My Top Three Mom Tips + An Amazing Giveaway for the Momma's Heart

This giveaway is now closed - thanks to everyone for entering! We'll be in touch with each of you to claim your prize. Congratulations!

Evereve - Heidi Weaver
Life Lived Beautifully - Tina Ter Horst
Stella & Dot - Anne Rohe Holmberg
Bosu Ball - Megan Litteken
Lindsay Letters - Emily McDowell

Today, I am so thrilled to be teaming up with some awesome blogging friends for an out-of-this-world giveaway for all of you. Seriously, this prize package is AWESOME, and it's all I can do to not just hoard it all for myself in my greedy little hands. 

The idea for this giveaway came from a desire from all of us to let you know that we're right there with you in this motherhood gig. For as wonderful as it is, it can be pretty tough and we want you to know that we're deep in the trenches, wading through the mud and the muck of motherhood, right along side you. You momma, you are seen, you are heard, you are thought of and you are loved. So we've created a prize package just for you - not for your husband, or for your kids, or for anyone else - each item has been chosen simply to pamper YOU. 

Before we go too much further, first check out the other awesome bloggers I've teamed up with: 

Amber Kuiper from Mommy's Me TimeErin Carroll from Erin Akin Carroll, and Rachel Norman from A Mother Far From Home. All of our blogs focus on motherhood in one way or another, and I highly recommend checking all these ladies out for encouragement, ideas, tips and solidarity in this motherhood gig.

And speaking of tips, today all four of us are sharing our top three mom tips that we've learned since we've become mothers. Like always with advice and tips in motherhood, I'm feeling a bit out of my comfort zone - because like, 1) I will always and forever be the first person to admit that I STILL HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING AS A MOM. And 2) over the years, I've needed so much help and learned so much from other veteran moms, it's near impossible for me to condense it down to just three. But, here goes: 

  1. Find Your Village - Or your crew, your tribe - whatever it is they're calling it these days - all I'm saying is make it a priority to find other mommas trudging through the trenches with you. Motherhood is hard and let's be honest, no one really knows what they're doing, but it's incredibly encouraging to find other women who are willing to walk beside you and figure it out with you. I've just moved from Minneapolis to Chicago, and I now know first-hand just how difficult finding your people can be. (Seriously, trying to make new friends as a SAHM is the worst.) But we're not meant to do motherhood alone and it's vital that we find other women to navigate this road with us. Find women who value the same things you do, whom you respect and appreciate - they don't have to do everything the same way you do, but hopefully at the core, when the rubber meets the road, you're on the same page. Encourage each other by reminding each other you're doing a good job, and challenge each other to parent with grace, thoughtfulness and purpose. Motherhood is far easier when you're not doing it alone. 
  2. Get It: (I know, I know, it's not about the gear, but let's be honest, it certainly makes life easier.) These tank tops. (They're maternity, but I wear them every day since I have a long torso. They're also perfect for post-partum nursing too!) This sock bun. This double stroller for one OR two kids. This sling. This light-up alarm clock for toddlers. This cheapo, yet modern and stylish high chair. And if you pump a lot, store your pumping supplies in the fridge for the day so you don't have to wash in between. I exclusively pumped for a while and it changed my life. 
  3. Remember You're Raising More Than A Body, You're Raising A Heart: Motherhood is complicated. It's terribly overwhelming, in a staggering, almost suffocating way. There's so much to learn, remember, teach and take care of. And among all the clutter of things that are important in the here and now, it's easy to lose sight of what is truly important in the eternal. We sing the ABC's, clap to "If You're Happy And You Know It," research sleep cycles, limit screen time, teach table manners, keep the laundry running and the carpet vacuumed, but really, none of those things matter if we don't give our children Jesus each and every day. We're raising hearts here, not just bodies. So remember, hearts are more important than colors and sharing, and souls will long outlast skills, talents and awards. We mommas must search to find truth in these trenches, meaning in the mess, and reflect the truth of the gospel day-in and day-out to our children. Because ultimately, it doesn't matter if we breastfeed or forumla feed, sleep train or co-sleep, feed organic or junk food - these things won't affect who your child becomes. But the things we as mothers say and the way we spend our time will show our children what we value, influencing their souls forever. And so if our children learn just one thing from us - just one thing - let it be that their mother loved Jesus and showed them who he was each and every day of their lives. I'm so passionate about this one mommas - this is by far my number one tip, my life purpose, my hope and prayer for all of you. Because if we don't have this, we don't have anything!
Although I feel like I could add about 15 more (And I even sorta/maybe/totally cheated with number two.), I'll stop there. Definitely be sure you check out the other women's blogs too for their tips: Mommy's Me Time, Erin Akin Carroll,  A Mother Far From Home.

