Pampering Mom

Mothers Day is this Sunday, and my personal goal for my second time celebrating this day as a mom myself is to have pretty, shiny, pink toenails. 

I got a pedicure a few weeks before Charlotte was born and I am looooong overdue for a new one. My pink toenails are chippy, and that's only cute on distressed vintage cabinets. Not nails.

So, anything else is icing on the cake (I mean, a family brunch on Sunday would be pretty sweet -- but I don't want to get too greedy now), but as long as I get a moment to give myself a pedicure, I will be one happy girl.

Here's a round-up of some other ideas of ways to pamper yourself, a mom in your life, or your own mom. These gifts start at just $10 if you are like me and don't spend a TON on every single holiday. It's more about the notes written in the cards, anyway :)

Happy Mothers Day, and for those of you who are not yet mothers but who are wishing desperately to be, my heart is with you.

Mothers Day

I've included the links to these Amazon Prime eligible items below if you still need a few gifts and are in a pinch on time. Love, love, love free two-day shipping. It has gotten me out of a pickle plenty of times!

1: Fresh Sugar Kiss & Tell Set (on Amazon HERE)
2: Oster Electric Wine Opener (on Amazon HERE)
3: Essie Gel Setter kit in Ballet Slippers (on Amazon HERE) for mom and matching nails for your little one, too! Piggy Paint (on Amazon HERE)
4: One Line A Day: 5 Year Memory Book (on Amazon HERE)
5: Mini Polaroid Camera (on Amazon HERE)

Also, I was sent the most amazing hand creams and a lotion recently to try out as part of the J.R. Watkins #MothersHands campaign. J.R. Watkins really knocked it out of the park with their scented hand creams. Out of the lavender, aloe & green tea, coconut milk & honey, and lemon cream scents, I think my very favorite is the aloe & green tea. It's so fresh and herbal smelling! 

The pump lotion is fragrance free. Ian and I always keep a pump lotion on our bathroom sink next to the hand lotion. It's a daily reminder to hydrate our skin out of the shower. Ian's skin is more sensitive than mine, so this fragrance free lotion is perfect (plus, what man wants to run around smelling like a delicate gardenia all day?!). 

You can check these out on the J.R. Watkins website and see what other products they offer. The body washes look really heavenly to me. This company has been crafting products naturally for 148 years ... bravo to that!

Happy pampering!


Baby Charlotte's Birth Story

I was up in the wee hours of Wednesday, April 13th -- another night of very little sleep. I was 41 weeks pregnant (again...!) and my mind was racing. An idea crept into my mind that I just couldn't shake ... I wanted a date night. Bad. And soon. I told myself that when it was an acceptable hour that morning, I would reach out to a neighborhood sitter and see if we could get her to come over for a quick dinner date that evening. Something just told me not to put it off.

I also put out a request in our neighborhood moms group to borrow someone's trampoline that day and try to bounce the baby downward. :) Someone responded that we could use their backyard trampoline, and Camille and I spent some time bouncing that Wednesday morning!

Luckily, I was able to secure a sitter for that evening, and Ian and I ate at Bricktops -- the last nice place we ate before our first daughter Camille made her arrival. We ordered the deviled eggs again and I had a delicious mocktail with my meal. 

I went to bed that evening and woke up feeling rested but having a contraction (this had been the case for the past several evenings -- waking up to a mild contraction was nothing new). It just felt like my belly muscles were really tight, but it was painless. I took note of the time -- 2:15am -- and the next contraction came five minutes later. At that point, I opened the contraction timer app on my phone and noticed that the next one was also five minutes later, all lasting for about a minute long. Classic labor symptoms. I just knew that it was "it." After having a long, painful, pitocin-fueled induction with Camille, I was SO excited to go into labor on my own this time.

I snuck out of bed and headed to the den where I sat on the yoga ball, monitored contractions, and put in a call to my OB's office to tell them I thought I was in labor. The nurse I spoke to let me know that when I was panting and puffing through contractions, it was time to head in (I'm less than 10 minutes from the hospital).

Around 3am I called my mom and she climbed out of bed and hit the highway to drive up to our home. She lives about an hour and fifteen minutes away.

Right after 4am, Ian walked into the kitchen, looking very confused (I had decided to just let him sleep). He saw me setting out Camille's Cheerios and cereal bowl to make it a little easier on my mom, and he said, "Hey ... what's going on?" He seemed truly perplexed.

