Fall Kickoff: 10 Budget-Friendly Activities for the whole Family...

Is there anything better than fall in Boston?! I love when I can feel the air start to change; the mornings are a bit crisp, pumpkin-flavored everything reappears, and the trees are so beautiful with their fiery red-orange leaves! I'm also a sports fan so fall for me equals football season! Last year, I placed second in my fantasy football league...just saying! :)

The beginning of this fall felt different for us as a family because London started school! It was really fun to do all of the "back to school" things with her like pick out a backpack, fill it with supplies and buy new school shoes! Since she's now officially beginning her educational journey, it also got us thinking about more ways we can save and prepare for her future. Yes, we're already looking ahead to saving for college because it’s never too early to start saving when it comes to your kids! Anyone who knows me at all knows that I'm a planner so I'm sure this does not come as a shock!

Summertime always brings a lot of costly activities, getaways and vacations so fall is a great time for us to re-visit our finances and find better ways to save! One way we can save more is to find budget-friendly options and fun things to do in the city that won't break the bank! Here are some things for you and your family to enjoy this fall season...

1. Embark on a "kid-friendly walking tour." There are so many historical sites around Boston! Get some exercise and fresh air with your kiddos while learning more about our amazing city! These educational walks are sure to keep their curious little minds entertained!

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2. Grab a cup of hot cocoa and take a "foliage walk." There's nothing more stunning than fall in New England - and what better way to enjoy all that it has to offer than a walk through Arnold Arboretum! If you're feeling extra motivated, plan a scavenger hunt and bring a bucket to collect the items on your list. 

3. Visit the Boston Public Market. There is so much to look at in this market! Choose one special ingredient to try, and have a picnic on the scenic Rose Kennedy Greenway. We love to grab a few donuts and iced coffees before finding a spot on the Greenway while we watch London explore. This is one of our favorite weekend family activities!

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 4. Nothing screams, "fall" more than apple picking...HELLO! I'm the most basic girl ever, but every fall I have to visit the orchard for crispy Macintosh apples, cider, and a photo opp, of course :) I'm really excited to do this as a family in a few weeks because I think Lo will love picking her own apples and then baking something special at home together. There are so many beautiful orchards in the Greater Boston area - you should definitely check one out this fall season!

5. Hit your favorite bakery. Fall isn’t complete without pumpkin-spiced everything! Visit your local bakery to get a special fall-inspired treat. Find the nearest playground,  enjoy your goodies then run around together. If you're looking for a great playground, the Esplanade has a nice one with beautiful views of the Charles River. 

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 6. Take a stroll through the Public Garden. While you’re walking through and taking in the beautiful fall foliage, make sure to pay a visit to Mrs. Mallard and her eight ducklings! Then cozy up on a blanket with a snack and a copy of the classic book Make Way For Ducklings

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 7. Bring your music-loving child to one of the MANY festivals. Throughout the month of September, numerous towns around Boston host "porch fest," where people perform mini concerts on their porches. Visit Davis Square in Somerville the first weekend of October for a free music and dance festival your kids will LOVE! There are so many more multicultural events so make sure to check your town calendar.

8. Visit the Pumpkin Float at Frog Pond. This event is so budget-friendly that it's FREE! Bring your own carved pumpkin and the staff will illuminate it then float it on the pond with hundreds of others. It's so beautiful to see them all lit up! There are also refreshments, music and other fun activities along the pond.  

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 9. Celebrate Halloween in the best way possible, trick-or-treating among the animals at the Stone Zoo! The "Boo at the Zoo" looks SO fun and we can't wait to go this year. They offer crafts set up for kids, a haunted maze, costume contests! In addition, there will be a U.Fund Dreams Tour tent, which will offer games for the kids and an opportunity for parents to learn about the importance of college savings. (I’ll be attending with my kiddos and I hope to see you guys there!)

 10. Take a trip to the library. These visits are a great way to Develop and nurture your child's love of reading at a young age! The Boston Public Library is an amazing resource for your family, offering free "nursery rhyme time" and a beautiful space to enjoy books together.

I would love to steal some of your ideas for my family to enjoy this season! What are some of your favorite fall activities?

xx,

Ashley

This blog post was brought to you by Fidelity and MEFA. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

 

 



Mom Life Made Easier with Incredibundles...

 
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Happy Thursday!

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful week! We have been battling the annual “change of season” / October sickness that always seems to find our household. I’ve basically been stuck at home with both babies but hoping we can start to venture out again in a few days.

When baby number two came along I quickly realized that everything was double the work and double the stress. What was once a simple “coffee run” is now non-existent because it’s MUCH easier to make it at home then pack up two kiddos. Same goes for trips to Target (which used to happen once a week) and even to the grocery store (I now shop online and have them delivered). I’m constantly looking for ways to make mom life easier/smoother and decrease the number of things I have to think about on a daily basis.

Enter: Incredibundles which makes life INFINITELY better.

How It Works:

Incredibundles offers diaper subscriptions for 3, 6, 9 and 12-month terms! Your order gets sent right to your doorstep or you can choose to gift to another parent. You’ll receive the cutest Announcement Package that comes complete with a reusable box, an adorable and incredibly soft Teddy Bear (pictured below), and the certificate highlighting the subscription you chose! The ordering process is super easy and straight-forward. All you do is create an account, choose from a variety of diaper and wipe brands plus the size that you want and they’ll show up at your door like MAGIC :) One less thing to worry about! You can sign into your account and adjust the diaper sizing at any point before the next shipment date as well! This would also be the ultimate gift idea for any baby shower! Trust me…it would be a major hit!

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HERE IS THE GOOD STUFF…

I’ve partnered with Incredibundles over on my Instagram (@stylegraceandlace) for an amazing GIVEAWAY to gift one LUCKY parent a 3-month diaper subscription! That’s right…receive diapers to your doorstep for FREE, three straight months. To enter, click my IG username above and to learn more about Incredibundles, click here!

xx,

Ashley

Malia's Two Month Update:

Happy Friday!

I’m going to try and give monthly updates on Malia here - so you guys can see what she’s doing and kind of follow along in our journey through the first year. I’ll also give a little sample schedule of what her day looks like for the time being! Honestly, can’t believe I’m already writing this one…her TWO month update! It’s incredible how fast time goes, especially with your second baby. The days fly by because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done slash can be done. (Raise your hand if you’re already cleaning! Will it ever end?!)

