Monday, August 22, 2016

five unexpected things I'm packing in my (scheduled C-section) hospital bag

We're one week away from meeting our baby girl. After my long labors ending in C-sections with Silas and Delia, we'll be having a scheduled C-section next Monday at noon. It's a strange thing to schedule the birth date of our babe, and I think it will be even more strange to walk into the hospital knowing that we'll meet her within the hour. 

You can find all kinds of lists all over the internet detailing what to pack in your hospital bag for labor and birth. Some things seem a little silly to me (reading material? and everyone says you should bring chapstick for the dry hospitals, but I've never had issues with that...), and some are just obvious (your ID, a robe, baby blankets, a camera...)

As I made my list for our third C-section hospital stay, a few things popped up in my brain that I couldn't find on any other list, so I thought I'd share here. Just a few "outside the box" ideas that you might find helpful!

1. LED battery operated candles // I bought a few of these before Delia's birth, and we loved the soft glow and ambience they lent during middle of the night feedings. They made our hospital room feel a little bit more homey and I still have sweet memories of those first moments nursing Delia in the warm glow of candlelight. 2. Handheld mirror // After a C-section, there was no way I was going to be standing in front of the bathroom mirror to apply some blush and mascara, and a hand held mirror propped up on my bedside table was much more convenient. 3. Peppermint tea // One of the strangest and most painful parts of my C-section recovery with Delia was trapped air in my shoulder after surgery. Apparently it is fairly common for air bubbles to get trapped in your body, causing searing pain, often in your shoulder area. Lot of warm peppermint tea is one thing that my midwife at the time suggested to help ease it out, so I'll be packing some just in case. I've heard that peppermint has also been known to decrease milk supply, so I may throw in a few different varieties of tea to switch it up. 4. Rice sock // Nothing really made the pain of the trapped air in my shoulder go away until the bubble dissolved a few days later, but a sock filled with rice, warmed in the microwave helped alleviate the pain just a bit. I had my mom bring ours from home last time, so I'll be packing it just in case this time. A heating pad works well too! 5. Essential oils and diffuser // It's been almost a year since we started using essential oils, and I'm so thankful for their presence in our life. We'll definitely be diffusing lavender during our stay for calming, and I've also heard great things about the grounding effects of frankincense, so we'll be packing that along too. A few other things I'll be bringing to the hospital: nursing gowns (I've packed loose pants in the past, but last time found that I really just wanted gowns because of my C-section scar), our Miracle blanket swaddle, flip-flops (much prefer these to wearing socks), my own fluffy towel and favorite shampoo, soothing gel nipple pads (LOVE these things for sore nipples), camera (duh) and some cute outfits/headbands/hats for baby girl. 
I'd love to hear your must-have hospital bag essentials! 


Thursday, June 2, 2016

a short story long : finding our new home in Ottawa

Two weeks ago today, we piled into the car and headed north, driving through New Hampshire and into Vermont. We were on a hunt for a place to live in Ottawa for the next two years. I was a little bit nervous, a lot bit excited to see Ottawa again, and praying that God would provide.

Spoiler alert: He did.

We planned to stop for the night just north of Burlington, Vermont, in Grand Isle State Park, where we camped beside Lake Champlain last September. As we entered Vermont, I had a thought, and said to Chris, " Did you check to see if the state park is open for camping yet for this season?!" I grabbed my phone, Googled, and found out that we were one day early, and the park's campsites opened the next day.

Whomp whomp. 

So, we pulled over to a rest stop, and constructed plan B. We ended up in Burlington, camping at a little campground there, dipping our toes in the chilly lake, and making the best of our plans being sidetracked. When it comes to derailed plans, I get flustered and sometimes a tiny bit grumpy, but thankfully, Chris is excellent at rolling with the punches and letting me have some time to come around to the new plans.

In fact, I think I would have fallen apart on this trip if not for Chris' positivity and knowledge that God was going to provide a home for us, in some shape or form.

The first house we looked at was a sweet little two story with a beautiful backyard, but it was on a very busy street and just a bit too small for us.

The next morning, we visited a beautiful home with a tall brick fireplace, the most exquisite bathroom, and lots of character. But the backyard was paved, the space was not ideal for our needs (one bathroom for all of us, plus guests!), and we weren't entirely comfortable with the neighborhood.

Then came a string of BAD houses, and a cloud of discouragement. A disgusting cat pee house, a strange house with a greenhouse attached and 70's colored bathrooms. A house in a great location, but an awful kitchen, and too few bathrooms.

