DIY Photography Tips and Tricks

How to Take Better Pictures of Your kids

It is crazy to think that Emmy is almost 18 months old.

Over the past year and a half I have taken HUNDREDS if not thousands of photos of my daughter.

I realized early on that my skills could use some help. A majority of my photos were not worthy of sharing. The lighting was bad, the focus was off and they just didn’t really seem eye catching.

So I invested in some much needed tools. And I also found some amazing FREE ones.

If you follow me on Instagram you can probably tell I have upped my game a bit in the past few months!  I’m no pro, but with the proper tools, my photos have really kicked it up a notch!

The Best Camera for Beginners

I started out with taking photos with my iPhone and still do on occasion. However, about 3 months ago, I decided I wanted to really invest in being able to take better quality photos.

While the iPhone was doing its job, I didn’t feel the photos were great enough quality to print and frame so I bought a DSLR camera.

Navigating a fancy-shmancy camera was so intimidating to me.  I was nervous to spend a lot of money on a camera without knowing if I was going to be able to use it. I did a TON of research on which camera was best for beginners and read a lot about the Cannon Rebel T6.

It seemed to be what everyone was flocking to when trying to break into the world of better photo taking. The Amazon reviews had some example photos that new users had taken with their camera and they were impressive. But still- my experience with these kind of cameras was not positive and I was really worried I wouldn’t know how to use it.

Luckily, there is this awesome tool on the internet that I refer to religiously to help me out when I have no idea what I am doing. It’s called YouTube.

To get an idea if the Cannon Rebel T6 was amateur friendly, I watched a ton of YouTube How-to’s BEFORE ordering it. I was sold. I knew which functions I would want to shoot on before the camera even arrived. The day it came, I turned it on, set it to Av (more on that below) and snapped this photo. ON MY FIRST DAY!

How to take better pictures of your kid- no need to pay a ton for a professional!

This was the first photo I also had professionally printed and framed for our home! I now have dozens that I took myself hanging on the walls. It makes it just a little more special that I captured these moments!

You can check out the full details of the camera package here. It came with everything: A camera case, tri-pod, 2 additional lenses (which I have yet to master, but soon!), 2 memory cards and so much more.


One of my FAVORITE functions of this camera is the app. You can download the Cannon camera app and do remote shooting from your phone.

The Cannon Rebel T6- Allows you to use an app to remote shoot from your phone. No more setting a timer and praying for a good photo-you can see and shoot straight from your phone!

How cool is that? You can easily set up the tripod, get the whole family gathered for a photo, see the photo on your phone and even hit the SHOOT button! It doesn’t get any cooler than that!

 

How To Take Better Pictures with your iPhone

Lighting

This is the foundation for any good photo, iPhone or DSLR. Natural light trumps artificial light any day of the week.

Take a look at the two photos below. One was taken at night with an overhead light and one was taken with my baby’s face turned directly towards a window.

Isn’t it amazing what natural light can do?

Natural light doesn’t necessarily mean DIRECT sunlight. This can lead to shadows being created (mainly on faces) and half-closed eyes from our kiddos!

So get outside, pull l back the curtains and let in that light!

You’ll be surprised how big of a difference it can make!

When it comes to flash, avoid at all costs. In my experience, it is easier to edit a slightly darker photo by adjusting the brightness than it is to doctor a overly lit photo with a flash.

In the case that your lighting isn’t ideal, check out the section below that offers details on editing!

Use a Tripod

More mamas need to be on the OTHER side of the camera with their babies! I can’t tell you how much I depend on a tripod, for both my iPhone and DSLR.

I ordered the tripod below for Amazon for a great price. It folds up super small and comes with a little carrying pack. You just snap your phone in and set the timer! If you need a longer timer, I suggest the Timer Cam app (free!) You can find the tripod here on Amazon.

How to take better pictures with your iPhone- Use a tripod!

(Note: the photo above was taken using my DSLR, facing a window, on auto and ZERO editing! So if you are really looking to take better photos, consider buying a Cannon Rebel t6! I doubt you will ever pay for a professional photographer again!)

Focus

Your iPhone is completely capable of creating a “blurred background”, you just have to learn how to maneuver it.

First of all, play around with the yellow box. When you have your camera open, touch the screen and move the yellow focus box over your desired object.  Always try to move your desired subject as far away from the background that you want blurred. If you have your daughter stand directly in front of a flowered bush, your camera doesn’t have enough room to work with. Try having her stand 2-3 feet in front of it instead.

If you want to achieve an even heavier blurred background, see the editing section below.

Rule of thirds

Step one to mastering the rule of thirds- turn on your camera grid!

You can do this from settings>Camera>Grid ON!

