Feature Friday :: Mama Said Tees

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Mama Said Tees

I am a huge proponent of “shopping small” and  through Instagram have been able to find so many amazing “mom and pop” type stores. I would so much rather have my money go to ballet lessons or a child’s college savings than hand it over in a big box store (although I am still addicted to Target, sorryI’mnotsorry) and have it go who knows where.

I was pursuing through my ‘explore’ page on Instagram a few months ago and when I somehow found @MamaSaidTees page, I wanted H in one of their designs ASAP. I practically begged them to let me do a writeup of their new business and when I heard they were doing a brand representative search, I knew I had to enter H. I love that they put so much time and effort into not only the designs of their tees, but also the message they want to get across – with all the grim news we’re inundated with today, its so important to be reminded of the sweet and good things in life!

Colleen B and Colleen S have been amazing to work with and you can tell they are so genuinely enthusiastic about what they do! Their story of how they met makes me giggle, becoming best friends through shopping – I love it!

Can you tell me a little bit about you two ladies behind the magic?
How did you meet and what made you decide to launch Mama Said Tees together?

We are 2 Mamas named Colleen who met because Colleen B is my #1 customer on Etsy! In another world, I sell prints/stationery/invites/design logos (which can be found here)! Colleen just wouldn’t stop ordering from me. It became insane to the point where I DEMANDED she start using a 50% off coupon code! We became fast friends in dealing with personalization for her orders via Etsy convo. That turned into becoming Facebook friends, which turned into exchanging phone numbers. Her first and my second were born ONE day apart! OH! HAPPY 1st BIRTHDAY ADEN! To date… we still have never met. But that is about to change next Saturday, the 27th. Colleen is coming to Indy for the Shannon Smiles 5k. I | CAN’T | WAIT!!!!!!!! It is going to be a tearjerker.

We launched MST because I wanted to do tee shirts for a while after ordering too many KNOWING I could design them myself and had actually begun working with someone else. The guy, my friend, is amazing and awesome but we just had different visions. I wanted to do something called “Just Be Tees” and do inspirational type shirts. I ran it by Colleen B and she LOVED IT! We refer to ourselves as STARS (me) and GROUND (Colleen B). You know that famous quote “Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground?” Well, that’s us! Don’t get me wrong. Colleen has BIG dreams too. It’s just that… she is able to dream and be practical all at the same time! So… Colleen investigated and “Just Be Tees” was already taken. SHUCKS. But then SHE came up with “Mama Said Tees” and the whole concept was born! VIA TEXT! Same vision. New name. And it all happened for a reason <3

Who (or what) has been your biggest inspiration?

Gosh. This is tricky! For me, I would have to say my family (especially my kids) is my biggest inspiration. And when the death of Shannon (for those who don’t know, Shannon is my angel sister) fell upon us, SHE became my inspiration. Mainly because I idolized her and she was SO proud of this new venture and as a teacher, couldn’t WAIT to wear our tees!

Colleen B would say Aden. Other kids all over the world. Her hubby. Her family!

As for us as a team, we have followed and ordered from DOZENS of IG shops and modeled after their positivity, branding and amazing customer service: Beau Hudson (Sasha), Boco Baby (Chandler), Baby Jules Boutique (Karissa), Opposite of Far (Jessica), Shelby Chic Boutique (Veronica) just to name a few.

People have been SO kind in aiding us to figure this whole IG thing out and we hope to be able to return the favor when we HOPEFULLY become really big!!! (ME… STARS :)

Have you always been interested in fashion?

This is a fun question. I like to think I have always maintained a fairly good fashion sense. I try! But when it comes to my kids… whole different story. And “fashioning” them has encouraged me to become more fashionable myself! Don’t even get me started about Maddie. We literally do not leave the house unless she has a big fat bow on her head, and looks 100% more darling than myself.

As for Colleen B, she declares that: “No!” I’m the person who finds something she likes and buys every color. My wardrobe consists of yoga pants, tanks and tees”. Hahahah!!! LOVE HER!

Mama said... post breastfeeding snuggles

How do you balance everything?!

It’s not easy. Poor Colleen B. She really didn’t know what she signed up for when we did our long distance handshake that symbolized the beginning of this AMAZING partnership. But she does the majority of the work with poise and grace all while raising Aden. She handles all of the orders, the ordering, the picking up of the shirts, the packaging/filling orders, and dealing with everything that comes with behind the scenes stuff. I just don’t know what I would do without her. I am crying. TRUE STORY! What a sap I am.

