The holidays always bring out the mega list-maker and crazy planner in me. Between buying gifts for everyone, the busiest time of year for me as a photographer, and typically planning vacations, birthdays, and hosting events, I’ve got lists coming out of my ears. It’s not wonder that I like to start checking things off as early as possible.
While most people don’t start thinking about Christmas photos until October or even November, the truth is that as a photographer, I typically start thinking about Christmas photos and cards well before the holiday season actually arrives.
I like to have my cards before Thanksgiving so I can send them out the following week. One great tip is that MANY cardmakers have sales going on before Thanksgiving. I don’t have to pay for faster shipping since I have time, and I can really take my time choosing my cards. This year, I’ve partnered with Minted to get the perfect Christmas cards for our family.
I’ve used Minted multiple times in the past, and I am always so happy with the quality of their cards. They have beautiful designs, ranging from minimalist to classic. You can check out some of this year’s trends in Christmas card designs here! I’m really digging the neutrals for this year, but I haven’t decided on my design just yet.
My favorite feature of theirs is that I can input all my contacts and they will address my envelopes for me! This is an enormous timesaver, and it’s probably the one part of this task that delays me immensely. But I really also love how easy their site is to use, and the fact that I can get a digital proof of my card before I order it helps me to not goof up my cards because I was trying to get them done quickly.
So if you're in need of checking something off your list, head to Minted to get your Christmas cards done. It will be one more thing off your list and one less thing to do once the season really starts to ramp up.
Here's the second look in my denim experiment. You can find the jeans and tee linked here. Since fall is in full swing everywhere but Miami, I'm going as fall as I can without sweating my butt off. A colorful plaid shirt in the thinnest flannel possible is a good way to bring in a classic fall look. The booties with a tiny heel are perfect for running errands, and the camel color is so classic that I can definitely see myself using these for years to come. And the tiny bag? Big enough to fit my phone, chapstick, my keys, my credit card, and a shopping list. The perfect bag for when my kids are not with me, ha! (Maybe for Thanksgiving errands or Black Friday shopping?)
The shirt, the shoes, and the bag are all from Gap. I've linked similar styles below. This is honestly a really comfy look and one that I can put on year after year and feel like I'm in the spirit of fall.
Photos by Sasha de Almagro
Shop My Look
I was debating whether or not I should continue writing these monthly lists, so I took a super scientific poll on my Instagram Stories (lol). 91% of those of you who voted said you actually read them, so I'll keep it going for you - but I'll be checking my Google Analytics!
With that being said, I forgot to publish one last month - the last couple months were a little bit of a blur with the lack of sleep. But I have managed to get a couple new posts out to you in the last two weeks, so I think we are on an upward swing here! Anyway, here's what I've been loving in October and what I'm looking forward to next month!
If you know me, you know I LOVE jeans. I always have. I love dresses and I love to dress up and wear fun outfits, but the truth of the matter is, I am a jeans girl. So I thought it would be fun to do a series where I dress up a pair jeans and a white tee in different ways and share the looks with you. These are 100% looks that I have worn or will wear on some occasion or another. They're all looks I created with things I already had in my closet, and I'll be sharing them with you over the next couple weeks.
The whole point of this is to give you some ideas of outfits you can wear with things you already have in your closet, or how you can update your wardrobe with just a few pieces while keeping your basics the same. I LOVE avant garde fashion and runway looks as much as the next woman, but that's just not a reality for my lifestyle. And while I love to follow all the cool fashion bloggers, a lot of their looks also don't really fit into my lifestyle. I like to look on trend but I'm also not willing to spend too much on my wardrobe (because kids, pregnancy, and an ever-changing body) nor do I have the time to go shopping every week. So every season I buy a couple of items to update my wardrobe, but I use the same basics that I have in rotation in my closet.
A pair of slim ankle-length jeans and a good quality white tee (that rings up at only $8! ).
We had our first tiny taste of cooler weather here in Miami this weekend - temperatures were the lowest they have been since May. The morning was brisk and the humidity was low, but by midday we were back in the 80s. So this look right here is doing fall in a very Miami way. I added a light scarf and a wool hat, (and even the wool hat may be too much). Pointy-toe flats and a carryall make a great look for running around town and getting errands done.