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Malia is just as sweet as she’s always been. At her doctor’s check up she weighed in at 11lb, 10.5 ounces and is 23.5 inches long! She’s totally starting to have longer periods of awake time which is fun! She’s super smiley and LOVES to coo and talk. I’m basically obsessed when she makes noises and gets those little spit bubbles on her lips. Mamas…you know the ones! :)

She loves to lay on her play mat and watch her star toy light up. The baby Bjorn bouncer is great for right after she eats - because I like to keep her semi-upright. The seat is at an incline and has a toy bar too; she just stares at it for now, but I’m sure she’ll be actually playing with it before we know it :) Basically when she’s awake (usually anywhere from 60-90 minutes), I rotate her between the play mat, Bjorn bouncer, this Fisher Price seat (under $30!) and her swing! The swing I usually do last and she fusses to let me know she’s ready for her nap.

We bottle feed and right now Malia is eating 5 ounces about every four hours during the day. She wakes just one time to eat in the middle of the night (anywhere from 3:00AM - 4:30AM) and then goes back to sleep until 6:45-7AM. We are currently starting to wean her off of her night feeding because she’ll usually only eat 2 ounces, 3 at most, before her eyes are closed to go back to sleep again! I shared a few books that we love on my Instagram recently; Twelve Hours of Sleep in Twelve Weeks and Newborn 101. The second book actually starts from pregnancy so there’s a wealth of info in there. The Twelve Hours book is mostly about feeding/sleeping. We suggest both to all of our friends who have kids :) One big thing that happened this month is Malia starting putting herself to sleep at bedtime. We feed her, kiss her goodnight and put her sound machine on…place her in her crib awake and she goes to sleep on her own. It’s pretty amazing. She has a 7PM bedtime and it gives me 30-45 minutes to be one-on-one with London - which I thoroughly enjoy. I love being able to catch up with her before she goes to bed.

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Nap times for Malia have usually been 8:30 - 9:15AM … then 10AM - 11AM. She’ll eat, play, then be ready to go back down around 12:45PM to take her long nap of the day. She will typically sleep until 3-3:30PM. Again, she’ll wake up to eat, play, then cat-nap from about 5-5:30PM. Those are her naps for the day. After her last nap, I’ll play with her until it’s time for the bath at 6:15pm. Yes, I’m one of those moms that gives her kids baths every. single. night. London’s I may skip here and there depending on how much energy I have (Ha! Energy? What’s that?!) … but Malia gets one every night. I do this partly because I think it is a great “indicator” that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep and also because let’s be honest, she’s pooping and peeing in a diaper all day and she needs a good scrub! It’s not lengthy, but 5-10 minutes and we’re in and out! For those wondering if this dries out her skin/scalp. It doesn’t. I lather my babies head to toe in Aveeno and we’ve never had that issue!

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Ok, I think that’s a good round up for this month! As promised, here is a sample schedule of what our day looks like (of course, there are slight changes often - but hey, that’s newborn-life right?!) :)

6:45AM - Malia wakes up, change into clothes for the day

7:00AM - Feed 5oz bottle

7:30AM - 8:30AM - Play time!

8:30AM - 9:15AM - Nap #1

9:15AM - 10AM - Brief play time

10AM - 11:00AM - Nap #2

11:00AM - Feed 5oz bottle

11:30AM - Play time / go pick up Lo from school / more play time :)

12:45AM - 3/3:30PM - Nap #3 (longest of the day!)

3/3:30PM - Feed 5 oz bottle

4:00 - 5:00 - Play time

5:00 - 5:30PM - Nap #4 (shortest of the day!)

5:30 - 6:15PM - Play time

6:15PM - 6:30PM - Bath and start nightly routine

6:30PM - Feed bottle (she typically won’t take a full 5 oz…usually just 4 at this time)

7PM - Down in crib awake

I hope you all have a fab weekend! We are going to take the girls apple picking FOR SURE and hopefully make some yummy treats! Also…GO PATS. Can we get a freaking win this Sunday?! (I’ll say an extra prayer at church! Ha!)

xx, Ashley




My Current Beauty Favorites...

 
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Sometimes mom life becomes consuming and I go days without doing anything for myself. I’ve been trying to be better at just taking a few minutes to myself in the craziness of each morning to wash my face and do a quick makeup application to make me feel a little better! Even if I don’t have anywhere to go for the day and am not planning on seeing anyone but my kids, I do it. There are five products that I consider part of my daily routine and can apply in just 2-3 minutes tops!

  1. Tinted Moisturizer: I love the Laura Mercier brand but not all of us want to spend $50 on a tinted moisturizer, amen? I recently tried the Sephora brand version, Bright Future Skin Tint ($18, currently on sale for $9!) and I really like it! I don’t think I’ll be switching back to Laura Mercier anytime soon :)

  2. Concealer: My best friend nowadays :) I had been using Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer, but again didn’t want to spend as much so I bought the Sephora Bright Future Gel Serum Concealer for $14 (I got it on sale for $7!) and I’ve been using it for about a week! I love it. It goes on smooth and has all-day wear.

    3. Anastasia Brow Wiz: This is the BEST for brows in my opinion. If I’m applying anything to my face for the day, I never forget my brows. Trust me on this one - you NEED it.

    4. The Honest Company’s Mascara + Primer: It’s only $14.99 and I actually feel like the primer gives my lashes an even fuller/longer look! I love it and the makeup from Honest is all natural so…yes please.

    5. Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer: I’ve been struggling to find a really good bronzer for some time now. I was using a really cheap brand from Target but it wasn’t doing the trick. Another blogger posted about this one so I thought I would give it a try. I’ve been using this for about a week now and I LOVE IT. It gives my cheeks a glow and highlights just the right spots!

    6. Sephora Cream Lip Stain #40 is my ABSOLUTE favorite lip color/stain of all time. I wear this SO much and always get complimented on it. Again it’s really inexpensive ($14) and lasts me at least half a year! It’s perfect for everyday or even a night out. I’m wearing it in the photo above so you can see!

Here are a few other products that I have and love, but don’t necessarily use every day.


xx, Ashley

Back To School: Toddler Style...

 
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Lo is in her second week of preschool and so far so good! Drop off has been a little tough for both of us - mainly because she cries and clings to me and it crushes my soul to leave her - but the teachers assure me she is fine two minutes after I leave! I’m hoping it will get better when it becomes our new normal!

I have had so much fun finding cute fall outfits for Lo to wear to school! I wanted to share some of my favorites. We like to get her stuff from H&M, Target, and Old Navy. Of course she has clothes from other places - but those are the mainstays. The clothes are cute and not too pricey. At Target we like the Cat & Jack brand and Genuine Kids by OshKosh :)

Here are some cute styles to shop below if you’ve got a little girly girl fashionista :) Enjoy!

xx, Ashley

New Mommy/Baby Must Haves...