I do know that what I do is important, just wish I could do more! I am merely the designer :) But I also have a LOT of fun trying to be in charge of Instagram as much as possible, and that is a lot of fun work. And stuff like this. I LIVE FOR IT! On the other end of things, I still have my Etsy shop, which is still very successful, and I am always proofing, printing, packaging, etc. My kids are 3 & 1 and they are in “school” part time so that helps. Soon my family is moving to Indiana and we are adopting my sister’s boys. So my whole outlook on “balancing” life & work might change gears here pretty soon!

We both work at night. A LOT. And sleep? Well you can just forget about that! But neither one of us would change a thing!

When you’re not busy being super moms, where can you be found?

Colleen B can be found dancing in her dance studio (yes. She teaches dance, too!) or up in Wisconsin at the lake. At Starbucks. With her family. I can be found wherever my mom is. Having dance parties with my kids. At McDonalds getting my daily diet coke. Hanging with my friends… my family. Target. Anthropologie. Nordstrom. I have issues.

I’d love to have you share a little about the Shannon smiles tees and why they were created:

Colleen B, aka “The Ground” aka “AN ANGEL on EARTH” decided we should do a shirt benefiting Connor and Danny just days after Shannon was killed. We didn’t DREAM it would take off like it did. With our tees alone, we have raised over $15,000 for my new sons. Here I go crying again. But really. What a dream come true. My husband and I really don’t want them to be burdened financially as a result of this horrible tragedy and so what a great start to saving for their college.

The actual words “Let your smile change the world” was one of the 25 suggestions Colleen B had for me when I told her it HAD to be something about a smile/smiling. Shannon had the most beautiful smile in the world. She was such a light to so many people and her smile was her logo, if you will.

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What has been your favorite tee to date? 

THIS IS HARD! We released “Love one Another” first because it is kind of how we wanted to kick off the whole thing. We wanted to be remembered for something that is positive, world changing even. But personally, my favorite is the “Kind is the New Cool” tee. Might have something to do with how much Shannon loved it. She couldn’t WAIT to wear one in the classroom. And now, to celebrate her birthday on Oct 9, the whole staff will wear one in her honor.

We know it’s corny, but we really believe and hope that people not only put their kids in the shirts, but talk to them about what they say, what they mean, and how they can personify kindness and love to REALLY make a difference. We will not put a shirt out that we don’t both LOVE for one reason or another!

Any sneak peaks or hints to new designs you’re thinking of?

SURE :) We had a really cool contest… “What if a t-shirt could change the world” and long story short, this was the winner. We kind of can’t wait to release this raglan option VERY soon! Also… we are pretty pumped that our Mother’s / Father’s Day tee shirt will read “Cause I’ve Been Watching You” (Rodney Adkins). I have already begun that design!

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Anything else you’d like us to know?

We really do have a LOT in store. Oh, and we really love and appreciate every single person who believes in our message. You can all help us make a difference!

And just for fun, if you were to try out for American Idol or the Voice, what song would you pick to sing?

Colleen B has informed me that she would sing Carrie Underwood, Sugarland, Sara Evans… some big country ballad! And that people would then cry in agony. And me. Well I’m actually the biggest country fan ever and my 2 favorite songs are “The Good Stuff” by Kenny Chesney and “A Letter to Me” by Brad Paisley. But right now, my teenage self CANNOT get enough of “You Look So Perfect” by 5SOS!!!!!!!! I would of course change the words to reflect that I am a girl singing to a dude ;) OMG!!!!!!!!!!! It just came on!!!!! Thank you SPOTIFY!

H and I are so fortunate to be working with Colleen B and Colleen S. They are the sweetest mamas, and as you can tell, they have hearts of gold! MamaSaidTees has already grown so much since H and I joined the team and I can’t wait to watch them expand and reach ultra super stardom in the coming months!
Make sure to follow Mama Said Tees on Instagram and Facebook to keep up to date on sales, and giveaways, and their online store for preorders and new designs (plus as an added bonus, you’ll get to see H’s cute mug plastered all over)!

