's Return and can't wait to put V and P in them. 

I found this adorable icecream set {10} in my search for a few kitchen toys and I loved it (I wanted to play with it myself!), so that will be a fun new addition to Via's kitchen. I also have my eye on this wooden coffee maker. Anything that involves pretend play is right up Olivia's alley, and I thought this wooden doctor kit {17} was darling. I especially love that it isn't plastic!! As far as gifts for a babe that's as young as Penelope is, I focused on a mix of practical and playful, including a new crib sheet {13}, our favorite art cards from Wee Gallery {14}, a wooden croissant teether {15} and of course, a bird rattle for our little birdie {16}. 

When friends & family ask what they can give the girls, I always say that books are perfect (they'll never grow out of them, are rather inexpensive and there is such a variety to choose from) or anything to encourage imaginative play. This new book about always being yourself {12} is so, so cute. I can't wait to start reading it with them!

Finally, as you're on the hunt for gifts for your little ones, these links below might help:

Hope everyone's week is off to a wonderful start! And stay tuned for some fun giveaways coming this month on instagram featuring items from the girls' wishlist! xo

11.25.2015

advent calendar roundup

I believe there is no such thing as having too many advent calendars, especially with little girls around. And now that Olivia is two and a half, she loves opening gifts and has so many favorite things, especially stickers. This makes it extra easy to fill our advent up, with inexpensive and homemade treasures.


Below are my top picks for this year's advent calendars. I love how neutral and classic they are, making them work with any decor. If you want something a little brighter, I shared a festive colorful one we picked up a few weeks ago here


1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Hands down, our favorite from this round-up is #6 from Smitten for the Wee Generation. We have it hanging in our living room and it's beyond darling. Truthfully, I love every single thing Maileg makes. There is also this one that is similar and slightly smaller, perfect for a child's room! I'll be featuring Smitten for the Wee Generation on the blog with a coupon code and giveaway next week, so if you have your eye on something, be sure to check back!

Do you have a tradition of using an advent calendar to countdown to Christmas?

11.23.2015

best of the nest | minted holiday card reveal

A few weeks ago I shared that I've had the privilege of working with Minted this holiday season to design our Christmas cards and I revealed my Top 5 favorite holiday card designs in addition to the one we went with. Today I'm so excited to finally reveal our cards!


In my first post I talked about one of the reasons I love Minted so much is their support of independent artists, which leads to the widest selection of unique and creatively designed cards for all events, occasions and styles. TODAY ONLY for Cyber Monday, you can save 20% off your holiday card purchase using the code CM2015 at checkout! 


For our Christmas cards, I chose the Triple Monochrome design. I love being able to incorporate photos into our cards and something that initially caught my eye with this design was the ability to have three photos on the front, since I always have such a hard time deciding my favorites! I also loved the division of the top and bottom so I could have one in black and white and two in color. Minted also offers the ability to have a single photo or photo collage printed on the back of your cards, so I was excited to integrate one more photo of Olivia and Dustin -- those two are the very best of friends. 


I chose a wavy border to add some elegance and always love including our girls' middle names on cards. You can shop the design I chose here and find all other holiday card designs here. You'll have options to customize your wording, border, backing, envelopes and more! I love love love the brown Kraft envelopes with this card (and all Christmas cards, really!) because there is just something so childlike and special about Kraft paper. Maybe it's the song about brown paper packages tied up with string...or just that it's rustic and different than standard white. Either way, I just love the overall look of these, how personal we made them and the extra touches.

And if you create your holiday cards this year with Minted, I'd love to see them! Don't forget to use the code CM2015 at checkout and be sure to tag me on instagram @blessednestblog with your final product! Shop all holiday cards here. Hope everyone's week is off to a great start!! XO

11.20.2015

best of the nest | lollaland

I'm pretty sure Olivia is a sippy cup connoisseur...and has been since she was less than a year old when we introduced a straw! We've tried many different cups and always seemed to end up with leaks, spills and messes everywhere. And then we discovered the Lollacup!