 
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I've been working on this post for awhile now (like, an embarassing amount of time) and am FINALLY finished! I'm excited to share some of my favorite baby items and "must haves" with you all! Most of these I've tried and used with Lo...and others I've discovered this time around with Malia. Either way - it's to make your life easier and aren't we all here for that?! I know I am! 

1. DockATot: For REAL, you need this. It's seriously the most important thing we have for Malia because SLEEP! We put this on our bed and she sleeps between us at night. For naps during the day, she sleeps in this and sleeps 3+ hours most naps. It's wonderful because of how portable it is and easy to just move around the house to whatever room you're in! LOVE LOVE LOVE! 

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Runner up: Lulyboo Baby Lounge To-Go ($59.99) is perfect for co-sleeping safely or travel!

2. Dr. Brown Bottles: This is on the list because I've gotten lots of questions about which bottles we use. We really LOVE Dr. Brown. There's an "anti colic" vent that helps reduce feeding problems. Both London and Malia took very easily to them! 

3. Fawn Design: Do yourself a favor and snag one of these backpack diaper bags. Don't even both getting a shoulder bag ... you will definitely always need two hands! Fawn Design has classic/chic bags that easily fit everything I need when leaving the house with two kiddos! 

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4. WildBird Sling: I absolutely love my sling from WildBird. It's super cute and totally makes life easier. I actually used this with London before Malia was born when we went to church, because she still wants to be held all the time. It was perfect and Lo loved it. If you have two kiddos, you're guaranteed to need hands free so this definitely allows for that while keeping baby close to you - just where they want to be :) 

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5. Ergo 360 Carrier: An absolute MUST HAVE. London napped at least once a day in this thing until she was 5 months old! It's super comfortable for both parent and baby. I also love that you can wear your baby four different ways with this carrier and that it's machine washable! This style/color is currently 20% off!

Runner Up: Baby Bjorn. I really like this carrier for when the babies are itty bitty aka newborns :) I use this A LOT these days with Malia but when she gets a bit bigger I'll switch to the Ergo for comfort. I think it's more comfortable with the strap around the lower back!

6. BOB Revolution Flex Duallie Jogging Stroller: Absolutely recommend this stroller! It's worth every penny (I recommend getting a used one - they have them on Amazon!) It's a BEAST of a stroller, with a huge compartment underneath for storage (yes please), the smoothest ride every for your littles, and also - so easy to push with one hand (hard to believe, I know!) I'm so glad we got this stroller! It will definitely make walks/runs much easier! 

7. Travel Stroller: BabyZEN YOYO Stroller (pictured below) I am OBSESSED with this stroller. It literally folds and can be carried over your shoulder like a purse - it weighs just 15 lbs. At least one person comments on it when we use it to travel (we have take it to Charleston, SC (twice), Disney twice, and lots of road trips!) It's amazing and I highly recommend!

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Maclaren Twin Triumph (double): I have done LOTS of research because we have some trips planned with both girls when Malia is 6+ months old and will be sitting up. The Maclaren double stroller has been on every list for the perfect double travel stroller. It's pricey - but I know we will get lots of use out of this!

 8. Video Monitor: As far as I'm concerned this is also a must. We have a Motorola monitor and love it. If you plan on having multiples, I recommend getting a monitor that you can "add a camera" too. We just bought another camera for Malia's nursery, but can watch both girls on one screen - so it saves us from having to keep track of two screens which would be very annoying.  

9. HoMedics Sound Machine: It's just $16 on Amazon, but it might be one of the most important things you'll purchase! White noise is a must for babies/toddlers! It helps lull them to sleep with the consistent sound and also provides a relaxing environment. We bring it with us when we travel too - it's super compact and just plugs into the wall. We have been using this in London's room since she was 2 months old and Malia has one too! We also use this little butterfly and play the same lullabye for Lo every time she goes down for her nap or at bedtime. Again, super inexpensive but goes a long way! 

10. Boon Naked Collapsible Bathtub: This tub is perfect for small spaces! It's collapsible and comes with a hook that you can easily hang on the back of your bathroom door or in your child's bedroom. We love love love this tub! 

11. Baby Bjorn Bouncer: This is super lightweight and can be easily moved from room to room - which is very convenient! Malia hasn't been in this much but I think that'll change when she gets a bit older! 

12. Best Blanket: Little Giraffe Luxe Baby Blanket. The absolute SOFTEST blanket and worth every penny. It's sooo beautiful!

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Runner Up: Copper Pearl: They have the prettiest prints and the fabric is stretchy so it's perfect for swaddling! Here is the rose print that we got for Malia!

13. Wubbanub: I have five of these pacifiers, if that tells you anything :) 

 

Are there any products that you absolutely couldn't live without?! 

xx, 

Ashley 

 

 

Life With Two...

 
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So, I promise we'll make our way back to some style/fashion stuff one of these days, but for now my life is all motherhood and learning how to juggle two babes! I can't believe we're already two weeks and some change into this "family of four" gig...but so far it's been pretty smooth sailing! I'll attribute that mostly to the fact that Malia is such a calm, sweet girl and she sleeps like an absolute champ. I think life would look a whole lot different if we were dealing with sleep deprivation but since basically night two at home, Malia has been waking up once at night to eat! Insane, right?! London was not like that AT ALL. She wasn't a terrible sleeper - I actually thought she was pretty great - but now that we've got Malia to compare the "newborn stage" too, it's been pretty crazy different. 

If you've been following my pregnancy journey this time around then you probably know how worried/nervous/anxious I was about how London would adjust. She has always been such a mommy's girl and pretty possessive of me - to the point where holding another baby would cause a major meltdown for her. I'm so happy to share that she's been absolutely AMAZING and has adjusted so well thus far with this transition. I'm just so proud of her. Of course, she has her moments as all toddlers/three year olds do ... but overall it's been incredible to watch her embrace her new role as "big sister!" She loves to kiss Malia and calls her "sweetie pie" ... gives her the paci when she's upset and says in the sweetest voice, "it's ok honey!" It's magical to watch! 

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I struggled with some major baby blues for the first probably 6-8 weeks with London. I literally cried multiple times a day and my hormones were so up and down! I've been SO relieved because I don't have any of those feelings with baby number two. It's been the complete opposite. I'm able to be present and embrace this stage more - which I struggled so much with the first time around. I think when you go from zero children to your first child it's a GIANT life change. When you transition from one to two kiddos, you're already in "mommy mode" and everything seems less overwhelming. Basic things like changing a diaper or knowing how to feed or burp your baby aren't a big deal because you've been there, done that. The crying doesn't stress you out as much because you know why they're crying and you're also just used to the chaos :)

Getting out of the house is challenging, I will admit to that. Something so simple as running to Target isn't as simple anymore. I must say, ordering our groceries online helps because it's one less outing I have to plan. We've been hanging at the house a lot and if we do anything, it's in the morning when Malia takes a shorter snooze in my carrier. Thankfully, London loves her new playroom so she doesn't really want to leave the house too much anyway! Malia has been sleeping a good chunk in the afternoon (usually 4-5 hours!) so I haven't wanted to venture out because the sleep is not only good for her but it's good for me! I'm able to get London up from her nap and we can spend the whole afternoon together reconnecting and playing. I think she really loves the time and so do I! 