7 Months!

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 Tee: Slyfoxthreads // Shorts: Carters // Moccasins: Freshly Picked

Height: 31 inches
Weight: about 22.5 pounds
Wearing: 12-18m clothing
Teeth: None so far

Six months was a little rough around the edges for us here in the LPG household. H’s teeth have decided to channel their inner whack-a-mole characters and keeping popping out under the skin and then receding back into his gums, leaving my little dude a little fussy, and rightly so!

A few happenings from this month:

  • H has decided napping by himself is actually the super cool new thing to do, and is taking 2 beautiful naps a day in his crib! I seriously never thought this day would come, and while there are still some rough days, he generally never fights them, hallelujah. I love the fact that I’m now getting 2-3 hours a day of ‘me time’ to get things done around the house (oh yeah, and eat breakfast, that’s pretty awesome too), but the downside is that I have really missed all the sleepy cuddles.
  • He is a rolling machine! No crawling in sight, but my goodness – when he wants a toy that’s just out of his reach, he knows just how to maneuver himself in a roly-poly fashion in order to get it.
  • He has started doing this backwards inch-worm move – he’ll be laying flat on his back and then lift up like he’s bridging from his head to his but and he scoots forward that way! It is the most bizarre thing I have ever seen and it totally freaks my parents out, but he loves doing it!
  • We have started solids! We’re doing baby led weaning and foregoing rice cereals and purees. (If you haven’t heard of BLW, mosey on over to http://www.babyledweaning.com to see what it’s all about) I love that he has control over how and what he eats and that I don’t have to take any extra time to make his food – he eats what I eat (for the most part)! So far his favorites are dried mango, salmon, and avocado :)
  • He went to both his first real pool and his first real water park and had so, so much fun. While he’s a little hesitant at first, he loves spacing and talking to the water and is a total fish baby!
  • He rode in a shopping cart for the first time, (at where else but Target) and loved being able to look around and talk to everyone he saw!
  • H was chosen as a brand rep for MamaSaidTees – an amazing company who is trying to spread love and kindness through clothing. It’s funny, but every time he wears his “Love One Another” tee, he instantly cheers up and we always have a great day!
  • We had our “6 month” photoshoot with the wonderful Laken Fulton Photography!
  • He is sitting up like a boss! I still have to sit him up, but once he’s stable he’s good to go and can right himself if he starts falling over. It’s incredible to watch him learn all these new tricks!
  • He loves loves loves to read!
  • I don’t have to constantly be holding him anymore, I can usually get a good 10 minutes of semi-independent play out of him before he needs me again.
  • He is a constant chatterbox! Currently he loves making the “t” noise, saying “mama”, “dada” and “baba”, and loves screeching when he gets really excited. 

July 15 – 20

July 21 – 27

July 28 – August 3

August 4 – 10

Aug 11 – 14

Friday Faves: Breastfeeding

When I found out I was pregnant, I pinned a million pins on everything pregnancy and childbirth related. I thought I’d comb through them all and be an expert on everything by the time my due date approached: the best things to eat and do while pregnant to ensure a great delivery, all about hypnobirthing, going med-free, breastfeeding, putting baby on a schedule, etc.

Well, here’s the thing, none of that happened. I was busy working 40+ hour weeks on the opposite schedule of my husband, getting our house ready to put on the market, packing to move to another state, and was sick constantly. By the time I was in my third trimester, I realized the baby was coming whether I knew the top five birthing positions or not, and life would still go on.

Time passed and all of a sudden, I was being told I was having a baby sometime in the next 24 hours.

Crap. My bag wasn’t packed, I didn’t get my nails done or shave my legs or prep myself for anything. I didn’t read up on the 24 pictures you MUST take before leaving the hospital, or questions to ask my midwife, but none of those mattered, because I realized I hadn’t researched the one thing that was most important to me: breastfeeding. At. All.

I had no idea what to expect, or if Harrison would know how to latch when I brought him to my chest. I had zero clue. I knew it was supposed to be the most natural thing in the world, but I can tell you when they handed H to me and tried to nurse him, it was weird. It felt foreign. I wasn’t sure where to put my hands to support him properly, if I even had milk yet or if it was supposed to kind of hurt like it did.

