September 29, 2014

Are You Beautiful?


I am Brave and Beautiful - a beauty movement that is sweeping the globe. Colbie Caillat started it with her recent song and video called TRY. My blogging friend Megan of Brassy Apple wanted to push this movement along and invited women from all over to share what they looked like without make up and I joined in!! Colbie's song says, "Take your make up off. Let your hair down... Look into the mirror at yourself, Do you like you? Cause I like you... "

Megan and her friend Cobi of Peacefrom6pieces have been the team behind this whole project. Their worldwide vision included creating their own video inspired by the song TRY. The talent of Robbins Creative made it possible for them to pull it off. You have to click play and see the beauty and bravery displayed and you might even recognize a few faces in there.


Me along with 101+ other blogging women from different backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, ages, shapes and sizes have decided to be Brave and Beautiful! You can join in this movement too by sharing what you look like without makeup on. You don't need a blog either! Just tag your photo with #IamBraveAndBeautiful on Instgram and search the hashtag to see who else has joined in. ALSO, if you tag it with a second hashtag - #ColbieTRY we just might be able to get Colbie Caillat's attention since she was the inspiration behind it all!

Are you brave and beautiful? I am, here I go!

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Holding my daughter Chayse the day she was born, July 11, 2014.
When I first heard about the Brave and Beautiful project, I immediately knew I wanted to take part. As I thought about what I wanted to share, two experiences came to my mind. The first took place a couple weeks after my daughter was born this last July. 

I was looking through all the photos we had taken the day she was born and I hesitated at the photo above and then quickly passed over it deeming it not "social media worthy". Why? Well, because on any given day you can look on Pinterest, Facebook & Instagram and see other moms with their new babies looking a whole lot more put together. Their hair is perfectly curled and cascading just right, their makeup is impeccable, they have cute pajamas on, their baby is in a new adorable onsie and wrapped in a super cute luxurious blanket, there are floral arrangements from friends focused just right to the side of them, etc.

Comparing myself to those photos, all I could notice was that while I had showered my hair wasn't done, my makeup wasn't done, baby girl was still in the hospital onsie and blanket, the lighting was awful...want me to go on? I was so stuck in the comparison trap that I was forgetting the joy and beauty of that night when Chayse was finally released from monitoring and I got to have her in my room and hold her as much as I wanted. How sad is that?! 

Sure, I looked tired in this photo and the lighting is awful, but you know what I brought that little girl in my arms into the world just a few hours earlier and that took work! HARD work! And it was scary, and intense, and it took more than I thought I had during some of it, but I did it! (With the amazing help of some doctors and nurses of course)! Our little girl was safe, healthy and finally in my arms. 

That's what I should have been focusing on and remembering when I looked at that photo. How strong, brave, and truthfully amazing I was during her delivery. Not how my photo doesn't compare to everyone else's.


With my son Titan in Disney World
(May 2014 | 36 Weeks Pregnant and no makeup because I just did not have the energy!) 
The second moment is from a few years ago, I was sitting in a conference/lecture and the speaker 
caught me off guard by asking me directly, "Are you beautiful? Are you pretty?" and then she waited for a response in front of the other 100-120 attendees. You know, nothing like being put on the spot. All around me I had people very nicely and politely whispering, "Say, yes. You should say yes." 

What was my response? I really wasn't quite sure what to say, so I said, "Well, I guess it depends on who you ask?" To which she replied, "Because you know in some cultures you could be too skinny, right? Or in others too fat? And some might think you are too pale, while others might think you are too tan. It's all about perspective...." (And then she transitioned into something else probably about how at any given moment we can change our perspective and change our attitude).

Looking back on that experience, my answer should have been "YES! Yes, I am beautiful." And that should be the answer we all have any time anyone asks us that question or even any time we look in the mirror and ask ourselves that question! 

That's the way I know I want my daughter to answer that question as she gets older. No matter her hair color, weight, makeup expertise, the labels on her clothing, etc. I want her to always be able to say "Yes, I am beautiful." without hesitation. And I want her to know that she is beautiful because she is one of a kind, because she is a daughter of God and because she serves and loves others. Of course, the first step in teaching her that is to model that behavior myself. 

So... "Yes, I am beautiful! Yes, I am brave!" 

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share your natrual beauty - brassyapple.com

Don't stop here. Get clicking around - its a blog hop! Below are more brave and beautiful women bearing more than their natural beauty. They each have a little bit of their heart to share with you. Some get very personal. Some share stories. For some this was very hard to do yet they gathered their courage and did it anyway. We hope as you click around (and YES pin these different posts!) you will feel the importance of it, the empowering effect it has and that it encourages you in some way.

