Last Minute Toddler Girl Stocking Stuffer ideas

If you are anything like me, I put off everything to the last minute. And that includes shopping for Christmas presents. This year I actually went out early, and by early I mean two weeks before Christmas, and got my daughter gifts. For me stocking stuffers are the hardest because I don’t like cheap little toys she will play with once and I also do not like a TON of candy. So I try to stick with educational and arts and craft type items. If you need any ideas here is a good place to start!

Like I said I like to add a couple educational type items. This year I went with some workbooks because Elliott Grace is working on using a writing utensil, shapes, colors, and tracing. The Pen Control book is from the book sections at Target, and the Colors and Shapes is from the Dollar Section. The crayons book is off Amazon, but I am sure you could find something similar at the store with the coloring books.

I also grabbed her some Play-Doh because I know from working with an Occupational Therapist at work , this is a great way to support a child’s gross motor skills and hand strengths. There are also a ton of activities with letters you can use play-doh for.

And then I also threw in some stickers, T. O. T. S of course, we don’t let Elliott put them on her clothes though, she uses them for her artwork.

Stickers weren’t the only arts and craft items I included in this years stocking. I also wanted to update Elliotts crayons, marker, colored pencil and chalk supply. She has gotten very into drawing and coloring so I wanted to support that interest of hers! Also adding more color to her selection will help her with her color identification and discrimination (can you tell I’m a teacher?). I had to throw in a glue bottle because at school she has been working with proper glue use, so I wanted to support that skill at home as well.

Of course I also grabbed some random, fun items for her that I know she is going to go crazy over! Elliott has taken a sudden interest in band-aids so I grabbed her her own box to play with. She also is obsessed with chapstick, well eating chapstick, so I tossed in a few of her own. Frozen slippers because well Frozen duh. Every time I get my nails done Elliott forces my husband or I to paint her nails, and when I saw these glittery polishes I could NOT pass them up. Which means Corys toes are going to eventually be glittery purple, sorry babe. And finally chocolate, because every time we have gone to Target the last few times Elliott Grace has asked for “her chocolate” and it’s just too precious.

A lot of these items you can get for a boy as well, these are not exclusively “girl” items! Really the possibilities are endless!

Happy Stocking Stuffing!


To My Postpartum Body

There are so many things that I want to say to you. I want to say Thank You, I’m Sorry and I love you. I watched you preform the most magical act I have ever seen. You transformed into a strong cocoon, blossomed and released a beautiful butterfly, made from your own flesh. And for that I am forever grateful.

So I say Thank You. Thank you for bringing heaven to earth, in the form a sweet little angel named Elliott Grace and Lark Edith. I used to believe that miracles rarely ever happened, and that I would never experience one of my own. And then I watched a miracle unfold right before my eyes. It was not always easy, and some days I wished it all was over, but I would never trade this precious gift for anything in the world.

I’m sorry, I am sorry for wasting so much time wishing you looked different. I am sorry for all of the horrible things I said about you, while you were transforming in order to grow my baby girl. I am sorry for not appreciating you more. When I look at you, I see a beautiful road map, with evidence of the amazing journeys you have gone on. Stretching and moving, changing to fit my little angel.

I love you. Even with all of the “flaws” , I love you. You have amazed me for months now. You have done some of the most incredible acts and you took it all in strides. You have shown me just how strong you are, and how strong I am. You have given me grace in my times of change. When I felt like I couldn’t go on, you proved to me that I can. You stood firm and protected me from not one, but two falls. I never appreciated you as much as I do now. I promise to take better care of you, and allow you the grace you have shown me. You will never be the same way you were before this amazing journey, but I am so grateful for you now.

When I run my fingers over you, I can feel every mark, every stretch and it takes me back to those first days. The first time I felt that little bump. The first time I heard my little girls racing heartbeat. The first time I felt my baby move inside of me. You are my constant reminder of where you have been, and while these marks may fade, my memory of your selflessness will not.

To my postpartum body,

Thank you, I am Sorry, I love you 💕


What is Exclusively Pumping? And why I decided to exclusively pump?

Alternative Options to Breastfeeding

When I found out that I was going to be a mother, I was faced with a thousand and one decisions. Each decision harder than the next. The biggest choice a mother has to make is whether to breastfeed or formula feed. Each choice is 100% valid, and we as a society need to stop shaming mothers who formula feed! Instead, let’s lift each other up, support each mother’s feeding decisions and move on with our lives. Mothering is hard enough, without feeling guilty for each decision you make.