I said "Babe, we are going to have a baby today."

Not long after this, he drew a warm bath for me, and I spent about 30 minutes laboring in the warm water which felt really nice. Contractions were definitely starting to get uncomfortable.

Mom arrived at 5am, and by this time, I definitely could not talk through contractions. I was getting ready to head to the hospital -- applying some makeup and curling my hair, which my mom could not believe I was doing, but I knew we had a long day ahead and it was one small thing that made me feel "like me" and helped to get my mind off of the discomfort. It was a welcome distraction.

By the time I wrapped up getting ready, contractions were as close as two minutes apart (!!!) and I was getting through each one by bending over with my head and arms on the bed in silence or by kneeling on the cushion of the big chair in our room, facing the back of the chair. My mom was really concerned at the closeness of the contractions. Ian and I left the house and reached the hospital right around 6am.

The lady at the front hospital desk was asking me some questions, but I was having to be silent and let Ian answer for me whenever contractions would hit. We went to the elevator, were taken to triage, and filled out the appropriate paperwork.

When the nurse checked my progress, I was already 6cm dilated ... she said, "Girl, you have been doing some WORK!" Darn right.

At that point, I had to decide whether to get an epidural or not. Part of me thought -- you're already at 6cm - you can do this. And the other part of me won out. :) I so enjoyed my labor with Camille when I had an epidural, so I decided to repeat this with our second baby.

The anesthesiologist had me in a blissful state by -- I think? -- 7am. The nurses we had were fantastic.

They checked me again every hour or so, and I jumped from 6cm to 8cm to 9.5cm. By 10:30, they were bringing in my midwife and said we would start pushing soon. When it was go time, I pushed through the first contraction, then stopped when the contraction stopped. During this time, we could actually see the baby's head (I opted to use a mirror again for the delivery). During the second contraction, I pushed again and the baby's head came all the way down and then we had to pause -- the head stayed there, and that was the most uncomfortable moment. Luckily, the third contraction came not long afterwards ... I pushed, and the baby was here!

Ian was the one that told me, "It's a girl!"

Charlotte Smithwick was born at 10:45am and weighed 8lb, 3oz (Camille was 8.2) and was 20.25" long (same as Camille). Ian and I have always loved the name Charlotte, and it has special meaning to us since it's where we met. Smithwick is Ian's middle name and it is the last name of his paternal grandmother. We called her the next day, April 15th (her birthday), to let her know that Charlotte shared a name with her and she was nearly moved to tears. She said it was the best birthday gift she'd ever received.

We had some visitors during our two night stay in the hospital including my parents, my mother in law, my sister, and some girlfriends. 

Charlotte was snuggly from the start and just such a sweet baby. Nursing has been going really smoothly, and she and I passed all of our tests (including the glucose tests since I had gestational diabetes this pregnancy). 

She wore the same coming-home outfit that our first daughter did -- a pink gown and a white lace bonnet made with love by my mother.

And thus began our story as a family of four.

We love you so so much, Baby Charlotte.


Strawberry Picking, Strawberry Pie

Friday morning, I met a few friends and babies at Hall Family Farm for some strawberry picking! 

When I was growing up in a small country town outside of Columbia, SC, there was a strawberry patch on the way home from school. Mom would occasionally let us stop by Mr. Kersey's farm to pick berries (and munch on them, too!). Mr. Kersey used to tell us three sisters to remember that the berries tasted best right off of the plant, and I found myself repeating that lesson to the little girls on Friday.

Any local readers -- I would highly recommend this farm! We filled our cardboard basket below about halfway full, bought a small loaf of strawberry sweet bread and a bottle of water, and my total for all of this was less than $10! Good, cheap, wholesome, educational fun. Can't beat it. 

So, what to do with those beautiful red berries? Besides having them on hand for snacking, and slipping a few slices in the overnight French toast that I made Saturday evening, I also put together an amazing strawberry pie.

I can't take any credit for the recipe -- I found it here -- but I'll paste it below for ease!