>>>>>>>Important info! Blog Hops often have glitches the first day. If the link has an ERROR, simply click on the HOME button for each site, or google the blog name next to the link, and you should see their brave and beautiful post there. Links will be updated as soon as possible.<<<<<<<<<<<<

women sharing their natural beauty - no makeup
women with our makeup on and what makes them beautiful
women from around the world share their face with no makeup on - BrassyApple.com
Mommy bloggers share their face without makeup and what makes then beautiful
Natural beauty untouched photos
raw natural beauty - join the movement
beauty and bravery - women wearing no makeup - Brassyapple.com
#colbietry #iambraveandbeautiful

Ready in join in? Snap, hashtag and share! Tag @BrassyApple and @Peacefrom6Pieces if you can too!

Also follow our Bravery and Beauty PINTEREST board for more inspiration!

September 27, 2014

Baby Girl Has A New Fashion Accessory | Hip Dysplasia and the Pavlik Harness


Chayse wearing the Pavlik Harness (10 1/2 weeks old)
As you can see from the photo, baby girl has a new fashion accessory! :) For those of you that we don't get to talk with very often, I thought I'd do a quick blog post about that fun new accessory. That way when pictures start showing up on Instagram and Facebook, you all aren't wondering what in the world happened to her.

Because Chayse was breech, her pediatrician recommended that at one month we do an ultrasound to double check that her hips are forming properly. (Hip dysplasia is more common in babies who are breech because of how they are sitting and growing in the womb). At that time (and at birth) her hips were not dislocating, popping, clicking, etc. (all the usual signs of hip dysplasia) but if there is an issue, it's MUCH easier to fix at this age than later on when she's older. That's why they like to do the ultrasound just to be sure.


I took Chayse in on August 8th to the East Children's Hospital location in Monroeville and at the end of the appointment was told that if we needed to do anything, we would hear from our pediatrician. We never heard anything, so we figured no news is good news. 

Then, on September 12th, I took Chayse in for her 2 month check up. At the end of the appointment they asked if I had any questions, I said no and the PA was actually half way out the door when I remembered the ultrasound. I quickly asked, "Oh yeah, her hips? That all checked out ok, right?" To which the PA looked in the chart and then excused herself to go look into it. Apparently they hadn't even received the results yet?!? So glad I thought to ask or we probably never would have gotten the results!

The PA (Physicians Assistant) came back into the room, told me they didn't have the results yet and that they were on the phone with the Radiology department and would call me with the results, good or bad, but the end of the day. Well, later that day I got a call from the doctor and he left a message saying he would call me on the other number he had for us. I immediately figured something must have shown up on the ultrasound otherwise he would have just left a message saying everything looked great. 

The other number is Broc's number and so he spent a few minutes on the phone with the doctor and we learned that Chayse's hip joints are shallow. Not a major issue right now, but could be a big issue as she starts walking, etc. So, another appointment was scheduled for her but this time with an Orthopedic Specialist at the Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh.


We took Chayse to that appointment this last Monday, September 22nd, and after hearing that it had been five weeks since the last ultrasound, the Nurse Practitioner (NP) immediately requested another ultrasound be done. A lot can change in a growing baby in that amount of time. (Of course, we had called in the week before to see if that would be beneficial, but never got a call back...) Thankfully, since we don't live in Pittsburgh, they were able to move some things around and they got us right over for an ultrasound and the NP waited over in Ortho for us and the results. 

Quick picture before we went in for the appointment. I wanted one last picture of her this age/size and not wearing the harness.
She could probably tell that at this point I wasn't too thrilled with the Children's staff and their follow up capabilities since they can't seem to send results over in a timely manner or even return phone calls. I will say though, that while everything leading up to this appointment was ridiculously handled and very frustrating, they were fantastic at the actual hospital and did everything they could to make sure similar things didn't happen again. And for that I am very thankful! I would have been really upset had they told us we had to come back another day for another ultrasound and follow-up, especially since I had called in twice and left messages trying to set up an ultrasound in advance in an attempt prevent that issue and be proactive on our end.  

Getting the second ultrasound. During her first ultrasound they had us bring her hungry and then feed her a bottle so she would be occupied. This time around, we didn't have a bottle but luckily her fingers kept her occupied. ;)
Any way...after the ultrasound, we walked back over to Ortho and there was the NP with a Pavlik Harness in her hand. SHOOT! I was hoping and praying they would say the ultrasound looked awesome and there was no need for the harness. 