A modern sippy cup that is made in the U.S. by Hanna and Mark Lim -- parents themselves who struggled to find a quality straw sippy cup for their first daughter to use with ease. So, instead of continuing their search, they invented their own! They created a straw cup with all of the features they value in a children's product -- easy to use, easy to clean, made in the USA and safe for everyone in the family. Two years after Hanna came up with the idea for her Lollacup, her and her husband appeared on Shark Tank and began a partnership with Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec. From there, the company grew tremendously and what was once Lollacup turned into Lollaland, where Hanna and Mark offer mealtime sets, glass baby bottles, and more, in addition to their classic Lollacups! 
Olivia loves her Lollacups and I love how easy they are to clean! They are designed with a flexible straw that has a weighted end that anchors in the liquid to help young children drink effectively even when tilted. The straw is valve free, making it easy for them to sip. The handles are easy for even the smallest of hands to hold and can be removed in seconds, allowing the cups to fit in diaper bags, cup holders and more! 
Aside from their Lollacup, they offer fun mealtime sets (which include a plate, bowl and dipping cup) in two different color ways and glass baby bottles! You can also purchase their bowls and plates individually and select from a whole rainbow of colors.
I love the modern look of all of the Lollaland products and it's clear they were designed with children in mind. I think the best products are always created by parents themselves, who sought out a solution to a problem they discovered and along the way, created an innovative product. All of their products come in modern packaging and are all set for gift-giving! And to kick off the weekend, I'm so excited to be teaming up with Hanna to give away TWO Lollacups to TWO lucky winners in your choice of color! Just head over to my instagram @blessednestblog with details on how to enter! Have a wonderful weekend!

11.18.2015

best of the nest | owlet monitor

How many times have you stood by your baby's bassinet or crib and watched to see if their chest was rising and falling? Or listened closely to see if you could actually hear them breathing? In all honesty, I've lost track of the amount of times I've done that with both our girls. 

Even as a second time Mom and Registered Nurse, in my mind there are never too many steps you can take to assure your baby is safe...and even when you take those steps, it's normal to still have anxiety no matter how many babies you've brought home, because we're human. That's why I'm so excited to be featuring the Owlet Baby Monitor in this week's Best of the Nest series. It's so good that watching their ad actually gave me chills!



how it works
The Owlet Baby Monitor uses pulse oximetry, the same type of technology that hospitals use to check heart rate and oxygen saturation. When you're at a checkup or in the hospital, you've probably experienced having a clip placed on your finger with a tiny red light -- that light shines through your skin and the amount of blood flow and oxygen levels are estimated based on how much light is transmitted to the sensor.

Owlet is designed to sound an alert if your child's heart rate dips too low, rises too high, or if their oxygen level drops below a preset threshold; the alert comes through the base station and the Owlet app. The alert strategy was determined by a team of pulse oximetry specialists, pediatricians, neonatologists and pulmonologists and over 100,000 hours of testing went in to developing the monitor! 

why it's different

We've used video monitors with the girls since they were both born, but of course a video monitor only works if you're looking at it. Designed with two parts -- the Smart Sock (the piece you place on your baby's foot) and the Base Station (the piece you place by your bedside), Owlet is the only monitor that uses hospital technology to alert you if your baby stops breathing. 

Additionally, Owlet is a smartphone compatible baby monitor. But for added safety, Owlet is also designed to function independently of your mobile device. The Smart Sock and the Base Station connect through low power bluetooth. Even if your phone battery dies or your home Internet goes out, the Base Station will still alert you if your baby stops breathing.

what's included
+ Smart Sock with electronics (in three sizes to grow with your baby)
+ Base Station and corresponding charging cords
+ Exclusive access to the Owlet app





I've been using our Owlet since it arrived both during nap time and bedtime. I move the base station to wherever I am in the house while Poppy naps in her crib or bassinet and then keep it beside my bed at night. I love the size of it, how lightweight it is and how few cords are involved. I also love how user-friendly the entire system is, especially when my parents are sitting the girls. The app is so convenient because I can pull up Penelope's stats even when I'm out of the house when she's napping. The perfect way to check in without even having to make a phone call.

Finally, I love how comfortable the Smart Sock is on Poppy's little foot, and that three different sock sizes are included to grow with your baby and get the most use out of it. I love knowing this is a product I can use for many months ahead! Our Owlet gives me added peace of mind when I'm trying to rest myself, knowing that my little lady is breathing just fine.


I don't know if its because I'm a Mom, because I've studied and worked in the healthcare industry, or both, but I am so passionate about this product. I haven't stopped talking about since it arrived. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it to every single person I know! It is going to be so far-reaching and life-changing for parents all around the world and I truly believe it will change the course of infant safety during sleep.

Because this product has had such a positive impact in our home and given us such indescribable peace of mind, I'd love for you to get your own!
Blessed Nest readers can purchase an Owlet at an exclusive promotional price by shopping the link below!
// purchase your own Owlet here //


AND to make your day a little bit sweeter, I would also love to give away an Owlet Baby Monitor to one of you! Head over to my instagram @blessednestblog for your chance to win your own. If you don't have personally a baby, the Owlet would be an incredible gift to give an expectant Mama! The giveaway will run from Wednesday November 18 through Tuesday November 24 and all entries will be verified. The winner will be randomly selected and announced on the original instagram post within 48 hours of the giveaway ending.