Photos by Sasha DeAlmagro
Shop the Look
I have partnered with JOHNSON’S for this post. All opinions are my own.
What is your favorite part of your day with your babies? Bath time with my babies has always been one of my favorite times of the day. It’s the one time of day where I am truly disconnected and focused 100% on them and on what I am doing. Bath time gives us endless smiles, lots of opportunity for babbling, talking, and the ever important sense of touch.
Back in July, JOHNSON’S sent me a sample of their new JOHNSON’S CottonTouch™ Newborn Wash & Shampoo and their CottonTouch™ Newborn Face & Body Lotion. I have always been partial to the smell of their original baby shampoo, and I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only person who associates the scent of JOHNSON’S with babies, but when I smelled the new CottonTouch™ line, I immediately knew that I had found a new favorite. The smell is light and fresh, and really perfect for babies. After bathing Chloe and applying lotion, I always just want to snuggle her and breathe in that smell.
The new CottonTouch™ line has both a Wash & Shampoo and a Face & Body Lotion. I have been using them on the kids (okay, okay - and on myself) since late July, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever switch away from it! While I was at the launch event for the new JOHNSON’S in August, I had the opportunity to speak with one of the lead scientists, Sandrine Alvarado. She gave me a little bit of background information on how the new CottonTouch™ line was formulated, and after hearing from her, I was even more excited about the product.
As I mentioned in a previous post, aside from a packaging facelift, the New JOHNSON’S products are hypoallergenic and are free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and fragrance allergens. The brand also removed dyes from all their washes, shampoos and lotions. The New CottonTouch™ Newborn Wash & Shampoo and the Newborn Face & Body Lotion are specially formulated for newborns and their sensitive skin. Of course, anyone can use these (and everyone in our house has used it).
But honestly, one of the coolest things about the new CottonTouch™ line? Both the Wash & Shampoo and the Face & Body Lotion contain actual cotton fibers. When I spoke with Sandrine, she explained that cotton fibers in the CottonTouch™ Newborn Wash & Shampoo help to keep the lather from making baby too slippery - because we all know that babies are slippery enough to begin with. She also explained that in the Newborn Face & Body Lotion, the cotton fibers help baby’s skin to absorb the lotion more quickly, because when you touch your baby, you want to feel their smooth skin, not a greasy lotion. (I can vouch for this because in the Miami humidity, I really don’t like to use body lotion that doesn’t absorb quickly. I can typically apply this and walk right out without feeling like a slippery mess!)
And another great thing about JOHNSON’S CottonTouch™ line? You can buy it from most of your favorite retailers, including Target!
So what are you waiting for? Go try it - I’m pretty sure you’ll love it as much as we do!
Photos by Sasha DeAlmagro
Hey there! It's a been a while, and odds are you haven't stopped by because I haven't had anything new to tell you. It's been nearly a month since my last post, and while I have been getting things done, attending events, and working my behind off, the truth is, I've been exhausted. The kids had both been sick on and off for almost 3 months, which led to major interruptions in their sleeping patterns. Sometime in August, Chloe went from being a perfect sleeper to needing to be rocked and nursed and coddled all night long. Caleb started school, got sick, and it was downhill from there.
I don't tell you this because I want your pity. I'm here to tell you that while social graces dictate that we should smile and "fake it till ya make it," the truth is, we don't always want to fake it, and we don't always feel like we will make it. In the roughest of my weeks, I probably mentioned to every soul I came across that my kids weren't sleeping through the night. If you were one of those people, I apologize profusely and thank you for not telling me to fly a kite. The truth is, for the last couple of months, I have felt like (and more than likely looked like) what Chloe looks like in the photo above. Crying, whiny, and perennially in a bad mood.
