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The Final Stretch

Sharing the mental and physical growing pains of the final stages of pregnancy. This post is sponsored by Palmer’s but all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help support this site.

When I look back at this past summer, where I spent my days outside in the hot and humid Connecticut sun, watching the kids run around in the yard jumping in and out of the kiddie pool it seems like forever ago. They’ve grown several inches now, grown shaggy hair and are already thinking about their summer plans. I think having a new baby and starting over overwhelms you with nostalgia of the younger days and brings a certain sadness of days past and an uncertain future. The kids are growing up and seem so old now. I miss their baby stage- when they needed me for survival and friendship. The emotional hormones are obviously overtaking this post as I reminisce about my babies no longer being babies. As I write this I’m seeing the literal growing pains that come with having a new little person enter into the family.

39 weeks. 39 weeks of several nightly bathroom visits, daily naps, swollen feet and ankles, back aches and stretching skin. At least half of those weeks were plagued with all day “morning sickness.” As I look down at my body and see how so much has changed the last 39 weeks I am both astonished at how quickly, yet how slowly time has passed. Does that make any sense to you? I found out I was pregnant pretty early on so it has really seemed that I have been pregnant forever. What started out as a little pooch that seemed like I just ate a little too much is now a full blown beach ball sticking out from under my shirt. It is the perfect size for my kids to reach out and caress their new baby sibling. It is the perfect height for my littles one to run up to me and kiss my belly button- where baby is “sweeping” (or sleeping) according to her.

I look down at my still changing body and see that this body has grown 5 little humans. This skin has been stretched to its capacity 5 different times and made room for little babies to grow. This body for the past 10 years has protected and nourished 5 little humans. It is a miracle. Plain and simple. And while my bones have proven themselves weaker, my skin has received extra elasticity: when my skin starts to itch from being stretched to its limit, I rub some of Palmer’s Massage Cream for Stretch Marks to improve my skin’s elasticity. Baby responds to the touch: a moving body part that unnaturally protrudes for a few seconds. It’s how we connect. And my kids get in on it as well as Palmer’s Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks provide an opportunity for them to connect with and feel the baby move.

It may be tomorrow or it might be 3 weeks from now, but the changes continue. We’ve been stretched both physically and emotionally as more responsibilities have fallen on my husband and children as I’ve dealt with many physical ailments brought on by pregnancy. We’ve been stretched emotionally as we’ve dealt with fears of the change in family dynamics and the logistics of adding another child to our family. We’ve been stretched and have seen the marks of our struggles. But, since we’ve done our stretching together, we’ve also learned how to embrace the marks of growth and learned to minimize unnecessary worries and patch them with solutions everyone is happy with. I hope my next post will be announcing the birth of our new baby (like tomorrow! Haha!).

For mamas that are currently pregnant and looking for a product to help you feel more confident in your changing body, I recommend Palmer’s. For over forty years, Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula has been the trusted brand for fighting stretch marks, smoothing skin and helping pregnant women feel more confident and beautiful with their changing bodies. I look at my belly and see that it is smooth and beautiful. And yes, large and uncomfortable, but beautiful and miraculous. I love that it is not greasy- trust me- I hate putting lotion on and usually apply it with my forearms. But this affordable cream is not greasy and leaves your belly feeling elastic (not tight like its ripping apart and itches like crazy) and moisturized. Not only do I use it on my belly, because let’s be honest, that isn’t the only place that is growing. I use it on my chest, inner thighs and lower back. I love using Massage Cream for Stretch Marks and Massage Lotion for Stretch Marks. The smell of the Tummy Butter is perfect to relax you at bedtime. Better yet, get your partner to help you relax by using these products while he rubs your back. It’s the least he can do, right?

Make sure to check out Palmer’s on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest and Instagram!

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Caring for Your Skin with Neutrogena

This post was sponsored by Neutrogena and contains affiliate links. All opinions are solely my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!

photo by christina judd

As I was walking down the hall, I could hear my mom humming in the bathroom. The door was open so I peeked in and saw Madeleine sitting on the counter swinging her legs hitting the cabinets under her. She had a makeup brush in her hand and brushed it along her face haphazardly. She looked up at my mom and imitated my mom as she brushed her hair. My mother nostalgically shared that I used to do the same thing when I was Madeleine’s age. It was such a beautiful moment witnessing granddaughter and grandmother. The funny thing is that my mom doesn’t look like a grandmother.

