Cayson's "Turning One Tour" Birthday Party

So, I know it's been about a month since Cayson's birthday party, but I recently got the pictures back and I had to share some! We had a rockstar theme since my son is obsessed with all things music and loves head-banging. I'm convinced he's going to be a rock star when he grows up, which I'm not sure I'm completely stoked about, but I guess we'll have to wait and see!

Cayson's party invitations

Cayson's party invitations

The Inspired Life-Cayson's Turning One Tour Party

The colors for his party were turquoise and orange, and I continued those colors for all of the decor. The cake and the cookies were made by me. Find the cake recipe here, and the cookie and royal icing recipes here and here.

The Inspired Life-Cayson's Turning One Tour Party
The Inspired Life-Cayson's Turning One Tour Party

I have loved Jones Soda since I was a teenager, and since you can have the labels personalized, I decided that would be a perfect addition to the party. The bottles also makes an awesome keepsake!

The Inspired Life-Cayson's Turning One Tour Party

I did my best, during his first year, to capture a monthly photo, but be prepared, Mamas, it gets harder the more they're able to move around.

The Inspired Life-Cayson's Turning One Tour Party
The Inspired Life-Cayson's Turning One Tour Party

I also felt like my multicolored hair made a rockin' addition to the party ;-)

The Inspired Life-Cayson's Turning One Tour Party
The Inspired Life-Cayson's Turning One Tour Party

At first, he wasn't sure about the cake, and it took some encouragement to get him to try it. Curiosity won out in the end, though!

The Inspired Life-Cayson's Turning One Tour
The Inspired Life-Cayson's Turning One Tour Party
The Inspired Life-Cayson's Turning One Tour Party

Overall, it was a fun little party, and I still can't believe my little boy is one already! 

The party wasn't as elaborate as I've seen for some one year old's, but I'd rather the parties get more elaborate as he gets older. That way, the more work I put into it, the older he is and therefore more likely to remember it.

How did you celebrate your kiddo's first birthday? Let me know!

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

*All photos were taken by J. Nguyen Photography. A big thank you to one of my best friends for snapping these amazing pictures!*

How to Celebrate the 4th of July When You're Not Proud to Be an American

Fourth of July

Before I dive into this post, I want to remind anyone reading of my comment policy. I always welcome constructive criticism, but please be kind.

I haven't felt much like celebrating America for a little over a year now. With all the things that have been happening in this country, it's made it difficult for me to feel proud to be an American. That's something that's hard to explain to some people because American pride is so ingrained in us from an early age. 

If you're like me and are a part of one of the marginalized people groups in this country, it can often feel like America isn't even home. But, this is where I was born, and it is my home, and instead feeling saddened all the time at the state of our country, I want to take some time to share how you can celebrate, even if you don't necessarily feel like there's much to be celebrated.

1. Be Thankful for Service Men and Women

I have many family members, friends, and former mentors who have served or currently are serving in the military, and I am so incredibly thankful to and for them. Serving in the military is a sacrifice, whether you die in action or not. Service men and women give up time with their own families and loved ones to protect our freedoms, so we can safely spend time with our loved ones, and I am so grateful to them for that sacrifice and bravery. So I will be thinking of all Service Men and Women on Tuesday

2. Be Grateful for the Freedoms We Have in America

I may not always be proud to be an American, but I'm grateful that I'm free to express that. I'm grateful that I have to freedom to say that I'm dissatisfied with, or even grieved at the state of my country. I'm grateful that I get to worship Jesus Christ freely and openly, and that it's not a crime. There are many countries in the world where certain religions are outlawed, and where questioning/criticizing the government could mean jail time or death. So I'm thankful for the rights and freedoms that I have as an American citizen.

3. Be Mindful of the Work Still to be Done

There is still a lot of work to be done in America so that everyone can truly feel safe here. The rights of many law-abiding citizens are still being threatened, and that's not okay. So much reform is needed, and there is a lot that's wrong. But instead of being weighed down by all that's bad and wrong, I've decided to remember what's right and to work towards what's right every day. Progress is slow, but it will happen.

4. Be Hopeful for the Next Generation

There is always, always, ALWAYS hope that the next generation will do better than the previous one. No generation ever has or ever will get life completely right because mankind is not perfect. No matter what religion, spirituality, or philosophy you subscribe to, I think we can all agree that no one is perfect. But we can always have hope that the next generation will learn from our mistakes, learn what worked and what didn't, and that they'll strive to be better than the ones that came before them. It's like hoping your kids will be better off and happier than you were. I hope that the generation after mine is incredible and that they do amazing things, not just in America, but all over the world.

I hope this has been helpful or inspiring to someone out there. Please know that I am in no way saying that America is the worst country out there. No country gets it perfect because, again, humanity is not perfect. But I just wanted to say that, even with so many terrible things happening in the world, there is always something to be positive about and something good to hope for.