Thankfully, my hospital has an awesome Lactation staff and my consultant answered all of my crazy and probably incredibly stupid questions. I was not a natural, H has a lip tie that caused a lot of soreness and pain, I (still) struggled with an oversupply which meant lots of clogged ducts, engorgement, leaking and soreness, and at 7 months he still only goes about 2 hours at most between feeds unless he’s in bed for the night, but I am so glad we’ve been able to make it this far exclusively breastfeeding.

The following are a few of my favorite items that have helped make mine and Harrison’s breastfeeding journey a successful one.

 

Friday Faves: Breastfeeding

 

1// A great nursing bra: I have a few nursing bras from Motherhood Maternity and Target, but my favorite by far is the one I have from Bravado. It is incredibly comfortable and fits far better than much more expensive bras that I was fitted for at Nordstrom. I love that they are so incredibly supportive without the underwire and their clasps are super easy to undo when you have a tired and fussy baby who needs to eat right now.

2// A nursing necklace: There will come a time when your normally sleepy and easy eater will become a hitting, pulling, kicking gymnast that gets distracted by fans, lights, voices, cars, the wind, etc. You will be pinched, scratched, pulled in all sorts of directions and if you’re like me, you’ll get incredibly frustrated and consider throwing in the breast-feeding towel. I can honestly say that Jen and Mel of @thevintagehoneyshop have legitimately saved mine and Harrisons nursing relationship. He now has something to grab onto that isn’t my hair or opposite breast and will nurse for longer than .2 seconds, hallelujah!
The beautiful ladies from TVHS have graciously given all of YOU a discount on their amazing necklaces! Head over to their website here and use code VHBR10 to save 10% off your purchase! This code will expire 8/24/2014 so get your necklaces soon!

3// A breastfeeding friendly wardrobe: This does not mean you need to go out and buy all new clothes! For me, it means wearing a tank top under pretty much everything I own, whether it’s a tee shirt, loose fitting tank, or a dress with a V neck – anything that I can pull up or pull down easily enough to feed the dude. My favorites are American Apparel’s deep V neck tees and the V neck boyfriend tees from the juniors department at Target layered over shelf bra tanks from Express or scoop neck tanks from B.P. at Nordstrom.
Right now, nursing covers just don’t work for us. When he was still a newborn and I would venture out of the house, I used an Aden+Anais muslin swaddle blanket mainly because I was still figuring out how to ‘gracefully’ nurse in a booth or in a chair without our pillow and without exposing myself completely, and I was still a little uncomfortable nursing in general. If you want to cover, good for you, if not, good for you – it’s totally a personal choice! I will say I totally regret spending the $40 on a nursing cover at target when I already had swaddle blankets that I carried around with me every day in the diaper bag, especially since they ended up making much better and more breathable covers that double as burp cloths, blankets, and carseat covers!

4// Water bottle: The number one tip any lactation consultant and anyone who has ever breastfeed will give you to maintain your supply is to stay incredibly hydrated. The best advice I can give is to get a cute tumbler with a straw – for some reason I can easily double my water intake as long as I have a straw to drink from rather than one of those ginormous openings where I’ll inevitably spill water all over myself while trying to manuver the water bottle around a grabby baby.

5// A breasfeeding pillow: There will be days you will feel like your child is attached to your nipple. You will be exhausted, your baby will be cluster feeding and the last thing you will want to do is to have to worry about supporting him or her for the marathon sessions. I actually have two Boppy pillows and kept one upstairs and one downstairs until H was about 4 months so I would always have one wherever I was. While I don’t use them as much now that H prefers to sit up or kneel while breastfeeding, I still use them at night while Zach reads to him before bed and I rock and nurse him to sleep because my arms are dead after carrying him around all day.

When all is said and done, however, the number one reason I believe we’ve been so successful with breastfeeding is the fact that I have an amazing support system. Through all the rough nights, my husband has been there to refill my water, bring me snacks, and grab the Boppy, but most importantly he’s held my hand through the tears from the sore nipples, feeling like a human pacifier, all of the overwhelming emotions and helped remind me to take it one day at a time. Those first 6-ish weeks he would sit there and rub my back and recite what my LC had told me – that it was normal to feel ‘discomfort’ (read: pain), but that Harrison was super efficient at nursing and we would eventually catch on. My hubby, family and the on call LC have all been so amazing and play a huge role in H and I hitting our breastfeeding goals.