She often would get mistaken for my sister and people still don’t believe she has a 32 year old daughter and is a grandmother. Great genes? Definitely. But for as long as I can remember, she always put on face creams. I’m pretty sure she even told me years ago that I should start taking care of my face even before things like wrinkles showed up. She advised me to prevent or diminish things that come with age but of course I was just too lazy to have a skin routine. I barely would wipe my face with the makeup remover wipes. I just felt “too young” to be worrying about my skin, wrinkles and age spots. But now, I kind of want to be just like my mom. Continue reading Caring for Your Skin with Neutrogena

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A Chance to Help Local Students

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Let’s Play, an initiative by Dr Pepper Snapple Group that provides kids and families with the tools, places and inspiration to make active play a daily priority by building and improving playgrounds and donating sports equipment to groups in need. Although I received compensation for this post, all opinions are my own.

Get Involved!

When my kids come home from school they often tell me their favorite part of their day is either gym or recess because they got to play soccer, kickball, wallball, roller-skate, etc. Wasn’t that your favorite part of the day, too?? Kickball was my favorite. Somehow (not from me!) my kids have an endless amount of energy and this playtime is something they crave and they need.

Continue reading A Chance to Help Local Students

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Grocery Shopping for Busy Moms

I held my baby on one arm, held my daughter’s hand with the other. I asked my oldest son to hold his younger brother’s hand and asked him to hold onto my purse as we crossed the parking lot and towards the sliding doors. We headed towards the daycare, yes this grocery has a daycare for kids under 5, and I started to sign the kids in. My oldest couldn’t go in, the other one was on a clingy streak and my daughter wouldn’t go without her brother. I looked at the daycare worker and sighed. Guess we were all going grocery shopping.

My squirmy baby started wiggling out of her seat while another kid started grabbing snacks and putting into the cart. The other two started wrestling in the aisles. And then one started screaming and telling me he wanted another mom because I said he had to sit in the cart. I was at the end of my rope and told him that there were a ton of moms there so he could just pick any one! And then we left with only 1/4 of my list completed. I came home exhausted and vowed never ever ever to take my kids shopping again. And then it happens again because I need to get food. But for the past 6 months I have changed my ways. 

This post doesn’t have pretty pictures but it’s a post to help other moms that may have had similar experiences or just would rather use their time better than to be at supermarket. I just want to share a list of services I use to keep myself sane, save hours of time and still get food into my fridge. I will go to the grocery maybe once a month with my baby to pick up emergency items like milk. Well, let’s include one picture of squirmy baby because she is pretty darn cute.

One thing that really helps limit either physical trips to the grocery store or ordering online frequently is meal planning. I will take about an hour every couple of weeks to plan out two weeks worth of dinners and special occasions like holiday celebrations or parties. Once I do that, then I order from Instacart for the bulk size items and Safeway/Fred Meyers.

Instacart: I order my Costco items from here about 2-3 times a month. I usually order that third time to get snacks for parties or for the kids’ classrooms. While I do pay a little extra for the items and delivery, it is worth it to me to spend about 30 min-1 hr ordering and putting stuff away when I would normally spend at least 2.5-3 hours driving to and from, shopping and putting it away. I get my bulk sized items here like bagels, fish, bread, fruits, cleaning supplies and snacks for the kids. You can get a yearly membership which gives you free deliveries over $35 and within 2 hours. I don’t have a membership so I just pay for delivery as needed. Oh and one thing I really like about it is that you can share your cart with a friend! That means they can add on to your cart and you just pay for 1 delivery fee. The other person will have to pick up their stuff but it is helpful if you only have a couple of items you need but can’t make it to the store or want to pay a delivery charge for few items. You can sign up using this link and this Instacart referral code: BBIRDFBE83 and you can save $10 off your first order + free delivery.

Safeway Delivery: I use this maybe 1-2 a month for things that I don’t want monster size of and any specialty items. I also get beef, veggies, cream cheese, etc. The price is the same as in store prices. You do have to pay delivery fees but it’s about $6 and I am totally down paying $6 for someone to bring me my groceries. They also have promo codes regularly so sometimes I don’t have to pay for deliveries.

Clicklist: This is a Kroger pick up service. You order online and schedule a time for pick up.I use this when I know I will be running errands around Fred Meyers. Not sure what the benefit is besides just knowing I won’t be home for deliveries but I buy the same things as I do at Safeway. And it is the same price and you can use coupons.

Prime Pantry: I like to use this on occasion, perhaps once every 3-4 months for items I can’t find at Costco. There is a small fee even if you do have Amazon Prime but it is only about $6 I think. I get specialty cleaning supplies, toiletries or snacks for kids. You can get free shipping if you buy select items though.