Turns out, her left hip looked perfect but her right hip was still shallow. Not wanting to take any chances, the NP recommended that we do treat her. I mean, the hip could fix itself on it's own given more time, but it could also not do that. So better safe than sorry. I think the actual statistic is that 98-99% off cases similar to Chayse's resolve on their own, but you never know if you'll be that 1%. And if you can fix something, why not fix it?! 

The treatment for hip dysplasia like Chayse's is wearing the Pavlik Harness at least 22 hours a day for 4 weeks. Then we will do another ultrasound and see if more time is needed. After the first 4 weeks, what will probably happen is she will go to just wearing the harness for another 4 weeks but only part-time instead of full-time. (Or there is a teeny tiny chance they will say she can be done completely with the harness...which is what I'm hoping for). :)

Once the NP went over the treatment with us, we were shown how to fit Chayse into the harness and then we were done with the appointment. Truthfully, we were both surprised how much she can still move in it and while she did get upset when it was being put on, I think that was more from being tired and having lots of people moving her around and examining her all day than from the harness itself.

Amazing church we passed driving to and from the hospital. I seriously could admire the architecture here in PA for days! So much history! 
Our appointment got out right during rush hour, so we passed some time at Trader Joe's and Panera Bread and then made the drive back to pick up Titan from our friends...and Chayse slept through pretty much all of it! :)


Well, that's it for this novel of a post. Next week I'll try to do a follow up post with how she's doing, anything we've had to change since she's started wearing it, etc. More of a "Day in the life..." type post. 

PS: Two things I want to remember, it was so great that Broc was able to go to the appointment on Monday with us. For his schedule to work out like that is REALLY rare. It was really nice though to have him to help drive, fill out paperwork, talk with while we waited, etc. And I'm VERY grateful for some friends of ours who watched Titan from 12:00-8:30 while we were gone. That is a long long time to have someone else's kid. :)  


September 23, 2014

Preparing for Inspiration



**Before I begin today's post, this is a quick reminder to everyone to be sure to enter the Fall General Conference Giveaway I posted about yesterday! Over $400 in prizes including gift cards to Deseret Book, Sweet Salt Clothing, and Thrive Food Storage! The giveaway ends 9/27/14**

This time of year you see lots of moms (myself included) googling the latest General Conference Coloring Sheets, gathering the candy cups to put out, laminating the BINGO cards, scouring Pinterest for better and more creative ways to engage the children, etc. And while those are all worthwhile things and fantastic for our children (you can even find some AMAZING ideas to help with all of that at the end of this post) I'd like to suggest we spend a good portion of our time between now and Conference focusing on something else.

For the next seven days I'd like to challenge all the moms out there to step away from the laminating machines, cross the various forms of candy and bribes off your shopping list (for now anyway), look away from all the Conference Activity Boards on Pinterest, and instead focus on preparing YOURSELF and your heart for Conference and the messages that are being prepared.


Notice, I just said for the next seven days. After that, you still have 5-6 days to worry about prepping your family. That's PLENTY of time! (I know for some, those file folder activities are the only way you are going to hear a single word uttered during any of the sessions!) :) And I'm fairly confident in promising that if you will prepare yourself first and get yourself in the right mindset for Conference, preparing your family and knowing that your family truly needs to be prepared for it will be a lot easier to recognize. In fact, you may find you don't need as many activities...or maybe you need different ones...or maybe there is a way to get the ones you are already planning put together faster and easier.


That's the great thing about taking the time to prepare ourselves to receive inspiration, that inspiration will affect all areas of our lives and allow us to prepare and act from a place of intention and purpose instead of a place of frustration and comparison. (Please tell me I'm not the only mom who sees all the creative things other moms are doing to prep their families and so I start feeling really inadequate and feeling like I need to go bigger and do more? Eventually just thinking to myself, "Well, we'll try again in another six months!" and totally forgetting to prepare myself and my family to receive the inspiration and answers that are available and promised...which is ultimately the real point behind Conference).