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In short, life with two is way less overwhelming than I had anticipated it would be! It's been so beautiful and if anything, even more enjoyable than I thought it would be! If you've got a toddler and you're expecting...try to relax. Mom's of multiples told me that too and I still couldn't - so trust me, I get it ... but it will be ok. Your heart really does grow in size when your second is born...yes, you instantly love them just as much as your first, and your first little love is going to be JUST FINE. 

Leave a comment below if you have any questions about juggling life with two or if you're expecting and anxious! I'll def try to give my best advice! 

xx, 

Ashley 

Malia Skye: Birth Story...

 
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It's been the most magical week and five days since little Malia Skye entered our world! She fits so seamlessly into our family, as if we've known her all along. I've called her a "unicorn baby" many times because of her sweet disposition and champion sleep habits. Big sister London has been a champ as well. We had no idea what to expect but I must say, we have been so pleasantly surprised and she has exceeded our expectations. Watching London take on her new role with enthusiasm is a big reason why this past week has been as amazing as it has been. I'm just so proud of her. Of course, she has her moments because it is after all a massive transition - but overall, it's been a pretty smooth adjustment :)

I wanted to share Malia's birth story because I've gotten lots and LOTS of questions on Instagram about being induced (i.e. why, how it was, etc.), whether I got an epidural or not (I DID!), if I'm breastfeeding (NOPE!), and more - so I thought I'd put it all here :) 

The Induction

Both of our babies were born on their due dates because we decided (in conjunction with our doctor) that we would be induced. With London, honestly, a lot of it came down to timing and Chris' job. He travels basically the entire month of July, and since London's due date was July 1st, our doctor suggested we be induced. She knew mommy + baby were both healthy at 40 weeks and that I was pretty stressed about Chris being gone so soon after the birth. We were all for it considering we could plan the time/day of induction and plan with our family so they could be here to experience it!

Fast forward to July 25th - which was Malia's due date - and we found ourselves with a planned induction once again. A lot of people asked me why we chose to be induced...and my answer was kind of like "why not?" We had the most amazing birth experience being induced with London and I wanted a similar experience this time around as well. I asked my doctor the same question and she sort of had a similar answer like, "why wouldn't you be?!" I trust her 100%. She is incredible; has been doing this for 30+ years and delivered over 6,000 babies! We absolutely adore her, so when she said we could do another planned induction we were all for it.We were scheduled to check into Brigham and Women's at 9:30AM. When we arrived they took my vital signs, did the necessary paperwork and got us onto the floor pretty quickly! My sister arrived for the fun around 11AM, just after my nurse (who was amazing by the way!) started my IV. I don't know why, but getting the IV started was something I was most nervous about...I think I'm crazy ha! Anyway, once that was in place we just hung out for awhile until Dr. Bunnell (my doctor) came to check on us and run through how the day would progress. We were all so excited to get the show on the road and meet our girl! They started me on Pitocin around 1pm (the same time they started me with Lo!) and from there they kept increasing the drip until come 6pm, my contractions were lasting 45 seconds and about 1 min, 20 seconds apart. 

The Epidural

I waited pretty long (I think) to ask for my epidural and maybe even wish I had asked for it sooner. Holding completely still so they could place the catheter in my back while simultaneously having contractions was less than fun. Not to mention, the resident had a difficult time finding the right "space" and by the end it took prob 20 minutes and I was dripping in sweat. It also took about a half hour for the epidural to kick in and even then, I didn't fully cover the pain. In fact, I started feeling CRAZY pelvic pressure shortly after and called my nurse in around 7pm. My exact quote was "why am I feeling this? I don't want to feel anything!" My doctor came in and checked me and said as calm as could be, "well, I think we could push once and have a baby!" I'll never forget the feeling I got when she said that! I just wasn't expecting it and it was like a huge rush came over me. I instantly started shaking with adrenaline and Chris and my sister were SO excited. We just couldn't believe it all happened so fast! 

The Birth

Malia's actual delivery really was in fact, one push. I pushed for a whopping 7 minutes with London, and this time (according to my doctor) it was 45 seconds and through one contraction. There's no rhyme or reason but my doctor tells me I'm made to have babies...who knew?! Either way, I'll take it! Malia Skye entered the world at 7:13pm weighing in at 7 lbs, 6 oz and measuring 21.5 inches long! She looked SO much like London when she came out with her slanted eyes and squished nose...Chris and I felt like we were having deja vu! Her fingers and feet were so long - we noticed right away and the nurse even measured her foot! It was 4 inches! Ha! She also didn't make a PEEP when she came out. No crying, whimpering, nothing. At first I was worried, but no one else seemed concerned at all, so we just went with it. She didn't actually make a sound for about three hours. Her name is Hawaiian, meaning "calm and gentle waters" and I just kept saying that she totally lives up to her name. I still feel that way 12 days later.

The post-birth snuggles are so magical. I felt like this time around I was able to be so much more present and really soak in the moment. It was beautiful and I will cherish it forever. Every fear I had about making space in my heart for baby number two went completely out the window the moment I pulled Malia onto my chest. It was like I had known her my whole life and she had always been part of our family. She has captured our hearts in so many ways and we just feel so blessed to have two sweet, beautiful girls to love and spoil forever! 

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Thank you all for your incredible love and support! Your messages were read and noted ... and even though we couldn't respond to every single one, we felt them all! It's so fun sharing this journey with you all - especially beautiful moments like these!

xx, Ashley 

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What's In My Bag: Part II...

 
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It's BABY WEEK! 

I can't believe we will actually be meeting our sweet girl in just a few days! It's SO surreal and we couldn't be more excited/anxious/nervous/ALL of the above! As promised, I wanted to share what I packed in my bag for the hospital! When we had London, I made it a point not to overpack and was pleasantly surprised because I felt like the hospital really had a lot that we needed.

I'll start with what I put in my diaper bag:

- Baby Markwood's "going home" outfit

- Birth Plan (I did this last time too and gave it to my L&D nurse when we arrived for our induction)

- Swaddle blanket from Copper Pearl (We got this one!) 

