Baby's First Year Survival Guide: Part 1

First Year Survival Guide Part 1

The first year of a baby's life is the most challenging, for the parents, that is. It's especially challenging when it's your first baby. A great deal of parenthood is figuring it out as you go along, learning what works and what doesn't, and sometimes trying every freaking product known to man.

With my son's first birthday having been a few days ago, I thought it might be helpful to share a few products and tips that helped get us through his first year of life.

Survival Guide-Feeding and Diapering

Feeding and Diapering

1. Philips AVENT Natural Bottles

We love the Avent bottles! We were blessed enough that our son took to these bottles immediately, and we didn't have to go through several different brands before we found one he liked. Our hiccup with bottle feeding happened at about 5 months, when he decided he would only drink breastmilk on tap and nothing else. He finally began taking a bottle again around 10 months. 

2. Philips AVENT Bottle Warmer

This bottle warmer is excellent! It works quickly, and heats the bottles well, and we've never had any problems with it. It has four different heat settings, including a defrost option, which is great for breastfeeding moms who need to defrost breastmilk.

3. Medela Nipple Shield

If you plan to breastfeed, get a nipple shield. Just do it, and thank me later.

4. Plum Organics Baby Food

These baby food pouches were a Godsend when Cayson refused to take to the spoon. He was still in his phase of only drinking breastmilk on tap, but we needed him to start taking solids. Since he didn't want anything to do with the spoon, these pouches were a great option since he could just suck the food out.

5. Earth's Best Organic Baby Formula

Once my son began taking formula, this was the only one he liked, and we tried three different kinds. He weaned at about 11 1/2 months old, and has been on this formula ever since, and he loves it. Side note: we've now begun mixing it with the Earth's Best Toddler Formula since he's turned the big ONE.

6. Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump

A breast pump is a must if you plan to bottle-feed breastmilk to your baby. It allows you to build up a supply, which you can freeze and use later. Get one, you won't be sorry!

7. Holle Organic Rice Cereal

Holle is a German brand. I like German brands of baby formula and food because Europe has much stricter standards on ingredients, and the products end up being way healthier for your child. It's a personal preference, but my son has loved this cereal from the first time we used it, so why fix something that isn't broken? By the way, it's very difficult to get this brand in the US, and my distributor isn't taking on new customers right now, so I'll link to where I think you can buy it.

8. Lansinoh Soothies Gel Pads

These little gel pads were one of the only things that saved me during the early stages of breastfeeding. TMI, but my nips were raw and sore, and taking these out of the fridge and putting them on gave me a world of comfort. If you're looking for some sore nipple relief, these might help!

9. Burt's Bees Baby Powder

We were using Honest Co. baby powder for the first few months, but once we found out it had been voluntarily recalled because of contamination, we threw it out and got this powder. The only thing I don't care for is the added fragrance. But other than that, I've been loving this talc-free baby powder.

10. Organic Healing Balm

This healing balm has been great for diaper rash relief, though Cayson doesn't get it very often. We put it on him every night before he goes to bed, and I do believe it helps to prevent diaper rash.

11. Munchkin Wipe Warmer

Cold wipes are a very first-world baby problem, but if you can make diaper changes more comfortable for your little one, why wouldn't you? 

12. Honest Co. Diapers

We've been using Honest Company diapers for the entire first year, and I liked them alright. To be honest, we never tried any other brand, but I knew I wanted chemical-free diapers. Plus, with the diapers and wipes bundle, it really did seem to save you money. We have recently switched to the Parasol Co. diaper subscription, though, so I'll let you know how I like them.

13. Water Wipes

As I said above, we were originally using the Honest Co. wipes that came with the bundle, but when we recently ran out, I had to get these Water Wipes from Target, since my local one didn't have the Honest Co. wipes in stock. I actually like these Water Wipes much better because they clean Cayson's bum much easier than the Honest ones did. They also don't dry out as easily. The downside to that, though, is that they are so wet that it takes baby's bum a lot longer to dry before putting the diaper on. I've decided to stick with the Water Wipes, and because you can't get the diapers without the wipes with Honest Co., I've decided to make the switch to Parasol Co.

