What is a Doula? An Interview with Alyssa Kinney, Certified Birth & Postpartum Doula/Certified Childbirth Educator

What is a Doula? An Interview with Alyssa Kinney, Certified Birth & Postpartum Doula/Certified Childbirth Educator

Do you know what a Doula is, or what they do? Most first-time parent’s, and sometimes repeat parent’s, do not know what a Doula is. Or they have heard of Doula’s, but they still do not know what they do/are for. I personally first heard of Doula’s when I was pregnant with my first child. I was sitting in the waiting room in my Ob’s office and saw a sign for Doula services on the Midwife side of the office. I remember saying to myself I should google what a Doula is when I got home. I forgot. Later on, after I had my daughter via C-Section, and I was questioning the care and choices made by myself and my Doctors during my daughter’s birth I remembered the sign I had seen months earlier. I quickly googled what a Doula was and what they did, and I instantly realized I really could have used a Doula during my daughter’s birth. Hindsight is 20/20, but since my C-Section was not an emergency C-Section, and I felt pressured into having one I now believe that if I had a Doula my daughter’s birth would have gone differently. While a healthy baby and mother are very important after child-birth a mother happy with the way in which she birthed her child is also important. (Please do not let anyone tell you otherwise.) That is why while pregnant with my second I made it a mission of mine to learn all about my birthing choices, and to learn about Doula’s and what they do. I was very fortunate to meet Alyssa Kinney of Bella Rose Birth Services, a certified birth and postpartum Doula, and also a certified childbirth educator at the Birthing Circles Birth and Babies Fair in Frederick, MD. She was very kind to let me interview her so that I could help others learn more about what Doula’s are and what they do. Below is my interview with Alyssa.

What exactly is a Doula? (Can you give us a little history?) “Doulas, as we know them now, are individuals that provide a wide range of non-clinical support to pregnant folks (and their families) throughout pregnancy, during labor and birth, and even during those first few weeks and months postpartum. Doulas are often trained and certified by one of many certifying organizations; these trainings and the doula’s own values guide them in providing their clients with the informational, emotional, and physical support that meets the clients’ needs throughout the perinatal period. Modern doulas have evolved from an extensive history of birth companionship; although the doula profession is a more recent development, non-medical family and friends have supported women during birth for centuries.”

Are there different kinds of Doula’s? “There are all sorts of doulas! Doulas are a diverse bunch, their style and support is as unique as the families that they work with. Some doulas specialize in birth support while others are also postpartum doulas, newborn care specialists, and sibling doulas.”

What is the main role/biggest benefits of a Doula? (Before, during, and after a birth? Or after a C-Section) “I think that the biggest benefit to having a doula is the continuous support and presence that they offer. Your doula is there prenatally- establishing a relationship with you (and your family) and providing you with the informational and emotional support that you need throughout those 40-something weeks. Your doula is there throughout the entirety of your labor and birth experience- providing a positive and calming presence, working with you to navigate the physical intensity of labor and birth, as well as simply holding space for the emotional ferocity that often accompanies birth. And in those first days and weeks postpartum, when the birthing person is healing and engulfed in new parenthood, your doula is there to provide the emotional support that you need without allowing the more practical stuff like aiding in physical recovery, assistance with newborn care, housekeeping chores, and just a few uninterrupted hours of sleep or self-care to be forgotten.”

When should individuals start looking into hiring a Doula. (A certain Trimester?) “I’d suggest that folks start interviewing doulas as soon as they think that doula support is something they are interested in. It could take a little time to find the doula that’s right for you as we are all a little different. Getting a jump on the process ensures that the doula of your choice will have availability around your due date and also allows plenty of time to establish a friendly and comfortable relationship with each other. Beginning your search early in the second trimester is probably a great time to start. All that being said though, it’s never too late to find a wonderful doula!”

Are Doula services covered under health insurance? “Generally speaking- unfortunately no, doula support is often not covered by health insurance. However, many individuals can use funds from Health Savings Accounts (or the like) to cover doula support or, depending on their insurance coverage and plans, partial reimbursement for doula support is sometimes a possibility. This is always something to speak to your health insurer about, you might be pleasantly surprised! If nothing else, more folks inquiring about doula coverage under insurance might make it more of a reality in the future.”

What would you say to someone, or a spouse, who is skeptical about using a Doula? “The choice to invite a doula into your birth experience is a very personal one and deserves kind and thorough consideration from all involved. The health and wellness benefits of doula support have been well established and I don’t know a single individual or family that has regretted their decision to work with a doula. Support will be tailored to what you foresee your individual needs and preferences being and open communication during the interviewing process as well as throughout your time with your doula is key to creating the type of support you desire. Doulas do not take the place of partners but, facilitate stronger and more meaningful connections between them during the birth experience. And finally, if the added cost of doula support is part of one’s skepticism know that doulas are often open to alternative payment schedules- doula support is worth every penny invested!”

Why did you decide to become a Doula? “I decided to become a doula after a few years of teaching childbirth classes. I had two very positive and empowering birth experiences, it was after the birth of my first daughter that I knew I wanted to work within the pregnancy and birth world. Teaching birth classes gave me that opportunity and aligned well with where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do as it pertained to raising my own children and maintaining my household fulltime. As my children got a little older I found myself with the time and energy I felt that I needed to train and establish myself as a doula, in addition to my birth education offerings. Through this work I feel as though I am helping families create positive, informed, and joyous birth experiences; it is an honor and a joy to witness and sometimes help others realize their own power and autonomy through birth.”

Do you feel the use of Doula’s is on the rise? If so why? “I sure hope so! Slowly but surely, I do think that the use of doula support is on the rise. More folks are realizing the immense benefit to having that continuous, compassionate, non-judgmental, and experienced support throughout pregnancy, birth, and early postpartum. The birthing years are monumental times in people’s lives, everyone deserves and can benefit from the added support that doulas provide. However, the percentage of birthing individuals and families that actually utilize doula support is still extremely low (something like 3-5% but, I’d have to dig up the research there); so, I think that there is still lots of work to be done in increasing society’s awareness of doulas and the value of that support.”