Be sure to follow along with Owlet below!
Hope you all are having a wonderful week!

11.17.2015

best of the nest | ostheimer wooden toys

I grew up living on a farm. My dad owned his own business and had a hobby farm on the side on his land. My childhood was filled with more animals than most people can imagine. Of course we had traditional farm animals like horses, ponies, pigs, geese and ducks. Lots of cats, always little kittens and two collies. Bunnies, chickens and baby chicks. But we also had animals that most people don't have on a farm. Living out in the country, there were white-tail deer in high numbers and when a fawn had lost it's mother, the DNR would bring them to us to care for. I grew up bottle feeding fawns in my backyard, watching peacocks strut across our acreage and tending to animals of all shapes and sizes from a very young age.


That's why I'm so excited to be sharing one of my favorite companies with you in today's Best of the Nest series. This company not only hand makes and sells the most beautiful wooden toys that are both timeless and encourage a child's imagination, but that also has a rich history and uses the highest quality materials. Based in Germany, Ostheimer Wooden Toys have quickly become Olivia's go-to play item, whether alone or with me or Dustin by her side. And to be completely honest, these toys are unmatched.




Ostheimer wooden figures all feature a consciously unpretentious design; with their elementary shaped forms and colors, all figures create scope for imaginative playing. Thus, each figure correlates with a childlike view of the world. Ostheimer is convinced that good, high quality products for children can only emerge from a profoundly responsible attitude. And I've seen first hand, these products are undeniably good.


From the moment I came across Ostheimer, I knew their pieces were right up my alley and that they would be right at home in ours. I've shared many times that we just love wooden toys; I love the creativity they require and the imagination they encourage. I love that they are timeless -- heirlooms that last and last no matter how many hours of play. I love that they don't require batteries or outlets and the only sounds coming from them are the ones Olivia creates.



I love watching Olivia's imagination come to life as she lines up her horses, has her cat chase a mouse, bends cows to eat the grass and chatters as if the animals are having a conversation with one another. They are the perfect size for her hands to hold and because we store them in an open basket, I love that we can move them between rooms effortlessly for play anywhere; the invitation is always there for her.


Sometimes her play is virtually silent as she has a serious look on her face, determined to organize each animal just the way her heart desires. Other times I hear her saying "tweet tweet" under her breath and glance over to see her holding birds in her tiny hands. Less is more has always been our theory when it comes to toys; quality is so much more important than quantity. Because I've often found the more toys a child has, it seems the fewer opportunities they have to be creative. I never want Olivia to play with something for a few minutes and knowing she has countless other toys, to quickly move on to the next. Give her a basket of Ostheimer toys and she's content all afternoon. It opens her eyes and sparks her mind; and to think, every animal, every tree and creature started from a single piece of wood and a vision, cut and carved with human hands.


Ostheimer offers a wide variety of wooden toys, including family & farm figures, animals of forest & meadow, wild animals from around the world, fairy tale worlds and more. All of the Ostheimer pieces are crafted by hand, beginning with the initial design process to sawing, sanding and painting, to finishing with an immersion organic oil bath to protect the surface and retain the color, all before carefully packaging to send to children all around the world. 



I know every single one of these pieces will be something all of our children play with, starting now with Olivia and eventually Penelope and all of their younger siblings in the future. There is something so special about holding these pieces in your hand, about seeing your child's creativity and love of play come to life as they arrange and rearrange each animal, bird and tree just as they see fit. 

That's why I'm so thrilled to be partnering with Ostheimer to give away not one but two forest sets to two lucky winners! Head over to my instagram @blessednestblog to enter and be sure to follow along with Ostheimer below:


To shop for Ostheimer wooden toys in the US, simply visit Bella Luna Toys. And I know a few new friends will definitely be ending up in a special two year old's stocking this Christmas. Happy Tuesday!

11.16.2015

best of the nest: leggings

I'm so excited to kick off a new monthly series on my blog + instagram with a huge giveaway today! Each month I'll be featuring a handful of my favorite handmade shops in my Best of the Nest series by theme, and November is all about leggings! I am asked so often what shops I would recommend for babies and children and that's such a tough question because there are so many incredible makers out there! So in an attempt to give my sincere recommendations, I'm launching this series with the hopes that it will continue to give exposure to the top shops out there and help Mamas decide where to purchase from when shopping handmade!