We were discouraged, and prepared to continue the search again after we moved up in June. Not the end of the world, but it would mean a summer of hotel living, and the thought was disheartening. The feeling was familiar-- an echo of our house hunt when we moved to Boston. Our kids were a mess after living in a hotel and on weird schedules for five days, and we were exhausted-- more emotionally than physically.

On the night before our last day in Ottawa, we silently scrolled through the same websites we'd been searching through all week. Most of the listings were old, still listed even after we had called and been told they were taken. I found one new listing, but there were very few pictures, and no address. We looked at the general area and it was a great neighborhood. The description sounded nice, but with so little information, it was hard to tell.

But Chris called about it anyway, and after 30 minutes on the phone, he came back in from our hotel balcony grinning. I asked, "What took so long? Did you rent it off the bat or something??"

He had spoken with the actual owner of the house, who would also serve as the landlord (previously we had just dealt with realtors), and the guy was gregarious and helpful. We were hopeful, and nervous and praying, praying, praying that we'd found the one.

So the next afternoon, we left our hotel room once more, excited to see what was in store for us. We drove to a park that was two blocks from the house. A gorgeous, green park right on the river, lined with willows, and boasting several different playgrounds and even a wading pool. I wanted to weep with joy. What a beautiful space.

We met the current tenants there at the park, and headed over to the house. As soon as we stepped foot inside, I felt like a giant weight lifted off my shoulders. A  built-in mudroom at the entrance, and a bright white brick fireplace greeted us. Plenty of rooms to host guests from the US, and perhaps best of all, a fenced-in backyard with a swing set. Looking past the ugly bathrooms, and the less-than-ideal kitchen appliances, I knew we had found the place. I could picture our family there, walking to the park in the summer, cozied up by the fireplace in the winter. I gave Chris "the look", and he gave one right back to me.

So that's how we found our soon-to-be new house rental on the last day of our house hunting trip up North.

When I think about the way God provided our Boston house, how He provided a house in Ottawa, and how He continues to pour blessings on us, I feel completely undeserving and humbled. There is nothing about us that makes us deserving of such Love, and that just amazes me. I can't wait to bring our newest baby girl home to that house, host lots of birthday parties and cookouts, and fall in love with Canada in that home.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

getting ready for summer with The Baby Cubby

This summer is going to be a crazy one for us.

Leaving our Boston home and spending some time in transition while we wait for our Ottawa house to open up (we rented a house this past weekend up there! More on that soon.) Even though it's sure to have its stress and being away from our familiar home will be tough, I'm hoping to make this summer a fun and memorable one for the kids. Boating time at Grandma and Grandpa's, cousins camp at Nana and Papa's, picnics, hikes, exploring our beautiful new neighborhood and city up north. 

When Ryan over at The Baby Cubby contacted me about a collaboration earlier last month, I was excited to pick out a few goodies for the kids to prepare for this summer. 

Their SkipHop Zoo backpacks are absolute perfection-- plenty of pockets for books, crayons and road tripping essentials. Silas picked out a ladybug (he chose it for its pink face, his current favorite color), and we chose that sweet bumblebee for Delia ( our Delia Bumblebee, as we call her sometimes). Looks like these backpacks are on sale right now, so I'd pile a few up in my cart if I were you! 

I couldn't resist snagging some Saltwater sandals for Delia, and oh my gosh, the cuteness. Not only cute, but so functional-- I love that she can get them wet or dirty, and they'll still be uber comfy and looking like new.

I'm also excited about our Lulujo Turkish towel. Light enough to stuff in any bag, versatile enough for pretty much anything. Drying off after impromptu swimming sessions (which my boys are not averse to at all!), picnics in the park, a sunshade for the new babe. And that sunshiny yellow is so sweet! 

If you're looking for summer essentials for your kiddos, preparing for a new baby, or even looking for the right gift for a new mama, the Baby Cubby is definitely the place to look. With price matching (even to Amazon pricing!), free shipping over $49, and tons of awesome brands like Freshly Picked, SkipHop, and Boon, it's pretty much a no-brainer.

Aaand, you know I wouldn't leave you hanging, so take 10% off your Baby Cubby order with the code HELLOHUE, good through the end of the month!

I was provided a gift card in exchange for this post, and as always, opinions and words are my own! SkipHop backpacks, Baby Bling headband, Saltwater sandals, and Lulujo Turkish towel all c/o of The Baby Cubby

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

my favorite graphic tees for mamas

I'm really into graphic tees these days. The typography, the simplicity, the layering options, how they basically make an outfit without even trying. Certainly there are some dumb ones out there, that make me roll my eyes or think "who would wear that?" This one is a particularly stupid one (who wants a list of all the things they can't have while pregnant?!)

