I'm thankful that I have been able to experience being a mom to both a boy and a girl. When we found out the news that we were having  a boy we were so excited, but I quickly realized that I didn't have any clothes for a boy and many of the toys and books we had collected over the years for Elle were fairly feminine. I am of the mindset that there isn't a color or a toy or a book that is for just one gender by any means, but I also didn't want Levi to only have hand-me-downs that are pink and purple. The little guy definitely deserved to have some shiny, new gifts just for him in an array of colors.

Today, I'm sharing with you a list of things that I have been given or have purchased since having baby number two that I have really loved and would recommend to any other mom. 

1. Freshly Picked moccasins - There's no real need for babies to wear shoes when they are first born, but having these mocs starting around 5 months has been wonderful. Levi loves to plant his feet on the ground and jump in his jumper. These shoes are stretchy and easy to get on and off, which is nice when they have those pudgy baby feet. One mistake I made with Elle was never getting her used to having shoes on, so when it came time for her to wear them all she did was sit on the floor and cry. Haha! The poor kid didn't understand why she had to wear shoes.

2. Your Baby's First Word Will Be Dada - This is the funniest and cutest baby book out there right now. Jimmy Fallon really did a wonderful job creating it, and I think it's a great gift for any mom.

3. Special Nursery Decor - There are toys that are meant to be played with and then there are toys that are so cute you want to display them. Every mom and dad wants these as gifts too. The Land of Nod has a ton of these toys, and I especially love this gray hippo. I'm going to save it for Levi forever and one day give it to his kids.

4. A cool hat - If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen a couple posts about Levi getting the worst case of cradle cap. We are STILL dealing with it, and having a cool, cute hat for him to wear through this process has been critical. I adore this winter hat by 7AM Enfant. It's probably cutest, and coolest winter accessory there is for babies.

5. Zipadee-Zip - This MIRACLE product isn't pictured in the photo, but every single mom needs this flying squirrel-ish swaddle. After 3 months you are supposed to stop swaddling your baby, but Levi would still wake himself up if we didn't keep his hands away from his face. Enter in our saving grace the Zipadee-Zip. It was featured on Shark Tank, and it has blown up since then because moms across the U.S. know what I know...This thing works! Levi loves sleeping in it, and it keeps him warm without having to put on heavy jammies.

6. Bandana Drool Bibs - Forget the cheesy, "My First Christmas," bibs for eating and drooling. Go get these incredibly cool bandana drool bibs by Copper Pearl. They come in all sorts of designs for girls and boys.

7. Cute boy clothes - This is a whole topic for another blog post, but all I have to say is that I have searched high and low for cute boy clothes, and the line of affordable clothes I like for Levi that is by Burt's Bees. Yes, the chapstick company makes flippin' adorable baby clothes, and you need to check them out. I didn't want to constantly have to buy things on Etsy and wait for them to ship or spend a fortune at Baby Gap. You can grab these cute clothes at Buy Buy Baby.

Photos by Rennai Hoefer


Since 2012, when Elle was born, there are so many more baby products and gadgets to choose from. I have specifically seen a huge growth in selection of baby carriers. In fact, at Alt Summit this past summer I was introduced to three new carrier companies - Solly Baby, Lille Baby and Nesting Days. They are ALL amazing in different ways.

I wanted to share with you the Nesting Days carrier first because it is specifically and perfectly made for the newborn phase. I LOVE it! Rather than worry about whether or not you have wrapped your fabric correctly and juggle yards of fabric in the parking lot, this is a carrier that you slip on like a tank top and simply place your little one in it. It also holds TWO infants at a time if you have twins. PLUS...and here's the cool part...It helps suck in your postpartum gut.

You can wear it as your top for the day or you can wear it over a nursing tank. Either way it is so EASY and so comfy. I really wish I had this when I had Elle. You better believe I am taking this with me to San Fran next week!

Get $5 off your carrier when you use the promo code "AVESTYLES" at check out! Click here to get yours!

*Product was sponsored for this blog post. Photos by Gina Meola.

