I’m not like you

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I’m not like you. I’m not like you mothers who have it all together. You mothers with organized pantries, clean floors, and empty laundry baskets.

I’ve been a mother since I was 18 years old. I’ve been a mother for 11 years already. Just. Whoa. She is the best gift God could have ever given me. He knew I would need her. Even when she didn’t know she was helping me get through the days, she was my buoy in an unforgiving sea.

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Some days I don’t want to drag my tired body out of bed and greet a child. At those moments I would rather sleep till noon and wake up to silence. And then, I would get lonely. The times that thoughts of another life creep in, thoughts of the opposite aren’t far behind. Thoughts that remind me I do not like being alone. I prefer to turn the corner and be greeted by chubby cheeks and sticky hands. That is my life.

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One day there will come a time when I am “relieved” of my motherly duties and left to face life alone. Without the laughter a little one can bring with a random new saying they’ve learned, or a word that can’t seem to pronounce just right. It’s at that time I will have empty laundry baskets, clean floors, and a semi-organized pantry (let’s not kid anyone). On 99.8% of days I would rather have the laughter, the chaos, and the snotty kisses than any kind of perfection in my home.

That is who I am. That is who I am called to be. I am not like you and I don’t want to be.

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Homemade baby food

We’ve just started the process of making baby food. I knew with Knoa I wanted to start out with avocado. It’s one of mine and my husbands favorite foods and I want my kiddos to like it! With my first child I had absolutely no clue and she was eating fruit the first day.

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I found an amazing little thing called a Beaba. It allows you to steam foods and blend them in the same appliance. Can you say EASY?! Just what this mama needed. If you’re interested in checking it out you can get one HERE.

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So far we’ve done avocado and butternut squash. Knoa loves both. I blend them and freeze them in a baby food safe freezer container like THIS. Next we will be trying a recommended recipe for a friend… avocado and apples! I can’t wait for Knoa to try this one out. I’m trying to stay pretty simple with his foods for now!

What are YOUR favorite homemade recipes?

WIN BIG with Zulily’s Back To School Giveaway

Win $500 in Zulily’s Back To School Giveaway

There is nothing better than getting all of your back-to-school shopping done in one place…unless you can get it done AND get paid for! Enter to win the zulily Back To School Giveway where both you and I can each win $500 in zulily credits!

How do you do it?

While you’re back-to-school shopping on zulily.com from 8/4 – 8/11, pick out your favorite item (apparel, shoes, accessories, gear and more) and post a link to that item in the comments section below. zulily will announce their winner on 8/12, and if we win, I’ll announce who my winner is on 8/13!

A HUGE thanks to zulily for making the task of back-to-school shopping fun!

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

The best face wash for VERY sensitive skin

Yes my title may seem a little bit extreme… but I am not kidding. I have literally tried everything you can spout out of your mouth. I’m not sure why I have such sensitive skin but I have had it since I can remember. My mom used to sell Mary Kay and would put makeup on me and my poor face would turn red and get itchy all over. I’m not huge on wearing makeup anymore b/c there just isn’t time and I don’t like the way it feels. Having a good face was that helps my skin look even better is a HUGE plus!

The best face wash for sensitive skin

I was headed to the health store to look for some teething remedies for my little one when I decided I’d check out the face wash options. I have been in the market for some FOREVER. I have been using coconut oil to wash and moisturize for the time being. I have tried goats milk face wash in the past and had some success with it. However it was homemade and I do not recall the seller. I came across Zum face wash and immediately could tell it was VERY pure. It seemed to have very little ingredients. And then I smelled it… AHHHH! It smells like morning kisses from the sun! SERIOUSLY! So I bought it for just $10!

I got home and was very excited to give it a try. Of course I just kept telling myself this was going to be like EVERY other face wash that says it’s for sensitive skin and then breaks my face out in a crazy red rash. NOT! It rocked. I literally cannot wait to wake up and wash my face in the morning b/c the smell and feel of this stuff is so stupendous. Yes I did say stupendous. This stuff makes ya doing crazy things!

So now I’m using Zum face wash and then coconut oil to moisturize. If you’re like me and need something pure you can find Zum HERE or check out your local health store. And if you wanna know what coconut oil I used you can find it HERE. Good stuff.

Let me know in the comments what you like to use!

How to Save Money at Target With Coupons

My shopping trip at Target today was one of my favorite so far. I wanted to share with you my transaction and how I saved a LOT by using coupons at Target. Here is a picture of some of my top deals from today…

Shopping cheap at target with coupons

I’ll start out by saying if you don’t have a Target I feel SO sorry for you! It’s absolutely one of my favorite places to not only shop but to save money. From Cartwheel, to Target coupons, to Catalina coupons! It’s one of the few places that has it’s own store coupons that you can stack with manufacturer coupons.