 

Breastfeeding favorites pt 2

 

 

A few other things I kept around that have been beneficial:
Healthy snacks: especially Lara / Cliff / Luna bars, because if you’re anything like me you’ll constantly feel a raging hunger, especially right after nursing.
Smart phone / Kindle / iPad / lots of magazines: for those marathon nursing sessions.
Lanolin: for sore nipples. I stopped using it after about 3 months and still have over 3/4 of the tube left, however if you’re pumping regularly this stuff is a lifesaver! As an added bonus, it’s awesome for dry or chapped lips!
Mother’s Milk tea: for those cluster-feeding and growth spurt days where you need a boost.
Solly Baby Wrap: did you know skin to skin contact is super awesome for your supply? It can increase your prolactin levels, which are the hormones responsible for helping your body make milk!
Breast pads: because none loves waking up in a pool of breast milk, and leaking while you’re at the grocery store is not the most fun thing. My favorite are Bamboobies, I love that you can just throw them in the wash and reuse them instead of having to throw them out.
Prenatals: because sometimes it’s hard to make sure you’re eating a well balanced diet, and as a breastfeeding woman you need a ton of calcium and to replenish your iron levels after childbirth, which prenatals can help provide.
Kellymom.com: my holy grail of mothering websites. There has literally not been an answer I couldn’t find on KellyMom, and its way less scary than googling.

 

What are some of your essentials for breastfeeding?

Why I deleted my Facebook App

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Keeping up with the Joneses sometimes gets to be a little too much. After becoming a mom, I find myself constantly comparing everything H and I are doing to what other moms are doing and more often than not I feel like I’m coming up short. A wise mama once told me “Stop should-ing yourself!”, which is great in theory but has been difficult for me to put into action.

Everytime I log into Facebook or Instangram, I’m seeing happy mamas post about their babies rolling over, scooting and crawling and starting to pull themselves up. I’m inundated with exciting milestones that should be celebrated, but instead all I can see is green.

The worst part is, my mommy friends are awesome but I was starting to feel a little angry towards them, even though I know I’m going to be shouting it from the rooftops when H does start crawling, etc. These moments that they’re sharing are not done so in a “na-na-na boo boo” way, but for some reason I still can’t shake the competitive highschooler out of my head.

When I should be happy for them, all I’m doing is questioning my mothering. Am I not doing enough to inspire him? Should I be doing something else? Am I not “monkey see, monkey do”ing enough? Is that why he’s not rolling or scooting? Am I holding too much and preventing him from hitting milestones because of that? Should I put him down on his own more often so he can figure it out? Is there something wrong with him that he can’t find the mechanical skills necessary to be able to physically do it?

It always boils down to the fact that I’m doing something wrong, why is that? My husband only ever tells me how awesome of a job he thinks I’m doing, I’m home with him everyday and do my best to make sure all of his developmental needs (artistic, cognitive, emotional, motor, sensory, language) are met through activities all day, but why do I still feel like I’m falling short?

I was so caught up in comparing what milestones H was crossing off that I realized I was missing so many little moments. Saturday the 26th I was re-watching a video of a mama friends 6 month old crawling for the third time when I noticed it was quiet. I looked up and saw H staring directly at me, and when I returned his gaze he gave me such a big smile. I honestly have no idea how long he had been looking at me and I was crushed. I locked my screen and put the phone to the side, picked him up and gave him a huge hug.

Facebook was draining me of living in the moment with H, so I did something about it. Now I no longer get the million notifications every day that I can’t help but check on, and end up feeling guilty over. I’m still working on the jealousy issue, but I know soon enough H will be zooming across the floors faster than I can keep up so right now I’m reveling in the fact that he enjoys cuddling and is non-mobile. In fact, the day after I deleted Facebook and started playing with him more, he rolled over back to front and front to back, very intentionally. It was like he was giving me some validation, a sign that he knew I was worried and he could do big things if he wanted to, but that he’s just stubborn (I wonder where he gets that from…) and wanted to do things on his own schedule. Also? I discovered H could turn the pages of his books by himself, he has started clapping, and that he loves when a dog licks his toes, not to mention I’m sleeping so much better.

The first two days were really hard, like really really embarrassingly hard, but it’s gotten easier.

Yes, I still have my phone with me 75% of the time, but that’s because I can’t help but take pictures of H constantly. He is so fascinated by everything right now that I want to capture as much of his wonder and joy as possible so that I can relive it later.