Real Talk with Real Moms: Feeding


Feeding your child should be the simplest thing a mother can do, but breastfeeding, specifically, was the hardest part of early motherhood for me. Labor was a cakewalk compared to the feeding challenges that lied ahead when Elle was born. As I write this blog post, I'm feeling contractions on and off and waiting for baby number two to arrive. You would think I would be nervous about the labor that lies ahead, but sleep deprivation and labor are things I know I can get through. Being able to breastfeed, as I learned, isn't something that I am promised no matter how hard you work for it.

You see, breastfeeding was actually the thing that I looked most forward to and I'm still looking forward to with this little guy. It's such an incredible bonding experience. But knowing how hard I tried and how bad I wanted it with Elle, doesn't bring me much comfort the second time around because I now know breastfeeding is a dance between you and your baby.

With Elle, I saw three lactation consultants in the hospital, three visited my home, I tried fenugreek and Domperidone, I pumped after every feeding, I laid in bed skin to skin for days, and in the end I still had to supplement with formula. I just wasn't producing enough. Unfortunately, for Elle she was allergic to dairy, soy and even had a hard time digesting corn products. We even tried goats milk and flaxseed when she was older. I not only couldn't make enough breastmilk, but I couldn't even offer her formula because she was so sensitive to it. I was brought to tears with the reality that I couldn't feed my precious child. I felt SO helpless, scared and like such a failure.


Then a miracle happened...No, I didn't start producing more milk, BUT a community of moms I knew in my church began donating their breastmilk to Elle. I know this idea might be a controversial, but it was my only hope in the early weeks when her digestive system was still maturing, and her pediatrician was well aware of what was going on. I breastfed and pumped what I could, and then supplemented with donated breastmilk from trusted women. It was really my village of moms that helped feed Elle, and because of this I was able to give her breastmilk until she was six months old. It was a miracle! By that time we were able to switch to a very hypoallergenic, corn-based formula that she could process because frankly the moms that were helping us couldn't keep up the pace of feeding two babies for a year. It was super expensive, but we made it work.

This challenge of feeding taught me so much. One mistake I do plan on correcting the second time around is starting to pump right when my milk comes in. I cannot trust my baby's latch will be a good one no matter how many LC's I see. Right when your milk comes in is such a crucial time in establishing your supply because it's based on demand. So, this time around I plan on pumping after each feeding to ensure I'm emptying all of the breastmilk out of my breasts, so that my body can learn how much to make. I'd rather end up over producing then under producing given that this little guy could very well have the same sensitivities to dairy, soy and corn.


I'm sharing this story to encourage any other moms that have experienced this feeling of "feeding failure" to remind them that motherhood is not about being able to do everything perfectly and right, but simply to love your children fiercely. If that's feeding formula, great! If that's breast feeding, great! If that's driving around the city picking up donated breastmilk, great! You are an amazing mother because you love and care for your children not because you can breastfeed and not because you have the most perfect nursery. I also share this to remind moms not to judge one another, but instead support each other. I don't know where I would have been without those amazing moms that donated their liquid gold to my child.

If you want to read more honest stories about feeding, check out these other amazing, creative moms below. You can also read our stories about sleep challenges by clicking here.

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Parker EtcThe Effortless ChicOur Style StoriesCould I Have ThatThe Refined WomanSmitten Studio OnlineSacramento Street

Photos by Mike Olbinski

Real Talk With Real Moms About Sleep


Sleep - it's the answer to all of life's problems. Angry? Sleep. Sad? Sleep. Stressed? Sleep. Tired? Definitely, sleep. When you wake up you are rested, calm, optimistic and ready to start the day full of possibilities. I've teamed up with other influencers and bloggers to talk about some big topics within the realm of motherhood, but to do it with honesty. So, first things first we're sharing our experiences with sleep or more like lack of sleep. When I don't get enough sleep I'm basically the opposite of everything mentioned above. I'm tried, anxious, always complaining, short fused and complacent. It terrifies me to think about what kind of mom I'm going to be to Elle when Levi (that's what we're naming our little man) arrives in the next month. At least Ryan can understand why his wife is so moody and Levi won't remember anything from the early days, but Elle, 3 years old, will have a harder time with this adjustment. I'm sure of it.