Each of the six featured shops are below with details on their products and how to purchase them! Be sure to head over to my instagram @blessednestblog once you're done reading because I'm giving away six pairs of leggings -- one of the winner's choice from each of today's featured shops -- to one lucky winner (over $175 value!)

shop name: alexandra rose handmade

owned by mama of two, Alex, alexandra rose handmade focuses on practical, fashionable and high quality baby items and was once a hobby that began on her kitchen table which quickly turned into a full-blown business. Alex's leggings are made of ultra soft jersey fabric that is lightweight, breathable and stretchy -- perfect for little ones on the go! She also offers a selection of organic cotton leggings.


readers can shop alex's newly released winter collection (shown above) and all her current pieces at a discounted price in her black friday sale coming up on friday, november 27 through monday november 30.

be sure to follow along here:

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shop name: alpine baby co.
owned by mama of three, Chelsi, alpine baby co. is home to the original knee-patch adventure legging. made of 100% certified organic knit cotton, printed with eco-friendly textile ink and showcasing unique designs, alpine baby co. leggings are one of a kind.


readers can shop chelsi's full collection at a discounted price in her black friday sale coming up on friday, november 27 through saturday november 28.

be sure to follow along here:

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shop name: hazel and holly

/ modern desert chevron leggings /

owned by mama Holly, hazel & holly was started to raise money for her adoption. With a dream to have a house full of children, despite being diagnosed with infertility, Holly shares that it is a blessing from God that He has steered her toward adoption and her shop has granted her the opportunity to pursue her dream. She hopes to adopt at least three children (maybe more!) and she is currently on the waiting list in Ethiopia. Her shop focuses on creating modern, unique and comfortable clothing for little ones and her products are primarily made from organic material.


readers can save 15% off their hazel and holly legging purchase today through friday november 20 using the code BLESSEDNEST15 at checkout!

be sure to follow along here:

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shop name: little buju


owned by mama Eliza, little buju was created with the intention to give little ones the very best and inspired by her 9 month old son. She takes pride in her materials and offers organic leggings in her shop in a variety of patterns and styles.

shop leggings here

readers can save 20% off their little buju legging purchase today through friday november 20 using the code BLESSEDNEST20 at checkout!

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shop name: second stitch to the right

/ blush buffalo check  leggings /

owned by Clare, second stitch to the right was started after her kids had grown up and she began contemplating what it was she wanted to do after being a stay at home mom for 25 years. quilting and sewing was something Clare had alway been passionate about since she was taught by her grandmother at a young age; it became the craft she loved the most. She opened June 1, 2015 with quilts and baby essentials and everything grew from there! Clare's leggings are made from Organic 100% Cotton Interlock Knit.


readers can save 20% off their second stitch to the right legging purchase today through friday november 20 using the code BLESSEDNEST20 at checkout!

be sure to follow along here:

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shop name: vivie & ash

owned by mama of two, Sara, Vivie & Ash launched in January 2014 with a focus on modern, comfortable, organic children's clothing. Sara finds inspiration from her two little ones and loves creating new designs brought to life because of the things her kids love. All leggings are made of organic cotton.


readers can save 20% off their vivie & ash legging purchase today through friday november 20 using the code BLESSEDNEST20 at checkout!

be sure to follow along here: 


Head over to my instagram to enter to win six pairs of leggings for your little one! Giveaway runs today through Sunday, November 22. All entries will be verified and winner will be announced on original instagram post within 48 hours of the giveaway ending. Once announced, the winner will have 24 hours to claim their prize or a new winner will be drawn. Happy Monday!

11.13.2015

2 months + friday favorites

Friday is here again, where did this week go?! It was a fun and busy one around here but I managed to sneak in some down time, either alone (good) or with a sleeping baby on me (even better), so that made the week seem shorter and a bit more relaxing. 

I've rounded up a few of my Friday Favorites for you but first wanted to share a quick update on our little lady! Penelope turned two months on Tuesday the 10th. Um, two months. Still wondering how that happened. She is a dream baby, with behavior and patterns so similar to Olivia. They are alike in so many ways. I'm excited to see how they differ as Poppy gets a little older.

Penelope weighs 12 lbs 11 oz (81st %) and is 22.5 inches long (51st %). She has fallen into a nice little routine and just last week started sleeping through the night a solid 8-10 hours. She's my little night owl (my best friend recently reminded me that she gets that from her Mama!) so she usually doesn't go to bed until 9 or 9:30pm. But then she sleeps until about 7:30 or 8am, so really, I don't at all mind her extra snuggles before bed. Give me all the warm and cozy baby snuggles I can get.

