DIY Thank You Gift for your Midwife

I was very lucky, in that I was able to get a Midwife for my second pregnancy.  In Manitoba, Midwives are part of Manitoba Health, and so we don’t have to pay extra for their services.  It’s included in our healthcare.  It’s just really tough to get in.  The stat I’ve heard is that 50% of pregnant mothers who apply for a midwife actually get one.  So I felt really, really lucky that I was able to have one.

And my midwife was pretty amazing.  There were a lot of things I didn’t like about the aftercare in the hospital, and so I wanted to avoid being at the hospital as much as possible.  But that’s a post for a different day.  I loved my midwife so much, her level of care and everything she did for us before, during, and after the birth of my son.  At the 6 week appointment, we say goodbye to our midwife and then continue on with our family doctor.  So, at the 6 week appointment, I decided to give her a little gift to show my appreciation for everything she did for me and for Aiden!

Supplies:
Blank Mug
Ceramic Paint Pens

A mom in my May Babies group on Facebook posted the idea there, and I used it as well! It’s such a cute idea:

DIY Midwife Thank You Gift DIY Midwife Thank You Gift

I also included some chocolates, because her recommendation for getting my milk to come in was to eat chocolate.

I then put it in one of the baby gift bags that I had received for Aiden because I thought that would be a cute way to reuse these little bags!

DIY Midwife Thank You Gift

A few weeks after I gave it to her, she called me to thank me for it! She just loved it, and she said all the other midwives were jealous of her mug and asked her where she got it. 🙂 Total win!

Other things I might have put with the mug:
A gift card for coffee somewhere (Tim’s, Starbucks, etc)
A gift card for a nice dinner out
A variety of tea or a bag of coffee beans

What would you give with a midwife mug?

xoxo,
Alysa

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How to Go Church Shopping

How To Go Church Shopping

Very recently, my husband and I came to the conclusion that the church we were attending was not the right fit for us anymore.  It was pretty disappointing for us.  He had been attending that church his entire life, and that had been my grown up home church.  We were both baptized there, we were married there, and we dedicated our child there.  It was a blow that we no longer felt welcome in a place that had always been our home away from home.  But it happens, and when it’s time to move on, it’s time to move on.  I haven’t talked about it too much just because it was such a complicated situation, but it is what it is.  We needed to go church shopping!  At this point, we have found a new home church that we just love, and I’m so happy to have found something, especially before the new baby comes.  It’s hard to move around a lot with a fresh little one, so having a home base church is going to be a huge help.

Here are the steps we took in deciding on our new church:

  1. Sit down and discuss what you’re looking for
    My husband and I sat down together to talk about the specific things we wanted when we were looking for a new church.  Among the things on the list, we wanted to find something with only one service, was small-medium sized, and had children’s programming/children’s ministry.  These were the top three things that were most important to us when finding something.  It could be different for you, but it’s so important to talk it out first so you each know what the other wants in a church.. and so that you know that you’re both on the same page.
    If you’re church shopping by yourself, maybe it’s writing down what is most important to you.  As long as you have some ideas of what you want before you start really looking, then you won’t pick one just because.
  2. Research, research, research
    My husband and I each did our own research and came up with our own lists of churches we were interested in going to look at.  We didn’t outright cross anything off our list, but we compared lists and started with the ones that we both had on our own lists.
    In doing our research, it was important to us that the churches we were looking at have a website, and that they had some kind of mission statement or values on their website.  We wanted to find something that aligned, at least a little bit, with what we believe in.  If a church didn’t have a website, it made it harder for us to select that for the next part of the process, in part because then we couldn’t find out when their services were.
  3. Start shopping
    We started by going to a couple of the churches that made both of our lists, and ended up finding one from there.  Another thing that was important was how welcome we felt when we were at the church.  We went to a church with someone and the only people there who talked to us were the people we were with.  Whereas, at the church we chose, we made friends right away.  It made a huge difference to us if people were actually welcoming, and if people noticed we were new.
  4. Go a few times
    I don’t think it’s fair to pick a church based on ONE Sunday, so we went to the church we ended up choosing a few times to get a good feel for it.  For example, one of the churches we went to had a guest speaker the first time we went.  It wouldn’t have been fair to pick that church based on that particular Sunday, because it wasn’t even the main speaker!  It was a very good service and everything, but if the speaker isn’t going to be there all the time, that’s not a good indicator of what the church will be like on a regular basis.
  5. Pick!
    This is the fairly easy part.  After a few Sunday’s at our new church, my husband and I sat down and fully decided that this was going to be our home church.  We then started giving, and we signed up for the nursery programming for our daughter.  We also prayed about it before fully deciding.  It felt right.