It's no wonder that sleep deprivation is used as a torture tactic on prisoners. Lack of sleep messes with all of your faculties - from energy levels, to brain chemical imbalances, and mood swings. I had zero energy. I couldn't focus on writing, and I was making really poor decision about what I ate. I kept putting off sleep training because it's something I've always grappled with. I fought it with Caleb, too. Once I did it, though, everyone was happier. I kept reminding myself of that.
And after a really rough night, I decided we needed to just go for it. I contacted a sleep consultant, Anet of Learn Eat Sleep, and she helped me come up with a plan for getting Chloe to sleep. We implemented it, and five days in, we've had two full nights of sleep. I feel almost superhuman. We have all woken up in good moods, we're not scrambling around because we hit snooze three times in a row, and everyone is feeling so much better about themselves.
But why a full post on this? Because while I made mention in passing on my instagram Stories about Chloe's interrupted sleeping patterns, I wasn't really forthcoming in just how bad it had gotten. Guys, it was bad. One night, after the third wakeup and spending forty minutes hearing her cry and trying to get her settled, I had to go to our room to get Eddie. I was in tears, and I told him, "I'm scared I might hurt her. I'm scared of myself." Guys, THAT is what sleep deprivation does to us. Luckily for all of us, I don't suffer from any kind of mental health issue that might have barred me from recognizing that in that moment, I was NOT OKAY. That night, I totally understood why some moms might hurt their children.
According to my social media posts, however, everything seemed "fine."
But I wasn't. And you know what? It's okay not to be fine. It's OKAY to say, "I NEED HELP."
And while you're at it asking for help, remind yourself that you don't need to compare yourself to anyone else. Because as I just proved, I'm only showing you a highlight reel. I try to be honest and transparent, I really do. But I get caught up in this world too, and I want everyone to think I'm doing great. I want to be able to do it all, because after all, in this day and age, our value is measured by how much we produce, right? And raising children doesn't give us a tangible product (I mean, aside from our kids being alive and well at the end of the day).
But this is me, being transparent. And telling you that I certainly don't have it all together. And I'm here to remind you that it's one hundred percent okay if you don't either.
And that it's okay to say "I need help," or "I need a break." Because God knows I love my kids and my husband. But really, sometimes, I need to feed my own soul. And I need time away so that I can come back fulfilled and replenished. Then I can be the best wife & mom I know how to be.
So if you're feeling worn down, momma, know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. There are so many of us out here, crying tears of exhaustion and frustration at 2 am. I've been there. You're not the first, and you won't be the last. So ask for help.
And hang in there mama, you've got this.
When it comes to starting solids, it seems like there are several schools of thought. There’s the traditional route of rice cereal and purées, and within that category are those who make all their purées from scratch and then there are those who use store-bought purée. There’s baby-led weaning, which is considered progressive in some cultures, but if you talk to any mom with more than two kids you’ll probably hear something about how their third started on table food much more quickly than their other children did. There are those who say, “Food before one is just for fun,” and those who feel like their babies need more than breastmilk or formula to stay satisfied.
And I’m going to tell you that however you decide to start feeding your babies solids is for you and your child’s pediatrician to decide. I like to do a large combination of all of these things because I am all about balance, reality, and the ease with which I can adapt my kids to everyday life.
But I’m also going to tell you that amidst writing this post and introducing solids to Chloe, I also had to change my entire approach. So take it all with a grain of salt, and modify when needed. There's a saying in Spanish, "Cada hijo es un mundo," and it translates to "Each child is a world." Basically, no two children are the same, and what works for one of your children may not work for another. So like with anything else related to children, adapt adapt ADAPT.
First things first. Talk to your child's pediatrician. Make sure your pediatrician thinks your child is ready to start solids. With both of my kids, since I was exclusively breastfeeding, my pediatrician's recommendation was to wait until 6 months to introduce solids. I also feel more comfortable waiting until my kids are sitting up a little better, even if it's with support, just so that they aren't flopping over.
Decide on how you will start and gather what you need. If you're buying foods, figure out which ones you need to buy. If you're making it yourself, you'll need a few additional supplies! You don't need a special baby food maker - but you will need something in which to steam your veggies, a good blender, and containers to store and freeze the foods. You can check out my Amazon Idea List to see some of the things I use.