We put Olivia to bed around 8/8:30pm and she sleeps until about the same time (8:30 or 9am) so it gives me a little extra time with just Poppy at night after Via is down and then I get to sleep in each morning, which I firmly believe is one of life's greatest pleasures. Especially coming off the heels of 8 weeks of ... less than quality sleep. Ha. I remember shortly after Olivia was born, I called my mom crying and dramatically said, "I'll never get to sleep in ever again." She calmly reminded me that for everything there is a season and the tide always turns. Two months was the magic number for Olivia as well, when her nighttime sleep increased and we all started getting much needed rest. Already following in her big sister's footsteps.


I'll share more about our wake + sleep routine, how we established it and any tips I have (not that I'm even close to being an expert!) soon, for those of you who have been asking!


And now for some of my favorite things!

1. This dress from Remie Co. Seriously, stripes and floral. Oh my, I couldn't buy just one for Penelope last night when it was released cause I don't ever want her to outgrow it! 

2. The Owlet Care baby monitor...have you heard of it yet? The buzz is everywhere and I'm so excited to be featuring one next week on the blog (and...maybe even giving one away)! Genius concept and excellent execution. Especially as an RN, I'm so excited to see how it changes the course of infant health and how we approach sleep and safety with our little ones.

3. Oh gosh, we are pajama obsessed in this house, probably because most days we don't get out of them! I recently picked this pair up for Olivia and she is the cutest thing in them. Bears are probably her favorite thing in the entire world (second only to Poppy Bae) so this was right up her alley. I also picked up this gray bow set and these kitten ones. So fun!

4. Penelope's expressions are the most hilarious thing to all of us these days. I don't know where she even gets them! But she sure knows how to make us laugh.


5. And last but not least, if you follow me on instagram you'll know I have a serious problem when it comes to pretzels of any + every kind, and my favorite treat to pair them with for a little sweet and salty action is Quinn's Parmesan & Rosemary popcorn. Forget everything you think you know about microwave popcorn and give Quinn a try. It's microwave popcorn reinvented and it's on sale at Target this week. If you don't live near one, Amazon offers it at a similar price and with Prime of course you can get free 2-day shipping. The Parmesan & Rosemary and Real Butter & Sea Salt are our favorite flavors. Nothing like warm popcorn and chocolate-covered pretzels. Bonus points if it's a Friday night and you don't have to share it with little hands! And even more points if you're tuned in to Hallmark channel's Christmas movie Countdown like I will be all weekend!!

Hope everyone has a wonderful Friday!! Some real fun stuff is coming next week as a little thank you to all of you who read my blog and follow along with our little family! We are humbled and so grateful. XO

11.11.2015

a letter to my future self

I remember having days with Olivia that I thought I was busy. Like, really busy. Now I just laugh at my former self because I had no idea what busy was like until I had two little ones. The joy has multiplied times a million, truly. But I wish I had savored more of those days with just one because they were much easier compared to life now. 

My husband and I joke that some days around here are really hard...busy and exhausting. But I'm sure when I have my third baby someday, I'll look back and realize I really wasn't as busy as I thought I was and that things weren't as hard as they sometimes feel. So I wanted to write a letter to my future self, to read when I'm a mom of three and going through the first months with a newborn as I've just done with Penelope and did two years ago with Olivia. To remind myself that even though it feels hard, new, and exhausting, I can do it just as I've done it before. Because there have been long days and late nights over the past two months that I wish I'd had a letter to read reminding myself of those very things.


Dear Future Self and Mom of 3,

You're probably sleep-deprived, exhausted and feeling a bit overwhelmed now that you have three tiny souls under your care instead of two. Three souls to cherish endlessly and to love with a love that is imperfectly perfect. You want to give them strong roots in your home, your family and your values...but swift wings to fly and the freedom to be who they were meant to be. A heavy task in itself.

You will probably worry every single second after they're born. Just like you did with your first two babies, you won't want to leave their side. Your baby will be so fresh and new, so helpless and tiny. The thought of going anywhere without them or doing anything apart from them will scare you, just as it did the first two times. Even sleeping more than a foot away from them will make you weak in the knees. Oh and you'll think you will know exactly what to do and when to do it, because after all, you've done this before, right? Not exactly. You will probably have just as many moments of "I have no clue what I'm doing" or "What should I do???" as you had the first two times. More experience, yes. More knowledge, yes. But being a Mom of three? A whole new world.