What is the most important piece of advice you would give to expectant parents looking to hire a Doula? “The most important piece of advice that I would give to expectant families looking to hire a doula is to find a good fit! Interview a few, consider what’s important to you like personality, experience, cost, values, etc., and make sure you’ve found someone that you feel overwhelmingly positive and happy about. There are lots of great doulas out there and each one should be kind, non-judgmental, and professional but, we all offer support that’s a little different from the next. You will find the one that’s perfect for you!”

What is the most memorable experience you have had while being someone’s Doula? “It’s hard to narrow down the most memorable experience I’ve had while being a doula, in all honesty beauty abounds in each and every experience that I’ve had. There seems to come a time though during every birth experience, no matter what “type” of birth one is having, that the birthing person has to access the power deep within themselves to navigate their journey; seeing women tap into this very intrinsic strength and energy is awe inspiring every time. Comedy abounds in lots of birth experiences too- another moment that sticks out to me was when a doting dad-to-be forgot to pack himself a pair of pants in the birth day go bag and spent the entire birth experience in his fleecy Disney pajama bottoms; mom had the wherewithal and humor to tease him throughout as well.”

What services do you provide as a Doula? “I work as a certified birth and postpartum doula and am also a certified childbirth educator. I offer conscientious, compassionate, and affordable birth and postpartum doula support as well as private and group childbirth education options. As a doula I am with my clients every step of the way- from emotional and informational support as they navigate their pregnancy and explore all of their options prenatally to birth support and care into the fourth trimester. I approach prenatal education, birth, and the postpartum period in a holistic manner; I make certain that the individuals and families I work with have access to evidence-based resources and information as well as support for total wellbeing- mind, body, and spirit.”

I want to thank Alyssa so much for letting me interview her, and I really hope the above information in this interview has helped you to understand a little bit more about who Doula’s are and what they do. Being educated about your birthing choices and options is very important. A lot of information about birthing options, tips/tricks, or resources are not given or shared by most OB or even some Midwife practices. Birth is still a big unknown, but with research and a supportive team behind you the big unknowns grow significantly smaller.

***If you reside in Maryland and are looking for a Doula or childbirth education classes please make sure you consider Alyssa Kinney of Bella Rose Birth Services. She can be found online via her website https://bellaroseborn.com/ on Facebook Here and on Instagram Here

Holiday Charity Giving Guide

Holiday Charity Giving Guide

I was really torn about whether or not I wanted to do a couple different gift guides this year or not. I could list what I thought were the best toys for babies, toddlers, teens, moms, and dads, but it seems like every blogger was putting out a gift guide of some kind. So, I have decided to take a different approach this year. Since my husband and I make a conscious effort to teach our daughter that the holiday season is for giving back to others I wanted to write a post which rounds up just some of the charities/opportunities for individuals to take all of those gift guide posts/ideas, and give back to the community.

Charities that donate toys/clothes to children in need:

Toys for Tots – The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve program is the first gift giving charity that comes to mind when thinking of the holidays. You can walk in to so many stores and see a Toys for Tots bin, and all the toys donated go back to those children in need in that community. The program usually helps children up to the age of 12, but you can check with your local chapter and see what their age range is.

Angel Tree – If you are in Maryland the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree is a great way to give back to those children and special needs adults that are in need during the holidays. You can go to the Salvation Army’s website to find a local mall or pick up location where you can pick up an Angel tree tag with the information and needs of a local child/special needs adult. You then purchase the items, and return the items with the tag at a designated drop off location. Many local churches in Maryland also participate in the Angel tree program as well.

Shoes that Fit – Shoes are really important. Especially for school children. Shoes that Fit take donations on their website, or you can purchase a tag at Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack. Your donation then goes towards the purchase of new athletic shoes for children in need across the United States.

Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child – This is a charity that my daughter and I have been donating to for the last three years. You can donate on their website, build a shoebox full of items online, pick up a box, fill it with items and then return it to a designated pickup location. The boxes are shipped all over the world to children in need. The boxes can contain toys, hygiene products, clothes, etc. My daughter and I go to our local Chick-Fil-A during the beginning of November to pick up our box. Next year we will be picking up two boxes to fill up since we will be adding another little one to our family as well.

Shop at businesses that give back this holiday season:

While you are shopping for your own family this season why not shop at stores that give back/donate to the community. Below are just a few great small businesses who donate back to their communities throughout the year or during the holiday season.

Lighthouse Kids Company – While this is a cloth diaper company Lighthouse Kids Company makes a point to give back to their community by donating 5% of their profits to Hannah’s Home of South Florida. Hannah’s Home helps pregnant women get back up on their feet and offers them resources to help better their lives and in turn the lives of their children.

Bohemian Baby Boutique –  Bohemian Baby is a natural parenting store located in Knoxville, Tennessee. While shopping for your own family you also have the option to donate to their Toys for Tots bin. Just search for “Toys for Tots” and you will be able to add a monetary amount to your cart and the lovely employees will select toys up to that amount to put in their bin.

Nicki’s Diapers and Hope Love Care – Nicki’s Diapers in New Glarus, WI runs a non-profit called Hope Love Care. For every Nicki’s Diapers company cloth diaper and swaddle blanket purchased a cloth diaper or swaddle blanket is donated to children in need all over the world. No family should have to choose between purchasing food for their family or diapers.

Non-monetary donation opportunities:

Donate your Time – If you do not have the monetary ability to donate to a charity during the holidays than donate your time. Volunteering at your local food bank, homeless shelter, women’s shelter, church, etc. is just as good as a monetary donation.

So, again. Put all of those gift giving guides to another use and help children and families in need this holiday season. Have a charity you would like to share with us? Go ahead and list them and their information in the comments so more people can see!

Baby Tula Toddler Carrier Review: Older Children Love Being Worn Too!

Baby Tula Toddler Carrier Review: Older Children Love Being Worn Too!

I love wearing my daughter. Ever since she was born I have worn her in a wrap to keep her close, and to do skin to skin. As she has grown I have continued to wear her so I can be hands free, and of course keep her close to get our snuggles in. I am now pregnant with our second and my growing baby belly has made it difficult to continue to wear her on my front in certain carriers. So, I have switched to carrying her in back carries. This helps her to see the world around her, and she loves it. I was finding though I was having some issues with my daughter in our current soft structured carrier. Being a 2-year-old, my daughter is very active and LOVES to touch things. Haha! She also likes to lean back when in back carries which scares me sometimes. (You know what I am talking about. I see it A LOT with older children in back carries. I try really hard to correct her, and tell her calmly why she shouldn’t lean back while I am carrying her, but you can only do so much with toddlers.) I came to the hard decision our current carrier, which I love, just wasn’t working very well for us in a back carry. I needed a different carrier for a larger child. So I did some research, and decided on Baby Tula’s Toddler Carrier.