Here is a breakdown of how I got all of this for under $12 at Target…

1) 4 boxes of Perfect Zone Protein Bars- They had a promo on these for buy 4 and get a $5 gift card. They also had a Cartwheel deal on only the Greek Chocolate Yogurt flavor (limit of 2). I purchased 2 of the greek yogurt boxes at $4.99 with 25% off on Cartwheel, making them $3.74 per box. I also purchased two kids Perfect Zone bars at $3.99. My kiddos love these for snacks and breakfast on the go. Now when you add the 4 bars up you come to a total of $15.47. NOT good…. yet! I also had 2 coupons for $2.50 off of 2 boxes of Perfect Zone bars printed from the internet. This brought my total down to $10.47. I then received a $5 gift card BACK on my purchase making the total for 4 boxes of bars only $5.47 or $1.37 per box! Super sweet deal!

Getting Suave at Target for Cheap

2) 2 packs of Suave Shampoo and Conditioner (4 bottles all together) and 1 Suave Dry Shampoo- They also had a promo for Suave products for buy 3 get a $5 gift card. I purchased the 2 double packs at $3.79 a piece (great sale price anyway) and the dry shampoo for $2.89. My total before discounts was $10.47 for all 5 products. I first used a $1.00 off Catalina coupon (coupon given to me from Targets register after a previous transaction). This brought my total to $9.47. Target also had a coupon on THEIR website for $3.00 off of $10.00 in Suave products. This brought my total to $6.47 for all 5 products. This would have been a good deal if I had stopped there anyway. I THEN received a $5.00 gift card back due to the promo. This made my total $1.47 for all 5 products or .29 per bottle of Suave. OH YES!

FREE school supplies at Target with coupons

3) 3 Up & Up brand folders with prongs and 3 Up & Up brand index cards. Target had a coupon on THEIR site for $1.50 off of 3 Up & Up school supplies. 3 folders came to a total of $1.50 which after the coupon made all 3 of them FREE. The index cards were .49 a piece or a total of $1.47. After using a second coupon on the 3 index cards I actually made back .3 cents. Target does not allow overage paid to you but will use it towards your purchases.

4) 2 boxes of Townhouse Pretzel Thins. Target had an amazing offer on their Cartwheel app for 50% off of these boxes. Their original price was $2.50. With the discount the boxes were just $1.25. I didn’t stop there though! I have an account through Kelloggs website. Anytime I buy a Kellogg item I can put in a 16 digit code that can be found on their boxes (poptarts, cereal, etc). You earn points for every code that is entered. The points will allow you to print rare coupons on Kellogg products. I had 600 points which allowed me to print 2 coupons for .75 cents off any Townhouse crackers. After using Cartwheel and my coupons I was able to get each box for just .50 cents! BOOYAH!

5) 1 pack of Quilted Northern double 12 pack or 24 regular. This toilet paper was on sale for $6.00 this week. I had a $1.00 off coupon from Target as well as a $1.00 of coupon from the manufacturer (can be found at http://www.coupons.com). This made the toilet paper just $4.00 a pack!

Cheap bug spray at Target with coupons

6) Double pack of OFF bug spray. I found this on sale for $3.98. Target has been marking a lot of Summer type items down this week. I happened to have some coupons I had previously printed in my coupon binder (read more about that HERE). I had a coupon for $2.00 off of any OFF product. This brought my total to $1.98. I ALSO had a target coupon for $1.00 off any OFF product. This brought my total to just .98 cents for TWO bottles of bug spray!

I hope you enjoyed hearing about my awesome deals at Target today and that this encourages you to save a little money for your family. If you have any questions on how I did this or how to use coupons please feel free to comment below or email me at pandarussell@gmail.com

DIY Natural Teething Remedy for Baby

How to Make All Natural Teething Paste For Babies

 

After going through a few days with Knoa constantly fussing and attempting to shove his fist down his throat, I decided to check out some remedies to help with his teething. First of all I should let you know that my almost 4 month old had decided his first tooth would be his bottom right molar. INSANE! It has to be one of the hardest places to reach for a baby. I did see a post the other day about chewing on a hard carrot. Maybe we will try that next!

We are going out of town tomorrow to photograph a wedding about 4 hours away. We’ll be gone a couple of days. I’ve been getting pretty nervous about leaving him as pitiful as he is. We have been using Hyland’s teething tablets  which he seems to love. We also use Gripe Water here and there. Both are made from natural ingredients. I also had a baltic amber teething necklace shipped in 1 day and hope to see that tomorrow before we head out. SOMETHING has to help right!?

