Thursday, April 27, 2017

My Favorite Ways to Play with my 6 Month Old

6 month is such a fun age! Their hand-eye coordination is developing and they can grasp and hold things for a short while, They are taking in the world around all the time and find such joy and fascination in the little things - everything seems to be new and exciting to them! Here are a few of my favorite ways to stimulate my little six month old:

1. Take It Outside
In the stroller or in her favorite carrier, we both love taking walks together outside. In the rare instance that my almost always happy baby gets fussy, a quick walk around the block or even the backyard, will usually change her mood.
Our favorite Baby Carrier is from Jublii Baby.

Like the rest of our family, baby Taylor is happiest when she's outside. We I love that shes old enough to go on the swings too when we play at the park.
One of my favorite mom hacks is to always have a good tote bag in my car filled up with sand toys to play with. When you have 30 minutes to kill in between kiddo appts you can make a quick park pit stop easily. My tote is from Brittany Garner Design and I LOVE it!

Sometimes we feed her outside just for a change of pace (and easier cleanup too!)

2. Toys she can safely put in her mouth
Ever wonder why babies of this age always put things in their mouth? The simple answer is because they are teething and those poor swollen gums HURT. But, did you know, that at this age a babies strongest sense of touch is in their mouths? That's why they often explore and examine new tings by putting them in their mouths! That's why I love having a variety of safe teething toys at her disposal so that she can explore that sense of touch and satisfy her need to munch!

We both love these teething rings by Zen Mamas. Taylor loves these vintage inspired crochet teething rings. Being able to chew on the soft oven jersey fabric is especially soothing to her.

She also loves these geometric teething rings too. The soft silicone geo beads are nice and stimulating and the additional wooden rings give her something fun to grasp and double as a fun rattle!

If you'd like to try some of these teethers for your own sweet babe, you can use my discount code, GOFAST for 15% off (through June 30th).

3. Baby Yoga
At home, with a group or at a local studio, I invite you to branch out and take a baby yoga class with your little one.

We recently found a free class at a local kid-friendly coffee shop and we both LOVED it! The instructor used fun props like scarves and singing fun nursery rhymes into poses and Taylor loved it! I think she also enjoyed seeing the other babies and their mamas too - she an be a total ham!

4. Library Story Time
We met some of our very best friends at baby story time at the library when my first born was little. You can usually find a list of programs your local library offers either online or at your local branch. Our library's baby story time was so much fun and focused on fun finger plays and baby movement to songs, playing with music making toys, listening and reading a story out loud, and free play time where babies could crawl around (when they are able) and the parents can interact with each other (my favorite haha!) It really is a great, and free, way to get out and connect with your baby, and maybe make some great new mama friends that have babies the same age!
And sometimes, all you need is some playtime with your furry BFF at this age :)

What are your favorite ways to play with your young babies? Please share, I'm always looking for new ideas too!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Baby Wearing Benefits Everyone

We are an active family and cherish our walks together. We are so blessed to have two kiddos that 100% prefer being outdoors than indoors. Spending time outdoors together is hands down our favorite way to bond as a family and I always like to wear my baby on our walks together.

 I love to have her close by and wearing her on my chest feels like I'm giving her a big hug the whole time, and I love how it keeps my hands free so that I can hold the dogs leash, toss a ball, or even hold hands with my oldest.

Not only is wearing your baby convenient when they are little, there are so many other benefits to baby wearing for both the mama and the baby. Baby wearing offers many other advantages such as: happier, healthier babies, more confident parents, more successful breastfeeding, and less likelihood of postpartum depression. Carried babies are also able to learn language more quickly because they are positioned at voice and eye level while being worn. Pretty incredible, right?

Already being a HUGE fan of baby wearing, I was stoked to try a carrier from Jublii Baby. I'm going to be 100% honest with you, I've tried many many baby carriers and this is hands-down the most comfortable carrier I have ever worn. The straps are perfectly padded, taking pressure off my shoulders, and the waistband is nice and thick to support my lower back. Even the positioning of the straps across the shoulders is spot on, making things feel super secure.

You may be thinking, well that's great that YOU'RE some comfortable Amy, but what does your baby think of her Jublii carrier? She loves it!

She is a happy camper every time I've worn her in the carrier and many times she's been so cozy, she just falls asleep! Also, since each and every Jublii carrier is custom made, they made the carrier with a super breathable mesh front because we live in super hot Arizona and Summer is coming soon here.

You also get to custom select the fabric that you want for your carrier. I love the fun bright colors of mine!

Utterly adorable, super convenient, ultra comfy for both mom and baby, and unsurpassed quality and attention to detail - I'd recommend Jublii Baby Carriers to all of my friends having babies (I'm looking at YOU!)