How do you pick where your home church would be?

xoxo,
Alysa

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How to celebrate St Patrick’s Day if you don’t drink

How To Celebrate St Patrick's Day

There are certain holidays where it’s almost unfair to be pregnant during them, and St Patrick’s Day is one of them.  There always seems like lots to do to celebrate St Patrick’s Day that involve drinking.  There are pub crawls, various green beverages (such as the green Smirnoff Ice I enjoyed my first time having alcohol at St Patrick’s Day when I was in grade 12, don’t judge me), and, of course, Guiness!  But what if you can’t drink due to pregnancy or other reasons, or you are simply not interested in anything that has the word “crawl” in it?  Here are some alternatives!

Call it the right thing
I’ve seen so many social media posts about St Patty’s Day, and that’s just wrong.  If you’re going to shorten it, please please please do so correctly!  It’s St PADDY’S day, not St Patty’s day.  Paddy is short for Patrick, and Patty is short for Patricia.  There is, in fact, a St Patricia!  She is the patron saint of Naples.  She was said to be a noblewoman but ran away from an unwanted marriage to become a nun.  After her father died, she went back and distributed her wealth to the poor.  She was planning on going to Jerusalem, she was shipwrecked in Naples and eventually died of disease there.  Her feast day is August 25th, so if you want to celebrate St Patty’s Day, it’s actually not till August 😉  So please please please, St Paddy!!

Wear green
This is the most obvious one.  It’s so easy to forget to wear green, but then you’ll get pinched! To prevent yourself from being pinched this March 17, just wear some green.  If you need some inspiration, check out some ideas for St Patrick’s Day Outfits here!

Learn about the history
St Patrick was actually a fairly interesting person.  He was British but captured by Irish raiders and forced to live in Ireland for many years as a captive.  He made his way back to Britain and became a priest, but was called back to Ireland to help convert a number of Irish people from paganism to Christianity.  Since he had lived there for much of his life, he already knew a lot about Irish culture and the Irish language, so we was able to use symbols to help get across to the Irish.  He is the patron saint of Ireland.  This is a fairly basic history, but it’s definitely worth it to do some more searching.

Watch an Irish movie
Especially after the movie Room saw a win at the Academy Awards for Best Actress, one way to celebrate St Patrick’s Day would be to watch some Irish movies!  If you’re not sure what to watch, or if you’re not interested in Room, check out this list of the Top Ten Irish Movies of All Time.  It’ll be especially fun if you’re also eating green food to go with it! 😉

What do you have planned for St Patrick’s Day on Thursday?

xoxo,
Alysa

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How To: Make a small get-together more special

I love having people over and hosting events in my home.  For the longest time, since Autumn was born, I wasn’t really able to do that the way I wanted to though.  It’s pretty difficult to prepare for a get-together or event with a babe-in-arms.  But a few months ago, I had some ladies over for a little get-together, and I decided to make it a little bit more special for my guests.

