5 Perfect First Birthday Gifts

Charlotte’s birthday was a day to remember. You can read all about it HERE. It was a celebration of our family and a giant party to celebrate the fact we survived 365 days as first time parents.

One of the questions I get asked the most when I mention that my daughter is a year-old is; what are some great first birthday gift ideas? My favorite gifts for Charlotte were the ones that were personalized, unique or perfect for her developmental stage. Here are my 5 favorite first birthday gifts.

  1. A personalized book. Hands-down, Charlotte’s favorite toys are books. She’ll pick one out of her vast library and flip the pages, pointing to the pictures. It’s the cutest thing ever! As you may know, I’m quite the bookworm (see my current reading list here), so I’m thrilled that Charlotte is following in my footsteps. For Christmas this year, my parents made her a customized book and it’s adorable. Charlotte’s name and our family’s names are peppered through the book, and the main characters are bears – how perfect! (My husband’s nickname is Bear, and we’ve become known as the Bear family – mama, papa, baby).

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    Picture credit: Wonderbly. A Letter for the Littlest Bear $39.99
  2. An engraved baby bracelet. Is there anything cuter than a baby girl wearing jewelry? My mother-in-law gifted Charlotte with a beautiful engraved baby bracelet that I can’t wait for her to wear. Her little wrists are still a bit skinny, and she still chews on everything, so I may hold off for a bit, but I love the heirloom feeling of it.

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    Birks Baby Silver Bar Bracelet. Available at Birks. $95.
  3. Baby’s first bicycle. Of course my summer baby had to have a bike to ride. One is a great time to introduce baby to bicycle. My brother, the biking aficionado, picked the Little Tikes Ride ‘N Learn because it’s a 3-in-1 that converts as your baby grows. Plus, there’s a removable and adjustable waist bar (that keeps baby on the bike) and a foot rest so they can learn to pedal and steer while feeling secure.

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    Look at her little face! She is so proud of herself! Riding her new trike. Available on Amazon. $99.99
  4. Baby’s first year photo album. Bubbie for the win! My mom loves created photo albums (she made our engagement album, and wedding album because I never got around to doing it!). She decided to surprise us for Charlotte’s birthday with a highlight reel of the last year. She told me the hardest part was narrowing down the pictures. There are so many different companies that do this, but you can’t go wrong with Shutterfly.

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    I will treasure this photobook forever! Get it HERE. Prices from $19.99
  5. A wildlife adoption. For the baby who has everything, I love the idea of donating something in their honor. Charlotte is obsessed with animals, so the WWF was the perfect place to donate. They even have “adoption” packages that come with a stuffed animal. I was at a bday party for Chalotte’s bff Evelyn and she received the Caribou

     

Honorable mention goes to this great idea from my friend Samantha. For Father’s Day, she created a custom book for her daughter that featured pictures and names of the most important people in her daughter’s life.

 

Real talk: What did you buy your child for their first birthday? Did you do something small and symbolic? Or did you go over-the-top?

The End of the Journey

I weaned Charlotte off the boob last week. The end.

Ah, if only it was that simple. Breastfeeding hasn’t been an easy journey. You can read about it HERE and HERE. And the decision to stop nursing Charlotte didn’t come lightly, or quickly. Here’s how it all went down…

At around 11 months and some change, Charlotte had her first nursing strike. At that point, she was only nursing twice a day – when she first woke up in the morning and at night before bed. I loved it! It was our cuddle time together and a slow start to the morning and the perfect wind-down to the day. But, out of nowhere, she refused to latch for more than 5 seconds and would even push my breast away and arch her back when I tried to snuggle her in close! I was offended at first, then doubted myself, then sad. I felt like I had failed her in some way and failed as a mom. And I certainly wasn’t ready at that point to let breastfeeding go!

11 months into motherhood, I had a bit of experience under my belt, so I knew that Charlotte’s nursing strike was temporary and that she’d soon be back to her twice a day feeds. And I was right. A few days later, she was back at it, like nothing had happened. Not long after, I noticed her gums were swollen and red. Teething was back with a vengeance…and this time it was the dreaded molars!

So we continued along with our twice-a-day nursing sessions, until about two weeks ago, when she absolutely refused to have anything to do with am/pm cuddles and my boobs. She actually started crying when I tried to put her to the breast. She would flail her little body around, smacking me in the face with her hands and kicking me in the stomach. It was very annoying. And it was precisely because I was so annoyed that I decided to stop nursing her cold turkey.

