For the expecting mama: this is a must read product review!
“I love the DockATot so much that I bought it twice.”
Not because I wanted to, but because we left ours at home after driving four hours to the outer banks for a week long vacation, and we knew how vital the DockATot was for our son’s sleep (and thus our survival) while we were away.
This glorious baby sleeper is safe, portable, washable, versatile and stylish. The DockATot is worth every penny and is a registry must have. I’m able to carry & quite literally dock it throughout the house as he naps during the day and he sleeps soundly, nestled in its soothing comfort at night. Both guaranteeing incredible value, the Deluxe is geared towards babies 0 – 8 months old, and the Grand is designed for toddlers aged 9 – 36 months.
Because I hadn’t heard much about it, while pregnant I posed a question on Facebook about the necessity of the dockatot and I was shocked at the amount of positive feedback I received from other mamas on my feed. So convinced I needed it, I added it to my registry and my friends (who are angels) gifted it to me at my shower. The DockATot is available in a variety of styles. The covers are removable and washable which is HUGE because my baby is a big spitter and has the occasional blowout.
“This glorious baby sleeper is safe, portable, washable, versatile and stylish.”
Great for co-sleeping and crib to bed transitions, the DockATot allows for a safer and more comfortable way for families to share sleeping quarters if they so choose. Additionally, it’s ideal for bed transitioning, thanks to built-in sides that allow young children to settle more easily in a bigger bed. The DockATot Grand gives little ones a snug sense of security in a new sleeping environment.
My only complaint is that I didn’t have the DockATot for my firstborn! For more information click here. Happy sleeping, Mamas.
Each year we gather round the table to feast on a grand Thanksgiving dinner. This is one of my favorite holidays and one that I love to host, and in doing so, I always try to drum up some fun activities to do while the whole family is in town.
As a host, I find that the best way to make Thanksgiving more memorable is by growing connections through intentional conversations and moments. BUT I’ll be honest, the holidays can be quite stressful. Beyond the cooking, you need folks to get along and everything to go swimmingly and without a hitch.
Sometimes it’s hard to initiate conversation and Thanksgiving reunions are not the time to discuss the weather (or even worse, religion or politics – leave that ‘ish at the door). So this year I have decided to incorporate a table talk game to spark dialogue and hopefully lead to deeper conversations between guests.
Incorporate a table talk game to spark dialogue
I created a few table talk conversation questions to break the ice and I have made them available FOR FREE below. Simply download the file, print, cut and throw into a bowl or similar container. I just used my resources and found a tin bucket that was lying around. Guests will pick a question from the bucket and answer and repeat OR guests can all go around in a circle and all answer the question individually.
I created a few table talk conversation questions to break the ice and I have made them available FOR FREE below
The best thing about this game is that you will leave knowing more about those you have spent the holiday with. And you don’t necessarily need to keep this as a once-a-year game. You can always recycle the questions for dinner conversation starters, Christmas get-togethers, car rides – you name it (as long as the pumpkin designs don’t bother you).
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I’m going to be real with y’all. I love wine. I have a deep affinity for my evening glass while winding down after a long day with the kiddos. The tannins. Mouthfeel. Aromas. I love it all. I decided recently that I didn’t know enough about this beverage for how intensely I feel about it, so I started doing a ton of research and informing myself about all things wine. Thats when I came up with the idea of a Spooky Wine Tasting. One: to flex my newfound wine knowledge. Two: to spend time with friends. And Three: to celebrate this macabre time of year. I was delighted in how perfectly the event unfolded and how much fun we all had!
All of that being said, I want to share with you guys everything I did to plan and host a spooky wine tasting in the hopes that you will plan your own, revel in some adult time and de-stress in the company of great friends. We deserve it Mamas!
ALSO: We’ve made our Spooky Wine Tasting Trivia Printable available for FREE. Simply scroll to the bottom. You’re welcome!
Find a Sitter
I was up in the air at first on whether or not to keep the kids at home or send them to the grandparents and now I am so glad I went with the latter. The luxury of uninterrupted conversation is one I don’t take for granted when my kids are gone. Plus, I’m not sure I would have been able to get through a detailed tasting with my two year old calling my name every 5 seconds. My advice: find a sitter. Enjoy adult time and encourage your mom friends to leave their babies behind so they can do the same. There is nothing better than spending time with mom friends emancipated from their children for a few hours. As the saying goes, in vino veritas.
Wine and Food Selection
I decided to offer a variety of wines at the tasting to keep everyone happy. Reds, whites and even a good Rose. I sought out a few local wineries and some international bottles. Total Wine is my go-to but any grocery store with a decent wine selection will do. I chose wines under $15 that rated highly on the reviews. That way, I kept costs fairly low and my friends who enjoyed a certain bottle could easily pick it up next time they’re out shopping. To add a creepy touch, I found some spooky wines in the seasonal aisle (one was labeled Witching Hour). We served Halloween themed finger foods to match the vibe and decor. I was thrilled with how the mummy jalapeno poppers turned out (recipe here) and I will say, Pinterest was a huge help. For the tasting portion of the event, I typed up small blurbs about each wine and gave a few tips on what to pair it with.
We served Halloween themed finger foods to match the vibe and decor
What’s a Spooky Wine Tasting without a little trivia? Games are a great ice breaker and a fantastic way to get the whole gang involved in the action. Our Spooky Wine Trivia game was a big hit with all of our guests and I could tell they enjoyed learning fun wine facts to take with them. I found a cute pumpkin charmed wine stopper as the game prize and stuck it in a Halloween bag with a card which both congratulated and thanked them for coming. Easy Peazy! And in case you didn’t see, our Spooky Wine Tasting Trivia printable is available for download below!