- Wubbanub paci plus a regular paci (probably not necessary, but, I packed them mostly for the days after we get home anyway)

- Newborn diapers, wipes, changing pad (again, probably not necessary)

- Letter board for baby announcement (under $16!)

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Now I'm going to list the things that I brought in my own bag ... which is actually a small tote from Target.

- Toiletries / make up bag (yes, I put make up on the first time around too - it made me feel like a human ... so I plan to bring it again!)

- Sports Bra / comfortable bra for post-birth 

- Underwear (literally could do without this...you'll end up wearing the super-attractive mesh underwear provided by the hospital because they're SO COMFORTABLE) 

- Bathrobe; I am bringing this floral robe for photos but also a warmer one with long sleeves because hospitals are always cold!) 

- Pajamas with buttons, I have this in gray and it's the BEST! Here is the shorts/top version (only $35 for the set!; I say "with buttons" because obviously if you're breast feeding it's easier...but also it's easier for skin to skin with your new baby, which is the best ever!) 

- Phone/Phone Charger for ALL the pics and/or a video camera

- Your pillow from home; I'm SO glad I brought my own pillow the first time around. It was so much more comfortable and I picked my own cute pillowcase for photos :) 

- Comfortable/roomy "going home" outfit; I opted for this Daisy Cami Maxi from Forever 21 that is loose fitting because let's be honest, you're not going to feel your absolute best!

I totally suggest making a small list of things you can't forget but also can't pack until you're just about to leave for the hospital! For me this was: phone, phone charger, toiletries, make up bag, and pillow! I strongly advise against overpacking. You'll have enough to worry about, but packing the car with 5 large bags shouldn't be one of them! I think if you want to bring a diaper bag, great - but if you can fit the baby's stuff with your stuff, that's fine too!

I hope this helped any parents-to-be! I'll make sure to post some updates / baby Markwood's birth story soon! If you want to follow along even closer, check my Instagram stories!

xx,

Ashley 

What's In My Bag: Part I...

Happy hump day! It's already been a WEEK prepping for baby but also recovering from a 24-hour stomach bug. Thank goodness my mom has been with us - she's such a lifesaver! I am working on a part II post to go along with this one - and it will be all about what's in my hospital bag! This time, I wanted to share my favorite diaper bag, Fawn Design, what I pack in it on a daily basis and also for when we head to the hospital! 

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I was using a shoulder diaper bag when I had London and quickly learned how much easier it is to use a backpack. I LOVE Fawn Design because not only is it a backpack, but it also gives you that shoulder strap option if you want it as well. I went with the "original black" because I think it will go with everything + I love the softness of the leather. It also doesn't scream "diaper bag" which, for me, is important :) I wanna still look stylish! 

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There a few "staples" that I never leave home without and ALWAYS stay in my bag:

- An extra pair of clothes/undies for Lo

- Snacks...snacks...and more snacks

- Wipes and hand sanitizer

- Dum Dum lollipops (because sometimes desperate times call for treats!)

- Books and a few activities on-the-go with a packet of crayons

Now that we're about to welcome baby number two, I've added a few more things to the bag and guess what - it all fits! Yay! Here's what I have for the babe: 5 diapers, disposable changing pads, Burts Bees diaper cream (I swear by this! I used it every diaper change on Lo and she never had one rash!), muslin blanket (love this feather print, under $15!), Wubbanub / pacifier, and an extra outfit and socks!

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The Fawn bag has so many little pockets inside to keep things separate. I always carry "on the go" Neosporin and bandaids just in case because TODDLER and I of course need a spot for my wallet and phone; there's room for it all! 

I hope you all have an amazing rest of your week! I'll work on my "hospital bag" post - hopefully before this baby decides to join us ;) Thank you all for following along! 

xx, 

Ashley 

 

Family Shoot...

 
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We did a family shoot a few weekends back with our dear friend, Patty with Kivalo Photography. She has been a part of our biggest moments and captured our wedding, baby announcements, this maternity shoot and many others. I went back and forth on if I wanted to get photos done mostly because June was such a busy month for our family however, I could NOT be more excited about how these came out. Patty knew that we didn't have a lot of time and she captured this all in under 45 minutes with a rambunctious toddler, on a bright sunny morning (both which make for challenging photographs) She is such a pro and we just love her so much. I wanted to share some of our favorites, which was hard considering how many we loved! 

Thank you, Patty for working wonders! 

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xx, Ashley 

Happy Birthday, London!

 
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Our sweet girl is THREE in just a few days and we have been so busy getting ready for this move that it came ridiculously fast. I can't seem to wrap my head around it. HOW is our little 6 pound, 12 ounce little sweetie already this BIG amazing girl?! The time has literally gone by at lightening speed and I just want it to slow down.

London is truly a dream come true in every way and she's blossomed so much this past year. She's incredibly bright, witty, sweet, courageous, and BEAUTIFUL. People tell us all the time what a leader she is and how "no one will ever push her around" and it makes my heart so happy. We are trying our best to raise a world-changer; a champion for God, for what's good and right, and maybe for those who don't have a voice. I'm enamored with her in every way and there aren't enough words to describe my love; it's just overwhelming. She truly is my best friend and I'm so excited to see what this next year has in store...and how she will embrace her new role in just a few weeks! 

Happy Birthday, sweetheart! Maybe one day you'll see this and just know how OBSESSED I am with you...I love you BEYOND! 

xx, Ashley (Mommy)

All photography was done by Kivalo Photography

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Beauport Hotel Weekend Getaway...

 
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Last weekend I whisked Chris and London off for a little getaway at the Beauport Hotel! We had been to Gloucester a few times to enjoy the beautiful beaches, but never had the privilege of staying at the Beauport and you guys, it's AMAZING. I feel like it's somewhat of a hidden gem in that it's only a few years old and the proximity to Boston is perfect (it only took us about 45 minutes!) The rooftop pool, delicious food and sweeping ocean views coupled with the standout service and amenities made this weekend one of the best family getaways we've had to date! I'm so excited to share the details with you all!

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Our Room

We had the privilege of staying in one of the Beauport's oceanfront rooms and it was absolutely stunning. Our balcony overlooked the Atlantic ocean and we enjoyed the most beautiful sunset in the evening. Our room was really spacious, as was the bathroom, and had somewhat of a nautical vibe! The hotel provided bathrobes and slippers (even a pint-size robe for London - which was WAY too adorable) and the bath products were my favorite, L'Occitane. Housekeeping did a fabulous job of making sure the rooms were spotless and we loved the chocolate they left after turn-down service! We all slept so well in the plush queen sized beds and even though London was awake at 6:30AM, I was actually excited! I brewed a cup of Green Mountain coffee, which was provided in the room, and drank a cup while listening to the crashing waves. It was the most relaxing way to ease into the morning! 