Survival Guide-Bathing and Sleeping

Bathing and Sleeping

1. Puj Flyte Tub

I love this tub! It fits in the bathroom sink, which was wonderful for the first few months, and you can just rinse it down or spray it with your favorite all-purpose cleaner and hang it dry. 

2. Honest Co. Shampoo and Body Wash

This body wash is one of the few Honest Co. products we're sticking with. I like it because the scent is mild, but it gets Cayson clean as a whistle and doesn't sting his eyes.

3. Motorola Remote Wireless Video Baby Monitor

This monitor is wonderful! You have to set it at the right angle so you can see your baby, but I like it because, if it's close enough, you can actually see your baby's chest rise and fall, and it gives you peace of mind. Plus, the monitor has a two-way mic, so you can talk to baby if need be, and it tells you the temperature of the room.

4. Babyganics Moisturizing Daily Lotion

Just before Cayson was born, our Target was sold out of the Honest Co. lotion, so I bought this lotion instead and have been using it ever since. It's not too thick, and it moisturizes his skin without leaving him greasy, which I appreciate.

5. Gentle Baby Essential Oil Blend

This oil is very soothing and calming, with rose oil and lavender oil included in the blend. Not only did I put it in my peri bottle to calm my nether region after his birth, but we would dilute it with coconut oil and put it on Cayson's feet to help sooth him to sleep. 

6. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

You can read more on how this book has helped in my baby sleep post here, but suffice it to say, this book was a lifesaver.

I hope that some of the product recommendations have been helpful, and if you are currently a mama or are a soon-to-be mama, I hope this post gives you something to think about. It's Baby Week, so stay tuned for Part Two coming tomorrow!

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

*This post contains affiliate links.*

Not Your Average Birth Story

You guys, my son's birthday is this weekend. 

I cannot even believe it! I can't believe that he will be one year old! How can a year have passed since I brought him into this world? What even is life?

Well, excuse me while I freak out. But in the meantime, I wanted to share a blog post that I wrote about a year ago, after he was born. I wrote this on my other blog, but I wanted to share it here in honor of his first year of life.


Natural birth has no comparison. In my opinion, not even other types of birth compare to it. I have nothing against other types of birth, and I respect every woman’s right to choose the way she births. I, myself, was born by c-section, and I don’t bear my mom any ill will because of that.

But natural birth…

There is nothing like it. I can’t compare it to climbing a mountain, or running a marathon…

It is, if I’m being honest, the most physically painful thing that has ever happened to my body. But it was so, SO much more than pain.

It was perseverance. It was patience. It was frustration. It was anxiety. It was trust. It was love…

For the majority of my ten-hour labor, I had three people supporting me:

My incredible husband…who fetched me water when I needed it. Who held my hand when my own strength wasn’t enough. Who reminded me, when I screamed that I couldn’t do it, that I was doing it, and that I was strong. He was the extra force behind me, rooting for me, supporting me, loving me…

My amazing mother…who silently watched over me, letting me know with her presence that everything would be okay. Who told me she was proud of me. Who held my hands when my husband needed a break. Who rubbed my back. Who smiled with pride when she saw me with her grandson in my arms…

The awesome midwife…who gave me a measure of peace because she was skilled, knowledgeable, and confident. Who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. Who told me not to run from the pain or fight against it, but to embrace it. Who caught my baby as I pushed him from my body and into the world…

Then there was God.

I cried out for Him during labor more times than I can count. And as my stomach contracted, and my body contorted, and I wished that I had all the drugs in the world, I begged Jesus to help me through it.

Birth was, honestly, probably one of the most spiritual times in my life. I needed God to reassure my soul that I would make it through this, and that another soul would come to the world through me.