But there are some sweet ones too. 

Here's a little round-up of graphic tees for mamas that I would actually wear. Some maternity, some not. Also, almost all from small companies run by mamas themselves. That tee from The Jones Market is headed my way, and I'm gonna tuck it away for after baby #3 comes- if I can resist the temptation to squeeze my bump into it right away. I love having a few fun things tucked away to wear after the baby, especially something like an soft, cozy tee that I can toss on without much thought. 

No affiliate links or sponsorships-- just some tees I love and wanted to share. Also, posting them eases the urge to click 'add to cart' on all of them. :) 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

crying over blueberry bagels.

I cried over my blueberry bagel and iced coffee a few mornings ago. My breakfast had nothing to do with why I was crying. It was a perfectly delicious toasted bagel smothered in whipped cream cheese. But life is starting to feel a bit overwhelming lately, and pregnancy hormones or not, I needed a good sob into my bagel. 

We have almost one week until Chris hands in his thesis. (insert celebration emoji here!) Two weeks until we head up to Ottawa to search for our next home. Almost a month until he graduates MIT. Six short weeks until we hand the keys to our home over to our new renters and head to Canada for two years. Six weeks until everything changes, and we start over in a new country, a new city, in a new home, with new friends and a new church. Actually, saying I'm feeling overwhelmed is an understatement. 

The day we moved into our home. So much has changed since then! 

Moving is daunting. Not to mention doing it while pregnant, to a foreign country, with two kids whose lives are about to uprooted and there's no good way to prepare them. Oy. 

But even deeper than the logistics to be worked out, I think my main discomfort in all this is that -- I'm comfortable right now! We've had almost three years in this house. A house we prayed for, and the Lord provided. A house that feels like OURS, like it was built for us. We've had almost three years in this city- one that we've loved exploring, discovering and becoming a part of. Chris' schedule while in school has been a fairly easy one, at least in comparison to his days on a ship in Hawaii-- he makes his own hours, and works from home most of the time. 

And soon, all of that will change. We're about to get uncomfortable again. It makes me think of the months right before I gave birth to Silas. I was enjoying pregnancy, as much as one can with a big 'ol belly and swollen feet. I was getting pretty used to those things actually. And then, out of nowhere, it hit me. I had to get this baby OUT. Like, there was no turning back from here- he was coming out one way or another. Yikes. 

So, the labor is starting over here. Moving labor... sorry, this is a weird metaphor, but maybe you get what I mean. It's gonna get uncomfortable around here. There are so many unknowns about the whole thing that I'm going a little crazy. 

I guess most blog posts have a point to them these days. A "sponsored by" at the end, or an affiliate link or two. A helpful tip or a list you can pin to Pinterest. I got nothing for you in that regards. Just rambling, which I haven't done in a long time in a Blogger window, and it feels good. 

But you know, in the same way that God worked in all the details of Silas' birth, and brought us through the other side with a healthy little almost-10 pound chunker- I'm expectant that He'll do the same for this move. He's a God of the details, and He's a personal God who loves me, and loves Chris, and loves our kids. He's steadfast and unchanging when there is nothing unchanging in this world. We're not guaranteed that life will be simple, that it will be comfortable or smooth. 

So, for the next six weeks, you'll find me cleaning out one junk drawer at a time, making one insurance phone call at time, praying through the stress, and leaning on the One who doesn't change. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

our first week of pre-schooling at home.

A few weeks ago, after several frustrating days of trying to get Si to entertain himself, and meltdowns from all three of us, I decided to make some changes in our days. We needed more structure and a little intention in our days. 

Since we are moving at the beginning of June, we are waiting to make any decisions about a pre-school for Silas until we get settled in Canada. My hope is that we'll find a great school for him to attend a few days a week, but that's still a few months away. I knew he needed a little more stimulation, a little bit more one-on-one time, and I needed to get intentional about the structure of our days as a whole. 

I started researching preschool learning resources, created a board on Pinterest, asked for ideas on Instagram, and Googled my heart out. We started last week and not to get dramatic, but it's been life-changing. Both of the kids love it, I can see a definite change in Silas' attitude through the day, and I don't get to the end of the day thinking, "What the heck did we do all day?".

circle time

We've been doing circle time each morning. We pray (little kids' prayers are my FAVORITE), do a weather chart, calendar, a song (usually Rise and Shine- Delia gets super pumped about that one) and a short Bible memory verse with Silas. This is the first time we've ever done memory verses with him, and I don't know why, but I'm amazed that he actually memorizes them. Last week, we did Colossians 3:20, and this week was Genesis 1:1. We also read from their Jesus Storybook Bible (my favorite kids' Bible ever ever ever). Since we did a gardening theme this week, we read about how God created the earth, and the first garden ever. 

