Wednesday, April 16, 2014

STYLE // LEATHER BLOSSOMS


You know I'm always on the lookout for accessories to tame and make even more beautiful Ayara's wacky mane, right? I cannot not mention the amazing Julia and her ability to craft a thing of dreams. She makes butterflies and blooms for hair and beyond with the richest most delicious leather color combos. She's truly an artist, and her work proves my point. So much beauty in such a small treasure. Every little girl (of every age!) deserves these in her collection.
 
Ayara has in her Leather Blossoms collection a brown-on-orange clip, as well as a light-on dark green clip. I don't know where Julia gets them but the butterflies are anchored on the most sturdy, hardcore bobby pins in. the. world. So intense are they, in fact, that I had a hard time getting them to stay put in baby girl's thin hair. In my thicker-than-life locks they stayed like a rock, however.
If I had my way I'd be rockin' the gold-on-brown clip this Spring for all things metallic and sparkly, and a black + white number because... duh.
 
Julia also makes dreamy leather-wrapped headbands, gorgeous leather jewelry, and - if you're not a fan of cutting live flowers, like me - leather roses for special occasions!

 
Stay up with brand new Spring debuts and such:
Leather Blossoms ETSY // FACEBOOK
 
I was sent the above listed clips for compensation for this post. I was not compensated in any other way. The opinions expressed herein are 100% my own. Thank you, readers, for supporting the brands that support this Blog.
Blogger Tricks

Monday, April 14, 2014

SIMPLE // WHY I LOVE MY JOBS

As I'm sitting in the yard, laptop on my... lap and conversing with my husband about the possibility of parachuting off a building into a waiting convertible lambroghini filled with jello (um - what?!) I can't help but think of how very fortunate I am to have the life I do.
 
For one thing Bob works enough outside the home that I don't have to, and haven't, since 2011. Part of that is due to our aligned desires to A) raise our kids without the need for daycare, and B) similarly, need less and make do with what we already have. A favorite quote of both ours lately has been this:
 
Use it Up
Wear it Out
Make it Do
or Do Without
 
Why not wear your jeans until they're rags, and then recycle them to the rag pile, or donate them to the bird-nesting materials bag, or use them to repair other jeans (in Bob's case). There are innumerable opportunities all around to reuse and recycle or upcycle what we already have, and cut down on our need for more money, ultimately requiring less time away from home.
 
Another aspect of life I'm smitten with is the ability to work from home like I do. Yes, tecnically I have two "from home" jobs: first and most importantly as a mother, and secondly as a blogger. The reviews, giveaways and sponsored content I bring to this site are A) the beginning of amazing partnerships with companies I can stand behind (think self-made, small business, good for your soul, life-enhancing, etc.) and B) in exchange for goods - which we typically wear, consume or use up - or money which can be used in the same way.
 
When I started this Blog it was a way to stay in communication with family and friends far away, to share how our lives were being rocked by the addition of our twins. Since it's beginning in 2011 Hands and Hearts More Than Full has grown tremendously and through this venture I've met all sorts of amazing people along the way. Yet another reason I am so blessed in this life - the amount of love and support surrounding me, my Blog, my family is mind-blowing. If it weren't for the loyal readership, willing companies and help and hints along the way I never would be where I am today.

I love supporting my fellow bloggers, which is why you often see me "linking up" to their features and posts. Blogging may seem easy but it's really a lot of work. If nothing else I could look back over life during this Blog and see a very comprehensive "baby book" of sorts, documeting how our family grew and evolved over time. But for me this is so much more. Thank you for being my amazing audience, and growing with me through this life!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

TWINS // LIVING WITH TWO WHO ARE THREE


I don't know if life with two three-year-olds (and a two-year-old) is similar to life with just one. I am a fortunate mommy in that my first pregnancy was twins. I know that not every singleton baby is a "cake walk" but I don't have any single child experiences to compare my crazy to. In fact a trip to the grocery store alone is surely a vacation for me, but a trip to the grocery store with just one child is almost as good in my book. The undivided attention, slower pace, softer noise. It's just good. I can't imagine mothers of one child would agree, it's special for parents of twins like that.
 
Life with our twins has been chaos lately, but it's chaos in a good way. The boys are best friends mostly, which is and has been fantastic, but add sister to the mix and the phrase "three's a crowd" becomes a quick reality. Luckily for them she is a fan of doing things on her own: coloring, watching mommy bake, and taking care of her baby. If we watch a racing show the boys are quick to speed down the runway-esque hallway, and sluggish sister (she gets that from me, poor soul) isn't far behind.
 