And there were moments of labor that were not so fun…

I vomited twice. 
I was at my most vulnerable for 10 straight hours. 
I was exposed…
And of course, I was in pain.

There is nothing, no word, no metaphor or simile, that can describe what a contraction feels like when you are moments from delivery.

I can’t explain it. And the only way you’d know what I’m talking about is if you’ve delivered a child without drugs. The pain is indescribable.

But. But…

Laboring and delivering my son, with no interventions, no one shouting at me, no one telling me what I needed to do, trusting my body and my support team trusting me…

It it the single most empowering and incredible thing I have ever done in my life.

When I chose this path, I was confident that I could do it. In the midst of it, there were times where I wasn’t so sure. But I have come out on the other side with so much pride in myself, in my marriage, and so much faith in God, that I couldn’t be more sure that this was the right decision.

I would do it all over again.

I know that a lot of people look at me and all they see is someone small. Someone slight. Someone quiet.

Well, I didn’t do this to prove anything to anyone, and now more than ever, I am confident that I don’t have anything to prove.

But I just have to say for myself, that I am a force to be reckoned with. I am strong and powerful, and there is nothing weak about me.

There is nothing ‘weak’ about women. We are not the weaker sex, or the lesser sex.

We are capable, with God, of building and bringing forth new life, and then sustaining that life even after birth.

I had an amazing team of people who helped me as I brought my son into this world. But I brought him into this world.

The senior midwife said to me as I pushed, “It’s time to bring your baby. Only you can bring your baby.”

Well, she was wise. And she was right.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!


Natural childbirth and motherhood are the hardest things I've ever done, but my son is so worth it. He is awesome and it is such an incredible blessing getting to be a part of his life all day every day. I get to watch him and smile with pride, because I made him. He was born from love, and he is such an incredibly loving little guy. He has such a sweet disposition. 

Cayson, if you read this one day, then you should know that you are amazing, and I'm so stoked that I get to be your mom, even when you're teething and won't sleep through the night.

Happy Birthday, little man!

You’re like a party somebody threw me
You taste like birthday
You look like New Years
You’re like a big parade through town...
You leave such a mess, but you’re so fun!
— The Party by Regina Spektor

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

RECAP: Indie Beauty Expo-Dallas 2017, Part I

A cute sign and instant photo station

A cute sign and instant photo station

Last week, I had the amazing opportunity to go to the Indie Beauty Expo!

It's a beauty expo for independent (and largely green) beauty brands. The Expo lasts a few days, with different sections depending on the tickets you purchased or how you were invited. I purchased VIP tickets for myself, and the entire event was well worth the $80 price tag.

I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I would have like to. I was honestly just soaking it all in. This was the first beauty conference/convention/expo I've ever been to, so the whole thing was pretty exciting for me. Today, I'll be sharing some of the photos I did take, and on Wednesday for part 2, I'll share a closeup look at the products I purchased and the samples I was given.

Let's get started!

There were about 70 brands total at the expo, and though I did make it past every single table at least once, I didn't actually get to stop by and talk to every brand.

The above brand, Makeup America, was one that I did get to talk to. All of their products were red, white, and blue themed, which was honestly a bit much for me. But I did find it kind of cool that $1 of every product they sell goes towards paying down the national debt. It would be interesting to find out exactly how much they hope to give towards the debt, since the debt is in the trillions. And I don't mean that to be snarky. I'd really like to know, since that's a pretty big goal.

I only took pictures of the above brand, Beneath Your Mask, because I loved their display and their branding. In truth, I feel like their products were a bit overpriced for what they were, and it was incredibly difficult to talk to them because they were always trying to talk to someone else. But hey, kudos to them for being popular!

IBE Dallas 2017 Open Bar

There was an open bar at this shin dig, which was fantastic! VIP tickets got you two complimentary drink cards, though I don't know how much you actually needed those since it wasn't a cash bar. The bar tenders were on point, and my drink was delicious!

