Health, Love & Fire: May 2016

Making Your Pet Feel Loved After Bringing Home A New Baby

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PawsToSavor #CollectiveBias. 

Before bringing Harper home, one of the many things I worried about was making sure our pets still felt loved and cared for. We have two cats, one 7 and 6 and a 5 year old dog, and they were huge parts of our lives before Harper entered our life. I knew bringing a new baby home was going to be a huge change for us, and a big change for them too. I wanted to make sure they didn't feel forgotten or pushed away, just because the baby would be needing so much of our attention. So in an effort to help calm some of my stress, aid in my nesting tendencies and to just feel more prepared I did a few things to make sure our pets felt loved and cared for even during this huge change in their lives.

Have a plan for someone to take care of your pets while you're in the hospital:
Even though the hospital we had Harper at was right in town, we still had a plan for the pets while we'd be gone. Both of our parents took turns stopping by to feed them and check in on them for those few days. We didn't want them to feel completely abandoned and even just having someone stop by for a few minutes a day to check in and give them some attention made me worry less about our time away in the hospital.

Bring home a blanket that smells like the baby before you bring the baby home:
Now I'm not sure how scientific this actually is, but we figured it was worth a try. Before Harper and I were discharged from the hospital I had Dan bring home a blanket that our daughter had been swaddled in. This let them get used to her scent and hopefully be more welcoming when we arrived home with her.

Give your pet extra attention time while your child naps:
I know they say to sleep while you're baby sleeps, but your baby will sleep quite a bit those first couple weeks. Just take 5 minutes before you go to lay down and pet your cat or at least acknowledge it. Try to interact with them like you would have before you brought the baby home so that they keep some consistency.
Making it feel welcome by letting it sleep next to you and the baby:
We spent a lot of time those first few weeks holding Harper while she napped and most of that time was spent on the couch. During her naps I would invite the cats to come lay next to me so that they could get used to being near the baby and also feel like they still had a place in our lives. While they couldn't lay on top of her or in our laps, they could lay next to where we were sitting and still get some attention while we held the baby.
Playing with your cat using it's favorite toys, for instance a cardboard box:
You'd be amazed how much our cats love playing with an empty box or paper bag. One of our cat's favorite things is to jump in and sit in empty cardboard boxes that came in the mail with a package or paper bags after we've been shopping. It's simple, inexpensive and they will love it.

Feeding your cat Purina® Pro Plan® Dry Cat Food:
Nothing makes our cats happier than a full bowl of food. A couple months before Harper's due date we took a trip to PetSmart and picked up our cat's favorite food Purina® Pro Plan® Dry Cat Food. I knew that it might be more difficult to make it to the pet store those first few weeks and that it would make them happier to have their favorite food. There are over 20 different flavors, so we were able to find the ones our cats like the best to have their favorite food for them while we were busy focusing so much on the new baby. Now that she's home, if I'm busy I can even order from PetSmart online which makes my life even easier!
Between now and July 5th if you spend $15 on any Purina® Pro Plan® product you can save $15 on your next purchase of 10.5-lbs. or larger Purina® Pro Plan® Dry Cat or Dog Food or Litter.
Harper absolutely loves the pets! Sometimes I think even more than us. Whether they are playing along with her or just walking by, they always grab her attention and can make her laugh more than anything else. I'm so thankful that this transition has gone so well and all of us seem so happy. It doesn't take a lot of extra time to make your cat feel loved and not forgotten with such a huge change in its life, but making that extra effort has made all the difference.

How did you make your pet feel loved and a part of the change when bringing home a new baby?

Summer Lovin

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Summer is so close I can almost taste it! And with every new season comes a reason to do some shopping . . . or is that just the excuse I use? 

Join myself and some of these other awesome ladies and get yourself entered in this awesome giveaway! I mean who doesn't want to win a gorgeous beach tote, a Kylie Lip Kit, a gift card to Target and a gift card to Starbucks! Sounds like all the makings to a fun girls day! So hop on over and check out some of these awesome ladies and get yourself entered to win! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Oregon Weekend Hikes: Trappest Abbey Hike