Monday, April 24, 2017

Booty Band Workout

I'm a huge fan of cross training and strength training. My day is 100% better if I get up before the baby and take 15-30 minutes for me and run through a quick at-home circuit of strength exercises. It helps keep me strong and injury free and it really just makes me feel so good, getting my day started with a quick sweat session.

I love these workout bands from TNT Pro Series . Adding resistance bands to any move will make it much more effective and build strength much more quickly. As a busy mom and athlete, I always try to get the most out of every sweat session because there really is only so much time in the day!
One of my favorite ways to use resistance bands is when I'm working my booty. I shot this video over the weekend of 5 of my favorite booty exercises using the bands. I'll usually repeat this circuit a few times and if you do too, you'll surely be feeling it the next day (in a good way!)

I filmed this video using the set of 5 TNT Pro Series Resistance bands which you can purchase HERE for less than $15 shipped. I truly believe that this is the most versatile and effective at-home piece of fitness equipment you can have. Takes up next to no space and you can use them in so many ways. 

What is your favorite way to use resistance bands? Please share, I'd love to hear!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Mother's Day Gift Guide for New Moms

I wanted to do a great round up of amazing Mother's Day gifts for new moms. I know, I know, our kiddos are the best gift EVER, but all of these gifts are thoughtful, practical, and beautiful things that will make a new moms first Mothers Day extra special. So mamas. send this link to your hubbies or, do like I do and just order the gift yourself to save them a step! :)

Logan and Lenora Waterproof Wristlet Clutch in audrey stripe.  I can not say enough good things about how amazing this bag is! It's a HUGE wristlet that has one big waterproof pocket for baby stuff and a front pleated pocket for our mama stuff too! It comfortably fits my ginormous Hobo wallet, 2 diapers, a thing of wipes, a snack, and my keys and phone and has plenty of room to spare! I love the classic black and white stripe styling with the gold accents and gold tassel too! It's something I carry all day everyday, especially when I don't want to tote around a bulky diaper bag. Super practical and the styling will take you from baby to beyond - love that!

Kindred Bravely Marvella Nursing Plunge T shirt Bra. A comfy nursing bra that makes you feel good is worth it's weight in gold. The marvella is pure perfection. Buttery soft, sexy plunge, and super duper comfortable. You will live in this bra mamas. trust me!

Shop Roam Free Mama Bird and Baby Bird matching set.  I'm not gonna lie, the minute I found out I was pregnant with a girl, I envisioned us in matching outfits all the time! Nothing beats matching with your mini me. I recently became a member of the Oiselle Volee but before that even the term Mama Bird always resonated with me. I am SUCH a Mama Bird, so of course I LOVE this custom matching Mama Bird and Baby Bird from Roam Free. Seriously so cute and the shirts are super soft.

Perfectly Boho Babes #MomLife Hat. Any new mom that has fully embraced #MomLife probably knows the #HatLife too. Since I typically go from car pool, to stroller running, to computer work, etc, my showers usually happen sometime in the afternoon. Hat life is the best way to make me feel somewhat put together and this #MomLife one from Perfectly Boho Babe Boutique is the cutest!

Sweat & Milk Sports Bras - I got a chance to try out a few sports bra samples from Sweat & Milk, a new nursing-friendly active wear line from California. Their bras are seriously the cutest and they provide all day comfort and support. These fit bras fit so well into any new mamas wardrobe because even on the days we aren't working out we are usually in our yoga pants anyway! They are launching in June, so I think an IOU would fit the bill and make a super supportive mother's day gift.

Little Biting Tree Mala. These are the cutest and I seriously wear my mala all the time! I love that they are made with real organic wood. They give the perfect dose of boho flair to any outfit and double as a teething/nursing necklace. Taylor loves to play with it when I am holding or nursing her! Another item that I know I'll wear long after her baby days are over (wah!)

Plant Jill personalized necklace - It doesn't get any better than this. every mama wants a picture of their babies for Mother's Day and one you can wear around your neck? Even better! On the Planet Jill site you can upload any picture and make it into a custom necklace. They have a variety of styles and finishes. I wear mine just about everyday and know it'll be something I'll cherish for years to come!

Cut out Art Wooden Photo - This is a unique twist on a photo gift that I just fell in love with! Wooden home decor is all the rage right now and if you're like me, have a ton of it in your home. Cut Out Art will take any picture you upload and print it beautifully on a piece of wood! I had them make me an 8x12 from Taylor's newborn session and I am seriously so in love with how it turned out. These make the best unique gifts for Mother's Day!