And now, on to the giveaway - there will be five different winners, one for each brand - so check out what you could win, I know I already said it, but I'm seriously, seriously jealous!

And here's all the links so you can check each prize out in more detail: One $500 Evereve gift card, one Life Lived Beautifully Give Me Jesus Journal and Be Still and Know Mugone Stella & Dot Signature Engravable ID Tag and Chain from Independent Stylist Kim Jensen, one pink Bosu Ball Balance Trainer,  and one Lindsay Letters 11x14 "It Is Well" canvas.

Enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Annnnd, because I'm incredibly wordy (I mean, that's why I have a blog, people) and totally indecisive, here are a few more of my mom-tips. Top Pieces of Advice for First-Time Moms (That You Probably Haven't Heard Before) and 15 Pratical Tips For First-Time Moms. Plus, I share a whole lot more about motherhood over on Facebook and Instagram, I'd love for you to follow along there if you don't already! 

Outfit c/o Evereve. 

Bless This House

I'm not sure where I heard about it the first time, the idea to walk a house and pray over each room, blessing the work the floors, the walls, the closets will do. Blessing its future. Blessing its people. But I think it's a good idea so I wander the house, walking from room to room, thinking, dreaming and praying.

I'm here alone - a rare treat to not have the kids in tow as I check on the house. It's three weeks until we move in, three weeks until this place is (for the most part) finished with its transformation, becoming barely recognizable from the house it was before.

As I walk, I think. What will happen in this house? What will it see while we live here? What will it be about? What will it know? What will it be known for?

Bless this house.

I imagine Colette will learn to walk here. Eli will learn to use the big boy potty. And I will learn the best flowers to plant in shade.

I walk through the kitchen and I pray the island is filled with crumbs and spills and flour dustings, as giggles and questions fill the room and the children learn to bake cookies and enchiladas and their grandma's famous granola. I pray that the kids not only learn to cook and bake in this kitchen, but that they also learn the value of meal, it is not just for nourishment, but for conversation and connection.

I see the dining room and imagine a long buffet filled with food against the wall. The table is set not only with my china dishes, but with colorful plastic dishes as well. I pray this room is used to feed not just our family, but our friends, neighbors, aunts, uncles and cousins. I pray it is full the majority of the time, that our table and home would be a welcoming place for expected and unexpected guest, at any and all hours of the day.

I walk through the living room and pray our family learns what it means to love each other unconditionally here. To share their toys, work out their imaginations and deepen their bond. I pray for plays on the fireplace hearth, ruckus tickle fights and wrestling matches on the rug, and massively intense games of "hot lava" on the furniture. I pray for conflict resolution, and the tears that will inevitably spill - and I pray for wisdom as I learn to sort it all out. I pray for late night conversations with my husband and date nights on the couch after the kids have gone to bed, filled with hopes, dreams and love.

I head upstairs and walk through the bedrooms, imagining the day when the cribs are gone and everyone is in a "big kid" bed. I pray for bedtime conversations, middle of the night wakings and mid-day naps.

Bless this house.

I pray that this house would be known for being open and approachable, comfortable and giving. It would be open handed and generous, flexible and welcoming. I pray that in this house, friends and family would be a common sight. That every room and item in the house would work hard for our family and guests, that it would foster wise decisions and exciting futures.

Bless this house.

I wonder what this house will see. Will it see Colette's first day of kindergarten? Or Eli loose his first baby tooth? Will it see my babies learn to count to 100 and write their own names - and probably my biggest and most hope-filled ask - will it see them come to love Jesus?  Will this house see the adoptions we've been praying and hoping for for so long? Or will it see another unexpected pregnancy? What happiness, excitement and joys will it be apart of? What pain, sorrow and sadness will it endure?