When we started nursing, I’d “check in” with myself every 3 months for a little status update – was this still working for me? For Charlotte? And as time went by, breastfeeding got easier and easier. We developed a rhythm that structured our day. Truth is, I would have continued for another year if it wasn’t for her strike.

I know for a lot of moms, weaning their child can be an emotional experience. And part of me is sad that my little baby has taken a step away from me and towards independence. But, that also makes me a little happy and a little proud. Charlotte feels confident and secure enough in herself to self-soothe and knows she is getting my love and comfort from other venues than just my breasts.

There are some negatives to weaning… My once-full breasts are now hanging lower and feel like semi-deflated balloons. Also, putting her to sleep for the night has become a bit tougher because she doesn’t have as much wind-down time from bath to bed. And she’s WAY more energetic in the mornings than she used to be, which means mama is doing double-shots of espresso in the AM.

I have been giving her a bottle of breastmilkd before bed of my breastmilk. I have saved up quite the stash when I used to pump before bed and in the middle of the night. And tonight, it’s my last bag of milk. So as I close this chapter of our breastfeeding journey, I start a new one – one that will see Charlotte transition from wide-eyed infant to curious toddler. I’m so exciting to see what’s to come.

P.S. I’m so glad I captured these nursing moments when she was 5 weeks old. The way that I’m looking at her gets me so emotional every time I look at these pictures!

 

 

REAL TALK: When did you wean your little one? Was it emotional? Or was it just the next step? Tell me in the comments below!

MegaBabe Review

For as long as I can remember, my thighs have touched each other. It never bothered me much in the winter (long pants and tights eliminated that uncomfortable sticky feeling), but in the summertime, it was a pain! Anyone with thick thighs will sympathize; there is nothing worse than the feeling of your sticky, sweaty thighs rubbing against each other, leaving you with red, rashy bumps. This affliction is affectionately known as chub rub.

 

For years I avoided shorts, and skirts in the summer, preferring to stick to capris or maxi dresses that I could wear shorts underneath. But with the sweating hot summers we’ve been having in recent years, I’ve said SCREW THAT! I’m all about short shorts & sun dresses. Now, this creates a dilemma – what about my sticky thighs? I’ve tried everything from deodorant, chamois cream (what bikers use on their bums to eliminate chafe), baby powder, coconut oil…none of them work!

Enter Megababe. Brainchild of fellow curvy fashionista Katie Sturino (the12ishstyle), this thigh chafe stick is THE BOMB!

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Pic credit: Megababe. Buy the Thigh Rescue Anti-Chafe Stick HERE!

Here are the pros of this product:

  • Glides on invisibly and smoothly.
  • Smells amazing! The ingredients include aloe, pomegranate & grape seed oil.
  • Soothes skin with cooling and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Left me chafe-free on the sweatiest of days (It was 46C with humidity).

The only con is that I had to re-apply a few times throughout the day because of the amount of sweat I was producing. But, I did use it on a milder day and found that I only had to reapply once. So, keep it in your purse and you’ll be fine!

Because I had to pay for shipping from the US, I decided to try out the Megababe Bust Dust too. Boob sweat is gross and smelly and sticky, so this fine powder made of bacteria-fighting lavender and soothing camomile is the ticket! I’d totally recommend this to all my big-booby friends.

Pros:

  • Again, smells amazing!
  • Prevent rash in the cleavage and underwire.
  • I also use it under my post-baby-belly-overhang and it keeps me feeling fresh and dry.

The con here is that it’s somewhat messy to use. I couldn’t figure out how to spray just a little, it would come out as a big blob of powder. But, once I smeared it around, it was fine.

So thanks Megababe, for keeping me chafe-free all summer long! I will be shouting my love for these products from the rooftops!

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Wearing shorts and chafe-free, thanks to Megababe! Shorts & top: Walmart (I know right?!)

 

Summer Reading List

I am a self-proclaimed bookworm. I rather read a book than watch TV and the novel is certainly ALWAYS better than the movie. As a kid, my summers were spent under a shady tree reading or biking to the library to load up on books. And now as an adult, let’s just say that I’ve spent more time (and money) than I’d like to admit at Chapters-Indigo.

Now that  Charlotte is transitioning from 2 naps to 1, and sleeping in 2-3 hour chunks, I seem to have more time to get things done and squeeze in some leisure time for myself! Reading is one of the ways that I can slow down and reconnect with myself. It helps me keep my #MamaMojo full! My book devouring took a bit of a hiatus over the last year as an early bedtime and catching up on sleep has trumped reading before bed. But there’s something about summer that makes me want to sit outside and enjoy a great book.