Now, if you are not sure what to do to prepare yourself (it seems there aren't as many Pinterest boards for that now are there?!) ;) Here are some fantastic ideas from the lds.org website:
And to that list I'd like to add the following:
  • Shop for and prep two easy breakfasts and two dinners. (Think your kids' favorite cereal and a couple super easy Crock Pot meals. That way you can enjoy the weekend as well).
  • Find a notebook and pen to keep easily accessible so you can write down your concerns and questions between now and Conference. (I always like to go into conference with three main goals, questions or concerns written down.) And, so you can record your thoughts and answers that you receive during conference. Then make sure to use them as those promptings and thoughts start coming in!!! :)
  • Schedule a 30-60 min. block sometime when you and your husband can discuss your concerns about your family and your goals for your family. (Do it after the kids are in bed, get a babysitter for a short amount of time, etc.) By doing this, you will be able to pray about how to go about those goals or concerns and possibly receive insights during Conference as to how to do just that! 
  • Create a plan for the whole family that gets the house clean (or at least the areas you will all be in...total realist here!) by next Friday night. This may require saying no to some things this week or next, but it is much easier to stay focused during the sessions if you aren't exhausted from cleaning in between sessions or looking at the dishes piled high in the sink. And make sure to get the kids and husband involved in the cleaning too if at all possible! :)

I know as moms it is SO easy to put everyone else first. The past few weeks though I have felt over and over the importance though of putting ourselves first when it comes to preparing to hear the words the Prophet and Apostles are planning on sharing in this next General Conference. We need the guidance and inspiration that is being offered if we will PREPARE and are ready to receive it. We need it for ourselves and for our families. :) It's kind of like the whole "put your oxygen mask on first" thing. If we aren't preparing ourselves and making it a priority, can we really expect our children and families to see the importance either. Lead by example, right? :) 

Have other ideas for how we as moms can prepare for General Conference? Make sure to leave a comment below! 

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This post is part of a General Conference Activities & Ideas round up. If you are looking for more great ideas and reads, you can check out the following links... 

General Conference Fun Bags


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September 22, 2014

Fall Blogger Giveaway | $400 in Prizes


Fall Conference Giveaway

The fall session of LDS General Conference is right around the corner. To help everyone get ready,  I have teamed up with 11 fantastic bloggers to share some of our favorite products and general conference traditions. From quiet activities to help your littlest ones during the talks to products that will help you look and feel your best, we have some great prizes!

For this giveaway, we each chose some of our favorite things to give back to our readers, just to say thanks for all of the encouragement, comments, and time that you take out of your busy day to check in with us. We really appreciate it! Thank you for for how you #sharethegood with us and hopefully we can share some with you as well! 

Meet the bloggers who are taking part in this giveaway:

meetthebloggers
 

Now on to the prizes! We are very happy team up with so many companies to provide prize packages for four lucky winners! We are giving away two gift cards to Deseret Book along with a package full of goodies for children and a package full of goodies for adults. Enter in the Rafflecopters below! 

There are THREE SEPARATE giveaways so please be sure to scroll all the way down and enter each one!


LDS-themed signs from Addyson Lane Boutique   

Your choice between two signs from Addyson Lane Boutique ($20). These are going to look amazing hanging in your child's room!

Sew Surprising Felt Paper Dolls

You know your little ones will love these - perfect quiet time activity! Sew Surprising is giving away one non paper doll with THREE outfits, winner's choice. Doll's hair color can be customized. Value is $22. You can check out all the doll/outfit options on Sew Surprising's web-site or Facebook page.

  Posh Society - elegant accessories for young ladies

Adorn your little darling with a beautiful new accessory from The Posh Society. Winner may select a Crystal and Pearl Bow ($25) or a Pearl Crystal Headband ($35) - both pictured above. The bows will be attached with velvet ivory elastic or ribbon. 

Fizzy Pop Crafts

 These DIY kits by Fizzy Pop Crafts are amazing! Easy to put together and your kids will love them (you may want to keep one for yourself!) 

Usborne Books

You can never have too many good books! Rachael's Book Nook is giving away a $20 Usborne Gift 
Certificate.

Faith in God Downloadable Journals

These downloadable journals from A Lively Hope are ideal for helping your child complete the Faith in God program! Winner may select from the boy or girl version.
Doh Vinci
                        Kids ages 6 and up can become 3D designers with this DohVinci Deluxe Styler Kit from Play-Doh. 4 Deluxe Styler design tips and 3 Deco Pop tubes are included with a guide to inspire your next 3D masterpiece! This is a fun, quiet time activity! 


Sweet Salt Clothing

Check out the new fall fashions at Sweet Salt Clothing with a $65 Gift Card! Sweet Salt has a great line of basics as well the latest styles for all shapes and sizes.