Bless this house.

It is both a wonderful and terrifying thing to imagine what might happen while we call this house our home. "The possibilities are endless," as they say, and I'm not sure what to think as I close the door behind me and walk out to my car. All I know is I pray that God blesses this house.

Bless it Lord. Please, I beg you, bless it.

*Photo of our entryway in progress, snapped this morning after about two months of living here and a billion gallons of paint. 

Colette - Six Month Update

Naps: Three naps a day. One, two to three hour in the morning; one two to three hour in the afternoon and a short 1/2 hour in the evening.
Feeding: Formula. Four 6 -7 oz. bottles every four hours during the day.
Clothing: Six and nine month.
Bedtime: 6:30 - 7 p.m.

Colic/Reflux Update: 
Colette is doing amazing with her colic and reflux. I'm finally confident enough to say that she is completely over the colic. As for the reflux, she still takes 2 ml a day of medication, 1 ml when she wakes (around 7 a.m.) and one at bedtime (around 7 p.m.) I did try to wean her from another ml towards the end of the month, but it didn't go well, so I'm keeping her on her current dosage because she's so happy with it. I'm thankful we seem to be through the worst of it! 

This month we had two big milestones, we dropped the night feeding - HALLELUJAH! - and started Baby Led Weaning (BLW). At the beginning of the month Colette was still taking 3 oz during her 10 p.m. dream feed, so I slowly worked to have her drop it throughout the month. I gave her .5 oz less every three days, and within a couple of weeks we completely eliminated it with NO CRYING. It was amazing. She now eats just four times a day, when she wakes (anywhere between 7-9 a.m.), and then every four-ish hours after that first feed. She's super flexible, so it's nice that I can let her sleep as long as she wants and then start her routine from there. 

As I mentioned, we also started solids this month, and I went with BLW since it worked so well for us with Eli. I'll admit though, I'm much less "excited" to clean up the mess with the second child. Not that I was excited before, but with the first baby, everything was just a little more "No problem!" then when you have two children to clean up after, you know? I started her with avocado, bananas, sweet potatoes and peaches and so far, she's loved them all. But by far her favorite things to eat are ribs. For some reason, we've had ribs a few times over this past month (Weird, cause we hardly ever eat them.) but she just LOVES to suck on one - I'm thinking the bone feels good on her gums.  I really only feed her once a day, she has dinner each night with us, and sometimes breakfast with Eli and I, but only if she's up while we're already eating. 

SHE NOW SLEEPS 12 - 15 HOURS STRAIGHT A NIGHT, PEOPLE. Holy. It's amazing. I feel like a new woman having no night wakings in there! Of course, sometimes she'll randomly wake and talk for a few minutes every once in a while, but overall, she's completely silent in there ALL night. I don't think I've gone to her once since we dropped the dream feed. In addition she became a great napper as her night sleep improved, and she's taken naps up to four hours at a time! Mostly they're about 2-3 hours though, and it's awesome. I know, I'm blessed, but at the same time, I think I paid for it in spades the first four months of her life. So sorry, NOT SORRY. 

LOTS has changed this month. She now rolls over all the time, in both directions. I can barely keep her on a huge quilt she moves around so much - I have to constantly go over and reposition her in the middle before she rolls herself off. She loves the Bumbo and will stay in it for a REALLY long time. She can sit up on her own for maybe a couple of seconds, not really very long, but she's getting stronger! It's also been fun to see her start to recognize people, when Mike comes home she starts waving her arms all over the place and heavy breathing, sometimes even giggling just at the sight of him. She of course loves to watch Eli and often, I'll find her watching him while smiling - he has no clue how much she adores him! She's getting better all the time at grabbing things and bringing them to her mouth, she particularly loves to suck on her feet - it's the most adorable thing!

Likes / Dislikes: 
She still loves the Johnny Jump Up, and she can get pretty intense about it - jumping crazy hard with LOTS of heavy breathing. We also put her in the backyard swing this month with support from a blanket and she just adores it. She can stay in there for 20 minutes at a time - basically until Eli gets too impatient and sick of "helping" me push her because it's "Eli's turn." She still loves to be held and snuggled with and worn in the sling - it's really fun to have a snuggly baby since Eli wasn't really like that at all. 