You'll probably tell your husband -- and yourself for that matter -- that you have no idea how you're going to get through the days and nights of balancing the little ones you love so very much, trying to take care of yourself, maintain your marriage and sustain your relationships & commitments, running on such little sleep and sometimes, little hope. Because it just seems so hard. You ask him when it will get easier and repeatedly say, "I don't ever remember it being this hard." You will miss what life was before and wish you had savored it more. I promise, you will. Well, savor it now. Savor the moment you are living in because once that moment is gone, you will never get it back. Instead of focusing on what you miss and how it was before, how things have changed and how easy it was and how hard it feels now, find joy in today. In these three tender spirits, these three tiny souls. In the chaos and the messes and the never-ending balancing act that requires grace upon grace as a Mom of three.

I want you to know that you will undoubtedly have days where you don't think you can do what you have to do. You may not even know how to do what you have to do. And you'll probably cry. A lot. Let's be real, you're just a cryer. Because you wear your heart on your sleeve and your emotions are so strong and real no matter what season of life you are in. You are born and bred a passionate soul. And you'll question yourself and you'll doubt yourself. You'll probably feel guilty for taking time to yourself but you know deep down -- just as you did with your first two -- that you need that time, those moments and minutes without the weight of your whole world on your shoulders. But you know what? You can do it. And you will do it. Just as you did the first two times. Days will pass and nights will end, you'll start getting sleep again and piece by piece, you'll gather your life back together and what once felt so new and unfamiliar will become normal. A new normal. And with enough rest and newfound hope, a better normal. A way, way better normal. 

Last but not least, don't forget that I know who you are -- you're a Mom, and you want to take care of everyone and everything. It's in your blood and coursing through your veins. Saturating every cell of your being. And for awhile, you'll think you can do it all. In fact, you will try to do it all. And whether you admit it or not, you believe that no one else can do it as well as you can, because after all, you're their Mom. And no one else is. But then in a 3am haze as you struggle to open your eyes and you feel like you could sleep for a year straight, you remember that you don't have to do it all. And that you shouldn't try to do it all. That instead, you should do what you can do with what you have, to the best of your ability. You will figure it out along the way. And you'll love them with a love you've never known was possible. And that love will carry you through the darkness. No matter how many children you one day have, that love will only grow.

And then one day, you'll look back and wonder how you got to where you now find yourself. You'll wonder how and when time started passing quicker than ever before. You'll wonder when hard became easier. You'll wonder how you even did it. And you'll start to think about doing it all over again. Because your dream is being a Mama. And as hard as that job is...that calling...as self-sacrificing, character-building and forever tiring as it is...it's all you've ever known and all you'll ever want. Don't ever forget that. Because what you're doing is worth it. It's so, so worth it. Take it from me, life doesn't get any better than this.

11.09.2015

best of the nest | summer infant video monitor

During my first pregnancy, one of the items at the top of my wish list was a video monitor. I nannied for a family during college that had one and I loved being able to physically see their son as he napped in his crib or to check on him if he cried before going into his room. When you're only able to hear a child without actually seeing them, it's nearly impossible to know what they may need or attend to them accordingly, and it's amazing how much easier a video monitor makes the difficult job of parenting!

In early 2013, we ended up purchasing a Summer Infant video monitor before Olivia was born and still use it today, even now in her big girl room. I have it mounted on the wall overlooking her twin bed and I love being able to peek on her as she's winding down at nap time, to see how quickly she falls asleep at bedtime, or check what she's doing if she wakes in the middle of the night. For us, our video monitor has been so incredibly helpful over the past two and a half years with Olivia, so when Summer Infant asked if I'd like to feature one of their newest and most popular HD monitors in Penelope's room, I didn't even have to think about it! Not only do I have such a positive opinion of the company as a whole, but would also consider a Summer Infant video monitor one of my top New Mom Must Haves, and Summer Infant is the leading brand of all infant video monitors, so you know you're getting the best of the best! 


Summer Infant offers a wide variety of audio, video and Internet compatible monitors. The one we have in Poppy's room is the Sharp View HD Duo High Definition Video Monitor, which features two cameras and a large 5'' color LCD flat-screen to view your babe. We have one camera mounted above her crib and the other above her changing pad, angled to look into her bassinet which sits in the middle of the room.