“Each choice is 100% valid, and we as a society need to stop shaming mothers who formula feed! “

There were so many benefits of breast milk, that deciding to breast feed was the easiest choice I made. Even though the decision was easy, actually breastfeeding was not. My mother did not breastfeed, and I did not grow up around babies that were breastfeed, so I was under a very naive belief that it was going to come naturally. I mean isn’t that what society tells a mother, breastfeeding is easy and if it isn’t, you aren’t trying hard enough. First of all, let’s just crush that misconception right here and now, breastfeeding IS HARD. No matter what some mothers do, it just doesn’t happen, and they end up deciding to formula feed. A lot of mothers feel unnecessarily guilty when they decide to quit breast feeding. I am here to tell any mother out there, you are doing great and you are making the right thing for YOUR child!

In my last few months of pregnancy I attended birthing classes, and a Breastfeeding 101 class at the hospital I was delivering at. At that 101 class, the Doula was very adamant that we all try to nurse as soon as our babies were born. So when my daughter, Elliott, was born that is exactly what I did. I was very excited to start nursing and create that bond with Elliott. However, my enthusiasm was met with disappointment. Elliott was unable to latch properly and I had to use a nipple shield in order to help draw out my nipple. For the next two days in the hospital, even with the assistance of the nipple shield, my little one still had trouble latching. The hospital lactation consultant (LC) taught me how to hand express so that I could give my daughter that coveted “liquid gold” or colostrum.

“First of all let’s just crush that misconception right here and now, breastfeeding IS HARD. No matter what some mothers do, it just doesn’t happen, and they end up deciding to formula feed. “

By the time we left the hospital, my daughter had lost more than 10% of her birth weight. We left the hospital on a Friday and had to return to the pediatrician the next day. On our way to the doctor, I realized that my breasts were engorged, which is extremely painful if you have never experienced the feeling. Again, the lactation consultant at the office showed my different ways to position my baby to assist her in latching. She also instructed me to pump when we got home, even though they do not recommend pumping that soon after giving birth. Most LC tell moms to wait until nursing is established before pumping, as to not create nipple confusion in their babies.

This was the first time that I realized how much easier pumping was for me and my daughter. My first pump I got about 4 oz of milk, but my daughter was only drinking 2 oz a feeding. I was shocked that my body was producing so much extra milk. Even though pumping was easier, I stayed determined to nurse. A week went by and latching was still an issue, I was becoming engorged but this time I had developed chapped nipples. I called the pediatrician in a panic because I feared my baby was not getting any milk. The on call nurse reassured me that because she was still going to the bathroom that she was okay, and to continue to work on latching. I went into the doctors the next day to have a weight check, and Elliott was still not gaining weight. Again, I was encouraged to keep on trying to nurse. That night, while trying to feed Elliott, I looked down and she had blood coming out of the corners of her mouth. When I pulled her off the nipple, there was blood pooled in the nipple shield. At that moment I decided to pump and feed her.

The next day I posted in a mommy Facebook group, asking for advice on what to do. Oddly enough, my old sorority advisor, told me that she had the same issues and she EP or Exclusively Pumped. I quickly jumped on the internet to research everything I could about exclusive pumping. There was very little information on the internet, most things I found were other blog posts, or mom chat groups. Most of the things I learned about Exclusive Pumping came from an Instagram account – pump_momma_pump , you have to check them out if you do or are considering EP. After all my research, I made the decision that I was going to exclusively pump, and feeding my baby has never been the same.

So how does exclusive pumping work for me? Well, I bottle feed Elliott from reserved milk I previously pumped. Then once she is done feeding, I pump until I am completely empty. It is very important that I pump each time she feeds, in order to help up build my supply. I put the pumped milk into bottles and store the extra in the fridge. Once I have a large reserve, I freeze the extra. Within a week, my supply has been established, I have six 4 oz bottles in the fridge at all times, and I am building my frozen reserve milk. The great thing about exclusive pumping is that for nightly feeding, my husband is able to feed Elliott while I pump. That way, we’re only up for about half an hour, as opposed to an hour to an hour and a half. It truly makes parenting a 50/50 effort, and we are able to get more sleep than before. I should preface this by saying that out baby girl is a pretty good sleeper during the night, so I would not say that EP made her a better sleeper, but just helped to expedite the midnight feedings. Like most moms, I often worry that my little one is not getting enough milk, but with EP, I am able to measure out each bottle with the proper amount, and I can visually see that Elliott is getting enough milk. Exclusive pumping is what has worked for my family and I am so grateful of the support I have gotten not only from my husband, but our daughter’s pediatrician as well. At first, I thought that the pediatrician would not support my decision, but instead, she told me that she exclusively pumped for her son, and that she will EP for her little one on the way!