IBE-Flowers edited .JPG

I appreciate the design of this entire event. Everything was beautiful. They had purple lighting everywhere and beautiful floral arrangements. They had a flower crown station, which ALWAYS had a long line, so I didn't get a floral crown :(

They also had a photo booth station, which I didn't use because I went alone and there's really no fun (for me) in doing the photo booth solo. 

Overall, it was a really fun experience, and I would love to go again next year. I'll share more about the brands that I absolutely LOVED on Wednesday, so stay tuned!

I'll leave you with a recap of my Instagram Story from the night...

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

Happy Mother's Day Weekend!

I feel like it was just yesterday that I was agonizing over what to get my mom for Mother's Day. It had to be the perfect gift; something to say "thank you for loving me all these years and for putting up with my crap from time to time!" Would it be flowers? A dessert of some kind? Jewelry?

Then, somehow, time fast-forwarded and now I'm the mama. I get to kiss and squeeze and hug my little boy for Mother's Day. And even though he's too young to say "thank you" or "I love you," I can feel it in every grab of my face, every nighttime snuggle, every slobbery kiss. I feel it when he's excited to see me when he wakes up for a nap. I can feel it when I hear his disgruntled "Mamamamamamama" when he's upset about something and he expects me to make it better. 

When he roams around the house and wants me to chase him, or he laughs at me while I dance around like a fool, I feel so incredibly blessed that God chose me to be his mama. I'm entrusted with his care and keeping for such a little while in the grand scheme of things, and I really do try to cherish every moment. 

I never understood the depth of a mother's love until I became one myself. I love that little boy more than my own life, more than anything. I get to see him learn, and grow, and change everyday. I get to witness his blossoming, and I just can't believe that I have the privilege of doing so. 

Some days (and nights) are hard. Sometimes he won't take a bottle. Sometimes, he thrashes around like a maniac because, in that moment, he detests getting his diaper changed. Sometimes, he throws his pacifier on the floor and laughs because he knows that I have to pick it up. 

But I wouldn't even trade those hard, impossible moments. They are far outweighed by the good moments and make them even that much sweeter. 

So here's to all the mamas out there! Let us love our littles as best we can, and then some. Let us teach them to be kind, loving human beings who treat others with respect. Let us show them the beauty and good in life, because they'll get the bad from everywhere else soon enough. 

And let's remind ourselves that there are no ways to be a perfect mom, but many ways to be a really good one.

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

Essential Central: Thieves

Yo and hello!

So, in my first Essential Central post, I gave a very basic introduction to Essential Oils. If you've never heard of or used essential oils, then you must be living under a rock. But seriously, go check out that post first, then come back to this one IMMEDIATELY because we're discussing my favorite E.O. blend of all time!  

Most E.O.'s come in two categories: singles and blends. For example, lavender essential oil is a single, meaning lavender is the only oil in it. The oil we're talking about today, Thieves, is a blend, or a combination of a few different oils. 

Thieves is exclusive to Young Living, but you may be able to find a similar blend from a different company if Young Living isn't for you. Thieves is made up of cinnamon, clove, lemon, eucalyptus radiata, and rosemary essential oils. 

Why you need it:

1. Thieves is a purifying oil. It has antibacterial and antiviral properties, which makes it ideal for cleaning and diffusing. 

In my house, we diffuse Thieves during cold and flu season to keep the germs at bay. Because of its spicy scent, it's also great to diffuse around Christmas time. Mix it with some Citrus Fresh to get a really clean and uplifting scent going in your home.

2. Thieves can be taken as a supplement. 

With the addition of Thieves Vitality to the Thieves product family, you can now safely ingest it on the regular. Do your research first, and always use a carrier oil, especially if you're new to using it. I like to add a drop to a vegetable capsule (which you can get at Sprouts), and just take it like I would a vitamin.