The grid will divide your screen up into thirds. You will notice that there are four places on the grid where the lines cross and make a point. Aim to make one of this your focal point of the photo. For example, in the photo below, Emmy’s face is in the top left connection point. 

This rule simply makes your photos more appealing than if your subject was dead center. It isn’t always easy to get kids to stay perfectly still, but when you can, aim for the rule of thirds!

Editing

While I rarely have to edit photos taken with my DSLR camera, I don’t always have it with my and resort to my iPhone.

Most of my iPhone photos need some sort of cropping and color editing.

My favorite tool to use for this kind of editing is Snapseed (free!!). My goal when editing photos is to make them bright, airy and vibrant. I manily work within the “tune image” setting. Here are some of my go to adjustments:

  • Increase Brightness
  • Increase Highlights
  • Decrease Shadows
  • Increase Saturation

How much I am adjusting depends on the starting condition of the photo.

If you are looking to achieve even more of a blurred background with your iPhone photos, you can also do so with Snapseed under the “lens blur” tool.

They also have a wonderful tool called  “glamor glow”. It gives skin a airy and flawless feel. Use is sparingly though. It can easily make your photos look over edited and very fake.

Here’s an example photo that I edited using ONLY the above mentioned adjustments (minus lens blur)

How to take and edit better pictures with your iphone!

Creating a Theme for your Instagram

Themed profiles are all the rage these days. While this isn’t something I am to do, it definitely see the draw to it.  Snapseed allows you to reuse your “last edits” in order to continue adjusting all photos to look the same.

Another VERY popular app for themes is VSCO. A google search for VSCO will show you hundreds of examples of themed profiles and the exact adjustments they are using.

I hope these tips help you in some form or fashion when it comes to taking better pictures!

Be sure to follow me on Instagram so we can connect!


Read More on Swaddles n’ Bottles:

 

How To Remove Diaper Blowout Stains

How to remove diaper blow out stains

It’s inevitable… with baby comes diaper blowouts. I’d be shocked to find a mother who hasn’t experienced one.

In my early months of motherhood, I had no idea how to tackle these kind of stains. I hate to admit it, but I just threw the clothes out if the mess was too much for a regular run through the washer. I threw away so many good clothes!

Fast forward a year and a half later… we now have two daughters who have made me a master at cleaning poo out of just about any material!

Step-by-step Instructions to removing poo stains

  1. Start by removing any excess poop with a plastic spoon or knife. If the stain is a little more liquid, then I use a baby wipe to remove as much as I can, just be sure not to scrub too hard!
  2. Thoroughly spray a stain removing substance. I use Spray n’ Wash.
  3. Soak the clothing material in WARM water for at least 15 minutes. I like to use the soak setting on my washer so it will spin dry the shirt for me.
  4. If the stain has come clean, you can run it through the washer with a normal load.
  5. If the stain has NOT come clean, do NOT dry the shirt in the dryer. The heat will make the stain set.
  6. For these more persistent stains, you can try a longer soak in OxyClean Baby or a bleach and water combo for 30 minutes.

Lemon Juice  and sun Removal Method

If you are looking for a more natural way to remove stains, this method is for you!

  1. Remove excess poo with a plastic knife or spoon. Again, use a baby wipe if needed.
  2. Thoroughly soak the stain with lemon juice. Do not dilute.
  3. Place outside in direct sunlight for a minimum of 3 hours.
  4. Run the clothing through the wash as normal if the stain is completely removed.
  5. If the stain is still there, you can repeat the process, but do not run the item through the wash before the second run!

Best of luck, mama!


Create an Nightly Routine that Leads to an Easier Tomorrow

Create a Nightly Routine that Makes Life with Little ones Easier! Tips on how to prepare for the day ahead the night before in order to make you feel like YOU are running your day, and not the other way around!

Every heard the saying, “run your day, don’t let the day run you”? Chances are, if you are a mom, you’ve had your day run you before. It’s frustrating, overwhelming and usually leads to you feeling much more exhausted than usual.

Once you are behind, it can feel close to impossible to catch up as the day goes on. I’ve come to realize that having a simple, 30 minute to hour long  routine before heading to bed each night leads to me having a much easier day ahead.

*Keep in mind that EVERY family is different. I give a lot of examples of what works for us, but it won’t work for everyone.

Pick out the next Days clothes

I do this first since I need access to baby’s room in order to do it. Once she’s asleep, it’s too risky to go back in! After bath time, we pick out the next days clothes and set them out and then head to bed. Mornings are notoriously hectic and this one small step saves a lot of frustration with not being able to find certain clothing items or shoes needed for the day.

Pick up toys and general clutter

As soon as baby is in bed, I do a quick run through of the living room and play areas and put toys away. We keep 2 medium sized wicker baskets in our living room to house all of our daughters toys. I pick up any stray shoes that have been left throughout the house and find the proper home for any general out of place items. As Emmy gets older, I plan for this to be an activity we do together before she goes to bed.