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Service

One thing I really wanted to mention about the Beauport is their service! Everyone was so warm and friendly to us during our stay. They were very sweet to London and went out of their way to make us feel welcome! The servers at the pool and the restaurant were extra attentive and even the bellman we asked to snap a family photo was enthusiastic! I can't say enough about the staff + how wonderful they were. 

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Amenities

The amenities at the Beauport are a 10 out of 10! We were so impressed at every turn. First of all, complimentary valet parking...HELLO! I felt like there was such attention to detail and all hands were on deck when guests arrived. Our luggage was taken directly to our room while we went to check in so we didn't have to worry about a thing! We immediately made our way to the rooftop pool because London was bursting with excitement about going swimming. I'm not going to lie, when we stepped onto the pool deck the panoramic ocean views kind of took my breath away! I was worried we would be a little out of place with our 3-year old in tow, but was pleasantly surprised to see a handful of other kids there as well; it felt super family-friendly. The bar/tapas service at the pool was an added bonus! I enjoyed a (virgin) pina colada; a yummy way to cool down from the hot sun! There's also a jetted hot tub on the roof deck which was super relaxing! Not only is there a pool, but you can step out the door and right onto Pavilion Beach where complimentary beach chairs are provided as well as paddleboard rentals and service from the Beauport Beach Attendants! If you're one that can't miss a workout, there's an excellent fitness center that opens bright and early at 5AM. 

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Food

Ok, in addition to the rockstar amenities - the food at the Beauport was REALLY impressive. I think overall Chris and I are somewhat picky - mostly because Boston has such an incredible food scene - but we were pleased with all three meals we had during our stay! To start, the staff brought a bottle of wine and a cheese/cracker + fruit board to our room as a little surprise. It was so sweet and not to mention, delicious! The1606 Restaurant, where we enjoyed dinner, breakfast, and lunch the next day is right on site and has an amazing oceanfront dining deck. I won't bore you with every detail of every meal BUT I will say, the portion sizes for all of the dishes we ordered were generous! I ordered the lobster roll for dinner and it was loaded with chunks of yummy lobster meat! I also really enjoyed their breakfast options as well. The fruit was very fresh and the waffle served with warm maple syrup made my pregnant dreams come true! It definitely exceeded our expectations!

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I honestly could go on for pages about all of the things we loved about our stay! Chris and I just kept looking at each other going "this is awesome" and talking about how we can't wait to go back. I loved sharing it on social media too and seeing all of your DM's asking me about the hotel! I'd love to hear from you in the comments below if you have stayed at The Beauport before or if you have plans on going! Anxious to hear what you think! 

Thanks so much for stopping by! 

xx,

Ashley 

 

Bumpdate: 33 Weeks + Bloomlife

 
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I can't believe I'm already at the time in my pregnancy when my OBGYN appointments are just two weeks apart! For some reason, knowing that just makes it all seem like it's going to go even faster! We are moving at the end of this month; so I'm hoping baby girl doesn't decide to come crazy early...mama needs some prep/nesting time :) I'm happy to report that my sciatic nerve pain is almost completely gone! I'm guessing the baby's position changed because I don't think it would have subsided otherwise! I was going to the chiropractor, icing, backing off from any sort of physical exercise and it was still bothering me at some points...so it had to be position! Either way, I'll gladly take it. I feel SO much better now that I'm not dealing with that. I still have a crazy amount of pelvic pressure but usually with some elevating of the feet and a little ice...I can manage that well. I have totally noticed more veins popping up this second pregnancy! By the end of the day if I've been on my feet (which I usually have been with a toddler), my leg veins are kind of swollen. Eeek! I'm praying they don't start popping out completely!

Now that I've hit the 33-week mark in my pregnancy, I'm starting to have some Braxton Hicks. I notice them more after I take a walk with Lo or at the end of the day. At my last appointment, the doctor checked to see if everything was ok and thankfully it was (aka cervix is closed!) Thank goodness! I was certain they were just Braxton Hicks and not the real deal because I started using my Bloomlife monitor! It's the world's first clinically validated wearable contraction monitor that detects all uterine activity, so I could see that my contractions were far too irregular to be labor contractions. I SO wish I had one during my first pregnancy! I feel like it would totally have given me more peace of mind and confidence when determining what my body was experiencing! The Bloomlife tracker comes with three parts; the app, a sensor and a reusable patch you can take on and off your body for up to a week. If you run low on patches more will be shipped to you at no cost! 

The Bloomlife app that I mentioned above can start tracking the frequency, duration, and patterns of your contractions! You can know: 1. If you are having a contraction, 2. Are the contractions regular or irregular, and 3. How far apart/how long does each last. So awesome, right?! Who actually has time to keep track of the time between contractions when you're working or you have a toddler running around! This makes it so much easier! (You can read more about how it works here!)

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Another REALLY cool thing about the monitors is that you RENT them on a week-to-week basis. You can use it until the baby is born and then just pop it in the mail to return it when you're done! I started using mine this week and I’m definitely going to be using it until baby girl is born. I typically wear it at night after I put London to bed and I’m finally resting on the couch. I think it’s also nice for your partner to feel like they have a clue as to what’s going on with your body! When the contractions do start, both you AND your partner can see what's going on and it will put everyone's mind at ease.

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If you’re interested in trying your own Bloomlife monitor, you can get 10% off using the code: AM10! If you’ve already tried it, let me know your thoughts in the comments below! Thanks for stopping by!

Xx,

Ashley

A Letter To My First born...

 
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My darling girl,

Where to even begin. 

It's taken me awhile to start this letter because every time I try, I get so emotional! I hope one day you read this, and you can feel my heart. Right now you're sleeping...and I've got the monitor next to me like I always do so I can peek at you periodically because I just love watching my little angel sleep.

You are my first born. The "chapter one" in my motherhood story and what a beautiful story it's been thus far. You completely changed my world that night three years ago and nothing will ever compare to the feeling I had pulling you up to my chest, all 6 pounds 12 ounces of you, holding you for the first time with tears welling up in my eyes. In that moment time stood still and it was just "us" ... Mommy, Daddy, and London Grace. I had absolutely no idea what was in store, but I'll never forget how overwhelmed I was with love and how instantly I felt so honored to call you "ours."