The Carrier: The Tula Toddler Carrier is a soft structured carrier designed for carrying children, in a front or back carry, who weigh 25 lbs. to 60 lbs. (They also have other soft structured carriers such as their Standard Tula for children 15 – 45 lbs., and their new Free to Grow for children 7 – 45 lbs.) The Tula Toddler carrier is a light weight carrier with a larger panel helping to keep your child more secure, padding on the sides of the carrier where your child’s legs go to keep them more comfortable, a pouch in front to hold small objects, wide shoulder straps and waist band with padding, and comes with a matching hood. The carrier also allows you to adjust the waist band and shoulder straps to fit your body. This allows individuals of many body types to be able to use this carrier. (My husband also uses this carrier. He just ends up having to adjust the waist and shoulder straps to fit his body after I have worn it.) Other perks of the Tula carrier are they come in so many prints and colors, and some prints come with a mesh panel, their Mesh Coast Tula’s, to help keep baby and wearer cooler in the heat. (The Tula Toddler Carrier I am using in this review is named Olive.)

My Experience: My husband and I both love the Tula Toddler Carrier for our daughter. She weighs 25 lbs., and is at the beginning weight for the carrier. We feel she is more secure in the Tula carrier, due to the larger panel, than our current carrier. I laid the Tula carrier on the floor and placed our current soft structured carrier on top and there was a HUGE difference. The Tula panel was several inches wider and longer than our current carrier. The Tula waist band and shoulder straps were also wider by almost an inch. While the padding on the Tula shoulder straps are not as thick as our current carrier I have found out I prefer a wider padded strap to a thinner more padded strap. (More weight distribution across my shoulders.)

Another plus of the larger panel on the Tula Toddler Carrier is my daughters lean is contained. Even when she has her arms out of the carrier and tries to lean back she really can’t. I have also found, due to being pregnant, comfort wise I prefer there to be no added extra support around the waist since I position the waist strap under my baby belly. (My current carrier has an extra lumbar support that causes my belly discomfort now that I am pregnant.) The differences in the Tula Toddler carrier have made it so I can wear my daughter longer and more comfortably. My daughter also seems to enjoy the Tula carrier more than our current carrier. Every time I have put her up in the Tula carrier she starts stroking my back and arms, and she leans her head against my back. All things she didn’t do in our other carrier.

Price: A Baby Tula Toddler Carrier retails for $169.00 on Baby Tula’s website, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend that much. They do run sales throughout the year, and you can also purchase Baby Tula carriers at many natural parenting stores as well as Target, and Buy Buy Baby. I personally, after using the Tula Toddler carrier, feel it’s worth every penny, but I am also aware not everyone can spend that amount on a baby carrier. That is why it is awesome Baby Tula sells their carriers at so many different stores. Giving us the consumer the ability to purchase a carrier from a small business store or a big box store we might have gift cards to.

I am excited we got this carrier since I feel I will be able to carry my daughter for a couple more years in it, and I want my daughter to get all of the attention and snuggles she needs when her new baby sister gets here. Once the new baby does come though I can’t wait to front carry my oldest daughter again while Dad wears the little one. (Or vice versa.) I also look forward to learning how to tandem baby wear my daughter, in the Tula Toddler Carrier, and our new little one as well. Always remember older children love been worn and snuggled too. Wear all the babies!

I want to thank Baby Tula so much for sending me a Tula Toddler Carrier to review, and for also allowing me the chance to share my new Tula Toddler Carrier love with all of you! Baby Tula has been so kind and has sponsored a giveaway in conjunction with this review. Click the link below to enter to win a Tula Toddler Carrier in Olive!

Click here to enter to win a Tula Toddler Carrier in Olive!

Open to residents of US and Canada. Must be 18 years or older to enter. Winner to be randomly selected on October 10, 2017

**Disclosure Statement: Even though I received a free product in exchange for this review all opinions are my own. I am a parent myself and would never recommend a product I wouldn’t be comfortable using on or giving to my own child.**



MommyCon Orlando 2017 Review

MommyCon Orlando 2017 Review

I just got back from MommyCon Orlando 2017 a couple of days ago and I have been itching to write about my experience. 20170908_153248This year was extra special since my husband and daughter came with me, and because I was a part of the MommyCon Media Team. There were so many great vendors and speakers I was disappointed I wasn’t able to see them all. There was just so much to see and do! Here are my personal vendor and speaker highlights from my experience. 😊



Lighthouse Kids Company – I was able to actually meet and chat with Vanessa the owner and creator of Lighthouse Kids diapers. These diapers are newish to the market, and I am predicting they will take off soon. I purchased one of their newer prints and it is gorgeous! These diapers are an AIO with a Bamboo and Stay Dry attached insert. It also comes with a booster. Here is their website. https://lighthousekidscompany.com/

Polyblox Totems – This product is a new take on those ABC blocks we all had as kids. You know the one’s with letters, numbers, animals, etc. (My daughter has them and likes to build walls with them and knock them down like she is Godzilla.) Polyblox Totems come attached in totem form with capital and lower-case letters, pictures, Braille, and more. These are on my wish list for my daughter. http://www.thepolyblox.com/

Safari Ltd. – These toys are so awesome. They are educational toys and figurines of animals, mystical animals, dinosaurs, and more. They are affordable and adorable. https://www.safariltd.com/

The Whole Life Co. – I have been using products from this company for a while, but I have never been able to meet the owners in person before. Whole life products are all natural and they have a product called Aroma doh that my daughter loves. It’s all natural and each different color has a different scent. Makes for great sensory play for children. I finally snagged her the set for her birthday, and grabbed a container of their belly butter for myself. If you are interested in switching to all-natural products Whole life is a great company to look into. http://wholelifeandservices.com/

Sessions: I was only able to make it to two sessions due to eating lunch and meeting vendors, but the two I did make it to were amazing.