My favorite genre for summer reading are murder/mystery/suspense. But I also love biographies and memoirs about people overcoming adversity (or as my BFF calls it blunty; “really messed up people”), and I adore historical fiction (anything by Ken Follett or Philippa Gregory).

So here are some of the books I’ve read over the summer or are up on my reading list next! Please send me your summer reading recommendations; I love a good book.

Murder/Mystery/Suspense

In a Dark, Dark Wood, by Ruth Ware. I finished this book in 2 days! A who-did-it that flips between past and present as you try to figure out what happened in the woods.

Luckiest Girl Alive, by Jessica Knoll. I’ve actually read this twice, years apart, without realizing because it’s so good and I had forgotten the twist-ending. Sharp, dark and twisted!

 

I’ll be Gone in the Dark, by Michelle Mcnamara. Half part non-fiction, half part modern crime thriller.

The Perfect Nanny, by Leila Slimani. Absolutely terryfing as a parent!

The Book of M, by Peng Shepard. Picked this up the other day because I loved the combo of sci-fi and mystery.

Non-Fiction

Educated, by Tara Westover. A stunning memoir about family, loss and the desire for a better future. If you loved Glass Castle, you’ll love this!

The Home for Unwanted Girls, by Joanna Goodman. The story of an unwed mother seperated from her daughter and the lengths they go to find eachother.

Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance. A look at the struggles of America’s white middle class.

 Brain on Fire, by Susanah Cahalan. I read this so fast too! It’s about a woman’s struggle to recapture her identity after a traumatic brain infection.

 

On the Lighter Side…

The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. Currently reading and loving it. It’s about a family with a substantial “nest egg” and their dysfunction.

Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan. I love all of Kevin Kwan’s books. They’re funny, name-dropping, pure entertainment about very very rich people and their families.

She Regrets Nothing, by Andrea Dunlop. Think Gossip Girl meets Great Gatsby. Waiting for this to become a movie or TV show.

The People We Hate At the Wedding, by Grant Ginder. The title sums it up – a fabulous wedding is about to take place and the cast of family characters and their drama is even more fabulous!

 

REAL TALK: What are you reading this summer and loving? Send me your book recommendations!

This Floral Maxi Had me at Hello

There is nothing that I love more to wear than a beautiful dress. There is something so feminine and transformative about a long, flowing maxi. And right now, with a heat wave headed our way, lightweight and airy is necessary!

I discovered Pink Blush when I was pregnant and looking for a maxi dress for my baby shower. I wanted something that wouldn’t be fussy, or ride up when I saw down with my gigantic bump. When I discovered that they also did plus size maternity, plus size and straight size, I was so excited! First of all, I love a company that is serving style for every size. The fact that women of all sizes have access to the same clothes is revolutionary. Their clothing is unabashedly feminine, with lots of floral, lace and girly details. Honestly, my #MamaMojo was in full force wearing this beauty!

I also wore a Pink Blush dress at Charlotte’s 1st Birthday because of it’s ease and gorgeousness. Guess you know where I’ve been shopping…

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Wearing a size 1X in Light Blue Rose Off the Shoulder Plus Maternity Maxi (whew! that’s a mouthful!)

First of all, the color palette of this dress is absolutely stunning! I actually had several people stop me as we shot this to ask where it was from. I adore the off the shoulder look (it actually stays put and doesn’t ride up!) Also, the simplicity of the shape makes accessorizing really fun! I added beaded tassel earrings and an amethyst bracelet for just a little pop. I dressed it up with a lace-up heel, but you could easily pair it with a gladiator sandal or slide for a more casual vibe.

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Shoes: Nine West. Similar HERE

REAL TALK: Do you like to wear dresses? What kind of clothing makes you feel your best & puts your #MamaMojo in full effect?

#MamaMojo

When I started my blog a little more than a year ago, my intention was to document my life. I shared my pregnancy, work-life, baby pics, what I wore, where I was going and what I was doing. But recently, I’ve had an epiphany…and it started because a stranger reached out to me through my Facebook page to tell me how she found my page “inspirational.” She commended me for being positive and feeling great in my skin. I thanked her, of course, but it started my wheels turning.