I know some of you more mature mothers may shake your head at how easy we have it with all these delivery services. While I know you all have done it with your own kids this is just what works for me. My kids aren’t savages rampaging around the grocery store. Not all the time. And I’ve done it years before but right now it isn’t feasible. I have limited time and I’d rather not be using that time trying to find the items on my list while corralling the children. I’d rather order it online while I’m waiting for the kids to get out of school or while my baby is napping so I can do other stuff with my time. So, I hope this helps! It sure has freed up a lot of my time to do the things I love like play with my kids and sneak in a design or blog post. 😉

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A Little High Maintenance to Continue a Low Maintenance Lifestyle

This post was sponsored by Irresistible Me. I only partner with brands whose products and mission I truly believe in. All opinions are 100% my own.

Thank you for your support!

Last week I talked to you about microblading and how much I loooove my brows. Now I want to tell you about my clip-in hair extensions. Why you ask? Because I love them. Because I can have long hair and not actually have to do all that work to maintain it. I use it when I want that added volume and length but then I take them off and continue my mom-bun wearing ways. I first considered getting extensions a few years ago. I had just had a baby and my long hair was driving me craaaaazzzyyy. Like so crazy that I went and chopped it off to above my chin. I wasn’t brave enough for a pixie cut so I went as short as I dared. And I loved it. Until I hated it. That Christmas my husband asked me what I wanted. I told him I wanted hair extensions. Hahaha- oh my, do we see a pattern here? He must think I’m nuts to always be asking for hair for my head or eyebrows. Anyway, I chopped it off because I hated the maintenance of long hair because who has time to take care of all that and kids but I loved the look of long hair. And then when I chopped it off I couldn’t go back.With hair extensions, you can have your cake and eat it, too. And I did. I was so excited when Irresistible Me contacted me to do a review for their hair extensions. I’ve been wanting to get hair extensions for ever. But then I went back and forth always thinking that hair extensions were for high maintenance people and that is so not me. I’m pretty chill. But then it actually dawned on me that this would help me live my low maintenance life style.I went on the website and picked out my choice of the Silky Touch clip-in hair extensions. I went with silky chocolate brown 22″ hair extensions. I was so nervous about picking the hair color because you need it to match so it doesn’t scream “she’s wearing fake hair!” Ya know? I mean you are wearing hair that isn’t your own but no one needs to know. Ha. So something that eased my mind about choosing a color is that if it doesn’t match, you can send it back.The hair comes sealed in a package that is divided into two compartments. One is the sample hair. You only open that side to make sure it matches your hair- just don’t clip it in or use any products on it. If it matches your hair and you are happy with the length, open the rest. If it doesn’t, DO NOT open the rest or else you can’t send it back.Full disclosure, when I ordered my hair it was lighter since it was ombre. But then I went crazy and bought some hair dye at the drug store because it was so outgrown it looked horrendous. Well, it picked up the darkest color ever even though I picked a medium brown color to match my previous color. I just wanted it all to be even but it was a botched job. I had already opened my hair and it didn’t match. My hair also hadn’t been cut in about 6 months so it was just a hot mess. A mess. I ended up going to a salon where they fixed my botched hair dye experiment and where she put in my clip-ins and cut my hair with them in. I think that is the best way to do it so it flows naturally with your hair. I’ve watched a million you tube videos where girls just clip them in without getting them cut and it must be black magic or something because they make it look easy and amazing. My hair did not blend magically with the extensions so I had to get it cut. One reason may be because I have extremely thick hair and it looked so top heavy so she also thinned out my hair a bit so it wouldn’t be so top heavy. This hair is real hair so you can use heating tools and styling products on it just like you would with your normal hair. This hair looks best when it is curled or braided, which is my favorite thing to do to it when I go out. It also comes with A LOT of hair. Like 11 pieces and included in that is a super thick weft. Here’s the with extensions and the without. It adds a good 6 inches or more to the length. I’ve worn them at least 3 times a month for various parties or dates and I just like how much I can do with them. And at night I just take them off, brush them and slip them back in the pouch until next time.So what do you think? High or low maintenance? Would you get extensions for the sole convenience of not having to deal with long hair on a daily basis and just as needed?

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Microblading: What You Need to Know

Last year for Mother’s Day I told my husband that I wanted eyebrows as a gift. You read that right. Eyebrows. Spoiler alert: I got a helicopter ride instead. Ahahahah. My husband the jokester.