Here are some small things you can do to make a small get-together a little more special: how to make any get-together special

 

  1. Make a banner
    I made this banner the night before.  It was very simple to make, and it gave the night a little something extra
  2. Put the food table in the sitting area
    There’s something nice about not having to keep going back and forth to the kitchen for the food.  Plus, this way guests will feel more comfortable with helping themselves to more foox and drinks!
  3. Use a cake platter
    It just looks more fancy when it’s on a platter, even if it’s just a little cheesecake from Superstore 😉
  4. Use real dishes
    It makes it a little more special if you use real dishes instead of paper plates.  It’s not as easy to clean up, but I think it’s worth the hassle of clean up.

 

turn any get-together into a special event

 

How do you like to make get-togethers feel more fancy?

xoxo,
Alysa

 

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How to Help New Parents

how to help new parents

I know that it seems like every single blogger who recently had a baby has written this type of blog post.  There are a few on some of those that I agree with, and some that I don’t, but here are things that I noticed from when we first had Autumn.  Since we’re now 8 and a half months into it, some of it might not be for the super fresh mom, but I’d say we’re still new parents.. I would call myself a new mom still anyway!

Here are some of the things that people did that really helped me:

1. Bring Food
One of the biggest blessings we received in Autumn’s first week of life was announced through a text message from one of my friends “I’m making cinnamon buns, would you like me to bring you some when they get out of the oven?”  OH MY GOODNESS YES PLEASE!  Not only were they delicious and amazing, but they were also hot out of the oven AND I could eat them with one hand while I nursed my baby.  A++++ friend right there.  I would go as far as to say that she was my angel that week.  But seriously, new parents are figuring stuff out, eating isn’t always at the highest priority and any and all food we received in that first month was a huge blessing for us.  We were very grateful for it.  And if you feel you are not a good cook/can’t bring food for any other reason:
1b. Bring COFFEE!
A fancy coffee please! Like a latte or a Starbucks something.  There were more than a few days where someone bringing me a coffee was a huge bright spot in the day (you know, other than my beautiful little baby, that is 😉 ).  Find out what the new mama’s favourite coffee drink from Starbucks is, and get that.  She’ll love you for it.

2. If you’re giving a gift/food, give a card
If your friend is like me and likes sending thank you cards for these kinds of things, she will be hugely grateful that you gave a card with your gift.  Bonus points if you write down in the card what your gift was.  A few months ago, I wrote out all the thank you cards for the gifts that I had cards for, and the ones that I could remember who didn’t give us a card… and I know I missed people.  I hate that!! I want to send everyone a thank you card because the gifts are so appreciated!  Alternatively, if you don’t give a card, don’t be upset if you don’t get a thank you card.  New parents have a lot going on, and sometimes forget to do simple things like brush their teeth (true story).  So if a new mom and dad forget who gave them that one sleeper.. it’s not their fault! They are sleep deprived and forgetful!  Know that they really appreciated your gift, and that they can’t wait to use it on their little one.
Also, the new thing is taking a picture of the baby in the clothes given or playing with the toy given, but it’s really hard to remember who gave what! If you give a card, you might even get this kind of picture! 😉

3. Don’t ask to hold the baby
Especially at first.  If there was one thing I could change about the first week or so of Autumn’s life it would be that I didn’t get to hold her enough.  No one really asked to hold the baby, but I felt like I was obligated to let people hold her… and I very often felt that I only got to hold her when she was upset or hungry.  Let the parents hold their baby when their baby is happy, too!!  And if you do get to hold the baby, don’t keep the baby for too long either!! Let it be a short visit, and get longer holds when the baby is older.  However…
3b. Ask how you can help
Chances are, she’d really like to go pee, or shower, or get herself some food.  If that’s the case, asking her if you can help in any way will probably mean holding the baby so that she can go do one of the above!  Win-win!  Also, if there’s something you notice needs to be done, offer to do that thing.. then do it.  I would personally be uncomfortable with other people doing my laundry, so I’d leave that one out, but with dishes or something like that?  It’s nice for the parents not to have to think about that.  ALSO, if they have a dog, offer to walk their dog!