Because I am not a fan of Orajel I decided to make my own gel/paste for my little one. I took a trip to the Health food store to pick up some Clove Oil, you can also get it HERE on Amazon if you’re not in a HUGE hurry or can’t find it locally. I already had some Organic coconut oil handle since I use that for my face. Most grocery stores carry this now. You can also get it on Amazon HERE. And that is all you need! Well and a small container to hold the awesomeness.

How to Make All Natural Teething Paste For Babies

 

First measure out 2 tablespoons of your coconut oil and put it in your container. I leave my coconut oil out at room temperature which also helps to make a paste because it’s not too hard.

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Next you will grab your Clove oil and put 1-2 drops per tablespoon. Since we have put 2 tablespoons of carrier oil we will need 3-4 drops of Clove oil. You WILL smell it.

All Natural Teething Paste For Babies

Stir your coconut oil and clove together to complete the paste. It is recommended to try the paste on your own gums to make sure you didn’t make it too strong for baby.

You can also use another carrier oil such as olive oil or or almond oil.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on making a natural teething paste for your little one. If you have any questions feel free to comment below.

 

 

 

One of my favorite baby carriers // The Ergobaby

***UPDATE! Today you can get the camel ERGObaby carrier for $69 on Amazon without the gift card promotion!!! Get it HERE

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We absolutely love our Ergo! I can’t tell you enough good things about it. This momma of 4 would get absolutely NO housework done if it weren’t for the Ergo. My little one is just 3 months here and as you can see hangs out pretty well in the Ergo. I started using the back carry as soon as he could hold his head up, which for him was a little earlier than most.  This is one of the best carriers for great back support. I have fibromayalgia and this carrier does not bother my back. I love that it can be used for front, back, and hip carry. I haven’t tried the hip carry because the little one is still too young. The Ergo is really awesome if you breastfeed also. It comes with a little flap or umbrella to cover baby’s head. It can be used for discrete nursing, to block the sun off their head, or just to keep touchy folks away.

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I have used the Moby in the past and love it for the beginning stages when my baby is still tiny. It helped keep us close and snug! And the price is pretty stellar!

If you’re like me you don’t have a whole lot of money to fish out for the Ergo, even though I SWEAR it is well worth the money and lasts forever. I bought mine as hand me down for about $20 less than retail. Not TOO bad! Right now Amazon is having an amazing sale on the Ergo in Camel. It ends up being only $62 and ships within 2 days if you have a Prime membership. What I love about the Camel Ergo is you can safely dye it any beautiful color you like! Check out this one done by Mommy’s a little random.

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Go Get your Ergo on sale here —-> Ergobaby Original Collection Baby Carrier, Camel

Don’t forget to scroll down and look for the promotion to get $25 back in Amazon gift cards making your Ergo just $62!!!

Leave me a comment letting me know why you already love Ergo or if you purchase one today!

Why Fuzzibunz Didn’t Work For Us

Fuzzibunz Cloth Diapers

 

We started the cloth diaper journey with our 4th and newest kid. Why we waited till now to do this I do not know. Cloth Diapering has been awesome and is saving us some serious moolah! A very generous and kind friend donated some of her fuzzibunz to us along with some Microfiber inserts. I was so grateful to have them! Since you generally need around 25 diapers in your stash we knew we’d need to purchase a few more. Being the frugal gal that I am I searched on Facebook b/s/t groups for some EUC Fuzzibunz diapers. I came upon some at $10 a piece that had only been used once. SCORE! We also found 4 brand new ones at a local salvage store for a great price! Our stash was up to 17! WE prepared the elastic and stuff them all with inserts and put them up till baby arrived.

Baby came on March 1st, 2014. We started out by using the disposables given to us via friends and family. I had heard it might be best to use them the first couple of months anyway until we get used to the newness and the nursing. And then the time came to try these adorable, colorful little diapers on our tiny man. I was stoked to start something new and to never purchase disposables again. Putting them on was pretty easy, but I noticed they weren’t covering his bum really well. We were very close to seeing some plumbers crack! I figured I wasn’t doing something right! Then we started to get leaks pretty regularly. I was sorta bummed so I started researching as much as I could. I found out that there are heavy wetters out there and we were blessed to have one. A local friend had some very absorbent Baby Kicks hemp inserts and was gracious enough to sell those to me for a steal! I was immediately pleased when we tried these out. No leaking and the diapers lasted more than 30 minutes!

One day I happened upon an adorable spiderman diaper and knew we had to have it. If it has superhero we own it! As soon as the diaper arrived I knew there was something different about it. I love the charcoal inside and the rise on this thing was AWESOME! I made my way back to Facebook to see what the brand was. It was a Happy Flute cloth diaper. I was in love! It fit my little man perfectly and along with the hemp insert we were good to go. We had found the diaper that worked for us!!!