Surface clean the kitchen

Make sure any dirty dishes are in the dishwasher, counters and table are wiped down and the floors have had a quick sweep. I go so far as to even make sure the Keurig is loaded with water and my coffee cup is near by!

Plan the following Days activities

When I sit down to plan the following day, I am thinking about three general categories: Pre-set appointments, kids activities and household tasks.

I start by planning out the day with the obligatory appointments and errands that need to be completed.  Doctor appointments, general errands, grocery shopping, etc.

From there, fill it in with fun stuff! You don’t have to have every minute filled with activities, but I find that having  at least one planned activity helps the day go much smoother. Whether it’s a free trip to the library or the park or a paid activity, map out what the day will look like for you and the kiddos. You don’t always have to leave the house in order to keep the kids entertained. Pinterest is full of fun activities and crafts you can do at home too!

I also like to take a few minutes to just mentally go through what I need to accomplish around the house the following day.I am aiming to only do laundry 2 days a week so when laundry day is coming up, I need to be prepared so I can get an early start! Jot down a few things you would like to complete around the house.

I also take a few minutes to run through the dinner plan is for the following evening. Am I sure I have all ingredients? Does it require any prep work throughout the day? What about snacks and lunch time for the kids? Could you prep some of that the night before?

If you are not already using a mom planner, I’m sure you are starting to see how it  comes in handy!  There are a ton of family planners out there made specifically for moms (like this one) that can really help you keep things organized for your entire clan.

Have some Mama time

Whatever makes you feel relaxed after the day you’ve had, end with that! Whether it’s a nice glass of red, a hot bath or a good read, end your day with some R and R. You deserve it and you’ll be the best version of yourself tomorrow by taking some time for you tonight!

Feeling Accomplished yet?

Every family is different and has different aspects of their nightly routine that need to be completed. Start thinking about what your biggest stressors are each day… what areas feel out of your control? How could you start tackling it earlier? Maybe it’s making lunch for the school-aged kids the night before versus in the morning. Maybe it’s moving from morning showers for mom to evening showers in order to free up more time as you start your day. Take some time to reflect on it and make a list.

It can be difficult at the end of the day to take on a long list of tasks, but I can promise you after one morning of seeing how your prior preparations are paying off, you’ll be hooked!

What else do you do at night that helps create a smooth morning? Share below!


How You Can Make Money As A Stay-At-Home mom

11 ways to make money as a stay at home momma

(psst…don’t forget to click the  pin it button on the image above so you can easily reference this list down the road!)

Whether you’re staying home with one kiddo or ten, it’s common for us stay-at-home mommas to want to being in a little extra cash. Here’s a list of 11 opportunities to help increase your income each month.

Blogger

There are bloggers out there who make over 150k per month! There are THOUSANDS who make over 10k per month. A beginner blogger can easily bring in 5k with proper training. I personally make full-time income from my blog

Let me give you a little more insight into my experience that helped me start this blog:

  • Website building experience: none. Unless you count adding the glittery effect to my MySpace back in 2005.
  • Online Marketing Experience: also, none.
  • Graphic design experience: none.
  • Blogging experience: Obviously, none.

But I was determined to start! So I researched. And I took courses. And I read eBooks. And I worked my little blogging butt off for a solid 3 months to get things up and running. Heck, I still work hard! But it’s paying off!

I’d love to help you get your blog started! You can visit my website dedicated to helping other achieve their blogging goals at The Basics of Blogging.

I have 2 eBooks I have written to share my strategies I used (and still use daily) to run a full-time income blog.  You can read more about them and download them here.

Virtual Assistant

Many business owners and bloggers will hire a VA to complete work that they are not able to do, yet they are not to the point where they need to hire a full-time employee. Some of the services may be minor, such as answering emails, updating their calendar or transcribing. Some VA’s offer more specialized services in social media management and up keeping customer management systems.

The great thing about being a VA is you can start small, aim to learn new skills with each client and really expand your knowledge base as you go.

VA’s usually charge by the hour. I have inquired to many and have found ones who charge anywhere from $15-$30 per hours, although I’m sure more experienced VA’s could charge more.

Tip- If you are serious about starting a VA role, I would highly consider building a website to showcase yourself! You will want to have a page that highlights your skills, a list of services you offer, some details about what sets you apart from the competition and a contact page. It’s super easy to build for free! You can view the free tutorial I wrote on how to start a blog here.

 

eBates

I’m sure you can’t wait to tell your husband this… but you can get PAID for shopping. Chances are, you have heard of Ebates. They pay out quarterly and some moms report payments of over 4k each quarter! My sister has a co-worker that swears by it and checks daily to see what deals they have.