The picture quality is excellent...it definitely feels like I'm looking at her instead of through a screen, and I love that I can zoom in significantly to get a closer look. The monitor offers two-times the resolution of traditional baby monitors, two-way communication (something I always wished I had with our original monitor), a soft-glow nightlight and one of my favorite features, a temperature display so I know how hot or cold her nursery is.


As soon as our monitor arrived I put my hubby to work hanging it. I love having two cameras so that I'm able to capture her room and crib from two different angles. At only two months, Penelope actually still sleeps in her bassinet, but the way our cameras are set up, I'm able to view her in it at night if she isn't sleeping in our room in her bassinet beside me. Little by little, we have been transitioning to her crib for naps, so that around three months we can fully move her from her bassinet to her crib the way we did with Olivia. I feel the best when Poppy is within an arms reach of me while sleeping because even at two months she still feels so new and tiny, but having a video monitor takes so much stress off if she isn't beside me since I can peek on her anytime I want.

I love the large 5'' screen of the handheld display -- it's much bigger than the monitor I use with Olivia, and captures such a great picture of your baby's entire environment, including all their surroundings. The cameras themselves can easily be moved and manipulated once they're mounted, making it super simple to capture what you desire without having to take them off the wall and rehang them. They hang on a single screw but still remain sturdy and each camera has an On / Off switch, which is really nice since I leave them plugged in but don't need the actual camera on 24-7, so by switching them off I'm able to conserve a bit of energy! Even if I can't always conserve it as a Mom, at least I can conserve it somewhere!!


If you have a favorite New Mom Must Have that you'd like to share, I'd love to hear from you! I'm sure with every baby I have, there will always be new products out there and technology continues to change so rapidly, but our Summer Infant monitors will remain staples with our girls for many years to come! Happy Monday!

11.06.2015

friday favorites

It's been awhile since I've done a Friday Favorites post and there are so many fun new things we've been loving lately. And I don't know about you, but I can't believe we're already a week into November! That means Olivia is just a few weeks shy of being two-and-a-half, Penelope is almost two months and there are only 7 weeks left until Christmas. 

Olivia and I spent the better part of the week decking the halls and polishing off fun size butterfingers like it was our job and Poppy surprised us all by sleeping 8 hours through the night the past several nights. Add to that the coziest winter clothing and a weekend ahead without any real plans and I'm a happy camper!


1. Target is killing it this year with the holiday decor. And even though I tend to be a little color-shy (read: my closet is entirely black + grey), these festive tones are just too perfect to pass up. This tree shaped wooden advent calendar basically leaped into my cart the other day. This is the first year Olivia will actually enjoy the countdown to Christmas since last year she was just a little too young. I'm going to fill it with stickers, tiny presents, bows and more. I always loved doing an advent calendar as a little girl growing up and I'm so excited to do it with my own daughter now.

2. I shared earlier this week on instagram that I made it a goal to write all my favorite recipes down on recipe cards, instead of looking them up online or with my computer as a nod to my Grandma Bea. These floral recipe tins from Rifle Paper Co. are my very favorite. Old fashioned style meets modern function. 

3. Olivia is at an age where she wants to learn so many new words and she wants to know what everything is called. This book is a new favorite around here. I love the vintage illustrations + the color scheme and how many new things Via is learning everytime we look at it together.

4. I can't get enough of these diamond sweater leggings. They come in so many fun patterns and gap is offering 40% off this week for the Friends & Family event if you're a cardholder! It's basically like wearing the coziest, softest sweater on your legs. All day long. Oh and these slipper sweater socks are a dream for your feet.


5. I'm an ornament nut and will probably need two trees this year to hang them all. Every year Dustin and I exchange ornaments with each other and then I pick out some new ones for the girls. I'm loving these whimsical forest creature ones and these love arrows.

6. I recently started wholesaling for doTERRA and am loving it. My only regret is that I didn't start sooner. I have diffusers in each of the girls' rooms, our bedroom and living room and have been diffusing Wild Orange in the mornings for mood & energy and Serenity or Lavender at night. I made a roller ball with some oils (Lavender + Frankincense + OnGuard) for the girls at bedtime too! Maybe that's why P is sleeping so good!! I'm amazed at how many uses there are for essential oils and am so excited to continue to incorporate them into our daily routine! 


Hope everyone has a wonderful, relaxing weekend! Happy Friday!

11.04.2015

best of the nest | dockatot

Having a baby the second time around is so much different than the first. Instead of just camping out in one room to take care of Penelope all day, I often move all around the house with her because I'm also watching and entertaining Olivia. One of my favorite products that makes life as a Mama of two so much easier is my DockATot.