Games are a great ice breaker and a fantastic way to get the whole gang involved in the action
I have a proclivity for dressing up on Halloween. It is the only time of year I can transform into a mermaid or a Dr. Seuss character without fear of judgment. However, we permitted our guests to make the call on costumes so no-one felt forced to come up with something. The different ideas were great conversation pieces and allowed for hilarious photo opportunities. My husband and I decided to do a play on snapchat and personify filter vs. no filter, which meant he was in a skirt all night and that in and of itself was worthing dressing up for. My advice: let your guests make the call! Costumes can be a real hit but you don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable. Some great ideas for easy DIY costumes here.
The different costume ideas were great conversation pieces and allowed for hilarious photo opportunities
Decor for our Spooky Wine Tasting was easy and simple. I used generic Halloween gear that I had collected over the years, some faux cob web on our railings and mirrors and purple lights on the stairwell. The black cauldron was a perfect place to store the wines. I use my felt board for every event that we host at our house so that was a must. Emoji wine markers added a fun touch to each glass you can purchase them here.
I used generic Halloween gear I have collected over the years, some faux cob web on mirrors and railings and purple lights in the stairwell
And there you have it! The Spooky Wine Tasting. A unique and entertaining experience for everyone to enjoy. There are so many different things you can do with this event to make it your own. The most important takeaway: set aside time to be kid free with people you care about. You’ll never regret it!
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I introduced this unique, fall activity to my son over the weekend and it was a hit! My oldest loves playing with daddy’s big tools and pumpkin hammering was the perfect way to let him have at it (with adult supervision of course!)
All you need is a pumpkin, small pegs to act as nails and a hammer. You can use your own discretion on whether to use a real hammer or play hammer with your little. We used a few colorful pegs from an old peg board as nails. I’ve also seen golf tees used for this activity.
It takes a bit of force to penetrate the pumpkin skin so you may have to encourage them to hit harder!
While hammering out some energy (and Mama enjoys a moment of quiet) your kiddos will also be building fine motor muscles while practicing the art of persistence.
Pumpkin hammering is also a great exercise in hand eye coordination.
There you have it! Easy to set up, engaging and FUN! Enjoy.
It may seem simple to many, but it felt like a huge success when I was able to breastfeed my second son, Mateo. A bit of a background – I had struggled with my first son Rylan and moved forward with exclusive pumping and then supplementing with formula thereafter, so I was very relieved when Mateo was able to latch right away.
But…that’s not to say it was easy. The pain was new and unbearable in the beginning. The nights were long comparatively and I felt helpless in the moments when he wouldn’t latch right away but was screaming at the top of his lungs from hunger. Fortunately, I worked with lactation consultants with success and trudged through those first few days unaffected.
Then it happened suddenly – an experience that I never read about or prepared for. As I lumbered through the 2-3 hour increments of our nursing schedule, I was at the same time becoming overwhelmed with an extreme sense of sadness and dread as my milk was coming in. The feeling as if I had done something horrible, something bad was going to happen, or if I had a million bills to pay tomorrow and no way of paying it. A homesick, heart racing, pit-in-my-stomach-feeling I couldn’t explain or wrap my head around. A sudden need to be alone and just breath through the sadness with no interruptions as I nursed. And as fast as it would take over my emotions, it would dissipate just as quickly.
It almost made me quit breastfeeding.
Knowing I have a past of anxiety, I immediately became very concerned for my mental health and even more worried thinking it was, yet again, going to creep back into my life. I would certainly need to get in touch with my doctor and hope there was a way to work through this debilitating experience. I started to get vocal about it, just to get feelers out. To my husband, I feel very anxious and I’m not sure why…am I acting weird? What do you think could be happening? To my close friends (who had just had babies within weeks of me), Hey guys, are you feeling this way? Have you felt like this before, I’m feeling like _______”. I was met with unfamiliarity yet persisted to research what it all was, and thankfully after some intense internet searching, I found out what I was experiencing:
Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex or D-MER
Described on d-mer.org, “Dysphoric Milk Ejection Reflex is a condition affecting lactating women that is characterized by an abrupt dysphoria, or negative emotions, that occur just before milk release and continuing not more than a few minutes.”
Dysphoric milk ejection reflex cannot be fully explained but is linked to an overly-excessive drop in dopamine during the “let-down” in order for prolactin levels to rise, resulting in a brief dysphoric reaction.
Also – because this is a temporary feeling while breastfeeding, the actual condition is a physiological response versus a psychological response – which did give me a sense of relief that this wasn’t anxiety-related at all. A case report in 2011 by Heise and Wiessinger concluded that “Imagine tapping your knee to cause a reflexive jerk. Now tell yourself that you are going to resist the reflex with all your will, and tap again. Does your willpower make any difference? This is precisely the problem for the mother with D-MER. The emotions are unavoidable. She can feel them coming, but cannot stop them.”
Upon further research (and after joining this Facebook support group), I realized that my feelings of negativity from D-MER were not the only symptoms and feelings of intensity one can be presented with. There is actually a “Spectrum of D-MER”, ranging from mild to moderate to severe.
Thankfully – I found myself between the mild/moderate range, which I feel is as much as I could handle mentally. Anything more, I would need to stop breastfeeding. I also have an amazingly supportive husband, helpful 5-year-old and Mateo has always been an easy baby, so it could have been worse. Unfortunately there is very little research on treatment of D-MER and the best advice I have seen is to avoid breastfeeding altogether (and even some women continue to have it afterwards). But for me, simply just knowing the feelings I experience have a name and there is a reason for it gave me validation and eased my mind.
If you are experiencing similar feelings, be sure to talk to your doctor and research more about D-MER. I highly encourage joining the linked Facebook group above, as it has helped me immensely and has reminded me that I am not alone. And if you want to chat more, feel free to contact me.