Let’s say you have a dog. At the time of this post, PetSmart is in the “double cash back” category. So you purchase your dogs food, maybe a few toys, some treats, you get 6% cash back on it! A few other notable names: Macy’s American Eagle, J Crew! I’d suggest signing up just to see which stores are there that you are already shopping at! You can sign up here!

Freelance Writer

If you’ve got a passion for words than this could be perfect for you! While it may take some time to build up your portfolio and make the right connections, there is a lot of money to be made in Freelance Writing! Elna Cain has an awesome tutorial and free course on her website here.

Transcribing

If you consider yourself a good listener, have a high command in the English language, and a decent typing speed, then transcribing could be great for you! Companies will either pay you based on the project or by the minute of audio. You will need to have a few minor pieces of equipment to do this from home (computer, headphones and foot pedal, which you can find on Amazon.)

TranscribeMe hires brand new transcribers with no previous experience.  They pay by the transcription and pay weekly!

 

Survey Taker

Taking Surveys won’t bring in full-time income, but it can bring in a bit of extra cash. SwagBucks and SurveyJunkie  are two of the more popular programs and you can complete the surveys from you phone most of the time! They range in length and you do have to qualify for them based on what type of information they are looking for.

Amazon Virtual Locations Employee

It’s no surprise that the LARGEST online retailer in the world has a ton of remote location jobs! While some of them are super specialized, a majority are customer service based position. At the time of writing this post there are exactly 199 jobs posted on their virtual locations page!

Publish eBooks

If you have an expertise in any area, you have the potential to write and sell eBook! The possibilities of topics are endless and there are a ton of ways to create, market and sell your eBooks!

I created all of my eBooks for free and use a third-party host to help me take care of the transactions and delivery of the products. Amazon has a super easy platform for selling eBooks if you do now own your own website.

Etsy

If you have any sort of crafty talent (I’m not ashamed to say I have ZERO!) than you should be sharing your skills with the world and selling your materials on Etsy! The possibilities are endless! A friend of mine just posted a picture of the gift she purchased her husband for their one year anniversary off of Etsy- A Hand Stitched Family Portrait. How cute is that? Some talented human is making those from home! There are some small fee’s to sell you products on Etsy, but they are minimal! More details here.

Photography

This is a skill I wish I had SO BADLY! It’s such a great way to make money while being very creative! Plus, you are helping others capture memories that will last forever!

Starting a photography business does take skill, work and equipment. To start your business, you may have to do some work for free in order to build up your portfolio. Be sure to pick a target audience that works for your schedule. Weddings will mean you work on the weekends, but doing newborn or children’s photos could mean squeezing in a shoot time during the day.

I know a lot of photographers that have their studio set up in their homes for added convenience.

Start a at-home day care

The more the merrier, right?

If you feel there is a need in your area for more day care options, take some time to see if this could be right for you. There will be some technicalities and documentation you will have to sort out (depending on your state), but it is a great way to bring in ALOT of extra money if you are already staying home with one baby!

Rosemarie of The Busy Budgeter has an awesome guide to starting your own. Check it out here.

Have any opportunities to add to the list? Comment below and share!

Be sure to read these money saving tips too:


25+ Baby Cribs Under $250

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250

I’m officially in my 6th month of pregnancy! Unlike my first pregnancy where I had the entire nursery complete by the end of the first trimester, I definitely feel like I need to get a move on things! I have bedding and décor picked out, but still searching for the perfect furniture set.

As usual, I want to find great quality, cute items at a great price. So I’ve pulled together 25+ cribs for under $250!

P.s. you also have to check out our glider guide!  


Camden 4 in 1 Convertible Crib by Child Craft. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Monarch Hill Ivy Standard Crib by Little Seeds. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Eddie Bauer Hayworth 4-in-1 Convertible Crib by baby Relax. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Quinn 4-in-1 Convertible Crib by Fisher Price. Available here. 25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


New Haven 4-in-1 Convertible Crib by Delta Children. 6 color options. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Del Mar 5-in-1 Convertible Crib by Fisher Price. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Westbourne Crib  by Viv + Rae. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Sierra Ridge Terra Standard Crib by Little Seeds. Available here. 25+ Baby Cribs Under $250

 


Chesapeake 5-in-1 Convertible Crib by Dream on Me. Available here. 25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Carter’s by DaVinci Kenzie 4-in-1 Convertible Crib. Also comes in white. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Jenny Lind 3-in-1 Convertible Crib with Conversion Kit by DaVinci. Available here25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Charlotte 5-In-1 Convertible Crib by Dream on Me. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


The Brooke Crib by Viv + Rae. Comes in NAVY BLUE TOO! Available here.25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Delaney 4-in-1 Convertible Crib by Child Craft. Available here.  