Strawberry Pie
9" pie shell 
4 c. strawberries, washed and hulled 
1 1/2 c. water 
3/4 c. sugar 
2 Tbsp cornstarch 
1 (3 oz) package strawberry Jell-O

Bake pie shell according to package directions. Cool. Place washed and hulled strawberries in cool pie shell. Combine water, sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Bring to boil and cook two minutes. Add strawberry Jell-O and stir until dissolved. Pour over berries. Chill until set.

So, that's it. Easy, fresh, yummy! And, after you've purchased the berries, super inexpensive to make. This would be delicious topped with whipped cream, too. 

Enjoy, and remember to snag some of those strawberries right off of the plant!


Saturday Sip and Shop



Lemon Rosemary Gin Fizz
Recipe HERE from The Travel Bite
Typically I don't love gin unless it's cut with a good amount of citrus, so I think this looks like the perfect warm weather cocktail!


Square Scarf  with tassel Flower print Boho scarf  Holiday shawl Cotton boho tassel scarf

Tassel Scarf
Found HERE on Etsy
This seller is from Hong Kong so shipping takes a while (1-2 weeks, per the seller) but they offer some really beautiful scarves at super low prices!

I am also really loving this navy fox scarf that they carry...

... and this oversized yellow and white scarf! Twelve bucks!


3-5-7 Makeup

I love reading about favorite beauty products, especially if they are drugstore finds (easy on that wallet!). As a stay at home mom, I don't need my beauty routine to be Kardashian-esque, but I personally do feel better when I've got a little makeup on and my hair done. All HAY-ELL can be breaking loose in the home, but if I feel put-together, I feel a little less harried and looney. 

I was getting ready this morning when I snapped a few photos to show you my favorite products for my on-the-go days. Let's call this my "3-5-7 makeup" ... three products for a really quick and basic face, five products for a slightly more polished look, and seven products if I actually have decent time and cooperating babies when getting ready!

New mom disclaimer ... iPhone photos, not great lighting, nary a piece of gorgeous marble in my home to lay these products on, blah blah. You're getting fast snaps on my bathroom sink, so ... yeah. :) All can be purchased on Amazon, and I've included those links below.

Three Products
These are the three items I'd pull out of my makeup bag if we were doing a quick morning run to the grocery store or drugstore. Not anything that would take more than 2 minutes to apply, but just enough to look rested and put together and not scare anyone away. 

Glamoflauge Concealer: super, super thick and heavy duty. Great for camouflaging the lack of sleep I've had.
Bobbi Brown blush in Pale Pink: my favorite, lasts forever. It's not cheap, so I purchased this before I quit my job, hoping that it would last me a while until I needed a new one!
L'Oreal Infallable lipgloss in Rebel Red: Super pigmented and lasts a long time. One coat looks casual, two coats looks va-va-voom. A stained red lip is such an easy way to look polished.

Five Products:
This will be more like a three or four minute face. Using the three basic items above, but adding in my favorite cheapie brow filler and two coats of mascara (no eyeliner). Having my lashes and brows defined takes the basic non-frightening face above and makes me a tad more confident about running into a neighbor or a college friend on a diaper run to the drugstore. 

L'Oreal Mascaramy favorite drugstore mascaras are always L'Oreal. The best! I like thick, voluminous lashes and a few coats of this does the trick. 
ELF Eyebrow Kit: I use this in color "light" for definition but not to have really strong-looking eyebrows. I don't have really thick eyebrows, so any darker color just doesn't work for me.

Seven Products:
Finally, here's the lineup that I'll use on a daily basis. It's not a date night look per se (I'd add in eye shadow and some pencil liner for my bottom lids for that), but it's an everyday made-up look when I actually have a decent amount of time to get ready.

L'Oreal Liquid EyelinerI've been using this liquid liner in Carbon Black or Blackest Black for YEARS now. It has a felt tip that is easy to apply, and after you get the hang of it, you could apply it half awake. Which is the perfect way to describe how I apply mine these days :)
L'Oreal Mineral PowderAnother favorite of mine for years now! Inexpensive, great coverage, and lasts a long time! 

So, there is a peek inside my makeup bag and my daily beauty regimen. If you could only use three makeup items, I'd love to hear what yours would be!


Weekend Breakfasts: Monkey Bread Recipe

We had a can of biscuits in our fridge drawer that was just begging to be made into monkey bread. Like seriously, I'd open the refrigerator and hear, "Hey, hey! You there! Coat us with cinnamon and sugar and butter and brown sugar ... mmmmkay?!"