Potty-training has been in full-swing since they turned two and I'd say they're masters, with the exception of nap time and night time, but occasionally each of those, too. Those longer periods just take - well, longer... right? Anyway, I don't care what any handbook or chart says, really. We do our best and understand (most days) that every child learns when he/she is ready and able, and that applies to all areas of life, not just the potty biz.
 
Naps are a usual, but not a definite anymore. Where they used to be rather forced in bedrooms now they're suggestions that heed quick responses from the boys. When the clock hits about 2:00 pm our boys can be seen toting their blankies to the living room, snuggling in a favorite chair or on mom, and rolling their eyes into the backs of their heads. Pandora plays instrumental music, it's precious for me to witness and typically results in about 2 hours of peace in our home. Last week Taylen fell asleep in our recliner, Bob was in a chair with Ayara, I laid on the couch with Dayr strewn across my lap in the opposite direction, nearly kissing my feet, and we all took a rest. The sun was spilling through the deck slider onto the floor, wordless music drifting around. It was undoubtedly a slice of pure heaven on Earth. A moment I need to freeze in time for those other, less awesome moments, to help bring me back.
 
Back to the twinkies - all-in-all they're awesome. I don't remember to have them brush their teeth every night, even though they love it. They get themselves out of the bathtub without letting me know, and last week I caught them eating the hand-decorated cookie favors I made for a friend's baby shower under the kitchen counter. They drive me nuts, and I love them so. I can't wait to see what some outdoor time this Spring and Summer will bring. Learning to swim? Weeding a garden? Feeding and/or chasing the new chickens? Whatever it is I will hold it dear in my heart, just like my fast-growing tots I love so.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

STYLE // LOE APPAREL ON ETSY + AYARA'S BIRTHDAY SASS

You probably recognize the logo on Ayara's out of this world (get it?) bibdana from my amazing Sponsor/Partner banner over on the ole Blog sidebar. We fell in love with L.O.E. (originally Little One's Etsy, now Love Over Everything) back at the beginning of the year, just as they were revamping their Spring line. RaRa's smooth galaxy pants and bibdana are just a taste of what they have available right now that is literally unlike any other toddler style I've seen. We're talking Unisex Faux Red Leather Sweatpants for Kids, soft as butter Denim Harem Pants for Kids, and a gorgeous array of other leg, arm and neck clothing options. Stay tuned for much more from them on the Blog (betcha can't wait to see twin boys in faux leather!) and scope their Etsy shop, like, NOW.
 
Ayara went ahead and rearranged her hair, added some Birthday butterfly wings + sassy shades (thank you best friend Niamh + "Bef" and Matty!) to bring you this version of her sweet and silly toddler style. She's two now, she do what she want. sas


Linking up with my girl Holly and her super cute Evelyn (wearing Beethoven today), how sweet!
Our Holly Days

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

CELEBRATE // AYARA'S BIRTH STORY

Disclaimer: I tried to write this story many times over the last two years, after many failed attempts her second Birthday seemed just as good a time as any to share the details about how she entered this world.

When I think about recording Ayara's birth story I think "this will be so interesting", but every story of new life is interesting to me. Whether a mom says "it happened so fast and was so easy" ugh, not fair or "it was the worst thing I ever felt", there is always something unique and inspiring to share.

This story takes me back nearly two years, to a Saturday, the evening before Easter and four weeks prior to Ayara's due date. In order to fully understand the discomfort I felt you have to know these four things:

1. I was diagnosed with polyhydramnios during this pregnancy. That's a fancy way of saying I was carrying a LOT of extra amniotic fluid.
2. Ayara was measuring, on ultrasound, 10 pounds.
2. My belly was measuring about 54 cm., which at that point was even larger than when I carried twins.
3. I had 14-month-old twins in tow... I was tired.
Happy and Large on my Birthday, just two weeks before Ayara's birth.
Now, getting back to the tale. For starters I had been having contractions for weeks, but my midwife and I both decided they were merely Braxton Hicks. However: delivering my twins at 36 weeks gestation, carrying extra fluid, and the extensive amount of moving and grooving I had to do to keep up with the twinkies all put me at increased risk for delivering early again. At this point I was thinking "AWESOME!" Don't judge.

Bob and I tried to get some sleep somewhere around 11:00 p.m... the usual. As soon as I laid down I knew I was in for a long night. Chalking it up to normal pregnancy woes I decided to tough it out on the couch so Bob could get some rest. I tossed and turned and walked and sat but mostly... are you ready? I pooped. A lot. I'd leave the gory details out if I could but they're vital to the story. Rough estimate I'd say probably 12 times I visited the porcelain that night.

By 4:30 a.m. I was starting to wonder if this was the real thing. You know... the "L word." I called the on-call number and waited by the phone for a call back. I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I knew it was 6:30 a.m. and I was still in pain. I called again. The doctor I spoke to thought it peculiar that I'd be able to sleep through labor contractions but advised me to get to the Hospital and get checked just to be safe.