If only I'd known then how fleeting every moment after that would be. How quickly you'd go from that 6-pound bundle to my sweet, independent, bold, beautiful, and sometimes sassy baby girl soon heading off to preschool. You've grown so fast and while I feel so incredibly lucky to watch every part of that, it hurts my heart a bit. The truth is, I already miss "us." I've had days (a lot of them) where I find myself in tears...almost mourning the time spent where it's just Mommy + Lolo. Because whether we're adventuring to the beach, having a Starbucks date or just taking a walk to the playground - we always have the BEST time together. That doesn't mean it's always been easy. You are my first born after all, and with that has come a lot of trial and error. I've probably done too much worrying, stressed a little too much, and shed too many tears about things that don't matter much in the end. I have days where I feel worn down and like I am failing in so many areas as a mom, but your beautiful, loving soul always brings me back down to Earth. Your infectious personality and smile reminds me that while I'm far from perfect, I must be doing something right. Thank you for that. 

Soon, daily life for us will look a little bit different. It won't be just the three of us, and you will have to share mommy more. I want you to know that God knew I needed you first. That's the thing about God...He always gives us exactly what we need and He's the ultimate gift-giver. YOU are His ultimate gift to us and everything I ever imagined. This transition may seem a bit scary and overwhelming for both of us, but it gives me so much joy when I envision the ways our family is going to grow in even more love and happiness. I can picture you as a brave big girl ... eager to show and teach your little sister everything along the journey of life. She is the luckiest to have you. 

No matter how much our world changes, you will forever be my first child; the one who taught me the truest meaning of unconditional love, pride, happiness, and even heartache too. I love you from the depths of my soul...forever and ever, my sweet girl. 

With all my heart,

Mummy

Beach Day Must Haves: Toddler Edition...

 
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Happy Tuesday! 

London and I spent the morning at the beach yesterday, and it was just gorgeous. I'm trying to take advantage of any nice day to be outside, exploring with her because I know in a few months it'll be a little more challenging to get out and about. Lo makes everything more fun, but beach days are my FAVORITE with her. She loves to be in the water...doesn't matter how cold it is (it's absolutely FREEZING by the way), loves to explore the rocks and tide-pools, and loves to get sand in just about every single place on her body! Ha! 

 I wanted to put together a little "must have" list for parents with kiddos that are planning their first beach day of the year! Like a real rookie, I tried to lug my beach tent, two chairs, our lunch and two bags all while carrying Lo...and it was almost a disaster. Yesterday, I packed pretty minimally and it was SO much better. We were planning to spend just 2-3 hours ... so I didn't bring a tent like I normally would if we were spending the day. I will say, next time we do a FULL beach day - I'll have a beach wagon or cart to help lighten the load!

Here are some things I think you should def have...

1. Beach wagon/cart. THIS IS A MUST HAVE. I have been researching some on Amazon and plan to get one before our next full day. I've seen people with them in action and it looks like they make life a lot easier! The "all-terrain wagon" you see below seems to be pretty popular. I think I'll probably end up getting this one - I think it'll work great for all of our gear (and maybe Lolo too ;)

2. Umbrella or Pop-up Tent: Absolutely need this with kiddos - if you're planning to be at the beach more than a few hours! It's nice to get some reprieve from the sun - and good for them to take a rest if needed in the shade! We have this pop-up tent from L.L. Bean that we love. It literally sets up and breaks down in just a few minutes! It's so easy. I think for shorter beach trips (2-3 hours) an umbrella is totally fine, and I've got my eye on this one

3. Chairs; Not like you'll sit in them all that much - BUT it's nice to have the option ;) I have these from Target, but if you're feeling fancy, get the chairs with cupholders (this one is cute) and pour yourself a wine cooler (or two...one for me ;) 

4. The Proper Swimsuit: I'm usually chasing after Lo, carrying her at some point, and in and out of the water, so I prefer something comfortable (still cute), but that won't leave weird tan lines also! Last summer I bought a few one-pieces from J.Crew (shop it here) and I'm sure that's what I'll be rocking once baby number two comes. If you're looking for a bikini that's cute but also practical, this one is great and it's under $17! I would size up for sure! 

5. Sunscreen you can count on: I've tried a bunch of different sunscreens, but the one I feel works the best is Babyganics SPF 50 (under $10). Lo has never gotten a sunburn while using this...and it's super easy to apply as a spray lotion. We love it!

5. Beach-Friendly Tote: We love our mesh tote because it's super easy to clean/get the sand off from and it's big enough to fit our towels and lunch bag! I also love this straw bag because of the cute rope straps - that look super nautical. It seems like it would hold a lot too - love it. 

6. Toys: Hit up the dollar store for some cheap toys perfect for the beach! Definitely a bucket and a shovel (this one is $2.99). If your toddler wants to build a sand castle, this set has everything you need and it's under $10! Lo is really into kites right now - and they're perfect for a windy beach day! 

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7. Round Towel: I prefer a big round beach towel to a sheet or quilt at the beach. They're easy to brush the sand off and still spacious enough to sit yourself and toddler on. Here are a few cute ones...

xx,

Ashley 

Bumpdate: 30 Weeks...

 
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I can't even believe I'm 30 weeks now! Ahh!! It just doesn't seem real! I know these next weeks are going to FLY and before we know it we'll be adjusting to life with two babies. I'm feeling anxious and excited. We are also moving in a month so that's taking a lot of thought + planning as well. I'm really looking forward to getting settled in our new space and "nesting" a bit before baby comes. When I was 9 months pregnant with Lo we moved and I really enjoyed the process - to decorate and paint, etc. 

Physically, I'm feeling pretty good. I feel like my sciatic pain has subsided - since I've basically cut out any workouts other than going for walks! I still ice here and there as well. On days when I do walk, I notice that I still have SO much pressure and by the end of the day it's a little harder to move around. I miss running and feeling like I'm not going to pee my pants! Ha! I'm excited to get back to normal, but am trying to be present and cherish this beautiful time. I know I will miss this bump and feeling the little kicks! The cravings are still REAL. Just give me ALL the junk food and ALL the ice cream! I try to keep them at bay but sometimes - cravings win out ;) 

Chris planned a baby moon for me last week - and it was SO nice to relax together, away from the craziness. My parents watched Lo so we could steal away for a few days..and while we missed her SO much, it was important to us to have that time. We went to Lido Key in Florida and it was absolutely beautiful! Our resort was right on the beach and the room had a balcony; every morning began with breakfast overlooking the ocean and ended with a gorgeous sunset. It's amazing how just being near the ocean can make you instantly slow down, relax, and be still. I am so thankful to have such an amazing husband who took time out of his busy schedule to plan such a sweet getaway. Just love him! I'm going to share more pics and details from our babymoon, but here is one with baby bump on full display :) 

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Hope you all have a great week! 

xx,

Ashley 

BabyMoon Essentials...