Monday, May 23, 2016

One of our goals as a family this year is to get out and enjoy the gorgeous summer weather any chance we can. A few weekends ago, we decided to test out our new Osprey Hiking Pack with Harper and go for a hike near our house. The hike starts out at the Our Lady of Guadaloupe Trappest Abbey between Lafeyette and Newberg. The Abbey sits on 1300 Acres, so it's the perfect quiet weekend escape. We decided to take the trail up to their "shrine" at the highest peak of their trails which overlooks the valley. You can pick up a map of the trails in their gift shop or guest office upon arrival.
The trail itself was really nice. We only saw a couple other people the entire time we were there. From the parking lot to the top of the trail where the viewpoint and "shrine" were was about a 1000ft elevation gain over a little over two miles. The trail itself was mostly shaded and kept fairly cool the entire time. A group of hikers were finishing just as we started and they were surprised that we were going to hike up the trail with a carrier and baby, but it wasn't too bad. Most of the hike is at a fairly decent incline, but manageable (although I wasn't the one carrying Harper). There were a few muddy patched from some recent rain and all the shade on the trail, but aside from the incline, the trail was well maintained. 

The view from the top made the whole hike worth it. If only it had been a little clearer Pacific Northwest day, but the view of the valley was still gorgeous even if it was a bit overcast. There were quite a few bugs in the more damp shaded areas of the trail so I'd recommend either putting on or bringing some bug repellent with you for the hike. 
The hike took us about two hours, but we stopped every now and then along the way. Plus I was definitely out of shape due to lack of hiking since before I was pregnant with Harper. Both Dan and I really enjoyed the quite and gorgeous trail but we were worn out by the time we made it back to the car. Clearly we weren't the only two worn out by the hike by the end of it! I had of course overpacked not knowing how Harper would handle her first hike, but she was a pro, and she even fell asleep on the way back down. 

It was so nice to just get away from our busy weekend schedules for the morning and to spend some time just the three of us! I'm looking forward to taking advantage of some nice weather and our hiking pack and getting out to explore some more new trails around Oregon this summer! 

Where are your favorite hiking spots in Oregon? I'd love any suggestions to help us keep our goal of making it outdoors more often this summer! 

Mom Life: 6-9 Month Favorites

Thursday, May 19, 2016

I can't believe that we've actually reached the point that I am able to write this post. Those first few weeks of motherhood seem so overwhelming, and while there are still days that feel the same way, once you get into a rhythm and establish a routine, the days and weeks just fly by before your eyes. I'm still in shock that Harper has reached the 9 month milestone and that I am actually starting to plan for her first birthday. So while I'm in Pinterest heaven over here planning all sorts of fun things for her birthday, here's some of our favorites from the last three months.
Highchair: I honestly was walking through a store before Harper was born trying to finish up a registry when I found this on sale on the end of an isle. I thought it was a little early to buy a highchair seeing as she wouldn't be using it for several months but it was too good to pass up, and I am so glad I did! The Fisher-Price Spacesaver High Chair is one of my favorite purchases! I love that you can strap it to any chair and it can be packed up and taken with you easily on a trip or just a dinner at a friends house. The cover can be easily removed for easy cleaning as well as the tray. I also love that it don't take up a ton of extra room in our already child toy and item filled home as it just straps to your exisiting dining table chairs. Plus it comes in several different designs and colors so it works for boys and girls!

Shopping Cart & High Chair Cover: As Harper has gotten older (and heavier) she's starting to enjoy being out and about more. She loves to look around interact with us while we're shopping or eating a meal, and this cover is perfect for that! The Comfort & Harmony Cart Cover makes taking Harper out and about so easy! While she was still getting used to her new found ability to sit up, I loved having the cart cover to provide a little extra cushion for her to lean on. It's great to put in the cart so you don't have to worry about what your child is touching or holding on to (or putting in their mouth) since it covers all the parts of the cart or the high chair that they can reach. I keep this in my car with me at all times so whenever we're out an about I have something she can sit in and look around and I don't have to worry about all the dirty surfaces she might touch or try to chew on.

Osprey Child Carrier: We haven't used this too much yet, but it's been the perfect way to bring Harper along on our favorite weekend hike or outing. The Osprey Packs Poco Carrier is lightweight and comfortable to wear and comfortable and secure for your little one to sit in. Harper made it through a two hour high with no complaining and even fell asleep in it on the high back. We are so excited to be able to bring this along with us on our family trip to Colorado in a few weeks!

Teething Rings: Harper has been teething for what feels like years, and with only about 1 and a half teeth actually popped through it probably won't be ending anytime soon. One of the thing that's helped provide the most relief are these First Years Water Filled Teethers. We throw them in the fridge and have them cool for whenever Harper's teeth seem to be bothering her. They are easy for her to hold and seem to help soothe her discomfort.