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I share all of this to let you know that there are a MILLION different cloth diapers out there and not all of them will work for you. I have heard AMAZING reviews on the Fuzzibunz and know people that absolutely can’t live without them. The Fuzzibunz didn’t work for us and that’s ok! They are still a great company with adorable diapers. I am so glad we chose not to give up on the cloth diapering journey and that in the end found something that worked really well for us. So if you decide to try out cloth diapers and aren’t sure which brand to try please make sure you purchase one of a few different brands before buying your whole stash. There are some great companies out there that allow you to “try” diapers out and either return them for free or purchase the at a discount if you liked them. A couple of those places are Kelly’s Closet and Diaper Junction.

I plan to share more about our journey with cloth diapers in the future so check back if you’re interested!

Must Have Items For The New Mommy

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There are some things out there that you will never need for your newborn, and then there are some things you won’t be able to do without. I wanted to share some of the things I felt I desperately needed during my time with a new baby. Some things won’t apply to you and some of them will. Either way I hope you enjoy checking them out!

  • Gowns– I love these things and the world makes it harder and harder for us to find them! I searched all the stores in Hattiesburg with NO success. I eventually ended up ordering them off of Amazon. The gowns are really good for new babies because it doesn’t matter how long they end up being. They don’t hang down like a onesie or pants that don’t fit correctly. They also allow easy access for changing all those poopy diapers your little one will produce in the beginning! Check out my FAVORITE gown HERE.
  • Nursing Pads– Not just nursing pads but THICK nursing pads. I highly underestimated how often I’d be changing these guys out. I also underestimated the size of my breasts (not necessarily a bad thing)! Most of the breast pads I had were either too small, too thin, or very uncomfortable disposables. Do NOT waste your money on those! You will want to get some thick ones like THESE. If you get the white ones you can just bleach them!
  • Bouncer Seat– The bouncer seat has always been a lifesaver for us. With my first kiddo I took her everywhere around the house with me while she napped in it. I could always see her and make sure she was breathing fine. I don’t really have a favorite but comfort and width are really important. They don’t really use the toys when they are that little, although some will stare them down. Ours has vibration which is pretty neat and a nice little tune if your little one likes noise. I have heard amazing things about THIS one, it is supposed to last up until toddler stage!
  • Spotify– This is not a joke. Spotify saved my life! The first week or two I used a baby station on Spotify that played either soft lullabies or spa type music. My little one sleeps so much better with noises going! Now I can play a little John Mayer or Ray Lamontagne on low and he’s good to go!
  • Large Swaddling Blankets– I kid you not that I am still using the awesome swaddling blankets from our hospital. They are the perfect size and they aren’t so thick that baby gets hot when swaddled. It’s also really hard to find these things in the right size and material. I adore the Aden + Anais muslin ones but have yet to spend the money on them!

This is all I’ve got for now! I’m sure I will accumulate even more favorites as Knoa gets older! Got a favorite? Share in the comments below.

Why Family Photos Are So Important

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Family photos are one of the most important ways to document your life. Don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe in living life to the fullest and enjoying the moments without distractions. But taking the time to have photos done with your family can be so rewarding for the future. There is nothing more precious than having that time of each of your lives to look back on. Once we had family photos done with the kids where we gave them the freedom to wear WHATEVER they wanted. Sure it probably was a style disaster, but I wanted to remember them as they were right at that precious moment. This is how it turned out…

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Not too bad right?!

Photo courtesy of Bethany Gilbert

And then once we matched…

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Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Ann Photography

I wouldn’t give up any of these photos for any reason! The last ones I had done of the kiddos brought straight up gator size tears to my eyes! The kids were so grown and so beautiful. And it doesn’t hurt that we chose some amazing professional photographers that knew their stuff!!!

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So stinkin cute right??

Photo courtesy of JoCo Foto

I knew that with Knoa’s birth this month I would want some new photos capturing this season in our lives. It was really hard for me to do though because in order to capture his newborn stage I would still have lots of mommy belly showing up. I was really scared and almost canceled the photos the week of the shoot. I had to remind myself that this is my 4th child and the mommy belly was going to linger a little bit longer and look a little worse. I also reminded myself that this is NOT about ME. It’s about my precious littles and capturing who they are right now. I didn’t wanna miss out on that, not even over a little mommy belly! So here are our beautiful and most recent family photos courtesy of one of my favorite photographers, Sully Clemmer.

Russell (199) Russell (195) Russell (189) Russell (187) Russell (184) Russell (171) Russell (165) Russell (153) Russell (116) Russell (104) Russell (93) Russell (81) Russell (61) Russell (53) Russell (36) Russell (33) Russell (7)

And THAT ^ is why family photos are so important =)