Ok, so my eyebrows weren’t terrible but they didn’t have a great shape and were pretty scarce in some areas. I wanted more of a shape and for them to be darker. I could pretty simply achieve this look by filling it in with shadow or with a brow pencil. But as a pretty low maintenance person I wanted to eliminate those few minutes I would spend every morning to fill in my brows. I guess you could say that I have to do some high maintenance things at first so I can continue living a low maintenance lifestyle. That makes sense, right?! Continue reading Microblading: What You Need to Know

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Keeping Memories+ Freshly Picked Moccs Giveaway

I sat on my daughter’s toddler bed, with stacks of clothes and shoes at my feet. Do you know the feeling that you get as you methodically go through the clothing that your kids have abnormally quickly have outgrown? Holding, smelling, examining them trying to grasp the memories that they hold? And then having to choose which bag they will go in: to keep or donation. I always have such a hard time with that part so I put it off as long as I can. Moving usually forces me to downsize and the declutter bug hits. One thing I have never given away are the heirloom quality items like pretty Christmas dresses, special blankets friends have made, their blessing outfits and their Freshly Picked moccasins. Look, you can even see the start of her little footprints on the toes!
Freshly Picked Moccs via Brenda Bird

Freshly Picked Moccs via Brenda BirdI remember telling my husband I couldn’t get rid of the kids’ baby clothes (among other things…) because they hold too much sentimental value. He jokingly explained that that kind of thinking was akin to a hoarder’s mentality. I laughed it off and made a note to myself that I could only keep what was truly sentimental and loved -not just because it was something someone gave me. I went through each item carefully and put it in a pile. And then I let it sit. And sit. Just so I could be sure. I kept what could be passed down to a younger sibling, items of sentimental value and heirloom pieces. Continue reading Keeping Memories+ Freshly Picked Moccs Giveaway

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A Change from Within

Family outing in Seattle's Greenlake neighborhoodSometimes I open my laptop, open up a new post tab and just sit and stare. Feeling a loss for words while also feeling like I am being fed words is not what I expected when I started this blog. To be honest, I started the blog to supplement my design work. Now this blog is the main focus and sometimes I get around to designing. No bueno. Family outing in Seattle's Greenlake neighborhood

I have felt torn with my blog- is it solely business? Or can it also be just me, Brenda Bird? As much as I hate to think of it as a business, it has become one. And I am grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had as a result of it. Truly. And yet, I’ve also felt that I have to shield some aspects of my life as to not offend or to solely cater to brands and my readers. Continue reading A Change from Within

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Our Christmas and Holiday Card

Fun interactive Christmas and holiday card by Brenda BirdWith all the social media around it’s amazing to know what people DON’T know about your life, right?

I wanted to share snippets of our life throughout the year in our card with a fun True or False game. I remember receiving something like this years ago from one of our favorite families and thought it was a great idea. I love the idea of an interactive card, so we have tried to do things like this in our past Christmas/New Year’s (…or another holiday since we aren’t always on the ball!) cards as well as try to make it personal by sharing a message. Continue reading Our Christmas and Holiday Card

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Staying Organized When You Are A Hot Mess

Staying organized when you are a hot mess

Catchy title? Maybe? Or perhaps it made you think why on Earth would I take advice from someone who doesn’t have her crap together?

Truth be told, I wouldn’t consider myself a hot mess all the time. Perhaps my mind is more of a hot mess- so much going through it that I can’t keep it all together. As a mom of 4, I often feel like I am treading water. Sometimes, very rarely, do I feel like I am floating on my back sipping on some lemonade. Other times I feel like I am drowning- like, please don’t hand me another thing to carry. Those golden times when I feel like I could tread, sometimes enjoy my time floating is when I have taken the time plan. Steven Covey said, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.”

Staying Organized when you are a hot mess. Organizational tips from a busy mom and small business owner.

I know I’m not perfect at remembering every deadline, what meals we are having every night, we may be a little late to some activities….oh to be a semi hot mess on the inside and be semi put together outwardly. People ask me how I function with 4 kids, run a business and stay sane. This is how.