Sophie Giraffe Teether: We don't go anywhere without Sophie. At first I wasn't really sure what all the hype was about, and honestly I'm still not 100% sure, but Harper loves her Sophie! From a toy to play with to the perfect teether when she's teething, this toy is her favorite! It's small enough to throw in the diaper bag or carseat with her and is a great toy to bring along with you on the go.

Bath Letters: Once Harper could sit up on her own, she was over the bath seat for bath time and ready to have free range of the tub. She is constantly on the move an in to everything, so it's important to have toys to keep her occupied for bath time so we don't have her trying to climb out of the tub or pulling down all the soap bottles. These Little Tikes Bath Letters stick to the tub or float around in the water, and as she's found also make great toys to chew on. I love that they add color to the tub and will help her learn her ABC's at the same time.

There are so many products and items that we use on a daily basis that I could include on this list, but these are some of our favorites. If you have a question about something specific or are wondering what we use for certain things, please ask!

What are some of your little one's favorite toys or your parenting must-haves?

Harper Robin - 9 Months

Monday, May 16, 2016

Nine months . . . how the heck are you nine months old? Harper is growing and changing so much! She's wearing 9 or 12 month clothes and the 6-12 month clothes and just moved up into sized 4 diapers. Her second tooth finally popped through on her 9 month birthday and boy was she grumpy the last few days due to those teeth! Although I didn't mind the extra snuggles because of it!

Loves: Harps is still LOVING the pets and I really think that love grows more and more each day. It's funny to see the different relationship that's growing and developing between each of the three animals. Cooper (dog) likes to watch her and lay close by while she plays, Lucy (cat) loves to play with her and is constantly following her around, and Calvin (cat) only watches from afar and makes sure to keep his distance!

Harper still loves the outdoors, and we hope to continue to spend more and more time outside as it stays nicer out! We joined baby boot camp this month and she so far has done pretty well at those outdoor classes since she gets to be outside and watch some of the other kids!

She's constantly on the move and is definitely getting more exhausting by the day! You can't turn your head for a minute or she's all the way across the room! She loves being able to be on the go and to explore everything around her!

Food: This month she sat in a high chair at a restaurant for the first time and is definitely loving it when we take her out! This makes going out to eat much easier for us parents!

Sleep: Still doing good sleeping in her crib. We've had a few nights where she is fighting going to sleep, so just trying to make sure to put her to bed before she's overtired is key! On Mother's Day she took nearly 2 and a half hours to fall asleep, and this mama can't handle too many nights like that one!

Firsts: This month was huge for Harper! She learned how to wave, pull herself up and crawl just a few days later. I can't believe how quickly she's changing and how fast she's growing! Slow down Harper!

Photos from this month: 

Harper, being your mom is the greatest job I've ever had and the best thing I've ever done! Life with you just keeps getting better and better and I can't imagine how much happiness and joy the future with you holds! 

My First Mother's Day

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

It's hard to believe that this time last year Harper was just a dream and something we anticipated anxiously! I don't think we had even picked out her name a year ago. But boy can a lot change in a year! Celebrating my first Mother's Day was a little surreal. That tiny human has completely and totally stolen my heart and made so many dreams come true! I am so thankful to be her mom and for her to complete our family.

Unfortunately, Dan had to work this Mother's Day. Unfortunately the shift he's currently on has him working nearly every holiday this year, including Mother's Day. It of course makes my holiday loving heart sad, but we still got to celebrate on Monday together which helped a little.

I was definitely spoiled with gifts this year between flowers, photos of my little one, sweet cards and a gift card to my favorite spa . . . I definitely felt the love. Mother's Day itself didn't turn out to be Harper's best day as she's fighting off a cold & teething so all she wanted all day was mama and would scream when I put her down and left the room. It made nap time and bed time quite difficult, but thankfully my sweet husband made two stops by the house while on the ambulance to give me a break for a few minutes. I am definitely going to miss his ability to stop by so easily once the upcoming changes at his department take place.