  Thrive Food Storage 

 The winner of this giveaway is about to get a major food storage boost! This package from Thrive is worth over $75. Sego Lily Soap Someone is going to be spoiled with this SoapMaker's Favorites Gift Basket from Sego Lily Soap. It includes: Six beautiful handmade soaps. These soaps are gentle and luxurious, and perfect for sensitive skin. Comes in Lemongrass, Hinoki Wood, Sour Watermelon Candy, Pink Sands, Autumn Spice, and Lavender Vibrance. One handcrafted pine soap dish. Keeps your soap dry between uses so your soap will last a long time. Three all natural lip balms. Gently soothe and protect your lips with Avacado Oil, Cocoa Butter and Shea Butter. Flavored with essential oils. Contains no mineral oil or Petroleum! Comes in Doublemint, Orange Cream and Chai Spice flavors.
  Christmas Ornament from Ringmasters

This ornament from Ringmasters Jewelry and Gifts will look beautiful on your tree this year!  

Michael Vey
                   
   Our winner will a;sp receive the 1st book in a 7-book series for young adults by #1 bestselling author Richard Paul Evans. "To everyone at Meridian High School, fourteen-year-old Michael Vey is nothing special - just the kid who has Tourette's syndrome. But in truth, Michael is extremely special. He has electric powers ..." Fall is the perfect time to snuggle up with a good book! Best of luck to all our fans! Be sure to check back in for our round-up of conference traditions!

Feel free to enter one of the giveaways or all three! Good luck! 

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PS: Make sure to come back tomorrow for a round-up of our general conference traditions!


September 03, 2014

Freshly Picked Moccasins | Review & Giveaway



I have to admit, one of the most fun parts about having a baby girl is shopping for her and dressing her! There are just SO many more options for girls. Skirts, dresses, tutus, leggings, sweaters, bows and of course SHOES! A girl can never have too many pairs of shoes, right?!

Speaking of shoes, a few weeks before I had Chayse I was sent a pair of Freshly Picked Moccasins to review and I am very excited to finally be sharing my review with you! (I actually meant to share this review over a month ago but somehow time got away from me. I kind of forgot how crazy those first 6-8 weeks with a newborn are. I feel like we are just barely coming out of the newborn fog and she turns 8 weeks old on Friday!) :) 


When I was asked which pair of moccasins I would like to review I had a hard time narrowing it down to a favorite. There are so many fun colors and patterns to choose from. I finally decided to go with the Heirloom Limited Edition pair and when they arrived, they did not disappoint.

Not only are the moccasins absolutely adorable, but they are really well made as well. (Plus, it doesn't hurt they came in awesome packaging).  They are 100% genuine leather and you can tell a lot of thought was put into the construction and details of these moccasins.

These moccasins don't fit baby girl yet since I ordered them a size up to fit her in the fall and winter. I am sure they are going to get A LOT of use though once she grows into them. In fact, if I'm being completely honest when I am clothes shopping for her 3-6 and 6-9 month outfits, I always have this pair of shoes in the back of my mind and look for outfits that will coordinate with them. :)

I think literally the only downside to these shoes is that they do cost around $60 per pair. Which, for our budget is pretty high for a pair of shoes that baby girl will probably only fit into for 6-9 months. That's definitely not an amount I could spend repeatedly for shoes for an infant. And, it's not that they aren't well made or worth the price, I mean they are genuine leather like I mentioned above and the quality is amazing. We just don't spend that much on her entire 3-6 month wardrobe, so I couldn't really justify that amount for a single pair of shoes with each growth spurt too. They would be more of a time time purchase item for us. (And then she'd be wearing those amazing shoes every single day until she could no longer squeeze those adorable little infant feet into them any more!) ;)

Ready for the good news though? Whether or not that price point is in your budget, it doesn't matter because one person has the chance to win their very own pair of Freshly Picked Moccasins for their little one!

That's right. Freshly Picked has very generously offered to host a giveaway for Live to be Inspired readers. (The winner will get to select the size and color you want for your little one. Or, if you don't have a little one of your own, these would make an awesome baby shower gift).

To enter to win, simply follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below! Good luck!


Now for all the fun fine print....

The winner will be announced in this post on the Rafflecopter, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. Once the winner is announced, they will need to contact me within 24 hours with their information. If I do not hear from the winner within 24 hours, a new winner will be selected. So make sure to check back next Wednesday to see if you are the winner. Also, to be eligible for this giveaway you need to live within the United States and you may not have won any other giveaway including a pair of Freshly Picked Moccasins within the past 60 days.
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Special thanks to Freshly Picked  for providing the moccasins for me to review and for sponsoring this this giveaway. Of course, while this post is sponsored, all opinions are 100% my own.