Babywearing 101 with Laura Brown of Ergo Baby – This was a really great down to earth talk about beginning babywearing. Laura Brown did a fantastic job of discussing the beginning ins and outs of front carries with many different carriers. (Wraps, ring slings, Meh Dai’s, and structured carriers.) Laura took her time, was funny, and answered questions. I wish she could have stayed longer and had a babywearing 102, 103, and so on classes.

Cloth Diapering 101 with Jennifer Labit presented by Cotton Babies: I am already a cloth diapering mom, but I love hearing stories from other cloth diapering families. A family should never have to make the decision of purchasing food or purchasing diapers. It was great to see Jennifer’s presentation on how cloth diapering saved her family money, and how cloth diapering helps to reduce your carbon foot print. I can attest that cloth diapering has saved my family $1,000 in our first year of using cloth. We will continue to save even more as we go into cloth diapering our second child.

Meeting Role Models: It’s sad, but I live in a part of the United States that does not have many natural parenting/cloth diaper stores in it. To be able to be a part of a natural parenting/ cloth diapering community I follow individuals and stores via social media. So, when I had a chance at MommyCon Orlando to meet some of the individuals I look up too I jumped. All of these ladies are business owners/working mom’s and they prove, as a woman and a mom, you can have it all.  

Abby’s Lane – I did not purchase anything at Abby’s Lane, but I did get to meet the owner Stephanie Daniels. 20170902_131252(I had already hit my personal shopping limit before I was able to go to her booth. Haha!) She has been a role model of mine for a couple of years now and I was totally fan girling when I met her. She is just as gracious in person as she is online and I am so glad I had the chance to talk with her. Abby’s Lane is a great online store for all of your natural parenting/cloth diapering needs. They have a cloth diaper book club, and their online communities are just amazing. https://www.abbyslane.com/


Smart Bottoms – Christina Malone is the owner of Smart bottoms, a very popular cloth diapering company. 20170902_093433I again, have been following her business and online cloth diapering community pages for a while, and I have seen her handle business situations with grace and patience. She is just as kind in person and it was an honor to get to meet her. https://smartbottoms.com/

Grovia –  It seemed everyone who went to MommyCon Orlando was there to shop at the Grovia booth! From the moment the vendor hall doors opened there was a line for Grovia. I had to wait hours to be able to go up and speak with the ladies working the booth, and to make my purchase. While I did shop the biggest reason I wanted to go to the Grovia booth was to meet Sabrina Azemar. 20170902_121220Sabrina works for Grovia’s social media team and she is amazing. Her laugh and smile are infectious and it was great to be able to meet and talk with her. The online Grovia community is also one of the best online cloth diapering communities out there. http://www.grovia.com/

Laura Brown of Ergo Baby – I follow Ergo Baby and their new online group “Ergobaby: Love carries on” on Social Media, and Laura is one of the ladies who runs the group. 20170902_092925Laura did the Baby Wearing 101 session at MommyCon Orlando and did a fantastic job. She is kind, knowledgeable, and hard-working. Besides working for Ergo baby she is also a Postpartum Doula, IBCLC student, and a mom. ❤ https://store.ergobaby.com/

If you ever have a chance to attend a MommyCon even it is totally worth it. Not just for the vendors, but also for the sessions and the community. They have changed up their ticket structure for 2018 allowing for different tiers, and they always run scholarship and military ticket programs. (There will be a General Admission tier with no swag bag, a Premium Admission tier with swag bag, and a VIP Admission tier that includes an upgraded swag bag and admission to the VIP session the day before.) This was my media swag bag mixed with my husbands general admission swag bag for this year. 20170909_143553Make sure you check them out at www.mommycon.com.

If you haven’t been to MommyCon, didn’t make it this year, or didn’t get a chance to shop at the Grovia booth you are in for a treat! 20170909_144012Click below to enter to win a Grovia Wacky Hook and Loop Hybrid Shell in “Play”. Contest will run from 9/8/2017 through 9/16/2017. Winner will be randomly selected on 9/17/2017.

Click here to enter Pretty in Baby Food’s Grovia Wacky “Play” Hybrid Shell

How To Make Disney Mickey/Minnie Ears

How To Make Disney Mickey/Minnie Ears

Like a lot of people around the world I love pretty much everything Disney. Especially Disney World. The best part about Disney World is experiencing it for the first time, and then experiencing it again through your children’s eyes. While I don’t have enough money to be at Disney World every day I do have enough money to bring bits and pieces of the Disney Magic home. One of those ways is through playing dress up with my daughter, and wearing Mickey/Minnie ears. While I have purchased Mickey/Minnie ears from Disney World before I haven’t done it recently. So, I decided to try my hand at making my own, and found out it’s not so hard, expensive, or time-consuming. (You can actually use materials you find around your home to reduce cost!) All it takes is a little inspiration and imagination for you to create any Mickey/Minnie ear design you want.

20170820_173654Here’s how I created my Fall Floral Inspired Minnie ears.

Supplies you will need: 

Glue Gun, Head Band, Ribbon, Foam, Scissors, Flowers or any other fabric, material, or accents you want to use to decorate your ears.

Step One – Create the head band: Since I didn’t have any head bands lying around the house I used a cheap head band I purchased. If the head band is not the color or material you want for your design you can use ribbon to cover it up. For my head band, since it was fall inspired, I wanted the head band to remind me of hay. So, I purchased a woven ribbon to cover my head band. You want to measure out your ribbon to be slightly longer then the length of your head band. Then using your glue gun, you will want to glue the ribbon onto your head band. Make sure to glue the head band onto the middle of your ribbon leaving enough ribbon on both sides, and the ends, to fold over around the head band. You will then fold the ends of the ribbon up, glue them down, and then glue both sides of the ribbon down. Like the below pictures.

Step Two – Bows: If you are doing Mickey ears you can skip this step and go straight to making the ears. Whenever I think of Minnie Mouse I always think polka dots and bows. So, this step shows you how to make a simple bow to add to your ears. You will need a thick piece of ribbon, I used about a 4 to 5-inch-long piece, that will serve as the bow, and a thinner piece of ribbon, about 2 to 3 inches long, that will wrap around your bow holding the pinch in place. You will want to fold the thick ribbon so that the ends meet in the middle over lapping the ends a little bit. Then you want to pinch the middle down creating an accordion look. Taking the thinner piece of ribbon, you will want to wrap it around the middle, and glue it down to holding the pinch in place. You can now glue the bow to the middle of your head band or you can wait to glue it on later with your ears.