Created in Sweden with a strict emphasis on design and comfort, DockATot is a multi-functional lounging, playing, resting and snuggling dock for your babe that can easily be transported anywhere. Yes, anywhere! It can be used for safe co-sleeping, changing, and more. With its built in handle, I love that I can pick it up and move it room to room to follow Olivia. 

The DockATot features a plush cocoon-like design for optimal protection and durability. Shortly after she was born, I noticed Penelope loved laying on her changing pad while I was changing or dressing her. I don't know if it was the fact that it was cozy and plush, had raised edges or both. But before we even tried it, I knew she would love the DockATot because of it's innovative design and quality materials. Of course as Moms we know that babies need a nurturing and cozy surrounding and naturally feel calmer in a smaller environment which mimics the womb. The DockATot creates that in a stylish, travel-friendly product available in two different sizes ranging from 0-36 months, based on the age of your child. 


The DockATot Deluxe is made for babies from birth to 8 months (Stage 1 / approximately 5-22 lbs). The DockATot Grand is made for babies 9 months to 36 months (Stage 2 / approximately 22-40 lbs). The Grand can be used for all the same activities as the Deluxe as well as a way to facilitate comfortable sleeping in toddler beds. Additionally, the bumpers on the Grand act as a bed guard for young kids, allowing them to settle more easily in a bigger bed and allow for a smoother crib to bed transition.
Penelope loves lounging in her DockATot after feedings and for tummy time, especially because she can prop up on one edge and see more of the world around her than she would if she was completely flat on her stomach. I also love that she can lay in bed with Dustin and I while we read books to Olivia before bedtime without feeling like she'll be unsafe or uncomfortable since she has her own designated spot. On the weekends we love watching movies after Olivia goes to bed and having Poppy lay on the couch next to us in her dock is so nice, she's just an arms reach away. 


If you're thinking about getting your own DockATot, I highly recommend it not only for it's convenience and practicality but for how cozy it is for your babe or toddler. I wish it came in my size! Olivia has sneakily tried to lay in Poppy's dock when my back is turned because of how comfy it is, though she is definitely much too big! 

For more tips on how to use it or to decide which size is best for your family, you can visit the FAQ page here. DockATot features a fully removable 100% cotton cover (a necessity with a baby and a toddler around) which makes machine washing easy. I feel like I do laundry seven days a week (any other Mamas feel that way?) and it's so handy that I can just throw the cover in as needed.

To see DockATot's full collection and shop, visit their website here. Blessed Nest readers can save 10% off their total purchase this week using the code BLESSEDNEST10 at checkout (discount valid November 4 through November 10, 2015 only). Happy Wednesday!

11.02.2015

best of the nest | minted for the holidays

If you follow me on instagram @blessednestblog, you'll know we are huge fans of Minted around here! They are my go-to spot for any + every invitation, card and announcement I need. These days in a world saturated by technology, old fashioned snail mail is extra special. I love sending things through the mail, knowing a little piece of my family -- whether it be an invitation, card or photo  -- is arriving in a loved one's mailbox. 

I'm so excited to be partnering with Minted this holiday season to share my favorite picks for holiday cards. I had to restrain myself from using the "Favorite" button on their website with almost every single design, because the variety is incredible and they offer cards for every family and style. Minted believes that great design lives and thrives in the hands of independent artists that as consumers, we don't have access to through traditional retailers. Using top technology, Minted allows consumers to discover creative talent through the products they sell. Minted's community of independent artists and designers are located in 48 states and 43 countries. They are illustrators and textile designs, painters and packaging designers, marketers and even stay-at-home Moms! Some have design degrees and others are participating in Minted competitions to learn design for the first time. I believe one of the reasons their Holiday cards are so great is because each and every one is designed by an independent artist! You get a little bit of everything, making Minted the perfect one-stop-shop for everybody! 

Below are my top five picks for Holiday cards. I love having photos on ours, since we send cards out to friends and family all around the country, many of which we haven't seen in months. I also love saving our Christmas cards each year and pulling them back out as December nears, to see how much we've changed and grown as a family. This holiday season is extra special because of our newest addition, our first Christmas as a family of four. 






Clearly, I'm loving the foil designs this season since 3 of my top 5 feature real foil -- they add such an elegant touch to your cards. When personalizing your cards, you can also change the border shape, just adding one extra little touch to the final product. I almost think of Christmas cards as gifts in and of themselves, and Minted does an excellent job of offering so many options for personalization so you're able to put your own touch on your family's cards.

Stay tuned for a full look at the holiday cards we chose with Minted coming soon!

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