If there's one thing I HIGHLY recommend doing is taking advantage of a little thing called the "Baby-moon!" Someone along the way came up with this excuse for a getaway and I'm their biggest fan. Chris and I went away for four nights before Lo arrived and it was such a wonderful time to relax, unwind and just enjoy each other before baby. Fast forward 3(ish) years...we're due with our second and the idea of a babymoon sounds even more incredible now that we're parents and crave one-on-one time together!

Chris is currently planning our getaway and it's a total surprise to me :) I don't know where or when we are going...I just know we're going! Ahh!! I'm so excited to escape with him and mostly to sleep in (oh, the little things :) Anyway, it got me really into doing this post for anyone who is also planning their own babymoon! Here are some cute style must-haves and essentials to make your getaway all you dream it will be AND MORE! 

Cute + Comfy Dresses

 

Stylish Swimsuits

 

Fashion-Forward Footwear

 

Beach Accessories


xx,

Ashley 

Bumpdate: 25 weeks...

 
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Hi All! 

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week :) We have entered our 25th week, baby is the size of a cauliflower and GOSH I feel like she's tap dancing on my bladder! I wish I had a portable potty with me everywhere I go HA! It's getting insane. We are starting to zero in on a few favorite names (finally) and think about what we want her nursery to look like! I have some fun ideas, but I can't really do anything just yet because we're MOVING! I posted this photo with the caption about us moving today on Instagram and got a bunch of messages asking WHERE! Well, we are happy to be staying in BOSTON ... we will just be moving into a bigger place with more space! I'm so glad we will continue to be close to family and friends to have their support when needed (which I'm certain will be a lot) Anyway, we are looking to move June 1st - so in the meantime I'm starting to plan what we want to sell, purge, and take with us. I always love the idea of starting fresh in a new spot + I'm totally in the "nesting" phase so this will be perfect :) 

Anyway, that was kind of a "life" update and here's the bump-date: I'm feeling OK. Ha, I will elaborate, but..I don't feel AMAZING and I don't feel terrible...just meh. I will definitely say (as I have shared previously) this pregnancy is MUCH different than the last. With Lo, once I hit 10 weeks I had a bunch of energy and physically I felt great...not pain, pressure, back aches, etc. Baby number two came in a bit HOT, for lack of a better term ;) I find myself getting winded and out of breath much quicker, needing to take more frequent breaks, and icing my back whenever I get the chance! The pressure is also much more intense this time around..which is less than fun. The good news is...the icing totally helps AND I've started seeing a chiropractor which I feel is helping with the sciatic pain. I'm still sleeping well - so that's also really good and I'll take it as long as I can! 

I'm working on a post about baby registry "must haves" and I should have it up next week! I'm so excited to share the things that I LOVED and couldn't live without when we had London ... and also a few new things that mommy's have suggested I get this time around! 

Thank you for following our journey - I always love the support! 

xx, 

Ashley 

How To Stay Fit During Pregnancy...

 
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When it comes to working out during pregnancy, I know it can raise a lot of questions or even anxiety about the types of things that are safe to do! I am by no means a doctor or physical trainer ... so I'm just going to speak on what works/feels best for me but make sure to check with your OBGYN if you have concerns.

I think the most important thing you can do in general is to MOVE. This can mean anything from taking a walk or going for a swim to a more intense aerobic exercise or yoga. I will say, the later I got in my pregnancy the first time around - swimming and yoga felt AMAZING! Being in the water made me feel light and buoyant and yoga was super relaxing. At the start of my pregnancy, for the first 13 weeks or so - it was really difficult to workout; I was happy if I did something twice a week. The nausea and lack of energy is really taxing on your body, so make sure to cut yourself some slack. If you're nearing the end of your first trimester you'll be feeling that energy make a come back, so hang in there! 

Just a side note as well - with my first pregnancy, once the second trimester hit, I tried to maintain workouts 3-4x / week. I think this kept my weight down (I gained 32 total pounds) and I KNOW this helped with the type of recovery I had. My body bounced back pretty quickly and I was able to resume exercising about four weeks postpartum. Keep that in mind when you're working out ... not only is it great for you and the baby, but it's also going to help you AFTER baby and make things easier in the long run!

Here are a few tips to help you stay fit during your pregnancy ... 

Tip #1: Stay Hydrated! This is so important. I always fill my water bottle at the start of the day and try to maintain drinking a steady flow of water throughout. If you're exercising, you should definitely be drinking even more than you normally would! I find that drinking water and making sure I have the right amount of fiber in my diet helps combat that lovely side effect of pregnancy called constipation. (I know...such a joy right?!)

Tip #2: Fuel your body! It's hard to muster up the energy to work out in general let alone when you're pregnant and attempting to on an empty stomach! If you like to workout in the morning, try to eat something 45mins - 1 hour prior to exercise! I like to eat oatmeal with berries and half a toast with peanut butter! Oatmeal keeps me full longer and I always have enough energy to get through my workout. I make sure to bring a snack to munch on after my workout as well (usually a banana or a granola bar!) 

Tip #3: Find an exercise that you enjoy! This is KEY. If you are a member of a gym you don't like or attending classes that don't mesh with where you're at - you'll make excuses and wind up not doing much of anything! The important thing is finding something you look forward to doing that will keep you motivated longer! I have recently started doing a 45-minute boot camp class Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. It's pretty intense...but I feel SO good after and it's nice to get a sweat in. The instructor helps me modify certain exercises too, which helps! Because I LOVE the way it makes me feel, I look forward to the class! Finding a workout buddy to keep you on task helps too!

Tip #4: Listen to your body! Your body is going through a TON of changes. If you need a day to rest, do it. If something doesn't feel right and you're in the middle of a class - stop. It's not worth the extra push to injure yourself. Personally, I started having sciatic pain around 20 weeks. It's been really painful and at times, certain exercises trigger it more than others so I have to just listen to what my body is saying and back off if need be. I also have a lot of pelvic pressure so sometimes the jumping exercises feel less than good. I modify the exercise to whatever I can handle - again, as long as you're up and moving that's half the battle and to be applauded! 

Tip #5: Don't be afraid of weights. You don't need to give up weight-training just because you're pregnant. Of course, I don't think this is a time to take up power-lifting, but weights are GOOD for you. Contrary to what you might think, lifting weights can actually alleviate muscle aches and pains associated with pregnancy. It also prepares your body for labor and birth ... and as I mentioned above, helps you "bounce back" quicker postpartum! 

I hope you found these tips helpful! Again, make sure to consult with your doctor about whatever programs/exercises you want to do - it's always nice to get cleared by them first! 

xx, 

Ashley