I love starting out our mornings this way-- it creates a purposeful and cheerful start to the day, and sets the mood for the morning. I'm trying to keep it simple and not to get too bogged down in the details-- like whether they're sitting and listening. But yesterday morning, after two weeks of circle time where I thought he wasn't listening at all, Si said all of the days of the week in order. So there's that!

alphabet garden printable from mrs. jones' creation station.
weekly activities

There are so many great resources out there, that it doesn't take too much work to plan a full week for us. One of my favorite sites to peruse and glean ideas from is Simply Learning (her site is down right now, but I'll update this when it's back up). She chooses a theme for each week, which I think we'll continue to follow, because she also makes a lesson plan and Pinterest board with tons of ideas pertaining to the theme, even tv shows-- making it all very simple to create our own week's worth of lessons and activities.

I created my own lesson plan template sheet in an attempt to stay somewhat organized. ( You can find plenty of templates on Pinterest, or create your own in PicMonkey!) This past week, we did a gardening/springtime theme. Our activities spanned from growing a bean seed in a ziploc bag (that's been so fun for Si and Delia to check on each morning... or every 15 minutes), an "alphabet garden" letter search, working on coloring inside the lines with these Garden of Eden printables, and build-a-bug out of construction paper shapes, and a parts of the flower craft. I hit up the dollar spot at Target and found some bug capsules (the kind that grow into sponges after sitting in warm water), and other little things. 

We also took a trip to the library to check out spring themed books, and watched some spring themed episodes of certain shows (Curious George, Zou on Hulu, and Wild Kratts). A trip to a botanical garden would have been appropriate and was a glimmer in my eye, but yeah, that didn't happen. 


We are being super flexible about this whole thing. Some days this week were chock full of "school stuff", as Silas says. Some days had one or two designated lessons, and the rest of the day, we played as normal. We'll learn as we go, and change things up as we find what works for us or doesn't. The main thing for me is that our days are more intentional, and instead of leaving Si to make up his own activities to entertain himself, we're working together to help him have fun and learn something along the way.

One thing I learned this past week was that I need about twice the activities that I had originally planned. Most of the things we did only occupied about 10 minutes of our time. I'm not sure if that's because Silas hasn't done much school work type stuff, and his attention span will increase as we progress, or it may also be that he was just bored by some things. I did figure out that he really has no interest in coloring, but loves working on tracing and writing letters.

A few people have asked what we do with Delia for our lessons. Most of the time, she joins us, and does her own version (colors her own worksheet, sorts counting bears, etc.). If it's too messy or advanced for her, I'll sit Silas at the dining room table (instead of our school table from IKEA), or we'll do that project while she's napping.

Next week, we'll be joining Simply Learning on their "All About Me" theme. We'll be working on his writing his name in different medium, talking about our family, talk about our identity in Christ, and other stuff I will probably figure out on Sunday night. Since her site is down, here is her Pinterest board with suggested activities for that theme.

Other favorite resources:

This comment thread on one of my recent IG posts is golden.

Busy Toddler IG account

The Measured Mom (book lists for preschoolers and other great resources)

The Measured Mom free printables 

Cutting Tiny Bites (book lists, theme ideas, lots of activities)

My preschool learning Pinterest board if you want to follow along as I fill it up

I hope this post was helpful. I don't know what direction the Lord will take us in regards to homeschooling, but I'm so thankful for the vast array of FREE resources available to us with just a little bit of internet searching. Happier, busier kids during the day make for a happier mama, and we'll take that!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

my low-maintenance skincare routine.

Just two months ago, I learned how to fill in my eyebrows, and my world has been changed ever since. Let that serve as just one clue that this post is not coming from a beauty expert of any kind. BUT that being said, I personally enjoy reading beauty and skincare posts from "real" people like me, women who are bent on time, coming up on 30 (next week--eek!), looking for easy and effective ways to look pulled together and feel great.

So, here's my skincare routine. It's not perfect, it's not written in stone, and I'm sure it will change in the months to come, especially as the weather changes. But for now, this is the way I'm taking care of my skin.