She loves walks too, but I think that's mostly because she gets a front row seat to watch Eli and all his antics in our stroller. She's still a bit of a daredevil, and getting thrown/tossed/gently roughhoused is her favorite thing to do. By far her favorite activity is still a bath, just like it's been since day one. But coming in at a close second might be when I go to get her from naps/in the mornings. She just starts to shake and wave her arms and go, well, as crazy as a little baby can possibly be - it's the most adorable thing I've ever seen. She is still incredibly picky about bottle temperature, but that's the only dislike I can think of. She's so agreeable these days, hardly anything rattles her. One thing I love is that when she has the perfect temp bottle, she'll eat with her hand over her eyes, it's like she just really wants to enjoy the taste and block everything else out.

Momma / Daddy Update: 
This girl. It's funny, because when she was first born, we had a really strained relationship. I had a really hard time FEELING the love, I loved her of course, but as the colic worsened and life chaos ensued, I just had a really hard time enjoying her. But now. Oh now. I am obsessed with my daughter. There's just something about her. She's probably the sweetest baby that has ever existed. She just - muah! - no words can express how my heart completely EXPLODES when I think about her. I think a lot of it is just how hard it all was when she first arrived, but it's also something more. There's just something about her that will melt even the coldest heart. She laughs easily, smiles easily, is cuter than a Labrador puppy and she just brightens my day every time I even think about her. Mike constantly looks at her and asks me, "Have you ever seen a more beautiful baby?" And before I can even answer he says, "I didn't think so." He's adamant that she's cuter than Eli was at this age, but I don't know, I can't say, Eli was pretty darn cute to me too - but I think it's adorable that she already has Mike wrapped around that tiny little pinky of hers. Things are so good here. We're in a great rhythm and I honestly could have never predicted how wonderful Colette would turn out to be. She's better than I could have imagined and truly has become such an easy baby. I'm so thankful for her!

The Tug And Pull of Baby Number Two

It's three a.m. I don't exactly want to be up, but it's precious time alone with just you, and me, and the darkness, and so when I settle into the glider with you in my arms, I really don't mind. These moments with you are rare. There are so many things that feel so unfair to you, my baby number two.

You wear a green sleeper with turtles on it, I bought it new for your older brother, because at the time I thought, "This is sorta gender neutral, then if we have a girl next, she can wear it too!" But right now, it's looking all "boy" and pretty worn and I'm just wishing I would just stop being so cheap and shell out the money for one that screams GIRL in pink and purple. Baby number one got everything new, baby number two is on a budget - a few new clothes just because of the gender difference, but we can make everything else "work."

There's a reason most mommas don't really baby wear until baby number two. With baby number one it's just momma and baby and her two arms can easily keep the two together, connected. But with baby number two, there's an arm shortage. The toddler needs my arms to stop the spills, the tantrums, and - oh I don't know - his imminent death. And so I wear you, my baby number two.

But I also wear you, because I miss you. Because I need you close to me. Because if I don't literally strap you to my body, I will miss so much with you. You will be there under your play mat, or in your Bumbo or lying on a blanket with toy bombs falling from a toddler's hands three feet above you, and I will miss you growing and changing because I need my arms for more than just holding you. And so I wear you when my arms cannot, because the days and changing goes so much faster than it did with baby number one.

Daily I wonder if I have given you enough, my baby number two. If you feel special. If you feel known. If you feel loved.

Even with just a half a year with you, I already know - you are so different from my baby number one. You have your own likes, dislikes, quirks and habits. I don't feel like I know them as well as I did with my baby number one. It's like things suddenly appear - I think they've been there for a while - but finally I get a chance to spend 10 uninterrupted minutes with you and new things are suddenly revealed. Playing and tickling, kissing and cuddling and I see it.

I see you. I finally see you.

And then I wonder how long those things have been there. How long has it been that I have not seen that part of you? It hurts to think such thoughts.

But then the moment is over and I can't think about it any longer because I hear the pantry being opened to the tune of "Old McDonald has a Truck" and I must go.