4.  Don’t expect them to text you back right away
Sometimes I left my phone upstairs and I was nursing downstairs.  Sometimes I would read a text and then put down the phone to change a diaper and then forget for a couple of days. Oops! Please give your friend grace in this!

5. Visits
There are a few things to know about visiting a new mama and her baby.  Don’t just stop by, you never know if the baby just went down for a nap, or if there are breastfeeding struggles, or if she just got the baby latched and can’t physically get up to answer the door or… or… or… Just stopping by could be hugely stressful for the new mama, and she’s under enough stress as it is.  Plus, knowing when you’re coming over means that if she’s about to start feeding the baby, she can unlock the door so you can let yourself in.
Don’t stay too long.  Sometimes, even though it’s very early in the evening, a new mama might want to go for a quick nap while their baby is sleeping.  But she also wants to stay and visit with you, her friend.  If it’s a shorter visit, she can do both!
Arrive when you say you are going to arrive.  Especially in the first few weeks, sleep is precious.  If the baby gets to sleep, but someone is about to come over, the new mama might not go for a nap herself because someone is about to arrive.  If that person then doesn’t show up, that mama is missing out on sleep.  It’s kind of a big deal!
Ask what time works for the new parents for you to visit!  It’s more helpful to find out when works for them, instead of telling them when works for you.  As the day to day schedule is getting worked out, there are definitely some times that are better than others for a visit.  For example, in our first few months, Autumn and I got our best sleep in the mornings.  She would actually sleep in with me.  So, afternoons were a better time for us for people to visit.  If someone had just said “Hey, I’m coming over at 9:00am” I would have been pretty upset because then I’m losing out on sleep, and chances are so would Autumn.

6. Compliments!
This should probably go without saying, but as a new mama I kind of felt a little bit like a garbage pail human.  So, even though I didn’t fully believe them, I still liked it when people said I looked great.  It’s also nice to hear how adorable your baby is. 😉

How else can you help out new parents?

xoxo,
Alysa

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How to keep greeting cards

what to do with greeting cards

We just had a baby, which means we have a lot of cute little cards that came with cute little baby things.  I absolutely LOVE sending and receiving cards.  I like to write nice things in them, and I love reading what people have written for me.  These cards are no exception to that!  If you’ve recently had a baby, or got married, or had a shower, you probably have a lot of greeting cards sitting around.  I think it would be a shame to just get rid of them, so I decided to find a nice way to collect them all in one place and keep them!

Here’s what I did:

1. Put them in order from smallest to largest and put them back to back.

what to do with greeting cards

2.  Tape them so that they are in a zig-zag, so there is always the cover of the card showing, and so they can be opened and read.

what to do with greeting cards

3. When closed, wrap with an elastic or ribbon.  I used one of the headbands that fit Autumn when she was a newborn, but doesn’t fit anymore.

 

what to do with greeting cards

 

It’s so great to be able to look back and see what everyone’s well-wishes were for our daughter! And it’s something that she can look at when she’s older as well.

xoxo,
Alysa

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How to plan an amazing bachelorette party

how to plan an amazing bachelorette party

Ah, the bachelorette party. Arguably one of the most fun parts of being in a wedding party.  You know, aside from being in a wedding 😉 But planning these parties is not always easy.  So far, I’ve been able to help 3 separate maid-of-honours plan a bachelorette for their brides.  2 out of 3 were huge successes, one was a complete fail.

Here are some things to keep in mind when planning your friend’s bachelorette party:


1. Do things the bride wants to do
It should be a no-brainer that the bachelorette party should be geared toward the bride, but that isn’t always the case.  It’s important to pick something that the bride would like doing, or a theme that the bride is actually interested in.  An example of when this didn’t work: I helped my friends sister plan her bachelorette party and we did the whole penis decor/bar party.  The catch, though, was that the bride doesn’t like drinking, and doesn’t like dancing, and was totally unimpressed with the penises we decorated her sisters house with.  We put a lot of time and effort into a party that was not at all what the bride would have wanted to do.  If I could do it again, I would plan a sleepover style party with pjs, popcorn and corny movies.. and the bride would have loved it.
Think about things that the bride would want to do, and plan to do those things!  It doesn’t have to be all about penises and bar hopping to be a bachelorette party, either.