Not too long after that, I hosted a Facebook Live for my mommy group about how to dress your postpartum body. And one of the things that kept coming up was the word “flattering” (which I HATE!)  Moms wanted to know what to wear to “flatter” their new body. They asked me where to shop because the stores they used to go felt “too young” now. They told me how they were stuck in a rut, wearing the same black leggings every day. As I spoke to them, the re-occurring theme was how they feel lost and unsure of their new identities as moms. Pregnancy is a whooper on your entire physical and mental state and coming out the other side, it’s difficult to recognize yourself and connect with the “new” you! I’m talking about simple things like dressing your new “mom bod”, skin care, and self-care. As I answered their questions, I emphasized how important it is to find what they love about themselves, as they are now, and celebrate it. I wanted to let each mom know that they are worth investing in!

As I’ve discussed before, I still struggle to accept my new mom bod. But the one thing I refused to do is to let whatever self-doubt I have, get in the way of enjoying myself. Also, I’ve continued to do the things that I love to do, even with a baby in tow. Why can’t you be a fashion-lover, beauty addict, travel junkie, boss lady AND a Mom? Just because you’ve had a child, it doesn’t mean that you’ve stopped being who you are!

That’s when I came up with #MAMAMOJO. It’s the magical essence that you have as a woman and as a mother. It’s that thing that makes you do a double take in the mirror and give yourself a smile. It’s the power of looking and feeling your best just as you are. As I meet and connect with other moms and women, I want to encourage and support them to feel good about themselves and connect with their mama mojo! I feel so impassioned and motivated by this new motto and hope that it resonates for you too.

And it’s all thanks to you, lovely mommies! Thank you to all the amazing moms who’ve reached out to me to tell me how my voice has encouraged them to take a little more time for themselves…whether that be to put on some lipstick, take a time out to read a new book, buy a pretty new dress, or simply look in the mirror and truly love what you see.

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I found this dress at a street fair last year and every time I wear it, I feel like a boho goddess! Do you have that one piece of clothing that makes you feel amazing every time you wear it? Photo credit: Grey Cat Studio

REAL TALK: How do you find your own #MAMAMOJO?

Happy First Birthday, Charlotte

June 2, 2018. After months of planning, the big day arrived so fast! I spent so much time and love setting up the house for our cat-themed birthday party for Charlotte. I had originally wanted to hire a party planner, caterer, send out 150 invitations and have pony rides for her birthday, but my husband talked me down off the ledge. Instead I opted for a smaller at-home gathering with close friends and family.

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Wearing the Fuchsia Rose Print Wrap Maternity Maxi Dress from Pink Blush in a size L. The fabric is super stretchy, so I sized down.

My maxi dress is one of my all-time favorite & most flattering silhouettes from Pink Blush. I wore a very similar dress for my baby shower and felt like a goddess. The 3/4 sleeve and wrap neckline was so easy to wear; I didn’t have to worry about tugging or pulling anything up. It’s vibrant print and flowy fabric kept me looking cool even though I was sweating from all the stress of throwing baby’s first birthday. It’s one of my new wardrobe staples and will look fantastic with a baby bump as a maternity dress, or post-baby as a nursing dress, or simply looking like a babe as an everyday maxi dress.

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The Birthday Girl herself in a onesie that says “I’m not kitten, I’m one.”

Like I said, it was a cat-theme for our Charlotte Adele Trottier (get it? C.A.T?) so I used ever pun I could think of…”let’s pawty,” “I’m not kitten, I’m one,” “Happy purrr-thday.” I also decorated with little cartoon cat faces, cat ears and pink and gold everywhere. I created a sweet table with a candy bar, cupcakes and a kitty cat cake and served pink lemonade.

They say it takes a village to raise and child and each person at the party had a big role to play in our lives during the last year. We’re so thankful for all the love and support. Charlotte is such a lucky girl to have so many wonderful people that love her so much!

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Kitty cat cake & cupckes. As delicious as it looks!

 

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Nothing beats a sweet table!
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Instead of traditional goodie bags, we did a “kitty adoption center” where kids could choose their own cat, name them & fill out details about them. Then, each kid got to take home their own stuffed kitty.
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The set-up for the cake smash where you can see the photobooth in the background.

All photos by Sandra Milioto. She is my fave Montreal family photog!

Decor: Amazon, DIY & Etsy (invites, kitty adoption center)

Charlotte’s headband is by Lily Love Creations, Tutu is by Bluishshoes are Kate Spade for Keds

Thank you Julie Kelertas for the cake & cupcakes. They were delicious & adorable!

Thank you Keikanne & Kareem for the birthday onesie!

REAL TALK: What was your child’s first birthday like? Did you go all out or opt for something more low-key? Let me know in the comments below!