Since Dan worked on Sunday, we spent most of the day with my parents which included a morning walk, some pedicures for Mom and I while my Dad watched Harper and then dinner all together. I'm so thankful that my parents live so close, especially on holidays that Dan has to work. Poppy (my dad)  helps put smiles on both Harper & my faces with his goofy jokes and dance moves. You can check out my snapchat (libbyboyes) for more Poppy dance appearances. I was so thankful that I got to spend the day with my Mom, who has shown me such an amazing example of what being a Mom means and I'm so thankful Harper gets to witness that too!
Monday was our Mother's Day celebrations. Dan came home and made breakfast with Harper for me. After breakfast we got ready and headed to the Portland Zoo. We had bought a Zoo membership a few months ago and have been loving the ability to make more trips there on nice days. After the zoo we went to lunch and made a stop by the Columbia Employee Store to get some new clothes for our upcoming family trip to Colorado in a few weeks. The we spent the rest of the day hanging at home relaxing together, and even all got a nap in! All in all, it definitely made up for not getting to spend the official holiday day together.
I may get grumpy or sad when Dan has to work holidays, but I am so thankful for how much he goes out of his way to make all of them special, no matter if it's the official day or not. I know we're not always going to get every holiday together, but it's not about the day, it's about what the day means. Being a fire wife can be difficult, but some of the best things in life are the toughest. Becoming a mom has been the most difficult yet rewarding thing in my entire life. Harper has brought so much joy and happiness into our lives and I feel truly blessed to be her Mom!

April Accomplishments: Focusing and Growing Followers

Friday, May 6, 2016

For the past several months I've seen other bloggers post a monthly check in on their goals and earnings for the month before. I've always loved reading their posts on these topics to see how much they had grown over the last 30 or so days and been inspired by what they were able to accomplish. Last month I decided to jump feet first and start really tracking my social media stats and start setting goals for myself to achieve. I've been coming to this place for a couple years now, and I feel ready to really tackle some goals I've been setting for myself and see this space reach new places.

As of April 6th, 2015:
Bloglovin: 698
GFC: 465
Twitter: 347
Facebook: 209
Pinterest: 496
Instagram: 879

By May 5th, 2015:
Bloglovin: 711
GFC: 465
Twitter: 374
Facebook: 223
Pinterest: 654
Instagram: 997

As you can see, I really tried to focus on two main social media platforms for the month of April. In the past I had tried to gain followers on all of them, but just felt overwhelmed and wasn't seeing the growth I was hoping for. In April I focused on Pinterest and Instagram, since those are two of my personal favorite platforms and also where I see the most traffic. And while my growth may not have been huge, I was happy with the increase that I saw.

So where did my increase in traffic come from? I saw quite a bit of growth from my participation in different online communities, all of which I highlighted in my post on growing your following through online communities. I also sponsored a couple bloggers this month that were amazing at promoting their sponsors. Definitely go check out Becca Dorr and T.O.  & fro for some awesome sponsorship opportunities. Through those sponsorships I was also involved in a giveaway that really brought me some great new traffic.

Aside from sponsorships, I really tried to focus more of my time on those two platforms. I looked at fellow blogger's Pinterest accounts to see what other pinners I could follow. Each day I would look for at least 5 new accounts to follow along with, and I got several re-follows from doing that. I also went back through the history of my blog and pinned some old posts. I tend to post a blog post and then forget about it, but I am trying to use some of the old content that I've already created, that may not have seen as much traffic. In going through old content, I'm updating things and making it look pretty if I'm not 100% happy with it and then posting it on my Facebook and Pinterest.

But all of it takes time, and I have to be patient with my growth and grow by setting attainable goals for myself.  My goals for the next month include

  • Get my followers up over 1k on Instagram and grow to over 1,100 
  • Increase my Pinterest followers to 750 
  • Update and repost 3 older blog posts on to my Pinterest and Facebook page
  • Look for one new blogger to sponsor
  • Sign up to be a part of 1 giveaway 
I'm hoping that by writing these down on the blog it will keep me accountable and also help other bloggers looking to grow see how it worked for me. 

What are ways you've found to grow your audience and followers? Do you know of any great blogs to sponsor or awesome giveaways coming up? I'd love to hear about them! 

Accent Door Decorating

Thursday, May 5, 2016

When building our home last year, we sat through meeting after meeting picking out all the perfect colors and materials to make our home complete. One of the meetings that took the longest to make decisions at was when it came to paint colors. I know paint can always be changed, but I wasn't really looking forward to repainting the exterior of our home anytime soon. I knew I wanted something different than our previous home that was painted a sage green, and for a while I thought I wanted a grey exterior. But after deciding on a grey interior paint color, I figured having grey inside and outside would be a bit much. The one color element I knew I wanted when we made our paint choices was an accent door. I'd been dreaming of a fun door color since we starting planning out our new home and thankfully it didn't take much to get Dan on board with the idea. I normally stray away from bold colors, but I was excited about my new blue door! And it was exactly what I had imagined, once I got the painters to repaint it after the first color looked like a door that you'd find on Barbie's dream house. But after that, I loved it. That was, until I started to think about how to decorate it.