Have a Blessed Fourth of July!

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

Wonder Woman and the Strength in Femininity

Via

My husband and I went to see Wonder Woman on Friday, and it was amazing. I had a Studio Movie Grill gift card, and we'd been wanting to spend some time together, so it worked out perfectly. 

There were so many things to appreciate about the film. Of course, it was fantastic that for the first 20 minutes (at least) of the movie, there were nothing but women on screen. The movie was directed by a woman, the amazing Patty Jenkins, and the entire film is dripping with female empowerment.

I loved that they didn't over-sexualize Diana. Her outfit was armor and not just glorified spandex. Of course, she was beautiful, but she wasn't overly made up. You could tell that she had on blush and eyeliner, but the rest of the movie makeup magic was very understated. Plus, it doesn't hurt that Gal Gadot is gorgeous anyway. And speaking of Gal, I very much appreciated that she's Israeli. A couple of years ago, when whispers of a Wonder Woman film were first circulating, I for sure thought that they would cast a well-known white actress as the lead. I'm glad that they cast a lesser-known Middle Eastern woman instead. And Gal was incredible, by the way!

I also appreciated that there were Amazons of multiple races. Some were black, some were white, some could have been hispanic. They were of varying ages, too, and every single one of them were beautiful. None of them were wearing much makeup, which is realistic because they're warriors. And it's even more cool that they cast professional female athletes as some of the Amazons!

Via

There are spoilers from this point forward, so if you haven't seen the film yet and you still want to, stop reading now.

As for the story, I like that it wasn't necessarily centered around a man. Steve (played by Chris Pine) appears in Diana's life and is sort of the gateway to her destiny, but the story isn't really about their love. It's about Diana learning who she is and becoming that person. Everything she believes and knows to be true is challenged, and she has to decide what she's going to stand for, and what she'll actively stand against.

At the beginning of the movie, which has modern-day Diana talking about how she "used" to want to save the world, you think that she's given up hope for humanity. But at the end of the movie, you find out that it's because of her hope in humanity that she fights for justice and truth.

The only thing that I didn't like was that Steve sacrificed himself and died. I guess I understand why they did that, though. I mean, Diana is a demigoddess and apparently doesn't age, and Steve is mortal, so what kind of life could they realistically have together? But it did almost seem like they had to give the leading man his hero moment too, which may have been to appease male movie-goers. For comparison, you don't really see the female love interest in most male-centric superhero movies doing anything that heroic. They're mostly just damsels in distress. 

Overall, the movie was fantastic! It left me feeling like I'm capable of anything, and that my femininity isn't something to suppress or overcome in order to be successful or to do great things. The world needs femininity just as much as it needs masculinity. It needs brave, strong women, just as much as it needs brave, strong men. And bravery and strength aren't exclusive to men. Anyone and everyone can have courage and do the right thing when given the chance. 

Have you seen Wonder Woman? If so, what did you think? Let me know your thoughts!

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

Cayson's Camping Adventure Nursery Tour

I rarely ever do Saturday posts, but since today's post is picture heavy, I thought it would be good for the weekend.

We moved shortly after I finished Cayson's nursery, but I wanted to share the space where he lived for most of his life thus far. Not to mention, I worked really hard on it, so I deserve to show it off.

Camping Adventure Nursery 1
Camping Adventure Nursery 2

I hand painted the changing table, and my husband and I both painted the dresser. The dresser was mine from childhood, and the changing table is a vintage Jenny Lind from when my husband was born. Can it be considered vintage if it's only from the 90's?

Camping Adventure Nursery 3
Camping Adventure Nursery 4

That's the first ultrasound we ever had with Cayson, at around eight weeks pregnant. It feels like it was so long ago and just yesterday, all at the same time. In the middle is the sound machine, which is great when you start crib training your little one. 

Camping Adventure Nursery 5
Camping Adventure Nursery 6
Camping Adventure Nursery 7

The decal above the crib is our Bible verse for Cayson, since his name means 'brave'. It's also cool that it comes from the book of Joshua, which is my husband's name (if you didn't know that already lol).

I wanted a nursery where the theme was evident, but not over-the-top or too babyish, and I really wanted a space that he could grow into. I really like how it turned out, and I can't wait to recreate it, with even more personal touches, once we're settled. 

As for where everything came from:

Crib- Amazon (though we purchased ours from Target)
Decal- Wild Eyes Signs
Teepee Print, Bear Print & Teepee Shelf- Hobby Lobby
Bookshelves- Ikea (hand painted by me)
Glider & Ottoman- Amazon
Sound Machine- Amazon
Red Lantern- Amazon
Crib Sheet  & Changing Pad Cover- Amazon
National Parks Map Print- Belle Paper Market
Texas Camper Print- Inviting Moments

The items not linked or mentioned specifically were gifts from family. For more information on how I picked a theme, check this post

Happy Saturday, everyone!