Step Three – Ear’s: My daughter has a pair of infant Minnie ears so I based the size of the ears I wanted for mine off of hers. I measured her ears and they came out to be 3 inches tall and 3.5 inches wide. You may want to measure and draw out your ears on paper before cutting them out on the foam, but it’s up to you. (I needed extra practice. haha!) Once you have your foam ears cut out it is time to let your imagination run. (I purchased a couple of hanging garlands from the local craft store that had fall leaves and berries on them.) You want to use your glue gun and cover your ears with your material so no foam is showing. Once everything is set you can wrap the top edge of your ears with more of your ribbon if you like to try to create a more seamless look, or to hide any imperfections.

Step Four – Attach ears, and other accents: Like measuring out the ears make sure to measure out the distance between your ears when putting them on the head band. Using the glue gun, glue the ears into place. After your ears are on you can take a look at your project and see if there are any imperfections you want to cover up, or if you just want to add some accents. I decided to add a couple more flowers around my bow to finish off my ears.

Final step – Enjoy your Mickey/Minnie Ears: If you have no distractions you should be able to complete a set of Mickey/Minnie ears in about an hour. If like me you have kids running around it might take a little longer. After your done enjoy your ears! Whether it be for dress up play at home, or actually taking your ears to wear at a Disney park. Take pride in your creation, and the fact they are one of a kind. ❤ If you have any questions let me know in the comments or show me pictures of your creations!

Parenting Is Hard, but Our Society Make’s It That Much Harder

Parenting Is Hard, but Our Society Make’s It That Much Harder

I am coming up on my second year of being a parent, and I am starting to really notice somethings that are really starting to get on my nerves. No, it’s not the terrible two’s tantrums, or the being tired from being pregnant with our second while having to run after our toddler. Or even the fact that I swear there are other people living in my house that aren’t cleaning up after themselves. (There is no way three people can make our house so dirty. Haha!) It’s other things. Like society that are getting on my nerves. Specifically, surrounding parents and their decisions. I will admit before I was a parent I did not notice a lot of what was going on in society. (It’s sad I know.) I was in my own single person world worried about paying my rent, going to school, and having fun. When I had my daughter it all changed. I was now concerned about our society because I was going to have to bring my daughter up in it, explain to her what was going on, and do this while also trying to navigate being a good parent. Being a parent is hard to begin with, but our society makes it that much harder to parent. How? Why? Because society also wants to parent our children for us.

Society and their “standards” as to what a parent should and shouldn’t do makes parenting that much harder. You can be verbally attacked and threatened for making decisions for your children just because someone else disagrees with your decision. As long as your child is happy, healthy, learning, and growing who cares?! Parents are judged in today’s society for so many things. If you choose to work and send your kids to daycare you are judged. If you choose to stay home with your kids you are judged. Society judge’s parents for their choices on how they dress their kids, if they give them high fructose corn syrup, feed them canned baby food, how and/if they vaccinate, what religion they raise their kids, if they use disposable diapers or cloth diapers, whether you breastfeed or not, they judge you on where you breastfeed and if you are showing too much boob for their liking, and the list goes on AND ON. Parents are now also being judged on how many children they have or want. (Sigh)

It is so easy now for people to sit behind their computers, hop on the internet, and judge other people. Well you know what? Words hurt people. Words can be more destructive than physical violence. You know those children who you are commenting about? Well they are watching, and they are going to grow up and your words can impact them because they will see them.

So as a parent, I say to you sanctimonious society who died and made you the boss? Who cares if a parent puts a safety harness backpack on their child. You don’t know them. Their child may be a runner. A mom wants to breastfeed her child in public. Who cares! Let her feed her child. You eat food in public, and a lot of you don’t look good doing it either. I don’t say anything though, because it’s your choice and right to do so. It is also the parents right and choice to decide to home school their children or send them to public or private school. Also, the goings on of a woman’s uterus is her own business. If she wants to have 1 child or 13. That is between her, her partner, and sometimes maybe her doctor. I could go on but society you get the picture.

To other parent’s I want to let you know you are doing a great job, and I wish society would tell you that more often. If other people’s comments start getting you down just remind yourself to chuck it in the f$%^ck it bucket, and then move on. I know it can be hard, but it will be worth it. Also, as a parent if you do run into a situation where another parent is doing something that might bring harm to their child then you should say something. An example, if a parent posts a picture of their child in a car seat but the child is not properly restrained then say something, but in a nice way. Or if another parent is wearing their child improperly in a baby carrier. Then nicely try to say something to them. Let them know you are also a parent and just want to help. Don’t be rude about it or write hurtful things. As parent’s we should be respectful of others and use common sense.

Let’s bring back a sense of neighborly community to our society. We are all parents trying to raise our children the best we can with what we have. Being a parent is already hard. Let’s not make it harder.

Homemade Baby/Toddler Food or Pre-Made Pouch Food – This Parent Says, “Just Do You.”.

Homemade Baby/Toddler Food or Pre-Made Pouch Food – This Parent Says, “Just Do You.”.

Recently I have seen a lot of posts on Facebook regarding the difference between making your own baby/toddler food and purchasing canned or pouch baby/toddler food. The comments on some of these posts have made me laugh and some have made me slightly angry due to the mommy shaming of those parents who decide to purchase pouch food for their kids. As a parent, I have done both. I started out making my daughter homemade baby food when she first started eating, and then switched to baby led weaning. Now that she is a toddler it can be hard sometimes to get her to want to eat anything other than French fries, pasta, rice, macaroni and cheese, and chicken nuggets. While she does eat vegetables and I would not consider her a picky eater I still purchase pouch food for her every once in a while. I have to admit they are convenient to have when traveling and my daughter loves them. She views them as a treat. I am not ashamed to purchase them and feed them to my daughter, and neither should any parent. Sometimes it can be more expensive to purchase pouch food, and sometimes if you purchase them on sale, with coupons, and use coupon apps, like Ibotta, then pouch food can cost the same or sometimes less than making your own baby/toddler food. Which ones to choose for your little ones is up to you. I personally feel some are better than others, but there are so many to choose from.