Who am I to turn that down?

So on Saturday morning I made monkey bread for us, and it was too darn delicious not to share here.

+ 1 12oz can refrigerated biscuits
+ 1/3 cup white sugar
+ 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
+ 1/4 cup butter
+ 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
+ almonds and raisins, if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray your loaf pan with some non-stick spray. Mix white sugar and cinnamon in a plastic bag. Cut biscuits into quarters with a sharp knife. Shake 4 biscuit pieces in the sugar cinnamon mix at a time. Arrange pieces in the bottom of the prepared pan. Continue until all biscuits are coated and placed in pan. If using nuts and raisins, arrange them in and among the biscuit pieces as you go along. In the microwave, melt the butter with the brown sugar, about 45 seconds or 1 minute. Pour over the biscuits. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a plate. Do not cut! The bread just pulls apart.

Now, tell me that doesn't look amazing?

That can of biscuits is calling you from your fridge, too. 


Tuesday Catchup: Randoms & Weekend With The Babies

Last night, RIGHT before lights-out (standard), Charlotte projectile vomited what I'm guessing to be about a cup of milk. 

So. Much. Milk.

I'm not talking spit-up. I am talking full-fledged throw up and I was terrified. I've never seen a newborn get sick like that. I keep my pediatrician's phone number towards the top of my "Favorites" list in my phone for easy access, and I was soon on the phone with a nurse who gave me a little bit of peace about it and let me know it was likely a one-time deal. But how do you go to sleep after that?!

Sleep for Charlotte has been a bit of a struggle, because when I nurse her at night she doesn't settle right back down in the bassinet like Camille did. She fusses, we nurse again, we swaddle again, and she fusses in the bassinet. Then we start the process over.

Because of the vomiting, I slept with her in her nursery (Ian has a big workday today and I didn't want to chance us keeping him up all night) and she was in the Rock and Play instead of the bassinet. And wouldn't you know that it is the most successful night of rest that any of us have had since her birth. I've always been a stickler for sleeping in flat bassinets versus rock and plays, but I may be changing my tune with this babe. Anyone with experience here, I'd love to hear from you!

In other news, my girlfriend Lauren brought us AMAZING sushi take-out from Sushi Guru on Friday night! This South Park restaurant is, I think, the best spot to grab sushi in all of Charlotte. We love the sashimi pizza and the South Park roll so much. After 9 months of no raw fish, sushi was a major craving. 

Charlotte was wearing this little Carter's outfit that I was given for Camille. I think Camille only wore it once or twice, and that's been the best thing about having another girl born in the same season -- the ability to get more wear out of outfits that I just love!

My washer/dryer didn't exactly get that memo, though, as I pulled baby laundry out of the dryer Saturday morning only to discover that Camille had put a purple and blue crayon in the foot of her fleece pajamas (ouch) ... and I now had blue tie-dyed baby clothes. I'm STILL working on getting the blue out of some of these outfits. Several pieces may be too far gone for saving, but I'm trying to be patient and optimistic. I wanted to ugly cry. 

I was able to escape for a bit with Charlotte and go to Mindy's baby sprinkle at Cafe Monte! There was another slightly younger baby there, and it was nice talking to that mom. 

Later that afternoon, my family members that live outside of Winston Salem drove in to meet Charlotte and bring Camille some special big sister gifts. 

Sunday ... ahh, Sunday. Camille woke up and soon became very lethargic with watery eyes. A quick temperature check showed she was running a fever of 103. Ian swept her off to the pediatrician and a few doses of Motrin later and she was right as rain. 

On the flipside, we let her watch part of her first movie ever. Love the free kids movies you can watch on demand!

The rest of the day was spent around the house with my recovering toddler and my cluster-feeding newborn. Can't say I hated getting joint snuggles from them (while trying to still keep Camille at a safe distance). 

Alright, so, lessons learned:

1) Never say never about what you will or won't do for babies (and if you have used the Rock and Play for sleep and then transitioned easily to flat crib sleeping, hit me up!)

2) New moms will always hug you for sushi delivery. The more raw fish, the better.

3) Family is everything.

4) Always check footed jammies for crayons in the toes. And from here on out, only buy washable crayons. Seriously. I just purchased them from Amazon (here) and am trashing the others.
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