Champagne Liter Water Bottle Mira Brands If there's one thing you can always count on, it's a new mama always being thirsty! I bring my water with me everywhere I go. I just love this bottle from Mira Brands. It's HUGE (1 Liter!) doesn't leak, insulating for hot and cold drinks, has several cap options, and comes in a super pretty champagne color! It fits in car cup holders and stroller pockets and really is always with me.

Lucky Feather State Necklace I fell in love with these state shaped necklaces from Lucky Feather! I think they are a fun way to show your state pride. Anyone that knows my husband knows he is a HUGE Iowa Hawkeyes fan. Even though I have never been to Iowa, I love to wear my Iowa necklace layered with my Planet Jill picture necklace of my babies, so that all my little loves are around my neck at all times. I have a couple of other Lucky Feather items (like this pouch, these earrings, and this book - which I plan to use as a bullet journal!) and think they are all packaged so darling and make the sweetest gifts!

Brittany Garner Design Wine Glass Brittany Garner Designs makes the cutest things that all resonate with new mommy hood. I think this stemless wine glass makes the most perfect gift for any new mom because all moms deserve wine!

Other FANTASTIC gift ideas include a gift certificate for a massage or pedicure. MAJOR bonus points if you book the appointment for her AND promise to tend after the sweet babe as well.

And if none of these gifts seem perfect for your sweet new mama, we will never turn down a sweet card or an uninterrupted nap!

What are you hoping to receive this Mother's Day? Are you going to start some type of yearly tradition to celebrate the holiday? Please share, I'd love to hear!

Monday, April 17, 2017

My Favorite Nursing Bras

I think a big part of successful nursing is having the right nursing bras. I tried many bras and have narrowed my favorites down to 4. For reference I have a smaller frame body and bust and wear the smallest size in each bra mentioned. All bras have several sizes to accommodate everyone!

1. The Marvella Nursing Plunge T-Shirt Bra by Kindred Bravely. $39 This bra is AMAZING!! Hands down my very favorite of the bunch. So so comfortable and versatile. I discovered early on that I HATE nursing bras with underwire. They are uncomfortable and too stiff and rigid to fold down in order to nurse correctly. This one bra has soft cups that fold completely down. I also that its completely seamless and one piece, with a plunge front and racer back, making it smooth and seamless under any t-shirt or tank top. It's buttery soft and comfy enough to wear all day and to sleep too. It comes in a variety of colors too.

2. The Sporty Mesh Nursing Bra from Belabumbum $51 This is an other great no-wire bra. It's designed as a low-moderate impact sports bra with breathable mesh panels that really do help keep me cool. Since its not a high-impact bra, I use it for toning and weight training, along with everyday use and sleep in it too. I really appreciate the padded straps on this bra and the full fold down panels. It comes in two colors.

3. Sweat and Milk Sports Bras (Pricing TBD - website launching in June) I had the opportunity to try out a few ot Sweat and Milk's sports bras and I fell in love with all of them! As a new mom who likes to keep active, I feel like most days I wear my workout clothes most of the day (if not all day long!). Their bras are super cute and also great for working out in too. I tried the Oceane which is low-impact and had a cute strappy back - perfect for all day wear because the straps look super cute poking out of a racer back tank or taking a hike or yoga class. I also ran 12 miles in their Chloe Sports Bra and it as super supportive for my entire run. Both have clip down fronts and are very soft.

4. Easy Expression Bustier by Medela $39.99 This is a must have for any pumping mama! It allows for hands free pumping which makes pumping so much more enjoyable. It fits snugly around my chest and really works well to hold the pump parts in place. Comes in a couple of colors.

Do you have a favorite nursing bra that didn't make my list? If so, please share in the comments below!

A New Way to Clean with Kids

With small kids in my home, I am super picky abut what chemicals I allow in. I try to pick the greenest cleaners around, but sometimes I wonder if those are entirely safe? When I clean I like to get my oldest kiddo involved, I am blessed to have a 7 year old that absolutely LOVES to help out his mama.

Earlier this week, we tried out a new cleaning tool that I was really excited about, the High Performance Dusting and Cleaning Glove from E-Cloth. When used with water, its microfibers remove more than 99% of bacteria, mites, dust, and dirt - I couldn't wait to have my little helper try it out! Cleaning with no chemicals and just water?! I was definitely intrigued and couldn't wait to put it to the test. 

I put him to work wiping down our counters and tables and it picked up so much! The microfibers trapped and locked in so much grit and grime - I couldn't believe it! IT even polished up my granite and worked wonders (no streaking!) on my stainless steel fridge! I couldn't wait to use it myself to tackle some bigger projects I've been putting off like fans and baseboards, Once I start cleaning, I like to get it all done!