After deciding on the blue door, I started to see blog posts and Pinterest pins all about how helpful for curb appeal it is to have an accent door. Apparently I wasn't the only person with this idea. But I was struggling with what wreaths and porch decor went with a blue door. I had always been able to match our brown front door with most colors and didn't have to worry about anything clashing since it was all relatively neutral colors. But now I was stuck trying to figure out what colors and decor would match without looking too out of place (this is my OCD and love of decorating taking over). So take a look at some of the ways I've found to decorate an accent door.
Spring and summer are usually the easiest times of the year to match any door, especially if you use any floral accents in your decorating.
Use lighter or darker shades of your door color in your wreath and add complimentary colors to complete the look. Also, try colors that may already be used in your yard or porch decor to pull it all together. This look above is my absolute favorite, and pulls together the color of the door, the highlights of flowers and the richness of the grass. If you're looking for the perfect way to decorate your door, I would run, not walk over to Elle and Lu and get yourself a custom wreath!
When asking Elle and Lu to help me design a wreath for my front porch, I asked her to match my door color and use complimentary colors to finish it off. I am always a fan of using grapevine wreaths as a base to work off of, especially because it pulls in some of the other rustic pieces I like to decorate  our porch with. The pinks and purples help to pull in the colors of the flowers and the darker greens match the ceramic pots all a part of the porch decor. Using complimentary colors and tying in the colors already used in your space will help to complete the look. 
Once fall arrives, trying to match reds and oranges like I used in previous fall decor didn't work when it came to a blue door. So instead, use tans and browns that go with most colors. Keeping wreath colors neutral, allows you to use other decorative accents on your porch to bring out some more fall color. Leaves, pumpkins, and all things rustic make perfect pieces to finish off your fall porch!
The hardest time of year for me is Christmas. You'd think since it's my favorite holiday, I would have the easiest time coming up with decor for it, but there I was stumped with how to make it feel festive without creating something that clashed.
A simple holiday wreath with white lit garland to accent the door provides the touch of the holidays without creating too much color that might look busy or mismatched. Avoid using reds directly on the door if you have a door color such as blue or yellow that might not match and use wood, and more natural elements to create a simple rustic holiday feel.

Decorating our home year round is something that I enjoy so much! I'm constantly pinning ideas on Pinterest for upcoming or current seasons to change things up each year. With the popularity of accent door colors for your home continuing to rise, I'm always looking for new ideas to decorate the bold and fun door colors!

What's your favorite way to decorate your front porch?

Weekend Day Trips - Oregon Coast

Monday, May 2, 2016

A couple weekends ago we were all ready for a break. And by we all, I mean mostly me. I just needed a day away from the normal routine. A day where we got out of town, even if just for a short day trip, to just spend time the three of us. Living where we do, there are so many options for places to explore on the weekend, as long as I get my over planner self away from the constant hustle of our weekend to-do lists. 

It had been several months since Harper's first beach trip, and I wanted to take her back there when she could really sit in the sand and take in her surroundings. It wouldn't be an Oregon spring day if it wasn't a little rainy at the beach, but that didn't stop us. We drove down during her morning nap, explored the outlet mall, ate some lunch, walked on the beach and headed home during her afternoon nap. We were home and settle by late afternoon.
She's absolutely loved the beach, as you can tell by her goofy smiles and laughs in pictures. She was so interested in the sand, and would laugh every time the breeze started up again. Exploring new places with her is so much fun and truly so much more magical through her eyes. And while the Oregon coast is definitely not your typical swim suit and suntan beach trip, I still love being at the coast. The short hour long drive makes it the perfect weekend day trip or overnight escape. 
(This is her goofy laugh face) 

I'm not sure why I struggle so much to give myself some time off from errands and accomplishing things around the house. It's so good for us to take a breather and relax on the weekends instead of trying to cram in every chore possible. Please someone continue to remind me of how good it feels to get away for a couple hours! I'm sure I'll be back to cleaning, grocery shopping and planning out my entire weekend by Friday.

What are your favorite things to do to relax and disconnect from the craziness of your week?