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Stork Craft Tuscany 4-in-1 Convertible Crib by Stork Craft (5 color options). Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Carter’s by DaVinci Morgan 4-in-1 Convertible Crib. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Carter’s by DaVinci Colby 4-in-1 Convertible Crib with Trundle Drawer. 3 color options. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


London Stationary 3-in-1 Convertible Crib. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Bailey 4-in-1 Convertible Crib by Dream on Me. Available here. 25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Charlotte Traditional Crib by Fisher-Price. Available in gray & white. Available here.

25+ Baby Cribs Under $250


Check out more baby gear posts below:

The 4 Nursing Bras Every Breastfeeding Mama Needs
25+ Baby Cribs Under $250
Baby’s First Halloween Costume Ideas

 

 

Baby’s First Halloween Costume Ideas

Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Your sweet baby will only have one ‘first Halloween”, so there’s a lot of pressure to make it a good one!

I’ve never been a fan of the giant temporary Halloween stores. They are always overcrowded and overpriced. I’m sticking with online shopping this year and have already been browsing like crazy! Although I’m pretty sure we will be going with the unicorn costume shown below. It is too cute!

I’ve collected some of the cutest get up’s I’ve found so far (and I’ll continue adding as I find more). I’ve listed the sizes that the outfit is currently available in, although this will definitely change as Halloween approaches. So if you love it and they’ve got it in your babe’s size, scoop it up before it’s gone.

Girl Witch Costume. Size 6-24 months. Available here. 50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Monkey Costume. Sizes 6-24 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Pink Poodle Halloween Costume. Sizes 6-18 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Lion Costume. Sizes 0-18 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Batman Costume. Size 0-12 mo. Available here.

Baby's first halloween. 50+ Costume ideas

 

Baby Superman Costume. Sizes Newborn- 12 mo. Available Here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Cowboy Costume. Sizes 0-24 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Yoda Costume. Sizes 0-4T. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Chewbacca Costume. Sizes 6mo-2t. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Chef Costume. Sizes 6-24 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Doctor. Sizes 0-6 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Air Force Outfit. Sizes 0-6 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Lobster. Sizes 6-18 months. Available Here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Baseball Outfit. Sizes 0-6 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Police Office Outfit. Sizes 0-6 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Firefighter. Sizes 0-6 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Inmate Outfit. Sizes 6-24 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

 

Baby Gnome Outfit. Sizes 6-18 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Pirate Costume. Sizes 6-24 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Pirate Costume (Option 2). Sizes 6-18 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Girl Pirate Costume. Sizes 6-24 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Octopus. Sizes 6-24 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Shark Outfit. Sizes 6-24 months. Available Here

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Turtle Costume. 6-18 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Dragon Costume. Sizes 6-24 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Giraffe Costume. Sizes 6-24 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Pony Costume. Sizes 6-12 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Unicorn Outfit. Sizes 6-18 mo. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Girl Elephant Costume. Sizes 6-24 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Penguin Costume. Sizes 6-18 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Pink Monster Costume. Sizes 6-24 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Little Red Riding Hood. Sizes 6-24 months. Available Here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Peacock. Sizes 6-18 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Little Lederhosen Costume. Sizes 6-18 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Baby Vampire. Sizes 6-18 months. Available here.

50+ Costume Ideas for Baby's First Halloween

Be sure to Pin so you can check back for more great find!

 

The {Not So} Beautiful Side of Pregnancy

The Not So Beautiful Side of Pregnancy. Gross things no one talks about.

Pregnancy. A time when you are supposed to feel like a gorgeous, human making, glowing goddess, Right? Well, yes, at times you will. But at other times you may feel not so stunning. While pregnancy can be beautiful and breath taking, it can also be gross. The thing is, no one really talks about the gross stuff. Sure, morning sickness is well known. But there is a whole lot more to it than just that. So let’s get is out in the open and talk about the not so beautiful side to pregnancy.

Bloating and gas

During pregnancy, a pleasant little hormone called Progesterone is on the rise. You are going to here about this hormone ALOT in this post. Progesterone loosens up the gastrointestinal muscles leading to lots of gas. And it may, er, smell worse than usual. Prepare yourself. And maybe your husband.

Acne

A hormone called androgens is to blame here. It is responsible for making your skin a bit more oily in the first and second trimester which can lead to acne. You can try out all natural remedies such as Apple Cider Vinegar. I have been using this since I first found out I was expecting and have been pretty surprised by it’s effectiveness. I mixed 2 parts ACV with 1 part water. I added it to a small spray bottle and use nightly. Simply spray a small amount on cotton ball and apply to face. The smell vanishes in just a few minutes!

Hair. (as in body hair, not the kind on your head)

This is one of those bitter sweet parts of pregnancy. While your locks may have never looked more luscious, you are also sprouting hair in other places that you may have never seen before (hello there, chin whisker).