So, if you are a mother who is trying to make breastfeeding work, and it is just not happening, consider exclusively pumping. It is a great option if you still want to give your baby the benefits of breast milk! Just make sure you invest in a good breast pump because it is going to be your new best friend for the next several months. Happy Pumping Momma! 🙂

Keep an out for a blog post where I discuss some tips and tricks for Exclusive Pumping mommas, and how exclusive pumping works once I go back to work!

How to Thrive in 2020!

New Decade, New You? 2020 Vision? Roaring 20’s? I could go on with all of the 2020 puns but I will spare you. Whether you have a laundry list of resolutions, or you have just set yourself one goal for 2020, this is the year to THRIVE! Last year I made myself a list of goals that I wanted to achieve by the end of 2019, and I am happy to announce that met ALL of my goals! WOOT WOOT! (insert happy dance). Now, riding the high of 2019, let’s talk about how to completely thrive in 2020.

1. Be Basic

Yes, be basic! Whatever that means to you, DO IT! Drink that Pumpkin Spice Latte, wear those leggings and over sized shirt, go to Target everyday. Don’t let the internet trolls comments keep you from doing something “basic”. I used to avoid doing certain things because I didn’t want to be labeled as a basic person. But I have learned over the last year, that I really do not care what anyone thinks about my life choices. If I want to sit on my couch all day and watch The Office, I am gonna do it. If I want to wear my hair in a scrunchie, I will. Bottom line what I am saying is this, cast aside those fears, or whatever is holding you back from doing that thing you want to do. Stop living your life, making choices to appease, someone else, and do what YOU want. If there is a trend you want to try, DO IT. If there is something you truly love doing that may be “basic”, DO IT!

Photo by The Lazy Artist Gallery on Pexels.com

2. Take care of yourself

2019 was the year that we began dabbling in Self-Care, and encouraging people to take care of themselves, mentally and physically. Well 2020 is NO different! This year we are taking all of the self-care, with NONE of the guilt. Self-care is so much more than face masks,and bubble baths. True self-care is therapy, letting go of toxic relationships, taking your vitamins, exercising and healthy eating choices.

With that let me say this, YOU DO NOT NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT TO THRIVE. What I mean is eat your fruits and veggies, get at least 20 minutes to exercise, just take care of your body. Nourish your body, nourish your mind.

For so long therapy was such a taboo topic. If you went to therapy, you did not tell anyone for fear of what they may think. Unfortunately, there is still a stigma about therapy. However, 2020 is the year we stop caring what other people think, and start doing what is best for ourselves. Therapy can help anyone, and I encourage everyone to go at least once. You might surprised to know how many people go. Talk with your friends, get some recommendations, find a therapist and GO! You will thank yourself!

Photo by Trang Doan on Pexels.com

3.Filter yourself

Filter yourself, what the heck does that even mean? Sure it could mean filtering what comes out of your mouth, and honestly we could ALL probably work on that. But it means, filtering out the stuff in your life that doesn’t make you a better, happier person.

First, take on your social media. Purge any friends that do not bring you joy, and never fail to make you feel some type of way. Block, yes I mean block, anyone or anything that just serves to upset you. Some might think it is childish to block something just because you do not agree with it, but on the internet we are constantly bombarded with everyone’s thoughts, feelings and opinions. It can be exhausting, and overwhelming. So there is no shame in hitting that block button.