I hung up the phone and told Bob, then called my mom, who at the time lived across the street. She's always been a super woman when it comes to helping us out. She was there within twenty minutes, coffee in tow, and I was in a lot of pain. Waves of contractions were coming just two minutes apart. I was sure I'd get to the Hospital and hear "you're 8 cm. dialated! this is great!" Due to Ayara's large size I had already agreed to a c-section to avoid any possible large baby complications, but I still felt like I'd made bodily progress. Like there was hope for a VBAC.

I could tell my mom knew something wasn't right. She looked concerned while she fed the twins breakfast and I contracted on the couch... and Bob leisurely sipped his coffee. I had been in pain for so long he thought it was another false alarm. Through sobs I told him "we need to go!" and within minutes we were gone.

Lucky for me the Hospital is just a short five minute drive away, but it felt like an eternity. When we got there I was in so much pain I had to sit down. A friendly staff person got me a wheelchair and we were off to labor and delivery for a check. Contractions coming strong every minute had me thinking "this baby is coming NOW!"

Inside Labor and Delivery felt like hell on earth. I was uncomfortably situated on an exam table, questioned, stripped, poked. You name it, it happened. It was chaos to me.

I was able to tell the nurse I'd gone to the bathroom twelve times. She did a double take. She looked shocked. Actually she couldn't believe that I was still standing due to the extreme dehydration I must surely be experiencing.

At that point I began to black out. I remember my eyes rolling back in my head and thinking "if I were to die right now, I'd go peacefully, it would not hurt. In fact it would feel better than what my body is experiencing at this moment. I will surely die if I don't have this baby. Now." I was able to mutter something about puke and a sterile bag made it's way to my lips. I opened my mouth and projected orange juice.

They finally hooked up an IV. Within minutes I was feeling better. Contractions started to slow and I regained some conciousness. Noticing my improved state the doctor (who had been called in sometime during my blank episode) ordered some tests for the baby.

With everything going on there had been little to no movement in my otherwise active baby girl. I had previously been too sick to worry, but feeling better I started to freak. A noise test was issued to try to "wake" Ayara. It lasted three minutes and consisted of a series of loud beeps by machine into my belly. No movement. The doctor ordered an ultrasound.

We were wheeled down to ultrasound where I laid in discomfort for half an hour while we watched our baby girl lay lifeless on the screen. Now we were truely in panic mode.

Back in Labor and Delivery the doctor came whirling in. "How'd you like to have a baby today?" She said with a smile. I instantly burst into tears feeling joy for the soon-to-come relief from pain but also anxiety over my daughter's premature age. She asked "are those happy tears?" to which I replied "yes."

Not two minutes later, propped up on my side, I felt an intense rush of fluid. I was so embarassed. I told the doctor "I think I just peed myself." She told me she'd take a look and her eyes got large. My water had broke! And all on it's own! I was beyond ecstatic! Finally, a sign that we were exactly where we were meant to be.

Soon after I was prepped for a c-section and met my amazing team. Two nurses were mothers of my  high school friends, the anesthesiologist another friend's uncle. I felt I was in good hands. After having such a horrible experience with my spinal during Dayr's delivery in Nevada; however, I was really hesitant. I started rambling on about it, thinking that if they knew how bad it was they'd do everything in their power to better my perception. And they did. Of course my husband was sent out of the room for this part, but having some familiar faces helped to ease my nerves.

Once the spinal block was in place we were ready for action. Bob came in, oxygen was flowing, everyone was ready for Ayara.

It seemed like only seconds before I heard the most beautiful sound. My baby had arrived. She was big, and beautiful, and still covered in vernix. The doctor held her chubby, goopy body up for me to see and I held her, tears streaming, for the first time. 


 



 
 



Now for the fun part. How much did she weigh? Arriving four weeks early we were all anxious to see if the ultrasound was right. She looked big, but was she really 10 pounds? They laid her on the scale. "Shoot! It's in kilos!" Hit the button, wait for it to recalibrate...
 


12 pounds 3 ounces

What? My jaw literally dropped open. This is a premature baby! And she weighs more than twelve pounds? Alert the press! And we did, and they were all over that. Go ahead, google her - I dare you.




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** Update: I realize after discussing with my husband and rereading what I wrote "... and Bob leisurely sipped his coffee" that I portrayed him in a nonchalant, if not lazy, light. That is simply not the case. What Bob does for me and our family does not get appreciated nearly enough. During the time he appeared "leisurely" to me he was mentally preparing to leave our home and boys for who knows how long. What was calm on the outside was really a high level of alert and orderly thought inside.