Constipation

Progesterone, so nice to see you again. We warned you. He’s back again to loosen up those much needed digestive tract muscles, leading to a bowl movement back up. There are foods you can eat to help move things along as well as some gentle, non- stimulating stool softeners. Check with your doctor to see what the best avenue is to get things going again.

Hemorrhoids

Doesn’t the word itself just make your cringe a little. Yeah, me too. For some women, this may not occur until after labor and delivery, but for some, they can come earlier due to constipation and your expanding uterus. Luckily, they will ease up after baby is here, but may have small flare ups for some time. Lucky us! I would suggest pre-ordering some witch hazel soaked pads to have at home after delivery. They will help reduce the inflammation in the hemorrhoids and make them less painful.  You can find them on Amazon here. If you are planning on making your own post-delivery “padsicles”, you can use the witch hazel from that recipe too!

Bleeding Gums

One morning, you are going to spit into the sink after a brush and it’s going to look like you may have just finished a boxing match. And lost. But your bleeding gums are not something to be concerned about. Much like #7.

Nose bleeds

Again with the bleeding. Your increased blood supply can cause your expanded ( and more delicate) blood vessels in your nose to rupture more easily. While it can be scary, it’s usually not cause for concern and can be stopped by just pinching the nose for 20-30 seconds. Reach out to your doctor if they nose bleeds occur frequently or last for longer than a few minutes.

Heart Burn

Get the Tums ready. Heart burn during pregnancy sucks. The same hormone that is relaxing your digestive tract is also causing your muscles in your esophagus to relax, meaning they aren’t controlling the acid as well. A glass of milk always helps.

Skin Tags

You’re body is working overtime to grow all these wonderful little body parts for baby, and in the mean time it might grow a little extra skin for you too. Skin tags are likely to pop up in high friction areas. They are harmless and unless they are really bothersome, can be left. It they drive you bonkers, see your dermatologist about having them removed.

Sweat

So much sweat. Again, your body is working like a machine set to overdrive to make that baby. This may lead to sweaty pits. And sweaty boobs. And face. And anywhere else that may seem unpleasant.

Alright mama’s, it’s time to chime in! I want to know what items you think are missing from this list. What gross things happened to you during pregnancy that you weren’t expecting?


Check out more pregnancy reads:

What’s in My Hospital Bag the Second Time Around
How To Get Better Sleep While Pregnant
DIY Stretch Mark Cream for Pregnancy

23 DIY Kids Halloween Costumes

DIY Kids Costumes for Halloween

It’s officially Fall, y’all! Halloween will be here before we know it so it’s time to start thinking COSTUMES! There’s a certain sense to pride every crafty mom takes in making the best and most creative costume on the block. Here’s a list of 23 to get your wheels rolling on what your little one will dress up as this year! Don’t forget to follow LBL on Facebook and Instagram for more Festive Fall posts!

Be sure to also check out this post:

Ideas for Baby's First Halloween


Stick Figure Costume Via All For The Boys


Spider Man from Dollar Store Materials Via Mad In Crafts



Jelly Fish Costume via Almost the Real Thing


Statue of Liberty Via Me Sew Crazy


Uno Card via Super Moms 360


Unicorn Costume from Craftaholics Anonymous


Buzz Lightyear Via Fun At Home With Kids


 

Owl via Hub Pages


Minions via Coolest Homemade Costumes


Easy Mac Via Costume-Works


Jelly Beans Via Wizzley.com


Gypsy Costume via This Mama Makes Stuff


Scuba costume via Artsy Fartsy Mama


Donut via Studio DIY



Cruella De Vil via Pop Sugar Mom


Army man via Wild Ink Press


Pizza Costume via U-Create Craffts


Snail Costume via Oh Happy Day



Baby Owl via Girl Loves Glam


Peacock via The Train to Crazy


Willy Wonka via Mitch and Mickey


Garden Gnome via Sponfull

Designing Baby’s Nursery On A Budget

Designing Baby's Nursery on a Budget

I’m not sure if someone is trying to play a very mean prank on me, but right around the time I found out I was pregnant with baby #2, A Pottery Barn Baby catalog was delivered to my house. I was instantly swooning over these delicious nurseries filled with plush pillows and toys, designer looking rocking chairs, sprawling area rugs that just begged you to lay down and roll on them and wall art that meticulously pulled it all together. Total price tag for the fantasy nursery: half a years mortgage payments.

But every baby deserves an adorable little nursery to come home to. so what’s a mama to do? I can’t bring myself to sell a kidney just to furnish a baby room. So I set out to create a nursery on a budget! Here’s some of the quick tips I’ve gathered and plan to use!