What I love about the cloth glove too is that once you're done cleaning, you can toss it into the wash and it comes out good as new. They are made to last for 300 or more washes.

This cool cleaning glove was featured in Parent's Magazine's April Issue and is available in Ace Hardware stores nationwide starting on May 1! It's for sure being added to our kid safe and approved cleaning arsenal!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Teaching Kids About Money

I took my seven year old in to open up his first bank account a couple of weeks ago. He was SO excited. He brought in his 3 wallets stuffed full of $132 dollars of which he had saved from holiday presents and the tooth fairy (he has lost SEVEN teeth over the last few months and at the going rate of $5 per tooth he was earning a pretty steady bank roll). He had plans for this money and wanted to buy a scooter he saw last time we visited the toy store that cost $150.

I wanted to teach him about money and savings and the value of things at a young age because I think it's super important. Before we opened up his bank account we played at home with his new Teaching ATM Bank from Learning Resources. It's a really cool way for kiddos to learn how to save and keep track of money. The ATM comes with fake dollars and coins, but also accepts and counts real coins too! IT works like a real ATM, accepting deposits and making withdraws as well, I wanted him to feel comfortable taking his money and keeping it at a real bank.

The ATM also doubles as a fun cash register because at our house we love playing store! Over Spring Break we actually played store twice, once in my sons room and the other time in our backyard. It kept him quite busy making little price tags for everything and he loved when we shopped his sections even more! As a parent, I loved that he was secretly using is math skills wile on school break by adding up our totals, counting our pretend dollars, and then making change from his ATM. We love toys at our house that can be used in a variety of ways!

So, back to the bank account/scooter story. I made a deal with him that if he got all 3's on his 3rd quarter report card, I would give him the extra $18 he needed to buy his scooter, He had been working so hard in school and had be lusting over this scooter now got 1/2 a year. Report cards came out and he managed to pull his French grade up from a 2 to a 3 (his school doesn't give out A's and B's - their highest mark is a 3) earning him that extra $18!

We took him to the toy store that weekend after swinging by the bank to withdrawal all of his earnings, and he actually fell in love with a scooter that was $50 less! This made us all really happy because I didn't really want him to deplete his entire bank account a month after opening it!

The scooter is a hit and when we're not riding that around the neighborhood we've been getting in some serious play time with his Teaching ATM because he's already plotting his next purchase with his leftover money he saved!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

15 Day Burpee Challange - My Results

A little over two weeks ago I read THIS article online, about a gal who did a 15 day burpee challenge and in turn,made some fitness and health gains. It for sure caught my attention and unlike most challenges that are like, "Do 300 squats a day for 30 days" (no thanks) doing 30 burpees a day for 15 days seemed like a challenge, but a completely do-able challenge.

I started the challenge 15 days ago and finished up this morning. I didn't skip a single day and found that I had the most success if I did my burpees in the morning, within 15 minutes of waking up. One day I went all day without doing them and ended up having to do them at night, after dinner and I never made that mistake again - ugh!

I lost one pound (which for me is HUGE!) and gained significant strength, especially in my arms. I remarked nearly everyday to Adam, "Either Taylor (my baby) is getting lighter or I am getting stronger, because she doesn't seem as heavy to me!" It also became so much easier for me to lug her heavy car seat around as well.

My stamina and speed in my runs increased as well. Burpees require a great deal of explosive power to execute and I know that doing 30 a day helped me increase my running speeds. I shaved 10-30 seconds per mile off most of my training runs while doing this challenge. I was also able to tack on an extra mile or two to some runs because my body wasn't as fatigued by my standard mileage.

I had more energy also while doing this burpee challenge. I was on a three cups of coffee a day habit ever since little Taylor was born, but during this challenge, I was able to cut my coffee consumption down to only two cups. I didn't make this change consciously either, most days I simply forgot to have that third cup because I didn't feel overwhelmingly tired mid-afternoon.

Most importantly, I think this challenge helped drive and motivate me to work towards a goal and really focus on my fitness and training. I was feeling a little unmotivated before, but knowing that I had this challenge, and wanting to see it through really ignited this spark in me. Over the last 15 days I really committed to my training and goals.

I know you may be thinking - Really? Really, did all of these changes happen by doing 30 burpees a day for 15 day?! Yes, yes they did! I was totally skeptical too at first but now I'm a huge believer. One small lifestyle change can really make a big impact, and in my case, this was it. My 15 days are up but I am totally going to keep the 30 burpees a day challenge going. What do you say - will you join me this time?