Just start! Don't overthink it too much. If your baby is showing interest in foods, it's probably a good time to try it.
A couple of key points I follow, regardless of what methods I'm trying:
Baby-Led Weaning vs. Traditional Purees
When I was ready to introduce solids to Caleb, I did a lot of reading up and came across baby-led weaning (BLW). I thought it had some really great merits, but I was still a little hesitant. I had a conversation with a great friend about it and she told me she had done a combination of BLW and traditional purees with her twins. After talking about how she did it, I knew it was something I could really get behind.
Some of the things I liked about BLW:
So how did I integrate the two?
Whenever I tried a new food, I introduced the "solid" first. These are finger-sized pieces of food that baby can grab and bite. Vegetables are steamed or boiled so they are soft enough for baby to chew. I prepared half of the food this way and then pureed the other half. After they had a chance to explore the new food, I would give them some in puree form so that I could make sure they ingested it. So I basically combined the best of the two methods and found what worked for us.
Again, this may or may not work for you, and for Chloe, it's been an adventure. I finally figured out that she likes fruits, but she isn't crazy about veggies, so if I mix the two, she will eat it. Of course she wants nothing to do with homemade food!
If you are in the process of starting solids with your little one, I hope this helps. But again, please please please check with your child's pediatrician before you introduce solids. This is simply me experience with my children and I am not a medical professional.
Good luck, mommas (and daddies, too!)! You've got this!
*The Read to Learn Book Club does not give away book bags with the monthly books & activity guides;
these were only gifts to bloggers as a thank you for sharing the information about the Book Club.
I’ve talked before about how important reading is. One of my favorite gifts to give is a book - because there is a book for every occasion out there. And while books aren’t always the most exciting gift, they can be incredibly meaningful, and the right book at the right moment in someone’s life can be powerful and life-changing.
I also love to gift books because it can get expensive to purchase books constantly - as an avid (well, avid pre-kids) reader, I can tell you just how pricey books can get. Of course, there is always the library, but sometimes it's nice to have books you can call your own.
The Children’s Trust knows how important reading is, and how essential it is for there to be books in the home. This summer, I participated in their #Read30 Movement. But did you know that if you have a three year old and you live in Miami-Dade County, your child can receive a free book every month for a year while they are three? The Children's Trust Read to Learn Book Club encourages parents with children three years or younger to sign up to receive free books.
This is a totally free, monthly book club, and it is open to all three-year-olds in Miami-Dade County. On their third birthday, all children are eligible to receive a free book every month, delivered right to their home.
Children may be registered for The Children's Trust Read to Learn Book Club up to six months before they turn three, and on the month of their third birthday, their year of fun and learning begins. What if your child already turned three, you ask? You can still register them up until one month before a child's fourth birthday - I actually just did Caleb’s! And, you can actually register your child to receive books in English or in Spanish.
The Book Club supports The Children's Trust Read to Learn initiative. This initiative was formed in response to research which shows that early reading experiences, along with opportunities to build vocabulary, and literacy-rich environments are the most effective ways to support the development of pre-reading and cognitive skills, so children are reading at or above grade level by third grade.
So if you are a resident of Miami-Dade and your child is about to turn three or is three now, register them! Give them the gift of reading, of a literacy-rich environment, and teach them to love books.
The Read to Learn Book Club is funded and administered by The Children's Trust, Miami-Dade Family Learning Partnership and Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe.
For some more tips and facts about early literacy, visit here.
What are you waiting for??? It's FREEEEEEEE! Go sign up!
Since we finished the addition on our house almost four years ago, I have been wanting to do a gallery wall of some kind. We have so many beautiful photos and they're mostly stored on phones and computers, so I really wanted to display some of our favorites and put our families up on the walls of our home.
We finally decided on this wall right at the entrance of the house. We had had a big piece of art up on the wall for a few years, but we felt like it was time to make it more personal. Eddie measured the wall, I set out on Pinterest to find a sample of something we liked, and we got to work.