2. Give the guests the heads up about what to expect
I’m a planner and I like to give people lots and lots of notice when I’m planning a party.  I think that when it’s something like a bachelorette party, it’s important to let guests know far in advance what they should expect.  Are you planning a lingerie shower?  Are you planning on going out of town?  People might need to book off work in order to attend, they might need to buy something specific that goes with the theme!  Letting everyone know what to expect is a great way to get all the guests in on the theme while


3. Plan some one-on-one time with the bride.
Before my bachelorette party really started, my maid-of-honour took me to get my nails done, and that was one of the most fun parts about the whole thing, really.  It was great to be able to spend some time with just my maid-of-honour before the festivities started, and it gave the party a great starting off point.  Planning something one-on-one with just the bride before the party starts was so much fun, and after all.. she picked you as her best bridesmaid for a reason! She would probably love that extra time together.


4. Don’t let the bride pay for ANYTHING
Again, this should go without saying… but there are some brides who will insist on helping out, or who will feel weird about having everything paid for her the whole night.  But the thing is that it is her night, and so she shouldn’t have to worry about bringing money.  One way to make it better financially on everyone is to get everyone to help out!  Most guests at a bachelorette party expect to be paying for the bride anyway, so splitting up her costs among the guests is a great way to ease the hit on the maid-of-honour’s wallet.

5. Keep a firm budget in mind
This goes with the last one. Start planning with an idea of how much you’d like to spend.  Can you afford a weekend, or a night? Can you stay in a hotel or take a trip?  Keep that budget in mind as you plan so you don’t go overboard.  It also helps if everyone knows that budget in advance so they can save for it if they would like to participate!  If you’re planning on taking your girl to Vegas, for example, not everyone can afford to do that on the drop of a hat.  Giving people advance warning about how much money they need for something will ensure that everyone can go.

What else do you do to plan an amazing bachelorette party?

xoxo,
Alysa

These pictures were from my own bachelorette party (which was super fun), you can see the photographers other photos here

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Stay cute while breastfeeding

As many nursing mama’s will attest, it’s really difficult to figure out what to wear while nursing.  You can’t wear certain things because you don’t have … ahem… easy access.  The last thing you want is to keep a crying baby waiting while you try to undress yourself, or to end up half-undressed and hiding in the bathroom to nurse.  Either scenario isn’t cute, and I’m finding that a lot of the clothes available to nursing mothers isn’t cute either.  So what is a mama to do?

Here are three ideas to help a new mama stay cute while breastfeeding:

1. V-Neck

V-neck

 

V-Neck is probably one of the easiest breastfeeding styles you can go with.  If you’re not afraid of being a little busty, that is.  Chances are, you’re going to have some great cleavage going on, and v-neck might be a little more than you bargained for.  If you’re uncomfortable with that, a stretchy tank top under it will work well, too!

2. One Up, One Down

One up one down

 

This is my favourite way to dress right now, and it’s perfect for anyone who is a little more modest.  I wear a stretchy tank top, which is pulled down, and a flowy top, which is pulled up.  Then you’re showing the minimum amount of skin that is necessary for breastfeeding, and layering is super cute!  I love leggings, too, which is perfect for my postpartum body.

3. Strapless

Strapless

 

Strapless is one the easiest breastfeeding styles out there.  I have a number of cute strapless dresses that are now open for me to wear, that I couldn’t wear while pregnant, and I’m so glad that they work for breastfeeding!  And if you feel like you’re showing more skin than you’d like, throw on a little cardigan!  Super cute and helps with breastfeeding.