Don’t be afraid of DIY

on a scale of 1-10, my DIY skills are around a 4. I can do simple projects, but anything to complex usually lands in the fail pile. When I think DIY for a nursery, I usually think wall art and mobiles. I did a semi DIY project for Emmy’s room that I’m pretty proud of! I purchased the prints below from Etsy for $4 and had them printed on semi glossy paper at kinkos. I ordered 4 white frames from Amazon for $29 and created this wall art for above her crib. It was simple and somewhat one of a kind for a low price! I also like the idea that I can switch out the art work in the frames as her room changes in the coming years.

DIY Projects for Baby's Nursery on a Budget!

Here are a few other favorites when it comes to nursery DIY (all of them are level 4 or less in the easiness category).

Decorating Baby's Nursery on a Budget- Easy DIY Decor Projects

Hot Air Balloon Wall art from  724 South House

Decorating Baby's Nursery on a Budget- Easy DIY Decor Projects

Paper flowers from craftaholicsanonymous.net

Decorating Baby's Nursery on a Budget- Easy DIY Decor Projects

Easy Name Craft from PaperBlog.com

Embroidery Hoop Wall Art from Mom Machine.

Decorating Baby's Nursery on a Budget- Easy DIY Decor IdeasAlphabet Wall Art. Picture source unknown. I know Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, Walmart, Target and Joann’s all have a selection of letters that could be painted to suite your nursery theme. Most of those locations usually have pretty good coupons available so if you wait for the right time you could do this project for a small chunk of change!

Decorating Baby's Nursery on a Budget- Easy DIY Decor Ideas

One of my favorite DIY projects because no two will EVER be the same! A Shadow Box with all of baby’s birth keepsakes. First outfit, hospital bracelets, birth photo… there are so many options! I ordered this shadow box to make Emmy’s and I was able to fit a good amount of items inside. I do wish I would have gone just a bit bigger though. It was not large enough to fit her coming home onesie.

Repurpose and refurbish

In some cases, there is no need to go out and buy new furniture for baby’s room. A dresser or bookshelf could easily come from another room and be painted to fit the theme of the nursery. If you don’t have pieces, start searching garage sales and online sites for used items. You aren’t looking for the perfect items, you are looking for items with potential! Check out Spot of Tea Designs 1980’s dresser make over!  This was her husband’s childhood dresser that they had just lying around the house! There were no fancy tools used here! Just a can of primer, paint and sealer plus a can of spray paint to re-vamp the hardware! Even I could do that!

Decorating Baby's Nursery on a Budget- DIY Decor Ideas

 

Buy Used

In the case that you have written off any chance of you getting crafty for baby’s room, there is a HUGE selection out there of discounted baby furniture. Craigslist, eBay, and local websites. If you don’t see exactly what you are searching for, don’t be afraid to create a “wanted” post listing the materials you are looking for. Someone may have one lying around and had never thought of selling it! Reach out to close family and friends too and let them know you are on the look out for great deals on baby furniture. They can be an extra set of eyes for you while shopping or may know someone looking to sell items. My all time favorite place to buy used: Just Between Friends consignment sales. They have a franchise in just about every major city in the US. We have sales twice a year here in Houston and I just told Kay last week that we couldn’t go on a trip on a suggested weekend because that was the weekend of the sale. I seriously look forward to it all year-long! Here’s a link to search for a sale in your city: JBF Sale search.

Put Everything On a Registry (but not just ANy registry!)

Everything. Literally. I missed out on this BIG opportunity and I still kick myself for it. A few of the big retailers (Babies R Us, Target) offer some awesome benefits with your registry. Here’s the breakdown of the benefits:

Amazon: I don’t know that there is a single store you could walk into that has the selection size that you will find on Amazon. Most major brands you would find in Target or Babies R’ Us is available on Amazon. They offer a 90 day FREE return policy. Here’s the icing on the baby registry cake: you receive 10% “completion bonus” for any items purchased within 30 days of your due date. So if you register and receive $2,000 worth of gifts, you would receive $200! That could easily pay for a crib, glider or décor. Plus it’s easy for family and friends to send you gifts- no driving around to different stores! It all ships right to you! Plus you literally have HUNDREDS if not thousands of vendors to choose from and the prices are almost ALWAYS cheaper than in store. Sign up for an Amazon Baby Registry HERE!