The tug and the pull of baby number two. It's hard on the heart to feel like they get so much less of you than your baby number one. In some ways, you wish you could be the same mom to number two as you were to number one. Analyzing every little detail of their bodies and minds, reaching your brains out with all the questions or even just a curiosity; and giving them one hundred percent of your time, attention and love.

But then consider it again. Baby number two does not really have less of you - your world is bigger and so is your love. And when it comes down to it, you know - baby number two still has all of you, it just looks different. Somehow, there's this magical thing that moms can do - they can be tugged and pulled in all different directions, but somehow they are never divided or torn apart. Somehow you are multiplied so you can give each baby all of you no matter when they arrived in the birth order.

And yes, you are a different mom. But each baby that comes to a momma changes her - how can one not be changed by the grand, beautiful gift of raising a life? You are not the same momma to number two as you were to number one - you are a better momma because you are a momma to both.

So embrace the tug and the pull of baby number two, momma. Wear the crap outta that sling and snag what quiet moments you can with them. It's not unfair for baby number two, it's just different. They still have all of you and you have all of them.

As I lay you down in your crib, I also lay down the worry and wonder in my heart and mind. I am learning to live with the constant tug and pull, knowing that though it looks different, you, my baby number two, will always be just as special, just as known, and just as loved as my baby number one.

Like this post? Here are some of the other most popular posts on motherhood. I also share a whole lot more on this motherhood gig over on Facebook (Oakland Avenue) and Instagram (@laurawifler) and I'd love it if you followed along!

Give Them Jesus, Momma

Yes, momma, today has been a hard day. Terrible. Awful. One for the books. But that doesn't really change anything. Your purpose, your goal, your mission - is still the same. Remember. On these dark days - the days when you just want to cry in the corner or sit in an empty bathtub fully clothed and stare at the tile - when the task of mothering and life is so heavy, so burdensome, so frustrating you just want to walk out the door and let them raise themselves, remember: Grace upon grace.

Give them Jesus, momma.

Today of all days you need to remember. Because today is the day that you can no longer see the light. It is the day where you feel swallowed by the darkness and some of you - much of you - wants to give in and just let it sweep you away. It is the day you feel a physical ache in your chest, your muscles, your bones, your core, because of all the questions, changes and responsibility. And so today is the day you must repeat this sentence to yourself over and over again: Give them Jesus.

You love Him - more than anything. You say that on the good days, now you must believe that on the bad days.

Give them Jesus.

So pick yourself up. Stand up straight on your wobbly legs, and do the next thing. Tomorrow is a new day and with it light will come. Remember and believe. And even when you're not sure you believe anymore, do it anyway - because it is true what they say, it is always darkest before the dawn.

Give them Jesus, momma.

Grace upon grace.

Writing About The New

It sort of feels funny to be back here writing. I wanted a break, but now I'm not so sure how to break the break other than to bulldoze right through it. After everything in the past few months, I needed some time to myself to decompress, think and write with a pen and paper, rather than with the keys. I needed to write knowing no one was watching, analyzing, judging. Not that you are, but it's different - I'll just assume you understand.

It's been a long, long road to get to where I am now. There's much of me that didn't even know if I'd make it here, that couldn't believe that this is what was next, at this time, in this place. But we're here, we're settling, we're making do and doing well. These past few weeks have been busy with home renovations (It's almost done!), decorating, forcing myself to cook again, getting the kids on a consistent schedule and giving them more of me than I have in months, learning to be content with a husband that works a lot, and praying that I'll make friends.

Lately, I've had more blog content than I've known what to do with, but sometimes, I think it's just best to step back and live with it all for a bit, you know?

So that's what I've been doing. Blogging the old school way in my journal or sometimes in Blogger drafts when my thoughts run too fast for the hand-cramps a pen brings. I have a few posts that I wrote a while ago but was never quite ready to publish, but with a little breathing room, I think they're ready. They're from some dark times over the past few months when I hit a wall, and then I hit it again, and again, and again. But that's real life, isn't it?

There's a lot of changing that has been going on in this heart, there's part of me that wants to say my heart is just being chiseled, refined, tweaked, but really it's been blasted to bits and kicked to the curb - all to be replaced with an entirely new one.

And if you weren't sure, that's a good thing.

So now I'll be back here, writing about the new.