What do you wear while breastfeeding your babe?

xoxo,
Alysa

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2 Steps to Making Any Dinner Feel Fancy

When you’re in the middle of studying for an exam (especially one as challenging as statistics), it’s really easy to fall into the rhythm of having dinner in front of the tv every night.  It’s easy to scarf down whatever it was you made in 10 minutes flat while watching an episode of Arrested Development.  However, I’ve heard (from a few different places) that eating your dinner in front of the tv is so bad for you! You don’t pay attention to your food, so you end up eating more. Your body is getting the food so fast, that it can’t tell you when it’s full! No good!

So, how do you move away from doing that?  Especially in the last few weeks of statistics, it was nice to have a 22 minute break in the form of entertainment, but it’s also a great break to be able to sit with my husband (at the table!!) and eat dinner.

It’s actually really easy to turn any meal into a fancy affair!  You don’t even have to get all of your books completely off the table!

Just Add:

1. Candles

How to make any meal feel fancy

When you have candles on the table (especially tall candles like these), it gives the meal an extra touch of something special.

2. Wine (or, at the very least, wine glasses)

How to make any meal feel fancy

You don’t have to actually drink wine to make the meal feel fancy.  All you have to do is drink from wine glasses! It could be water, it could be milk, it doesn’t matter what you’re actually drinking.  When you drink from a wine glass (or other fancy goblet), you feel like the meal is more special.

That’s all! Adding these two things will make even the simplest crock-pot pot pie feel like a fancy meal!

DHow to make any meal feel fancy

xoxo,
Alysa

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How to: Shop at Ikea without Buying The Whole Store

I love IKEA!

Stacked IKEA object silhouettes

source

When I went to my first Ikea, I don’t remember how old I was, but I do remember that I enjoyed it immensely!  What’s not to like, really?  You get to go from “room” to “room” and see how you could decorate your own home with the items that they have there.  It’s so much fun.  Plus, everything comes in such great colours, they have lots of themes with animals and the food there is great!

Before Winnipeg (finally) got Ikea here, it was always such a treat to be able to go to an Ikea in another city.  My parents brought me back my beautiful Audrey print from Ikea a few years back, and I’ve gotten a few little things there as well.  Now that we have Ikea (yay!) it’s so easy to spend way too much money there.  I have found myself going in for one or two things, and walking out with $150 (or more) worth of stuff I don’t need and didn’t anticipate wanting.

How to Shop at Ikea without Buying The Whole Store.

1.  Don’t get a cart.
If you shop with a cart, you’ll add more things to it than you originally planned.  If you’re only holding things in your arms, or in one of Ikea’s yellow bags, you won’t buy as much because you’ll realize how HEAVY it all is!  When you shop there with a cart, it makes it much easier to put everything into it, even the things you weren’t all that excited about.

2.  Try not to stop and look at everything you find interesting.
I have the biggest problem with this one,honestly.  Everything there looks so fun and colourful and pretty, it’s really hard not to stop and give everything a closer look.  I just had to keep reminding myself not to though, and I was able to.

3.  Give yourself a time frame.
I went to Ikea while one of my loads of laundry was being washed.  I knew that I really only had about 45 minutes for the whole thing.  If you give yourself a time  frame for looking around, you will get to what you want as quickly as you can and you’ll miss a lot of the things that would otherwise be distracting/that would possibly want to go home with you.

4.  Reward yourself after!One of the best things about Ikea is the cheap food! So if you are able to stay within your budget and not leave with too many more things than what you came for, reward yourself with a frozen yogurt!  They’re only $1.00 after all 😉

Mission Accomplished:
How to Only Buy What You Need at Ikea

I went into ikea today to get some knobs for the dresser I’m repainting, and I walked out with the knobs I needed, plus a dish brush for Andrew.  I spent less than $10, including the frozen yogurt 🙂

xoxo,
Alysa

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