When Shespeaks and Similac asked me if I would try the Go & Grow by Similac Pouches I said yes because I wanted to possibly be able to suggest another pouch food for parents since there are so many. Screenshot_20170713-181756I am happy to say that the Go & Grow by Similac Pouches did end up passing mine and my daughters 3-point inspection. When looking for any baby/toddler pouch or can food at the store I look at its ingredients, price (this includes how often they go on sale, available coupons, and coupon app rebate availability), and lastly my daughters taste test. There has been some pouch food that has passed the ingredients and price tests, but my daughter did not like them at all.

Ingredients: Before I purchased Go & Grow by Similac pouches I made sure to check the ingredients first. Screenshot_20170713-181948All of the pouches I saw/purchased were certified organic and only contained the fruits and vegetables listed on the front. They did have organic lemon juice and extra DHA, Lutein, and Vitamin E added, but I am ok with that.

Price: The price per pouch was also fair. I went to Walmart and purchased several pouches at a price point of $1.32. I did not have any coupons for the pouches, but Similac does have a lot of coupons circulating and I am sure if you write to them they would send you some. I did find a rebate on Ibotta that I was able to claim twice, and I was also able to use their .25 cents off any purchase rebate as well. All in all, I spent $1.00 per pouch. (If I had actual coupons it could have been even cheaper.)

Taste: The last hurdle to pass was my daughters taste test. I gave her the Apple, Butternut Squash, Banana, and Blueberry pouch and the first word out of her mouth was “Yum!”. Screenshot_20170713-181829She pretty much finished that pouch off in less than 5 minutes. After she finished it she asked for more, but I told her she would have to wait. Haha! (She was not happy about that.) She also really liked the other flavors I had purchased which were Pear, Blueberry, and Spinach, as well as the Mango, Pear, and Spinach. We still have the Pumpkin, Banana, and Carrot one to try, but I am thinking she will like that one as well.

Result: The end result for our test showed that Go & Grow by Similac pouch food was another pouch food that we would be able to add to our approved list. It passes our 3-point test with flying colors.


As a parent, I want other parents to know that if you end up serving your child homemade baby/toddler food or if you purchase pouch or canned baby/toddler food its ok. Do what you feel is best for your children, family, and budget. Don’t worry about what others think or what they do. As my water bottle says, “Just Do You.”

  • If you are interested in purchasing or learning more about Go & Grow by Similac Pouch food you can find them at Walmart here
  • Shespeaks.com is also having an awesome giveaway at SheSpeaks.com for a custom 12 x 12 photo book from Walmart photo valued at $50 (or a $50 Walmart Gift Card).
  • As I mentioned previously Ibotta also currently has a rebate for Go & Grow by Similac Pouches purchased at Walmart. You can find the rebate here.

Disclosure Statement: Even though this post was developed in partnership with Similac, and I did receive compensation, all opinions are my own. I am a parent myself and would never recommend a product I wouldn’t be comfortable using on or giving to my own child.

The Benefits of Prenatal, Postnatal and Infant Massage – An Interview with Genavieve B., LMT, CESMT

The Benefits of Prenatal, Postnatal and Infant Massage – An Interview with Genavieve B., LMT, CESMT

When I was pregnant with my daughter I had no idea how different, physically, my body would be during pregnancy, and then after giving birth. You can sit and talk all day with experienced mothers or read all of the pregnancy books about how your life and body is going to change during and afterward pregnancy, but it’s totally different when you actually experience it. The morning sickness, food cravings, body aches, hip/back/and belly pain, and physical changes can take their toll over 9 months. The discomfort and stress you feel after giving birth puts icing on the cake. Your new baby can also experience stress during the birthing process. (Yikes!) While not every woman experiences the same discomforts during pregnancy and after birth there are things you can do to alleviate the discomforts you, and your baby, do have. One of the ways is Prenatal, Postnatal and Infant massage. For this post, and my first ever interview, I had the privilege and pleasure of interviewing Genavieve B., a licensed massage therapist also certified in Prenatal and Infant Massage, to find out from her the benefits of Prenatal, Postnatal and Infant massages.

Q. Is there any difference, other than the use of extra support, between a traditional massage and a prenatal massage?

A. “There are quite a few different things about a traditional massage and a prenatal massage. Those that are trained and certified as prenatal massage therapists have been taught the do’s and don’ts of performing massages on expecting mothers. Having additional and specialized pillows for support are just a few of those things. We are also taught about different contraindications or reasons to not work on women who are expecting as well as specific pressure points to avoid during a massage that some feel may trigger contractions, and aroma therapy notes (Essential oils) that should not be used with pregnant or nursing women.”

Q. Why do massage therapists suggest you not get a massage during your first trimester?

A. “The main reason many massage therapists will not work on a woman in her first trimester is because at that point the pregnancy is fragile, and we would feel terrible if there was any chance we would have a negative effect on someone’s pregnancy. These trends seem to have shifted a bit, and some therapists will work on the expecting mothers in the first trimester as long as the expecting mother agrees. Many medical professionals argue that massage doesn’t have enough of an effect on the body to alter the pregnancy in any way, however, many therapists like myself would rather play it safe for all parties and wait out the first trimester.”

Q. What are the health benefits of prenatal massages? 

A. “Massages are a blessing to add to any pregnancy. It helps relieve stress in general, relieve the joint and muscle fatigue that can cause sciatica, low back pain, edema especially in the legs, headaches, and various other aches and pains that come further along in pregnancy. It helps reduce the appearance of stretch marks, strengthens the immune system by keeping the circulatory and lymphatic systems active, and most of all it will help with insomnia.”

Q. How often would you recommend women get prenatal massages?

A. “The frequency of massage depends on each individual no matter if they are pregnant or not. In general, I always suggest one massage a month. For more complex clients it is often more frequent than that. For example, if you are having edema, or sciatica that are persistent or worsening you may want to get a massage more often. Your therapist will be able to better design a specialized plan just for you as you get closer to the delivery of your bundle of joy.”

Q. What should women do/look out for after a prenatal massage other than the regular advice of drinking more water?

A. “Other than drinking plenty of water it is also important that you pay attention to your body and how it reacts to the massage not just afterwards but also during the session. If anything seems a bit off trust your intuition and take the appropriate steps that you feel are necessary. A great massage therapist will never condemn you for trusting your gut as we also rely quite a bit on our sixth sense. If there are any problems that arise after the session it’s important that you contact your doctor, and we always appreciate feedback, good or bad, to enhance your future experiences and even the future experiences of other clients.”