Thinking back to my first experience with Elle, so much of my sleep deprivation came from my struggles with breast feeding. I had a hard time getting my milk supply to come in successfully, and Elle wasn't getting enough milk. So, for the first month of her life I was breastfeeding and then waking Ryan up to supplement her with some formula or donated breastmilk (more on that topic to come). While he was bottle feeding her, I was pumping. It was about an hour long ordeal giving us only about 4-5 hours of sleep a night. We were miserable! At least during the day I could take naps while Elle napped, but now I have the responsibility of a three year old to watch during the day on top of being a solo-preneur. The fear of how I am going to manage this all without rest leaves me feeling paralyzed sometimes.

But on the bright side, I remember after two months Elle slept through the night successfully. She has been an amazing sleeper ever since we got through our feeding struggles. She still naps for 2-3 hours most days and sleeps from 8:30pm to 6:30am on average. I thought I would share what I know worked for her to help any moms out there, and I thought I would also share what didn't work well. I also want to say that I really welcome advice and opinions on what you found was a big help to getting your little one to sleep. Probably, the biggest thing that I have learned in motherhood is that a support system of other moms is invaluable - even one that is digital. So, please feel free to chime in!



1. Velcro swaddles - They are the only thing that kept our little magician's arms from escaping and waking her up. Muslin blankets are great for many things, but I could not for the life of me tie a tight enough swaddle to keep her sleeping.

2. Swing - The swing was my best friend when I couldn't get Elle to sleep. I already have a swing set up in my living room waiting for Levi.

3. Pacifiers - I know they are controversial, but we used one and it really helped put her to sleep.

4. Routine - Babywise is a pretty controversial topic, and I read the books before Elle was born to see what it was about. I'm not a Babywise mom, but one thing that I did sort of adopt was the routine of eating, playing and then sleeping. A lot of times kids become reliant on feeding to sleep, and to avoid creating a comfort and dependency we just reversed the order to feed as soon as Elle woke up and then play and then let her put herself to sleep. Once she was a month old or so we started to try and keep somewhat regular nap times give or take an hour. This was helpful for me so that I could work.

5. Sharing responsibility - Men can't breastfeed, but they can change diapers, clothes and help put babies to sleep. Ryan and I agree that parenthood is a joint effort. We both have jobs to do and no one's job is more important or less important than the other. Both jobs need sleep to perform well, so we agreed to help each other and be a team as much as we could from the get go.


1. Not stress about the small stuff - Having the house being super clean and organized all of the time isn't that important for two months. I can be a neat freak, and I would find myself spending all of my time cleaning while Elle was napping. I deprived myself of time that I needed to rejuvenate my body and soul.

2. Delegate - I hired an assistant last week. I am hoping that she can carry some of my work load so that I can have a little more freedom in my personal life.

3. Get a king size bed - I constantly woke Ryan up while I was breastfeeding, and part of that was being so close in bed. We are really looking forward to a bigger bed for our soon to be family of four.

4. Not tip-toe around the house - I was always so nervous to wake Elle up from her nap that I would find myself being extra quiet. Levi won't really have the luxury with his sister making all sorts of racket, and I think that's a great thing because it'll make sleeping through loud noises a lot more successful.

I'd love to hear what worked and didn't work for you and your littles. You can also read stories from several other moms in the list below.

Photos by Mike Olbinski

Baby Gender Reveal


Three years ago we announced we were having a baby girl with Ryan's favorite food in the world - ice cream (see here). It was a personal and perfect way to tell our friends and family. As we thought about how to reveal the gender of our second child we couldn't think of anything better than ice cream, so we decided to do it the same way again except this time Elle would help us. After all, ice cream is Elle's favorite food in the world too. bab_gender_reveal

We went to Churn for ice cream, and ordered a strawberry cone and a blue vanilla cone (we put blue food coloring in it). Elle was in HEAVEN!

Can you guess which color remained?


We are having a little boy!!! Though Elle's favorite color is pink, she had a lot of fun eating the blue ice cream, and we're so glad she got to be a part of the experience too.


Ryan and I can't wait to experience what it's like to have a little boy. I have ZERO little boy experience, but I'm sure I'll figure it out. haha. Any advice is welcome, and now begins the hunt for fashionable boy clothes...YAY!

baby_gender_reveal3Photos by Jay & Jess.