 

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6 Month Update

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Height: 30 inches (100th %)
Weight: 22 lbs 15 oz (100th %)
Head: 47.5 cm (100th %)
Wearing: 12m – 18m

This past week has been rough for me. It blows my mind that half of an entire year has already passed since Zach and I first laid eyes on Harrison. I still remember laughing through the final push (I know, everyone in the room thought I was coo-coo banana pants too) and the feeling of utter joy and happiness as my midwife handed H to me and I put him to my chest. I still get really teary when I think about it, and most days it feels like it only happened yesterday.

There was so much more I wanted to do for him in his first 6 months of life, and so much more I wanted to document and so many more crafts I wanted to complete, but it didn’t happen. Instead, I can honestly say I’ve thrown the schedule out and done my best to just live in the moment with my little H. While that does mean I have honestly gotten none of the Pinterest projects done, his nursery is still missing a few things, most days I eat breakfast at noon and he’s still not sleeping by himself during the day, I’m enjoying every little bit (except the post-shots hours… those suck).

Our six month check up was great (except for aforementioned shots of course)! Our pediatrician told me H is the biggest baby that’s come through his practice, and is pretty amazed it’s all just breast milk which makes me feel so amazing about what my body is doing for him. While H is super off the charts in weight, the pedi assured me that there are no such things as overweight or obese babies, especially when nursing on command, and that it’s totally ok that he’s not rolling yet. Apparently when you weigh as much as an “average” 1.5 year old but only have the developmental abilities of a 6 month old, moving all that mass can be pretty hard work! He also gave us the OK to start solids, so I’m officially on the hunt for a high chair and we’ll begin our baby led weaning (BLW) journey this week! While we’ll be skipping the rice cereal, we’ll probably do a mix of BLW and purees and see what works best for us.

It is incredible to me how much he has changed and learned this last month! He is constantly babbling and talking – especially to his Sophie and Max the Raccoon, and has the greatest facial expressions. My favorite is the look he sometimes gives me when I try to make crazy noises so he’ll smile for me – he raises one eyebrow and the dimple in his chin becomes super pronounced and I can just tell in his mind he’s thinking “what in the heck is this woman doing?!”.

A few happenings from this month:

  • H experienced his first 4th of July.
  • He is mostly sitting up unassisted! However once he catches sight of his feet, its usually game over and he folds over and rolls on his side to suck on his toes and play with them.
  • He waved goodbye to my mom and dad the other night! I totally missed it (sob), but Zach and my parents swear it was real.
  • He wraps his arms around my neck when I’m holding him.
  • He reaches out for me when I go to pick him up! Best feeling in the world!
  • His most used phrase lately is “mama mama mama mmmmama”. He’s also stringing together tons of vowels and several consonants.
  • He has started to become a little bashful when he talks to pretty ladies – so cute. He’ll smile, then tilt his head down, smile some more and then burrow his head into my shoulder and look back to see if the other person is still there.
  • H went swimming for the first time! He wasn’t so sure about the chilly water, but he promptly passed out at 6:14pm and slept until 6:30 the next morning, so mama loved that.
  • H has had banana twice, cucumber once and cantaloupe once and loved them all! (He’s all about gnawing on anything he can grab off my plate – including apple slices, carrots, avocado and hummus so technically he’s had those as well.)
  • He turns towards us when we say his name.
  • He loves playing airplane and peekaboo.
  • He turns himself around in a circle while on his back! Often when we go into his room in the mornings, he’s turned 180*.
  • He definitely recognizes Zach, me, my mom and dad.
  • He has started to interact and play more with other babies.
  • He still loves standing and would much rather be vertical than horizontal.
  • H and I have made it to 6 months of exclusively breastfeeding! I am so incredibly proud of myself and my body and love that we have met my first breastfeeding goal!
  • A personal something related to meeting our nursing goal – I have donated 923 ounces of breast milk to local moms in need because of my oversupply since May of this year. I feel so fortunate to have the ability to breastfeed and that our journey has been generally pretty easy, and instead of complaining about my oversupply I decided to take advantage and share what I have. I hope to continue donating as long as possible and am in the process of getting certified to donate to a local NICU to help more families and their babes in a stressful situation.