Next, filter your mind. Let me be honest with you for a second. I used to be VERY negative. While I did not always say the negative stuff that came into my mind, I still constantly had negative thoughts, about other people and myself. I was ALWAYS sad and stressed. I didn’t want to live my life as a negative person, so I decided to try a new technique to change my mindset. Whenever I had/have a negative thought about someone else, I stop, and recognize the thought. Then I try to identify where this thought is coming from. (If the thought is about another person, it usually stems from my own insecurities.) Then I replace the negative thought with a positive thought. For example, if I have the negative thought that “I am a terrible mother because the house is a mess”. I recognize the thought and emotion. Then I replace the thought with, ” Yes, my house might be a mess, but I am grateful to have a warm home to make a mess with my family.”

Now I know this can be easier said then done, but of you are truly intentional about changing your mindset, and practicing, you will be surprised how more often you have positive lots, and less negative thoughts.

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

4. Try something new

I know it sounds cliche right? Just trying ONE new thing can start a catalyst effect. Trying something new is always scary, and it takes confidence to step outside of your comfort zone. Confidence you may not have known you had! Now I am not saying that you have to try something big like sky diving or anything like that. But try that one thing you have always wanted to try. Maybe it’s a new clothing or make up trend, a new haircut or color, or maybe it is something big like skydiving. Whatever it is that you want to try, DO IT! My advice, find a friend who is willing to try it with you, and join you for emotional support. Often times it is easier to try something new with someone else, especially when you have a cheerleader in your corner. If you want to try something but money is a hindrance, search for deals on sites like Groupon and even AirBnB has experiences!

So what will you try this year?

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

5. Do something nice for someone else

If there is one thing you take away from this list, let it be this! You might be asking yourself, “How is doing something nice for someone else going to help ME thrive?” First of all, let’s change that thinking. We don’t do nice things for others to get ahead, we do nice things for people to be nice. No matter what your beliefs are, it all boils down to this, treat others with love and kindness. Life these days is hard enough, so be the light of kindness this world needs. I recently watched the movie “Klaus” on Neflix, and man did it open my eyes to the kind of person I want to be. There is a song in the movie, Invisible by Zara Larson, that has become one of my new favorite songs. In there song there is a line that is my new motto for 2020:

If kindness lives in everyone , Then all it takes is standing up

You don’t need to do any grand gesture, but rather something small.

  • If someone is having a bad day, ask them if they want to talk.
  • If you hear someone talking about someone else, stop them.
  • Send your mom flowers.
  • Donate meals to your local church for the hungry
  • Volunteer
  • Give your seat up for the elderly
  • Compliment someone

No matter how small,make it your mission to do something nice for someone!

This is our year! We are going to stop letting negativity keep us from living our best lives. Let’s take care of ourselves and try something we have always dreamed of doing. 2020 is the year we will ALL thrive!

Happy 2020!

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com


2019 Christmas Light Displays in Raleigh, NC

One of my favorite memories from Christmas time as a kid, was when we would pile into the car, hot chocolate and popcorn in hand, and we would drive around town looking at all of the beautiful Christmas light displays.

Since moving to Raleigh, I have been struggling to find where all the BEST light displays are. Well thanks to a lovely mother, in one of my mom groups, I now I have list of places she has been taking her kiddos every year.

Here is the growing list of Christmas Light displays in and around Raleigh, North Carolina!

Cary, NC

  • 101 Chestone, Cary (MacArthur)
  • 100 Fawley Court, Cary (Wellsley)
  • The house on Green Level just beyond 55
  • 100 Council Gap, Cary
  • 1033 Hortons Creek Road, Cary (Gebhardt Fam Lights
  • 200 Billingrath Turn Ln, Cary (Lowe Fam Lights)

Apex, NC

  • 1012 Holt Road, Apex (Christmas Lights on Holt)
  • 2232 Olive Chapel Road, Apex
  • 103 Cameron Glen Drive, Apex

Morrisville, NC

  • 1001 Hemby Ridge Lane, Morrisville

Raleigh, NC

  • 8501 sleepy creek drive, Raleigh (Heindel Christmas Magic)
  • 9301 Hay Meadow Court , Raleigh
  • 6331 Deerview Drive , Raleigh

Clayton, NC

  • 1620 Loop Road, Clayton, NC

Benton, NC

  • 4546 Godwin Lake Road, Benson, NC

Wendell, NC

  • 10 S. Cypress St, Wendell, NC

Wake Forest, NC

  • 5725 Fixit Shop Road, Wake Forest, NC

Hillsborough, NC

  • 7510 Guess Road, Hillsborough, NC 27278

If you know of anymore light displays comment below and share the love!