For reference, I have normal skin, with no real acne problems, thankfully. I'm generally happy with my skin's appearance, and have a pretty low maintenance skin care routine. As I've grown older, I've noticed some fine lines and spots start to appear, and I'd say taking care of those (as well as keeping my face clean, fresh and moisturized) is probably my greatest goal for skincare.


In the morning,  after splashing some water on my face, I grab my OSEA Sea Vitamin Boost and spritz my face one or twice before I make my way downstairs to start breakfast. It's a quick way to wake me up, and help me feel a little bit "glowy", even if I never have a chance to put make up on that day. 

At night, I use Burt's Bees face wipes to clean any dirt, grime, and makeup off my face. I like the white tea scent, and love the fresh, clean way my face feels at the end of the day. I can't go to bed with makeup on-- can.not. It just feels nasty to me, so this product has been a must for me for several years now. It's a big plus that it's easy to snag a few packs at Target, so I never need to be without. 

After I clean my face in the evening, I use a roller ball mixture of frankincense, tea tree, and lavender essential oil on my cheeks and nose. These oils are known for their support of the skin, and how they help keep skin feeling smooth. 

A small glob of OSEA Advanced Protection Cream is enough for my whole face and neck, and I've seen a noticeable difference since I started wearing this to bed each night over three months ago. One of the biggest selling points is that it doesn't leave my face feeling greasy in the morning. My skin feels plumper and smoother, and I've even noticed that some of my fine lines around my mouth have evened out. In the past, I would have dry patches on my chin or sides of my faces during the winter. But this winter, those dry patches have been non-existent. It is definitely a splurge product, but this stuff is absolutely the rockstar of my skincare routine this winter.


About once or twice a week, I carve out a little bit of time to do a sea salt exfoliating scrub on my face. I like this one from Anthropologie (that I got as a gift for Christmas), but you could make your own too! After reading about the negative impact of micro-beads on the environment, I stopped using my exfoliating face wash, and opted for this more earth-friendly choice. I'll often use a bit of this scrub on my lips if they are feeling dry, flaky or chapped, and I notice a difference right away.


I don't have a lot of time to spend on face masks and whatnot, but every once in awhile, I'll sneak up to our third floor bathroom and etch out a little 'spa' time. That's when I like to use the OSEA white algae face mask. It doesn't dry my skin out like other face masks I've used, and my skin feels much more luminous and bright after one use.

I was gifted OSEA products several months ago, but I'm so glad I've had the opportunity to add them to my routine. On days when it's more likely for me to have peanut butter smeared across my cheek, it's nice to have a little bit of luxury in the form of self-care waiting for me in my bathroom cabinet.

Especially since the skin benefits of peanut butter glop have yet to be studied.

Friday, February 19, 2016

number three

The beginning of September will bring a new babe into the Wilkins' household! I'm nearing the end of the first trimester, and thankful that the queasiness and utter exhaustion seem to have taken a backseat. I'll be the first to admit that the surprise of that positive pregnancy test sent me into a state of shock for a week or two. Heck, I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I'll be a mom to THREE next fall. Isn't that something that's reserved for grown-ups?! And then I remember I'm turning 30 in a month. Crazy-town.

My 11-week belly has decided to masquerade as a 20 week belly for the time being. It's comical at times, but makes me realize I missed that belly more than I had thought. Also, maternity clothes are my best buds. 

We told Silas just a few days after we found out ourselves. We just couldn't keep it in. And oh boy, I wish we had recorded his reaction. It made me weep. Chris asked him if he liked being a big brother to Delia, and he responded, "Oh, I do!" And then we told him that he'd have another baby to be a big brother to in a few months. He started squealing in delight, clapping his hands, while grinning a smile bigger than his face even allowed. He's continued to be so excited-- asking to look at the pregnancy app on my phone to see how big the baby is growing, and he's positive that he's getting another sister. Delia is oblivious, but is obsessed with babies lately, so I think she'll approve of the new changes coming. 

The keyword for this first trimester has been grace. Grace, grace, grace. Grace to allow myself a few days to cry and mourn "my plans" while learning to accept new and beautiful ones that God has for us. Grace to take naps when I need them, and not worry that a little screen time is going to hurt the kids while I rest. Grace to let a cluttered house stay cluttered because I'm just too dang tired to do one more thing at the end of the day. Grace to feel that fear of something going wrong, but choosing to soak in the comfort and reassurance of God's perfect plan no matter what happens. 

So here we go. Third time around. I don't know whether to laugh or cry, so most days, I just do both. Often at the same time.