 

June 16 – 22

June 23 – 29

June 30 – July 6

July 7 – 14

There have been so many moments this past month that I hope to always remember. One that stands out in particular – Zach and I were cooking dinner after he had gotten home from work, and had the Ray Lamontagne Pandora station on, and H was playing on a mat we made up for him and was babbling away to his chimpanzee Elway and moving in circles. It felt so perfect, like this is what being a family was all about: Zach was helping H stand up and we were all dancing around in the kitchen together, being silly and totally absorbed in the moment. There were giggles and I just kept looking around at these two perfect people thinking how lucky I was. It had been a really long and rough day with no naps from H, and I was feeling a little like an incompetent and subpar mom, and that hour and a half completely refreshed my soul.

This has been the hardest and most wonderful 6 months, full of ups and downs and I can’t wait to see what the next 6 will bring!

Feature Friday: The Vintage Honey Shop

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As anyone who’s following my Instagram knows, I have become hugely obsessed with the fantastic teething / nursing necklaces from The Vintage Honey Shop. I was fortunate enough to be selected as a Brand Ambassador and haven’t looked back since! H is such a busy nurser around – constantly is flailing his arms and legs, and has been so distracted lately now that he’s so aware of his surroundings. It’s so bad sometimes that my husband can’t be in the room or else H gets too worked up, so we’ve resorted to a lot of nursing sessions in my bedroom with the shades drawn and the noise machine on. Not only are his arms flailing, but his sharp nails always managed to graze my chest or cheeks just right to give me little scratches and bruises from pinching.

Enter: The Vintage Honey Shop‘s Nursing Necklaces.

Jen and Melissa, co-creators of The Vintage Honey Shop, met in their church youth group in Ohio and eventually ended up marrying brothers and went from best friends to sisters in law. In January of 2011 they decided to open up an Etsy shop as a creative outlet; they were always making crafty little things for their friends and were constantly being encouraged to sell them so they decided to take the plunge. They love being not only family, but also best friends and business partners! They have turned their little shop into a successful SAHM business that frequently burns the midnight oil and I got the chance to interview them to find out a little more about the lovely ladies behind TVHS!

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How did you two decide on “The Vintage Honey Shop” for your shop name?
After we decided to open up shop, we knew we needed a name. Since we didn’t want a name that would lock us into selling a certain product, we wanted a name that would be a good fit, regardless of what we sold. But it was hard, especially when a lot of great names are taken already! We were texting back and forth one day while we were both cooking dinner for our families and somehow ended up on the following train of thought, “What if we named our shop after our favorite color… like yellow… but more of a vintage honey yellow… Oh! And what if we used a vintage looking bee as our logo?” And the rest is history!

What was your first official product?
When we first opened, we made paper & fabric crafts: notebooks, flower pins, burp cloths, a bunch of things! It’s cool to look back at all of the “failed” products and see where God has brought us to now! (For a look back at some of their previous products, click here!)

What is your favorite product?
Our necklaces of course! What is your favorite print you’ve ever made a necklace with? Honestly, we love them all! We joke that they’re like our children and we just can’t pick one favorite. The reason why we have such a selection is because we can’t stop buying cute fabric and we can’t retire our old ones because we love them too much! We are like fabric hoarders!

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What makes TVHS different from others who also make teething or nursing necklaces?
We believe in quality. We only use the best, highest quality materials on the market. Our customers let their babies chew on our necklaces, so we only use premium materials. It does cost us almost twice as much to buy better quality, but as mothers ourselves, we wouldn’t have it any other way! We are also extremely picky – we inspect every necklace at least three times before it goes out to its new home. We put pride and love into each and every one of our home made necklaces!

What are your goals for TVHS?
To rule the world! Just kidding :) While we have already expanded, want to always remain mama handmade and to be able to train and hire local Nashville stay at home mamas to help make our products instead of sending them off to be manufactured by a factory. We currently have three assistants to help us out: two seamstresses and one shipping assistant. Each of them are dear friends who are passionate about TVHS and who are also mothers. We would love to be known for our quality and integrity. Being able to hire them has helped us out tremendously because we were not able to keep up with the high deman while also still being able to spend time with our children. It has also been a blessing to their families – when someone buys a necklace from our shop, they are directly impacting real, every day mamas!
We would also like to be able to sell our nursing scarves all the time. Right now, we can only sell them in collections a few times a year, but as our business grows we hope to be able to add more of them into our shop!