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

*This post contains affiliate links.*
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Baby's First Year Survival Guide: Part 2

First Year Survival Guide Part 2

Yo and hello, mamas!

Yesterday, I gave you Part One of my First Year Survival Guide, which included my favorite feeding, sleeping, bathing and diapering products for baby. Today, I'm sharing my favorite teething and travel products and tips, along with some other miscellaneous items.

First Year Survival Guide-Teething Travel and Misc

Travel

1. Peg Perego 4-35 Infant Car Seat

This car seat has been wonderful. We first shopped for car seats before Cayson was born, and I compared it to several other well-known baby brands, including Britax, Maxi Cosi, and Graco. The reason we ended up going with this one was because it was the lightest (in weight) of all of the brands we liked. Due to strict safety regulations, car seats are pretty much all going to be the same when it comes to safety features. They have to pass certain regulations to even make it to market. So it all came down to price and weight, because as baby gets heavier, so does the car seat. This one was more expensive than some, but at only 9 lbs., it won out in my book.

2. Baby Jogger City Select Stroller

I chose this stroller for the same reason I chose a lot of our big ticket baby items: longevity! I wanted something that would last through at least a couple of kids, and this stroller will do exactly that. We bought a separate attachment so we could attach the car seat to it, and you can even add a second seat if you've got two kiddos! At about $500, it's the least expensive of the grow-with-your-kid type of travel systems. For comparison, the Uppa Baby Vista (my dream stroller) is just shy of $900. And it only goes up from there. If you want a more in-depth stroller review, let me know, and I can make it happen!

3. Boba Baby Wrap

We bought this wrap after Cayson was born and was the least expensive baby wrap/carrier that we could find. We weren't trying to be cheap with quality, but we didn't want to drop $150 on a carrier he might hate, so we went with this one and Cayson loved it. It's not really good for long term, especially if you've got a wiggle worm who doesn't like to be restrained. But it was awesome when he was still in the "fourth trimester" and wanted to be close. I could wear him around the house and still get things done. Multitasking is the name of the game, right, ladies?

Teething

4. Nuby All Natural Teething Gel

Cayson is currently DEEP in the throes of teething, and I wanted something that was natural but effective. This gel does the trick! Do I think it takes the pain away? Not completely, but it does seem to lessen it a bit, which I'm sure he appreciates. Plus, I think he enjoys the flavor ;-)

5. Baltic Amber Teething Necklace

If I'm being completely honest, I'm still on the fence about whether I believe that this necklace actually works. I know, it goes against all of my hippie ways, but still, I'm skeptical. Pro Tip: For safety reasons, I just wrap it twice around his ankle and cover it with a sock.

Miscellaneous

6. Mommy's Bliss Grip Water

Now this stuff actually works! For real. We've been using it for a year now, and it really does get rid of his hiccups. It is a miracle product! Babies get hiccups ALL THE TIME and they're not always thrilled about it, so do yourself a favor and get some gripe water. Like...now.

7. Zarbee's Naturals Baby Cough Syrup + Mucus

This is an all-natural cough syrup that we discovered after Cayson got his first cold around 5 months old or so. It's mostly just agave syrup, but I think it really does help clear out some of the mucus. Also, get yourself an electric snot sucker. It works WAY better than the bulb syringe.

8. Babyganics Mineral-based SPF 50 Sunscreen

The title is pretty self-explanitory, but I've been loving this sunscreen, especially now that summer is upon us. If you're from Texas like me, you'll know how sunny and hot it gets around this time of year.

9. Babyganics Alcohol-free Hand Sanitizer

This is a good hand sanitizer to keep in the nursery for diaper changes. When you use a regular sanitizer with alcohol, it doesn't quite evaporate off of your skin before you touch your baby again, and it can still burn their sensitive skin a bit. We've been using this sanitizer since the beginning and have loved it.

10. Honest Co. Laundry Detergent

I like this laundry detergent. It's unscented and plant-based, so it's safe for sensitive skin, but it is a bit pricey. We recently switched to the Seventh Generation sensitive skin detergent when we ran out of the Honest Co. one, and so far we've been liking that one too.

11. Honest Co. Stain Remover

Now this stuff is the TRUTH! It's plant-based and it works on poop, vomit, blood (Aunt Flo, anyone?), grass stains, and food stains. I love this stain remover and will continue to buy it until something even better comes along, though I'm not sure that's possible.

To all the experienced mamas out there, what were your favorite baby products? What were the hits and what were the misses? I'd would love to know because I'm still new at this, so there's always something to learn. Besides, sharing is caring!

Cheers,
LesLeigh J.

*This post contains affiliate links.*

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.*