3. Thieves can be taken as medicine.

Whenever I feel a cold or sore throat coming on, I'll put a drop of Thieves on a spoonful of honey and swallow it down. It doesn't have the most pleasant taste, but it severely shortens my recovery time, so I'll take it!

4. You can clean with the different Thieves products.

Young Living has a myriad of products in their Thieves line. Everything from toothpaste, to dishwashing liquid, to bar soap and laundry detergent. You want to clean something with it, they pretty much have a Thieves product for it.

Pro Tips:

1. Make a DIY carpet deodorizer by mixing 1 cup of baking soda with 1 cup of borax. Add 10 to 20 drops of Thieves (and whatever other oils you want) and let the powders absorb the oil. Sprinkle the mix on your carpets, wait for 10-20 minutes, then vacuum it up. You're good to go!

2. The Thieves wipes are kind of pricy, but you can make your own at home if you have the Thieves All-Purpose cleaner. Get some strong, durable paper towels and cut the roll in half. Put the half roll in a container and add two cups of water and a cap full of Thieves cleaner. Let them sit until they have absorbed all the liquid. Keep them sealed, and whenever you're in need a quick, antibacterial wipe, bust them out and get to cleaning. 

I am no E.O. expert, but I love what they've done for me and my family. They have improved our health, helped me out with cooking, and lifted my mood on more than one occasion, so they get an A+ from me. And Thieves gets an A++.

Which essential oils are you using regularly? Let me know!

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

Bits + Pieces: Easter and My Birthday

Man, it feels like it's been ages since I posted last!

We went out of town to visit my in-laws, and then came home and had my mom come to visit us, so I decided to take a mini vacation from the blog to really be present with my family.

Bits and Pieces Easter 2017

This little man has been growing like a weed and hitting every milestone on his way up! He's pulling up on EVERYTHING, and testing the waters at letting go of things to stand on his own. Soon, he'll be walking, and I feel like I'll never sit down again once that happens. He's also gotten his first tooth and is working on a second!

He is the busiest little guy! He has to investigate everything, leave no stone unturned. But he's at such a precious age, and I'm loving every (tiresome) minute of it!

Bits and Pieces Easter 2017.2

The hubs and I like to get slightly fancy for Easter, but we had a time of it trying to find a boy's shirt with any purple in it for Cayson. We finally found this collared romper (is it a romper if it's for a boy?) from Old Navy. Hey, clothing designers, men wear purple too, mmkay?

Last year on Easter, I was pregnant, and this year I had a 10-month-old baby on my hip! Exactly WHERE has the time gone?

Bits and Pieces Easter 2017.3

Above is me on my birthday. Another year older, and 10 years wiser, or at least it feels that way. I don't necessarily feel older physically. But emotionally, psychologically, spiritually...definitely!

In other news, I got my hair done for my birthday! I've always wanted multicolored hair, and I always see these girls (and guys) with lovely rainbow hair on social media, so I decided that this was the year I was going to give it a try. Peep the Instagram video below:

My hair stylist is AMAZING! If you're in the DFW area, look her up!

Currently:

Reading: I just finished The Girl On The Train, and it was REALLY good! To me, it didn't have as much of a twist as Gone Girl, but it was a great read. I'm still reading my mom's book, and I have yet to start Bossypants by Tina Fey. Anyone remember the 2017 Reading Challenge?

Watching: The Voice. This is the first time I've watched a full season of this show, and I like it. My husband says the shows seems to be more about the judges than the contestants, and I agree with him. I wish the people who won got more recognition in the industry. There are some really good voices on the show.

Planning: I'm still working on my in-laws' anniversary party. It's nice to be party planning, but I just really want this celebration to be amazing, so I'm a little nervous about it. I'm also in the beginning stages of planning my son's birthday celebration. He's coming up on a year...

Wanting: Clothes. Shoes. Nail polish. All the accessories. Help!

It's good to be back!

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

*This post contains affiliate links.*