Q. Are there any benefits to postnatal massages other than stress relief? 

A. “Postnatal massages help with so much more than stress. They help your body recover quicker after birth. After C-sections, it’s important that the body heals before any work is done on the scars but massage is a great way to decrease the appearance and sensitivity of scar tissue. The process of having deep scar tissue worked on can feel very foreign and its important you communicate openly with your therapist about any sensations or feelings you have. Massage does help to make sure that the circulatory and lymphatic systems are working in tip-top shape, and that will help to stave off any blockages when breastfeeding. If a blockage does occur it can also help to break it up before it becomes a larger problem.”

Q. How long after giving birth would you recommend women wait before getting their first postnatal massage? 

A. “Once you are cleared by your physician you are welcome to hop right up onto a massage table. For those who have a C-section it can take 6-8 weeks to get clearance simply because you have undergone a surgery, and with surgeries comes other risk factors like blood clots. No good massage therapist will work on any post-surgery client before those 6-8 weeks are up. That isn’t limited to just C-sections, but surgeries like joint replacements, elective plastic surgeries, and any other incision or puncture style surgery. I understand this can be irritating at times, but again many therapists will err on the side of caution in an effort to do no harm.”

Q. We went to a Cranial Sacral Therapist for my daughter due to breastfeeding issues, and learned that babies need stress relief sometimes as well. What are the benefits, and how young can a child be to receive an infant massage?

A. “As long as the pediatrician has no objections you’re welcome to have an infant massage performed within 24 hours of birth. When I perform an infant massage, I bring with me a doll and demonstrate and teach parents how to do the massage for their new baby. (My niece currently cares for and has named my doll Baby Sister. You can see that she isn’t so secretly hoping for my sister to have another baby girl for her to play with.) Infant massage helps with so many things. I highly suggest putting on your registry, or buying for yourself, the book Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents by Vimala McClure. She is the founder of the International Association of Infant Massage, and her book outlines for parents how to give massages to their infants and how it helps with not just stress for the infant, but also helps with colicky babies, digestive issues, and a large variety of other conditions parents may be faced with. The one thing it helps with that I focus on the most is the parent-child bond. By touching your child with love and care it helps to solidify your bond and soothes them when they are stressed. The best part is that the baby lotion you have on hand is perfect to use. I never suggest using any essential oils or massage lotions or oils to be used on children for many reasons especially in case of there being any allergies or sensitivities. Their little growing bodies aren’t in a position to handle negative reactions that they can cause.”

Q. Are there certain certifications or other qualifications women/parents should look for in their massage therapists?

A. “I always suggest anyone looking for a specific type of massage to make sure that the person they are going to is certified and/or has the extra training to provide those services. A therapist doesn’t have to have a certification to work on a pregnant mother, however, I do suggest it for peace of mind. There are lots of other modalities or services that can help that a massage therapist might be trained or certified in. For example, not only am I certified in prenatal and infant massage but also because of my work with athletes I have also gotten a certification in kinesio-taping which can be used to help with edema and can be used to create a flexible belly girdle of sorts to more evenly disperse the weight in later months. The most important thing is to ask questions, trust your instincts, and if you’re concerned make sure that your doctor is OK with it.”

Q. Lastly, are there any read flags women/parents should be aware of just in case? 

A. “Overall it is important that the parents feel comfortable, and that the baby is safe in all forms of prenatal and postnatal massage. If something doesn’t feel right trust your instincts and don’t feel bad about it. Even if that means getting to the appointment and walking in just to decide to cancel. (Keep in mind many businesses have a policy for last-minute cancellations, but if it doesn’t feel right don’t force it.) Yours and the baby’s comfort are of the utmost importance when it comes to getting a massage. The best therapist is going to ask you questions about your pregnancy or about your newborn baby, taking notes as they go, and may even have you fill out an extra form or two. Being as candid as possible will ensure that you’re all getting the best experience possible. I say all because the therapist you choose will for that session, and any that may come after, be a part of your experience and we do get great fulfillment from our jobs especially when we can help someone in need. All-in-all: ask questions, be candid, and trust your instincts.”

me at cafe

About Genavieve: “I’ve been practicing massage since 2010. My very first continuing education class was in infant massage and later on I followed it up with a certification in prenatal. In addition to working with growing families I have also specialized with athletes of all kinds as well as chronic pain management. I challenge myself to actively keep learning and currently offer a variety of techniques tailored to meet each individual’s needs. Every morning it’s a blessing to get to wake up and go to work simply because I absolutely love what I do.” Genavieve currently practices out of the Dallas/Fort Worth, TX area. You can learn more about what services she offers on her website Genaration Sports Therapies and find her on Facebook Here and Instagram Here

Side Note: I want to thank Genavieve for letting me interview her for this post. I certainly learned somethings I never knew before about the benefits of prenatal, postnatal and infant massage, and I hope you did as well. Please excuse me while I go and schedule some massages for myself. Haha! 🙂


Why I Made The Switch, and Now Shop Small

Why I Made The Switch, and Now Shop Small

Before I was introduced to the natural parenting community I was a huge big box retail store shopper and couponer. Then I started to notice items I had purchased at these said stores were not holding up well to wear and tear. They were actually starting to cost me more in the long run since I was having to repurchase the same item over and over again. I hate to say it, even though I love Target, most of the clothes I have purchased from there have ripped very easily, or the color on their shirts have run and I end up with a splotchy mess. Other things I started to noticed is the employees just didn’t seem too enthused to be working at these stores. So, I decided to do an experiment. I decided to start shopping at small businesses to see if there was a difference. (Personally, I define small businesses as anywhere from a personal Etsy shops through businesses with less than 50 or so employees.) Little did I know it would turn me into a small business advocate, and totally change the way I think about stores and their products. Here is what I learned.