What has been the most challenging part of starting a business?
Balance!  We have really busy lives.  Mel volunteers at her kids school 1-2x a week, her husband is a law school student & she works weekends as a critical care RN.  Jen homeschools her three boys, volunteers at her church & spends time helping two of her sons who have special needs (autism & language delay).  Between our schedules & our business, it has been hard to find balance.  Hiring help has been our saving grace.  We can spend time doing our favorite parts of the business & be able to devote time to our famlies!

With that said, if you could do it all over again, would you?
Absolutely! It has been such a blessing to our families and has really made us proud of ourselves to have started a business on our own!

What has been the most rewarding part of opening up your own shop?
The love and support of our shop! It blesses us to tears when we get positive reviews or fan photos! We have put so much into our shop that it is very, very personal to us. We absolutely love our shop – more than we ever imagined!

What advice would you give to others who are just starting out?
Make sure you love what you make – if you’re passionate about it, then others will be too! Find your target customers and if your initial product fails, then don’t give up, just keep trying until you find one that takes off!

- Jennifer & Melissa

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I have nothing but great things to say about TVHS! I have to say that before I became a breastfeeding mama, I had seen some nursing necklaces and was kind of turned off by the idea and just didn’t get why they were necessary. They looked weird and heavy, and were not cute at all. However, once I started looking like I had gotten into a fight with my cat, I knew I needed a solution and after a lot of time on Pinterest and Instagram trying to find a solution to my crazy nurser, I was happy to stumble upon and fall in love with The Vintage Honey Shop.

I have both the teething and teething ring styles of their nursing necklaces and H and I love them both. Not only are they super cute, but they’re incredibly functional as well. I love that I can also tie the necklaces myself with the adjustable ribbons, depending on how high or low I want it to be. While I’m wearing H around, I typically tie it up a little higher so he has something to play with while I peruse Target, and while we’re at home or nursing I usually make the necklace a little longer so H can grab on to it a little easier.

There have been a few times where I’ve forgotten to put on my necklace at home or forgotten to wear one out with H, and there is such a big difference in how he nurses. With the necklace, he goes from a crazy tornado to a much tamer little beast: his legs stop flailing and he doesn’t try to grab and pinch my nose, cheeks, lips, glasses, hair, etc. It has been a godsend to my poor body! As a huge bonus, it seems like when he has something to focus on, H is a much less distracted nurser and will actually sit still for me for longer than a minute and a half to breastfeed (which is pretty miraculous these days).

Not breastfeeding? You’ll still love these necklaces for your teething babe! H has been showing all the classic symptoms of teething for about a week and does not want to be put down at all, which has resulted in a lot of baby wearing! THVS’s necklaces are great to wear while wearing your baby because they have something to hold and chew on that isn’t your hair or shoulder or hand. Additionally, the necklaces provide your babe with visual and tactile stimulation! As their tagline says, “Mama wears ‘em, baby chomps ‘em“!

You can tell that Jen and Melissa take such pride in their products and they pay attention to every little detail – including the packaging!

Want more The Vintage Honey Shop? Check out their Etsy shop // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Blog // Pinterest

Truthful Tuesdays

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1. I am terrible at sleep training. I know it works really well for some people, but I just can’t right now. I sit there in tears if I have to listen to H cry, and it’s too stressful.
2. Teething + nursing = not a good combination. At all. It feels like there are electric currents running through my body when he bites me.
3. I may sometimes complain to my hubby that I have no “me” time anymore, hence the failed attempt at sleep training, but I secretly kind of love that H needs me so much and sleeps so much better and longer if I cuddle him.
4. I judge myself as a mom based on milestones that H hits, and when.
5. When he hits milestones later than other babies his age I feel like it’s something I’m doing wrong.
6. I’m pretty sure the reason H won’t roll is because I never put him down and am always holding him and I pick him up the second he starts fussing.
7. I’m averaging 3-4 hours of sleep a night while H averages 10 – how does that work?
8. I seriously hate the question “so what do you do all day?” when people find out I’m a stay home mom.
9. I’m craving an adventure.
10. I wouldn’t trade my life for anything right now, even with all the stressors and craziness.

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My sweet, happy boy 💙