We went with a very symmetrical, organized look because Eddie is a symmetry and numbers guy. I also wanted to be able to do a combination of portrait and landscape orientation. So when I found this pin, I thought it was absolutely perfect for what we wanted.
I did some calculations and drew up a diagram. We decided on 11x14 frames matted to 8x10, and I ordered them from Amazon. You can find them here (it is an affiliate link). Once they arrived, we put the photos in (I ordered those from a pro website I use but MPix and Artifact Uprising are two of my favorites for printing great quality images). We then used Command Hanging strips (2 strips per frame) to hang them up.
Eddie measured the space between each frame and was really meticulous about putting them up. Good thing, too, because it turned out perfect! For those of you who want to know, we left 2 inches between each frame.
I absolutely love how this wall turned out. I love walking into the house and seeing some of our most loved people on the wall, and I love how Caleb walks up to the photos and points to everyone. It really has helped to make our house feel like more of a home, and now I'm trying to figure out which other photos we can put up and where! ;)
There was an article floating around Facebook recently about how raising our kids near their grandparents can be tremendously beneficial for both our children and our parents (their grandparents).
I was so fortunate to grow up with three of my grandparents around and involved in my life (I am still lucky enough to say that I have two of them still around). My kids are even luckier because they have all four of their grandparents around and involved in their lives. Eddie's mom spends one day a week here with the kids and picks Caleb up from school, my dad picks Caleb up and takes him to school one morning a week, and we try to spend time with both sets of grandparents every weekend - sometimes all together and sometimes separately.
And while grandparents can sometimes overwhelm us as parents and have a hard time with boundaries, I am the first to recognize how important they are to not only our children's well-being, but to our own.
Grandparents have been through it before. What seems like a huge deal to us, they know is just a phase and that "this too, shall pass." They can share a perspective with us that might make us feel a little less overwhelmed by whatever situation we are enduring with our kids - be it tantrums, giving us a hard time about eating, or not sleeping.
They also have a seemingly infinite amount of patience. Because they aren't elbow-deep in the trenches all day anymore, they can usually handle our kids with an ease that leaves us with mouths gaping. Situations that would have me reacting or snapping at Caleb, they handle with grace and patience. Caleb will fight both Eddie and I on everything from brushing his teeth to picking up his toys. The grandparents swoop in and ask in another way, and BOOM! He's doing whatever we wanted or needed him to do. I am honestly flabbergasted at the way that our parents can get Caleb to do almost anything.
For Eddie and I, grandparents provide some much needed relief and some extra hands when we need it. Knowing I can count on our parents and that they are so close by is something I have been trying not to take for granted. Just this past week, both kids had been sick, and Caleb wasn't improving. Chloe had a pediatrician appointment, so I wanted to take Caleb to the appointment as well so the pediatrician could check him out. But the thought of going to the pediatrician with both kids by myself proved a little daunting, so I asked my mother-in-law to help me out. Without hesitation, she changed her plans and came to help me with the two kids at the pediatrician's office. This isn't the first time she has done that for us, either. And this week, my mom, knowing I had had a rough week with the kids, made an unplanned visit that allowed me to shower in peace and blow dry my hair. By the time she left, Caleb had eaten dinner and bathed, too - and I had gotten a tiny respite.
I almost feel bad asking for help sometimes, because I know that if I ask, they will move mountains to make their hands available for us. Many times I'll text my parents and ask, "Are you guys busy on Saturday?" And most of the time their response isn't, "We are," or "We're not," it's more often, "What do you need? How can we help?"
I know the relationship with grandparents can sometimes be difficult to navigate - as someone who finds it hard to relinquish control of my children to others, I really understand this. I become a huge micromanager when it comes to my kids. But I know how important grandparents are, and I am more and more grateful every day that my kids are blessed with four truly amazing grandparents. So while I am firm on some of my requests, I also try to give a little, because I know how special that relationship can be.
If you and your children are fortunate enough to have a good relationship with grandparents, who are involved and willing to be a part of your children's lives, take advantage of it. Give your parents and your children the gift of each other.
About this Mom
A Miami wife and mom documenting her days with her toddler and all that comes along with it.