BONUS TIP: If you are not a member of Amazon Family, you should be! Your completion bonus jumps from 10% to 15% if you are. Plus it gives you the option to have diapers and wipes sent straight to your door every month which is a huge #MomWin! I receive 20% off my diapers and wipes each month by subscribing. You can try it for free for one month by signing up below:
Join Amazon Family 30-Day Free Trial

Babies R Us: Babies R’ Us is probably the first place that pops into your mind when you think “baby registry”. Any store that is entirely dedicated to baby is bound to have a great selection of items! While the prices are usually a big higher than you might find on Amazon, it is nice to have a physical place you can go to look at the items you want to register for. You may want to see the finish of a crib in person or slip the diaper bag you’ve been eying over your shoulder to try on for size. 10 weeks after your due date, Babies R Us will give you a gift card with 5-10% cash back of the items purchased on your registry. (5% for the first $300 spent, 10% anything over $300). I personally had a small registry at Babies R Us and the gift card came at the perfect time! The cash back is for ANYTHING purchased on your registry, even if you buy it for yourself! The negatives to Babies R Us is the prices ALWAYS seem to be higher and I frequently have trouble finding exact items in store. They offer a 1 year return policy for your unwanted baby items. They also have a great points system that gives discounts and tracks your purchases in the case that a receipt is lost.

Target:  Moms love target. Target loves moms, too! They will give you 15% off anything LEFT on your registry 6 weeks before your due date. Just a heads up, you can’t add things 6 weeks before and then try to use the discount (tried it, doesn’t work!) so add EVERYTHING you think you might need from the get go. Downside is that the 15% off coupon does have to be used in 1 day. I have personally been disappointed by the baby selection in my local Target. Online is a different story, they have so much more! They usually have a minimum purchase amount to qualify for free shipping which can be a pain. I did a baby registry at Target with Emmy and do not plan on doing it again with baby #2.

I did some research into a few other stores (Walmart, BuyBuyBaby and Pottery Barn) but they either had prices that were way too high to list them on a money saving post or they did not offer any sort of completion savings.

Accept Hand Me Downs

If I had to guess, I would say 80% of the baby gear we have is hand me downs. Emmy’s crib belonged to my niece and she is now 10… you would never know it looking at the crib! It’s in great shape! Accept any hand me downs that are offered to save a bundle!

What tips would you offer to save money when it comes to building your baby’s nursery? Comment below and share! Be sure to read more articles like this one below!

 

The Shock and Awe of Baby #4

This is guest post from Kayla at SimplyBurch.com. Be sure to check out her blog after reading her post!

I was feeling nauseous when I woke up from a mid-day nap. With three rambunctious children I don’t normally have that luxury but this day I couldn’t fight it, I was exhausted. I woke up with the thought, I am pregnant. But I couldn’t be, could I? We were done, I was on birth control and life was already crazy.

You know those times when you just stare off into nothingness and every thought and fear you have ever had flash right before your eyes? Yeah, I had that the day I saw that big fat positive. We were now expecting baby #4. FOUR…..that is one more than three, one more mouth to feed, one more little tiny human wrecking ball. How was I going to do it? I do not have enough hands or energy.

I was full of so many emotions and it was absolutely overwhelming. I have always wanted four children but I had given up on that dream with health issues and a hysterectomy in my near future. My scheduled appointment with my OBGYN to get the surgery on the books would actually turn into my first prenatal appointment. Talk about a  shock.

As soon as I saw the positive sign, I went straight outside to tell my husband. There was no time for a cutesy announcement, I needed to know his reaction and I needed to know now.  Was he going to be just as shocked as I was? Would we share the same fears?

I tell him, he responds with a smile and “Maybe it will be another girl.”

Wait? Another girl………oh man, what if it is another girl? A sweet little baby girl wrapped in pink, that newborn smell, her precious little head resting on my chest, her innocence as she discovers the world around her and the unbreakable bond she will have with her older brothers and sister. “What if it is another girl?”

A new rush of emotions came over me. The thought of our new and changing future didn’t seem so scary. The emotions were still overwhelming but not near as knee shaking. We were going to have another baby. I honestly didn’t think I would ever say those words again.

My nerves instantly turned to gratitude. I almost lost my husband in a line of duty accident two years ago. Through that time and in his recovery I could have never dreamed we would be adding one more member to our family. I am internally grateful for the gift of his life and the gift of this new life growing inside of me.

My family has been given the gift of life in so many ways and not a day goes by that I will take that for granted. This doesn’t mean that I don’t carry fears around. I still question my ability to care for four children, I still worry I won’t be enough for them but I am steady in the thankfulness to prove myself wrong. I know this growing love in my heart will be enough to sustain my fears.

It doesn’t matter what emotions you have when you find out, don’t feel guilty about it. I went from being shaken from shock to standing in awe in a matter of minutes. Even if it takes you hours, days, or months don’t worry, you got this. You are going to rock on this new journey of motherhood. Sometimes our greatest blessings come when we expect it the least.

Oh, and baby is a girl in case you were wondering. Our little family is looking forward to meeting Miss Maebri in June.


What’s in My Hospital Bag the Second Time Around
How To Get Better Sleep While Pregnant
DIY Stretch Mark Cream for Pregnancy