  1. You need to have the right tools.
    1. Planner: Having the right planner is crucial to your sanity. Some may scoff at a paper planner but I cannot survive without it. I like digital but paper saves me. Writing things down on paper helps me remember better. Having a planner that meshes my mom life with my business life has been really helpful. I use this one sent to me by Plum Street Prints. Having an hourly day to day schedule, a section for business collaborations, meal planning, a weekly list + a section for home to-dos helps keep all the ideas and things I have to do as a Mom and business owner in order.  I like the hourly scheduling because it compartmentalizes all the to-dos. I love the weekly and monthly inspirational quotes- they keep me motivated!
    2. If you use apps on your phone, this or this is a good list of helpful schedulers.
    3. Post-its: I use these to add into my planner…and to stick to everything else. I kind of need reminders everywhere. I also like writing on post-its because it isn’t permanent and I can move it around. With blogging and playdates sometimes I have to switch things around.
    4. Pens and pencils: Color coding may be going a little overboard but when I am managing 4+ schedules color coding things makes it easy to glance over and see who has what today and things don’t just mesh together.Sample cleaning schedule printable by Brenda Bird
    5. Printables: Along with the planner, I have a monthly printable, chore chart and menu planner on the fridge. I use my planner for my daily use but the printables are for everyone to see. You can download these free printables I designed:  menu planner printable and blank cleaning schedule printable. You can fill in which chores you want to do that day. That helps me with knowing what needs to be cleaned that day and what has already been done daily, weekly and monthly.Staying Organized when you are a hot mess. Organizational tips from a busy mom and small business owner.
  2.  Go through things right away. If I don’t everything piles up! When my kids get home we go through their paperwork. I have a folder for things to keep like their special artwork, a drawer in the cabinet for their homework and a drawer for things I have to take care of. I write down deadlines and pencil in special activity days on the calendar on the fridge.
  3. Repetition. Repetition is vital- especially if your mind has been altered by children. You know what I am talking about. I used to be pretty sharp and remember everything but I really believe pregnancy warped my brain cells. So I write things down a coupe of times in different places. I put it on my phone with reminders, I write it in my planner and I write it on the main calendar on the fridge. I figure if I write it down many times it will help me remember it better. It seems to be working. Staying Organized when you are a hot mess. Organizational tips from a busy mom and small business owner.
  4. Set up a routine. I pick one day a week where I sit down and plan two weeks of our meals. Mostly every night I take a few minutes to plan the next day. When I don’t, I don’t regulate my time very well. I run my errands/order online groceries the same days. Setting up a routine helps keep things running. We know when things will be completed and what to plan around.
  5. Lists. Make lists about lists. If you can’t tell, I really like lists. They keep me organized and my goals attainable. I stay away from general tasks like clean house. I like to make realistic small tasks such as scrub sink, clean out fridge, etc. Especially for bigger projects for my blog I make a list of what I have to buy, to photograph, to write, etc. Compartmentalizing my tasks makes the progress measurable and attainable for me. Key word- attainable. Don’t make these crazy goals that you know can’t be accomplished in one day. I make small goals that will help you accomplish the big ones. Plus I really like to cross things off my lists so making those small goals helps me check them off quicker. Staying Organized when you are a hot mess. Organizational tips from a busy mom and small business owner.
  6. Have a clean workspace. If my main living area is messy, I can’t function. I feel like everything is messy and therefore find it difficult to know where to start. If you ever come to my house you may find that the main area is mostly clutter free. Just don’t look in my bedroom! Or office- they say creatives are messy, hahah! I work in the dining room because it isn’t as dark as my office so I like to keep it tidy.
  7. Say no. This is a big one. If you are already over scheduled, busy or barely surviving, just say no. It’s ok to say no sometimes. If I can’t do something and give it my 100% then I don’t want to do it at all. I also don’t want to resent that or the person. It isn’t fair to them or to me. And when I say no to some things I am saying yes to sanity, more time with family and some tranquility.
  8. Schedule time for nothing. Sounds silly but sometimes I just want to have nothing going on. I don’t do it often but I want to give myself a break and not think about work or all the things due for the kids. I just want to relive Jim and Pam’s love story and veg out on Netflix. Or perhaps I want to take a nap. Maybe paint for the sake of painting. Giving and giving and giving is a recipe for a burnout. Take a few minutes for you to do nothing or do something for you. Close that planner and just be you.

Staying Organized when you are a hot mess. Organizational tips from a busy mom and small business owner.

I took this time management class a little bit ago and so many of the principles have stuck with me. I loved it and know it has helped me organize my time better. The truth is, there is so much I want to do that I love that I want that to take priority of my time. I don’t want my time to rule me. With so much responsibility to my family I need to make sure that that takes precedence and then the other stuff. It is like the rock and sand example. First put in the big rocks (big projects, top priorities) and then let the sand filter through (the little things that don’t necessarily need to be done right away.)

So, for example, my son has a soccer game right after ballet but kids haven’t had their snack yet. What do I take care of first? The stacked up dishes in the sink? How about their bowls from this morning that they left on the counter? I leave that and grab some snacks and rush to their activities. Because sometimes you just have to let things go. And it’s ok to not have everything perfect. That’s the life of a mother. My kids know I am not a perfect Mom but we work together and try not to make it a big deal when something doesn’t go as planned. Imperfections make us human. Just carry on and do the best you can. I hope these tips can be of some use to someone or perhaps you want to share something that helps you. We mamas have to help each other out!