Product Availability: When I first decided to try to shop small I was concerned the products I wanted/needed would not be available. I quickly learned everything I wanted/needed was indeed available for purchase at a small business, and if it wasn’t they had a great alternative product. With being a new breastfeeding/pumping mom I had a lot of baby products I needed to purchase. I realized all of my breastfeeding/pumping products I needed, which I usually purchased at Target or Babies R US, were available at small natural parenting stores. Products like nipple cream, milk saver bags, breast pump parts, pumping bags, and the list went on and on. At the natural parenting store’s I even had a support system from the friendly staff and customers. If I picked up a product and had questions about it someone was there to tell me if it was good, or how to use it. This level of customer service is not available at big box stores. I did find the only thing I couldn’t purchase at these small natural parenting stores was disposable diapers. So, I continued purchasing those from big box stores till I was converted and switched over to cloth diapering. 😉

Product Quality: Hands down small businesses have better quality products then big box stores. Selling their product is their livelihood, and usually also their passion. This shows in their workmanship and products. THEY CARE. Target and other big box stores know the majority of people will keep coming back whether they are fully satisfied or not with their products. The cashier at the big box store did not make the clothes, furniture, or spend the time researching the best factories or manufacturing centers for the products. Small businesses, owners and employees, care about customer retention and they know if they are not selling a quality product then their customers will not repurchase.

Price: Yes, the price for some products at small businesses can cost more, but there are many reasons why; and I am OK with those reasons. An example of why products cost more at small businesses is because they care where their product materials are sourced and manufactured. You will find many small businesses only source their product materials and/or manufacture from places in the United States. (Or their own farm!) This alone will cause a product to cost more. I have also found other small businesses, while their product is not manufactured in the US, spend time searching for places overseas that will make their product fairly & conscientiously.

Owners/Employees: When you purchase a product from a small business you aren’t helping to pay the salary of a CEO that makes over ten million dollars, or more, a year and pays their other employees minimum wage or less. Most small business owners make less than $100,000 a year, sometimes significantly less, and that is if they are taking a regular salary. I have also found, in my experience, small business employees are a lot happier at their place of employment, and make a fair living wage in comparison to big box stores. (This lower wage trend at big box stores is slowly changing though due to public pressure on big box stores.)

Giving Back: The greatest perk of shopping small is to see how much small businesses give back. Not only to their customers, but also to the community in which they reside and beyond. The rewards programs, sales and giveaways with purchase that a lot of natural parenting stores do more than makes up for any product price increase you will see. I have never ordered online or checked out at Wal-Mart or Target and been told by the cashier that they were going to throw in a free product with my purchase just because they appreciated me as a customer. Small businesses appreciate you! They also give back to their communities. Not too long ago a small business district near where I live flooded due to heavy rains. Cars and local landmarks were swept away. Many of the small businesses and the surrounding community donated their time and money to help rebuild the shopping district. Other ways small businesses give back is through their online communities. Many small natural parenting stores also have online Facebook communities that foster acceptance and bring families together all across the world. These communities have helped create long distance friendships, and I have seen families reach out to help other families in need. Small Businesses giveaway and donate their products and time, not for the tax write off, but because they care.

I could go on and on why I love shopping small now, especially with small natural parenting stores. Yes, I still do sometimes go to big box stores to shop for groceries or to just walk around Target with my Starbucks coffee, I am a mom after all, but I love my small shops now, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Do you shop small or are a small business owner? Why do you shop small? What are your favorite small businesses to shop with, and why? I would love to see what in the comments. Let’s share the small business love!

Recipe For A Homemade Alternative for Chewy Bars

Recipe For A Homemade Alternative for Chewy Bars

My family loves Quaker Chewy Bars. Every time I go grocery shopping I end up picking up two boxes, and it will last us about a week. In an attempt to switch to healthier snacks, I decided to try and make a chewy bar alternative. When trying to eat healthier/workout more I have found taking small baby steps works better for my family. Instead of completely getting rid of every bad food product in our diet it’s been easiest to slowly transition one food/product at a time. This homemade alternative to chewy bars is one small step you can take towards healthier/cleaner eating. (For my family I will continue to try and make this recipe healthier by using more natural ingredients as my family adapts to it.) The other great thing about this alternative is you can fit it to your dietary needs. (Gluten free, peanut free, honey free, dairy free, soy free, etc…) 20170401_161337Below is the recipe I came up with that my family loves. While there are slightly more calories in my recipe then in chewy Bars, they are healthier and contain less ingredients. Here is my recipe:

1 Cup Old Fashioned Oats

1 Cup Rice Krispies

1/2 Cup Mini Morsels

1/2 Cup Peanut Butter

1/4 Cup Honey

Mix all of the ingredients together, and roll them into balls or bars. Makes between 20-22 little balls or makes between 10-12 bars. 1 ball is around 89 calories, and 1 bar is 178 calories.

(Here is what they will look like if you roll them into balls, and also the alternative bar on the left and a regular chewy bar on the right.)

Below are ways you can change up the recipe to fit your dietary needs.

Gluten Free – While whole grain rolled oats are technically gluten free sometimes they can come in contact with other products that are not. To help with this issue just make sure to check the label of the oats when you purchase to make sure they are gluten free. Rice Krispies are not gluten free, but you should be able to find a gluten free alternative in the natural food aisle in your grocery store. Also, make sure to check the label on your mini morsels to make sure they are also gluten free. (I used Nestle mini morsels and they are gluten free.) Peanut butter and honey are gluten free, but again it is always a good practice to check the product label.

Peanut Free – If you have someone in your family that has a peanut allergy or you would just like to use something else you can substitute Sunflower seed butter for the peanut butter.

Honey Free – My little one loves this chewy bar alternative, but if you would like to make them for a child younger than 1 years old then you will need a honey alternative. A good substitute for honey is agave nectar. It adds the sweetness just like honey.

Dairy Free – The only thing that contains dairy in the above recipe is the mini morsels. So to make the above recipe dairy free all you will need to do is substitute the mini morsels with a diary free chocolate alternative like Enjoy life mini chips.

Soy Free –  The mini Morsels and peanut butter I used in the above recipe both contain soy. So, if you are in need of a soy free recipe all you will need to do is find a soy free chocolate, like Enjoy life’s mini chips, and an all-natural peanut butter that just contains peanuts and salt.

Other recipe substitutions – To further fit the recipe to your family’s needs or make it a little bit healthier you can always make some other substitutions. Examples: Use all natural sugar free peanut butter, all natural honey, a rice krispies alternative that does not have BHT, and all natural dark chocolate. All are great substitutions.

Trying to eat healthy in a world of processed/refined foods is hard! They taste so good, but are so bad for you. Don’t despair though. Start switching out the unhealthy foods in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer slowly. After a while you will start noticing a difference in what you purchase at the store, and how your family feels. 😊